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 May, 2008


Last week, Dr. Arthur Robinson of Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine announced at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. that over 31,000 American scientists signed a petition rejecting the theory of man-made global warming. So why is the support for this theory evaporating among scientists? Perhaps it might be due to the fact that global temperature trends have remained flat for the past decade while the levels of carbon dioxide have risen 5.5%.

The foundation of the AGW theory is based on rising carbon dioxide levels producing higher temperatures. Perhaps this evaporating consensus might be due to the analysis of paleoclimate data that reach back hundreds of thousands of years through glacial/interglacial transitions. This analysis showed that changes in Earth's temperature always preceded changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide. How can that be? Well the oceans are a vast reservoir of carbon dioxide. As the oceans warm, it release this gas back into the atmosphere. The atmospheric carbon dioxide levels measured today are primarily of a natural origin rather than man-made.

Or perhaps the global warming theory is in trouble because it is based primarily on a complex computer climate model that is more hype than substance. This sophisticated model fails to include the effects of cloud-cover. Clouds are a major factor in modulating Earth's temperature. Clouds block sunlight, reflecting the light back into space thus lowering temperature. The intensity of the sun's magnetic field controls the rate that high energy particles, called galactic cosmic rays, hit the Earth's atmosphere. These particles seed cloud formation through ionization. This process was demonstrated experimentally at the Danish National Space Centre by Dr. Henrik Svensmark and his research team with the results published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in Great Britain in 2007. Therefore the climate models, without adequately including cloud mechanics, will be poor predictors of future climate on Earth.

So if you set aside these climate models for a moment, what is science trying to tell us about the near-term climate? The sun's magnetic field has been unusually strong for the past century. But the field appears to be weakening. We are at the verge of entering solar cycle 24. Judging by the extent of spotless days (days without sunspots) during this solar minimum, this cycle appears weaker than the 20th century solar cycles.

This will result in greater cloud cover and declining temperatures over the next decade or longer. This process may already be underway since global temperatures as measured from satellites have fallen significantly over the past year. Dr. Noah Keenlyside of Germany's Leipzig Institute of Marine Science, published a paper this month in Nature indicating global warming will stop until 2015 based on an analysis of ocean temperatures and the giant ocean "conveyor belt" known as the meridional overturning circulation. So as I sit near my computer with the heater running during the end of May when it should be warm, I ponder "Where is a little global warming when you really need it!"



By Charles Krauthammer

I'm not a global warming believer. I'm not a global warming denier. I'm a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2into the atmosphere but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.

Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems -- from ocean currents to cloud formation -- that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. "The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity," warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, "is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism."

If you doubt the arrogance, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue.

But declaring it closed has its rewards. It not only dismisses skeptics as the running dogs of reaction, i.e., of Exxon, Cheney and now Klaus. By fiat, it also hugely re-empowers the intellectual left.

For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher's England to Deng's China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.

Environmentalists are Gaia's priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect. (See Newsweek above.) And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment -- carbon chastity -- they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.

Only Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There's no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

So what does the global warming agnostic propose as an alternative? First, more research -- untainted and reliable -- to determine (a) whether the carbon footprint of man is or is not lost among the massive natural forces (from sunspot activity to ocean currents) that affect climate, and (b) if the human effect is indeed significant, whether the planetary climate system has the homeostatic mechanisms (like the feedback loops in the human body, for example) with which to compensate.

Second, reduce our carbon footprint in the interim by doing the doable, rather than the economically ruinous and socially destructive. The most obvious step is a major move to nuclear power, which to the atmosphere is the cleanest of the clean. But your would-be masters have foreseen this contingency. The Church of the Environment promulgates secondary dogmas as well. One of these is a strict nuclear taboo. Rather convenient, is it not? Take this major coal-substituting fix off the table, and we will be rationing all the more. Guess who does the rationing.



The Government was struggling to maintain its green taxation agenda on transport this week amid truckers' fuel protests, a media onslaught and a revolt by its own backbenchers.

The unrest continues a miserable few weeks for green transport policy advocates, following on from the election defeat of Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral elections and of Roger Jones, the public face of Greater Manchester's congestion charging plans in the local elections (LTT?16 May).

Ministers, already alarmed at Labour's plummeting poll ratings and stung by this month's byelection defeat in Crewe and Nantwich, this week insisted that they were in listening mode to the protestors, which suggests they may be prepared to abandon policies that are central to their attempts to reduce transport's carbon dioxide emissions.

Truckers took to the streets of London and Cardiff this week to protest at the rocketing price of diesel. The Freight Transport Association says the cost of diesel has risen 34% in the last year and by 15% (14 pence per litre) since the beginning of the year.

As a minimum, the haulage sector wants the Government to commit to abandon the 2p per litre rise in fuel duty planned for the autumn. But the sector also wants a duty cut. "There is nothing to stop the Government, other than political will, reducing the duty on diesel down to EU average levels of 25p per litre from its current level of 50.35p per litre," said Simon Chapman, the FTA's chief economist.

As LTT closed for press, 42 MPs, many of them Labour, had signed an Early Day Motion calling for the Government to reconsider the proposed restructuring of vehicle excise duty from April next year. This will see the owners of vehicles with high carbon dioxide emissions pay considerably more and MPs are particularly unhappy that the new levels of VED?will apply retrospectively to vehicles registered since 2001.

The VED?issue was one of the components of the Tories' Crewe and Nantwich byelection, victory with the party distributing hundreds of campaign leaflets titled 'Grant theft auto' - a play on words from the popular computer game of the same name.

Newspapers have joined in the protests with the Telegraph, Express and Mirror among those running campaigns in support of motorists. The Guardian and Independent were this week urging ministers to stand up to the protestors and keep environmental policies on track.

Opinion polling, however, indicates that a large proportion of the public believes that the environment is being used by the Government as an excuse to raise taxation.

More here


Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition remain "miles apart" on a plan to link car taxes to emissions and are unlikely to introduce the change in 2009 as planned, Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said.

Merkel came under criticism for backtracking on her environmental aims when the government announced last week that approval of the plan to change car tax rules to take exhaust emissions into account would be delayed.

She insisted over the weekend that the "Kfz" tax change, part of a climate protection package agreed by the coalition last year, was not dead despite differences in her government.

But Tiefensee, in an interview with Die Welt newspaper, suggested the plan was doomed and blamed Economy Minister Michael Glos for a "surprising reversal" on the issue.

"The chances of getting the Kfz tax in place from Jan. 1, 2009 are next to nil," Tiefensee told the newspaper in an article to be published in its Thursday edition. "We are miles apart in the coalition on this project."

Tiefensee, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), said Glos and his party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), appeared reluctant to back the plan ahead of elections in their home state of Bavaria later this year.

More here


While the three remaining presidential candidates have touted climate change as a central theme in their campaigns, all of them may miss next week's critical vote when the Senate considers a landmark bill imposing mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.

With the debate set to begin Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will miss the entire proceedings because he will be campaigning all week. In a press conference Wednesday McCain defended his decision to skip the vote, and outlined his opposition to the bill. "First of all, I have not been there for a number of votes. The same thing happened in the campaign of 2000," he said. "The people of Arizona understand I'm running for president of the United States."

McCain added that even if he did show up he would not back the bill, which is authored by two of his closest allies, Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.). "Second of all, as I have said, I'm very deeply committed to the nuclear component of any legislation that will have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "And I've been disappointed so far that there has not been a robust and serious addressing of the issue of nuclear power...You're never going to really significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless nuclear power is a major component of it. I know that's not a popular position."

Democratic Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) -- both of whom back the Lieberman-Warner bill -- haven't said whether they'll vote on it, but it comes just as their presidential primary is reaching its end. A source close to the Obama campaign said the senator is working on amendments to the bill that he could offer as a co-sponsor even if he cannot return to Washington early next week. "It's going to be difficult during the last few days of the primary season," the source said. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said he did not know yet whether his boss would vote on the legislation.

Environmentalists warned today that presidential candidates can't claim to be green on the campaign trail when they're ducking the most important environmental vote of the year.

"If you don't come back to vote on the bill, you can't say that you're all that serious about taking action on climate change," said Lexi Shultz, deputy director of the climate program at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists.


Australia: Official Warmist guru misrepresents the climate projections that he relies on

Kevin Rudd entrusts Ross Garnaut with Australia's long-term response to global warming, but the economics professor is in a tangle over how climate change will hit his own back yard. In a bid to build a sustainable second house behind his home in inner-Melbourne Princes Hill, Professor Garnaut has told the City of Yarra Council that global warming will lead to more hailstorms in Melbourne - a claim, it now emerges, at odds with those of leading climate change scientists.

In a letter to the council, the economist uses his expertise to argue that heritage traditions, including a slate roof, should not apply to the property when defending what objectors say is an ugly, curving steel roof set to dominate the streetscape at the rear of the property. He points out the greater resilience of a steel roof over slate given the increasing hailstorm threat. He says he has consulted the insurance industry in the course of his climate change work to back up his argument. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report, Climate Change 2007 - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability - says in chapter 11: "Decreases in hail frequency are simulated for Melbourne and Mt Gambier." It does not back up Professor Garnaut's letter, which says: "Severe and more frequent hailstorms will be a feature of this change."

Professor Garnaut was quizzed about the letter at a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday night. Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield asked Professor Garnaut about an article in The Weekend Australian on May 10. Senator Fifield asked Professor Garnaut: "Were you seeking to use your position as a climate change adviser to influence a council decision for your private benefit?"

Professor Garnaut replied: "I should first point out that I did not have any role with the commonwealth at the time of those events. That relates to submissions to the Yarra Council last year. I can assure you and the committee ... that I was not trying to use my position to 'heavy' anyone."

Senator Fifield said: "Professor Garnaut, have you had any progress with the council?"

Professor Garnaut replied: "Senator, so that there will be no suggestion I am seeking to influence anyone, my wife is now handling this matter." The professor went on to tell the committee: "We instructed our architect to design a building that was exemplary in sustainability in every respect."

Ten neighbours in Park Street, Princes Hill - where Professor Garnaut wants to build the new home behind one he owns with his wife Jayne - have objected that the development does not meet heritage and residential codes. The dispute will be resolved in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal next week.

Professor Garnaut, who is due to hand down his final climate change review this year, was not available to comment yesterday, but his spokeswoman said the dispute was "a private matter".



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30 May, 2008

Actress worried her Prius battery will give her cancer

A record of some profound wisdom below recycled from Ecorazzi.

It’s pretty rare to see celebrities actually do little more with paparazzi than say “Hello” and get on with their day. That’s where this video appears to be headed — until Michelle Rodriguez decides to elaborate on the question of “How do you like your hybrid?” Then, the video become legendary. Here is her response:
“I think my car is alright. But you know one thing? I’m researching right now…the battery, bro. The f**king battery now seems to have an issue: causing cancer, brother. It’s some serious s**t. Like, imagine your cell phone, a hundred times fold…that type of s**t going right up your ass. Ok, baby? Ok? So, that’s what I’m researching right now…”
Michelle then goes on to say that nothing is really established in terms of any health-concerns on the topic. While it’s true that hybrid batteries do emit some EMF, studies have found that its certainly nothing different from other sources of EMF (say, your CRT monitor) that we experience on a day-to-day basis.

But Michelle is quick to add:”Before you go and buy your mother-f**king hybrid, check yo s**t.”

Uh huh

What warming? Most powerful icebreaker stuck in ice at Northwest Passage

I am on the bridge of the massive Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the tension is palpable. We have hit ice - thick ice. We are travelling from the northeastern corner of Russia, across the Bering Sea and the top of Canada to Resolute Bay in Nunavut. At least that's the plan. We haven't even reached Canadian waters and we are already in trouble.

The ice master studies the mountains of white packed around the ship while the 24,000-horsepower diesel engines work at full throttle to open a path. The ship rises slowly onto the barrier of ice, crushes it and tosses aside blocks the size of small cars as if they were ice cubes in a glass. It creeps ahead a few metres, then comes to a halt, its bow firmly wedged in the ice. After doing this for two days, the ship can go no farther.

The ice master confers with the captain, who makes a call to the engine room. The engines are shut down. He turns to those of us watching the drama unfold, and we are shocked by his words: "Now, only nature can help this ship." We are doomed to drift.

That irony. I am a passenger on one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world, travelling through the Northwest Passage - which is supposed to become almost ice-free in a time of global warming, the next shipping route across the top of the world - and here we are, stuck in the ice, engines shut down, bridge deserted. Only time and tide can free us. The first day or two are a novelty. We take photos and enjoy the adventure. After all, isn't this what many polar explorers went through? In the distance, a polar bear, puzzled by this huge intruder in its territory, provides a welcome diversion for an hour.

By the third day, the novelty wears off and conversation at the dinner table is strained. On the fourth day, when the crew tells us we may not be able to complete the entire Northwest Passage journey to Resolute in time, most passengers are deeply disappointed. The Khlebnikov sails to both polar regions but not necessarily via the same routes each season.

By days five and six, the tension is rising. The situation is getting serious. Many of us have deadlines and other commitments. The ship's bar does a brisk business. Then, on the seventh day, just as quickly as the ice had come in at 3 a.m. a week earlier, our captor sets us free. The engines are turned on and soon we are racing to make up time.

The ice master was right: This waterway may look like an easily navigable shortcut across the top of the globe, but we are not in charge of the itinerary. This is still an unpredictable passage.

Source. More details of the ship here

Comment from a correspondent:

Ice breaker ships (all the world's largest are Russian-owned) break ice, simply by riding the bow up on top of ice and their weight breaks through. The Khlebnikov is one of the largest Diesel-powered ice breakers (not the largest ice breaker, which is nuclear powered and Russian owned; and as far as I know, the US doesn't have a nuclear powered ice breaker) - and the Khlebnikov was designed to go through an average of 1.0 meter thickness of ice at about 4 knots if I remember correctly (assuming clear weather, storms can put a big load on the ship). So, they must be looking at some pretty thick ice.

Warmists in Frantic Effort to Save their Failing Theory

In the best Orwell style, they keep revising the past until it fits their theories

The global warmers are becoming increasingly desperate to prop up their failing prophesy in every way possible. Behaving just as Leon Festinger predicted in "When Prophecies Fail". As the earth shows no net warming in a decade and cooling into its 7th year, as new models suggest cooling may continue because of natural ocean cycles, as the sun stays quiet now 12 years since the last solar minimum, usually a signal of cooling, as more and more peer review calls into question the importance of CO2 and of the the accuracy of the models and the entire greenhouse theory because of the failure of fingerprinting, the alarmists begin a frantic effort to save their failing theory. You see so many have won the lottery and want to ensure the annuity checks keep coming.

As we indicated in an earlier blog, they are now busy reinventing old data. NASA and NOAA continually revise old data and make gross assumptions that always result in more warming. The old reliable radiosonde weather balloon data gets challenged because it (and the satellite derived data) do not show the warming the models and theory predict for the high tropical atmophere. A legitimate scientist would trust the data and assume the models are in error (as models so often are) but to these agenda driven alarmists, the models must be right and the data wrong. But because they can't challenge the satellite data which has been quality assured and passed the sniff test, they go after the weather balloon data. They use some of the same unsound tricks that get more warming in the global data and revise the old balloon data to get better agreement with the models. See the ludicrous adusted data in the diagram below.

They don't stop there. They try a left end run by using winds as a proxy for temperatures to show the warming not shown by the balloon temperature measurements was really there (see May 26 Warm Winds Comfort Climate Models). In the same natural Geoscience Journal issue, coincidentally, Peter Thorne of Britain Met Office Hadley Centre in a commentary, also published in Nature Geoscience. The new study "provides ... long-awaited experimental verification of model predictions," Thorne wrote. All these efforts were "fast-tracked" through the Journal of Climate and Nature Geosciences in record time to show the complicity of the AMS and Nature in the whole scam.

Then there is that mid century cold period, well established as many cold and snow records were set in the 1960s into the 1970s but a thorn in the side of the alarmists as when combined with the apparent current cooling might imply cyclical behavior which would be hard to explain away without considering natural factors. So the solution - again find fault with the data. NASA and NOAA make adjustments to their "adjustments" to minimize the cooling then and now.

Now they suddenly discover in a paper in the latest Nature that the ocean temperature measurement techniques did not change at once but gradually (something well known for years) and making that slower correction for the ocean changes results in the mid-century cold period become an artifact and not real. This now will allow models to tweak back on the aerosol adjustment they had to use to explain the cooling (since they downplay the sun and don't handle ocean cycles well). Removing the cyclical look will allow them to argue this current cooling is a brief anomaly not totally inconsistent with their models, at least for a while longer. Unfortunately it may be a long enough period to allow congress and the new President to do something stupid. No on further reflection, that would be nothing unusual, I should have said REALLY stupid.


Sacrifices to the Climate Gods: Beware Lieberman-Warner

It is well-established that the ancient Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and Toltec peoples offered human sacrifices, probably in the belief that such rituals would placate the gods who were in charge of nature; for instance, to help bring life-giving rains to their crops.

Although we shudder at the thought of such barbaric practices, I believe that we have unwittingly reinstituted human sacrifice in modern times. But while the list of justifications has grown immensely, our new rituals are still performed in the name of avoiding the wrath of the gods of nature.

Our environmental protection practices have already caused the deaths of millions of people, mainly in poor African countries. By far the most humans - mostly women and children - have been sacrificed in the mistaken belief that the use of any amount of the pesticide DDT would harm the environment. As a result, the preventable disease malaria has continued to decimate Africa.

Only recently has this genocide disguised as environmentalism been partly reversed through the reinstituted practice of twice-yearly DDT treatments of the entryways to homes. While most environmentalists continue to insist that there is no connection between international bans on DDT and human deaths, such protestations really are like denying that the Holocaust ever happened.

Now, the Senate is preparing to debate the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which aims to limit carbon-dioxide emissions in the belief that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is disrupting the Earth's climate and ecosystems.

Since we now have the scientific method, we rely on computer models to predict these future catastrophes rather than on our fears and prejudices. While this gives the illusion of modern objective precision, the truth is that all we have done is enlisted one of our modern idols - the computer - to justify what we want to believe anyway. And that fundamental belief is that anything mankind does to nature is inherently evil.

To be sure, the scientific method can help us understand the physical world. something the ancients could not do. But global-warming theory, unfortunately, is out of the realm of being a legitimate, testable scientific hypothesis.

For instance, to be a valid scientific hypothesis, there should be some kind of climate behavior observable in nature that would be inconsistent with the theory that mankind is responsible for global warming. But instead, everything we observe has now become consistent with the theory. Floods and droughts. Too much snow and too little snow. More hurricanes and fewer hurricanes. It is sometimes pointed out that a theory that explains everything really explains nothing.

Similarly, there is no experiment we can carry out in the laboratory to test the theory. Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and yes we are adding more of it to the atmosphere. But since weather processes create and control over 90 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect through their continuous adjustments to water vapor and cloud amounts, it is not at all obvious that more CO2 will cause substantial warming. Indeed, it could well be that one of the functions of weather is to maintain a relatively constant greenhouse effect, no matter how much carbon dioxide is present.

Alarmists like Al Gore will use pseudo-scientific justifications and comparisons in their attempt to make a connection between carbon dioxide and global warming. Even though CO2 is necessary for life on Earth, the alarmists insist on calling it a pollutant, referring to our atmosphere as an "open sewer."

For instance, Gore likes to point out that Venus has far more CO2 in its atmosphere than the Earth does, and its surface is hot enough to melt lead. Therefore, more CO2 causes warming.

But we also know that the Martian atmosphere has 15 times as much CO2 as our own atmosphere, and its surface temperature averages about 70 deg. F below zero. So you see, in science a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Why do we love to believe that mankind is a plague upon the Earth? We view anything and everything that happens in nature, no matter how barbaric, bloody, or destructive, as good. Indeed, the word "natural" has no negative connotation at all.

If a volcano like Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines dumps millions of tons of sulfur into the stratosphere, cooling the Earth for two or three years, this is simply Mother Nature at work. If humans did it, we would call it an environmental catastrophe.

And now we are teaching our children to perform their own acts of worship, again hoping to placate the gods of the natural world. Substituting compact fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent ones, and turning the light off when they leave the room, makes them feel good about themselves and their relationship to nature. These rituals being taught in the public schools will help define their still-developing worldviews and religious beliefs.

Lieberman-Warner will, in effect, punish the use of energy by making it more expensive. Yet, energy is necessary for all human activities. We are already causing a food crisis around the world by converting food, such as corn, into liquid fuels for transportation. Now, with the Climate Security Act, we will also be causing additional turmoil at home as the poor struggle to survive in a world where only the middle class and wealthy can afford to live relatively comfortably.

We will, in effect, be sacrificing even more humans at the altar of radical environmentalism in the vain hope that the gods in charge of weather and climate will look favorably upon us, and not destroy us.


Punditry and the reality of environmentalism

Two pundits on one of D.C.'s most enlightened programs, the All Star Panel on Fox's "Special Report," sitting within five feet of the very reasonable Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer, may have learned something yesterday. Or not.

Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine said with a straight face "to me our biggest freedom issue is our dependence on foreign oil...that's the biggest freedom issue we face, not environmental controls." Was she saying that the two are not related? She was responding to comments by Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus at the National Press Club, where he proclaimed that environmentalism was not about "cleaning a lake" or "using less electricity" but rather "an ideology that wants to control the world." Klaus, who knows totalitariansim when he sees it (living under Soviet control for a few decades will do that) said in broken English what Rush Limbaugh and others have been saying for many years... that the environmental movement is the new home of communist style totalitarianism.

People with real world experience often understand that it is precisely environmental controls that have insured our dependence on foreign oil. But there she was.... on national TV thinking she was being brilliant...going out of her way to separate foreign oil dependence and environmental controls as mutually exclusive and competing factors affecting our freedom.

When you understand this concept and examine the theory (also known as fact) that extreme environmentalism is a totalitarian ideology, it makes sense on many levels. Not the least of which are the resulting effects of totalitarianism or enviromentalism on free markets and more pointedly... the vast "coincidence" of the leftist and green movements' leaders. Apparently, inside The Beltway pundits have never bothered to even examine it. And they admit it. "It's really interesting...I hadn't thought this through before" said Juan Williams in response to Klaus. "He's saying it's beyond the scientists and in fact an ideology that will tell us how to live and what cars to drive and whether or not we can have a refrigerator."

Well no kidding. Where have you been Juan? But better late than never. "It struck me as something different," he added. "I had not heard this line of argument before. I had never felt threatened by an environmentalist before...I just felt my consiousness had been raised."

These folks need to do what George McGovern finally did after his public life ended... try to run a business coping with the messes they make in Washington. It was only then that McGovern "felt threatened by an environmentalist" and had his consciousness raised in a whole new way.


Exxon boss slams Greenies

Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil-and-gas company, came out swinging yesterday against the environmental movement, arguing the science of climate change is far from settled and that his company views it as its "corporate social responsibility" to continue to supply the world with fossil fuels.

Speaking to reporters after the annual meeting of shareholders, at which much-publicized proposals by the Rockefeller family calling for new investment in renewable energy received little support, Mr. Tillerson also said he expects little delay in the $8-billion Kearl oilsands project in Alberta, after a court challenge by environmental organizations this month resulted in the withdrawal of a key federal permit, halting important work.

"I am optimistic that the permit will be restored and we'll be able to get back on track with very little loss to the schedule," he said. "My understanding is that the project ? has been given a very high priority by the government of Canada and is moving along at a fairly rapid pace." Exxon Mobil owns Kearl with its Canadian affiliate, Imperial Oil Ltd.

Avoiding the political correctness that many oil executives are now showing on global warming, Mr. Tillerson called for a continuation of the debate, rather than acceptance that it is occurring, with the potential consequence that governments will implement policies that put world economies at risk. "My view is that this is so extraordinarily important to people the world over, that to not have a debate on it is irresponsible," he said. "To suggest that we know everything we need to know about these issues is irresponsible." "And I will take all the criticism that comes with it. Anybody that tells you that they got this figured out is not being truthful. There are too many complexities around climate science for anybody to fully understand all of the causes and effects and consequences of what you may choose to do to attempt to affect that. We have to let scientists to continue their investigative work, unencumbered by political influences. This is too important to be cute with it."

Mr. Tillerson said Exxon Mobil, despite its reputation as a staunch climate change denier, is in fact close to the issue as the only oil company that is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Exxon Mobil came under repeated attack during the rowdy meeting for not showing leadership to combat global warming, with some arguing it is putting shareholders' capital at risk by not moving into greener energy. Among the many critics who stood up in the city's Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Centre, where the meeting was held, was Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, who founded Exxon's predecessor 125 years ago. But her proposal to have Exxon Mobil prepare a report on the impact of climate change on emerging countries and to embrace greener energy was backed by only 10.4% of shareholders.

Another proposal, also supported by the family, to split the role of chairman and CEO in the hope it will encourage a more favourable view of energy alternatives was supported by 39.5%.

Mr. Tillerson said Exxon Mobil, with 14,000 engineers and scientists on the payroll, is already investing billions to manage the environmental impact of its operations, become more energy-efficient and support research to help consumers use less energy. Looking out 25 to 30 years, "everyone agrees that notwithstanding the growth in all other options for supplying energy, renewables, nuclear, biomass alternatives, you are still going to require substantial fossil fuels to meet energy needs, and two-thirds is going to come from oil and natural gas."

Mr. Tillerson said he is encouraged by efforts to move forward the $16.2-billion Mackenzie Gas Project in Canada's Arctic. Those involved are still investigating ways it can be structured to better manage upfront risk, 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.


29 May, 2008

There are food shortages now? It will get worse as the climate cools

An email from Paul Stevens [] warns of a REAL climate danger

I haven't yet seen many articles in the popular media linking the expected cooling, or current stasis in temperature rise to the biofuels mania, and then predicting the "perfect storm" for reduced food production that will lead to widespread starvation in the developing world. Numerous articles about crop diversion for energy use, of course. But not many speculating on what happens if worsening weather conditions also occur.

In the US, corn and soybean planting has already been much delayed by the weather and there is now widespread doubt about the size of the potential harvest. I am reminded of the days in the mid to late sixties when my own relatives in Saskatchewan, Canada suffered through year after year of early frost, too much rain, not enough rain and then late frost, all affecting growing conditions and essentially destroying or reducing their wheat crops.

We have had relatively benign conditions for food crops world-wide, over the last 4-5 years. With the diversion to biofuels, continued increase in population and continued demand from the rising middle class in China and India, it only takes a couple of years of bad weather in the worlds bread or rice baskets to equal millions of deaths. From what I read, wheat stocks are reduced around the globe. There won't be any warehoused grain to go to for aid shipments. It's all being sold off to the ethanol folks. A dark day could be coming.


An email from Donn Dears []

We were clarifying the CO2 emission reductions required by the Warner-Lieberman Bill as compared with the Boxer-Sanders Bill (which requires the U.S. to achieve an 80% reduction) when we decided to look at some historical data. (The Warner-Lieberman bill requires a 70% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050 vs 80% as mandated by the UN. We posted this on our web site .

While making this comparison we located a graph prepared by Princeton University showing CO2 levels in the United States dating back to 1850. It was interesting to note how far back in history we would need to go to find CO2 emissions at the same level as required by Warner-Lieberman.

The year was approximately 1922 when America's population was 110 million. Per capita levels were approximately 14.2 Metric Tons.

It's stunning to realize that the Warner-Lieberman Bill requires reaching the 1922 level of CO2 emissions when the population of the United States is forecast to be around 440 million. In 2050 the per capita levels will need to be be around 3.5 Metric Tons. And this is below China's current CO2 emissions.

We have posted this on


It's shaping up to be a Dickensian summer on the Hill. What seemed just a few months ago like the best of times to pass ambitious climate-change legislation has suddenly turned into the worst of times. Nobel-prize momentum has given way to hand-wringing over the economy.

That makes the difficult balancing act of crafting politically palatable but still effective climate laws even tougher. The big worry now? By trying to sugarcoat the Lieberman-Warner bill enough to garner a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate, proponents of climate-legislation run the risk of making the new law a paper tiger. That could mean plenty of costs with few environmental benefits-and ensures nobody's happy. Conservatives fret over the former; environmentalists are livid over the latter.

What's the problem now? Joe Romm at Climate Progress points up some new analysis of the revised Lieberman-Warner bill, fresh off a massive amendment from California senator Barbara Boxer. Provisions included to allay concerns over the bill's future cost, some analysts say, could undo much of the bill's plans to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

The problem is two-fold. The revised bill would let U.S. companies meet part (15%) of their obligation by using "offsets"-that is, they could "cut" emissions by preserving forests somewhere or helping fund clean-energy development abroad. Bad timing, that: New research suggest offsets used by the rest of the world are a bust, as well.

At the same time, by making the bill as flexible as possible for the companies that will have to clean up their act, the revised version could end up putting off the real heavy lifting for a decade or two. That, says the World Resources Institute, means that over the next dozen years-despite all the cost and complexity of implementing a big program to regulate the whole economy-the net result would be the same as having no new program at all.

Not everybody is quite so pessimistic; Joe Romm himself figures the bill, as designed, would mean U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions in 2020 would be higher than they are now, but lower than they'd be if the country did nothing. But he figures the bill is already dead-on-arrival in Congress anyway.

Conservative commentators, from the American Enterprise Institute to the WSJ editorial page, are grabbing their silver bullets and wooden stakes, just in case. They figure the legislation would achieve the trifecta of raising energy prices, damaging the U.S. economy, and doing little to help the environment. Newt Gingrich told Fox News that Lieberman-Warner should be called the "China and India Full Employment Act" because it will ship American industry overseas (even though most serious studies find little risk of large-scale "carbon leakage," as that kind of outsourcing is known.)

Congress is just preparing to sink its teeth into America's first big foray into climate politics. Even if it doesn't take a whole month, expect plenty of fireworks.


Winter Weather Cancels Iron Horse Classic

Organizers of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race called off the event for the first time in 37 years as winter weather persisted over Memorial Day weekend in southwest Colorado.

"The race goes over two 11,000-foot mountain passes and there was a between a foot and 15 inches of snow on those passes and it was completely snowpacked," said Ed Zink, owner of Durango's Mountain Bike Specialists and chairman of the race committee. "There was absolutely no way to proceed."

The 2,500-rider race was scheduled on Saturday morning, but with the snow and temperatures forecasted into the teens, the decision to call it off practically made itself, Zink said.

The only other year the race hasn't been held since its inception in 1972 was 1997 when bad weather forced riders to turn around after they'd begun.


Error Growth in climate prediction

An excerpt from Netherlands Atmospheric scientist Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, a scientific pioneer in the development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at The Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute, and an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric boundary layer processes

Climate forecasting is far from being mature. No systematic work on the admittedly very complicated dynamics of error growth has been done. Even the relatively straightforward matter of estimating the prediction horizon of climate models has received no attention to speak of. If a reliable method for calculating the effective prediction horizon exists anywhere, it must have slipped past me unawares, though I have been anxiously waiting for it these past twenty years.

In view of the manifestly chaotic behavior of the weather, one should be suspicious of claims about the stability of the climate system. The idea that the climate might be well-behaved, even if the weather is not, is not supported by any investigations that I am aware of. The very claim that there exist no processes in the climate system that may exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions, or on misrepresentations of the large-scale environment in which these processes occur, is ludicrous. Just think of the many factors that promote the birth of a hurricane. It is not just the sea water temperature that may trip such an event, but also the presence or absence of wind shear, the upper atmosphere temperature field, and so on. In short, the climate would be stable if there exists not a single potential "tipping point". I consider that inconceivable.

In the absence of a theoretical framework, one has to investigate all possible causes of error growth. Data assimilation and initialization errors are but one source of trouble. What to think of errors caused by the unavoidable shortcomings in the parameterization of the "physics"? Parameterization always involves simplification and smoothing; in a complex nonlinear system like the climate one cannot assume offhand that these tricks will not lead to unexpected kinds of error growth. Also, any error in this category is not triggered by a single impulse at startup time. Instead, it is aggravated by new impulses at each time step in the calculations.

Let me illustrate this with the simple model Ed Lorenz used to popularize nonlinear behavior. The repeated iteration

x(n + 1) = x(n)^2 - 1.8

is sensitive to initial errors, but it is also sensitive to other kinds of mistakes. One might imagine that the exact value of the coefficient in front of x-squared is unknown, or that the additive term 1.8 is subject to a small parameterization defect, so that it is taken to be 1.82, a mere 1% off the "true" value 1.8. Now determine what will happen. If the iteration is started with x(0) = 1 and the additive constant equals 1.8, we obtain the sequence

1, -0.8, -1.16, -0.4544, -1.59352, 0.73931, and so on.

But if the additive constant is 1% off, we get

1, -0.82, -1.1476, -0.50301, -1.56698, 0.63542, and so on.

In just five steps, the 1% "parameterization error" has grown a factor of sixteen!

One can vary this theme in many ways. Imagine, for example, that one cannot be sure of the exponent in the algorithm. It is taken as two, but what would happen if one has to accept a 10% uncertainty because of inadequate knowledge of the "physics"? In climate modeling, several processes are modeled with parameterizations of questionable accuracy. The difference between clouds in the atmosphere and cloudiness in a model involves several conceptual simplifications of dubious reliability, including the lack of attention to the difference between the behavior of ensembles ("cloudiness" is an ensemble) and that of the clouds that pass my window at this moment. The standard trick of making models behave "realistically" by adding an overdose of numerical viscosity is, to put it mildly, unprofessional. The viscosity dampens unwanted behavior, but decisions as to what is wanted and what is not are made subjectively. If such choices are not open to public scrutiny, the science involved is probably substandard. I maintain, as I have for many years, that it is up to climate modelers to demonstrate by which methods the accuracy, reliability, and forecast horizons of their model runs can be assessed. Good intentions aren't good enough.

The climate attractor is incredibly complex; its multidimensional landscape of hills, valleys and "tipping points" has not yet been charted with any accuracy. Future generations of climate scientists will have to study the possible sensitive dependence of each feature in that landscape on assimilation, initialization, and parameterization errors. I dare to venture that they will find so many conceivable "tipping points" that they may decide to throw their hats in the ring and give up on the idea of climate forecasting altogether. I did so many years ago, when I realized that sensitive dependence on initial conditions is not nearly as dangerous as the unwillingness to explore possible sensitive dependence on shortcomings in the codes employed and in the data assimilation software.

Let me conclude. I adhere to the Lorenz paradigm because I do not want to forget for a moment that small mistakes of whatever kind on occasion have large consequences. As far as I am concerned, the climate of our planet continuously balances on the verge of chaos. In my opinion, optimistic pronouncements about the stability of the climate system are unwarranted and unprofessional. I prefer modesty.


Environmentalism is a fading fashion in Britain

As long-predicted on GWP, the environment - more correctly, perhaps, environmentalism - is on the way out. The signs of organic decay are everywhere, even in bien pensant newspapers like The Observer. And the reaction to a decade of being lectured to about `global warming', `organic' food, set-aside, and pretty birdies can be surprisingly angry, as I recently witnessed at an agricultural conference where the speaker from the RSPB was attacked with quite extraordinary venom.

Today, the papers are full of it, from Guardianista, Catherine Bennett, twittering in The Observer [`Green politics, like all fashions, has proved sadly transient', The Observer, May 25] to libertarian, James Delingpole, blasting off in The Sunday Telegraph [`Credit crunch means organic food is toast', The Sunday Telegraph, May 25].

Ms Bennett is scathing about her liberal readers and their Anya Hindmarch `I'm Not a Plastic Bag' fashionet(h)ics: "The credit crunch is already known to have had an impact on bag fever. And one which is likely to be exaggerated when the bag in question is, like the INAPB, so plainly last year's model ... But Anya prices might also have suffered from widespread consumer disillusion. Some ethical shoppers are minded, apparently, to return bags which have conspicuously failed, even after a whole year of regular use, to save the world."

Mr. Delingpole is even more trenchant about "the organic craze": "In times of rising food prices (partly the result of eco-fanatics obsessing about organic and biofuels, and rejecting genuinely productive technologies like GM) and falling incomes, the last thing a hard-pressed family wants to spend money on is the warm glow of ecological righteousness. All it wants is a full stomach, and the more cheaply-filled that stomach the happier it will be. Organic will be off the menu for some time to come."

And then there is Senior Royal Disapproval (poor Old Charlie), "Sir!": "The first blow was struck this month by the Duke of Edinburgh who - with a fearless disregard for his elder son's Christmas card list - said in an interview: `It is not an absolute certainty that [organic farming] is as useful as it sounds.'"

Ms Bennett further reminds us that our politicians are likewise rowing back from the green algae: "So Brown won't make himself more unpopular by reducing airline emissions or introducing personal carbon allowances. Neither he nor Cameron nor Clegg will ... unite behind an effective carbon policy which, appearing identically in every manifesto like the nasty nougat in every box of chocolates, may put the interests of future generations before contemporary self-pity. And when Cameron, versatile friend of both glacier and motorist, finally prevails, his strategy for `green growth' has as much chance of holding back the rising seas as did the Anya Hindmarch bag."

Brava! "Versatile friend of both glacier and motorist" - wonderful stuff on `Our Dave', Catherine. Meanwhile, the reasons for this change in fashion are superbly encapsulated in another piece today by the ever-excellent Nick Cohen [`People loathe Labour's elitists, not toffs', The Observer, May 25]: "Labour would do better to realise that millions of working- and middle-class people who can't see the subtle social differences between Ed Balls's private school and George Osborne's are lying awake and wondering if the ground is shifting from under them. They are sweating about debt, unemployment, repossession, pensions and inflation. Old Etonians are the least of their problems."

As are `organic' elitism, `global warming' hot air, and the pretty birdies. They are all going to be set-aside, not just the bags



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 May, 2008

Feather-brained climate reporting in the Financial Times

An email below from Chris Horner [], who has just caught up with a choice piece of Greenie nonsense. I commented on the nonsense concerned myself on 16th.

Imagine my surprise to read Fiona Harvey's absurd -- even for this context -- reportage of a NASA study that she purports found an association between human activity and observed climate change (ok, "proved", for all intents and purposes). Fiona is a lovely lady and I am sorry to have to say this, but this is an utterly incredible example of how little beat-journalists care for and/or grap the relevant substance, or simply how deep in the tank they are for the agenda.

She writes, "Scientists have been able to say with virtual certainty for the first time that the climate change observed over the past four decades is man made and not the result of natural phenomena....[raising] the likelihood of 'unnatural' causes of global warming to near certainty.'" Oh, dear.

In truth the study "found" no such thing, but instead assumed that observed changes were largely man-made; it then identified changes which it found "consistent with warming" - which, again, they assumed for these purposes...and certainly didn't *find*...was man-made - and said they're quite confident then that man caused the climate change-induced changes. This was facially apparent: "Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents."

Further, in the words of a scientist-colleague, "It's a meta analysis and is purely associational. There is no data on causality of the temperature variation whatever. The bottom line is that causality of temperature increases is never put at issue. They assume all temperature variation is due exclusively to greenhouse gases. They don't factor in ENSO or PDO, much less variations in solar radiation."

Patrick Moore finds feather-brained reporting in "Discover" magazine

His unpublished letter to the editor below. His email:

Re: Sliced: Leaves at Work, page 17, April 2008, by Jocelyn Rice

As soon as I read this article I knew it was wrong. I have no idea how Jocelyn Rice came up with the idea of a "stomata effect" in which she claims, with reference to the UK Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, that increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere are resulting in reduced CO2 uptake by plants due to the stomata closing because the plants are "full" of CO2. (Stomata are the openings in the leaves of plants that allow CO2 into the interior of the leaf where it is converted into sugars by photosynthesis).

She also claims that this has resulted in a "3 percent increase in river runoff seen over the past century". Are we to believe that anyone has figures so accurate for global river runoff over the past century that a 3 percent change could be detected? This was my first clue that something was seriously amiss with this article. No citation is given to back up the 3 percent claim.

Then Ms. Rice goes on to report that "runoff within the next 100 years could increase by as much as 24 percent above preindustrial levels."

Contrary to these claims it is a known fact that increases in CO2 above present atmospheric levels greatly increases CO2 uptake, water uptake, and plant growth. CO2 is presently about 380 ppm in the global atmosphere. Controlled experiments have demonstrated conclusively that the optimum CO2 level for plant growth is between 1500 - 1800 ppm, more than four times the present level. Increases in growth of up to 40 percent are not uncommon.

This is why greenhouse growers routinely inject the exhaust gases from their fossil-fuel or wood-fired heaters into the greenhouse to enhance growth. This is a widely known fact and flies in the face of the so-called "stomata effect". Many papers have been written on the "fertilizer effect" of increasing CO2 concentrations.

It is not surprising that plants prefer higher CO2 levels than the present levels. CO2 has been much higher for most of the history of life than it is today. See the following graph of global temperature and CO2 levels for the past 600 million years. Note that during the Cambrian, when large life-forms first evolved, CO2 was at 7,000 ppm, nearly 20 times present levels.

Here are a few websites obtained by Googling "Optimum CO2 level for plant growth"

It troubles me that such an erroneous piece of reporting could get past the editors at a popular science magazine. I hope you will correct this serious piece of misinformation by publishing this letter or publishing an article on the true relationship between CO2 levels and plant growth.


The centre-left's influence is falling as it abandons progressive optimism for environmental zealousness

A series of disastrous election defeats have plunged Britain's Labour government into disarray. As Prime Minister Gordon Brown fights for survival, a political drama with momentous consequences is unfolding before our eyes. One of the last centre-left governments in Europe looks set to fall.

Many analysts of Labour's disintegration attribute the collapse of support to the current economic downturn, a perfect storm of global credit crunch combined with falling house and rising oil prices. In reality, the defeats Labour has suffered in recent elections mirror the deepening crisis now affecting almost every social democratic party in Europe. New Labour's pledge to evade the burden of high taxation has been broken.

In recent years, almost all of Europe's social democratic parties have lost in national elections. The collapse of support for Gordon Brown and his policies reveals a general decline of Europe's social democracy as a whole.

There are many good reasons for the deterioration of the centre-left's political influence and power. But perhaps one of the most crucial is the abandonment of their traditional core value of progressive optimism. After all, the left used to derive large amounts of its popular appeal from a firm belief in social and technological advancement, a political philosophy of societal optimism and hope. During the last couple of decades, however, it has eagerly adopted a green ideology that has replaced its confidence in future progress with the ever more intimidating prediction of climate catastrophe and environmental disaster, culminating in calls for economic sacrifices and collective belt-tightening.

In short, Britain's Labour Party has discarded its "progressive" principles for environmental fear-mongering and salvationist rhetoric in the expectation that voters would accept that only government control, central planning and higher taxes could prevent global disaster.

At the core of Labour's environmental philosophy and polity-making stands the notion that people in Britain and other industrialized countries consume too much energy derived from the burning of fossil fuels. For many years, Labour has chanted the green mantra that in order to prevent disastrous climate change caused by excessive energy consumption, Britons must make personal sacrifices in their lifestyle and behaviour. No other government in the world has employed the spectre of climate catastrophe as forcefully as Britain; no other administration has saddled taxpayers with a heavier burden of green taxation.

Eighteen months ago, Labour's David Miliband proposed the introduction of carbon "credit cards" that would be issued as part of a nationwide carbon rationing scheme. He suggested the allocation of an annual allowance for basic needs such as travel, energy or food. Two days after Labour's disastrous defeat in the local elections, the whole scheme was hastily abandoned.

Motorists in the UK are paying the highest fuel taxes in Europe, an average of almost 900 annually. In the name of climate change mitigation, the government has progressively increased fuel, road and car taxes. It has burdened companies with a so-called Climate Change Levy and introduced an emissions trading scheme - costly policies that have had damaging effects on British competitiveness, energy prices and living standards. As a direct result, a record number of people, particularly Britain's poorest, oldest and most vulnerable, are increasingly falling on hard times. As many as five million households, more than 20% of the UK's population, are today living in "fuel poverty."

It is estimated that the economic burden of green taxes in Britain accounts for more than 20-billion annually. British companies have lost one million manufacturing jobs since the levy was introduced in 2001. And a recent government report has warned that any attempt to meet Britain's renewable energy targets would cost taxpayers some 75-billion, a price tag that would mean extra costs of more than 3,000 for every family in the UK.

Fundamental to the multi-billion government subsidies for solar and wind energy companies is a direct transfer of wealth and money from the poor to the well-off. By subsidizing green companies and their uncompetitive products, ordinary taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for green gadgets that have little if any effect on the climate but are making green businessmen richer at the expense of ordinary families.

Labour's foolhardy policies are shaped by the conviction that, in the words of Miliband, tackling climate change is "the mass mobilizing movement of our age." The principles of fairness and equality used to stand at the heart of centre-left governments. Protecting the interests of poor and disadvantaged members of society was essential to the popular appeal of left and labour parties. Those parties have substituted these ideals with an environmental program in which saving the planet for the generations of the future has taken priority over the principle of liberating the underprivileged and disadvantaged from poverty and restitution today.

In effect, the Labour Party is gradually pricing the working and lower-middle classes out of their comfort zone. With these core voters counting the rising cost of green taxes, tariffs and restrictions, the Labour Party's chances of re-election are dwindling.

Labour's fundamental miscalculation has been to bank on the strength of the environmental movement and climate change anxiety in an attempt to "modernize" its agenda. Labour's climate policy, however, is now backfiring, turning into one of its biggest political liabilities. A recent survey suggests that more than 70% of British voters are no longer willing to pay higher taxes to fund climate change initiatives. In fact, two-thirds of those surveyed believe that the green agenda has been exploited in order to increase taxes.

Britain's Labour government may believe that its climate policies are saving the planet. But in the process they are destroying the foundations of the party.



Comment from Mick Hume in Britain

Get out your gas masks and tin hats. We are under attack from a noxious army of doom-troopers demanding that we treat climate change as a rerun of the Second World War. In the latest move to militarise everyday life, the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs has seriously proposed energy rationing, aka "personal carbon credits".

What next? Little (green) Hitlers patrolling the streets yelling "Put that high-energy light out!"? Or a campaign to bring back rickets? Everybody from the Prince of Wales to liberal newspapers and former Labour ministers now compares climate change to the war. Baroness Young of Old Scone, head of the Environment Agency, says this is "World War Three". If it's not breaking the Official Secrets Act, could somebody explain what on earth they are on about? The notion of a "war on carbon" makes even less sense than the glorious "wars" on terror/drugs/crime/whatever.

No, these evocations of the past appear political rather than practical. The aim is to create an ersatz Blitz Spirit that could bring people together behind a phoney war on global warming. Governments desperate for a unifying cause are naturally sympathetic. But they are also aware that hard-up Brits who see few bombs falling are unlikely to be too keen on making wartime sacrifices. Thus new Labour, which previously admitted it might "need to go back to rationing", has retreated from the carbon credits proposal, fearful of further voter desertions.

What solution do the doom-troopers propose to the problem of public resistance? Let's suspend democracy, like we did in the good old days! While one leading liberal writer insists that all the main parties must include identical austerity measures in their manifestos (not much change there then), another feminist veteran, Rosie Boycott, demands that they dump party politics altogether and form a national coalition based on Churchill's wartime Government. Altogether now: "We will fight them in the recycling bins..."

The most depressing thing for me is that the Left is leading this retreat into wartime bunkers with relish, claiming that sharing out the misery is "progressive". Whatever happened to raising people's living standards and tackling serious social problems by moving forwards rather than back? That's why it was called "progress". And if you do want a lesson from history, note that the US economy met the challenge of the Second World War by doubling its output.

When the misery of rationing finally ended in 1954, people held ceremonies to celebrate and the power minister publicly burnt a big replica ration book. No doubt today he would be dragged over the coals for the war crime of carbon emission.



The global warming debate arrives in the Senate next week, and it's about time. Finally, the Members will have to vote on something real, as opposed to their buck-passing to courts and regulators, and their easy trashing of President Bush. The vehicle is a bill that principal sponsors Joe Lieberman and John Warner are calling "landmark legislation." They're too modest. Warner-Lieberman would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.

Thankfully, the American system makes it hard for colossal tax and regulatory burdens to foxtrot into law without scrutiny. So we hope our politicians will take responsibility for the global-warming policies they say they favor. Or even begin to understand what they say they favor. For a bill as grandly ambitious as Warner-Lieberman, very few staff, much less Senators, even know what's in it. The press corps mainly cheerleads this political fad, without examining how it would work or what it would cost. So allow us to fill in some of the details.

Almost all economic activity requires energy, and about 85% of U.S. energy generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. For centuries, these emissions were considered the natural byproduct of combustion. As recently as the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, they were consciously not even described as a "pollutant." But now that the politicians want to decrease those emissions, the government must create a new commodity - the right to create CO2 - and put a price on it. This is an unprecedented tax that would profoundly touch every corner of American life.

The policy preferred by the environmental lobby is called cap and trade. The government would set a limit on emissions that declines every year. The goal of Warner-Lieberman is to return to 2005 levels by 2012, and to reduce that by 30% by 2030.

"Allowances" for emissions would be distributed to covered businesses - power, oil, gas, heavy industry, manufacturing, etc. If they produced less than their allotment, the companies could sell the allowances, or trade them. Cap and trade limits on energy are thus sometimes misleadingly described as a "free market" policy that would create the flexibility for CO2 reductions how and where they are least expensive. But the limits are still a huge tax.

And for the most part, the politicians favor cap and trade because it is an indirect tax. A direct tax - say, on gasoline - would be far more transparent, but it would also be unpopular. Cap and trade is a tax imposed on business, disguising the true costs and thus making it more politically palatable. In reality, firms will merely pass on these costs to customers, and ultimately down the energy chain to all Americans. Higher prices are what are supposed to motivate the investments and behavioral changes required to use less carbon.

The other reason politicians like cap and trade is because it gives them a cut of the action and the ability to pick winners and losers. Some of the allowances would be given away, at least at the start, while the rest would be auctioned off, with the share of auctions increasing over time. This is a giant revenue grab. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these auctions would net $304 billion by 2013 and $1.19 trillion over the next decade. Since the government controls the number and distribution of allowances, it is also handing itself the political right to influence the price of every good and service in the economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this meddling would cause a cumulative reduction in the growth of GDP by between 0.9% and 3.8% by 2030. Add 20 years, and the reduction is between 2.4% and 6.9% - that is, from $1 trillion to $2.8 trillion.

These estimates assume that electricity prices will increase by 44% above what they would otherwise be by 2030. They also assume that existing coal-fired power plants, which currently provide about 50% of U.S. electric power, will be shut down - to be replaced with at least 150% growth in new nuclear facilities, plus other "alternatives." Yet there are only 104 current U.S. nuclear plants, and the industry itself says it's optimistic to think even 30 more can be built by 2020.

In fact, it is pointless to project so far out over multiple decades, since no one knows how markets and consumers would respond, whether the rules would remain constant, or what new technologies might come along. While moralizing about America, most of Europe has failed to meet its mandatory cap and trade goals under the Kyoto Protocol. But the U.S. isn't Italy; we will enforce our laws. So our guess is that these cost estimates are invariably far too low.

In a bow to this reality, California Democrat Barbara Boxer last week introduced 157 pages of amendments to Warner-Lieberman. Most notably, she sets aside at least $800 billion through 2050 for consumer tax relief. So while imposing a huge new tax on all Americans, she vouchsafes to return some of the money to some people. Needless to say, the Senator will be the judge of who receives her dispensation.

Ms. Boxer's amendment shows that cap and trade is also a massive wealth redistribution scheme - all mediated by her and her fellow Platonic rulers. Oh, and she also includes an "emergency off-ramp," should costs prove too onerous. This is really a political "off-ramp" to make Warner-Lieberman seem less dangerous, but you can imagine her reaction if some future Republican President decided to take it.

The upshot is that trillions in assets and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and the bureaucracy, all for greenhouse gas reductions that would have a meaningless impact on global carbon emissions if China and India don't participate. And only somewhat less meaningless if they do.

Warner-Lieberman has no chance of becoming law this year with President Bush in the White House. But the goal of this Senate exercise is political - to get Members on the record early, preferably before the burdens of cap and trade become more widely understood; to give Democrats a campaign issue; and to pour the legislative foundation that the next Administration could cite as it attempts to regulate carbon limits while waiting for Congress to act.

So by all means let's have this debate amid $4 gasoline, and not only on C-Span. If Americans are going to cede this much power to the political class, they at least ought to do it knowing the price they will pay.


Australia's public broadcaster lets its Greenie contempt for ordinary people show a little more clearly than usual

The average Australian is said to be a "pig". The fact that most Australians watch commercial channels most of the time must rile these elitists

An ABC website has been accused of portraying farmers and forestry workers as evil, and telling kids how much carbon they can produce before they die. The Planet Slayer website, which can be accessed via the science section on the ABC home page, also demonises people who eat meat and those involved in the nuclear industry, a Senate estimates committee heard.

The site has several features including a cartoon series, Adventures of Greena, and a tool called Prof Schpinkee's Greenhouse Calculator to help kids work out their carbon footprint. The calculator lets users compare their own carbon output to the "average Aussie greenhouse pig" and estimates at what age a person should die so they don't use more than their fair share of the Earth's resources. Too much carbon production causes a cartoon pig to explode, leaving behind a pool of blood.

Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield today questioned the accuracy and appropriateness of some of the imagery and content on the website. "I know there's a little bit of goth in all of us, but this might be taking it just a little too far," Senator Fifield said of the quasi life-expectancy calculator. "Do you think it's appropriate that the ABC portray the average Australian as a pig and is it appropriate for a website obviously geared towards kids to depict people who are average Australians as massive overweight ugly pigs, oozing slime from their mouths, and then to have these pigs blow up in a mass of blood and guts?"

Senator Fifield said the Adventures of Greena cartoon series, which follows the exploits of a young female activist, also raised questions. He said episode two of the 12-part series, Fistful of Woodchips, portrayed a logger as "rough and evil". "I don't think that it's a particularly helpful way of depicting hard-working Australians who are trying to go about making an honest living, as though they're these rough and evil dudes out to do bad."

Senator Fifield said other episodes in the series portrayed people who eat meat, those involved in the nuclear industry and farmers who grow GM crops as evil. "I'm not sure if it's helpful to portray struggling farmers who are looking at GM technology to help them improve their yield in a period of drought as some sort of evil promoters of (these) products."

ABC managing director Mark Scott said the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues. "The site has been developed to appeal to children and its been done in an irreverent way ... to make it engaging," Mr Scott said. "It's not an attempt to write public policy ... it's an attempt to educate school students on the impact of the modern Western lifestyle on carbon emissions and the whole issue that we are dealing with." Mr Scott said the ABC would review the content on the site.



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 May, 2008


It has now got to the point where the politicians have got to make hard decisions to back their big Greenie talk but they can't face it, knowing how the voters will respond to the costs involved. So they are just waffling. Nettles are remain ungrasped. The recent huge turn by the voters against the very Green British government is no doubt top of mind for many. Amusing, though, that the British government is being blamed for something it didn't do (increased fuel prices) rather than things it did do (increased electricity costs, for instance). Three recent reports below:

G8 talks

Environment ministers from the world's top industrial powers called Monday for more effort to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but little headway was seen in setting more immediate goals. Ministers from the Group of Eight held three days of talks here in a bid to set the tone for a summit involving the G8 leaders, which opens July 7 in the northern Japanese resort of Toyako and is expected to focus on climate change.

The ministers in a statement said they hoped the summit would "go beyond" the agreement set by last year's summit in Germany to "seriously consider" halving the world's output of greenhouse gases by 2050. But to the dismay of some, the talks in the Japanese city of Kobe did not signal a direction on the more immediate goal -- coming up with commitments on slashing greenhouse gas emissions once Kyoto's obligations expire in 2012.

More than 180 countries agreed in December on the Indonesian island of Bali to reach a post-Kyoto deal at a conference in late 2009 in Copenhagen. "I think it's very clear that without a mid-term target, a mandatory mid-term target for developed countries, it's going to be very complicated to get an agreement in Copenhagen," said Matthias Machnig, Germany's secretary of state for the environment.

But Japan's Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita defended the outcome of the meeting here, saying that all sides had shown a "strong will" to move forward with an agreement. "In terms of mid-term targets, that is an issue negotiated at multinational meetings," Kamoshita told reporters. "This environmental meeting was meaningful in accelerating the efforts by developed countries and raising the momentum," he said.

More here


Part two of Chancellor Merkel's ambitious package of measures aimed at reducing German greenhouse gas emissions may be in trouble. Originally set for passage on Tuesday, many of the law proposals are under attack. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has managed to develop quite a reputation on the international stage for her efforts to combat climate change. Back home in Germany, however, important pieces of her climate protection package threaten to fall through.

On Friday, with just days to go before the cabinet planned approve a second package of environmental laws, the item was suddenly removed from the Tuesday agenda. It now won't be considered by the Merkel government until the middle of June. And on Saturday, a number of dailies indicate that the problems facing the proposed measures are many.

Perhaps most serious are disagreements regarding a proposal to base automobile registration and tax fees on vehicle CO2 emissions instead of, as has been the practice until now, on engine size. Such a change was agreed upon last December, when the government pushed through its first major package of laws aimed at reducing German CO2 emissions. The Economics Ministry under Michael Glos made it clear that the goal must be that of "preventing higher taxes on automobiles" in Germany. The point of the law was to provide a financial incentive for Germans to buy cars that emit less greenhouse gases.

Disagreement, however, is also rampant when it comes to rules relating to the remodelling of buildings and the expansion of Germany's power line network. A proposal to tie truck tolls to the amount of CO2 emitted by the vehicles has also run into difficulties.

Merkel's government has committed to reducing Germany's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent relative to 1990 levels by 2020. Last December, her cabinet approved a package of laws, representing a 3.3 billion euro commitment, designed to encourage businesses to conserve energy and to expand Germany's reliance on renewable energy sources. A recent study commissioned by the Green Party, however, has found that Merkel's goals could be unrealistic. The study warned that a reduction of just 28 percent is achievable.



Anger over Gordon Brown's failure to deal with rising fuel prices will boil over tomorrow in the first major new protest against sky-high petrol and diesel costs. Hundreds of truckers will descend on the capital for a mass rally to draw attention to a crisis that is hurting millions of motorists. With fuel prices going up every day, protesters will demand the Prime Minister cuts duty after having raked in millions in additional tax.

In scenes reminiscent of the 2000 fuel protests, demonstrators will gather at Marble Arch before a delegation marches on Downing Street to demand talks with Mr Brown. They hope to exploit his vulnerability in the wake of Labour's meltdown in the local elections and last week's humiliating by-election defeat in Crewe.

Motorists are already facing record fuel prices after crude oil last week hit 135 US dollars a barrel - its highest ever level. The pressure on motorists is underlined by a study showing that the cost of fuel for a typical bank holiday weekend away has soared by up to 74 per cent in just five years.

More here


Billions of pounds are being wasted in paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions, according to two analyses of the UN's carbon offsetting programme. Leading academics and watchdog groups allege that the UN's main offset fund is being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas and hydro companies who are claiming emission reduction credits for projects that should not qualify. The result is that no genuine pollution cuts are being made, undermining assurances by the UK government and others that carbon markets are dramatically reducing greenhouse gases, the researchers say.

The criticism centres on the UN's clean development mechanism (CDM), an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations.

Credits from the project are being bought by European companies and governments who are unable to meet their carbon reduction targets. The market for CDM credits is growing fast. At present it is worth nearly $20bn a year, but this is expected to grow to over $100bn within four years. More than 1,000 projects have so far been approved, and 2,000 more are making their way through the process.

A working paper from two senior Stanford University academics examined more than 3,000 projects applying for or already granted up to $10bn of credits from the UN's CDM funds over the next four years, and concluded that the majority should not be considered for assistance. "They would be built anyway," says David Victor, law professor at the Californian university. "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts."

More here

The Unholy Alliance that manufactured Global Warming

By Dr. Tim Ball

In previous parts of this series (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) I've shown how a political agenda took over climate science primarily through the UN and specifically the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The agenda was spread to the world at the 1992 Rio Conference. Periodic Reports from the IPCC maintained the focus on CO2 and increased the political pressure. Please understand I am not claiming a conspiracy, but rather a cabal, which is defined as a secret political clique pushing a political agenda; in this case, designed by Maurice Strong.

Although the IPCC was the major vehicle other agencies got caught up quickly as governments became more involved. Results of the IPCC reports were skillfully propagandized so the issue took hold with the media and the public. It was also due to bureaucrats in each country carefully selected from weather related offices to serve on the IPCC. As MIT professor Richard Lindzen, former member of the IPCC said, "It is no small matter that routine weather service functionaries from New Zealand to Tanzania are referred to as `the world's leading climate scientists.' It should come as no surprise that they will be determinedly supportive of the process." A political bias made a few of them especially supportive. The pattern of their machinations emerged early and continues. A measure of this was how long many of them kept the Hockey Stick graph on official government web sites.

Contrary to popular belief politicians do listen. The problem is they usually hear if they think there is a consensus, whether right or wrong, or if the issue can garner votes. Both these situations existed in the claims of global warming. In addition, most politicians don't understand climate science and were forced to rely on the bureaucrats.

The most notorious was the Hockey Stick (HS) in the IPCC 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR). Despite its destruction by McIntyre and McKitrick confirmed by the Wegman committee reporting to the National Academy of Sciences, Michael Mann and his associates continue to claim their work was legitimate. Its omission from the 2007 IPCC Report told the real story.

While the Hockey Stick was exposed and rejected it drew attention away from a more insidious piece of `human signal' evidence in the 2001 IPCC (TAR). This was the claim by P.D. Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that the global average annual temperature increased 0.6C ~ 0.2C in some 130 years. It was claimed the increase was beyond any natural increase with the strong implication it was caused by humans. The data is simply not adequate to make this conclusion. The first problem is the huge error factor of ~ 0.2C or 66%, which essentially makes the number meaningless. Imagine a political poll saying it was accurate plus or minus 33%. Besides, there are so many problems with the global data many consider it impossible to calculate the global temperature. Some of the problems explain why.

There are very few records of 130 years, indeed, few over 100 years.

The number of these stations is not representative of the world; they were even less so as you go back in history. Most stations are still concentrated in eastern North America and Western Europe as the Global Historical Climate Network shows (see map). This was even truer as you go back in time. Then, whole continents were excluded or at best represented by a single station. There are virtually no measurements for the oceans, the forests, deserts, mountains or Polar Regions.

Most of the older stations are the ones most affected by the Urban Heat Island Effect. This is an artificial increase in temperatures as a city expands around a weather station. There is considerable disagreement over how much adjustment is necessary. There are serious questions and proven limitations of many of the stations..

Two US authorities, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) produced different global annual averages for the year 2007. GISS claimed it was the second warmest year on record while NOAA said it was the seventh warmest year, both ostensibly using the same data.

In 1999 the US National Research Council Report, expressed serious concern about the data "Deficiencies in the accuracy, quality and continuity of the records place serious limitations on the confidence that can be placed in the research results." In response to the report Kevin Trenberth said, "It's very clear we do not have a climate observing system...This may be a shock to many people who assume that we do know adequately what's going on with the climate, but we don't." It has not improved. In fact, there are fewer global weather stations now than in 1960.

Roger Pielke Sr and Dallas Staley tested the 2007 Report, "To evaluate the IPCC's claim to be comprehensive, we cross-compared IPCC WG1 references on near-surface air temperature trends with the peer-reviewed citations that have been given in Climate Science. We selected only papers that appeared before about May 2006 so they were readily available to the IPCC Lead authors."(Author's note; The IPCC used this cutoff date argument to ignore research such as the relationship between sunspots and global temperature. In that case they did it even though the research was in the literature as early as 1991).

They found, The IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report clearly cherrypicked (sic) information on the robustness of the land near-surface air temperature to bolster their advocacy of a particular perspective on the role of humans within the climate system. As a result, policymakers and the public have been given a false (or at best an incomplete) assessment of the multi-decadal global average near-surface air temperature trends."

Gore's movie trumpeted that 1998 was the warmest year on record. This is wrong. An error was found in the NASA GISS data and when corrected made 1934 hottest year on record, not 1998; 1921, became the third hottest year on record not 2006; three of the five hottest years on record occurred before 1940; Six of the top 10 hottest years occurred prior to 90 percent of the growth in human produced greenhouse gas emissions during the last century. If it was a genuine error then somebody should be fired, if it wasn't there are more serious implications. Suspicions are raised by a pattern of `adjustments' that make earlier years cooler thus making more recent years warmer. The procedures that cause this are explained in an article titled, "Rewriting History, Time and time again."

The pattern of adjustments and failure to disclose methods is deeply disturbing and requires much more investigation. It parallels too closely what has happened at the IPCC and makes a mockery of their claim that, "Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850)."

The 66% error factor is sufficient in itself to reject the argument that Jones' figure represents an unusual increase. It is definitely inadequate to serve as the basis for a global climate and energy policy. But there is a more serious problem.

We can't reproduce Jones' results because he refuses to disclose which stations he used and how the data was adjusted. To a request for information from Warwick Hughes, an Australian climate researcher who has long studied the global temperature record, Jones wrote, "We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it." (Jones' reply to Warwick Hughes, 21. February 2005; P. Jones later confirmed this to Alex von Storch.)

Jones was not alone in the practice of non-disclosure or denial of access to climate data. A series of attempts to obtain information from the University of East Anglia and from the joint enterprise of the Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit are well documented on the Blog site Other people involved in the reconstructions have also ignored requests to post their data and methods, even though much of it is paid for by taxpayers and is the required practice in all other areas of scientific research. For example, it appears NASA GISS doesn't provide all the computer source code, formulae, or the correction used for the final temperature data. Scientists must be able to validate the work and claims of others for science to advance. It is even more important if your work is the basis for global climate and energy policies. But you may consider it unnecessary if you claim the science is settled and have a political rather than a scientific agenda.

Professor Wegman's Committee for the National Academy of Science arbitrated the hockey stick debate and identified problems in one segment of climate science, namely paleoclimate. However his remarks identified problems that plague all of climate science and especially the IPCC.

It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Mann's assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.
These are devastating remarks for any committee to make, but especially a science committee. They illustrate the fine line so far drawn between culpability and incompetence. They appear to illustrate behavior patterns more in line with proving a theory than disproving it, which underlines political rather than scientific objectives. It is no coincidence that it was a child who observed that the Emperor had no clothes.


Update: Tanzania official now declares ice caps on Mt Kilimanjaro 'increasing'

In his film "An Inconvenient Truth" Gore says: "Within the decade, there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro." See here

A Cabinet minister has allayed fears that ice caps on Mt Kilimanjaro that is a big tourist attraction in the region could disappear permanently. The minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, says contrary to reports that the ice caps were decreasing owing to effects of global warming, indications were that the snow cover on Africa's highest mountain were now increasing. "Among the signs of more snow is the decrease in temperatures in areas surrounding the mountain, heavy rainfall this year and increased precipitation and spring water flow on the slopes of the mountain," she pointed out.

The minister toured the mountain last week as part of activities to mark the African Travel Association's annual meeting held in Arusha. She said reports that the ice caps at the 5,895 metres high mountain would disappear in the next 20 years were overblown because there were signs that the snow cover had increased in recent years.

Ms Mwangunga explained that initiatives have been taken to minimise the effects of global warming and preserve the mountain's environment among other natural tourism attraction features.

More here


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


26 May, 2008

Message from Greenland

New snow...again, again, again... But it looks beautiful. We used to have the first flowers by now....Global warming?....Iceage?....


Greenhouse Facts and Fantasies

By Tom Kondis, a retired chemist and consultant with practical experience in absorption and emission spectroscopy

To support their argument, advocates of man-made global warming have intermingled elements of greenhouse activity and infrared absorption to promote the image that carbon dioxide traps heat near earth's surface like molecular greenhouses insulating our atmosphere. Their imagery, however, is seriously flawed.

A greenhouse is simply a physical structure that traps hot air. Solar radiation initiates the heating sequence inside a greenhouse when photons in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum, entering through glass or transparent plastic panels, are absorbed by surfaces of opaque objects. Reflected photons exit freely; neither they, nor their "heat," are trapped inside. Drivers who regularly park their mobile greenhouses in sunny locations exploit this principle by placing reflective white cardboard behind their windshields to expel some before they're absorbed.

Although transparent to visible photons, greenhouse panels absorb weaker radiation in the infrared (IR) region of the spectrum. Solar IR photons can't enter. This fact requires spectroscopists to use exotic window materials such as polished rock salt in their IR pursuits. Visible radiation, not IR, energizes a greenhouse.

Advocates misuse the term "absorption" of photons by substances as being analogous to water sopped up by a sponge, unchanged, implying physical entrapment. Actually, it means that the photon smoothly transfers its radiant energy to kinetic form. Absorption is an energy transition, not a trap; photons don't occupy molecular cages. Similarly, emission is the reverse kinetic to radiant transfer.

An absorbed photon disappears as its discrete packet (quantum) of radiant energy dissipates into a diverse kinetic assortment of motion, vibrations or collisions involving atoms and molecules of the absorbing substance. Imagine one shot of your metabolic energy, through cue stick and cue ball, scattering a rack of balls on a pool table. These transfers obey the second law of thermodynamics, popularly stated as the spontaneous downhill flow from high to low energy, or hot to cold. Inside a greenhouse, visible photons define the hilltop from which this flow begins. IR photons, when emitted, are near the bottom of a typical greenhouse energy hill.

Continuing the sequence, the confined greenhouse atmosphere is convectively heated through molecular collisions with hotter opaque surfaces; its composition is at least 99.95% by volume nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and argon. Carbon dioxide, only about 0.035% of the trapped hot air, is insignificant in this role. Drivers of mobile greenhouses recognize this principle too, when they crack open windows of their parked vehicles to partially disable the trap. Any gas can convectively transfer heat, but no gas can possibly mimic greenhouse-type entrapment of hot air. A greenhouse-carbon dioxide analogy has no logical basis.

Because a greenhouse obviously warms in the sunshine, the second law of thermodynamics is sometimes misconstrued. However, using the pool table analogy, if a person could repeatedly strike moving balls as rapidly as the sun pours visible photons into a greenhouse, the chaos on the table reasonably simulates greenhouse heating. But terminate the energy input, and the dissipation process mandated by the second law becomes obvious; a greenhouse cools, and the balls stop.

Advocates err when they equate absorption of IR photons by atmospheric carbon dioxide to absorption of exponentially higher intensity visible photons by objects inside a greenhouse. This exponential energy relationship, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, is fundamental to thermal radiation and establishes the location of visible photons at the summit and IR photons near the base of typical greenhouse energy hills. For example, visible photons carry the intense energy representing solar surface temperatures. This intensity rapidly decreases with temperature of the emitter such that the human body liberally emits IR photons through our metabolic process, but is much too cold to emit visible photons. Even warm dirt emits IR photons from these lower temperature foothills of human habitation.

Consequently, carbon dioxide should properly be compared with water rather than with greenhouse contents. In all of its phases (gas, liquid and solid), water absorbs in the same region of the IR spectrum as carbon dioxide, and both are transparent to visible radiation. Significantly, the polar ice caps, glaciers and general snow cover all absorb this weaker radiation, obey the second law mandate, and remain frozen. However, advocates mistakenly claim that, despite existing for ages under direct solar IR bombardment, these frozen masses are melting now because carbon dioxide "traps" and leaks IR photons like soggy sponges. They offer no corroboration or experimental evidence to support their exaggeration.

The second law of thermodynamics prohibits carbon dioxide from arresting or reversing the spontaneous downhill flow of energy, putting advocates in the awkward position of insisting that a trace atmospheric component's innocent participation in a natural heat dissipation process is responsible for warming a planet. The fictitious "trapped heat" property, which they aggressively promote with a dishonest "greenhouse gas" metaphor, is based on their misrepresentation of natural absorption and emission energy transfer processes and disregard of two fundamental laws of physics. Their promotional embellishments have also corrupted the meaning of "greenhouse effect," a term originally relating the loose confinement of warm nighttime air near ground level by cloud cover, to hot air trapped inside a greenhouse.


Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics

By Dipl.-Ing. Heinz Thieme (Germany). Excerpt:

The relationship between so-called greenhouse gases and atmospheric temperature is not yet well understood. So far, climatologists have hardly participated in serious scientific discussion of the basic energetic mechanisms of the atmosphere. Some of them, however, appear to be starting to realise that their greenhouse paradigm is fundamentally flawed, and already preparing to withdraw their theories about the climatic effects of CO2 and other trace gases.

At present, the climatological profession is chiefly engaged in promoting the restriction of CO2 emissions as a means of limiting atmospheric warming. But at the same time, they admit that the greenhouse effect - i.e. the influence of so-called greenhouse gases on near-surface temperature - is not yet absolutely proven (Grassl et al., see here PDF ). In other words, there is as yet no incontrovertible proof either of the greenhouse effect, or its connection with alleged global warming

This is no surprise, because in fact there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect: it is an impossibility. The statement that so-called greenhouse gases, especially CO2, contribute to near-surface atmospheric warming is in glaring contradiction to well-known physical laws relating to gas and vapour, as well as to general caloric theory.

The greenhouse theory proposed by the climatological fraternity runs as follows: Outgoing infra-red radiation from the earth's surface is somehow re-radiated by molecules of CO2 (mainly) and also O3, NO2, CH4 in the atmosphere. This backradiation produces warming of the lower atmosphere. To convince the public of the greenhouse effect, composites of temperature measurements since the 19th century are exhibited that show a certain warming. Measurements of the CO2 content of the air also show a rise in recent decades (Note CO2). Climatologists then claim that the CO2 rise has caused the temperature rise (see: here).

A second source of misconceptions about the relation between temperature and the CO2 content of air arises from an erroneous explanation of conditions on the planet Venus. The Venutian atmosphere is 95% CO2, and its near-surface temperature is approximately 460oC (see also here ). What climatologists overlook is that atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is 90 bar, and that it is this colossal pressure that determines the temperature.

Strict application of physical laws admits no possibility that tiny proportions of gases like CO2 in our atmosphere cause backradiation that could heat up the surface and the atmosphere near it:

1. The troposphere cools as altitude increases: in dry air, at a rate of around 1oC per 100m; under typical atmospheric humidity, by around 0.7oC per 100m. This cooling reflects the decrease of atmospheric pressure as altitude increases. Higher is cooler, both by day and by night.

2. Backradiation of the heat radiation outgoing from the earth's surface would only be possible by reflection, similarly to the effect of aluminium foil under roof insulation. But the CO2 share in our atmosphere cannot cause reflection in any way. Within homogeneous gases and gas mixtures no reflections occur. As is well known in optics, reflection and even refraction occur only at the boundaries of materials of different optical density, or at phase boundaries of a material or a material mixture (solid-liquid, liquid-gaseous, solid-gaseous). Thus it occurs with suspended water drops or ice crystals, or at the boundary between surface water and air - but never within homogeneous materials, e.g. air, water, glass.

3. If outgoing thermal radiation from the earth's surface is absorbed in the atmosphere, the absorbing air warms up, disturbing the existing vertical pattern of temperature, density and pressure, i.e. the initial state of the air layers. It is well known that warmed air expands and, because it is then lighter than the non-warmed air around it, rises. The absorbed warmth is taken away by air mass exchange. Just this occurs with near-surface air that is warmed by convection from earth's surface, vegetation, buildings and so on. For the same reason the windows of heated rooms are kept closed in winter - otherwise the warm air would escape.

These facts are slowly but surely dawning on climatologists. Grassl and others state (see above) that radiation absorbed by CO2-molecules will warm the atmosphere if no other reactions occur in the physical (in particular dynamic) processes in the earth/atmosphere system. In these "idealised conditions", they say the greenhouse effect would be inevitable. Such "idealised conditions" must obviously include the proviso that air is stationary. It is really quite absurd that even now something so obvious as that hot air rises is not properly taken into account by the climatological profession. When air is heated up locally, it ascends and the warmth is removed. It also expands with decreasing atmospheric pressure at higher altitude, and cools so that no remaining warming can be observed. The warmth taken over by the absorbing air is transported toward the upper troposphere. The greenhouse effect does not occur.

The same process applies to individual CO2-molecules that absorb outgoing radiant heat from the earth's surface or from lower layers of the troposphere. These individual molecules remain at the same temperature as their surroundings. Due to the high density of molecules in the troposphere, an immediate exchange of absorbed radiated energy takes place by convection with the surrounding molecules of air. The CO2-molecules in the air are not isolated and therefore cannot reach a higher temperature than their environment. If energy is absorbed, the molecules in the immediate vicinity will warm up.

4. A prerequisite for any type of heat transfer is that the emitter is warmer than the absorber. Heat transfer is determined by the ratio of the fourth powers of the temperatures of the emitting and the absorbing bodies. Because temperature is uniform within minute volumes of gas in the air, and temperature decreases with increasing altitude, back transfer to near-surface air of radiation from higher CO2-molecules is impossible. In fact, this is just as impossible as it is to use a to cooler heat radiator to heat up a warmer area.

5. The energy discharge from the troposphere takes place at its upper boundary layer, at the transition of the atmosphere from its gaseous state to a state approaching a vacuum. Only in this zone do gases start to emit even small quantities of energy by radiation. The other energy transfer mechanisms - thermal conduction and convection - which at denser pressure are far more efficient than radiation, no longer operate because of the low density of the atmosphere there. But from the surface where man lives and up to 10 to 17km altitude (depending on geographical latitude), gases transfer the small quantities of energy they might acquire from absorbed radiation by convection and conduction - not by radiation.

The climatologists derived the theoretical foundation of the greenhouse hypothesis from the concept of radiative equilibrium over the entire gas area of the atmosphere, right down to the earth's surface. But the fundamental premise of radiative equilibrium - a balance of incoming and outgoing radiation - is correct only as long as it is limited to the vacuum-like zone of the upper atmosphere. In the lower regions of the atmosphere, the heat balance is essentially determined by thermal, i.e. thermodynamic equilibrium, which includes the thermodynamic characteristics of the components of the atmosphere as well as their changes in status.

6. From the upper atmosphere down to earth's surface, air pressure rises continuously. The determinant of atmospheric pressure is the mass and the weight of that part of the atmosphere above the point in question. And as pressure increases, so does temperature. The rise in temperature is caused by the thermodynamic characteristics of the main components of the atmosphere, i.e. N2 and O2. Everyone knows that compression causes gases to warm: the effect is noticeable even when inflating bicycle tires. The atmosphere is no different......


Commonly held perceptions of the climatic relevance of CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases rest on a staggering failure to grasp some of the fundamentals of physics. Correct interpretation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and sound appreciation of the necessary physical conditions for emission of radiation by gases lead to the understanding that within the troposphere no backradiation can be caused by so-called greenhouse gases. Therefore it is not at all correct to speak of a thermal effect of these gases on the biosphere.

The thermal conditions in our and any atmosphere are determined by its pressure and the mass of its main components. Higher concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere - at least until they reached 2% (a 60-fold increase) and thus became injurious to health - would endanger neither the climate nor mankind. To avoid further misunderstanding, the terms greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases should be avoided in describing the functioning of the atmosphere. A more correct term would be atmosphere effect. The operation of this effect is described in "The Thermodynamic Atmosphere Effect" here.)

It is completely incomprehensible and unjustified to imagine that mankind can or must protect the climate by attempting to control trace amounts of CO2 in the air.

More here

Another Dissenter: Caribbean Geoscientist downplays CO2 in favor of water vapour

A LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL scientist thinks too little attention is being placed on water vapour or H2O gas as a contributing factor to global warming. Mark Harris, professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry at Northern Caribbean University, has argued that the popular villain - carbon dioxide (CO2) - might be eclipsed by water vapour in contributing to global warming.

"Popular perception links CO2 with the 'bad guys' - the big oil companies with whom many associate greed and insensitivity. On the other hand, pure, clean water is associated normally with life and health," Harris recently told a gathering at the Mandeville-based university while delivering a public lecture on global warming. "It is, therefore, unfashionable, and even inconceivable, in some quarters to think of too much water vapour as a dangerous substance," he continued.

Indeed, Harris asserted that "no other gas, fossil-fuelled or otherwise traps more heat than water vapour." Noting that water vapour had three times the heat-absorbent capacity of carbon dioxide, Harris explained: "In other words, CO2 does not block heat rays having wavelengths anywhere between five and 16 microns, while water vapour, in general, does."

The trapping of heat or radiation from the sun by certain gases in the stratosphere, which then causes an increase in the Earth's temperature, is described by geoscientists as the greenhouse effect. Substances that trap the sun's radiation above the Earth - thus preventing excess radiation from bouncing back into space - are referred to as greenhouse gases. Water vapour is the most abundant of these, followed in decreasing quantity by carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chloro-fluorocarbons.

With water vapour causing 36-70 per cent of the greenhouse effect, Harris posited that it is "the most influential natural greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and plays an important role in the context of climate change ..." In questioning conventional wisdom, he argued: "... There is no scientific evidence that increases in CO2 can produce giant storms, while it is known that water vapour provides the energy for hurricanes ... Hence, water vapour requires more study regarding its movements, fluxes and sinks."

Harris, a notable researcher in the field of geoscience, eases some of the culpability from oil producers for the emission of carbon dioxide by pointing out that the combustion of fossil fuel (in the form of gasolene) produces two units more in volume of water vapour than carbon dioxide. He, therefore, deduced that the proliferation of gasolene-based motor vehicles was harmful to the environment by producing two greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Harris pointed, anecdotally, to the impact of the multiplying number of motor vehicles on the weather pattern in Mandeville. "During the 1960s and 1970s, all my friends living in the in-land town of Mandeville ... wore sweaters all year," he recounted. "Nowadays, sweaters are rarely seen there, even in winter. With the extra heat and pollutants - some coming from the proliferation of motor vehicles - of recent years comes unprecedented, regular, conventional afternoon showers at any season," the geoscientist added.

He stated that one litre of petrol burnt in cars added, through water-vapour condensation, nine kilo calories of heat into the environment. When this process is multiplied and influenced by wind patterns, Harris posited, it results in rainfall, which has been on the increase in Mandeville with its elevation of 800 metres.

Speaking subsequently to The Sunday Gleaner, Harris suggested that increases in the quantity of atmospheric water vapour (by up to 20 per cent over the last two decades in the stratosphere) could be minimised by first reducing the level of methane, a greenhouse gas emitted as one of several vehicular-exhaust gases, which reaches into the upper atmosphere.

Water vapour itself is normally rare at such high altitudes, because, by then, condensation by cooling would have increased its density, Harris explained. However, methane never condenses anywhere in the atmosphere, and, therefore, rises higher until it finally breaks down by oxidation, yielding water vapour as a by-product. Thus, whereas accumulated water vapour in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is removed as clouds and rain, methane-induced water vapour in the stratosphere remains up there for a much longer time. A substantial stratospheric increase of water vapour, Harris argued, could have a significant warming effect through increased absorption of long-wave radiation from the Earth, and could increase global warming.

"Methane itself, therefore, has to be reduced in the atmosphere," said the geoscientist, pointing out that sources of methane are largely natural, arising from the fermentation of organic matters, such as peat bogs and marshes. Other sources of methane, according to Harris, are the release of natural gas during its production and transportation, and as a by-product of oil drilling; the venting of gases from landfills with decomposing waste; and the release of methane from the guts of ruminants, as well as rice paddies.


The Lynching of Carbon Dioxide - The Innocent Source of Life, by Dr. Martin Hertzberg


... Al Gore, the IPCC, and the vast majority of politicians in the US and Europe argue that this [need to reduce CO2 emissions] is all established science. But I am here to show that not only is this not established science, but that the objective evidence available indicates that it is false.

Shocking isn't it? You might ask, how can a lifelong Democrat like myself reject my party's position on global warming and join the camp of the skeptics, virtually all of whom are Republicans or neocons.

Read the full article: here [PDF, 655KB]

Chill out on global warming

Editorial from National Examiner

Al Gore's cinematic sermons on inconvenient truths to the contrary notwithstanding, it is becoming clearer by the day that major cracks are appearing in the supposed consensus among scientists that global warming caused by carbon emissions is an urgent problem that government must address with drastic measures. Among the most significant cracks are these:

- New data produced by more than 3,000 sophisticated ocean buoys scattered across the world's oceans indicate average water temperatures have been decreasing since 2003, not increasing as would be the case in Gore's globally warming world. NASA's Josh Willis, who studies the output of the sophisticated buoys that take temperature readings from thousands of feet below the surface, says the significance of the new data is unclear.

- The average land temperature of the globe dropped precipitously last year, according to the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction. The temperature drop - more than enough to "wipe out most of the global warming of the past 100 years," according to the online technology publication Daily Tech - was also recorded by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

- The severity of this global temperature drop was reflected in the fact the average U.S. temperature in January was lower than the average for the previous century, according to the U.S. Climactic Data Center. Also, the Canadian Ice Service reports the Arctic ice pack is 10 to 20 centimeters thicker in many places this year than it was in 2007.

- Professor Oleg Sorokhtin of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences is advising people "to stock up on fur coats" because he expects an extended period of global cooling, an assessment that is echoed by Kenneth Tapping of the U.S. National Academy of Science's National Research Council. Both scientists contend solar activity explains most of the temperature variation in the Earth's atmosphere.

- A peer-reviewed study published recently in the journal Nature suggests there will be no global warming until 2015, due to the effects of the Meridional Overturning Circulation, a giant oceanic conveyor belt that moves warmer water into the North Atlantic in a 70- to 80-year cycle, according to the London Telegraph.

At the very least, these developments ought to give pause to legislators and policymakers who are otherwise hell-bent on accepting Gore's apocalyptic warnings and imposing on the U.S. draconian measures designed to stall or reduce economic growth; forcing widespread conversion to unproven alternative fuels for transportation, home and commercial uses; and severely limiting or even stopping suburban new-home construction. Adopting such measures would mean the loss of millions of jobs and a significantly reduced standard of living for most Americans. It's time to take a step back on this issue.



by Indur M. Goklany

Keith Bradsher and Andrew Martin outline in Sunday's New York Times the extent to which the world's aid agencies starved the budgets of international agricultural research institutions that worked on increasing agricultural productivity in the developing world:

Donors increasingly directed the money toward worthwhile but ancillary projects like environmental research. Spending fell on the laborious plant-breeding programs needed to improve crop productivity.... As these trends played out, the stage was being set for a food emergency... From 1970 to 1990, the peak Green Revolution years, the food supply grew faster than the world population. But after 1990, food's growth rate fell below population growth, according to a report by Ronald Trostle, a researcher at the Agriculture Department...

Adjusting for inflation and exchange rates, the wealthy countries, as a group, cut ... donations [to agriculture in poor countries from the governments of wealthy countries] roughly in half from 1980 to 2006, to $2.8 billion a year from $6 billion. The United States cut its support for agriculture in poor countries to $624 million from $2.3 billion in that period... The World Bank cut its agricultural lending to $2 billion in 2004 from $7.7 billion in 1980.

John Tierney ties all this together in Greens and Hunger reminding us how environmental groups succeeded in demonizing (my word) the green revolution and prevailed upon Western "aid" agencies, multilateral agencies (such as the World Bank) and philanthropies, specifically the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations, to reduce funding to improve crop productivity in Africa.

Looking at other explanations for today's high food prices, the Washington Post's Colum Lynch - a perfect name for a muckraking journalist - notes in a report titled, World Aid Agencies Faulted in Food Crisis: Failure to Support Agriculture Cited:

European governments, meanwhile, have clung to an import ban on high-yielding, genetically modified crops - thus dissuading African nations from using a technology that could increase production. "The two biggest follies are biofuels in America and the ban on genetically modified crops in Europe," said Paul Collier, a professor of economics at Oxford University.

Notably, all three explanations have a common denominator, namely, "well fed Westerners," to use Tierney's phrase, putting the environment ahead of humans in developing countries.

Without their ecochondria, the green revolution would be seen for what it is - a major advance in human well being, the lobby for subsidizing ethanol would be much less powerful, and misanthropic bans on genetically modified crops would not be respectable in a world that claims to cherish both human lives and minimization of human suffering.



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 May, 2008


Gordon Brown is being urged by ministers to scrap rises in car taxes and petrol duty as he struggles to regain popularity after a humiliating by-election defeat. The Prime Minister faces the gravest crisis of his career after seeing the safe Labour seat of Crewe lost to a resurgent Tory party. Yesterday a backbencher said openly that it was time Mr Brown stood down.

Cabinet colleagues are privately urging him to tackle the issue of motoring costs as a way of helping households struggling with rising fuel, energy and food bills. The new car taxes have proved so unpopular that one Labour MP described them as "a poll tax on wheels". [After a tax that led to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher]

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, is facing more calls to cancel the 2p increase in petrol duty this autumn following a month of record prices at the pump and a recent surge in the price of oil. The Treasury is understood to be considering an about-turn on the plans, which would see hundreds of pounds added to the tax bills of millions of drivers.

On Thursday Mr Brown saw a 7,000 Labour majority in Crewe and Nantwich turned into a majority of just under 8,000 for the Conservatives. David Cameron claimed it was a "remarkable victory" and said the campaign marked the "end of New Labour". If the by-election swing was repeated in the next general election, nine Cabinet ministers including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, would lose their seats.

Labour ministers yesterday blamed traditional "mid-term blues" when people are feeling the pinch. But Mr Brown's colleagues are urging him to show that he understands the pain people are feeling by addressing problems that will be caused when the rises take effect. One former minister said: "They should be discussing this in the Treasury. ''It is a grievance that can be addressed and it would do Gordon some good."

A junior minister added: "Every MP is getting it in the neck about the cost of driving and it isn't going to be enough to keep talking about world oil prices. We should be thinking about what we can do to help. "It's going to cost money but we found money for 10p tax so if we have to borrow a bit more for this, so be it." The Labour MP Derek Wyatt, who is defending a majority of only 79 in his Kent seat, called for immediate cuts in fuel duty.

In his first comments since the loss of Crewe in such humiliating fashion, Mr Brown yesterday appeared to indicate that he was prepared to look at helping motorists. He said: "People want us to address what are very real challenges, challenges of rising petrol prices when people go to the petrol station, challenges at the supermarket when people see rising food prices, gas and electricity bills that have gone up as a result of oil prices going up.

"We will address these problems and the message that I think is absolutely clear and unequivocal is that the direction of the Government is to address all these major concerns that people have, and the task that I have is to steer the British economy through these difficult times." Treasury sources said no decisions will be taken on any measures before the Pre-Budget Report in the autumn.

The Daily Telegraph has launched a campaign to get a Fair Deal for Motorists after Budget measures announced in March included a "showroom tax" of up to 950 pounds [$1900] a year for cars emitting high levels of carbon dioxide. It will be introduced in 2010 in the run up to a possible general election. Under other changes motorists will see their road taxes increase. Cars will be divided into 13 groups depending on their CO2 emissions. The move will hit dozens of popular family cars, including models such as the Renault Espace, Vauxhall Zafira and Ford Galaxy, which will see their road tax rise from 210 this year to between 430 and 455 by 2010.

One Labour MP, who is a parliamentary aide to a senior Cabinet minister, said: "There is a real fear among backbenchers that these taxes could be the last straw with petrol already soaring in cost. One MP said to me it will be our very own poll tax but on wheels." After Labour MPs forced through a major policy reversal on the abolition of the 10 pence tax rate, with a 2.7 billion change in income tax allowances, they feel emboldened to press for more concessions. One former minister said: "Middle England is in serious revolt. We have to prove we are listening by announcing now we will shelve the next increase in petrol duty.''

Yesterday Mr Brown's leadership was openly questioned by Labour MPs. Some in the party believe he has just two months to save his premiership. Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, said: "The real debate that goes on within the Labour Party among MPs and party members is 'Is it more damaging for the party to change leader, or to hope that things will get better in the next two years?'

"If the party is to renew itself and get its policies in line with what the people we represent want, then it is the responsibility of senior members of the Cabinet to say we're going in the wrong direction, it's impossible to change the situation that we are in at the moment and to say to Gordon that they intend to stand for election. Without that, we are heading for electoral disaster."

In a day of recriminations, Labour's Compass group disowned the party's by-election literature which accused Edward Timpson, the winning candidate, of opposing ID cards for migrants - ignoring the fact he opposed them for everyone. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: "There is a new nasty party in British politics today."



BIBAI, Japan - These rugged green mountains, once home to one of Asia's most productive coal regions, are littered with abandoned mines and decaying towns - backwaters of an economy of bullet trains and hybrid cars. But after decades of seemingly terminal decline, Japan's coal country is stirring again. With energy prices reaching record highs - oil settled above $135 a barrel on Thursday - Japan's high-cost mines are suddenly competitive again, and demand for their coal is booming. Production has jumped to its highest in nearly four decades, creating a sensation rarely felt in these mining communities: hope. "We are seeing a flicker of light after long darkness," said Michio Sakurai, the mayor of Bibai, on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. "We never imagined coal would actually make a comeback."

Soaring commodity prices have had distorting effects across the global economy, driving up food prices and prompting fears of future energy shortages. But they have been an unanticipated boon to the coal producing regions of countries like Japan that had written off coal mining as a relic of the Industrial Revolution.

In Bibai, once a thriving cultural center that had a ballet troupe and five cinemas showing first-run Hollywood movies in its heyday in the 1950s, the population shrank to 27,800, from 92,000. As mining jobs evaporated, they left behind rows of abandoned clapboard-fronted stores that give some neighborhoods the air of a ghost town.

While Japan's coal industry remains tiny, its revival is an example of how higher commodity prices are driving a search for resources even in some of the world's most urbanized and developed nations.

In recent months, South Korea has experienced calls to create a domestic coal industry in order to reduce dependence on imports. In the United Kingdom, where coal's decline became a symbol of withered industrial might, companies are increasing production and considering reopening at least one closed mine as demand for British coal rises.

"It's now the perfect storm with demand for our coal from South Africa to China and Australia," said Rhidian Davies, president of Energybuild, an operator of mines in South Wales that will increase production at one of its mines tenfold over the next five years.

More here

Sunspot cycles may hold key to global warming/cooling

The 2008 winter was the coldest in 40 years for the upper Midwest, Plains states and most of Canada. Minnesota newspapers report that this year's opening of the locks to Mississippi barge traffic, delayed by three weeks, was the latest since the modern waterway opened in 1940. Eau Claire, where "old-fashioned winters" have been a thing of the past, recorded 43 days of below-zero temperatures, while folks down in Madison shoveled away at a 117-year record snowfall throughout the season, as did many in New England and Canada.

Rare snowfalls struck Buenos Aires, Capetown, and Sydney during their mid-year winter, while China continually battled blizzards. Even Baghdad experienced measurable snowfall. Antarctic pack-ice far exceeded what Captain Cook saw on his 18th century voyage into the Southern Ocean. On the continent itself the miles-thick ice continues to accumulate despite peripheral melting along the Antarctic Peninsula and occasional calving of an ice block.

At the opposite pole, floe-ice once again spans the entire Arctic Ocean, and by April it had extended into the Bering Strait, making up for the much heralded melt-back last summer.

From January 2007 through the end of January 2008, the average global temperature fell by nearly a degree Fahrenheit, based on data obtained by the MET Office in Great Britain and other international temperature monitoring networks.

What are we to make of this? The recent climate conference held in New York City, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, provides some answers. Several hundreds climatologists in attendance dispelled notions that the global warming debate is over. Most attendees, who readily acknowledge the existence of post-Little Ice Age warming, believe man-made emissions are unlikely to cause major climate change and signed a declaration to that effect.

Bill Gray, dean of hurricane forecasters, attributed short-term climate change to slow-moving deep ocean currents that result from variation in the salinity of water sinking near the poles and ultimately welling up again along the coast of South America. These fluctuations account for the comings and goings of the familiar El Nino/La Nina cycles and the longer Pacific Decadal Oscillation that stretches over a large area of the eastern Pacific.

Solar experts highlighted how sunspots, and associated magnetic storms on the Sun's surface, affect Earth's weather and climate. The previous (very strong) 11-year sunspot cycle, associated with the recent warmth, ended in 2007, after having peaked in 2002. The new cycle should have already begun, but hasn't yet.

In the absence of sunspots, solar flares are minimal. Flares eject massive streams of electrons and protons outward from the Sun. A portion of this stream, called the "solar wind", bathes our planet producing the aurora and interfering with communications. The solar wind, as it interacts with Earth's magnetic field, also protects us from the harmful effects of cosmic radiation.

During periods of weak solar activity - as at present - cosmic rays (high-energy protons originating in interstellar space) penetrate through the troposphere and ionize oxygen and nitrogen molecules. The ions become nucleating sites for water vapor that condenses into clouds. And when sunspots are at a minimum, more clouds form and correspondingly more sunlight is reflected back into space. The enhanced reflectance (albedo) cools the Earth.

We all have experienced how quickly the temperature drops when the sun ducks behind a puffy white cloud on a warm, dry afternoon. Past cool periods, identified with the late stages of the "Little Ice Age" and with the Maunder and Dalton climate minima, closely correlate with low sunspot numbers (astronomers have kept close tabs on sunspots since Galileo's time).

Some solar-physicists are now saying if the current cycle doesn't begin to produce spots soon, we can expect a cool-down like the 19th-Century Dalton minimum - or worse. Decades-long cooling in the past brought crop failures to Europe from repeated summer frosts and restricted growing seasons.

With grain shortages already staring us in the face, we'd be advised to begin thinking about a global cool-down instead of a warming that may or may not continue. We might consider ways to transform semi-desert into arable land and to develop seed with shorter maturing cycles suitable for a sub-boreal grain belt. If cooling should begin in earnest, we will quickly forget global warming as we face the new challenges ahead.


Authoritarian Science In London

Tomorrow, May 24, the G-8 environment ministers will be in Japan to commence their annual meeting. Back in London, though, the world's oldest science academy, the Royal Society of London, recently has become a vocal advocate of climate alarmism. RS fellows have included Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

But, under the previous leadership of Lord Robert May, the Society seems to have taken a wrong turn. They even tried to enlist other science academies into joining them in an alarmist manifesto. However, the U.S. National Academy, though sharing some of these views, decided not to sign up, and the Russian Academy of Sciences has taken an opposing position.

In June 2007, the Royal Society published a pamphlet, titled "Climate Change Controversies: a simple guide," designed to undermine the scientific case of climate skeptics. They presented what they called "misleading arguments" on global warming and then tried to shoot them down.

In countering the RS pamphlet, I have prepared a response that is being published tomorrow by the London-based Centre for Policy Studies under the title "Not so simple? A scientific response to the Royal Society's paper."

Throughout, the Royal Society has relied heavily on the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which used to be regarded as a reliable source of scientific information. The RS thus adopts the IPCC claim that current warming is almost certainly anthropogenic (human-caused) but presents no independent evidence to support such a claim.

In its pamphlet, the Royal Society purports to speak on behalf of a consensus of scientists. But no such consensus exists. Direct polling of climate scientists has shown that about 30% are "skeptical" of anthropogenic global warming. More than 31,000 American scientists recently signed the Oregon Petition, which expresses doubt about the major conclusions of the IPCC, and opposes the drastic mitigation demands of the Kyoto Protocol and the proposed "cap-and-trade" legislation of the U.S. Congress.

My response to the RS is based on the work of some two dozen independent climate scientists from 16 nations who contributed to the report of the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change, or NIPCC, titled "Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate." NIPCC corrects many of the errors and misstatements made in the IPCC report, discusses evidence ignored by the IPCC, and cites evidence available since May 2006, the cut-off date for the latest IPCC Report of May 2007.

The science-based arguments for a more rational approach to global warming and climate change can be summarized as follows:

* The Earth's climate always has changed, with cycles of both warming and cooling, long before humans were a factor. The cycle lengths range from decades, to the 1,500-year cycle discovered in Greenland ice cores, to the 17 ice ages that dominated the past 2 million years.

* The NIPCC report presents solid evidence that any man-made global warming to date has been insignificant in comparison with these natural climate cycles. By contrast, the IPCC has no real evidence to support their claim of anthropogenic global warming.

* While recent man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide may, in principle, make some contribution to temperature rise, the linkages assumed in order to predict significant future global warming are not proven.

* Contrary to the computer simulations of climate models, temperatures have not risen over the last decade - despite a continuing rise in CO2 levels.

* Other factors, such as variable solar activity, solar wind, and cosmic rays, all seem to have a more significant impact on the earth's climate.

* Panicky reactions to exaggerated scenarios of global warming are bound to be costly and do great damage to world economic development.

* Adaptation, not mitigation, is a more appropriate response to climate change - particularly for poorer countries.

Fear of global warming is distorting energy policy. Urgent action is needed to secure future energy supplies: the closure of existing coal-powered stations and old nuclear stations over the next 10 to 20 years risks causing a serious energy shortage until new nuclear power can be brought on stream. Yet resistance by anti-fossil fuel protesters already is retarding the development of much needed conventional generating capacity.

The choices that are being made now about the use of resources and the costs imposed on global development will have a huge impact on both current and future prosperity. It is imperative, for the sake of rational policy development worldwide, that the debate on the true nature of global warming and its causes move from being a matter of assertion and exaggerated scaremongering to a more reasoned debate based on the scientific facts.

It is a pity that the Royal Society, rather than facilitate debate, has tried to misrepresent the honest views of those who are skeptical of what has become climate change orthodoxy.


Ethanol Vehicles for Post Office Burn More Gas, Get Fewer Miles

The U.S. Postal Service purchased more than 30,000 ethanol-capable trucks and minivans from 1999 to 2005, making it the biggest American buyer of alternative-fuel vehicles. Gasoline consumption jumped by more than 1.5 million gallons as a result.

The trucks, derived from Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer sport- utility vehicle, had bigger engines than Jeeps from the former Chrysler Corp. they replaced. A Postal Service study found the new vehicles got as much as 29 percent fewer miles to the gallon. Mail carriers used the corn-based fuel in just 1,000 of them because there weren't enough places to buy it. ``You're getting fewer miles per gallon, and it's costing us more,'' Walt O'Tormey, the Postal Service's Washington-based vice president of engineering, said in an interview. The agency may buy electric vehicles instead, he said.

The experience shows how the U.S. push for crop-based fuels, already contributing to the highest rate of food inflation in 17 years, may not be achieving its goal of reducing gasoline consumption. Lawmakers are seeking caps on the use of biofuels after last year's 40 percent jump in world food prices, calling the U.S. policy flawed. ``Using food for fuel has created some unintended consequences: food shortages, the high price of livestock feed,'' said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. ``I think it's leading a lot of people to wonder whether our corn-based ethanol goals need to be adjusted.''

Lost in the debate over the fuel's contribution to food scarcity is the possibility that the ethanol policy itself isn't working, said David Just, an associate professor of economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. It may stimulate demand by making gas cheaper, he said, an argument supported by at least two U.S. government studies.

The Postal Service bought the ethanol vehicles to meet alternative-fuel requirements. The vehicles' size and ethanol's lower energy content lowered mileage, the agency said. It takes 1.33 gallons of E85 (85 percent ethanol) and 1.03 gallons of E10 (10 percent ethanol) to travel the same distance as with one gallon of pure gasoline, the Department of Energy says. The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in December, called for ethanol production to more than double to 15 billion gallons in 2015 from 6.5 billion last year. The U.S. pays oil refiners like Exxon Mobil Corp. 51 cents in tax refunds for each gallon of ethanol they blend into regular gasoline. Automakers get extra credit toward federal fuel-efficiency standards for models that can run on ethanol.

No federal law requires that oil companies make the fuel widely available or that vehicles actually burn it. About 1,560 of 180,000 U.S. gas stations, or fewer than one in 100, sell E85, according to Ford and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition in Jefferson City, Missouri. E85 accounted for 1 percent of ethanol sold in 2006. The rest was blended into regular gasoline at lower concentrations, the Energy Information Administrationsays. ``Whether it was intended this way or not, the U.S. policy helps gasoline companies,'' said Cornell's Just. He and colleague Harry de Gorter estimated in a February paper that the credit may increase gasoline consumption by 628 million gallons to 156.6 billion gallons by 2015, compared with 155.9 billion without it.

``The findings of these professors are questionable,'' said Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, a nonprofit group in Washington representing ethanol producers including Archer Daniels Midland Co. of Decatur, Illinois. The Energy Department's estimates show that ethanol will contribute to a reduction in U.S. petroleum demand in 2008, he said.

A limited number of stations selling ethanol and the scarcity of vehicles burning it diminish the fuel's appeal, according to a June 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress. Three of the 26 ethanol- capable vehicles offered in 2007 were compact or mid-size cars, and the rest were large autos, pickups, SUVs or vans. The big vehicles help automakers meet fuel-economy standards. General Motors Corp.'s ``dual-fuel'' 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV was rated at 33.8 miles per gallon for city-highway driving, while a gasoline-burning model was at 20.5 mpg. A study by three government agencies in March 2002 found that the U.S. would consume 17 million gallons of additional gasoline through 2008 if the flex-fuel vehicles ran on E85 1 percent of the time.

``Not only does this credit do nothing to improve fuel efficiency,'' said Daniel Becker, an environmental lawyer and former head of Sierra Club's global-warming program. ``It's also ensuring that we're going to use more gasoline.''

Federal credits over time will spur more stations to sell ethanol, said Greg Martin, a spokesman for Detroit-based GM. The three largest U.S. carmakers pledged to make half their vehicles capable of using alternative fuels by 2012. ``There is a caveat: providing that the infrastructure and the proper incentives are in place,'' said Jennifer Moore, a spokeswoman for Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford.

As for the Postal Service, the agency delayed a $4 billion investment in as many as 150,000 delivery vehicles until around 2015, O'Tormey said. Until then, it will experiment with Ford Escape hybrid-electric SUVs, an Azure Dynamics Corp. electric vehicle and a GM hydrogen fuel-cell model, to be introduced in Los Angeles in July, 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.


24 May, 2008

Record fall in greenhouse gases

How amusing if true! Skeptics have long pointed out that gas levels FOLLOW the temperature, rather than the other way around. And what has happened since all the cold weather we have been having? It would appear that CO2 levels have dropped as the temperature has dropped! The figures on which the report below is based are probably extremely rubbery, however

GREENHOUSE gas emissions by all the Group of Eight industrial nations except Russia fell in 2006 in the broadest dip since the world started trying to slow climate change in 1990, a Reuters survey showed today. Rising oil prices, some measures to curb global warming and a milder winter in the United States in 2006 that depressed energy demand for heating all contributed to an overall 0.6 per cent dip in G8 emissions in 2006 from 2005.

"It is an encouraging sign that emissions decreased in 2006 in some major developed economies," Michael Raupach, leader of the Earth Observation Centre in Canberra, said. "However, we have scarcely begun," he said, adding that the world would need far tougher action to stabilise emissions at levels to avert "dangerous" climate changes of ever more heatwaves, food shortages, floods, droughts and rising seas.

Emissions by the United States, Japan, Germany, Canada, France, Britain, and Italy were all down in 2006 - by between 2.5 per cent for France and just 0.02 per cent for Germany. Russia's emissions, which fell sharply after the collapse of the Soviet Union's smokestack industries, went against the trend with a gain of 3.1 per cent in line with strong economic growth.

Emissions by so many nations in the G8 have not previously fallen together any year since 1990, the UN benchmark for efforts to combat climate change including the Kyoto Protocol. Overall, emissions by the G8 fell to 14.04 billion tonnes in 2006 from 14.12 billion in 2005, according to a Reuters calculations based on submissions to the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

G8 environment ministers meet in Kobe, Japan, from May 24-26 to prepare a July summit meant to map out future actions to curb warming. Some experts said the 0.6 per cent decline was not a sign that G8 nations were really getting to grips with the problem. "One would expect higher oil prices to reduce demand for oil ... and a relatively mild winter would reduce power consumption and hence emissions from power stations," said Knut Alfsen, research director of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo. "Unfortunately, it is difficult to discover policy actions in any of these countries that would explain the reduced emissions," he said. "I'm fairly pessimistic with regard to whether the countries are 'starting to get to grips' with the climate change challenge." ...

Still, the fall in emissions came despite 2006 economic growth of an average of 3.0 per cent for advanced economies, estimated by the International Monetary Fund. That may mark progress at least in decoupling emissions from growth.


Another New Cosmic Rays and Climate Paper

There is much evidence of a correlation between cosmic ray activity and climate change on earth but how that works is not yet clear

Jasper Kirkby of CERN has published a new paper examining the potential link between cosmic rays and climate. The paper concludes:
Numerous palaeoclimatic observations, covering a wide range of time scales, suggest that galactic cosmic ray variability is associated with climate change. The quality and diversity of the observations make it difficult to dismiss them merely as chance associations. But is the GCR flux directly affecting the climate or merely acting as a proxy for variations of the solar irradiance or a spectral component such as UV? Here, there is some palaeoclimatic evidence for associations of the climate with geomagnetic and galactic modulations of the GCR flux, which, if confirmed, point to a direct GCR-climate forcing. Moreover, numerous studies have reported meteorological responses to short-term changes of cosmic rays or the global electrical current, which are unambiguously associated with ionising particle radiation.

Cosmic ray forcing of the climate could in principle operate on all time scales from days to hundreds of millions of years, reflecting the characteristic time scales for changes in the Sun's magnetic activity, Earth's magnetic field, and the galactic environment of the solar system. Moreover the climate forcing would act simultaneously, and with the same sign, across the globe. This would both allow a large climatic response from a relatively small forcing and also give rise to simultaneous regional climate responses without any clear teleconnection path. The most persuasive palaeoclimatic evidence for solar/GCR forcing involves sub-orbital (centennial and millennial) climate variability over the Holocene, for which there is no established forcing agent at present. Increased GCR flux appears to be associated with a cooler climate, a southerly shift of the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) and a weakening of the monsoon; and decreased GCR flux is associated with a warmer climate, a northerly shift of the ITCZ and a strengthening of the monsoon (increased rainfall). The influence on the ITCZ may imply significant changes of upper tropospheric water vapour in the tropics and sub-tropics, potentially affecting both long-wave absorption and the availability of water vapour for cirrus clouds.

The most likely mechanism for a putative GCR-climate forcing is an influence of ionisation on clouds, as suggested by satellite observations and supported by theoretical and modelling studies. The satellite data suggest that decreased GCR flux is associated with decreased low altitude clouds, which are known to exert globally a net radiative cooling effect. Studies of Forbush decreases and solar proton events further suggest that decreased GCR flux may reduce high altitude (polar stratospheric) clouds in the Antarctic. Candidate microphysical processes include ion-induced nucleation of new aerosols from trace condensable vapours, and the formation of relatively highly charged aerosols and cloud droplets at cloud boundaries, which may enhance the formation of ice particles in clouds and affect the collision efficiencies of aerosols with cloud droplets. Although recent observations support the presence of ioninduced nucleation of new aerosols in the atmosphere, the possible contribution of such new particles to changes in the number of cloud condensation nuclei remains an open question. Furthermore, the parts of the globe and atmosphere that would be expected to be the most climatically sensitive to such processes are unknown, although they are likely to involve regions of low existing CCN concentrations.

Despite these uncertainties, the question of whether, and to what extent, the climate is influenced by solar and cosmic ray variability remains central to our understanding of the anthropogenic contribution to present climate change. Real progress on the cosmic ray-climate question will require a physical mechanism to be established, or else ruled out. With new experiments planned or underway, such as the CLOUD facility at CERN, there are good prospects that we will have some firm answers to this question within the next few years.
Kirkby, J. 2008. Cosmic rays and climate. Surveys in Geophysics 28: 333-375.



All those Jovian SUVs, no doubt

The first images of Jupiter since it came out from behind the sun show that the turbulence and storms that have plagued the planet for the past two years continue. Whether or not this is a sign of global warming, the turbulence does seem to be spawning new spots. As Red Spot Jr. and the Great Red Spot approach a June conjunction, a new third spot may merge with the GRS in August.

Increased turbulence and storms first observed on Jupiter more than two years ago are still raging, according to astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, who snapped high-resolution pictures of the planet earlier this month.

Captured with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the 10-meter Keck II telescope, this so-called "major upheaval" on Jupiter involves stunning changes in the planet's atmosphere, said lead astronomer Imke de Pater, professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley.

The upheaval was heralded in December 2005 by a color change from white to red of a large oval near the Great Red Spot, earning it the moniker Red Spot Jr. This oval, formally known as Oval BA, formed six years earlier through a merger of three large white ovals just south of the Great Red Spot - storms that formed in the early 1930s and were prominent in the Voyager era.

The new images, the first since Jupiter emerged from its passage behind the Sun, may show that Jupiter indeed is undergoing a major climate change, as predicted four years ago.

"One of the most notable changes we observe in both the Hubble and Keck images is the change from a rather bland, quiescent band surrounding the Great Red Spot just over a year ago to one that is incredibly turbulent at both sides of the spot," de Pater said. "During all previous HST observations and spacecraft encounters, starting with Voyager in 1979, such turbulence was seen only on the west or left side of the spot."

More here


The British Government has two policies on oil prices. The first is that the price we pay for oil is too high, and must be brought down. The second is that the price we pay for oil is too low, and must be increased. The second policy rests its case on the Stern Review's assertion that the price consumers are charged for fossil fuels is "the biggest market failure in history" - because it doesn't take account of the "climate costs" they allegedly impose on future generations.

Gordon Brown gave the now-celebrated economist Nicholas Stern a personal standing ovation when he delivered his report on the economics of climate change; the fuel price escalator - abandoned at the time of the road hauliers' protests and blockades in 2000 - is set to resume. Even without that, taxes on petrol and diesel are dramatically higher in the UK than in any other European country - we lead the world in fuel duties. So you might think that Gordon Brown would be delighted that crude oil prices have soared recently - isn't the market doing what Lord Stern of Brentford and the Government ordered as environmentally essential: to make us use less of the stuff? Apparently not.

This week the Prime Minister told the Google Zeitgeist conference: "It is, as people recognise, a scandal that 40 per cent of the [world's] oil is controlled by Opec, that their decisions can restrict the supply of oil to the rest of the world, and that a time when oil is desperately needed, and supply needs to expand, that Opec can withhold supply from the market."

This is not the first time that Mr Brown has attacked Opec in such terms. He did so - not coincidentally - when there was a sharp upward turn in petrol prices in 2005: it was the then Chancellor Brown who told the Confederation of British Industry that it was all Opec's fault for not producing more oil.

This produced a withering retort from the then Opec president, Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah. He pointed out that the British Exchequer was taxing fuel at a rate of 75 per cent and asked who would buy the extra millions of barrels a day of oil that Mr Brown was calling for: "If he would like to have it I would be happy to sell it to him."

What Sheikh Ahmad observed then remains true today. There is not a shortage of crude oil - inventories are at normal levels, worldwide. Have you seen any queues at petrol stations? Do you know of any? Are there any queues at gas filling stations in the United States? Nope.

Far from operating as a restrictive cartel - whatever their aspirations - 12 of the 13 members of Opec are pumping out oil at maximum capacity. Saudi Arabia alone has the flexibility to produce more than their current output, but they are already producing well in excess of their official Opec quota.

Last week, in response to a personal plea from President George Bush, the Saudis agreed to increase their output by a further 300,000 barrels of oil a day. The announcement had no effect in halting the upward rush of the market price.

That is because most of the recent surge has been driven by oil "futures": the financial houses which dominate this market are convinced that oil production in the years ahead will not be able to meet demand - and so they believe that they will be able to sell "future" barrels of oil for more than they are now paying for them.

At the moment, however, there is enough oil in the market to meet immediate demand - and the Saudis argue that if there is a supply crunch coming in the years ahead, isn't that when they should be producing more, rather than now?

To the extent that there are already bottlenecks in the system, this is principally due to shortfalls in refining capacity. You can't put crude oil into a motor car - at least not if you want it to move. Yet for other environmental reasons - called "not in my back yard" - over the past 30 years there have been no new refineries built in the US or Europe. Is that another "scandal" that can be blamed on Opec?

On the same day that Mr Brown fulminated against Opec, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation enabling the Justice Department to sue Opec members under anti-trust laws for "limiting oil supplies". President Bush has said that he will veto any such bill. He probably remembers how in 1986 his father - then the Vice-President - pleaded with the Saudis to cut back their production when the oil price had collapsed below $10 a barrel. They did so - thus saving the oil-producing states of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma from economic meltdown.

This underlined the paradox at the heart of the West's attitude to Opec: it is rightly suspicious of the operations of a cartel, but at the same time wants the price stability that Opec itself claims as its principal objective.

In this context, the dispute between Gordon Brown and Opec is not about production at all: it is a squabble over who collects the rent. The Prime Minister wants the British consumer to pay a very high price for petrol and diesel, but for the British Government (as tax-collector and distributor of benefits) to be the principal beneficiary rather than the countries which actually produce the black stuff.

This racket worked well when crude oil prices were at historically low levels. It enabled Chancellor Brown - even with the fuel price revolt in 2000 - to siphon off vast revenues in indirect taxes without facing insuperable public dissatisfaction.

The other truth which Gordon Brown evades is that Britain is also a significant oil producer: the soaring price of crude is producing a windfall from taxes on companies operating in the North Sea. If current prices hold, they will generate extra above-Budget Petroleum Revenue taxes this year sufficient on their own to fund the 2.7bn pound cost of the desperate Crewe by-election hand-out announced last week by Chancellor Darling.

Although this is not the purpose of Gordon Brown's oil taxation policies, if he does want to help to destroy Opec, he is going about it the right way. The more expensive it becomes to buy gasoline, the more people will find ways of not using so much of it. Much of the current hysteria seems based on the idea that demand for oil can not be reduced. Of course it can, and will: last year the supposedly incorrigible US reduced its oil consumption by 5 per cent.

It could just be that the speculators who have driven up the price of crude oil futures to such a giddy height might discover that they have dramatically misread the market: if the sub-prime crisis has taught us anything, it should be that a speculative bubble has the capacity to burst -indeed, that is what bubbles do.

Meanwhile, however much the Prime Minister is worried about the public's rage at high fuel prices, he really shouldn't try to persuade us that it's entirely the fault of grasping Arabs.

The level of fuel duty and VAT is clearly stated on every gas station forecourt in the land - and we all know who is responsible for that.


Ignorant Greenie trustfunders trying to derail Exxon

Who wins in a shareholder war between green-collar activists and blue-collar union pensioners? Hard to say. But round two in the battle over the fiduciary responsibilities of corporate giant Exxon Mobil ought to be illuminating for investors.

The heirs of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil empire made a media splash recently when they demanded that the oil giant diversify out of oil, of all things. When Exxon holds its annual shareholder meeting next week, the Rockefeller clan will push proxy resolutions requiring the company to invest in noncarbon energy sources, and to create more board of director "independence" from management by splitting the role of chairman and chief executive. To hear the wealthy heirs tell it, Exxon will thus be better positioned to take advantage of the eco-opportunities of the future.

The counterpunch from other, nonwealthy shareholders has now arrived in the form of a letter from union chief Chuck Canterbury. He's president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, whose 324,000 members have plenty of pension-fund dollars invested in Exxon. In a May 17 letter to Exxon Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Mr. Canterbury made clear he and his members don't agree that Exxon should be used to promote social goals if it means putting worker retirements at risk.

"ExxonMobil is an example of how hard work, efficient management and innovative entrepreneurism breed success," Mr. Canterbury wrote, noting this was why many union pension funds have invested in the oil company. "The Rockefeller resolutions threaten to degrade the value of ExxonMobil."

And more: The family would impose "rigid, ideologically-based conditions on the company's future," would nullify "the judgment of a highly successful management team," and would "undercut every project and business operation." This would "hamstring ExxonMobil's profitability and growth, thus directly harming the police officers, firefighters, teachers and public employees whose retirement savings are invested in the company."

Mr. Canterbury seems to understand how capitalism works better than do the ostensibly capitalist Rockefellers. His letter is a reminder that Exxon's legal obligation is to maximize returns to shareholders, and that over the years it has done that by taking calculated risks in drilling for fossil fuels. Many investors put their money into Exxon precisely because the company does that so well.

Similar corporate governance reforms haven't helped the returns of other oil giants. Royal Dutch Shell and BP have both split the roles of chairman and chief executive, without any discernible benefit to shareholders. Since 2006, when Mr. Tillerson assumed the top roles at Exxon, the company's stock has climbed 57%, compared with 12% for Royal Dutch Shell and 4% for BP. Over the past 10 years, Exxon has consistently outpaced those rivals and the industry average in annual average returns on investment.

Then again, maybe this Exxon "reform" campaign isn't really about investors. Perhaps it's a political exercise hiding under the banner of corporate governance. Look no further than Denise Nappier, the ambitious Connecticut State Treasurer who also recently joined the Exxon fun. The Democrat oversees pension dollars on behalf of thousands of teachers and state and municipal employees, and she has also recently denounced the oil company's "addiction to oil."

In supporting the Rockefellers, Ms. Nappier explained that her alternative-energy ideas would be better for Exxon than are the investment plans of Exxon's executives. If Exxon ever took her advice, we'd recommend putting in an immediate sell order on its shares. But it's more likely that the future candidate for Governor is merely angling for some easy green publicity as she and the state's pensioners continue to benefit from their investment in Exxon's substantial oil profits. She'd be violating her own fiduciary duty to those pensioners if she pursued an ideological agenda that hurt returns.

The Rockefellers and most of their allies are wealthy enough to survive any Exxon decline. The same can't be said for retired police officers. Exxon will do more for its shareholders, and for society, if it avoids political fads and keeps its focus on investments that promise the highest return on shareholder capital.


Australian electricity producers warn of danger from Greenie regulations

POWER generators have warned of blackouts and power price spikes if the Rudd Government moves too aggressively to put a price on greenhouse emissions. New modelling by the National Generators Forum has signalled the price on greenhouse emissions will need to rise from $20 a tonne in 2010 to $150 a tonne by 2050 if the Government is to deliver its promised cuts.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong yesterday reaffirmed that the Government would proceed with its mandatory renewable energy target of 20per cent of supply by 2020, despite sharp criticism of the proposal by the Government's leading economic think thank. The renewable energy industry yesterday backed the commitment, claiming a 20per cent target was the global standard for climate change policy.

In its submission to the Garnaut climate change review, the Productivity Commission said the emissions trading scheme on its own should be used to cut emissions, and added that a renewable target would only increase costs and not make deeper cuts in emissions. In their submission to the climate change review, energy generators have warned that big coal-fired power stations risk crashing out of the system, leaving huge supply gaps and price spikes if the transition is not carefully managed.

National Generators Forum director John Boshier said Victoria was likely to be the first state to face problems with price and reliability caused by the closure of giant brown-coal generators pushed out of the market by the rising price of emissions. "We want to make this transition," Mr Boshier told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "But we don't want to destroy these companies or damage their ability to reinvest in new low-emission generation capacity. "It's only by keeping them solvent will we be able to make the transition to a low-emission electricity system as quickly as possible."

The NGF submission said compensation to generators would offset losses, but would still not address the breakdown of the national electricity market triggered by the departure of major generators.



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23 May, 2008

Sun still unusually quiet

Just a coincidence that we are having so much cold weather, of course. Suppressed science based on past realities predicted it, though

Many solar scientists expected the new sunspot cycle to be a whopper, a prolonged solar tantrum that could fry satellites and raise hell with earthly communications, the power grid and modern electronics. But there's scant proof Sunspot Cycle 24 is even here, let alone the debut of big trouble. So far there have been just a couple minor zits on the face of the sun to suggest the old cycle is over and the new one is coming. The roughly 11-year cycle of sunspot activity should have bottomed out last year, the end of Cycle 23 and the beginning of Cycle 24. That would have put the peak in new sunspot activity around 2012.

But a dud sunspot cycle would not necessarily make it a boring period, especially for two solar scientists with the Tucson-based National Solar Observatory. Two years ago, William Livingston and Matt Penn wrote a paper for the journal Science predicting that this could not only be a dud sunspot cycle, but the start of another extended down period in solar activity. It was based on their analysis of weakening sunspot intensity and said sunspots might vanish by 2015. And here's the punch line: That last long-term down period, 1645-1715, coincided with the Little Ice Age, a period of bitter cold winters.

That kind of talk could ruffle some feathers in this time of climate change and global warming, starring man-made carbon dioxide as the devil. The paper, rejected in peer review, was never published by Science. Livingston said he's OK with the rejection. "I accept what the reviewers said," Livingston said. "'If you are going to make such statement, you had better have strong evidence."

Livingston said their projections were based on observations of a trend in decreasingly powerful sunspots but reviewers felt it was merely a statistical argument. He is aware that some opponents of the prevailing position that climate change and global warming are the result of manmade activity - greenhouse gas, specifically carbon dioxide, buildup - are very much interested in the idea that changes might be related to solar activity.

"But it has not been proven yet," cautioned Livingston, an astronomer emeritus who still works out of an office at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory headquarters building on the University of Arizona campus. "We may have to wait. We may be wrong. (But) the sun is going to entertain us one way or another," he said.

It's not just a scientific curiosity. There's a lot at stake in predicting whether sunspot cycles are going to be tame or wild, said Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory. The powerful blasts of radiation that come from solar activity can fry electronic equipment on Earth; particularly vulnerable are satellites.

More here

Alaska attacks polar bear nonsense

The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday. She and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state's northern and northwestern coasts. Palin argued that there is not enough evidence to support a listing. Polar bears are well-managed and their population has dramatically increased over 30 years as a result of conservation, she said. Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears, during summers are unreliable, said Palin, a Republican.

The announcement drew a strong response from the primary author of the listing petition. "She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Alaska deserves better." Siegel said it was unconscionable for Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming's threat to sea ice, the polar bear's habitat. "Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming," she said. "The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."

As marine mammals, polar bears are regulated by the federal government, not the state. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week made the listing decision and said it was based on three findings. "First, sea ice is vital to polar bear survival. Second, the polar bear's sea-ice habitat has dramatically melted in recent decades. Third, computer models suggest sea ice is likely to further recede in the future," he said.

Summer sea ice last year shrank to a record low, about 1.65 million square miles, nearly 40 percent less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000. Polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting ringed seals. In recent years, summer sea ice has receded far beyond the relatively shallow, biologically rich waters of the outer continental shelf, giving polar bears less time in prime feeding areas.

The bear's numbers rebounded after the 1970s, but conservation groups contend that was in response to measures taken to stop over-hunting. Polar bear researchers fear recent effects of the loss of sea ice on Alaska polar bear populations. A 2006 study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that far fewer polar bear cubs in the Beaufort Sea were surviving and that adult males weighed less and had smaller skulls than those captured and measured two decades previously-trends similar to observations in Canada's western Hudson Bay before a population drop. A U.S. Geological Survey study completed last year as part of the petition process predicted polar bears in Alaska could be wiped out by 2050.

Kempthorne said last week he considered every point Palin made, and rejected them. However, he sought to limit the economic effect of the decision with the inclusion of "administrative guidance" that said the listing would not be used to create back-door climate policy outside the normal system of political accountability. He also said that the threat to polar bears did not come from the petroleum industry.

In response, conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council are seeking to overturn Kempthorne's administrative actions and seek limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Palin and other state officials called arbitrary a decision to list a healthy species judging by what they deem uncertain modeling of future climate change and unproven long-term impact of any future climate change on the species. State Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin said it could have wide economic effects. "Inappropriate implementation of this listing decision could result in widespread social and economic impacts, including increased power costs and further increases in fuel prices, without providing any more protection for the species," he said.



The state's costly, grandiose scheme to combat global warming is finding resistance from many of the same folks who approved it two years ago. Meanwhile, legislative opposition also is growing to the plan to create a global warming state think tank financed by a utility users' surcharge. It appears that paying for saving mankind from a projected 1- or 2-degree increase in temperature over the next century already is proving too costly in today's limited dollars. "Powerful state senators from both parties are challenging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed spending spree on selected programs to address global warming," the San Diego Union-Tribune recently reported.

That news came on the heels of an opinion by the state Legislature's attorneys that the Public Utilities Commission overstepped its authority by voting to force electricity and natural-gas customers to pay to create a $600-million global warming think tank.

Confronted with a current, undeniable $17-billion budget deficit, apparently even legislative Democrats are finding the price tag for long-term solutions to global warming's alleged threat too big a price to pay, at least for now. We're glad there are representatives in Sacramento who can distinguish between actual, existing problems and computer-generated future projections.

We may be about to discover how committed legislators really are to the hyped concern over climate change, considering that the globe hasn't warmed for about a decade and is projected to cool even more over the next decade, and no global warming-caused calamities yet have occurred outside of contrived computer models. When weighing the concrete crisis of too many government programs operating on too little tax revenue, we're glad to see some legislators prefer to address current, real challenges.

Democrats, the Union-Tribune reported, are concerned that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget borrows too much from other environmental programs to cover costs associated with combating global warming.

Republicans also appear to be girding for a fight. The GOP threatens to hold up the budget until the governor agrees to delay implementing new industry emission-cutting regulations contained in the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.

State Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, observed so-called new "green" businesses have yet to emerge, but costs imposed on existing businesses by global warming regulations may drive them to Nevada, where there are no greenhouse-gas reduction laws. Democrats also complain that millions of dollars in services and scores of jobs face elimination, while global warming regulations would still be financed.



The feeling that the world is coming to an end is as old as the scriptures, and certain climatic predictions have the same flavor. Article below by Robert Skidelsky -- a member of the British House of Lords and professor emeritus of political economy at Warwick University

It was only to be expected that former US vice president Al Gore would give this month's cyclone in Myanmar an apocalyptic twist. "Last year," he said, "a catastrophic storm hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China ...We're seeing the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continual global warming." Surprisingly, Gore did not include the Asian tsunami of 2004, which claimed 225,000 lives. His not so subliminal message was that these natural catastrophes foreshadow the end of the world.

Apocalyptic beliefs have always been part of the Christian tradition. They express the yearning for heaven on earth, when evil is destroyed and the good are saved. In their classical religious form, such beliefs rely on signs and omens, like earthquakes and sunspots, which can be interpreted - by reference to biblical passages - as portending a great cataclysm and cleansing. Thus, apocalyptic moments are products of a sense of crisis; they can be triggered by wars and natural disasters.

Classical apocalyptic thinking is certainly alive and well, especially in the US, where it feeds on Protestant fundamentalism, and is mass marketed with all the resources of modern media. Circles close to the Bush administration, it is rumored, take current distempers like terrorism as confirmation of biblical prophecies.

In secularized, pseudo-scientific form, apocalyptic thinking has also been at the core of revolutionary politics. In his latest book, Black Mass, philosopher John Gray discusses how political doctrines like Marxism colonized the apocalyptic vision in prophesying the destruction of capitalism as the prelude to the socialist utopia. But political messianism was an offshoot of 19th century optimism. With the collapse of optimism, contemporary apocalyptic belief lays more stress on catastrophe and less on utopia. For example, in his book Flat Earth News, the investigative journalist Nick Davies reminds us of the millennium bug panic. Newspapers everywhere carried stories predicting that computer systems would crash on Jan. 1, 2000, causing much of the world to shut down. The subtext was familiar: Those who live by technology will die by it.

Misreporting of science is so routine now that we hardly notice it. Much more serious is when science itself becomes infected by the apocalyptic spirit. Faith-based science seems a contradiction in terms, because the scientific worldview emerged as a challenge to religious superstition. But important scientific beliefs can now be said to be held religiously, rather than scientifically. This brings us back to Gore and climate change.

There is no doubt that the Earth became warmer over the 20th century (by about 0.7C), which most climate scientists largely attribute to human carbon dioxide emissions....

This is the second doomsday scenario of recent decades, the first being the Club of Rome's prediction in 1972 that the world would soon run out of natural resources. Both are "scientific," but their structure is the same as that of the biblical story of the Flood: Human wickedness (or, in today's case, unbridled materialism) triggers the disastrous sequence, which it may already be too late to avert. Like Biblical prophecy, scientific doomsday stories seem impervious to refutation and are constantly repackaged to feed the hunger for catastrophe.

Scientists argue that the media and politicians are responsible for exaggerating their findings as promises of salvation or warnings of retribution. But scientists themselves are partly responsible, because they have hardened uncertainties into probabilities, treated disputable propositions as matters of fact and attacked dissent as heresy. Scientists are notoriously loath to jettison conclusions reached by approved scientific methods, however faulty. But their intolerance of dissent is hugely magnified when they see themselves as captains in a salvationist army dedicated to purging the world of evil habits....

The best antidote to the doom merchants is skepticism. We must be willing to take uncertainty seriously. Climate change is a fact. But apocalyptic thinking distorts the scientific debate and makes it harder to explain the causes and consequences of this fact, which in turn makes it harder to know how to deal with it.

The danger is that we become so infected with the apocalyptic virus that we end up creating a real catastrophe - the meltdown of our economies and lifestyles - in order to avoid an imaginary one. In short, while a religious attitude of mind deserves the highest respect, we should resist the re-conquest by religion of matters that should be the concern of science.


'Grantsmanship' Distorts Global Warming Science

Almost every day another species of plant or animal is "discovered" to be threatened by global warming. I read a new report concerning moose in Scandinavia that are unexpectedly "threatened" despite what researchers admit is a growing population. Penguins are in danger from loss of Antarctic ice even though the Antarctic ice-cap is known to be growing with colder temperatures recorded in the southern hemisphere in recent years according to NASA. Fortunately for these species -- which hitherto managed to survive and thrive on their own for hundreds of thousands or millions of years -- intrepid 21st Century researchers have arrived on the scene with Al Gore just in time to "rescue" them from climate change. How is it possible that such disparate species all around the globe are in such dire straights all at once?

Perhaps it has less to do with actual species' population trends and other such noisome facts and more to do with a novel nexus between the news-media and "grantsmanship" among academic researchers who have hit upon a winning formula: if one ties one's research project somehow -- even via the most tenuous and flimsy grounds -- to global warming, one's grant proposal will have much greater chance to be selected for funding, one's chances of appearing on 60 Minutes or NPR are greatly increased, and as a consequence of this positive PR for one's project, university and funding agency, one's grant is more likely to be renewed.

In contrast, if one continues to toil on relatively obscure scholarship where actual scientific data is important, trend lines have meaning, and logical debate is allowed, the chances of winning funding for one's work are greatly reduced. Scientists have learned therefore that they will be rewarded handsomely by identifying any tangential connection between their favorite studies and "global warming" alarmism. Like Pavlov's dog with a PhD.

Scientists are people too and, like anyone, crave a moment in the limelight, with his or her work celebrated in the news-media as being "relevant". Thus a moose expert who has toiled in anonymity for decades will find that if he or she mentions that the moose might be "threatened" by global warming, he or she is suddenly lionized by the media as another "expert" chiming in about the dangers of climate change (cf. first link above). And being an "expert", it is difficult for the layman (i.e. your average person who has not toiled for decades studying moose) to refute the assertion no matter how spurious the moose-expert's "science". We should acknowledge that even moose experts can be taken in by the anthropogenic global-warming hoax. A plant expert sees the moose expert win enormous attention and acclaim and thus inspired concludes "suddenly" that his or her favorite plant is somehow also affected by climate change in the hope of drawing similar positive attention -- and grant money.

Let's examine this media-grant nexus more closely and follow the money. First, note that the source of funding for most basic scientific research in the US is the federal government (national governments in other countries) administered via funding agencies such as the DOE, EPA, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, NASA and at times the DOD. These funds originate in congressional appropriations. These funds are "spent" at universities, national labs, and independent non-profit research labs via peer-reviewed grant competitions seeking cutting edge research projects to fund in the wide variety of scientific disciplines.

These competitions are "refereed" by experts (peers) selected by the agency for the purpose of judging the competition (DARPA, by the way, uses a different mechanism for selecting their R&D contractors). Peer review has served our nation well since WWII and has, for the most part, insured the high quality of the American scientific enterprise. There is nothing wrong with "grantsmanship" per se -- it is the scientific world's version of "salesmanship" -- but like good salesmen and women who know their customer, scientists know their customer wants projects relevant to "climate change".

Peer review is intended to insulate the process from politics. But in today's hyper-politicized world of "climate change" alarmism, I believe the insulation has broken down -- particularly since statist politicians view climate-change hysteria as pretext for seizing control of the global energy industry. Here's how this might work. Although peer-review is the gate-keeper for selection of grant-projects, agencies set the scoring criteria against which proposals are measured. Being human, agency bureaucrats also are highly attuned to congressional whims and desires -- as well as public perceptions of research needs -- and undoubtedly have added "climate-change" to their research mission and accordingly "relevance to climate-change" as criterion for selection of grant proposals.

Congressmen and their staffers see "climate change" recorded in an agency'a official mission and are consequently more satisfied that the research funded with tax-payer dollars is "relevant", "timely" and addresses a perceived "crisis" -- the "experts" says so after all. Grant writing biologists respond by pounding whatever square peg may be their research interest (moose, penguin -- it doesn't matter) by tenuous and tendentious arguments into the round hole of "climate change" alarmism and are rewarded with more grants.

As if taking their cue after last week's ruling by the Fish and Wildlife Service that the polar bear is "threatened", the UN IPPC announced a new scientific study that concludes almost all species are already being damaged by "global warming". Here's a part of the UK Guardian's account:
"When you look at a map of the world and see where these changes are already happening, and how many species and systems are already responding to climate change after only a 0.6C rise, it just heightens our concerns for the future," Rosenzweig said. "It's clear we have to adapt to climate change as well as try to mitigate it. It's real and it's happening now."
In the UN's view, adaptation undoubtedly requires world government to regulate energy and control the "crisis". The media add fuel to the flame of global warming hysteria by dutifully reporting every new species (preferably cuddly photogenic ones) reported by "experts" to now be threatened, thus allowing them to inexpensively recycle the same clips of glaciers calving icebergs into the ocean (as glaciers have done for millions of years), and highlighting the alarming "relevance" of the particular researchers' conclusions. Meanwhile, the university, the funding agency and congress get to bask in reflected glory (the media covered it so it must be highly relevant!).

It is this newly formed iron triangle (researchers/government/media) of grantsmanship, knee-jerk media coverage, federal research agency log-rolling and congress's desire to seem "relevant" by addressing a "global crisis" that creates more and more "discoveries" of species threatened by climate change. This nexus creates a screeching, noisy feedback loop that is distorting science and corrupting the processes that insure research quality.

In my view, it will take an august body like the National Academy of Science to step in to once again insulate science from politics. And even they might fail. We may be doomed, not by global warming, but by this iron triangle's distortions and fear-mongering that attempt to stampede our fellow citizens into foolhardy policies intended to "correct" an unfounded "crisis".


Australian government's Greenie strategy pointless says advisory body

The Government's leading economic think tank has launched a scathing attack on one of Kevin Rudd's most significant climate change policies - the mandatory renewable energy target - claiming it will drive up energy prices and do nothing to cut dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

In a carefully timed submission to the Government's climate change policy review, the Productivity Commission also flagged a review of tax distortions that increase emissions, such as the generous fringe benefit tax treatment of motor vehicles. Following the recent debate over a possible cut in fuel excises to relieve the cost burden on motorists, the commission has also encouraged the Government to put up fuel prices by including transport fuels in an emissions trading scheme from 2010.

The Government's chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, has already signalled concerns about Labor's ambitious election promise to set a mandatory renewable energy target of 20 per cent of power to be generated through sources such as wind and solar energy by 2020. In February, with the release of his first interim report, Professor Garnaut highlighted the need to phase out the MRET as quickly as possible, warning it could push up electricity prices and override the impact of a trading scheme. The Productivity Commission was specifically invited by Professor Garnaut to comment on the policy response to climate change.

While recognising the need for a range of policy options to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies, the commission has questioned the efficiency of the proposed MRET in parallel with an emissions trading scheme. It claims such an approach would increase renewable energy generation at the expense of gas-fired electricity, but not drive any deeper cuts in emissions. It also expressed concern that the scheme would "provide a signal that lobbying for government support for certain technologies and industries over others could be successful". "An MRET operating in conjunction with an emissions trading scheme would not encourage any additional abatement, but still impose additional administration and monitoring costs," the submission says.

The Rudd Government remains committed to the implementation ofits MRET scheme, allocating $15million in last week's budget towards administering it over the next five years. A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the Government made an election commitment to its expanded MRET. "The purpose is to drive investment in, and deployment of, renewable energy in the short and medium term," she said. "The Government will design the renewable energy target in a careful way to reduce Australia's emissions at the lowest cost to the economy."

The commission's submission is consistent with many key points raised in recent Garnaut review discussion papers. These involve the need to include transport fuels under emissions trading and calls for a review of emissions-increasing tax structures, such as fringe benefits tax treatment of cars, and of market rules for power transmission and pricing once a price is put on greenhouse emissions. "There may be interventions elsewhere in the economy (for example, in the taxation and tariff systems) that inadvertently create incentives for increased (greenhouse gas) emissions," it says. "While there could be good public policy reasons for these interventions, the emergence of more ambitious climate change objectives provides an additional reason for reviewing their appropriateness."

Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said the MRET should be replaced with a clean energy target that included technologies such as clean coal and gas. "If you want to clean up the power stations, which supply 92per cent of Australia's energy, and if you want to firmly tackle climate change, you have to have incentives for the take-up of clean coal and gas," he said.

Australian Conservation Foundation climate spokesman Tony Mohr welcomed the commission's focus on taxation review, but suggested the benefits from a mandatory target were greater than attributed. The gas industry welcomed the submission as "an important and credible addition to the debate around how Australia achieves emissions reductions most efficiently".

The commission's comments come as Brendan Nelson described price rises stemming from the Garnaut review as "the train heading down the track". "Mr Rudd has capitalised on the widespread community concern in relation to change, but he's also capitalised on the fact that most Australians are actually ignorant about what it's actually going to cost," the Opposition Leader said in Melbourne. "At the moment, most Australians who are struggling to feed, clothe and house their children ... have not been able to read hundreds of pages of economic theory in relation to the implementation of climate change.

"Most Australians are generally supportive ... But I still think there is a vast, widespread community ignorance in terms of what adjusting to climate change is actually going to cost us."



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 May, 2008


An email from Dan McLuskey []

For what it is worth, it takes more energy to manufacture the average car than it will ever consume during its driving life. This means that the government push to drive motorists to buy new cars is the worst possible action with regard to emissions. The best action is to reward people for keeping their cars longer. Of course, if this is effective, it will have major ramifications for the viability of the motor vehicle manufacturing industry.


With more than 71,000 people dead, buried, or missing in China following last Monday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake [`China in mourning over earthquake', BBC Online Asia-Pacific News, May 19], and the 78,000 now thought to have perished in Myanmar (Burma) from the May 2 Cyclone `Nargis' [`Burma to mourn cyclone's victims', BBC Online Asia-Pacific News, May 19], I thought it might be helpful to provide a detailed historical context for our understanding of the size of such natural disasters. I thus present:

'A Premier League of Deaths from Natural and Semi-Natural Causes' [in order of expected number of fatalities] ...

More here


By David Henderson (Formerly Head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD, and currently a Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School, London)

I am pleased and honoured to be opening the discussion at this 2008 Clare Distinguished Lecture, and I would like to thank the Master and Fellows of Clare for inviting me to do so.

In his talk, Professor Munasinghe has put before us a rich and varied menu. Drawing on his extensive published work, as also on his experience as a high-level participant on the international scene, he has provided a wide-ranging review of leading world issues together with a comprehensive suggested framework for policy. His has been a notable presentation.

However, I have to say that both his view of the world and his proposed orientation of policy are not mine: he and I are a long way apart. When the Master wrote inviting me to speak today, I was careful to check before accepting. I wanted to be sure that he and the Fellows would be happy for the opening remarks in today's discussion to come from a dissenter. Today's lecture has not served to undermine or qualify my dissenting status.

In my remarks, I will focus on broad areas of disagreement, rather than on specific points and arguments - of which there could be many - arising from Professor Munasinghe's lecture.

I have two main areas or headings of dissent. One goes a long way back, while the other has emerged more recently.

More here

31,000 scientists reject 'global warming' agenda

'Mr. Gore's movie has claims no informed expert endorses'

More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. - including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties - have signed a petition rejecting "global warming," the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth's climate. "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate," the petition states. "Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

The Petition Project actually was launched nearly 10 years ago, when the first few thousand signatures were assembled. Then, between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign. But now, a new effort has been conducted because of an "escalation of the claims of 'consensus,' release of the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Mr. Al Gore, and related events," according to officials with the project.

"Mr. Gore's movie, asserting a 'consensus' and 'settled science' in agreement about human-caused global warming, conveyed the claims about human-caused global warming to ordinary movie goers and to public school children, to whom the film was widely distributed. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore's movie contains many very serious incorrect claims which no informed, honest scientist could endorse," said project spokesman and founder Art Robinson. WND submitted a request to Gore's office for comment but did not get a response.

Robinson said the dire warnings about "global warming" have gone far beyond semantics or scientific discussion now to the point they are actually endangering people. "The campaign to severely ration hydrocarbon energy technology has now been markedly expanded," he said. "In the course of this campaign, many scientifically invalid claims about impending climate emergencies are being made. Simultaneously, proposed political actions to severely reduce hydrocarbon use now threaten the prosperity of Americans and the very existence of hundreds of millions of people in poorer countries," he said. In just the past few weeks, there have been various allegations that both shark attacks and typhoons have been sparked by "global warming."

The late Professor Frederick Seitz, the past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and winner of the National Medal of Science, wrote in a letter promoting the petition, "The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds."

"This treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful," he wrote.

Accompanying the letter sent to scientists was a 12-page summary and review of research on "global warming," officials said. "The proposed agreement would have very negative effects upon the technology of nations throughout the world, especially those that are currently attempting to lift from poverty and provide opportunities to the over 4 billion people in technologically underdeveloped countries," Seitz wrote.

Robinson said the project targets scientists because, "It is especially important for America to hear from its citizens who have the training necessary to evaluate the relevant data and offer sound advice." He said the "global warming agreement," written in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, and other plans "would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind." "Yet," he said, "the United Nations and other vocal political interests say the U.S. must enact new laws that will sharply reduce domestic energy production and raise energy prices even higher.

"The inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness include the right of access to life-giving and life-enhancing technology. This is especially true of access to the most basic of all technologies: energy. These human rights have been extensively and wrongly abridged," he continued. "During the past two generations in the U.S., a system of high taxation, extensive regulation, and ubiquitous litigation has arisen that prevents the accumulation of sufficient capital and the exercise of sufficient freedom to build and preserve needed modern technology.

"These unfavorable political trends have severely damaged our energy production, where lack of industrial progress has left our country dependent upon foreign sources for 30 percent of the energy required to maintain our current level of prosperity," he said. "Moreover, the transfer of other U.S. industries abroad as a result of these same trends has left U.S. citizens with too few goods and services to trade for the energy that they do not produce. A huge and unsustainable trade deficit and rapidly rising energy prices have been the result.

"The necessary hydrocarbon and nuclear energy production technologies have been available to U.S. engineers for many decades. We can develop these resources without harm to people or the environment. There is absolutely no technical, resource, or environmental reason for the U.S. to be a net importer of energy. The U.S. should, in fact, be a net exporter of energy," he said.

He told WND he believes the issue has nothing to do with energy itself, but everything to do with power, control and money, which the United Nations is seeking. He accused the U.N. of violating human rights in its campaign to ban much energy research, exploration and development. "In order to alleviate the current energy emergency and prevent future emergencies, we need to remove the governmental restrictions that have caused this problem. Fundamental human rights require that U.S. citizens and their industries be free to produce and use the low cost, abundant energy that they need. As the 31,000 signatories of this petition emphasize, environmental science supports this freedom," he said.

The Petition Project website today said there are 31,072 scientists who have signed up, and Robinson said more names continue to come in. In terms of Ph.D. scientists alone, it already has 15 times more scientists than are seriously involved in the U.N.'s campaign to "vilify hydrocarbons," officials told WND. "The very large number of petition signers demonstrates that, if there is a consensus among American scientists, it is in opposition to the human-caused global warming hypothesis rather than in favor of it," the organization noted.

The project was set up by a team of physicists and physical chemists who do research at several American institutions and collects signatures when donations provide the resources to mail out more letters. "In a group of more than 30,000 people, there are many individuals with names similar or identical to other signatories, or to non-signatories - real or fictional. Opponents of the petition project sometimes use this statistical fact in efforts to discredit the project. For examples, Perry Mason and Michael Fox are scientists who have signed the petition - who happen also to have names identical to fictional or real non-scientists," the website said.

The petition is needed, supporters said, simply because Gore and others "have claimed that the 'science is settled' - that an overwhelming 'consensus' of scientists agrees with the hypothesis of human-caused global warming, with only a handful of skeptical scientists in disagreement." The list of scientists includes 9,021 Ph.D.s, 6,961 at the master's level, 2,240 medical doctors and 12,850 carrying a bachelor of science or equivalent academic degree. The Petition Project's website includes both a list of scientists by name as well as a list of scientists by state.


The Hubris of Environmentalists

Not that the greenies have a monopoly on hubris—many humans seem to have the idea that what they have created, or what they value, must be preserved as is for all time. But environmentalists showcase the concept so very well, not only in their actions but in the fact that their most formidable opponent is often nature itself.

The recent Chilean volcanic eruption offers an excellent case in point, as presented in North Face Founder Saves, Fights Nature as Chile Volcano Erupts. Here are the first few paragraphs:
North Face Inc. founder Douglas Tompkins and his wife Kristine have spent $50 million to save Chile's rain forest. Now nature is rebelling: A volcano that has erupted for the first time in 9,000 years is ravaging the reserve they have built.

The Chaiten volcano sits on the southern edge of Pumalin Park, a 300,000-hectare (740,000-acre) site created by the Tompkinses to preserve a swath of Patagonia. Ash and rivers swollen by volcanic mud have damaged land, trees and trails on a third of the park and threaten to obliterate 17 years of work, Kristine Tompkins said.

"It's a mess, a serious mess," she said in a May 13 phone interview from Pumalin's administration center at Puerto Varas, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the volcano. "If it gets worse, it could hammer in a big way the infrastructure we've built, and wipe out forests that'll take thousands of years to return."
Ah, chaos, you are the great leveler of mankind! Of course, the Chilean government has jumped in to the situation as well:
Douglas Tompkins, who says he is a proponent of so-called Deep Ecology, a philosophy that blames technology from laptop computers to nuclear power plants for damaging the environment, has upset local officials and business people by refusing to allow logging, hydroelectric dams and a proposed roadway through his reserve.

President Michelle Bachelet's government announced May 8 it would ban all land purchases in the area hit by the volcano, after local officials said they were concerned that Tompkins would try to take advantage of the eruption to buy out farmers whose livelihood could be wiped out.

The possibility that Tompkins would seek to enlarge his holdings was "an important factor in the decision" to seek a ban, Claudio Alvarado, the opposition Congressional deputy for the area, said in an interview. The aim is to "avoid speculation and people taking advantage of the situation," he said.
Let me get this straight: this “deep ecology” dude preserved some Chilean forest by building “self-guided trails, rustically luxurious cabins and elegant visitors' center”—with a straight face, one must presume. And an ancient volcano’s resurgence may wipe it all out ...

It’s almost enough to convince me there is some kind of god of nature.



Does government funding of scientific research speed technological progress and spur economic growth? It is a truism among academic researchers that federal funding is necessary for fundamental research and that such funding is perpetually inadequate. In his 1945 report to the President, Science: The Endless Frontier, director of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development Vannevar Bush argued that some areas of science "are likely to be cultivated inadequately if left without more support than will come from private sources." Given the economic and defense challenges faced by the United States after the Second World War, Bush claimed, "[W]e are entering a period when science needs and deserves increased support from public funds."

Bush did explicitly note that technological progress depended upon industry translating scientific discoveries into new therapies, products and services. "Industry will fully rise to the challenge of applying new knowledge to new products. The commercial incentive can be relied upon for that," wrote Bush. The problem, as he saw it, was that the profit motive was not strong enough to induce enough private investment in basic science. Part of the problem is that research results would be available to competitors, so a business could not profit sufficiently from its investment in basic research.

Now comes Terence Kealey to question these commonplaces in Sex, Science and Profits: How People Evolved to Make Money. Kealey is a biochemist and vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, the only independent university in Britain. To some extent, Sex, Science and Profits recapitulates the arguments Kealey made in his 1996 book The Economic Laws of Scientific Research (favorably reviewed in reason in 1997). What is new is that Kealey applies the gimlet eye of evolutionary psychology to his delightful romp through the history of human technological progress.

As human bands of hunter-gatherers improved their hunting technologies and grew in numbers, prey animals and other foods became increasingly scarce. So hunger encouraged the invention of agriculture and domestication of some animals. The New Stone Age saw a burst of technological innovation as people began to specialize and to trade. As goods proliferated and trade expanded, merchants invented writing systems, such as cuneiform and hieroglyphics, to keep track of grain, pots, sheep and goats, beer, spices, and cloth.

Kealey traces the fits and starts of technological progress through stagnant Bronze Age empires like Egypt and Assyria to the technologically innovative small merchant cultures such as the Phoenicians, Philistines, and Lydians that made crucial advances like the alphabet, ironworking, and coins. Technology stagnated under the Romans and surprisingly made headway during the Dark Ages which saw the invention of three-field crop rotation, the heavy plow and the horse collar which lifted food production by more than 40 percent. These inventions arose in areas of northern Europe where farmers sold food to city markets. This meant that they could specialize in growing food and obtain other goods they needed in trade from city dwellers. In the deep countryside where feudalism held sway, crop yields did not markedly improve for centuries. The period also saw the invention of windmills, trousers, butter, barrels, and buttons.

Then came the Renaissance in Italian merchant cities which invented double entry bookkeeping. This advance in accounting enabled enterprises to accumulate debts and credits in their own rights, making them entities separate from any individual. Italians also invented insurance to cover the risks of trading. The first stock exchange opened in Antwerp in 1460. Kealey then takes us to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution which again took off in small trading countries, especially the Netherlands and England. The common thread that he identifies is that technology takes off when individual and property rights are recognized.

Kealey shows in nearly every case the crucial inventions of the past two and half centuries were called forth by markets, not invented by scientists working from ivory towers. These include the steam engine, cotton gin, textile mills, railroad engines, the revolver, the electric motor, telegraph, telephone, incandescent light bulb, radio, the airplane-the list is nearly endless.

The story of the airplane is instructive. After the Spanish-American War, the federal government supplied a grant of $73,000 to the director of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Pierpont Langley to develop heavier-than-air craft. All six of Langley's prototypes crashed, the last one on October 7, 1903. Two months later, Ohio bicycle mechanics, Orville and Wilbur Wright, launched their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Their R&D budget? About $1,000.

But what about now? Governments are spending more than ever on scientific research. Isn't government-funding of basic research crucial to the development of new technologies? What about the Manhattan Project? Nuclear power? The Apollo moon-landings? The Internet? Kealey isn't claiming that government-funded research achieves no breakthroughs, but he is questioning if those breakthroughs are worth the cost. Surely government R&D funding must be helping to increase economic growth? That is the received wisdom argued centuries ago by Bacon, half a century ago by Bush, and is heard nearly every week at Congressional hearings today.

The issue is complicated, but what evidence is available is damning. In particular, Kealey cites a 2003 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, The Sources of Economic Growth, which finds "a marked positive effect of business-sector R&D, while the analysis could find no clear-cut relationship between public R&D activities and growth, at least in the short term." This finding mirrored a 2001 OECD working paper which showed that higher spending by industry on R&D correlates well with higher economic growth rates. In contrast to the academic truisms about the need for federal funding, the study found that "business-performed R&D...drives the positive association between total R&D intensity and output growth." The OECD researchers noted that publicly funded defense research crowded out private research, "while civilian public research is neutral with respect to business-performed R&D."

In other words, government funded civilian research didn't appear to hurt the private sector but there was not much evidence that it helped, at least in the short term. The report concluded, "Research and development (R&D) activities undertaken by the business sector seem to have high social returns, while no clear-cut relationship could be established between non-business-oriented R&D activities and growth." Economic growth associated with R&D was linked almost entirely to private sector research funding. The OECD report did allow that perhaps publicly funded research might eventually result in long-term technology spillovers, but that contention was hard to evaluate. The 2003 OECD study also noted, "Taken at face value they suggest publicly-performed R&D crowds out resources that could be alternatively used by the private sector, including private R&D."

A 1995 analysis done by American University economist Walter Parker also finds that government funding crowds out private research. "Once private research is explicitly controlled for, the direct effect of public research is weakly negative, as might be the case if public research has crowding-out effects which adversely affect private output growth," concludes Parker. Weakly negative? Government funding may retard technological progress? Is it possible that the funding for NASA has crowded out private space transport research and development? Or more currently, that private companies are not investing in carbon capture and sequestration research as a way to mitigate man-made global warming because they are waiting for the federal government to fund such research?

There is much more controversy and evidence to savor in Sex, Science and Profits, e.g., his argument that patents should be abolished except for those covering pharmaceuticals and that technological innovation often precedes scientific discovery. Everyone now agrees that centralized planning fails to produce economic progress. Kealey may well be on to something when he argues that centralized planning also fails to produce scientific progress.


Australia's Tim Flannery, the dotty false prophet

Comment by Andrew Bolt

YOU'D think a record of dud predictions would shame Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery into silence. But, no. It seems this professional fearmonger has learned instead that global warming is a faith that grows on panic, not facts. So, undaunted, Flannery this week amped up the hype to warn that global warming was now so terrifying we may have to change the colour of the sky. As a "last barrier to climate collapse" we might within the next five years have to fire the "gas" sulphur (actually a solid) into the stratosphere to keep out some of the sky's rays.

There are obvious problems with his plan. First, Flannery concedes "the consequences of doing that are unknown". Second, some lousy consequences are known - for a start, sulphur is an element in acid rain. But third, global warming in fact halted in 1998 - a basic point confirmed by almost all measuring bodies but not yet by Flannery.

How Flannery gets away with such flummery has been a mystery to me, but I blame in part our extraordinary groupthink. For instance, while 31,000 scientists were happy this week to sign a petition in the United States denying there was convincing evidence that man's gases caused catastrophic global warming, I can't think of more than a dozen in Australia who'd dare do the same. And I can think of even fewer journalists who'd back them if they did. That's why Flannery is still treated as a hero of the ABC and The Age, despite a string of predictions that should have made him a laughing stock, not 2007 Australian of the Year. Here's a condensed list.

* Three years ago he warned global warming could leave Sydney's dam's dry by 2007. They are two thirds full.

* Perth would be so devastated by drought that it would be a "ghost city" in decades. In fact, the city has just recorded its wettest April on record.

* The ice caps would melt so fast that the seas would lap the roofs of "an eight-storey building". In fact, the United Nations' influential IPCC, itself accused of alarmism, says at worst the seas will rise this century by 59cm.

* Hurricanes would become more frequent. In fact, the long-term trend of hurricanes and cyclones is highly disputed, as is any link to warming.

The hype pushing the global warming scare is the most sustained assault on reason in my lifetime. While Flannery remains a prophet, the rational should tremble, even before he starts firing sulphur into our sky.



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 May, 2008

Emissions irrelevant to future climate change?

They have to spin this so as not to upset Warmism but admitting to any presence of a diminishing returns effect exposes a big area of uncertainty for them

Climate change and the carbon emissions seem inextricably linked. However, new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management suggests that this may not always hold true, although it may be some time before we reach this saturation point.

The land and the oceans contain significantly more carbon than the atmosphere, and exchange carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. The amount of CO2 emissions absorbed by the land or the oceans vary in response to changes in climate (including natural variations such as El Nino or volcanic eruptions). So current theories suggest that climate change will have a feedback effect on the rate that atmospheric CO2 increases; rising CO2 levels in turn add to global warming.

The link between the carbon cycle, and human effects caused by emissions, energy use and agriculture, may only be relevant for the next 'several centuries,' suggest Igor Mokhov and Alexey Eliseev from the A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics RAS, in Moscow, Russia. The authors used a climate model known as IAP RAS CM to study how feedback between our climate and the carbon cycle changes over time. In their simulations, the authors assumed that fossil fuel emissions would grow exponentially with a characteristic timescale from 50 to 250years.

In their models, Mokhov and Eliseev found that although climate-carbon cycle feedback grows initially, it then peaks and eventually decreases to a point where the feedback ceases. If we succeed in slowing down the rate of emissions, the peak would be reached much later. However, a steep increase in emissions would bring the peak in coupling between climate and carbon emissions even closer.

The authors suggest that we are heading inexorably towards the saturation peak, irrespective of how quickly we get there: "Even weak but continuing emissions lead to eventual saturation of the climate-carbon cycle feedback," Mokhov and Eliseev explain.


Another meteorologist urges caution about global warming claims

Says Warmism uses 'squishy science'

Longtime WCCO-TV meteorologist Mike Fairbourne says that the environmental movement is practicing "squishy science" when it ties human activity to global warming. Fairbourne's assessment Monday came on the same day that the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine appeared before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and announced that it has the signatures of more than 31,000 scientists -- including Fairbourne's -- who agree that the human impact on global warming is overblown.

Fairbourne, who joined WCCO in 1977 and has been a meteorologist for 40 years, said that while there is no doubt that "there has been some warming" of global temperatures in recent years ... there is still a pretty big question mark" about how much of that warming is from human activity. "Do we need to be wise stewards [of the Earth]? Absolutely," Fairbourne said. "Do we have to pin everything that happens on global warming? No, we need to have cooler heads."

Fairbourne said he signed the institute's petition about five years ago. The group said that hundreds of meteorologists are among the signers. The petition says:
"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto ... and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. "Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."
Fairbourne said he has talked "to a number of meteorologists who have similar opinions," adding that he is concerned about "the extremism that is attached to the global warming." He noted that in the 1970s "we were screaming about global cooling. It makes me nervous when we pin a few warm years on squishy science."

As for the melting polar ice caps, Fairbourne said there are "other things going on -- ocean currents, changes in salinity -- other things not related to carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere."

Asked why there has been so much momentum toward connecting human activity and global warming, Fairbourne said, "They're doing it for a lot of reasons; some may be scientific, but most of them are political. We need to be calm and look at scientific evidence and evaluate it."

Another Twin Cities TV meteorologist, Dave Dahl, is of kindred global warming spirit with Fairbourne. Dahl, in his regular afternoon weather spots on KSTP Radio (AM 1500), reads the record high and low for the day, illustrating extreme temperatures that are often many decades old. "More proof of global warming,'' radio host Joe Soucheray typically responds with sarcasm. Then Dahl chimes in with an affirming comment, such as "crazy" or "you got it, Joe."


Global warming or cooling? Who knows?

By analytical chemist and a mathematician Sherwood Thoele

Global cooling or global warming, which is it? It depends upon the latest climate study published. In the 1960s and 1970s, they claimed global cooling because of several years of colder than "normal" temperatures. Academia and certain think tanks claimed this cooling was from too much CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere. That died down and then came a warming spell, so we are now experiencing global warming, because of too much CO2 in the atmosphere. So, too much CO2 causes both global cooling and global warming.

As an analytical chemist, I analyze all the parameters and data from studies: what prompted the study, who funded it, where it was conducted, measuring equipment accuracy and the atmospheric conditions or physical status of that area during the study. Might there be bias for the outcome of the study, either by those conducting the study or those funding it and does the conclusion match the data? I want to know all this information before I accept the conclusions of any study, especially when it comes from someone within a social movement or political group.

Briefly, what is CO2 and what are some of its properties? CO2 is a gas at temperatures above -78.5C (-109.3F) at sea level, and it's only liquid under a lot of pressure, like in fire extinguishers. CO2 is heavier than air, so without air currents it won't rise above the ground (stage fog, silos, caves, mines). It is slightly soluble in water at room temperature and lower. So it is more soluble in the moisture in the colder upper atmosphere. CO2 with water makes carbonic acid (carbonated water), making it even heavier. Air is from 0.027 to 0.036 percent CO2, depending on the reference source.

One of the first things you learn in chemistry is that everything moves toward a state of equilibrium. So when too much water is in the atmosphere, along with other conditions, it rains. Along with this moisture is any excess or out-of-equilibrium CO2. CO2 with water is a mild acid with a pH of 5 to 6, which is perfect for plants. This acid helps release other minerals in the soil turning them into carbonates that dissolve easier in water, making them available to plants.

Because CO2 is slightly soluble in water and will come back to the Earth with precipitation, nature corrects for any excess, just as it does with other excess materials from volcanoes and forest fires.

CO2 comes from burning or oxidizing organic material and minerals that contain carbon. Major sources are fermenting (rotting) vegetation like in swamps, compost piles, burning limestone to make lime, gasoline or other petroleum products, volcanoes and forest fires. Nature recycles all of what it considers excess very efficiently. CO2 absorbs some infrared radiation. Infrared absorbers accept the radiation from any direction.

Since infrared radiation is one of many parts of visible light, the biggest source is the sun. Some say excess CO2 combined with the moisture in the atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation from the Earth to create a greenhouse effect by not letting it pass through it. But how then does the infrared radiation from the sun get through the CO2/moisture, and wouldn't it already have absorbed as much infrared radiation as it could handle from the sun?

There is a limit to the amount of infrared radiation that moisture/CO2 can absorb. Warmth from sunlight means infrared radiation is getting through. The infrared radiation absorbed by the Earth will keep it warm for a while, but as clouds linger and the sun goes down, the warmth goes away quickly. So if there were a greenhouse effect from heat being blocked from leaving the Earth, then the temperature on cloudy days and at night shouldn't be so different than on a sunny day.

Some claim a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in the average temperature over the last 100 years, globally. Considering the many variables that cause temperature changes, including the accuracy of the thermometers, the average global temperature has been extremely stable in this short period of time relative to the age of the Earth.

I submit that there is no manmade global cooling/warming, that there is no study or research data that makes a good argument to that effect when carefully examined objectively and that the Earth has many different and wide-ranging cycles that man cannot control, no matter how much he would like to.


So much for 'settled science'

You may have heard earlier this month that global warming is now likely to take break for a decade or more. There will be no more warming until 2015, perhaps later. Climate scientist Noel Keenlyside, leading a team from Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, for the first time entered verifiable data on ocean circulation cycles into one of the U. N.'s climate supercomputers, and the machine spit out a projection that there will be no more warming for the foreseeable future.

Of course, Mr. Keenlyside-- long a defender of the man-made global warming theory -- was quick to add that after 2015 (or perhaps 2020), warming would resume with a vengeance. Climate alarmists the world over were quick to add that they had known all along there would be periods when the Earth's climate would cool even as the overall trend was toward dangerous climate change.

Sorry, but that is just so much backfill. There may have been the odd global-warming scientist in the past decade who allowed that warming would pause periodically in its otherwise relentless upward march, but he or she was a rarity. If anything, the opposite is true: Almost no climate scientist who backed the alarmism ever expected warming would take anything like a 10 or 15-year hiatus.

Last year, in its oft-quoted report on global warming, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted a 0.3-degree C rise in temperature in the coming decade -- not a cooling or even just temperature stability. In its previous report in 2001, the IPCC prominently displaced the so-called temperature "hockey stick" that purported to show temperature pretty much plateauing for the thousand years before 1900, then taking off in the 20th Century in a smooth upward line. No 10-year dips backwards were foreseen.

It is drummed into us, ad nauseum, that the IPCC represents 2,500 scientists who together embrace a "consensus" that man-made global warming is a "scientific fact;" and as recently as last year, they didn't see this cooling coming. So the alarmists can't weasel out of this by claiming they knew all along such anomalies would occur. This is not something any alarmist predicted, and it showed up in none of the UN's computer projections until Mr. Keenlyside et al. were finally able to enter detailed data into their climate model on past ocean current behaviour.

Less well-known is that global temperatures have already been falling for a decade. All of which means, that by 2015 or 2020, when warming is expected to resume, we will have had nearly 20 years of fairly steady cooling.

Saints of the new climate religion, such as Al Gore, have stated that eight of the 10 years since 1998 are the warmest on record. Even if that were true, none has been as warm as 1998, which means the trend of the past decade has been downward, not upward. Last year, for instance, saw a drop in the global average temperature of nearly 0.7 degrees C (the largest single-year movement up or down since global temperature averages have been calculated). Despite advanced predictions that 2007 would be the warmest year on record, made by such UN associates as Britain's Hadley Centre, a government climate research agency, 2007 was the coolest year since at least 1993.

According to the U. S. National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature of the global land surface in January 2008 was below the 20th-Century mean for the first time since 1982. Also in January, Southern Hemisphere sea ice coverage was at its greatest summer level (January is summer in the Southern Hemisphere) in the past 30 years.

Neither the 3,000 temperature buoys that float throughout the world's oceans nor the eight NASA satellites that float above our atmosphere have recorded appreciable warming in the past six to eight years. Even Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, reluctantly admitted to Reuters in January that there has been no warming so far in the 21st Century.

Does this prove that global warming isn't happening, that we can all go back to idling our SUVs 24/7? No. But it should introduce doubt into the claim that the science of global warming is "settled."


Cut down trees to stop global warming!

Ronald Reagan's infamous claim that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles" contained a grain of truth. In warm weather, trees release volatile chemicals that act as catalysts for smog. But the Gipper didn't mention another point that's even more likely to make nature lovers blanch. When it comes to fighting climate change, it's more effective to treat forests like crops than like majestic monuments to nature.

Over its lifetime, a tree shifts from being a vacuum cleaner for atmospheric carbon to an emitter. A tree absorbs roughly 1,500 pounds of CO2 in its first 55 years. After that, its growth slows, and it takes in less carbon. Left untouched, it ultimately rots or burns and all that CO2 gets released.

Last year, the Canadian government commissioned a study to determine the quantity of carbon sequestered by the country's woodlands, which account for a tenth of global forests. It hoped to use the CO2-gathering power of 583 million acres of woods to offset its Kyoto Protocol-mandated responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions. No such luck. The report found that during many years, Canadian forests actually give up more carbon from decomposing wood than they lock down in new growth.

A well-managed tree farm acts like a factory for sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, so the most climate-friendly policy is to continually cut down trees and plant new ones. Lots of them. A few simple steps: Clear the oldest trees and then take out dead trunks and branches to prevent fires; landfill the scrap. Plant seedlings and harvest them as soon as their powers of carbon sequestration begin to flag, and use the wood to produce only high-quality durable goods like furniture and houses. It won't make a glossy photo for the Sierra Club's annual report, but it will take huge amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere.


Australian Labor Party now beginning to encounter the political costs of its Greenie fantasies

KEVIN Rudd's climate change honeymoon ended last week. The hero of Bali received a public relations belting over what were relatively modest indiscretions in the environment section of Tuesday night's budget. That's the danger with playing to the grandstand on an issue as complex and expensive as climate change. During last year's epic election campaign, Labor didn't hold back with the green symbolism to maximise its political leverage over the Howard government.

There was the generous but questionable 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020; Rudd trading in his Ford Territory for a Toyota Prius; Peter Garrett warning he wanted to ban electric hot water heaters; with the cake iced by the standing ovation at the Bali climate change talks when Australia announced it would ratify the defunct Kyoto Protocol.

Most Australians when surveyed want the Government to fix climate change. But they also want cheaper petrol and electricity. Labor has been happy to play to this information disconnect by indulging voters' naivety about what is coming, allowing them to believe these symbolic acts would be enough to solve the problem. So they can hardly cry foul when the same voters turned on them for last week's apparent abandonment of one of these icons. What the court of public opinion gives it can also take away.

Solar hot water systems are a cost-effective energy-saving technology for many Australian homes, but rooftop solar panels that generate electricity are still one of the more expensive solutions to climate change. Because of their tangibility and visibility, they have political cachet far in excess of their real value.

The Howard government was in catch-up mode at last year's budget when it announced a doubling of the rebate to households that wanted to install solar panels. It was a political stunt, offering households up to $8000 to install systems that started at $12,000, and giving Australians access to the most generous solar rebate scheme in the world. The tiny solar panel industry went from installing a few hundred panels a year to a few thousand. Some major installers reported a sevenfold increase in business. Despite its generosity, the scheme has hardly dented penetration into Australia's 8 million households.

Labor went to the election saying it would means-test the Coalition's solar hot water rebate, limiting it to households earning less than $100,000 as part of a broader economic platform to rein in middle-class welfare. It seemed logical for the Government to extend that to the solar panel rebate, while increasing the number of rebates available. But perhaps they should have consulted the industry first.

Most households who are paying a mortgage and can spare $5000 for solar panels are earning more than $100,000 a year. In the following three days solar installers reported up to 70 per cent of their orders had been cancelled. The hostile reaction on talkback radio revealed outrage from a community that appeared to take vicarious ownership of the generous scheme, even if only a handful actually signed up. In reality it's a clumsy intervention that will deliver a sudden bust to the boom enjoyed by a small section of the popular renewable energy industry. The furore looks worse than it is.

But there were other problems that suggest it will take more than good words, good intentions and increased funding for this Government to deliver on its promise of a dynamic renewable energy industry. Labor forgot to provide for the geothermal industry in this budget. While these companies have been promised $50 million by Canberra, the money is needed now to offset some of the high cost of drilling wells 5km deep to tap hot-rock energy. These wells can cost between $10 million and $15 million each, and two or three are needed to get a single pilot plant going.

Like mining or gas exploration, it's an expensive business to get started. Most hot-rocks companies have listed on the ASX to raise the equity needed and many have gone back to shareholders to ask for more or signed up joint ventures with major energy companies. But letting the market do all the work can be risky. The Geodynamics group is the most advanced in the field and is already circulating steam at its trial site in northeast South Australia. Origin Energy came in as a joint venture partner last year, but is now the subject of a possible takeover by British energy giant BG Group. But they want the gas, not the hot rocks. If the bid succeeds, there is no guarantee they are likely to share the same enthusiasm for the project.

The Government's political vulnerability over whether it can live up to its hype on clean energy rhetoric is only a small skirmish compared to the backlash that awaits them in July. That's when Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, armed with the draft Garnaut review and Treasury modelling, will release the Government's green paper setting the terms of a national emissions trading scheme.

It will be the most delicate of balancing acts, trying to preserve the engine room of the economy and the million jobs in trade-exposed, energy-intense industries while being seen to act decisively on climate change. It's a contest of high petrol prices and inflation versus environmental reputation and credibility.



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


20 May, 2008


An email from Madhav Khandekar []. Dr Madhav Khandekar was an IPCC Reviewer 2007

Allow me to expand on Prof Lindzen's comment on 'significant warming'

Per Phil Jones & Moberg's paper J of Climate January 2003, for the warming period 1977-2001, "significant warming trends are present in only 10-20% of the available grid boxes"

Jones and Moberg use 5x5 deg grid boxes. So of the present warming, only one fifth of the grid boxes show statistically significant warming and a close look at these boxes reveal that for land-areas, most of these boxes are in the vicinity of large cities and urban centres of the world.

So in essence the statistically significant warming is primarily due to urbanization and land-use change and NOT due to increased greenhouse gases. A recent paper by Ross McKitrick & Patrick Michaels , J of Geophysical Research December 2007 succinctly show that up to half of the present warming is due to extraneous factors, urbanization, land-use change, economic activity etc.

Outside of the "significant warming' grid boxes, the warming is only modest and is of NO major concern. Further, this modest warming can be explained as due to changes in large-scale circulation patterns, solar variability etc.

So we have the basic question once again: Where is the CO2-induced warming which is statistically significant? It is elusive and hard to locate.

Finally Prof Lindzen's point re: "explaining statistically significant warming may be difficult" is well taken, but I like to think that most trained scientists and professionals today would have a sense of significant warming without knowing the statistical test of significance that precedes it!

"Politicians seem to think that the science is a done deal"

Who said that? Some skeptic? Far from it. It headlines an article in the fervently Warmist "New Scientist". Reality seems to be dawning even there. More of the article below:

"Politicians seem to think that the science is a done deal," says Tim Palmer. "I don't want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain."

Palmer is a leading climate modeller at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, and he does not doubt that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has done a good job alerting the world to the problem of global climate change. But he and his fellow climate scientists are acutely aware that the IPCC's predictions of how the global change will affect local climates are little more than guesswork. They fear that if the IPCC's predictions turn out to be wrong, it will provoke a crisis in confidence that undermines the whole climate change debate.

On top of this, some climate scientists believe that even the IPCC's global forecasts leave much to be desired.


Scientist backtracks: Rejects Link Between Global Warming and Hurricanes

Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject. Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday. In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, hurricanes have often been seen as a symbol of global warming's wrath. Many climate change experts have tied the rise of hurricanes in recent years to global warming and hotter waters that fuel them. Another group of experts, those who study hurricanes and who are more often skeptical about global warming, say there is no link. They attribute the recent increase to a natural multi-decade cycle.

What makes this study different is Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J. He has warned about the harmful effects of climate change and has even complained in the past about being censored by the Bush administration on past studies on the dangers of global warming.

He said his new study, based on a computer model, argues "against the notion that we've already seen a really dramatic increase in Atlantic hurricane activity resulting from greenhouse warming." The study, published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, predicts that by the end of the century the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic will fall by 18 percent. The number of hurricanes making landfall in the United States and its neighbors - anywhere west of Puerto Rico - will drop by 30 percent because of wind factors. The biggest storms - those with winds of more than 110 mph - would only decrease in frequency by 8 percent. Tropical storms, those with winds between 39 and 73 mph, would decrease by 27 percent.

It's not all good news from Knutson's study, however. His computer model also forecasts that hurricanes and tropical storms will be wetter and fiercer. Rainfall within 30 miles of a hurricane should jump by 37 percent and wind strength should increase by about 2 percent, Knutson's study says. And Knutson said this study significantly underestimates the increase in wind strength.

Some other scientists criticized his computer model. MIT hurricane meteorologist Kerry Emanuel, while praising Knutson as a scientist, called his conclusion "demonstrably wrong" based on a computer model that doesn't look properly at storms.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist, said Knutson's computer model is poor at assessing tropical weather and "fail to replicate storms with any kind of fidelity." Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said it is not just the number of hurricanes "that matter, it is also the intensity, duration and size, and this study falls short on these issues."

Knutson acknowledges weaknesses in his computer model and said it primarily gives a coarse overview, not an accurate picture on individual storms and storm strength. He said the latest model doesn't produce storms surpassing 112 mph.

But NOAA hurricane meteorologist Chris Landsea, who wasn't part of this study, praised Knutson's work as "very consistent with what's being said all along." "I think global warming is a big concern, but when it comes to hurricanes the evidence for changes is pretty darn tiny," Landsea said.

Hurricane season starts June 1 in the Atlantic and a Colorado State University forecast predicts about a 50 percent more active than normal storm season this year. NOAA puts out its own seasonal forecast on May 22. In a normal year about 10 named storms form. Six become hurricanes and two become major hurricanes. On average, about five hurricanes hit the United States every three years


Real intelligence failures

What do you think was the most costly intelligence failure of all time? No, was is not the world's leading intelligence agencies' failure to notice that Saddam had few, if any, weapons of mass destruction. It was the failure of many leading climate model builders to be modest enough about their predictions, and the politicians' and media's failure to ask the tough questions of these climate experts. As a consequence of what we now know was an overblown global-warming scare, everyone on the planet is paying substantially more for food and fuel than is necessary.

Despite the prediction of all the major climate models, the Earth has been getting cooler since 1998. At first, it was not considered a big deal because temperatures fluctuate from year to year. However, the drop has now been going for a decade, with another big drop last year.

The global warming zealots have just been handed another rude shock, when the peer-reviewed journal, Nature, reported on May 1 that according to a new (and hopefully improved) climate model, global surface temperatures may not increase over the next decade.

Roger A. Pielke, environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado, and not previously a global warming skeptic, reacted to the Nature article: "Climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global-warming policy."

Hudson Institute environmental economist Dennis Avery said: "The Earth's warming from 1915 to 1940 was just about as strong as the "scary" 1975 to 1998 warming in both scope and duration - and occurred too early to be blamed on human-emitted CO2. The cooling from 1940 to 1975 defied the Greenhouse Theory, occurring during the first big surge of man-made greenhouse emissions. Most recently, the climate has stubbornly refused to warm since 1998, even though human CO2 emissions have continued to rise strongly."

As a direct result of the global-warming hysteria, which, as noted above, was grossly overblown to say the least, governments reacted by restricting energy production from traditional sources, such as oil, gas and coal, and by enacting very costly regulations on CO2 emission sources. Governments also quickly jumped on the fad of "biomass" production, which, at least in the case of corn, does not result in less CO2 but more than standard oil and gas wells produce - a clear "intelligence" failure.

The restrictions on oil and gas have greatly increased the cost of gasoline and home heating oil, and the production cost of almost everything else, especially plastics and food. In addition, the corn-based ethanol craze has removed huge quantities of agricultural land that was used to produce things like wheat, rice and corn for animal food, to corn to be used as motor fuel. The predictable result was a huge rise in global food prices.

A revisionist history is under way, where many who believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and said so, and supported the war, are now in denial - another type of "intelligence" failure.

We now see a similar thing among these same politicians who used, in part, the excuse of global warming to justify their votes against more drilling on the North Slope of Alaska, and offshore in the Lower 48. If you prevent new oil supplies, gasoline prices will rise. If you divert farm land used for growing food crops to that of growing corn to make ethanol for transportation, food prices will increase. Two more clear cases of "intelligence" failures, or worse.

Now some of the same politicians who have, in part, created the oil and food price problems want to put a "windfall" profits tax on oil companies. (New York Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders have been particularly outspoken advocates of this idea). They seem not to have noticed that the price of oil is largely set by world supply and demand.

They have also failed to notice that over the years oil production and refining companies have had no higher profits on average than most other industries, and if you tax away all their profits this will not reduce prices at the gas pump. Most of the cost of a gallon of gasoline is the price of crude oil (only 12 percent of it controlled by private companies, the rest owned by state-controlled companies like Pemex in Mexico), and federal, state and local taxes. A windfall profits tax would only reduce investment in new production and refining and incentives to produce more oil - another "intelligence" failure.

You may wonder - if the data from the last decade show the Earth is not getting warmer, and the climate models have been making incorrect predictions - why are so many in the political and media classes continuing to shout about the dangers of global warming and insisting the "science" is settled when the opposite is true. (You may recall that Copernicus and Galileo had certain problems going against the conventional wisdom of their time.)

The reason people like Al Gore and many others are in denial is explained by cognitive dissonance. This occurs when evidence increasingly contradicts a strongly held belief. Rather than accept the new evidence and change their minds, some people will become even more insistent on the "truth" of the discredited belief, and attack those who present the new evidence - again an "intelligence" failure.

Finally, many people directly benefit from government funding global warming programs and care more about their own pocketbooks than the plight of the world's poor who are paying more for food. This is not an "intelligence" but an "integrity" failure.



Question: How many scientists does it take to establish that a consensus does not exist on global warming? The quest to establish that the science is not settled on climate change began before most people had even heard of global warming.

The year was 1992 and the United Nations was about to hold its Earth Summit in Rio. It was billed as - and was - the greatest environmental and political assemblage in human history. Delegations came from 178 nations - virtually every nation in the world - including 118 heads of state or government and 7,000 diplomatic bureaucrats. The world's environmental groups came too - they sent some 30,000 representatives from every corner of the world to Rio. To report all this, 7,000 journalists converged on Rio to cover the event, and relay to the publics of the world that global warming and other environmental insults were threatening the planet with catastrophe.

In February of that year, in an attempt to head off the whirlwind that the conference would unleash, 47 scientists signed a "Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming," decrying "the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action."

To a scientist in search of truth, 47 is an impressive number, especially if those 47 dissenters include many of the world's most eminent scientists. To the environmentalists, politicians, press at Rio, their own overwhelming numbers made the 47 seem irrelevant.

Knowing this, a larger petition effort was undertaken, known as the Heidelberg Appeal, and released to the public at the Earth Summit. By the summit's end, 425 scientists and other intellectual leaders had signed the appeal.

These scientists - mere hundreds - also mattered for nought in the face of the tens of thousands assembled at Rio. The Heidelberg Appeal was blown away and never obtained prominence, even though the organizers persisted over the years to ultimately obtain some 4,000 signatories, including 72 Nobel Prize winners.

The earnest effort to demonstrate the absence of a consensus continued with the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change - an attempt to counter the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Its 150-odd signatories also counted for nought. As did the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship in 2000, signed by more than 1,500 clergy, theologians, religious leaders, scientists, academics and policy experts concerned about the harm that Kyoto could inflict on the world's poor.

Then came the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine's Petition Project of 2001, which far surpassed all previous efforts and by all rights should have settled the issue of whether the science was settled on climate change. To establish that the effort was bona fide, and not spawned by kooks on the fringes of science, as global warming advocates often label the skeptics, the effort was spearheaded by Dr. Frederick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences and of Rockefeller University, and as reputable as they come.

The Oregon petition garnered an astounding 17,800 signatures, a number all the more astounding because of the unequivocal stance that these scientists took: Not only did they dispute that there was convincing evidence of harm from carbon dioxide emissions, they asserted that Kyoto itself would harm the global environment because "increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

The petition drew media attention, but little of it was for revealing to the world that an extraordinary number of scientists hold views on global warming diametrically opposite to those they are expected to hold. Instead, the press focussed on presumed flaws that critics found in the petition. Some claimed the petition was riddled with duplicate names. They were no duplicates, just different scientists with the same name. Some claimed the petition had phonies. There was only one phony: Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, planted by a Greenpeace organization to discredit the petition and soon removed. Other names that seemed to be phony - such as Michael Fox, the actor, and Perry Mason, the fictional lawyer in a TV series - were actually bona fide scientists, properly credentialled.

Like the Heidelberg Appeal, the Oregon petition was blown away. But now it is blowing back. Original signatories to the petition and others, outraged at Kyoto's corruption of science, wrote to the Oregon Institute and its director, Arthur Robinson, asking that the petition be brought back.

"E-mails started coming in every day," he explained. "And they kept coming. " The writers were outraged at the way Al Gore and company were abusing the science to their own ends. "We decided to do the survey again."

Using a subset of the mailing list of American Men and Women of Science, a who's who of Science, Robinson mailed out his solicitations through the postal service, requesting signed petitions of those who agreed that Kyoto was a danger to humanity. The response rate was extraordinary, "much, much higher than anyone expected, much higher than you'd ordinarily expect," he explained. He's processed more than 31,000 at this point, more than 9,000 of them with PhDs, and has another 1,000 or so to go - most of them are already posted on a Web site at

Why go to this immense effort all over again, when the press might well ignore the tens of thousands of scientists who are standing up against global warming alarmism?

"I hope the general public will become aware that there is no consensus on global warming," he says, "and I hope that scientists who have been reluctant to speak up will now do so, knowing that they aren't alone."

At one level, Robinson, a PhD scientist himself, recoils at his petition. Science shouldn't be done by poll, he explains. "The numbers shouldn't matter. But if they want warm bodies, we have them."

Some 32,000 scientists is more than the number of environmentalists that descended on Rio in 1992. Is this enough to establish that the science is not settled on global warming? The press conference releasing these names occurs on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.



If Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, was thought to stand for anything, it was for the poor and for the disadvantaged. If the Labour Party has a core value, it is surely support for low-income, working families. No longer, it would seem. In trying to pass itself off as a middle class 'Green' party for the public school Guardianistas, Labour is making blunder after blunder, errors of political judgment that could well cost it dear, and with likely immediate effect in this up-coming Thursday's Crewe and Nantwich by-election [see: 'Tories target "extraordinary" win', BBC Online Politics News, May 18; 'Crewe within Tories' grasp - poll', BBC Online Politics News, May 11].

The latest misjudgement is deeply concerning. In attempting to appear 'Green', Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, and Mr. Brown are having to defend the indefensible, a retrogressive, retrospective tax change which will especially hit poorer members of society and less well-off families, with no environmental benefits. In his March Budget, Darling blithely announced an increase in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on higher emission vehicles. Unfortunately, this is effectively back-dated to vehicles registered since 2001, which means that many second-hand, older vehicles, including such popular family cars as the Renault Megane and the Ford Focus, will be caught up in the increase.

"Deeply Regressive"

Governments should always strive hard to avoid introducing such retrospective legislation, especially where tax is concerned, because it will often have unexpected, and uncosted, implications for ordinary folk. In this case, the result is disastrous. The second-hand cars which have been corralled retrospectively into the higher bands are precisely those bought by poorer families, who cannot afford new vehicles. Even the Conservatives understand this crucial point, with Justine Greening, their young Shadow Environment Minister, reported as admitting: "This measure is deeply regressive, and it will most acutely affect low-income families."

It is quite extraordinary that Labour did not think this through, especially at a time of negative equity in housing, vanishing mortgages, a difficult banking environment, higher food, fuel, energy, and petrol costs. Moreover, the effect will be to punish further the weakest in society, those already at tight margins [just like Labour's '10p' tax debacle], while, would you believe it, diminishing their ability to save to buy newer and thus cleaner cars - utter political madness. Inevitably, there are rumblings of a revolt among Labour backbenchers, with 20 MPs already having signed an early-day motion in the House of Commons for this tax change to be withdrawn immediately.

But the real judgment is likely to come from the people - from the voters - affected by the change, from those who are always hit hardest at the margins. If on Thursday Labour does lose dramatically the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, then Mr. Brown would be wise to remember, and very quickly, that the middle-class 'Green' trumpery of the wealthier readers of The Guardian will melt little ice in a cooling economy [see: 'That Sinking Feeling', May 15].

Labour needs to return to some solid core values, and to stop trying to play the trendy 'Green' Notting Hill game. Nothing it plans will have any effect on climate change, but it could well help to put the party out of office for a very long time.



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 May, 2008

Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

What a dummy! The guy lacks even basic caution. He will be a laughing stock in 18 months time. Canny doomsters don't put an exact date on anything -- not unless it is way in the future

In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a 15 billion pound annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences. "We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall," he said. "We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them." The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the "air conditioning system for the entire planet", releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living.

He said that every year, 20 million hectares of forest - equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland - were destroyed and called for a "gigantic partnership" of governments, businesses and consumers to slow it down. "What we have got to do is try to ensure that these forests are more valuable alive than dead. At the moment, there is more value in them being dead," he said.

He estimated that the cost would be about 15 billion a year but said that this should be viewed as an insurance policy for the whole world. "That is roughly just under one per cent of all the insurance premiums paid in the world in any one year. It is an insurance premium to ensure the world has some rainfall and reasonable weather patterns. It is a good deal."

Last month, the Prince had a meeting at St James's Palace with four state governors from Brazil to discuss the best way to allocate the money. One option would be for an organisation such as the World Bank to administer the fund. The Prince made clear yesterday that if nothing was done there was a "severe danger of losing a major part of the battle against climate change".

In an interview on Radio 4's Today programme, the Prince disclosed that he had raised his concerns with the White House, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Sarkozy, of France. He said he had pressed Barclays, Shell, Goldman Sachs and McDonald's to join his campaign. But he also said consumers had to play their part by choosing products that were environmentally sustainable and called for improvements in labelling.

He denied, however, that he was interfering in the political process. "All I am ever trying to do is to provide an enabling facility," he said. He conceded that at times he had been forced to keep his counsel when he would have liked to have spoken out. "You learn as you go along. I am going to be 60 this year. I would be a blinding idiot if I had not learnt a bit by now."


Environmentalism: "frustrated, angry and confused"

Post below excerpted from Climate resistance . See the original for links and more

Over at the Daily Kos, and European Tribune, blogger 'Johnnyrook' attempts to connect 'denialism' with an ideology. The piece itself is an answer to a blog post elsewhere by Joseph Romm, The denialists are winning, especially with the GOP. David Roberts tried this approach on the Nation blog back in February:
Long-time greens are painfully aware that the arguments of global warming skeptics are like zombies in a '70s B movie. They get shot, stabbed, and crushed, over and over again, but they just keep lurching to their feet and staggering forward. That's because -- news flash! -- climate skepticism is an ideological, not a scientific, position, and as such it bears only a tenuous relationship to scientific rules of evidence and inference.
We replied that environmentalism used 'science' as a fig leaf. Environmentalism is an ideological position, whereas scepticism encompasses a range of objections to it, some of which are, in fact, perfectly valid on scientific grounds.

What Johnnyrook writes in Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason: The Role of Ideology is, frankly, unmitigated and unimportant crap. But it does offer some insight into the 'thought processes' of grass-roots Environmentalism. Johnnyrook whines that
Anyone who has tried to discuss Climaticide with a climate change denialist knows just how frustrating it can be. No matter how well informed you are, no matter how many peer-reviewed studies you cite, or how many times you point out the overwhelming agreement based on the evidence that exists among climate scientists that global warming is real and is principally caused by human fossil fuel use, you will get no where. Your adversary will deny the facts, cherry pick the scientific evidence for bits of data that, taken out of context, support his/her denialist view, or drag out long-debunked counter-arguments in the hope that they are unfamiliar to you and that you will not be able to refute them. If you succeed in countering all of his arguments he will most likely reword them and start all over again.
Climaticide? Climaticide? Is it even possible to kill a climate? But moving on, Johnnyrook clearly believes himself to be in possession of a faultless argument. So it must be the rest of the world that's wrong. Who said environmentalism was emotional, arrogant, and infantile?
After a couple of hours of this, you end up frustrated, angry and confused. You give up and storm off vowing to study and learn even more so that next time you will be better prepared and able to convince the denialist of the error of his/her ways.
Our advice to little Johnny is that perhaps his tantrums would be easier to manage if he reflected on why his arguments aren't convincing, rather than sought to find other reasons to explain his failure. But Johnny's tantrums are characteristic of the environmental movement as a whole - a movement that is unable to take responsibility for its own failures.
No, the true climate change denialist is an ideologue. Understanding this fact is key to comprehending the denialist mentality and to knowing how to respond to denialist arguments. Ideologues are adherents of closed, ideological systems, in which all problems are ultimately attributed to a single cause: original sin (Christianity), the accumulation of private property (Communism), restrictions imposed on a superior race by inferior ones (Fascism), the destruction of "freedom" by "Big Government" (Conservative/Libertarian).
And here Johnny gives us some insight into why he fails to make convincing political arguments. First, he doesn't recognise his own perspective as ideological, and that it is, in his own terms, about a 'single cause'. Perhaps we can help him - spell it out for him, in fact - with the aid of some emphasis to illustrate our point:


Environmentalists see society as intrinsically, fundamentally, inextricably linked to 'nature' - manifested as the 'environment'. To the Environmentalist, all moral actions are transmitted through the biosphere. Your wealth, relative to another's poverty is not seen in terms of the political, sociological, or historical background to your circumstances and those of your counterparts. It is instead seen in terms of biological and geological processes. You buy a big car, and the consequence is that it rains too much/doesn't rain at all on the poor, starving child in Africa. So, instead of addressing the poverty of the poor child through developing a critique of the socio-political relations throughout the world in order that we might begin to help, the Environmentalist just wants you to withdraw from your evil lifestyle. This moral framework is unchallengeable, according to the Environmentalist, because the causal chain between your consumer choice and the plight of the child in can be explained in 'scientific' rather than social terms; the car, the combustion, the CO2, the greenhouse effect, the warming, the climate change, the drought. (Forget any sense of proportion between these steps).

This perspective takes poverty as a given. Indeed, it needs poverty. Without poverty to designate a moral absolute, Environmentalism's moral calculations would cease to have meaning. Its objectives are, therefore, not to abolish poverty, but to make it 'less bad'. And, of course, the abolishment of poverty is, according to Johnny's maxim, 'ideological'. Thus, we are prevented from approaching the problem of poverty - or even the effects of climate change - through politics. In other words, poverty is not seen as a political problem. After all, poverty is natural. Just ask Malthus.

Second, Johnny gives us a particularly ignorant description of ideologies. Christianity is all about 'original sin', apparently. But can we comfortably say that Christianity is an ideology? It may well offer us an account of creation, but not necessarily to the exclusion of other ideological ideas. Can a Christian not be committed to free trade, on the one hand, or the abolition of private property on the other? There are interesting moral arguments for both. But why should Jesus be bothered, either way? And isn't that a problem for Christians, rather than political scientists? Communism, apparently, blames all problems on the accumulation of private property. Actually, Marx's contention was that the accumulation of private property is necessary to create a working class in an industrial - rather than feudal - society. In this sense, the accumulation begins to solve many of the problems of oppression and inequality.

And Johnny is very much mistaken with his conception of Fascism, which he confuses with nazism. Nazism is indeed a racialised form of Fascism. But Fascism itself isn't a necessarily a racist ideology, and there is no consensus amongst historians about how fascism can be characterised; it is an issue of much debate, somewhat clouded by the fact that, at the time of fascism and Nazism, ideas about race such as eugenics were mainstream and orthodox - dare we say, the subject of a consensus. Finally, Johnny confuses libertarianism with conservatism. Yet conservatism, as the name suggests, seeks to use the state to preserve social orders, traditions and cultures, while libertarianism is a broader term, in that a libertarian would generally object to the state's intervention in such matters. Johnny's grasp on political ideologies is weak. No wonder then, that he fails to recognise his own.

He continues, oblivious,
Once the initial conclusion is reached (often after a long, complicated chain of deductive reasoning--Marx's Capital, the writings of Ayn Rand, etc.) that factor X is the source of all of society's ills, all debate outside the ideology's framework ends.
Hmm. Hasn't Johnny opened his story by telling us that carbon is the source of society's ills?
One may deduce new positions from the ideology's fundamental principles, but the fundamental principles can not be questioned because such questioning might undermine the entire ideological system and the psychological security that it provides, leaving the true believer in that most urgently to be avoided of states: UNCERTAINTY. Ideology is thus, inevitably, by it's very nature, anti-empirical.
We repeat: ENVIRONMENTalism

Moreover, is it not precisely uncertainty that blights the environmental movement? Isn't it the environmental movement that needs to tell us that 'the science is in'? Wasn't it Johnny who was, just a few paragraphs ago, evincing his own sheer and absolute rightness? Isn't the entire momentum of the environmental movement predicated on a 'scientific consensus'?


With global negotiations for an international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol "hardly progressing", the EU is keen to assuage industry concerns about rising emissions costs and prevent plant delocalisation, the Commission said on 15 May.


On 23 January, the Commission proposed a 'package' of legislative proposals designed to reduce EU CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. That figure will be upped to 30% if an international deal on reducing global CO2 emissions can be reached - a condition that was endorsed by EU heads of state during a landmark summit in March 2007.

There is "little if any chance" for the EU to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 unless a solution to the "problematique" of energy intensive industries is found, according to Mogens Peter Carl, director-general of the Commission's environment service.

While international negotiations received a "boost of vitamins" during a major conference in Bali in December 2007, the talks are "hardly progressing at an impressive speed," Peter Carl said on Thursday (15 May) during an official hearing on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Moving out

EU energy intensive industries are warning that they would be forced to move operations outside the EU if global talks fail, as industries operating in countries with fewer restrictions on CO2 emissions would have an unfair advantage particularly over EU chemicals, aluminium and steel manufacturers. Plant delocalisation would lead to a situation of 'carbon leakage', whereby EU CO2 emission would not be reduced through cleaner production methods but rather 'leaked' outside the EU's borders.

A proposal to revise and strengthen the EU ETS for the period after 2012, a main part of the 23 January package, is at the heart of the concerns over carbon leakage. The Commission is pushing for a full auctioning of emissions rights following a gradual phasing-out of free allowances. Exceptions to the phase-out, or a border tax on outside competitors, could be agreed as a means to protect select EU sectors. But the Commission has yet to define precisely what kind of mechanism it would implement, and there are disagreements over the precise definition of 'energy intensive'. EU industry groups like BusinessEurope say the situation creates uncertainty and discourages investors.

The leakage debate

Meanwhile, environmental groups and a number of green MEPs in the Parliament say industry concerns are being overstated, and are pushing for a full auctioning of CO2 allowances in order to encourage investments in clean technologies.

And not all experts agree in principle that a tighter EU carbon market would necessarily push industries to relocate. "Environmental policies are only one determinant of plant and production location decisions. Costs imposed by tighter pollution regulation are not a major determinant of trade and location patterns, even for those sectors most likely to be affected by such regulation," according to the 2006 Stern Report on climate change.

The Commission, however, is convinced the problem is real, and says it is "patently absurd" to suggest that Brussels wants to force a relocation of EU industries and jobs, Peter Carl said. But industries remain sceptical and critical, despite the Commission's stated support.

"Carbon leakage is already happening," says Daniel Cloquet, director of Industrial Affairs at BusinessEurope. As EU energy prices rise, the bloc is becoming increasingly less competitive for manufacturers of products like chemicals and aluminium, many of whom are facing stiff competition from firms operating in countries like Saudi Arabia, where access to cheap energy is abundant.

In this context, a tightened EU ETS with mandatory auctioning will make staying competitive much more difficult, he said.


Green Gasbag

If Republicans are going to be stampeded by phony environmental alarms and propose terrible public policies in the name of these scams, what the hell do we need Democrats for?

America is so far gone in the global warming superstition that the Republican candidate for president (the REPUBLICAN!) is proposing a Soviet scheme to take decisions about energy use out of the private sector where they belong and turn them over to politicians and bureaucrats. If there's a quicker way to make America into a Third World nation, pray tell me what it is.

When a politician whoops up a really bad public policy, it's reasonable to ask if said politician is cynical or just stupid. But this one's a real puzzlement. We've seen enough of John McCain to know that he's not stupid -- willful sometimes, erratic for sure, too eager to insult conservatives, and taken to the odd flight of pique or narcissism. But he's not stupid by a long shot. And for all his faults, he's not notably cynical. At least for a politician.

So how account for the execrable cap and trade policy McCain sprung on us from Portland, Oregon, Monday and which he says will save us from the dreaded carbon dioxide? (If you're asking: "Carbon dioxide -- isn't that what makes the flowers grow and what baby's breath is made of?" Answer: yes.) All a cap and trade system (government energy rationing) would bring about is a sharp decline in our standard of living in return for, well, nothing. Sources of energy to replace the carbon-based ones we rely on now just aren't here yet, and we don't know when they will be.

Ignoring this, McCain is promising a terrible policy in the name of preventing warming of the planet, which some scientists and lots of politicians and bureaucrats and enviro-nutters claim will lead to a list of almost Biblical horrors. You've heard the litany -- death and disease from rising sea levels, brain-frying heat, lush land turning to desert, storms so strong as to make Hurricane Katrina seem a summer breeze by comparison, and rampant erectile dysfunction. (OK, I made that last one up -- but the only reason the global warming hysterics haven't claimed this is that they haven't thought of it yet.)

THE ONLY PROBLEM is that the evidence for these almost operatic calamities is, contrary to most of the public clamor, paper thin. Most scientists don't buy into the calamity theory, though various political organizations, like the UN's International Panel on Climate Control, claim they do. Consider just a few things:

* The temperature of the Earth and its atmosphere has been going up and down in long cycles for at least the last million years, and there's no convincing evidence that the slight increase in temperature during the 20th century (there's been hardly any measurable increase so far this century) is anything more or less than the normal variation.

* The Earth's warm periods (during one of which Greenland was named Greenland -- for good reason), many of them warmer than we are now, have been some of the planet's more prosperous times. The horrors that Al Gore and his co-religionists are threatening us with did not occur during the planet's previous warm periods. No reason to believe they will take place now.

* Even during the 20th century when the temperature of the planet went up about .7 of a degree Celsius (we have to say "about" because taking the planet's temperature is difficult, there being no clear place to stick the thermometer), temperature did not vary with the levels of CO2 being produced by Man. Much of the warming took place during the first half of the century before Man became really good at producing greenhouse gasses. Then temperatures actually went down from about 1940 into the seventies, the period of the most rapid industrialization on the planet, before starting up again in the eighties. The evidence tends to show that CO2 levels increase after warming as an effect rather than preceding it as a cause.

* Computer models relied on by scientists to predict future global temperature have been consistently wrong in the predictions they've made for the last decade-plus, vastly overestimating actual global temperatures.

* While global temperatures have not varied with the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, they have varied pretty closely to solar cycles. Which, as our Sun is the source of all heat, makes a good deal of sense. Knowing there has been some melting on the Earth's polar caps is less alarming when we realize polar caps on other planets in our solar system are also showing some melting.

* There's plenty more of this sort that puts the lie to the arguments of the calamitists. But you get the idea. The arguments of the "Repent now, the end is near" crowd dissolve on even half-way close inspection. You don't have to have a Ph.D. in science to see the disconnects between the febrile claims and the sparse evidence.

What seems crystal clear is that what has come to be known as global warming and the horrors that are said to attend it are not scientific questions. They aren't. The issue is political. Period. Paragraph.

FOR THE LEFT'S political agenda of taxes and regulation without end, you couldn't design a better scam than global warming. And a scam is all it is. As someone smart and famous once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and dazzle the rest of them with statistics and charts." These folks just want as much control over the economy as they now exercise, to our sorrow, over the culture. And global warming is their ticket to ride.

What a dumb lucky break for the lefties that someone hit on this rich vein of nonsense. It would be enough to make some of them think there's a God, if they weren't so sure there isn't. Global warming has everything necessary to fool the marks -- at least those who don't have the time to play close attention, which is almost everyone because most everyone has a life.

The question of what causes climate change -- talk of "tackling climate change" is incoherent because climate is always changing -- is complicated. So almost no one has the time, talent, or inclination to pick through all the assertions (hypotheses) and compare them with the facts (evidence) to determine who's telling the truth. So the cynical activists and the hysterics can make the most preposterous claims, sure in the knowledge that journalists -- most of whom are so poorly educated in science they wouldn't know the scientific method from the rhythm method, and in any case just want something sensational for page one -- won't call them on it.

So why does McCain whoop this nonsense up? If you see him, please ask him. He doesn't return my calls. We've agreed that McCain isn't stupid. But if he's going to go along with leftwing silliness of this sort, he may as well be. If the so-called conservative party makes no attempt to counter left-wing silliness of epic proportions, and proposes policies that put our standard of living at risk, perhaps it's the Republicans we don't need.


A most "flexible" theory

It is, we are told, as inevitable and inexorable as night follows day that, as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, so too does the temperature of the world. Inconveniently for this axiomatic truth, however, while carbon dioxide has continued to increase the temperature of the planet has stayed flat over the past decade and even recently dropped like a stone. Never mind: man-made global warming turns out to be the most obliging of theories because now we are told that this inexorable process of heating is now to take a ten-year pause.

The Telegraph tells us that global warming is to stop
"while natural variations in climate cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions... This would mean that the 0.3C global average temperature rise which has been predicted for the next decade by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may not happen, according to the paper published in the scientific journal Nature"
but only until 2015, apparently, when it will start up again.

So let's get this right. More carbon dioxide means more global warming - except when, er, 'natural variations in climate' which are apparently immune to this immutable process (fancy!) get in the way. With a precision of prediction which would have caused medieval sorcerers to strike crystal balls off their wedding present lists, these scientists can foretell precisely when these 'natural climate variations' will subside - even though at the very same time Richard Wood of the Hadley Centre confides:
"...climate predictions for a decade ahead would always be to some extent uncertain..."
Always uncertain, eh? But isn't the prediction that the planet is about to fry so certain that, as the Royal Society so memorably told us, the argument is over? Truly, a most flexible theory indeed. One can only marvel.


Peak Oil Panic

There's plenty of oil for everybody.

THERE ARE MORE MISUNDERSTANDINGS about the oil market than perhaps any other. In America, drivers are fuming and politicians are demanding explanations because gasoline has hit about $3.50 per gallon. That's less than half the price being paid by motorists in most industrialized countries. High to us is low to them. Then there are the oil refiners. Relative to the $120 price of crude, $3.50 for gasoline is so cheap that their margins have virtually disappeared. So "high" in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Oxford, Mississippi is "low" in similarly named cities in the UK, and "high" for motorists is "low" for refiners. It depends where you live, and at which point in the supply chain you find yourself.

But assume that prices are "high", which indeed they are by historic standards. We are mistaken when we think these "high" prices are causing inflation. High oil prices can force consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating oil, at the expense of other purchases. Ask any suffering restaurateur or clothes retailer if you doubt that. But high oil prices can't trigger a rise in the general price level--inflation--unless someone pumps money into the economy so that, to use an oldie but goodie from the economists' lexicon, there is more money chasing the same amount of goods. If you want something to blame for inflation, don't look at oil prices, look at the billions the Federal Reserve Board's monetary policy gurus and their confederates at the U.S. Treasury are pouring into the economic system. The cost to taxpayers of saving the financial services sector from ruin is not only making good any collateral the Fed has accepted that might prove worthless, but the run-up in the rate of inflation.

Another myth: we are running out of oil. According to "majorities in 15 of the 16 nations surveyed around the world think that oil is running out. . . . Only 22 percent on average believe that 'enough oil will be found so that it can remain a primary source of energy for the foreseeable future'." Those majorities who think we are running out of oil include 76 percent of the American citizens polled. Luckily, they are wrong.

Production of oil is being constrained by several forces, none of them due to God's failure to put enough of the black gold under our feet. Several countries that are important sources of supply are in political turmoil, and unable to bring to market the oil they are currently capable of producing. Think Nigeria, where security problems have shut down about 20 percent of the nation's 2.5 million barrels of capacity, and discouraged new investment, and Iraq, where political paralysis and terrorists have kept production at less than half of its potential. Other countries will not develop the reserves of oil known to lie under their territories.

Russia has made it clear that foreigners who invest in its oil industry might be playing a game with Vladimir Putin known as heads I win, tails you lose. Find nothing and you lose your money; find substantial reserves and the state squeezes you until your shareholders' pips squeak. Only companies at least 51 percent owned by Russians--read FOPs, Friends of Putin--are allowed to look for oil in the new, difficult areas in which it is to be found. Little surprise that Russian oil output dropped in the first quarter of this year.

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon wants to revive Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex), the world's third-largest oil producer, by contracting with foreign companies to introduce modern methods of extracting more from existing fields and finding new ones. But legislation is stalled by left-wingers who have seized and are sleeping at podiums in both house of congress.

Saudi Arabia's royal family has announced that it will not expand capacity. Abdullah Jum'ah, CEO of the kingdom's oil company, says that high prices don't mean the world needs more oil because such market signals are "imperfect," and Ali Naimi, the kingdom's energy minister, has announced that there are no plans to embark on a new round of expansion. The oil is there, but with current production yielding about $120 per barrel, there is no incentive to find more, especially since new production might drive down prices as demand for oil from the slowing American economy drops.

Venezuela's oil industry can only be described as a mess. President Hugo Chvez's cronies are inadequate substitutes for the technicians they have replaced, so production is falling, while foreign investors are reluctant to trust hundreds of millions in exploration dollars to a regime that treats contracts as the first step in a negotiation.

Here in America, Congress alternates between calls for "energy independence" and refusals to allow drilling in what it considers environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska and offshore California and Florida. There's more, but you get the idea. There is a lot of oil out there to be found and produced, not even including the vast reserves in Canada's tar sands. We might have reached the age of peak panic about oil supplies, but not of peak oil.

One thing we think we know about the oil business is correct. High oil prices and the greenhouse gasses produced by using oil have important geopolitical consequences. These $100+ prices have led to a massive flow of wealth, and hence power, from consuming to producing countries. If oil were still priced at $20 or even $40 per barrel Russia would not have the wherewithal to revert to its bullying foreign policy, and America's banks would not be going hats-in-hand to Arab capitals in search of new capital. If gasoline prices had not closed in on $4 per gallon in the United States, thousands of SUVs and small trucks would not be sitting, unsold and unloved, on dealers' lots. If oil had not pierced the $100 per barrel level, and was not seen as a pollutant, the current enthusiasm for super-expensive nuclear power would not have reached a fever pitch. And if oil did not produce so-called greenhouse gasses when propelling cars and heating homes, there would be no massive subsidies for ethanol production, acreage would not be diverted from growing food to growing fuel, and the current run-up in food prices would be less steep, and food riots would not be breaking out around the world.

So oil indeed matters. But not in the ways we most often think.



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 May, 2008

Temperature fluctuations since 1995 are random

An email from Prof. Richard S. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU] of MIT

We are probably making a mistake in saying that there has been no warming since 1998. The standard enviro response is that 1998 was an El Nino year. While this is not an entirely meaningful response, one doesn't have to deal with it at all, since there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. Of course, communicating the meaning of statistical significance could be difficult.


It's not just that it's disappeared from media headlines this year - shoved off by the credit crunch and natural disasters, for example. It can't be ignored that 2007 came and went as another very warm year - the 7th hottest on record since 1850 according to the World Meteorological Organization. But it wasn't a record. In fact that was 1998, a full 10 years ago - the year of an exceptional El Nino, a Pacific weather pattern which heats the whole globe. So is global warming not living up to the hype?

Two weeks ago Leibniz Institute's Noel Keenlyside stirred an academic hornet's nest by saying that we may have to wait longer - a decade or more - for another peak year, because a natural weakening in ocean currents may be cooling sea temperatures. Many scientists flatly rejected the idea, saying Keenlyside had over-estimated the effect. But some pointed out that a recent switch in a weather pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation could indeed cool temperatures globally.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last year recent warming was "unequivocal" and most of it "very likely" manmade. And almost all scientists in the latest debate, including Keenlyside, agree that any temporary cooling doesn't alter that - blips due to natural effects are to be expected.

But how long is a blip? No-one knows. It could be many years before there's an El Nino as bad as 1998, scientists say. And in the meantime the doubts will grow, just as policymakers try to negotiate one of the most complex global treaties ever. A new Kyoto Protocol will affect issues of equity and poverty: in the case of poor countries the right to grow, for island states perhaps the right to exist, and for rich countries the right to compete on a level economic playing field.

Meanwhile one or two doubters are already saying the present lull in warming casts doubt on just how far manmade greenhouse gases are influencing the climate. MIT's Richard Lindzen reckoned that if it was as bad as all that temperatures would be rising faster.



Efforts to combat global warming risk running out of steam because rich, developed nations are failing to show the necessary leadership, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N.'s climate change secretariat, said on Friday. In an interview, De Boer said goodwill and political desire remain strong after scientific reports last year on the climate crisis produced an agreement in December to try for a new global climate deal, but that little is happening in practice. "We need leadership on the part of the rich nations and money on the table that will make it possible for developing countries to do things that are not realistic within their economic growth and poverty eradication parameters," he said.

"I am not sensing strong signals on willingness to show leadership and I'm not clear how the money is going to come onto the table," said de Boer, in London to meet former prime minister Tony Blair, who is pushing a climate change initiative. "We know the why, we know the what. But there is not enough focus on the how."

De Boer, whose U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs the Kyoto Protocol on cutting climate-warming carbon emissions, said poor nations had agreed to come forward with viable and verifiable climate policies.

But to kickstart the process, developed countries must not only show they are taking tough action themselves but also take practical steps to help the poorer nations fulfil those promises through technology transfer and financial aid. "I am not getting clarity on how governments will mobilise the financial resources that will make possible further engagement on the part of developing countries," de Boer said.

More here


German coal consumption jumped 3.5 percent in January as colder weather increased demand, boosting emissions of greenhouse gases in Europe's biggest economy, government statistics show. Electricity generated by burning hard coal and lignite climbed to 24.35 terawatt-hours from 23.52 terawatt-hours in the same month a year earlier, according to the state statistics office, whose January data is the latest available.

Coal burning expanded to meet higher demand for heating as temperatures in Berlin fell an average 2.3 degrees Celsius below those a year earlier. The price of December carbon dioxide emission permits averaged 21.99 euros ($34.09) a metric ton in the month, according to the European Climate Exchange in London. That's more than five times the 3.85 euro price of December 2007 permits a year earlier.

The increase in coal burning comes as the region tries to limit greenhouse gases blamed for global warming in the five years through 2012, the compliance period of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The EU's mandatory carbon dioxide program is the world's biggest greenhouse gas trading market.

Power generated by burning lignite, a soft coal with high emissions, climbed 2.8 percent to 13.05 terawatt-hours from 12.7 terawatt-hours in the same month a year earlier. Electricity from hard coal, a lower-emitting fuel, advanced 4.5 percent to 11.31 terawatt-hours from 10.82 terawatt-hours, the data showed.

The average temperature in Berlin was 2.2 degrees Celsius (36 Fahrenheit) during January, compared with 4.5 degrees the same month in 2007, according to Customweather Inc. on Bloomberg.


The Green Recession

by Eric Englund

Americans are feeling the pinch of stagflation. Going to the grocery store and to the gas station leaves consumers in a state of sticker-shock. Neighbors are losing their homes. Retailers, restaurants, and countless other businesses are closing their doors. Mass layoffs are being announced with alarming frequency. As inflation and joblessness spiral upward, the economy plunges to greater depths. Opinions abound as to why America's economic ship is taking on water. Just as certainly as John McCain has personally witnessed global warming, I have ascertained the cause of America's economic malaise. Indeed, in a moment of deep insight, I have discovered that our economy is sinking in direct proportion to the rise of the environmental movement. The greener Americans become, the further our economy falls.

Please understand that I have written this essay holding myself to the same standards as eco-alarmist Stephen Schneider. In the spirit of scaring humanity straight into the clutches of the green movement, Dr. Schneider (a Stanford University Professor) stated the following in the October 1989 issue of Discover magazine:
To do this, we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. This "double ethical bind" we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
To say the least, the green movement is presently receiving loads of media coverage. Day after day anthropogenic global warming is mentioned on TV news, PBS documentaries, talk shows, etc. Fortune 500 companies are paying for expensive television ads declaring that they have gone green and are fighting to protect Mother Earth. We are being harangued to conserve this, recycle that, and boycott something or other. Americans have been so saturated with environmentalist gobbledygook, that green has become mainstream.

If one person epitomizes the rise of the green movement, it is Al Gore. He is the environmental movement's self-appointed ambassador who has brought a high degree of legitimacy to the green movement. Mr. Gore has accomplished this by winning, in 2007, a Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award for his "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth.

Today, thanks to Al Gore, greenies are riding high. For it is they who are the anointed ones who have the answers to prevent hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, soil erosion, flooding, osteoporosis, indigestion, migraine headaches, and shark attacks. (Of course, their real objective is to eradicate humanity, but that is an issue I have covered previously). And, true to Stephen Schneider's "vision", the green movement's success has been built upon a pack of lies.

For those who want an antidote to the gibberish being spewed by greenies, I highly recommend The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism by Christopher C. Horner. As for attempting to understand the natural fluctuations pertaining to Earth's climate, a terrific book to read is The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder. I also recommend this article about the distinct possibility of global cooling. But I digress.

So let's get back to the robust correlation between the rise of the green movement and the decline of the American economy. Greenies, and their political minions, are constantly bossing Americans around. Watch out for having too large of a carbon footprint. Did that bottled water come from Fiji? Recycle your paper, your plastic, your metals and don't you dare mix any of these materials in the wrong recycling bin. Don't water your lawn, get a low-flow toilet, and for gosh sakes replace your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Are you driving an SUV? Shame on you. Think globally, but act locally. Blah, blah, blah.

An enormous amount of physical and mental energy is expended to make the green busybodies happy. None of this "work" is productive. Sure there are those who feel a sense of fulfillment by following these mind-numbing edicts from greenies - as one feels more connected to nature and to a worthy cause (I suppose). I have little doubt that green sympathizers are the same people who celebrate the income tax so that money can be forcibly taken from bad people and transferred to the good downtrodden proletariat. Hurray for April 15th! All in all, going green is a monumental waste of time and energy. It is, consequently, a drag on our economy and a proximate cause of economic decline.

MBAs, across the country, have been indoctrinated with the claptrap that just about anybody or anything can be a stakeholder in a business. It is pass to believe that simply treating employees well and pleasing customers are the keys to business success. No, it is now chic, and politically correct, to integrate varying degrees of environmentalism into a company's business plan. For Mother Earth herself is a stakeholder in every business. The intrinsic value of nature must be acknowledged and celebrated in order for a business plan to be credible. By embracing such twaddle, it is no wonder once-great American companies are slipping into mediocrity or worse. MBAs, from top business schools, are part of the problem, not the solution.

Recently, some of Wall Street's mightiest companies - such as Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia Corporation - have had to go begging for money to repair damaged balance sheets. Due to blatant numbskullery, these titans of finance have lost focus and poisoned their respective corporate cultures with standards that are impossible to meet. After all, how does one perform as a stockbroker, on an environmentally-sustainable basis, so that the stockbroker may protect the global ecosystem? How does a loan officer see to it that a loan is being originated in an environmentally-friendly manner? How can a financial company, or any company for that matter, really battle climate change? Wouldn't this entail controlling the Sun's output? Good luck with that. Business planning, peppered with green ideology, apparently causes companywide brain damage. Thus, it is no wonder that these companies have reported staggering losses.

In each company's own words, here are their respective declarations of greenness. Read it and weep (or laugh). I did a little of both.
Citigroup: At Citi, we believe that working to promote environmental and social sustainability is good business practice. As a global corporate citizen, we view sustainability issues from both a risk and an opportunity perspective. We analyze the potential impacts of our business activities and take action to reduce environmental risk and impact. We also look for opportunities to make sustainable investments and develop products and services with positive environmental and social impacts.

Lehman Brothers: As a global corporate citizen, Lehman Brothers is committed to addressing the challenges of climate change and other environmental issues which affect our employees, clients, and shareholders alike. It is critical that we continue to develop initiatives to focus on these challenges facing our environment now and in the future.

Merrill Lynch: At Merrill Lynch, a longstanding commitment to the fundamental principles of corporate social responsibility underpins our recognition that protecting our global ecosystem is of vital importance to us as a commercial enterprise as well as a good corporate citizen.

We are strongly committed to reducing unnecessary or wasteful exploitation of scarce nonrenewable resources. And we are committed to providing sound investment analysis, guidance and capital to enterprises dedicated to promoting environmentally responsible and sustainable economic development.

Wachovia Corporation: Wachovia is committed to being the best, most trusted and admired financial services company. We carefully consider the impact of our business activities on shareholders, customers, communities, employees, and the environment. We leverage our social, economic, and human assets to deliver business results in a way that supports fair business practices and sustainability. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report highlights our social responsibility commitment and values in action.
What a load of tripe. Multiply these declarations of greenness by countless companies, and it becomes obvious that American businesses have lost their way. It would be hilarious to compel corporate executives to define exactly what "sustainability" means and how they can measure their respective contributions to environmental sustainability. By diverting precious capital and human resources toward nebulous objectives such as eco-sustainable business practices, innumerable companies are damaging themselves and the economy as a whole.

As Wilfred Beckerman stated in his magnificent book A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth:
If, therefore, the increasing popularity of the concept of sustainable development cannot be explained by its intellectual strength, its growing influence on international and national policy might perhaps be better explained by reference to sociological phenomena, such as the public's appetite for dramatic environmental scare stories or politicians' tendency to jump on media-supported bandwagons. Such phenomena also fit easily into what economists describe as rent-seeking behavior of various agents in society: each agent seeks to maximize its market power by means other than socially valuable methods of increasing productive efficiency and the like.
To be sure, green companies may as well rewrite their respective business plans in order to concentrate upon searching for, and capturing, griffins and unicorns.

Without a doubt, by using the green movement's "correlation equals causation" methodology, I have proven that America's current economic downturn is directly correlated with the meteoric rise of environmentalism and its damaging effects on business management (just as certainly as global warming brought about the destruction of New Orleans). Using this standard, set by greenies themselves, feel free to blame environmentalists for what may be unfolding as the United States' next Great Depression. They've earned such opprobrium.


Obama and Clinton Vote Against Oil Independence - Again

Domestic Exploration in Desolate Areas Would Reduce Dependence upon Foreign Oil, but Liberals Once Again Prohibit It

Liberal political leaders, including two who happen to be running for President, constantly claim to seek American oil independence. Invariably, however, they turn around and thwart measures to achieve precisely that.

This week, a bill introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R - Kentucky) once again illustrated liberals' duplicity on this subject. Senator McConnell, along with twenty other Republican Senators, had introduced the Domestic Energy Production Act, which sought to allow domestic oil exploration and production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the deepwater Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This would result in production of more barrels of oil here at home, creating well-paying American jobs in the process, as opposed to further increasing dependence upon oft-hostile foreign sources. Unfortunately, the liberals who now dominate the Senate defeated this prudent measure, and once again said "no" to greater American oil independence.

For those still unfamiliar with ANWR, it is an isolated, frigid wilderness area at the far northeastern tip of Alaska. This barren area has almost no trees or mountains, and is completely blanketed by snow and ice for nine months out of the year. For three months out of the year, in fact, it is covered in 24-hour darkness. And even during summer months, its coastal plain is pocked with bogs, runoff ponds and permanently-frozen tundra.

Beneath its barren, inhospitable surface, however, ANWR presents an invaluable new source of domestic oil. According to geologists, ANWR constitutes America's greatest prospect for oil discoveries, with billions of barrels of recoverable reserves. A 1987 survey determined that 500 million barrels likely existed below its coastal plain alone, an estimate that was increased in 1998 following a United States Geological Survey.

In other words, ANWR is precisely the type of deserted, inhospitable area from which we should be recovering the critical oil resources upon which our nation's economy and livelihood depend. Moreover, merely 8% of the entire ANWR area would be open to environmentally-safe exploration and recovery, preserving 92% to its current desolate, untouched state. But you'll obviously never hear that admission from liberal politicians who favor environmental special interest groups over everyday American consumers paying excruciatingly high prices at the pump.

As for the deepwater OCS, geologists estimate that it holds approximately 85 billion barrels of oil. By way of comparison, Americans use approximately 5.5 billion barrels of oil per year, meaning that ANWR and the OCS constitute untapped pools that would boost American oil independence immeasurably. Despite this fact, the United States remains the only industrialized nation that prohibits offshore resource recovery.

Opponents contend that exploring ANWR and the OCS would provide no short-term benefit to American consumers, but they are incorrect. In addition to adding billions of barrels of oil over the long-term, ANWR and the OCS would provide a stable, reliable, domestic source of oil production upon which markets could depend. As a consequence, the cost of oil in commodities markets would immediately begin to drop because the current price of oil partially reflects potential instability and production disruptions in such places as Nigeria, the Persian Gulf and Nigeria.

Thus, Senator McConnell's bill would increase America's domestic oil supply and immediately begin to reduce gas prices, while simultaneously creating new American jobs. By blocking this proposal, Senate liberals instead voted in favor of begging foreign suppliers to increase production, and merely increased OPEC's power over America's economy and consumers.

Both Senators Obama and Clinton voted against Senator McConnell's effort toward oil independence, which voters should remember whenever they hear either candidate claim an interest in relieving dependence upon foreign sources.



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 May, 2008


An email from Allan MacRae (Allan M. R. MacRae is a professional engineer, investment banker and environmentalist. He HAS worked for oil companies so bigots need read no further. Questioning the facts he presents would be far too difficult, obviously)

Climate is a complicated subject. However, we now know enough to be reasonably certain that man-made CO2 is NOT a significant or dangerous driver of global warming. Here some key facts:

Since ~1940 there has been a 900% INCREASE in human-made CO2 emissions and NO net global warming, as measured by our most reliable instrumentation. The average Lower Troposphere (LT) global temperature anomaly for January-April 2008 (inclusive) is +0.02 degrees C. There has been no net LT warming since ~1980, when such measurements began. We also know that global surface temperature (ST) declined slightly from ~1940 to ~1980.

We further know that CO2 lags temperature (CO2 trends occur after temperature trends) at all measured time scales.

This evidence leads to the following conclusions: Increased atmospheric CO2 is NOT a significant driver of global warming, and catastrophic human-made global warming does NOT exist.

The public is becoming aware of these facts - the recent electoral defeat of Ken Livingstone by Boris Johnson for Mayor of London is clear evidence of this shift in public awareness.


The proportion of Americans who say that the earth is getting warmer has decreased modestly since January 2007, mostly because of a decline among Republicans, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

That puts most Republicans at odds with their standard-bearer, President George W. Bush, and with GOP presidential contender Sen. John McCain. Both men said this week global warming is real and must be addressed. Republicans are increasingly skeptical that there is solid evidence that the earth has been warming over the past few decades, the survey found. In January 2007, 62 percent said they believed the evidence, compared to 49 percent in the new Pew findings. Pew found that self-described conservative Republicans are more likely than party moderates or liberals to reject the science. Overall, 71 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence of higher global temperatures, compared with 77 percent at the beginning of last year. Fewer than half in the survey -- 47 percent -- attribute the rising temperatures to human activity.

Age played a role in opinions, Pew said. Fifty-four percent of people under age 30 believe that the earth is warming mostly because of human activity, compared with 37 percent of those ages 65 and older. Fifty-one percent of college graduates said that human activity is causing global warming, compared to 43 percent of those with a high-school-level education. Republican leaders this week sided with the scientists.

More here

Is nitrogen the new carbon?

One of the key causes of global climate change remains something of an unsung eco-villain, one University of Virginia researcher believes. In a study to be published in today's issue of the journal Science, UVa environmental scientist James N. Galloway argues that reactive nitrogen is accumulating in the planet's soil, water and air at an alarming rate. "Excessive reactive nitrogen is causing a negative environmental impact, which can be detrimental to humans and to ecosystems," Galloway said.

The volume of reactive nitrogen being pumped into the environment has accelerated in recent years. During 1995, roughly 156 million metric tons of nitrogen were emitted worldwide. By 2005, that figure had jumped to 187 million. "We have a nitrogen issue," he said.

In its inert form, nitrogen is essentially harmless. It makes up around 78 percent of the planet's atmosphere. Yet the widespread use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels have created large amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia. These compounds are contributing to global warming, atmospheric ozone depletion, smog, haze, soil acidity, acid rain, fish kills, insect kills and respiratory ailments, Galloway said.

On one hand, nitrogen is inarguably a good thing, Galloway said, because it allows farmers to grow crops on a large scale. On the other hand, around 85 percent of the nitrogen used in farming is wasted. Only 10 percent to 15 percent of the reactive nitrogen used in food production ever enters a human's mouth. The excess nitrogen is lost to the environment and emitted into the atmosphere. "We found that we're making more reactive nitrogen than ever before," said Alan Townsend, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Colorado. "A lot of that is driven by our increasing agriculture demands."

One culprit is China's growing taste for meat, which echoes America's long-standing love affair with beef and pork. Raising cows and pigs produces substantially more reactive nitrogen than does raising crops such as soybeans or vegetables. "Just by cutting back on your steak and pork chop consumption, you're reducing your nitrogen footprint," Galloway said.

Galloway is the founding director of the International Nitrogen Initiative, which seeks to optimize the use of nitrogen in food production while minimizing the negative effects on human health and the environment. After five years, he stepped down from the position Thursday.

Last month, Galloway was a co-winner of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, which is essentially the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the fields of environmental science, energy and health. His development of the "nitrogen cascade" - a model that demonstrates how nitrogen cycles through and affects the environment - was noted as a key reason he was selected.

Galloway is using his share of the $200,000 prize to develop an online tool that will allow people to calculate their nitrogen footprint. Similar calculators exist on the Internet for people to see the size of their carbon footprint. Individually, people can reduce their nitrogen footprint by driving less, eating locally produced food and by eating dairy, chicken and fish instead of pork and beef. "When it comes to food, the three key words to remember are local, organic and less meat," he said.

Personal changes will not be enough, Galloway said, to protect the environment. Systemic changes will also be needed. New technology will be needed for food production so excessive reactive nitrogen is not produced. Coal-fired power plants will need to be fitted with scrubbing technology. Sewage treatment facilities need to ensure that a minimal amount of nitrogen is discharged.

Harrison Rue, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and a member of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's advisory panel on climate change, said he is eager to see Galloway's recommendations. "We're looking forward to seeing his study," he said. Rue added that he suspects many of the strategies that aim to curtail carbon dioxide emissions will also cut down on reactive nitrogen. He praised UVa and other Virginia universities for tackling research that could help prevent the dire predictions associated with climate change.

The new study is notable because it shows that nitrogen is not just polluting the Chesapeake Bay, but is also affecting the environment as a whole, said Josh Tulkin, deputy director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "It's rather disconcerting," he said. "It should be a wake-up call that even more human activity is contributing to climate change."

Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality is working to curtail discharges from sewage treatment plants across the state and to protect air quality, spokesman Bill Hayden said. The "next frontier" for the DEQ, he said, will be to address agricultural use of nitrogen. "Nitrogen is a chemical that affects, in one way or another, the air, the land and the water of Virginia," he said.



On May Day, Noah Keenlyside of Germany's Leipzig Institute of Marine Science, published a paper in Nature forecasting no additional global warming "over the next decade."

Al Gore and his minions continue to chant that "the science is settled" on global warming, but the only thing settled is that there has not been any since 1998. Critics of this view (rightfully) argue that 1998 was the warmest year in modern record, due to a huge El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean, and that it is unfair to start any analysis at a high (or a low) point in a longer history. But starting in 2001 or 1998 yields the same result: no warming.

The Keenlyside team found that natural variability in the Earth's oceans will "temporarily offset" global warming from carbon dioxide. Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is oceanic; hence, what happens there greatly influences global temperature. It is now known that both Atlantic and Pacific temperatures can get "stuck," for a decade or longer, in relatively warm or cool patterns. The North Atlantic is now forecast to be in a cold stage for a decade, which will help put the damper on global warming. Another Pacific temperature pattern is forecast not to push warming, either.

Science no longer provides justification for any rush to pass drastic global warming legislation. The Climate Security Act, sponsored by Joe Lieberman and John Warner, would cut emissions of carbon dioxide - the main "global warming" gas - by 66 percent over the next 42 years. With expected population growth, this means about a 90 percent drop in emissions per capita, to 19th-century levels.

Other regulatory dictates are similarly unjustified. The Justice Department has ruled that the Interior Department has until May 15 to decide whether or not to list the polar bear as an endangered species.

Pressure to pass impossible-to-achieve legislation, like Lieberman-Warner, or grandstanding political stunts, like calling polar bears an "endangered species" even when they are at near record-high population levels, are based upon projections of rapid and persistent global warming.

Proponents of wild legislation like to point to the 2007 science compendium from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deemed so authoritative it was awarded half of last year's Nobel Peace Prize. (The other half went to Al Gore.) In it there are dozens of computer-driven projections for 21st-century warming. Not one of them projects that the earth's natural climate variability will shut down global warming from carbon dioxide for two decades. Yet, that is just what has happened.

If you think about it, all we possess to project the future of complex systems are computer models. Therefore, if the models that serve as the basis for policy do not work - and that must be the conclusion if indeed we are at the midpoint of a two-decade hiatus in global warming - then there is no verifiable science behind the current legislative hysteria.

What does this mean for the future? If warming is "temporarily offset" for two decades, does all the "offset" warming suddenly appear with a vengeance, or is it delayed?

Computer models, like the one used by Keenlyside, et al., rely on "positive feedbacks" to generate much of their warming. First, atmospheric carbon dioxide warms things up a bit. Then the ocean follows, raising the amount of atmospheric water vapor, which is a greater source of global warming than carbon dioxide. When the ocean does not warm up, it seems that the additional warming is also delayed. All of this may mean that we have simply overestimated the amount of warming that results from increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

That final point has been a subject of debate for a long time. Several recent publications in the peer-reviewed literature argue that observed changes in temperature show the "sensitivity" of temperature to increasing carbon dioxide is lower than earlier estimates. All of this suggests a 21st-century warming trend that will be lower than the average value calculated by the climate models in the IPCC compendium.

But who really knows? Before Keenlyside dropped his bombshell, few scientists would have said publicly that global warming could stop for two decades. Anyone raising that possibility would doubtlessly have been treated to the smug reply that "the science is settled," and that only the most bumptious ignoramus could raise such a question.

One final prediction: The teeming polar bear population will be listed as "endangered," and in the next year or two, Congress will pass a bill mandating large and impossible cuts in carbon dioxide. What is "settled" is the politics, not the science.


The McCainiac

After the coldest April in 11 years, John McCain offers a "market friendly" approach to global warming - saying we "have a genius for adapting, solving problems." But shouldn't the problems be real? McCain is the last politician we'd accuse of pandering. His honesty, steadfastness and independence have earned him the right to call his campaign the Straight Talk Express. So we were disappointed when, at an Oregon wind turbine manufacturer on Monday, he seemed to embrace the shaky environmentalist position on global warming. Saying the costs of our reliance on fossil fuels "have added up now in the atmosphere, in the oceans and all across the natural world," he proposed that by 2050, the U.S. should reduce CO2 emissions to a level 60% below that emitted in 1990. The question is, why?

Cold water was thrown on the climate-change disaster hypothesis by the National Climate Data Center's recent announcement that last month was the coldest April in more than a decade and the 29th coolest since record keeping began 114 years ago. The average temperature was 1 degree cooler than the average April temperature of the entire 20th century.

A few weeks ago, as North America was emerging from one of its coldest and snowiest winters in decades, the climate center issued a statement saying that snow cover on the Eurasian land mass had been the most extensive ever recorded, and that this March had been only the 63rd warmest since 1895.

On April 24, the World Wildlife Fund published a study, based on last September's data, showing that Arctic ice had shrunk from 13 million square kilometers to just 3 million. What the WWF omitted was that by March the Arctic ice had recovered to 14 million square kilometers and that the ice cover around the Bering Strait and Alaska was at the highest level ever recorded.

In fact, the United States already leads the world in both energy efficiency per unit of GDP and control of CO2 emissions. We recently pointed out that, according to the 2008 Index of Leading Economic Indicators, U.S. emissions grew by 6.6% from 1997 to 2004, vs. 18% for the world as a whole and 21.1% for those nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

The U.S. reduced carbon emissions from natural gas and petroleum by 1.7% and 1.5% from 2005 to 2006 and coal emissions by 0.9%. Energy intensity (energy consumed per dollar of real GDP) fell more than 4% as total energy declined 0.9% and the U.S. economy expanded 3.3%.

We were pleased that McCain endorsed nuclear power as a pollution-free source of energy that can help us toward energy independence while reducing emissions. But the fact is that we will need more energy, not less, by 2050, from all sources. Both economic and technological growth will demand more. The nation that first split the atom should first stop splitting hairs and revive nuclear power. We should also be taking more American oil out of our soil. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. McCain is right about our ability to solve problems. The nation that put men on the moon can find a way to burn coal cleanly.

We definitely should not subsidize burning food in our gas tanks. McCain heroically opposed ethanol subsidies in 2000, running third in the Iowa caucuses, and he rightly opposes them today. And we have nothing against wind and solar, if they are economically competitive.

Our needs for more energy and less reliance on foreign sources are both real and solvable. Global warming is debatable, both as to its causes and its effects. By taking the lead on domestic energy, McCain could help solve a real problem and make a clear distinction between himself and his head-in-the-tundra opponents.


"Smart Growth" Bullies

By Tibor R. Machan

It is nearly impossible these days to escape the bullies who are set to run everyone's life. I thought I would visit friends on the Central California Coast to get away from it all for a day but no such luck. No sooner did I settle in with my friends to drink a glass or two of some very fine wine from their and some other cellars, I encountered yet another horror story about the demise of private property rights in the United States of America.

This time it isn't the eminent domain bullies who have been popping up everywhere, insisting on misconstruing the Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution as authorizing transfer of private property by government edict to preferred private concerns. (That is what the outrageous Supreme Court Ruling in 2005, Kelo v. City of New London Connecticut sanctioned.) This time the excuse is a legal fiction called "Smart Growth," whereby powerful politicians everywhere are forcibly imposing their vision of how people should live and use their own land.

In San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach two elected blokes, John Shoals and Bruce Gibson, actually laid out their ill conceived idea in an Op Ed piece for the local newspaper. In it they announce that "As elected representatives . we have spent countless hours considering and planning for the future of our communities."

We can just stop here before continuing with this because already the two politicians manage to show their dirty hands. In a free society it isn't elected representatives who plan for the future of any community. (It isn't, by the way, "their" community, although I guess that is how such bullies like to understand matters.) In a free society it is individual citizens, who have unalienable rights to their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness--which includes private property rights--who make those plans, alone or in various voluntary associations. It is those who have honestly acquired land, for example, who decide what happens to the land, barring only such actions that violate others' rights.

What gave America its unique character and reputation as a free country is just that politicians here are duty bound to "secure our rights," not to plan how we will exercise them. Smart planners--which, of course, is a grossly question begging label to being with--do not want to acknowledge the fact that they are would be dictators who aren't concerned about the rights of members of the communities in which they serve as public officials. No, smart planners view the community as theirs to order about, as a playground for their own experiments, following their agenda instead of making it possible, as honest public servants in a free society should, for the citizenry to carry out its highly diverse peaceful objectives.

Misters Shoal and Gibson go on to demonstrate how ignorant they are about the principles of a free society when they say, "We believe that smart growth principles are not just fashionable ideas; they are essential values that we must implement to remain a vital and functional place to live [sic]."

It isn't smart growth principles that are essential in a free society but the principles identified and laid out by the American Founders and Framers. Among these is the right to private property which, as the Fifth Amendment makes clear, prohibits the taking of land from individuals except if some bona fide public purpose is involved, such as building a court house or police station or military base.

Carving up other people's property so as to suit the vision of a few "elected representatives" is not among the tasks of politicians in a free society! It is decidedly not a public purposes but one imposed on the public by a few zealots who think they have some divine right to make others conform to their ideas and ideals. Basically, those who have a vision pertaining to the way land should be used in a community have several peaceful, civilized options in a free country: They are free to buy the land themselves. They can form a corporation with others and purchase the land that way. They can persuade the owners of the land they are interested in fashioning after their own vision.

Of course, choosing any of these options will be more difficult than simply forcibly taking the land from others. But then all criminals think that way, don't they--earning what they are after is troublesome, so coercively taking it from those who own it is their easy path to achieving their objectives. Sadly these days such legally perpetrated crimes are beginning to be a norm. But this is a vicious undermining of the principles--the true essential ones--of a country in which all citizens are supposed to have their rights safeguarded. And especially so when those sworn to do the safeguarding are the perpetrators of the crimes.



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 May, 2008


The author of the excitable article below talks of "proof" but does not say what it is. As far as one can judge, however, she is referring to this article by Edward Brook, which is itself a summary of two other studies. I looked at another note about the Brook article yesterday and pointed out the huge hole in it. To be fair, the hole is not in the Brook article itself -- which simply claims that levels of atmospheric CO2 are unusually high at the moment -- but rather in the inference that the findings reported by Brook explain global warming. They don't, as I pointed out yesterday.

There is however also a large hole in the Brook article. He takes it as read that CO2 trapped in deep cores is representative of the atmosphere of their times. There are plenty of reasons to question that -- as core-expert Prof. Jaworowski often points out and as chemist Ernst Beck has fairly conclusively proved

Scientists have been able to say with virtual certainty for the first time that the climate change observed over the past four decades is man made and not the result of natural phenomena. The research compounds the conclusion of the biggest scientific report on global warming to date, the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year, which asserted a strong likelihood that human action was changing the climate. The new study raises the likelihood of "unnatural" causes of global warming to near certainty.

Authors of the study, published on Thursday in the peer-review journal Nature, examined a greater range of data than any other study so far. "Changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone," they say.

The authors, including scientists from Australia, China and the US, warn that man-made climate change is having "a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally". They found that more than 90 per cent of the data examined showed evidence that natural systems were responding to warming. Spring is coming earlier, permafrost is melting and coastal erosion is increasing under the influence of rising sea levels, while animals and birds are changing migration and reproductive patterns.

Barry Brook, director of climate change research at the University of Adelaide, said: "[We should] consider that there has been only 0.75 degree C of temperature change so far, yet the expectation for this century is four to nine times that amount. ["Expectation". What a good word! He means "prophecy". And we all know where most prophecies end up] "So these changes are only a minor portent of what is likely to come, especially if we continue on our carbon-profligate pathway."

Scientists know they may face difficulties ahead in persuading the public and politicians of the importance of tackling global warming - research published recently in Nature suggested that global temperatures were unlikely to increase in the next decade, and could even decline. Experts at Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre say natural climate variations linked to the Pacific cooling system known as La Nina, as well as a cooling phase of a system of Atlantic currents, may push temperatures down despite the effects of greenhouse gases. However, after those effects wear off in about a decade, temperatures are likely [How likely and how do we know?] to rise much more strongly as the warming effect of carbon emissions regains the upper hand in altering the climate.

Scientists fear that the expected lull might dispel any sense of urgency in tackling global warming and provide ammunition for climate change sceptics.



See below an interesting abstract sent to me by a reader:

CO2 in Natural Ice

By Stauffer, B & Berner, W

Natural ice contains approximately 100 ppm (by weight) of enclosed air. This air is mainly located in bubbles. Carbon dioxide is an exception. The fraction of CO2 present in bubbles was estimated to be only about 20%. The remaining part is dissolved in the ice. Measurements of the CO2 content of ice samples from temperate and cold glacier ice as well as of freshly fallen snow and of a laboratory-grown single crystal were presented. It is probable that a local equilibrium is reached between the CO2 dissolved in the ice and the CO2 of the surroundings and of the air bubbles. The CO2 content of ancient air is directly preserved neither in the total CO2 concentration nor in the CO2 concentration in the bubbles. Possibly the CO2 content of ancient air may at least be estimated if the solubility and the diffusion constant of CO2 in ice are known as a function of temperature. (See also W79-09342) (Humphreys-ISWS)

(From: Symposium on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice; Proceedings of the Third International Symposium, Cambridge (England) September 12-16, 1977. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 21, No. 85, p 291-300, 1978. 3 fig, 5 tab, 18 ref.)

Canada: Extremely long, frigid and snowy winter ends with 25 shattered records

It's finally a wrap folks. Environment Canada's April snowfall data, including 29.9-centimeters of snow, with no more than a trace amount over the final 18 days, brings Sault Ste. Marie's winter accumulation,to 471 cm. That's the second-heaviest on record, 40 cm short of the monster 511-cm accumulation of 13 winters ago.

Warning signs of above-average snowfall descended upon the Sault early and often. November, the second month of the seven-month city winter watch, was the snowiest in 13 years, January the third-snowiest in 26 years, and February the fourth-snowiest in 47 years, as far back as such data is readily available. Total winter snowfall, 168 cm above the 30-year norm of 303 cm, included 16 heavy 24-hour accumulations in excess of 10 cm, nearly triple the norm. There were seven exceeding 15 cm and eight that broke 60-year records for particular dates.

It marked the seventh time in 47 years that snowfall at the weather agency's Sault Airport station exceeded 400 cm, including the third winter in the past seven. The 471 cm accumulation, including 318 cm since Jan. 1, was the heaviest in the region, followed by Timmins (385.8),Wawa (375.0), North Bay (339.2) and Sudbury (238.4).

Twice, frigid blizzards brought the city to a near standstill, with police urging residents to stay off the streets due to poor visibility and heavy snow.

The airport reported a 38-cm accumulation Feb. 10, the heaviest 24-hour accumulation in six years and the fourth-heaviest one-day dumping in 13 years, with maximum wind gusts of 82 kilometres an hour creating wind chill in the -30 C range. The accumulation was far from a record-breaker, 23 cm short of the 61-cm blizzard of Feb. 10, 1947, the heaviest 24-hour snowfall in Environment Canada's record books. The two heaviest 24-hour snowfalls in recent memory were on consecutive days in December 1995, including 48.1 cm Dec. 9, followed by 44.2 cm Dec. 10. That was part of a storm system burying the city under 151 cm of snow over eight days, Dec. 7-14, leading to the collapse of a portion of the Station Mall roof Dec. 14. The city endured 207 cm of snow in December 1995, en route to the snowiest winter on the books.

Unofficially, 25 new records were established throughout the winter, including eight for snow and seven for rain. The Sault experienced 27 afternoons of above-freezing temperatures in the heart of winter, January through March, including nine in January, six consecutive, beginning Jan. 5, and six such mild afternoons in February. The deep-freeze portion of winter was an 11-day stretch, Feb. 10 to 20, which included seven in which overnight lows dropped below -20, bottoming out at -29 Feb. 20, the coldest night of the winter. Only once in the past three winters has the thermometer dipped into -30-or-beyond territory; four winters ago the Sault had six such chillers.



Vast expenditures on Green fantasies that achieve nothing (such as huge expenditure on windmills with negligible output) plus extensive Greenie restrictions on activities that ARE productive (such as use of GM crops) have their inevitable outcome

The British economy faces the real risk of falling into recession, the Governor of the Bank of England has admitted. Mervyn King warned families to brace themselves for a further "squeeze" on household finances as rising energy bills and food prices continue to rise. Mr King said that inflation was set to increase sharply to about 3.7 per cent - almost double the official target. As a result most British people will feel poorer this year as pay rises fail to keep pace with rising costs.

The Governor - who said that "the nice decade is behind us" - also warned homeowners that property prices would fall further and that it was impossible to predict the scale of the decline.

He became the first senior public figure to openly discuss the possibility that the British economy may now be heading for recession. The economy was "travelling along a bumpy road" and that a sharp downturn could not be ruled out, he said. The comments are some of the most stark issued by the Bank and indicate growing concern within Government over the economic prospects for the country. The prospects for the British economy have worsened since the Bank's last inflation report in February.

Mr King made his comments as official figures revealed unemployment rose last month and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, conceded that British families needed help to deal with rising fuel, food and energy costs. Mr King said: "There is going to be a sharp slowing in growth. It is quite possible that at some point we may get an odd quarter or two of negative growth, but recession is not the central projection...But clearly further shocks could push us in that direction." The technical definition of recession is two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth, a situation last seen in 1991.

The Governor added: "As price increases feed through to household bills, they will lead to a squeeze on real take-home pay, which will slow consumer spending and output growth, perhaps sharply." Mr King's mention of "the nice decade" is a reference to the acronym "non-inflationary consistent expansion" used by economists to describe the sort of growth since Labour came to power.

His intervention followed the disclosure that housing minister Caroline Flint backed independent forecasts suggesting prices will fall by between five and ten per cent this year. On Tuesday it was disclosed that inflation had seen its biggest increase in six years to three per cent. The average family was calculated to be 600 pounds worse off compared to a year ago as a result.

More here


E.ON AG. Chief Executive Officer Bernotat said the European Union will probably not meet the 2012 carbon dioxide emission targets of the Kyoto Protocol because consumers are using too much energy, Die Zeit reported. Bernotat said in an interview with the weekly newspaper he is sceptical that the German government's longer-term emission target of one-quarter of energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020 can be met. The projected annual increase in energy efficiency of 3 percent contrasts with a current improvement rate of 0.8 percent, he said in the interview to be published Thursday.

The CEO also expressed doubt that 15,000 MW of off-shore wind power capacity can be erected by 2020, which is also part of the government plan. E.ON, Germany's largest utility, has internal plans to increase the share of energy coming from renewable sources to one quarter by 2030, Bernotat said.



And the Norwegian Nobel committee even more so

I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Irena Sendler, whose obituary appeared in this morning's paper. Hers is an awesomely humbling story, even by the standards of her heroic generation. A Polish Catholic, she spirited some 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, displaying casual and extraordinary courage. She kept a list of the children she had saved, hoping one day to reunite them with their parents - although, in the event, almost all lost their families in Treblinka. In 1943, she was arrested by the Gestapo and tortured. Her legs and feet were broken, but she refused to give up her list. She was sentenced to death, but rescued, whereupon - almost unbelievably - she went back to work.

Here, though, is the sentence that leapt off the page at me: "Last year she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, eventually won by Al Gore." Al Gore! I mean, nothing against the old lardbutt - it's nice to see ex-politicians doing something they believe in rather than giving themselves over wholly to the getting of personal wealth - but making a film is not the same thing as donning a yellow star and smuggling babies past enemy soldiers.

Our generation, as Danny Kruger put it in the best tract of 2007, is moralistic rather than moral. We are better at holding opinions about what governments or multi-nationals should do than we are at doing the right thing by our neighbours. Having formed our opinions, we become self-righteous in a way that the Irena Sendlers of the world couldn't understand.

"We who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes", she said towards the end of her life. "That term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true - I continue to have qualms of conscience that I did so little. I could have done more. This regret will follow me to my death." There is a haunting sincerity to that statement. You can't imagine Al Gore saying any such thing, can you?


BOOK REVIEW: "Energy Keepers Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle" by Roy Innis

Review from Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise:

This powerful book documents the destruction planned in every community in the United States by the assault of the Energy Killers invading the world.

Already in the news from India to Africa to North Korea to Pakistan and even in New York City, higher grain prices, fertilizer shortages and rising energy costs are combining to spell hunger for millions in headlines shouting "Global Famine!"

Energy Keepers Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle exposes the wrongs done to the poor and minorities by environmental and political elites trying to eradicate fossil fuel production - coal, oil, and gas - supposedly to 'save the world from global warming.'

Author Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, shows how their wrongheaded policies price energy out of reach and violate the civil rights of all Americans, and hurt the poor and minorities worst. Innis demands an end to this 'energy racism' and calls for the opening of all federal lands - which belong to the disadvantaged as much as to well-funded environmental leaders - to more energy production in a sustained campaign to increase supply and lower prices. Innis reveals the flaws in global warming hysteria and makes the stunning fact clear in his 'Energy Reality' chart that so-called 'alternative energy' from wind and solar power actually provided less than one-half of one percent of America's energy needs in 2006 and not much more by 2050.


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 May, 2008

The art of the dishonest summary

We all know how unrepresentative of the findings are IPCC summaries but now we have another example of it. The article below appeared under the heading "Studies confirm greenhouse mechanisms even further into past" and the articles does its best to portray the findings as supportive of Warmism. Note the actual evidence upon which it is based, however. If you look at their graph carefully, you will see (and the graph subtext confirms it) that the rises in CO2 FOLLOW the warming, not vice versa, as Warmism claims. Their findings completely UNDERMINE Warmism. The sad thing is that the scientists behind this article probably wanted to tell the truth but did not feel it safe to do so. So they presented the truth only in an obscure way

The ice core boring at Dome C in Antarctica shows that the curves for the temperature and the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane follow each other over the past 800,000 years -- with few deviations. (See arrows) Credit: Professor Thomas Blunier, Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

The newest analysis of trace gases trapped in Antarctic ice cores now provide a reasonable view of greenhouse gas concentrations as much as 800,000 years into the past, and are further confirming the link between greenhouse gas levels and global warming, scientists reported today in the journal Nature.

They also show that during that entire period of time, there have never been concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane as high as the current levels, said Edward Brook, an associate professor of geosciences at Oregon State University, and author of a Nature commentary on the new studies. "The fundamental conclusion that today's concentrations of these greenhouse gases have no past analogue in the ice-core record remains firm," Brook said in the report. "The remarkably strong correlations of methane and carbon dioxide with temperature reconstructions also stand."

The latest research, done by members of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, extend the data on trace gases back another 150,000 years beyond any studies done prior to this, Brook said. Ultimately, researchers would like to achieve data going back as much as 1.5 million years.

The tiny bubbles of ancient air trapped in polar ice cores have been used to provide records of trace gases in the atmosphere at distant points in the past, and better understand the natural fluctuations that have occurred, largely as a result of cyclical changes in Earth's orbit around the sun. "These natural cycles that occur on the order of tens or hundreds of thousands of years can help us understand both the forces that have controlled and influenced Earth's climate in the past, and the implications of current changes on future climate" said Brook, who is co-chair of an international group that organizes global studies in this field.

According to the data, the current levels of primary greenhouse gases - those that are expected to cause global warming - are off the charts. The concentration of carbon dioxide is now a bit more than 380 parts per million, compared to a range of about 200-300 parts per million during the past 800,000 years. The current concentration of methane is 1,800 parts per billion, compared to a range of about 400-700 parts per billion during that time.

In every case during that extended period, warm periods coincide with high levels of greenhouse gases. Of some interest, the latest studies are showing that the temperature increases have been even more pronounced during the most recent 450,000 years, compared to several hundred thousand years prior to that. "It appears there may even be very long term natural cycles that have operated on much longer periods of 400,000 years or more," Brook said. "We still have quite a bit to learn about these past cycles and all the forces that control them."

Most of the time during the past 800,000 years, the Earth has experienced long, cooler periods about 80,000 to 90,000 years long, which eventually lead to ice ages. Those have been regularly interrupted by "interglacial" periods about 10,000 to 20,000 years long that are considerably warmer - this is the stage the Earth is in right now. Abrupt climate changes on much shorter time scales are also possible, researchers believe, possibly due to shifts in ocean circulation patterns or other forces.

Scientists are continuing to search for the optimal sites in Antarctica that will allow them to take the ice core records back even further, Brook said.


The "listed" Polar bear

Press release below from National Center President Amy Ridenour []. My comment: You cannot blame the bureaucrats behind this. They would have been hounded by a campaign of hate if they had NOT listed the bears -- JR

The decision to list the polar bear as "threatened" announced today by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was probably the best that could be expected from a government agency operating under a severely-flawed Endangered Species Act, but it is a regrettable decision nonetheless.

The Secretary's clear intent to deny environmental organizations the power to regulate the energy use of the American people through Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits is commendable, but it is only through a failure of lawmaking that such a threat to representative government is even possible. It remains to be seen if the Secretary's effort to keep the development of climate policies it belongs -- with Congress -- will succeed.

Environmental organizations will continue to try to use the Endangered Species Act to impose energy-use restrictions on the American public, but no climate policy should be adopted without the consent of the public as expressed through the votes of their elected representatives in Congress.

Those politicians who support the effort to impose climate policy without public consent are doing so due to political expediency. The present majority leadership of the House and Senate claim to be persuaded that the theory that human beings are causing significant climate change is correct, yet it is unwilling to push energy-use restrictions through Congress because the public does not support this action. The Congressional leadership is taking the coward's way out.


An email from Wendell Krossa [] below:

Every once in a while it strikes one how far green totalitarianism is suffusing our societies today. Ads everywhere (radio, TV, billboards) play on primal emotions of guilt and fear. Some are milder in approach, urging us to be more eco-friendly, to be greener. Drive this car, use this light bulb, don't waste energy.

CNN even hosts specials promoting the new heroes of society- the greenest people who have found ways to cut energy use and save the environment. And not to be entirely Scrooge-like, yes, it is only common sense to try to be more efficient, but not for the reasons that Green devotees are urging. And not under the sense of compulsion or else...

Other ads are more sinister such as the cartoon ad on TV showing someone dropping something plastic or a tin can (not recycling properly) and then being subject to some catastrophe. The message ends stating that "Karma is gonna get you". The same old pagan threat that the violence of nature is evidence of the god's anger and their taking revenge on humanity for wrong behavior.

And again, of course, it is only decent to put trash where it belongs. But there is another threat at work in such communication that is not benign at all.

Observing this "tsunami of insanity" it is interesting to note the powerful influence that a devoted few can try to hold over vast majorities of citizens in terms of shaping and controlling their behavior or way of living. We even had an incident reported in our local paper where a lady saw a police officer writing up his post-incident report/ticket in his car which he had left idling. She went over and reprimanded him for his offense against nature. Probably would have written him a ticket if she could have. The officer told her that he had to keep the engine running while using his computer and in case the person he had pulled over tried to flee. But what unnecessary guilt was inflicted upon the poor man just trying to do his job.

With green totalitarianism, as with all forms of totalitarianism, who was it that said, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing.

A convenient silence in Britain

Prof. Brignell writes:

Two years ago Number Watch drew attention to the phenomenon of Greenflation and its inevitable consequences. It is a remarkable tribute to the power of political and journalistic blinkering that the Governor of the Bank of England can now make a speech about the present, very real and very serious, problem of inflation, and the BBC can report it, without a single reference to the fact that this time it is the result of deliberate policy.

It is not, of course, these days a unique occurrence that the establishment media politely sweep under the carpet anything that is an inconvenient truth (to coin a phrase): you only have to look at the coverage of the destruction of British postal services or the garbage collection farce, without any mention of authorship by the EU, for glaring examples among the many.

Since that first mention of Greenflation there has been added a third string to the bow of the activists. Not only have they fostered draconian rises in taxation and systematically blocked the development of abundant energy resources, but they have now promoted an equally disastrous international programme of biofuels, heavily subsidised (of course) by taxpayers.

High food and fuel prices are now officially described as "external factors", when they are in fact foreseeable and unavoidable outcomes of policies embraced by governments themselves. Fuel, in particular, affects the price of everything.

Clearly, as with the DDT ban, it matters little that millions of people in the poorer parts of the world will suffer deprivation and death, but now ordinary people in the developed world are feeling the pain. The new factor is that they no longer have the power to vote out those responsible. Europeans are governed by an unelected and unsackable bureaucracy in

Brussels, while Americans are offered a choice between three green presidential candidates. That is the consequence of the rise of a new complacent political class, divorced from the laws of physics and economics.

There are times in human history when the only way is down. This is one of them. Up to now the human spirit has risen from the ashes, eventually and triumphantly to overcome such disasters, but it has never before had to face a universal political machine of such single-minded potency.



EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is dead against the current plans by the European Commission to reduce CO2 emissions for new cars. He is warning against rules that interfere in the private life of citizens.

Verheugen warned again patronizing citizens with ever more climate laws and regulations. "I watch with growing uneasiness how legislators constantly issue new regulations on all levels that intrude the private sphere," he told a newspaper. "We are approaching a state which I would call lifestyle-regulation," Verheugen said. He did not wish to live in a society where people would be prescribed how they would have to live in their own four walls. Already people were talking about an "eco-dictatorship:" "We shouldn't put off citizens," he warned.

More here (In German)

Public transport rips off the poor

The New York Times has a piece on how spiralling petrol prices are sending some commuters to government mass transit programs. What it inadvertently does is also show us what is the problem with such mass transit programs. Basically the argument is that mass transit "are seeing standing-room only crowds". One transit bureaucrat brags: "In almost every transit system I talk to, we're seeing very high rates of growth in the last few months." Old transit systems see only a minor increase, perhaps 5 percent. But the new systems that are seeing larger increases.

Here in Denver, for example, ridership was up 8 percent in the first three months of the year compared with last year, despite a fare increase in January and a slowing economy, which usually means fewer commuters. Several routes on the system have reached capacity, particularly at rush hour, for the first time.

The paper notes that all around the country the high petrol prices are pushing up ridership. So how does this expose the problem? Even with large increases in riders these systems are losing money every day. The paper notes: "Typically, mass transit systems rely on fares to cover about a third of their costs, so they depend on sales taxes and other government funding." In other words one third of the actual cost of riding mass transit is paid by the commuter and the other two-thirds is paid by people who don't commute. And even with increases in ridership some services are seeing shortfalls increase.

The reason for the increase is that rely on taxes to pay the bill. And in some places tax revenue is falling due to the economic slowdown. But think about the system of subsidies and taxes. And think about the typical system of transit.

I think San Francisco is fairly typical and I know the system fairly well so I will use it as an example. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system basically is a series of train lines that run from the bedroom communities to the financial district of San Francisco. Of course, along the way they run through other areas. But the feed is to and from the financial district. Similarly the Loop in Chicago is the center of interest for mass transit.

I rode the trains to Chicago when I worked at the Merchandise Mart building and lived in the suburbs. So I know that system as well. And here is what I know. Commuters on these lines often held fairly well paying jobs in the city centers. Let us give an example that the New York Times uses: "Michael Brewer, an accountant who had always driven the 36-mile trip to downtown Houston from the suburb of West Belford, said he had been thinking about switching to the bus for the last two years. The final straw came when he put $100 of gas into his Pontiac over four days a couple of weeks ago."

An accountant can easily between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. Of course many of the people commuting to the financial districts of the various cities earn a lot more than that. Here is the question. If the transits systems only charge commuters one-third of the actual cost who pays the other two-thirds? And how does the earning power of the taxpayers compare with that of the recipients of government generosity?

One of the great secrets of the American political system of redistribution of wealth that the political process tends to redistribute wealth up the ladder not down. When I commuted in Chicago my commute was subsidized. I rode in from the well-to-do suburbs with lots of people who were earning a hell of lot more money than I did. At that time the gas tax was used to help subsidize the mass transit system. And what studies found was that those commuters who drove to work, and hence paid the subsidies, earned far less than those commuters who used mass transit. Working class people subsidize the comfortable train rides of workers from the financial district.

And the subsidies are very generous indeed. The Department of Transportation looked at subsidies and taxes in transit over a twelve year period (1990 to 2002) and found that mass transit commuters received subsidies of $118 per 1,000 passenger miles. For every 1,000 passenger miles of automobile commuters they lost money. That is the services they received were less than what they paid for in taxes.

The Times article says that the favorite way of funding such subsidies are sales taxes. Yet sales taxes are very regressive and impact the living standard of poor people far more than it does wealthy people. I am not saying that there are no poor people who benefit from such systems. Obviously some do. But the systems primarily feed wealth suburbanites to good-paying jobs in the city center and home again.

Where did he lower-income workers go? It usually isn't the city center or financial districts. The factories, plants, steel mills and the like are not well served by mass transit. My grandparents lived near the steel mill because that was why my grandfather could get to work.

Certainly in the large cities one can take mass transit to almost any part of the city -- if you have a lot of patience and time. Take BART again as an example. I can catch a train to the city, during the day, within 15 minutes of arriving at the station, at the worst. I'm guaranteed a seat as well. By the time it gets to the poorer areas there simply are no seats and it is standing room only. At most I have a very short wait and a comfortable ride. But I also lived in the city itself at one point and there were times when I had to go to the poor areas of the city. One business I dealt with had a warehouse in the poorest area of the city. Transit to the warehouse was almost non-existent.

Typically as you move to the less wealth areas of the city the number of transfers one has to take increases. Instead of waiting 5 or 10 minutes for a comfortable train, in a protected station, these commuters stand on the corner, exposed to rain, snow and any foul weather and they wait. They can wait up to 30 minutes for a bus to arrive which then takes them to another bus stop where they often have to repeat the process with another bus.

As one who took buses frequently when I lived in the city I also know that frequently I ended up walking. Even knowing the bus schedule didn't help. Too often the bus that was schedule for 10:15 just never showed. The people most inconvenienced by mass transit are the poorest people, the ones hurt most by the taxes used to subsidize the rides. They get the least amount of service in virtually all the systems. Yet the poor continue to pay through sales taxes so that wealthy workers from the financial district have a comfortable ride to the city.

The poor end up driving. And they end up driving, when they can, because the service they get is unreliable. But if they need to be at work at 8:30 they can't afford to have a bus show up 40 minutes late. I know that when I go over to the BART station for a ride that even if one train doesn't show up when it is supposed to that another will be there within 15 minutes maximum. I also know that when the buses screw up it can delay someone as much as an hour. So what ends up a minor inconvenience for the wealthy becomes a major problem for the working poor.

Nor should we forget that in many areas the mass transit doesn't service the areas where the working poor actually work. If I think back to Chicago the big mills and refineries that hired the average working sod were in places like the East Side (many people don't know Chicago even had an East Side), Whiting, East Chicago, Hammond and Gary. But mass transit didn't go there.

Generally when it comes to the State figure that the political process tends to reward wealth and influence. Poor people have no wealth and damn little influence. And that is why I argue that wealth and rights tend to get distributed up the wealth ladder and not down it. Poor people or the working poor tend to subsidize the middle classes and the middle classes tend to subsidize the wealthy.

In politics it is the Archer Daniels Midlands and Halliburtons who end up at the top of food chain. And when well-meaning reformers try to change the system by increasing State power what they end up doing is giving another means by which the poor are plundered to benefit the wealthy.

From the beginning liberals, by which I mean classical liberals, understood this. The great free market advocates of Richard Cobden and John Bright saw how government regulation was starving the poor and subsidizing the landed aristocracy of England. The first great working people's movement was the one that pushed the repeal of the infamous Corn Laws and instituted free trade in grains. The net result was that the poor benefited and the rump of England's feudal lords lost out.

Just move forward a few years from that to the Progressive Era in the United States and you will see example after example where the wealth special interest groups pushed for new regulations that limited competition. That guaranteed them profits and higher prices. Once again the poor ended up subsidizing the wealthy. But the wealthy had allies in that campaign -- so called "progressives" and "socialists" who foolishly believed that expanded State power meant the plutocracy would lose power. Yet the plutocrats have always thrived on the expansion of state power. It is by deregulation and limited state power that competition is encouraged and that hurts the old aristocracy and helps the poor.

If you assume that government is a Robin Hood that robs the poor to feed the rich you will be right more often than you are wrong. In the real world Robin Hood works for the Sheriff.



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 May, 2008


The pesky behaviour of the Earth's temperature over the last 10 years is at last beginning to rattle the Warmist true believers. One result of that is that we skeptics are now sometimes being responded to rather than being simply ignored. The believers are on the defensive. One example of that is below, where a mainstream German scientist -- Lennart Bengtsson [], a Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg -- has submitted a comment to Benny Peiser's mailing list for skeptics. I reproduce the comment plus two replies to it. I then reproduce a remarkably lame rejoinder from the German scientist. His rejoinder is just an affirmation of faith, with no mention of facts or detailed reasoning. His claim that temperature trends can only be detected over century timescales is not unreasonable but where is the temperature graph showing such a warming trend? There is none. There is only the discredited Mann "hockeystick"

I am not surprised of the reaction to the paper by Keenlyside et al in Nature. The fact that the climate system has natural variations has been known for a considerable time and most climate models do reproduce them. Climate shows periods of warming and periods of cooling due to natural processes such as the El Nino phenomenon. Some of them can affect regional weather systems for several decades and are seen as the main causes for climate variations recorded over the last centuries. However, they are essentially unpredictable beyond a time scale of at most a few months. I am afraid that in this respect the Nature paper has been misunderstood, perhaps deliberately so, as it does in no way constitute a prediction but only a possible development of the climate system. So a couple of colder years cannot be ruled out. Similarly, it can equally well be warmer than the long term trend. We are simply not able to predict these fluctuations which such accuracies that they will be useful for the public and will probably never be able to do it.

It is important to note that this will not affect the long-term evolution of the climate which will continue to warm unless we are able to reduce the greenhouse gases. We are, as IPCC correctly has stated, now with high probability sure that the long term warming of the climate and corresponding increase in water vapour, are due to more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Any other explanation at our present understanding is simply not credible.

Two approaches are possible to counteract this. To produce energy from non-fossil fuel to a lower price and/or commence sequestration of CO2 on a large scale. The problem must be solved by technology and not by naive and unrealistic policies. They are bound to fail.

A comment on Bengtsson by F. James Cripwell [bf906@FreeNet.Carleton.CA]

It is with much trepidation that I write this letter. I read the letter from Lennart Bengtsson, Professor, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, and it made no sense. I have re-read it many times, and it still makes no sense to me. But I merely have a BA in Physics, so who am I to make a challenge.

The warmaholics have a hypothesis that increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere causes global temperature to rise. There is no experimental basis for this hypothesis. But in the latter part of the 20th century, CO2 levels rose, and global temperatures rose. Which was fine until we came into the 21st century, and global temperatures stopped rising. Future values of world temperatures are hanging like a Sword of Damocles over the warmaholics, and I was wondering what they would do.

Now we have two papers, Smith et al in Science and Keenlyside in Nature saying that there will be a pause in this rise for a number of years, but then the accumulated effects of AGW will come back with a vengence, and temperatures will reach the levels predicted by the IPCC.

The idea of AGW seems to be that a number of joules of heat fail to be radiated into space, and accumulate on earth; I call these "AGW joules". They are said to heat the earth's surface. However, if the earth is not heating up, and the AGW joules are accumulating, then they must be heating up something else; they have to "hide" somewhere. The only place that I can see that they can hide is in the deep oceans. For the warmaholics this seems to be enough; there is another hypothesis. But is this good enough for serious scientists?

Surely we need to be given the detailed physics of how these AGW joules can hide for 10, 15 or 20 years. Smith and Keenlyside have not addressed this problem; they just run computer models. My physics is not good enough to be able to prove that AGW joules hiding in the deep ocean (or wherever) is scientific nonsense, but I suggest that as scientists we are entitled to be told what this detailed physics is.

Or is this just the old business of "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive".

A comment on Bengtsson by Lee Rodgers []

I am afraid that in this respect the Nature paper has been misunderstood, perhaps deliberately so, as it does in no way constitute a prediction but only a possible development of the climate system. So a couple of colder years cannot be ruled out.
I don't believe the Keenlyside has been deliberately misrepresented (although there are those industrial apologists who might find far more expansive opportunities at fully exculpating CO2). Even Andy Revkin at the New York Times "dot Earth" column took a similar understanding, that warming would resume in earnest by 2014. Either the press release from Keenlyside was too easily misinterpreted or there's a broader sentiment afoot that is leading people to question a protracted rate of 0.2 degrC/decade. A long, unanticipated lull in temperature increases might have something to do with it. Having Al Gore trying to cash in on anthropogenic climate change hasn't helped (at least here in the States).
We are, as IPCC correctly has stated, now with high probability sure that the long term warming of the climate and corresponding increase in water vapour, are due to more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Any other explanation at our present understanding is simply not credible.
This is where interested lay people like myself find ourselves in a quandary. We have your assertions of "high probability" in one hand, and the apparent, and apparently unexpected, falsification of long-trend warming-only climate model projections on the other hand. It's becoming such that almost any explanation would suffice.

Americans of my generation were drilled throughout our education to not tweak the data, to throw out the outlying data points, and to reject the hypothesis when it's found to be falsified by a particular piece of data. What I keep reading is that the NASA/GISS dataset is an outlier and that the IPCC projections (as recent as IPCC AR4) are now falling outside of statistical litmi. I can sustain a willingness to believe in the proclamations of a young science only so much. To convince me once again means I need a greater preponderance of evidence than before.

Nineteenth century evolutionary biology seemed just as unlikely as creationism. The fossil record (and now genetic analysis) serves up an empirical edifice that reifies theory into the realm of likelihood via the all-important litmus of evidence. It's a relative statement, if evolution seems unlikely, then creationism is nearly impossible. Frustrating as it may seem, this is the litmus test for credibility employed by skeptical laypersons: "Please show me."

What I, and I gather more and more well-read lay people like myself, want is a good, detailed and reasonable explanation, not desperate statements that we're deliberately misconstruing study findings. As recalcitrant as an old horse that is tired of being cajoled, the public is tiring of attempts to spur it into new taxes and bigger government with desperate pleas when the evidence doesn't seem overwhelming or conclusive.

It doesn't help that Al Gore is now deep into TWO big investment funds that derive profits from carbon credit trading. The climatology field might be comprised of earnest and honest researchers, but the scent of opportunism is wafting from the galleries of politicians and activists. Possibly out of naivete, scientists erred in oversimplifying the warming-only case with the hopes that either big perturbations wouldn't rear their ugly heads or the public would be more forgiving of perturbations in the outcome.

To also fail to equivocate about predictive power while also entrusting the dissemination of the science to those least qualified to adequately relay the concepts - the politicians and the media - seems to me rather incautious. I become ever more incredulous when the IPCC itself appears more of a mechanism intended to defend Kyoto than that of a clearinghouse to promote real climate science. I know how big bureaucracies work, and rarely does truth trickle out of the bottom (let alone I could enumerate any number of salient findings excluded from IPCC reports - replete with shenanigans).

What I getting at is this: If by 2015 - 2020 the temperature trend remains relatively stable and doesn't zoom upward to catch up with ever-accelerating CO2 levels, the standard by which climatology will have to be measured is sure to be set ever higher in the minds of the public. I think I'd be justified in concluding that a 15 year lull is more than just a mere perturbation due to natural variations. Frankly, I'd think that 7 years would be enough to cast deep doubts on the whole enterprise, but I'll grant a bit more forebearance yet. Just don't ask me to underwrite some very expensive remedies until then.

With that, I want to put my critique into perspective: I am a climate moderate. I believe that CO2 indeed causes some warming, but I've yet to see evidence of dangerous climate change. Were I only to judge this strictly on the basis of temperature trends, I'd say the current warming trend corroborates CO2's logarithmic warming curve of 1.2 degrC increase in temperature as CO2 levels trend from 280 - 560 ppm. That's a believable baseline and it's canonical in the field.

Trend lines, however aren't enough. When I read that the centennial boreal thaw has been ascribed largely to industrial soot deposition (C. Zender, et al) and is culpable for nearly 20 percent of all global warming, that tropospheric soot may contribute easily 35 percent to all global temperature anomalies (V. Ramanathan, et al), that the Argo autonomous submersibles have yet to locate the bulk of errant heat predicted by warming-only scenarios and the Aqua data is finding less-than-anticipated water vapor in the atmosphere and I find myself seriously tempted to conclude that the moderate warming scenario is far more credible in explaining this ongoing temperature plateau.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but then the sun is being reasonably forecast to be in the full throes of a solar grand minimum by 2020, with half-amplitude solar cycles for the rest of the century. Shindell, et al, of NASA/GISS modeled the results of solar grand minima in 2001 and found that SGM would indeed induce a moderate global cooling trend, with falling inland temperatures characteristic of the Little Ice Age.

I find all my statements to be perfectly reasonable and moderate qualifiers on the state of the art of climatology. Ramanathan himself clearly stated that his findings surprised not only him, but flew in the face of conventional thinking about aerosols. It seems reasonable then to subtract the warming caused by aerosols from the CO2 column. If it isn't reasonable to do so, then why not?

But do I hear mention of this or the other field data reversals from climatologists? No.

And yet these exceptions, these apparent nulls knocking on the side of the warming-only hypothesis, are tremendously salient to the discussion. It would seem then the neglect of their mention is a profession-wide sin of omission.

So where's the biggest credibility problem? With the industrial apologists who played their global cooling hand too early? They're not scientists! I know to already double check their speculations by verifying their sources. But when the media cites the warming-only scenarios to the exclusion of other important data, the field comes to resemble an agenda-driven crusade led by opportunists and activists, not sage and conservative empiricism. Climatology is suffering a crisis of confidence. Consider how it appears in the public eye as we're inundated on a daily basis that global warming causes just about everything, from increased flea bites to more-frequent shark attacks. When laypeople speculate about the thermal exchange capacity of the oceans and wonder if ENSO can offset more atmospheric heating than has been known, they're cast off as a deniers. But when scientists posit equally speculative statements about sharks and fleas, we're supposed to yield to their credentials? Really. Have some researchers no shame?

I think everyone wants to be sympathetic to calls against complacency, but the whole call to mobilize the world has acquired the hysterical tone of a poorly conceived children's crusade. It's time the climatology field did something to clean up its own back yard.

Lennart Bengtsson [] replies to Lee Rodgers:

Climate is complex but sometimes I believe to communicate climate research to laymen is even more difficult. What I tried to explain was that climate variations or for that matter weather variations on time scales of up to several decades are virtually unpredictable. The long-term evolution of climate on the other hand - and here I mean on a time scale of a century or longer - is in all likelihood more robust. Climate is, as we have found, undergoing a slow warming which broadly is consistent with a combined forcing of greenhouse gases and aerosols including enhancement from increasing water vapor. The range of this secular trend is 2-5 degrees C calculated to the best of our ability. Assuming present and projected emissions this is, in my view, the most likely change. I take here the same view as when I take an insurance on my house and its content. I prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We cannot presently do climate projections better than so at present. Maybe, we will never be able to do it as the system is partially unpredictable. A warming of a few degrees is no main disaster for the world during the next fifty to hundred years or so but a serious problem and the most serious is the very long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere. We must find ways to get rid of it or else we will have to face increasing difficulties with raising sea level further ahead.

However, an even more serious problem is lack of suitable energy for the world and this must be addressed in all urgency. To do nothing is simply too risky. In this respect the industrial world has not been able to provide leadership.

Global warming hysteria reaching new heights

New Scientist, which revealed last year that obesity causes global warming, now tells us that global warming will make days longer, which has been confirmed by NASA. So not only is at least one global warming hysteric worried that efforts to stop global warming may slow the rotation of the earth, but the hysterical New Scientist reports that global warming itself slows it:
Global warming will make days longer as well as hotter, say Belgian scientists. A team led by Olivier de Viron of the Royal Observatory of Belgium has calculated the impact of global warming from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the air on the angular momentum of the planet.
So we might at well get used to longer and longer days. Who needs Daylight Savings Time anymore?

Oops, days already are getting longer, and have been for billions of years before Bill Clinton ate his first Big Mac or scientists had too much time on their hands and too much tax money to spend.

The Left is beyond parody. NASA's next manned mission to the moon is further away than the first mission was when President Kennedy announced the goal of getting there and back within the decade. Iran is building an atomic bomb, North Korea has one, the Russians and Chinese are rapidly increasing the size of their militaries, Islamofascist fanatics are killing people over cartoons, and NASA is busy calculating that a hypothetical half meter increase in sea level brought on by global warming will increase the effective radius of the earth by one part in 20 million, thus slowing its rotation and lengthening the day.

What I find truly evil is not that Belgian scientists are frightening people into worrying that the world will stop rotating; after all, NASA is brave enough about it. No, what is truly evil is that Al Gore and his scientific prostitutes take advantage of people's ignorance. Al Gore must have said a thousand times that we must "stop climate change" on a planet that has had billions of years of climate change. We must preserve the composition of an atmosphere that has never had a stable composition.

Astronomy Today by Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan says in a passage that too few students seem to have read or remembered that tidal effects are slowing down the rotation of the earth. A half billion years ago, days were only twenty-two hours long. If the rate of slowing in the preceding billion and a half years was the same as it has been in the last half a billion, then two billion years ago, days lasted only sixteen hours.

The rotation of the earth is slowing, the distance of the moon is increasing, the atmosphere of the earth and the radiation of the sun keep changing, continents drift together and break apart, volcanoes erupt unpredictably, asteroids crash intermittently, and Al Gore, the Nobel committee, three presidential candidates, and the United Nations tell us that we have to sacrifice one tenth of our economy to keep it from all happening.


Interesting though the examples given above are, an even weirder example has just emerged: A claim that global warming will poison your cornflakes. It is too much in an imaginary world of its own to be worth a detailed reply but one might note that even the newspaper site reporting the claim put it in its "weird" section

Kiwi Climatology

Global-warming alarmists tend to understate the true costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. So give credit to New Zealanders, who seem poised to give the rest of us a real-life illustration of those costs. This month, Wellington is debating a cap-and-trade scheme to meet its Kyoto Protocol targets. Because New Zealand is already a low carbon-dioxide emitter, the bulk of its emissions come from agricultural sources, such as, well, sheep. So the government is proposing to implement caps not only on carbon dioxide from industry but also on methane and nitrous oxide from farms. If passed, the Kiwi plan would be the broadest cap-and-trade program to date.

As in smaller schemes in the U.S. and European Union, the government would cap the country's emissions at a level allowable under Kyoto, and then distribute tradeable credits to businesses and farmers. Low emitters could sell excess credits, while high emitters could buy credits to cover their "extra" emissions. Under Kyoto, New Zealand committed to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels, in effect a 30% reduction from expected emissions in 2012.

Meeting those targets will be hard. New Zealand already uses a wide range of hydropower and renewable energy to cut carbon dioxide use. For the agricultural gases, new kinds of fertilizers might help, but only to a point. For the rest of the cuts, farmers will have to persuade cows and sheep to emit less - or have fewer cows and sheep.

The cost, for farmers and industry alike, is likely to be prohibitive. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, an independent consulting firm, recently estimated that the government's plan would result in 22,000 job losses by 2012, or 1% of today's employment. That translates into NZ$4.6 billion ($3.6 billion) annually in lost GDP, or a NZ$3,000 cut in each household's annual spending.

This analysis assumes that as greenhouse gas fees make Kiwi industry less competitive globally, businesses and jobs will move overseas. The government disputes this conclusion, mainly because its own analyses assume New Zealanders will be willing to take lower wages. That's debateable, to say the least. That aside, give the Kiwis credit for honesty. Having signed up for Kyoto, they're actually talking about shouldering the costs of meeting their commitments. Whether or not they end up regretting it, other countries will now have a chance to see what the anticarbon crusade does to an economy.


Wind ($23.37) v. Gas (25 Cents)

Congress seems ready to spend billions on a new "Manhattan Project" for green energy, or at least the political class really, really likes talking about one. But maybe we should look at what our energy subsidy dollars are buying now.

Some clarity comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent federal agency that tried to quantify government spending on energy production in 2007. The agency reports that the total taxpayer bill was $16.6 billion in direct subsidies, tax breaks, loan guarantees and the like. That's double in real dollars from eight years earlier, as you'd expect given all the money Congress is throwing at "renewables." Even more subsidies are set to pass this year.

An even better way to tell the story is by how much taxpayer money is dispensed per unit of energy, so the costs are standardized. For electricity generation, the EIA concludes that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and "clean coal" $29.81. By contrast, normal coal receives 44 cents, natural gas a mere quarter, hydroelectric about 67 cents and nuclear power $1.59.

The wind and solar lobbies are currently moaning that they don't get their fair share of the subsidy pie. They also argue that subsidies per unit of energy are always higher at an early stage of development, before innovation makes large-scale production possible. But wind and solar have been on the subsidy take for years, and they still account for less than 1% of total net electricity generation. Would it make any difference if the federal subsidy for wind were $50 per megawatt hour, or even $100? Almost certainly not without a technological breakthrough.

By contrast, nuclear power provides 20% of U.S. base electricity production, yet it is subsidized about 15 times less than wind. We prefer an energy policy that lets markets determine which energy source dominates. But if you believe in subsidies, then nuclear power gets a lot more power for the buck than other "alternatives."

The same study also looked at federal subsidies for non-electrical energy production, such as for fuel. It found that ethanol and biofuels receive $5.72 per British thermal unit of energy produced. That compares to $2.82 for solar and $1.35 for refined coal, but only three cents per BTU for natural gas and other petroleum liquids.

All of this shows that there is a reason fossil fuels continue to dominate American energy production: They are extremely cost-effective. That's a reality to keep in mind the next time you hear a politician talk about creating millions of "green jobs." Those jobs won't come cheap, and you'll be paying for them.


The glories of public transport in Australia's biggest city

Another reason why most people will stick to their cars

I heard him before I saw him - a young man with hands on his ears standing still amid the churning, lurching chaos that is platform one at Town Hall station. "Can you please just shut up. Christ. Just shut up." It turned out I was not the only one being driven mad by the lecturing, hectoring voice on the platform speakers, the latest horror to confront commuters.

Town Hall at peak hour is a dirty, dangerously overcrowded, stifling hot environment that looks and feels like an accident waiting to happen. But now, in what is presumably an effort to give the impression that something is being done, the captive commuters squashed on the platforms are lectured on safety, crowding, and train-travel etiquette by some insufferable Big Brother.

"Can that man sitting on the steps please move," the invisible voice booms. Then louder. "That man on the steps who is blocking the way. Please move." Then, infuriated: "You, that man in the brown overcoat, there's no reason to block the steps. You are holding up people who want to use the stairs." Finally, the tired commuter who has been held up to us all as the cause of our mutual subterranean unhappiness, realises he has been made the scapegoat. The woes of Town Hall station are all his fault. He slinks off to join the other miserable but upright commuters.

It does not stop there. "The all-stations train to Bankstown is now at Circular Quay . the train should be here in about two minutes. So just be patient," the voice booms. We know that. It says so on the board. "Can passengers please stay behind the yellow line while the train approaches." I would gladly do so if a three-person deep crowd was not exploding behind me.

"Those people crowding the train doors - you are a danger to yourselves as well as to others." No, the real danger here is that nothing has been done to upgrade this station to cater for today's crowds. But on it goes. The voice is relentless, monotonous and narky. "We all want to get home, and pushing and shoving won't make things happen more quickly."

We don't know what's good for us, is the message, and CityRail is going to make sure we understand. If there was any real concern about overcrowding at Town Hall station, built in 1916, then new exits would be created. It can take an eternity in peak hour just to get on the escalator from the bowels of the station. A fire down there would be . well, it's not worth thinking about.

If there was any concern about the risk of commuters falling from platforms the station would be redesigned so those waiting were not forced on top of one another. And if there was any thought at all about commuter comfort there would be more than just token seating (I, too, have had to sit on the stairs - when eight months' pregnant) and a real attempt to fix the stifling conditions.

In 2005, when RailCorp announced a multi-million-dollar plan to upgrade Town Hall, the tender package warned that the station was a serious danger to the public. Last month the Herald revealed that a report by Parsons Brinckerhoff found the station "cannot currently be fully evacuated in the morning and evening peaks within times stipulated by [the fire safety standard]".

RailCorp said a widening of the main concourse and ticket barrier expansion had improved access, but the projected commuter growth remained unaccounted for. Within eight years 168,000 people would pass through the station each day, up from about 140,000 now. By 2021 there will be 178,000.

For more than 10 years I have used the station to get to work, but it is only this year that have had to do so in peak hour. In that time I have had trouble breathing in sauna-like conditions; had to tiptoe around pools of blood and been caught on overcrowded trains where people were forced to travel to the next stop while jammed helplessly against the doors. Many times I have thought how easy it would be to fall off the narrow platforms, or to be accidentally pushed off. Just one person losing their footing would do it or - perhaps more likely - just one person losing their mind.



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


13 May, 2008


An amusing look at a 1961 attempt at prophecy. The prophecies were said to be based on "science fact" but they were 99% wrong

What sort of life will you be living 39 years from now? Scientists have looked into the future and they can tell you. It looks as if everything will be so easy that people will probably die from sheer boredom. You will be whisked around in monorail vehicles at 200 miles an hour and you will think nothing of taking a fortnight's holiday in outer space. Your house will probably have air walls, and a floating roof, adjustable to the angle of the sun. Doors will open automatically, and clothing will be put away by remote control. The heating and cooling systems will be built into the furniture and rugs.

You'll have a home control room - an electronics centre, where messages will be recorded when you're away from home. This will play back when you return, and also give you up-to-the minute world news, and transcribe your latest mail. You'll have wall-to-wall global TV, an indoor swimming pool, TV-telephones and room-to-room TV. Press a button and you can change the decor of a room.

The status symbol of the year 2000 will be the home computer help, which will help mother tend the children, cook the meals and issue reminders of appointments. Cooking will be in solar ovens with microwave controls. Garbage will be refrigerated, and pressed into fertiliser pellets.

Food won't be very different from 1961, but there will be a few new dishes - instant bread, sugar made from sawdust, foodless foods (minus nutritional properties), juice powders and synthetic tea and cocoa. Energy will come in tablet form.

At work, Dad will operate on a 24 hour week. The office will be air-conditioned with stimulating scents and extra oxygen - to give a physical and psychological lift. Mail and newspapers will be reproduced instantly anywhere in the world by facsimile. There will be machines doing the work of clerks, shorthand writers and translators. Machines will "talk" to each other.

It will be the age of press-button transportation. Rocket belts will increase a man's stride to 30 feet, and bus-type helicopters will travel along crowded air skyways. There will be moving plastic-covered pavements, individual hoppicopters, and 200 m.p.h. monorail trains operating in all large cities.

The family car will be soundless, vibrationless and self-propelled thermostatically. The engine will be smaller than a typewriter. Cars will travel overland on an 18 inch air cushion. Railways will have one central dispatcher, who will control a whole nation's traffic. Jet trains will be guided by electronic brains.

In commercial transportation, there will be travel at 1000 m.p.h. at a penny a mile. Hypersonic passenger planes, using solid fuels, will reach any part of the world in an hour. By the year 2020, five per cent of the world's population will have emigrated into space. Many will have visited the moon and beyond.

Our children will learn from TV, recorders and teaching machines. They will get pills to make them learn faster. We shall be healthier, too. There will be no common colds, cancer, tooth decay or mental illness. Medically induced growth of amputated limbs will be possible. Rejuvenation will be in the middle stages of research, and people will live, healthily, to 85 or 100.

There's a lot more besides to make H.G. Wells and George Orwell sound like they're getting left behind. And this isn't science fiction. It's science fact - futuristic ideas, conceived by imaginative young men, whose crazy-sounding schemes have got the nod from the scientists. It's the way they think the world will live in the next century - if there's any world left!


Cold Water Thrown on Antarctic Global-Warming Predictions

Antarctica hasn't warmed as much over the last century as climate models had originally predicted, a new study finds. Climate change's effects on Antarctica are of particular interest because of the substantial amount of water locked up in its ice sheets. Should that water begin to melt, sea levels around the globe could rise and inundate low-lying coastal areas.

The new study, detailed in the April 5 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, marks the first time that researchers have been able to give a progress report on Antarctic climate model projections by comparing climate records to model simulations. (These comparisons have already been done for the other six continents.)

Information about Antarctica's harsh weather patterns has traditionally been limited, but temperature records from ice cores and ground weather stations have recently been constructed, giving scientists the missing information they needed. "This is a really important exercise for these climate models," said study leader Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Co.

Monaghan and his team found that while climate models projected temperature increases of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 degrees Celsius) over the past century, temperatures were observed to have risen by only 0.4 F (0.2 C). "This is showing us that, over the past century, most of Antarctica has not undergone the fairly dramatic warming that has affected the rest of the globe," Monaghan said.

The gap between prediction and reality seemed to be caused by the models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere. The cold air over the southernmost continent handles moisture differently than the atmosphere over warmer regions. The models did, however, correctly capture the increases in snowfall over Antarctica in the late 20th century, followed by a decrease in the last decade.

One reason that Antarctica hasn't warmed as much as other parts of the globe is the existence of the man-made ozone hole overhead: It alters wind patterns, creating a swirling belt of winds around the landmass that keeps comparatively warm air from seeping in, preserving the continent's frigid temperatures. One important exception to this rule is the Antarctic Peninsula, which has warmed by several degrees, in part because winds there draw in warmer air from the north.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that sea levels could rise by 7 to 23 inches (18 to 59 centimeters) globally this century, in part due to ice melt at both poles and from mountain glaciers. The new study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, suggests that warming in Antarctica could offset this amount by about 2 inches (5 centimeters) if the continent warms by 5.4 F (3 C), as warmer air would hold more moisture and generate more snowfall, which contributes to the growth of the ice sheets, locking up any additional water in the these large masses of ice. That would mean a rise of only 5 to 21 inches (13 to 54 centimeters).

But these projections are by no means certain - if melt from Antarctic ice sheets outweighed the snowfall that contributes to their growth, sea level rise could be higher. "The research clearly shows that you can actually slow down sea-level rise when you increase temperatures over Antarctica because snowfall increases, but warmer temperatures also have the potential to speed up sea-level rise due to enhanced melting along the edges of Antarctica," Monaghan said. "Over the next century, whether the ice sheet grows from increased snowfall or shrinks due to more melt will depend on how much temperatures increase in Antarctica, and potentially on erosion at the ice sheet edge by the warmer ocean and rising sea level."

The findings of the study don't call into question model projections for other parts of the globe, Monaghan said. "The models are really doing quite a good job at simulating the 20th-century changes [Wise after the event] over the six inhabited continents," he told LiveScience.


Greens Going for the Green

Even with the human tragedy of Cyclone Nargis still unfolding in Burma, environmentalists aren't wasting any time linking the disaster to global warming. Or at least one isn't: Al Gore. Citing the deadly Burmese storm and recent storms in China and Bangladesh, he declared on National Public Radio: "We're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."

There's just one problem -- it's not clear there's any link between climate change and hurricane numbers or intensity. The number of big storms has been falling, not rising. As for intensity, researchers led by Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center have found that earlier generations of hurricane-watchers using inferior satellite imagery incorrectly classified many storms as weaker than they actually were. After correcting for this mismeasurement, the "increase" in storm intensity since the 1970s nearly disappears.

But Mr. Gore is perhaps too busy these days to follow the science closely. In April, a London-based company he chairs began selling shares in its so-called Global Sustainability Fund to small investors in New Zealand, following a similar offer to investors in Australia (interestingly, out of sight of the U.S. press). He was also a conspicuously invoked presence when the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins this month announced a new $500 million "green growth" fund in partnership with Mr. Gore's London firm. Asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Mr. Gore had been helpful in raising money, co-manager John Denniston replied: "That's not been his primary responsibility."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore's primary responsibility, from the looks of it, is to spread alarm about global warming and create the political conditions (subsidies, mandates) without which Kleiner's "green" energy ventures are unlikely to flourish. Expect the payoff to come next year as a new Congress and President debate global warming policy.



Millions of families are having to spend almost 1,000 pounds a year extra on food after more punishing price rises. The annual increase in the price of a basket of essentials surged to 19.1 per cent in May, according to the Daily Mail Cost of Living Index. The rate has jumped alarmingly from 15.5 per cent in April - a 3.6 per cent rise - and there is no sign of the pressure easing. There is now a worldwide crisis over supplies of key crops such as corn, wheat and rice. It has triggered food riots in some countries. And in the UK it has brought the biggest rises in bills in a generation.

A family which spent 100 pounds a week on food last year now has to find another 19.10 for the same products, equivalent to 993 a year. Once "must-pay" bills for petrol, mortgages, power and council tax are added, the extra cost is more like 2,200 pounds. Yet the official inflation rate is just 2.6per cent.

Experts say a worldwide drive to produce biofuels - made from corn, wheat and soya as an alternative to oil - is a major factor. Farmers have switched from food production to biofuel crops. Last month, the EU agreed the biofuel content of all petrol and diesel should be 2.5 per cent. This is set to rise to 10 per cent by 2020.

But the Government's two most senior scientists, Professor John Beddington and Professor Robert Watson, have called for a rethink on the rush to biofuels. Professor Beddington said: "It's very hard to imagine the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food." Gordon Brown is understood to be preparing to call on the EU to scrap the plan.

More here


Do today's soaring food prices and Third World food riots mean we're headed for global famine? Not any time soon-if we suspend the biofuels mandates quickly. Unfortunately, if we keep burning corn, wheat, and palm oil in our vehicles, there's no limit to the hunger, malnutrition, wildlife extinction and political disruption we can cause.

The problem is simple: Food demand is inelastic. People need about the same number of calories whether they're expensive or cheap. But the demand for biofuels is almost without limit. An acre of corn produces only 50 gallons worth of gasoline per acre, while humans worldwide burn more than a trillion gallons of gasoline per year. Biofuels could absorb the whole world's crop production without bringing down gasoline prices-because we're banning coal and refusing to drill for oil. If we want to keep on eating, we'll have to scrap the false "fuel security" of the biofuels.

Even giving up biofuels won't stave off the world's hunger for long, because we'll need more than twice as much food and feed per year by 2050. The number of humans is likely to peak at about 8 billion, up from today's 6.4 billion, and at least 7 billion of them are likely to be affluent enough to eat meat and ice cream. They'll have fewer children-but more pets, few of them vegetarian.

If the world plans to have forests, wildlands, and wildlife species in the 22nd century, then we'll need to triple the crop yields on the land we already farm-just for food and feed. Except for a chunk of western Brazil, there isn't much high-quality cropland left in the world for cropland expansion, and none of it "extra" for biofuels.

But the same people who don't want us to burn coal are telling us not to raise high-yield crops either. Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund tell us not to use nitrogen fertilizer taken from the air. They demand organic-only nitrogen from cattle manure or green manure crops-but such low-yield systems produce only half as much food per acre.

We're locked into the same "don't use it" debate on food as on energy. Is the Greens' information on high yield crops any better than their "advice" on global warming-which tells us to stop burning fossil fuels though the world has cooled over the last ten years?

The funding for farm science has declined sharply since Dr. Norman Borlaug led the Green Revolution and saved a billion people from starving. America's land-grant universities are now researching how to farm organically, though such "research" has never produced a yield breakthrough. The high-yield studies are being done mainly by agribusiness-and by Bill Gates who has vowed to rekindle a Green Revolution for Africa whether the Greens like it or not.

Now, a big new report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) has been cited as evidence that industrialized food production is screwing up the planet. This report was supposed to be the "big tent" laying out the consensus path for future agricultural research. The land-grant agriculture schools, Greenpeace, agribusiness, FAO, all were included. But, by the time the report was issued, only Greenpeace seemed to be at the drafting table.

And guess who's in charge of this new "pattern for farming's future"? Robert Watson, a British-born chemist who served as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997-2002. What are the chances that the Greens' farm science is any more honest than the IPCC's global warming "science"?


Climate warming would BOOST farm output in Australia (and elsewhere)

A bit of logic for a change. That CO2 is a potent plant fertiliser and that a warmer climate would mean more rain overall are basic facts that Greenies never mention. And a dry continent like Australia could certainly make good use of more rain!

AUSTRALIAN agricultural output will double over the next 40 years, with climate change predicted to increase, rather than hinder, the level of production.

A recent spate of reports forecasting the decline of Australian agriculture because of climate change have greatly exaggerated, and even completely misreported the threat of global warming, according to senior rural industry figures. In a report published by the Australian Farm Institute, executive director Mick Keogh says agricultural output is projected to improve strongly through to 2050, with a growing global population and increased economic wealth boosting demand for Australian produce. If the sector adapts even modestly, production would increase rather than decrease as a result of climate change, the report says.

Predictions of a 20 per cent drop in farm production by mid-century were cited by Kevin Rudd and Agriculture Minister Tony Burke as justification for Australia's signing of the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, Mr Keogh says, if global warming does occur, some areas such as southeast Queensland will receive more rain, and as a result will greatly benefit. Recent research has shown increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lifts plant production by up to 30 per cent in a phenomenon known as carbon fertilisation.

Mr Keogh, a well-respected industry figure, said much of the media reporting on the recent ABARE report Climate Change: Impacts On Australian Agriculture, was so misleading it risked eroding industry confidence in public research agencies. "The reporting claimed that agriculture would be absolutely devastated, when that is not what the research showed at all," he said. "For a start the media consistently misreported the research results as a future reduction in agricultural output, rather than a slowing of future rates of growth in output."

He said the ABARE report chose a series of highly unlikely worst-case climate change scenarios and then projected them over a long period of time. ABARE also used the assumption that climate change would slow economic growth globally, thereby decreasing the demand for food. "With increasing world population this is highly unlikely," Mr Keogh said.

Also unlikely was the assumption that farmers would not adapt. "In many situations it appears as if an increase in temperature, certainly over the next few decades, will increase rather than decrease productivity," he said. "As well, open field studies are returning increases in plant productivity of about 15 per cent with increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Levels up to 30 per cent have been returned in laboratory studies."

Charles Burke, a fourth-generation cattle farmer at Lake Somerset, north of Brisbane, said most farmers were sceptical of the claims surrounding climate change and believed they were instead dealing with climate variability. After the recent dry, he hoped the Australian Farm Institute was right in its predictions southeast Queensland would benefit from more rainfall. "No one has their head in their sand, but farmers want to move forward armed with the right information," he said. "The experts can't agree. Many farmers aren't convinced. We have to have the right information and the right tools. We need to make sure the information is correct."

Chief executive for the National Farmers Federation Ben Fargher said his members too had been concerned about the negative reporting of the industry's future. "We are very well placed to grow businesses into the future," 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.


12 May, 2008

Polar bears OK without our help

Says the Boston Herald:

Thursday is the deadline set by a federal judge in Alaska for the Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether the polar bear is a threatened or endangered species. All the evidence shows the polar bear doesn't need his help. Environmental groups petitioned for such a listing and sued when a decision was not forthcoming by the deadline. They claimed that global warming had already diminished polar ice, would continue to do so and doom the estimated 23,000 or so bears to extinction by perhaps 2050.

If the bears were listed, the service would be obliged to designate "critical habitat." The Endangered Species Act provides that each federal agency would have to `insure that any action authorized, funded or carried out by such agency is not likely to jeopardize any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification (our italics) of (critical) habitat of such species."

The environmentalists, if not the service, could claim that any activity that emitted carbon dioxide, the chief gas causing the supposed warming, could not be authorized, financed or done by a federal agency. The agencies would have to bring the modern world to a crash as no fossil fuels could be burned in power plants, no highways built and so forth throughout the economy.

The plaintiffs' claims are highly dubious. Polar ice is shrinking, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in October that it was caused not by warming but a shift in wind patterns that pushed more ice out of the Arctic. Another report in January said surface warming in the Arctic was caused by unexplained atmospheric heat transfer from the tropics.

Polar bears have been around for 100,000 years, surviving much warmer temperatures before the last ice age. Population estimates are subject to huge and unknowable uncertainties. Native groups say there are more than there were several decades ago. Environmentalists are pursuing another petition to list a seal species as endangered - one eaten by bears, it seems. If there weren't so many bears, there'd be more seals. Canada, on whose territory about two-thirds of the bears live, has refused to classify them as threatened or endangered. The United States should follow suit.


More unscientific polar bear nonsense

A new study has claimed that the research done by the US Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species.

The research came about when on April 30, US District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered the Interior Department to decide by May 15 whether polar bears should be listed under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. But, after professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School and colleagues undertook an audit at the request of the state of Alaska , they found the Interior Department report to be flawed.

As part of the subsequent study, the authors examined nine US Geological Survey Administrative Reports. Professor Armstrong and his colleagues concluded that the most relevant study, properly applied only 15% of relevant forecasting principles and that the second study only 10%, while 46% were clearly contravened and 23% were apparently contravened. Further, according to them, the Geologic Survey reports do not adequately substantiate the authors' assumptions about changes to sea ice and polar bears' ability to adapt that are key to the recommendations.

Therefore, the authors write, a key feature of the US Geological Survey reports is not scientifically supported. The consequence, they maintain, is significant: The Interior Department cannot use the series of reports as a sound scientific basis for a decision about listing the polar bear as an endangered species.

According to Armstrong, to list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.

"These studies are meant to inform the US Fish and Wildlife Service about listing the polar bear as endangered," said Armstrong. "After careful examination, my co-authors and I were unable to find any references to works providing evidence that the forecasting methods used in the reports had been previously validated. In essence, they give no scientific basis for deciding one way or the other about the polar bear," he added.


Cold slows planting, crop progress in Idaho

Temperatures average 4 degrees below normal in Boise area

Cold temperatures have delayed planting and slowed crop growth across much of Idaho this spring. Temperatures in Boise during April averaged 4 degrees below normal, according to the National Weather Service. This month has gotten off to a cold start too, with low temperatures on May 1 dipping to 27 degrees in the Jerome area, covering sprinkler irrigation lines in ice.

Despite the cold temperatures, reported crop damage has been minor and mostly limited to orchards in Western Idaho. Planting of corn and small grain crops has lagged considerably behind last year's pace, according to a crop progress report released May 4 by National Agricultural Statistics Service's Idaho field office. Statewide, planting of field corn was only 19 percent completed at the end of last week, compared with 39 percent last year, the agency reported. Spring wheat and barley planting also lagged considerably behind last year's pace in some areas of the state....

"Our planting progress has been slower than most years," said Leonard Kerbs, agriculture manager for Amalgamated Sugar Company's Twin Falls district. Delayed beet planting is only partly because of the cold weather. Growers purposely held off planting beets early because they knew there might be a problem getting replacement seed in the event of frost damage, Kerbs said. This year for the first time nearly all of the Idaho sugar beet crop will be in Roundup Ready varieties.


The Cost and Futility of Trading Hot Air

The "Environmental Defence Fund" (EDF) has circulated a "Report " that says the cost of controlling the "pollution that causes `global warming'" is "only pennies a day . almost too small to measure." The conclusions, summarized by EDF, are -

* "We cannot afford to wait. Further delay will greatly increase the costs of making necessary emissions cuts and will risk locking in irreversible climate change." The "Report" says: "The scientific consensus is clear: Global `warming' is real, and it is already happening. While nobody can be certain about the exact timing or location of its consequences, the possible severity of those consequences is becoming increasingly clear. Allowing greenhouse gas emissions to increase unchecked is an invitation to catastrophe. The potential consequences of warming include widespread famine, triggered by extreme drought in the major grain-producing areas of the world; the wholesale disappearance of the world's coral reefs; and sea levels rising by several meters over the course of a few centuries." The "Report" concludes that we must act now to avoid "catastrophic climate change".

* "We can afford an aggressive cap-and-trade policy to tackle `global warming'. The cost to the economy will be minimal -- less than one percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2030. The "Report" says that the US economy will grow to "$26 trillion by 2030, but, with a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions that cause `global warming', the economy will reach the same level two to seven months later. It adds that job losses would be minimal; the new carbon market would create new jobs; that the manufacturing sector will lose a few jobs; that household consumption will fall by only one percent at worst; that increases in energy costs would be modest; and that overall costs would be small enough to permit expansion of programs to offset the burden for low-income households. The "Report" says that strict limits on `global warming' pollution can harness the power and creativity of capital markets, and that cap-and-trade would work by "turning market failure into market success". It assumes that if fossil-fueled energy were artificially made more expensive other technologies would emerge to replace it.

The "Report" is based not on theoretical demonstration nor on empirical observation but on computer models - an expensive and unreliable form of guesswork. It claims to be the first of its kind, but there have been one or two others like it, such as the now universally-discredited Stern Report , which used the same unscientific rhetoric of "market failure" together with overstatements of the imagined consequences of anthropogenic "global warming" as a substitute for rigorous economic analysis. The conclusions of the "Report" are unsound, and computer models can be - and have been - deployed to demonstrate results diametrically opposite to those which the "Report" advances.

"We cannot afford to wait, or `catastrophic climate change' will occur"

Late in 2006 the "Institute for Public Policy Research", a grandly-titled and extravagantly-funded pressure group in the UK, first proposed that the international Left should from then on declare that the science of "global warming" was settled. This proposal was accepted with alacrity by bodies worldwide such as the "Natural Resources Defense Fund" and the "Environmental Defense Fund". Not a single scientific authority or reference is cited in the "Report" for any of the supposed catastrophes arising from "global warming" that it mentions. However, peer-reviewed papers throughout the scientific journals refute such conclusions:

Catastrophe? What catastrophe?

There is no scientific "consensus" in the peer-reviewed literature to the effect that "global warming" is an actual or potential "catastrophe", still less that "allowing greenhouse-gas emissions to increase unchecked is an invitation to catastrophe". A recently-published peer-reviewed paper (Schulte , 2008) that surveyed 539 papers in the scientific journals containing the words "global climate change" and published between January 2004 and mid-February 2007 found that not a single paper provided any evidence whatsoever that "global warming" might be even potentially "catastrophic". Only one of the 539 papers reviewed even mentioned the possibility of "catastrophe", but without offering any evidence.

"Climate Change Is Real." What reality?

Next, the "Report" says, "`Global warming is real". This point was well and bluntly addressed in the spring of 2006 in a letter from 61 leading scientists in climate and related fields to the Canadian Prime Minister : "`Climate change is real' is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural `noise.'"

Warming? What warming?

The "Report's" assertion that the "possible severity" of the consequences of "global warming" is becoming "increasingly clear" is not and cannot be based on any scientific view. "Global warming" began at the end of the Maunder Minimum in 1700 and continued at a near-uniform rate of 0.5-0.7 degrees C (0.9-1.2 F) per century until 1998, when it paused. There has been no statistically-significant increase in mean global surface temperature since 1998. In the past six and a half years global temperatures have been falling at an impressive rate equivalent to 0.4 degrees C (0.7 F) per decade:

Unpredicted trend: Since late 2001, the trend of global surface temperatures has been downward. "Global warming" paused in 1998; and, though it may resume in future years, the rate of warming is less than that which the models relied upon by the IPCC had projected. Source: Hadley Centre for Forecasting / Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia.

Carbon dioxide causes some warming: therefore, the upward trend in temperatures over the past 300 years, for which steadily-increasing solar activity was chiefly but not solely responsible, may well resume in future. However, the rate at which foreseeable increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration will cause further warming is by no means "settled science"; and, as the above graph indicates, it is becoming increasingly clear with each passing year that the very high official estimates of climate sensitivity to anthropogenic CO2 enrichment are proving to be exaggerations.

For instance, Lindzen (2008) says that the failure of computer models accurately to predict the behavior of the tropical upper troposphere, a problem identified and quantified in Douglass et al. (2004, 2006, 2007), requires all of the IPCC's estimates of climate sensitivity to be divided by at least three. If Professor Lindzen is right, then there is no "climate crisis": a small, harmless, and beneficial warming rate will continue, and that is all. For a short account of the combined magnitude of this and other errors in the IPCC's official calculations of climate sensitivity, see the Technical Appendix.

Drought? What drought?

The "Report" says widespread famine may be caused by droughts arising from "global warming". However, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation mandates that, as the climate warms, the space occupied by the atmosphere is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapor. Therefore, in general, there will be fewer droughts. This effect has already been observed and reported. For instance, the Sahara has shrunk by 300,000 km2 in the past quarter of a century (Nicholson, 1998, 2001).

The shrinking Sahara: Throughout the period of strong "global warming", the Sahara's extent shrank by 300,000 km2. Source: Nicholson (1998, 2001). Nomadic tribes have been able to move back to areas of the Sahara that have not been settled within living memory. This is the very reverse of the pattern of "widespread drought" predicted by the "Report". Indeed, the fact that the carrying-capacity of the atmosphere for water vapor becomes greater as the climate warms has been cited by health authorities such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health in the United Kingdom as a (false) pretext for statements that warmer and hence wetter weather will increase the world's standing water and will hence encourage the malaria mosquito to breed (though there is no scientific basis for this conclusion either).

Though the pattern of drought and flood has fluctuated in the past and will do so again in the future, there is no sound scientific reason to suppose that warmer weather will mean more droughts. The computerized guesswork of the models relied upon by the UN failed to predict the shrinking of the Sahara, and it provides no basis for concluding that drought will spread. There are fewer droughts in many parts of the world today than there was in the first half of the 20th century, when John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, in which he graphically described the severe droughts of that era in the Great Plains - droughts that have not occurred in the warmer weather since.

Threat to corals? What threat?

The "Report's" assertion that all the world's coral reefs are imminently threatened by "global warming" is also without scientific foundation . Coral reefs are not threatened by warmer oceans : most of them prefer warmer water. Corals first came into existence by algal symbiosis some 175 million years ago, in the Triassic era, and some say they date back 500 million years. For most of that period, global temperatures are thought to have been 7 degrees Celsius (12.5 F) warmer than the present. The corals not merely survived but throve. To the extent that they are threatened at all, the threat is from pollution, and from dynamiting in aid of fishing.

The coral bleaching that was observed in 1998 was the consequence of the exceptional and sudden El Nino Southern Oscillation of that year, whose intensity had only two precedents in the previous 300 years. Both of the previous intense El Ninos also produced coral bleaching, and the corals readily survived it (Hendy et al., 2004). Going back further, Precht and Aronson (2004) concluded that between 10,000 to 6,000 years ago extratropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures were 2-3 degrees C (3.5-5.5 F) warmer than at present and coral reefs flourished. They reported that the fossil record clearly demonstrates the ability of corals to expand their ranges poleward in response to global warming and to "reconstitute reef communities in the face of rapid environmental change." They also report that corals are expanding their territories: "There is mounting evidence that coral species are responding to recent patterns of increased SSTs by expanding their latitudinal ranges."

Sea-level rise? What sea-level rise?

Finally, the "Report" mentions the possibility of "sea levels rising by several meters over the course of a few centuries". This is true, but the implication that it arises chiefly from manmade "global warming" is entirely false. In the 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age, sea level has risen by 130 meters (400 feet): an average of 1.3 m (4 ft) per century. However, most of the world's land-based ice has long since melted, and nine-tenths of what remains - on the high plateaux of Greenland and Antarctica - is not at risk unless temperatures are sustained at least 2 degrees C (3.5 F) above today's for several millennia (IPCC, 2007). Indeed, in each of the past four interglacial periods neither Greenland nor Antarctica lost their ice sheets. Greenland, but not Antarctica, lost its ice sheet in the interglacial period 850,000 years ago: but temperatures in each of the interglacials of the past million years were at least 5 degrees C (9 F) higher than today's, entirely through natural causes.

There is, therefore, no scientific basis for the oft-repeated suggestion that "global warming" will melt so much ice that sea levels will imminently rise by Al Gore's imagined 20 ft. The IPCC has now reduced its estimate of the maximum sea-level rise to the year 2100 by one-third, from 0.88 m (3ft) to 0.59 m (<2ft), and nearly all of this projected increase, if it arises, will come not from melting ice but from thermosteric expansion - if the oceans continue to warm.

However, recent detailed surveys, such as Lyman et al (2006, revised 2007) show no statistically-significant warming at all. The oceans are 1100 times denser than the surface atmosphere, and they are as deep in some places as the troposphere is high: their thermal inertia, therefore, is immense. Moerner (2004), who has studied sea level throughout his distinguished, 30-year professional career and is recognized as the world's foremost expert, says there is no basis even for the UN's best estimate of a 0.43 m (17 in) rise in sea level to 2100. His own best estimate is that there will be little increase above that which was observed in the 20th century - just 8 inches.

The published literature - all of the papers cited above are peer-reviewed except the documents of the IPCC - demonstrates that there is no scientific basis for any of the alarmist propositions in the cited paragraph of the "Report" to the effect that there is a danger of imminent "catastrophe" arising from man-made "global warming".

There is no long-term danger of catastrophe either: on the evidence of past interglacial records, inferred from temperature proxies derived from ratios of oxygen isotopes in samples of air trapped in Antarctic ice-cores (Petit et al., 1999), the world is already overdue for the next Ice Age, so that after several further millennia, if not sooner, it is global cooling, not "global warming", that will be the primary concern of humankind.

In short, none of the imagined disasters is at all likely to occur before the onset of the next Ice Age, even by natural causes - still less as a result of humankind's activities. "Global warming" is not a global crisis. It requires no economic intervention by national governments, still less by supranational entities. Cap-and-trade is, therefore, unnecessary.

More here

Corn on the Cob, NOT Corn on the Car

So, here is the rub, you think you're saving the planet and, therefore the human race, by proposing that we grow our gasoline in our corn crops instead of using those eeeevil fossil fuel, right? You say let's make ethanol from our corn and all will be in balance? You feel really, really good about yourself - after all "feelings" are what counts, not results.

But, the next thing you know, they are starving in Haiti and rioting over the 40% rise in basic food costs because of you and your neato ethanol idea. Now how do you feel? Are you saving people now?

Well Representatives Jeff Flake (R, Arizona James Sensenbrenner (R, Wisconsin) have introduced HR 5911, the Remove Incentives to Produce Ethanol Act of 2008 (RIPE Act) to curb this foolish over indulgence in ethanol production. Flake laments the unintended consequences that the do-gooders in the envirowacko extreme caused with this absurd emphasis on ethanol production.
"This is a classic case of the law of unintended consequences. Congress surely did not intend to raise food prices by incentivizing ethanol, but that's precisely what's happened. A jump in food prices is the last thing our economy needs right now."
And Sensenbrenner reminds us that all the supposed benefits of ethanol were never really proved out in reality.
"I have always been opposed to reformulated gasoline (RFG) because it doesn't reduce the pollution it was supposed to, and in fact, increases other kinds of pollution," said Sensenbrenner.

"Fuel mixed with ethanol is less efficient, and results in fewer miles per gallon for consumers," Sensenbrenner continued. "Moreover, it's extremely expensive, even in the Midwest, where although corn is abundant, the cost of converting it to ethanol, and the difficulties associated with transporting it, has made it more expensive than traditional gasoline. As a result, we are seeing dramatic price increases in corn, which is hitting families hard considering the prevalence of corn in food production and in animal feed."

"The fact is, the ethanol industry has been subsidized for twenty-seven years and claims to still need the subsidies to survive," Sensenbrenner added. "If an industry cannot survive without government support after twenty-seven years, there are more serious problems in place."
With 25% of our corn crop suddenly going to ethanol production, the cost of foodstuff has seen a big inflation in costs, not just here in the US but all across the world. After all, if corn is to be subsidized by the government, farmers will gravitate to the crop that pays them the most. And since the US really does feed the world, less (corn) is not more (food) in this case.


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Imagine a concept for the perfect "green", safe, sustainable, zero-emissions, invisible (literally) energy technology with potential for limitless power. Radical environmentalists will still object!

This is what I learned when I perused the website of Florida Atlantic University's (FAU) Center of Excellence for Ocean Energy Technology, which is pursuing R&D on innovative technology to anchor buoys 500 meters deep in the gulf stream equipped with turbines to harness the slow but powerful, steady, ocean-current for generation of electricity. At the depth proposed, the turbines will be insulated from damaging surface waves and storms; they will also be deeper than almost all marine life, except whales. As a practicing engineer, I personally think that the idea has tremendous potential. My own assessment is that the most difficult problem to overcome will be protection of the moving parts and high-voltage power transmission cables from the notoriously corrosive effects of salt-water. Nonetheless, here are the practical and green attributes of this proposed concept:
Sustainable -- no fuel whatsoever

Zero emissions

Invisible (literally submerged far off-shore) so it overcomes "not in my back yard" ((NIMBY)

Safe - no radiation or spent fuel rods to store for millennia
An environmentalist's dream right? Wrong! Check out the comments from this environmental website in an article that reports on FAU's project, where they compete with each other to devise objections, such as:
- I'm glad they're investigating the impact on sea life. I strongly suspect they'll find this doesn't work out with the creatures who were there first.

- In my humble opinion it looks like that the installation of these underwater turbine will create an ecological disaster! Based on the 3D rendering above it looks like one would have to destroy the ocean floor to build and erect these monstrosities.

- Actually, the Army Corp of Engineers studied this in the 50s and 60s and found that if you slow down the gulf stream, you not only disturb marine life but the entire climate! The gulf stream brings warmer weather all the way to Europe. Sorry guys, this is not our solution for energy
And my favorite:
- If we adopt too many of these systems to supply our electricity, won't we eventually stop the Earth from rotating?
How about the "NIMBY" benefit? Wrong again:
- One final point, when we hide the means of production of energy, we allow ourselves the luxury of ignoring its impact. Since we cannot, as a species, trust ourselves to act in the best interests of the planet upon which we depend, we should be designing systems that are absolutely "in our faces", NOT hidden away. Perhaps, then, we would resort to the ultimate (albeit non-"design") solution: drastically reducing consumption of power, and limiting our own numbers.
Now it may be unfair to judge a website by its commenters -- and in truth there were also many very positive comments, as well as corrections to the inanities in the comments reproduced above -- but I believe that the sheer ignorance revealed about the enormous expanse of the ocean, the miniscule effect that any man-made activity can have on the gulf-stream -- never mind the earth's rotation -- is very indicative of eco-activists in general. They betray their radical urban roots in this regard with little knowledge of the outdoors, the ocean, the atmosphere, the solar system and science in general. Yet they have no fear of pronouncing on and denouncing subjects that are beyond their ken. Rather than seek meaningful solutions, they always resort to "object! object! object!" to whatever is proposed even on the flimsiest of grounds, even if it contradicts their previous objections. Keep this in mind the next time radical environmentalists protest an industrial project in your region.



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 May, 2008


The econuts are hanging on to their models even though their models have shown no skill at predicting anything. If the model predictions for the last 10 years predicted nothing of what actually happened without ad hoc (i.e. "wise after the event") adjustments, why on earth would anyone place any faith in their predictions for the future? The modellers just don't want to admit the obvious: That at our present stage of knowledge we CANNOT model earth's climate

A new study suggesting a possible lull in manmade global warming has raised fears of a reduced urgency to battle climate change. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of hundreds of scientists, last year said global warming was "unequivocal" and that manmade greenhouse gas emissions were "very likely" part of the problem. And while the study published in the journal Nature last week did not dispute manmade global warming, it did predict a cooling from recent average temperatures through 2015, as a result of a natural and temporary shift in ocean currents. The IPCC predicted global temperature increases this century of 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius.

So the Nature paper has sparked worries that briefly cooler temperatures may take the heat out of action to fight the threat of more droughts and floods, while a debate about the article's findings has also underlined uncertainty about such forecasting.

Most scientists oppose the minority that has used the present lull in warming to cast doubt on the size of threat from manmade global temperature rises. "Let's say there wasn't much of a warming for the next 10 years, how will the public and politicians play this out?" said Bob Watson, former IPCC head and current chief scientific adviser to Britain's environment ministry. He said it was important to explain that fluctuations were an expected part of a general, manmade warming trend. "We need a group of scientists very carefully to evaluate that paper, do they agree, to what degree is there uncertainty, and then explain to the public and politicians what it means," he said.

Climate scientists agree that natural climate shifts, as the world's oceans suck up or spew out heat, could temporarily mask mankind's stoking of warming though year-on-year increases in greenhouse gas emissions. In Bali in December, governments launched two-year climate talks to try to clinch a tougher successor to the existing Kyoto Protocol on global warming. But worries about the impact on competitiveness by slowing carbon emissions -- by curbing the use of fossil fuels -- are already fraying those efforts. Russia said last week it would not dampen its economic growth.


The reaction to the Nature paper has underlined uncertainty about climate forecasting, as well as the fact that a minority of global warming doubters has not gone away. Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre is sticking to its forecasts made last year that half of the five years after 2009 would "quite likely" be the hottest on record, partly due to manmade warming.

Meanwhile six climate scientists offered on Thursday to bet 5,000 euros ($7,730) that the Nature article's forecast of cooling or no warming globally from 2000-2015 was wrong. "We think not -- and we are prepared to bet serious money on this," say the scientists, led by Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in a comment posted at

The original Nature article's lead author, Leibniz Institute's Noel Keenlyside, acknowledged on Friday that recent data showed much more warming that he had forecast through 2007, but stood by a "stabilisation" of temperatures from 2005-2015. He blamed shifts in ocean currents and temperatures, thought also to be the cause of the plateau in temperatures since 1998.

Gary Yohe, climate scientist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said that opponents of tougher action on global warming in the United States had seized on the Nature report as a sign that climate change was slowing down.

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist", said a slowdown in warming might help governments focus on smarter, long-term solutions rather than being panicked into action.



An amusing cry of woe from an ecofascist below. The Fascists versus the people and the people look like having the last say

Gordon Brown, Ken Livingstone and 300 Labour councillors were not the only casualties of the local and London elections. No one seems to have noticed, but the other big losers were those people who care about the environment. We might just look back on May Day 2008 as the moment when the power of green politics peaked and went into reverse. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it. The reaction of the two main parties to the elections was instructive. Desperate to prop up his own position after Labour's rout, Mr Brown needed to toss a few bones to the voters and jittery Labour backbenchers. So it suddenly emerged that he was about to dump the so-called "bin tax" - allowing councils to charge householders who do not recycle their rubbish. Downing Street didn't confirm it, and five token pilot schemes will go ahead, but it's clear the bin tax has been binned.

Brown allies also floated the idea that the 2p rise in fuel duty might be shelved again. No doubt this was an attempt to placate motorists. As well as being anti-green, it was a surprise, since the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, will need all the revenue he can get when he delivers his pre-Budget report in the autumn - not least to compensate the losers from the abolition of the 10p tax rate.

Mr Brown was not alone in relegating the environment to the back burner. David Cameron, the wind in his sails after the elections, held a prime ministerial press conference in which he set out his priorities for government. Significantly, the words "environment" and "climate change" did not appear in his 1,200-word statement.

Was this the same man who fought the local elections on the campaign slogan "vote blue, go green"? And was the leader who hugged huskies to convince us his party had changed addressing new issues and no longer preaching to the Tory converted? Green issues have gone out of fashion for Mr Cameron; they have served their purpose.

Naturally, the Tory leader denied it. "We have made quite good progress," he insisted. "I'm not saying the job is done. There is still a huge amount that we want to see changed." But whatever happened to the impressive tome of green policies produced last year by the Tory policy review headed by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, who seems to have disappeared off the planet he was trying to save? When asked, Mr Cameron banged on about the fuel price pressures facing motorists and hauliers. Officially, the Tories remain committed to raising green taxes in order to cut taxes for families. But they don't talk about it much. After a brief detour, they seem to have arrived at the same point as Mr Brown: that the public needs "carrots" as well as "sticks" to go green; that they suspect green taxes are stealth taxes.

Another reason why the elections have set back the environmental cause is the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. He will dump Mr Livingstone's plan to charge drivers of gas-guzzlers 25 pounds to enter the capital's congestion charge zone, and review its recent expansion into west London. In Manchester, the councillor behind plans for a 5 pound congestion charge lost his seat to a community party which opposed it.

Labour and the Tories will doubtless argue that the Manchester experience shows they are right to be cautious on green issues. Similarly, Labour MPs say the bin tax was an issue on the doorsteps in the local elections. As The Independent reported eight days ago, a new opinion poll found that more than seven out of 10 people are not prepared to pay higher taxes to fund projects to tackle climate change.

It's hardly surprising that people downgrade soft issues such as the environment when economic times are hard. Yet politicians surely have a duty to lead rather than follow public opinion. Despite that, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs quietly shelved plans to bring in annual personal carbon allowances this week, saying the idea was "ahead of its time".

The two main parties will continue to pay lip service to green issues in the run-up to the general election. But something has changed in the past week. Both parties will put saving seats before saving the planet.


Good intentions leading to economic ruin

The road to Hell, the old adage goes, is paved with good intentions. So is the road to economic ruin. In the name of saving the environment and stemming global warming, a steady stream of disinformation has been fed into the public psyche. Aided and abetted by both radical environmentalists - who view humanity as a cancer in the natural order rather than an intrinsic part of it - and the political leftists who needed a new home once their Marxist utopia, the Soviet Union, collapsed, a new public policy has emerged, a policy which seems determined to undermine the republican principles upon which the United States was established.

The disinformation campaign has resulted in some unintended consequences, not the least of which has been a surprising public outcry over the growing economic disaster that is overtaking the country. Where politicians once descried the low cost of fuel, particularly gasoline, in the United States, pointing to the costs in Europe that were four and five times higher, they are now scrambling to find ways to decrease that cost. Where politicians once called for innovative new fuel sources like ethanol and other biofuels, they are now finding those heavily subsidized programs not only inadequate, but having a decidedly adverse effect on food supplies.

The American public, it seems, is not about quietly follow the lead of those who would impose a new totalitarianism.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the entire ethanol program is becoming a fiasco. There is presently a mandate that the U.S. produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022, ostensibly to alleviate dependence on foreign oil. The problem is that biofuels, particularly ethanol, doesn't work. Ethanol is 20 percent less efficient than gasoline, and that one gallon of ethanol requires more than one gallon of conventional fuel to produce. The production of ethanol, subsidized to the tune of $1.05-$1.38 per gallon by the government, is also taking increasingly greater amounts of corn off the food market, thus giving lie to the promises that were made more than a decade ago.

In 1994, the U.S. Senate was involved in a debate which would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency mandate of the use of ethanol in reformulated gasoline. Ultimately, the vote which would have stopped the mandate failed thanks to Vice President Al Gore, who broke the 50-50 tie with his vote in favor of the mandate. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), in his support of the mandate, famously claimed, "The price of corn flakes isn't going to go up by one penny." To some degree, Simon was right. The price of corn flakes hasn't gone up by one penny. It's gone up by dollars.

Since February 2006, the price of corn, wheat and soybeans has increased 240 percent. According to Department of Agriculture figures, grocery bills are up, on average, $70 a month from last year. For the present, those costs can be absorbed, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, by the U.S. economy, but the ripple effect of decreased food production is having a major impact elsewhere. It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce ethanol to fill the average gas tank of an American automobile. The same amount of corn can feed one person for an entire year. As more crop land is devoted to the production of corn for fuel, less will be available for food, thus constantly driving up the cost of everything associated with corn, ranging from cereal to meat products.

There is now an on-going debate among the presidential candidates and others over whether or not to institute a federal "gas tax" holiday for the summer driving season, and, if instituted, how to "pay" for it. By ending ethanol subsidies, the government would save millions. By beginning to drill for oil in the United States, whether in ANWAR, in North Dakota, off the Gulf Coast, off the Pacific Coast, and anywhere else it may be feasible to find, not only would the price of crude immediately begin to drop, so, too, would the necessity of importing foreign oil (now 60 percent, up from 40 percent in 1990) drop. At the same time, employment opportunities, and economic growth, would rise.

Despite what radical environmentalists claim, and despite the rhetoric of political leftists who pander to those environmentalists in attempting to establish a new Marxist regime, the reality that is constantly overlooked is that concerns about the environment - maintaining clean air and clean water, protecting species or protecting forests - can only be addressed in a society in which there is abundant freedom. When the needs for basic survival, sufficient food, sufficient shelter, sufficient safety, become a paramount concern, concerns about the environment cease to exist.



Al Gore blames the Burma tragedy on global warming despite growing evidence to the contrary. Could the hype be related to his financial interests? Gore's reaction to the death and destruction caused by a cyclone ravaging Burma was to utter an emphatic "I told you so" Tuesday on National Public Radio. In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" broadcast, the jolly green giant made the charge while talking about the paperback release of his ironically named book, "The Assault on Reason."

Ignoring the fact that the rising death toll is due in part to an incompetent, isolationist and authoritarian government that allows most of its people to live in shanty towns of tin and bamboo, Gore claimed that "we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming." In other words, people die in Rangoon because of an SUV in Richmond, Va.

There's a "trend toward more Category 5 storms," Gore claimed, and this trend "appears to be linked to global warming and specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple of hundred feet in the ocean, which drives convection energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful."

Except, as we recently noted, the trend in the world's oceans - as shown by measurements taken by a fleet of 3,000 high-tech ocean buoys first deployed in 2003 - is toward cooling. As Dr. Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted in a separate interview with National Public Radio, "there has been a very slight cooling" over the buoys' five years of observation.

As Joseph D'Aleo, the Weather Channel's first director of meteorology, told National Review Online's Deroy Murdock that the slight warming trend "peaked in 1998, and the temperature trend the last decade has been flat, even as CO2 has increased 5.5%. Cooling began in 2002." He added: "Ocean buoys have echoed that slight cooling since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deployed them in 2003."

In fact, Ryan Maue of Florida State University's Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies says 2007 "will rank as a historically inactive tropical cyclone year for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole." In the past 30 years, Maue adds, only 1977 had less hurricane activity from January through October. Last September had the lowest activity since 1977 while the Octobers of 2006 and 2007 had the lowest activity since 1976 and 1977, respectively.

So why the hype? Well, global warming is a growth industry designed to keep Earth and some bank accounts green. Gore himself joined the venture capital group, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers just last September. On May 1, the firm announced a $500 million investment in maturing green technology firms called the Green Growth Fund.

The group announced another $700 million to be invested over the next three years in green-tech startup firms. But if the green technology business, uh, cools down, there will be no return on that investment. There would be no need for such investments if global warming wasn't a threat. So Gore just launched, among other things, a $300 million on an ad campaign to convince us it is so.

Speaking at a conference in Monterey, Calif., on March 1, the former vice president admitted to having "a stake" in a number of green investments into which he recommended attendees put money rather than "subprime carbon assets" such as tar sands and shale oil. He also is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, which sells carbon offsets that allow rich polluters to continue polluting with a clear conscience.

We have a prediction all our own - that disastrous global warming will not occur. Then the greenies will take credit for preventing it and ask us if we're glad we spent trillions in fighting it. Al Gore will be laughing all the way to the bank.


All in a Good Cause: Framing Science for Public Policy'

By Aynsley Kellow, Professor and Head of the School of Government at the University of Tasmania

The history of science is replete with error and fraud. Environmental science is no exception. Indeed, this area of science provides a hyperabundance of examples, thanks to the presence of two factors: a good cause and extensive reliance upon modelling, especially that involving sophisticated computer models.

The good cause - one that most of us support - can all too readily corrupt the conduct of science, especially science informing public policy, because we prefer answers that support our political preferences, and find science that challenges them less comfortable.

We would all wish to preserve the spiralled-horned ox, Pseudonovibos spiralis, because it is on the Red List of endangered species. Problem is, is doesn't seem to have existed in the first place.

And we might not have minded the apparent planting by US Federal Fish and Wildlife Department officers of fur from endangered Canadian lynx in Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests in the Pacific Northwest in 2002. When found out, the officials claimed that they were merely trying to test the reliability of testing methods, by covertly seeing whether the testing laboratories could identify real lynx fur if not told in advance. Critics suspected the samples had been planted in an effort to protect the national forests from logging, mining and recreation. The Executive Director of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics termed this response `a witch hunt in search of a false conspiracy'.

This Executive Director, Andy Stahl, had what is known in policing circles as `form'. In the 1980s, during the controversy over the logging in the Pacific Northwest, Stahl was involved in sponsoring the production of peer-reviewed science to support the Spotted Owl campaign to reduce old-growth logging. Stahl put mathematical modelling entymologist Russell Lande in touch with scholars who supplied the data, and then helped find reviewers to produce a peer-reviewed publication. This was necessary because the only `science' then available on the spotted owl was an incomplete doctoral dissertation.

The Lande paper was created to suit the political campaign and was used together with the notion of precaution to win the day. Whereas it assumed an owl population of 2,500 and further assumed that logging old-growth forest would cause its extinction, subsequent research showed the species was far more numerous and, if anything, preferred regrowth forest. Regrowth forest provided more prey and more conducive hunting conditions than old-growth forest.

Remarkably, the leading journal Nature editorialised in support of those who had faked the Canadian Lynx evidence - which tells us something about scientific journals.

The combination of the precautionary principle with endangered species legislation is a particularly seductive one, but it is the use of models into which value-laden assumptions can be smuggled that is particularly pernicious - as a recent Australian example shows. A case involving the Orange-Bellied Parrot in 2006 saw the merest hint of a parrot, together with some mathematical modelling (and the precautionary principle) used by the then Australian Commonwealth Environment Minister to disallow the construction of a wind farm that was environmentalists' preferred response to climate change, but was opposed by residents in a marginal Coalition government constituency.

Modelling for the Bald Hills wind farm on the Orange-bellied Parrot assumed the birds spent time at most of the sites of wind farms in Victoria, despite the fact that the birds had not been recorded at 20 of the 23 sites along the coast of Victoria, and despite active searches having been conducted. Only one or two sightings had been made at the other three sites.

The authors then assumed that the birds would remain present within a single wind farm location for six months-the longest possible period the migratory species could remain at a winter site, and longer than any bird had been recorded at any site. They also assumed the parrot would make two passes through the Bald Hills site. They did all this to err on the side of caution.

So, while no parrot had been sighted within 50 kilometres of the proposed site, the minister then acted in accordance with the precautionary principle (and an election promise) to block Bald Hills on the basis of cumulative impact-compounding the precaution already embedded in the assumptions underlying the modeling. I have proposed in what I call Kellow's Law that sightings of endangered species are clustered around the sites of proposed developments. This reflects not just the cynical uses of endangered species for political purposes, but partly also the fact that research for environmental assessments frequently finds species because the site has never previously been surveyed.

This `noble cause' corruption of science - named for the `framing' by police of suspects `known' to be guilty is helped not just by the virtuous cause, but by the virtual nature of both the science and the context within which it occurs. Both conservation biology and climate science rely on virtual science. The former has seen people in check shirts counting deer scat give way to physicists and mathematicians, while the latter (unlike more traditional meteorology) has always involved more computing than fieldwork. James Hansen, of NASA's Goddard Institute, for example, wrote his doctoral thesis on the climate of Venus, and - contrary to what some of his critics might think - it's clear he has never visited another planet.

Computer models fed by scenarios based on economic models are the norm in climate science, and when we are dealing with climate impacts on biodiversity, we are often dealing with species-area modelling fed by the modelled results of the impact of climate models on vegetation.

It is important to understand the way in which the revolution in information technology has transformed the conduct of science. Its impact has come not just in the ability to model complex phenomena of which scientists a decade or so ago could only dream - though that is part of the problem. Computer models are always subject to the Garbage In - Garbage Out problem and they can never be a substitute for hypotheses tested against the cold, hard light of observational data.

Many of the scientists working with models appear to have forgotten that science is about testing predictions against data. They seem to have fallen victim to the trap long-recognised at IBM, where it used to be said that simulation was like self-stimulation: if one practised it too often, one began to confuse it for the real thing.

One problem with observational data in areas like climate science is that they themselves are subject to substantial massaging by computers before they are of any use. Even data collection, therefore, provides opportunities for subjective assumptions to intrude into the adjustments made to data to make them useful. This highlights the importance of quality assurance processes, and there are no greater guarantors of quality assurance in science than contestation and transparency - full disclosure of data properly archived and of methods, including computer code.

Society deems this fundamentally important when we are dealing with science such as drug trials, which are conducted under fully transparent conditions, ideally with separate teams making up doses, administering them, diagnosing effects and analysing data. We insist on regulatory guidelines, and we audit laboratories. We know that even when researchers are fastidious in pursuing impartiality, subjective assumptions can find their way into what become `data'.

There are similar requirements imposed by stock exchanges for data such as core samples relating to mineral resources. Standards govern the collection, archiving and analysis of data . In Australia, these are laid down as standards by JORC - the Joint Ore Reserves Committee. Even then, mistakes occur and there are consequences: shareholder value is destroyed or created.

In areas such as climate science we have made no similar demands. Data are routinely gathered, manipulated and modelled by the same research teams and the discipline has not insisted on anything like full transparency. Many of the people engaging in this science are then acting as advocates for particular policy responses. James Hansen is perhaps the most notable example in this regard, but there are numerous others, such as Stephen Schneider at Stanford. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change then allows the same people to act as lead authors, sitting in judgment on their own work and that of those who might differ with them. This corrupts the scientific process.

The work of former mining industry analyst Steve McIntyre in exposing the debacle of the Hockey Stick controversy in climate science and in finding that Hansen's computer generation of mean temperatures for the US had a Y2K problem (that meant that the hottest year shifted conveniently from the 1930s to the 1990s) are good examples of what is needed. But it is significant that these necessary correctives came from outside the climate science community.

The shift of the `warmest year' in the US was in itself a small change in the totality of climate science. But most of the mistakes tend to be in one direction, and that is in a politically convenient one. This underscores my point about the need for openness, transparency and sceptical challenging of science, especially where data collection, data preparation, data adjustment, modelling and interpretation all take place in the one institution.

Again, it is noteworthy that an amateur scientist, Anthony Watts, is responsible for a web-based audit of sites that generate data for that record, and he and his `citizen auditers' have found many sites that are likely to have produced a recent warming trend through poor siting or site maintenance. It is worth reporting that Watts visited NOAA recently, and not only was he given a warm reception, but he found that the walls of the offices of those responsible for maintaining temperature records were covered with photographs of the stations he and his supporters have photographed. NOAA is grateful for the work they have done (at no cost to it), and the result is likely to be better data in the future. But its surface records continue to be based on flawed instrumentation that is subject to adjustment and compilation.

I would suggest that the need for sceptical auditing is even greater when the senior spokesman for the institution concerned is also a vociferous advocate for a particular policy position. James Hansen claims to have been muzzled by the Bush administration - though Republicans were unkind enough to point to the 1400 or so media interviews he seems to have managed, and he managed to throw off the muzzle for long enough to endorse John Kerry in 2004.

The point about all this is that, while Michael Crichton once famously observed that `data is not Democrat or Republican, it's just data', we need to ensure we have institutions that prevent data from acquiring partisan characteristics.

Steve McIntyre was aware of the case of Bre-X, where gold assays were fabricated and now applies his considerable skills to auditing climate science-to our enormous collective benefit. The proposition with climate change policy is that we are being asked to make substantial social investments in an enterprise that does not have the standards of transparency and accountability stock exchanges insist upon to prevent Bre-X situations, nor situations where subjective beliefs have intruded into analyses.

But to return to the impact of IT on all of this, we must recognise how the IT revolution has also revolutionised both the conduct of science and the way in which it is interpreted - the way in which it enters politics and the policy process. One of the impacts has been on peer review, the cornerstone of quality assurance in science. Publication after anonymous peer review in quality journals does not guarantee that the science is accurate, but it helps guard against inaccuracy.

Some journals in which key pieces of climate science are published do not maintain the standards of strict double blind refereeing that we take for granted in the social sciences. Geoscientists I raised this with thought that this would inhibit debate between authors and reviewers that might lead to fresh insights. Perhaps - but if society is to take such science seriously, such conversations have to be secondary to quality assurance. We are well past Victorian gentlemen discussing interesting fossils they have found.

That problem aside, the internet has made it much more likely that the identity of an author can be tracked down, breaking down the anonymity that focuses reviewers on the quality of the reason and evidence presented in the paper. Indeed, the internet has made possible increased international collaboration among scientists, while the increasing specialisation of knowledge has narrowed the circle of likely referees. Not only does the internet (and cheap air travel) increase the likelihood that authors are known to potential referees, it increases the likelihood that they have worked together. The IPCC has assisted this process, by engaging many of them on a common task and producing that enemy of all good science, a consensus.

Edward Wegman performed a social network analysis of those working on multiproxy reconstructions of climate when examining the Hockey Stick controversy and found that there was a clear network of co-authorship between the Hockey Stick authors and almost all others working in the field, including those most likely to have been selected as a referee by an editor. There was neither true independent verification of results nor peer review, and the possibilities for (at the very least) what we call `groupthink' were great. When Professor David Deming reported receiving an e-mail some years earlier from a senior climate scientist stating that there was a need to do something about the inconvenient truth presented by a Medieval Warm Period warmer than the present, the need for scepticism is obvious.

Scepticism can guard against such results, but unfortunately leading scientific journals seem to have lost their sceptical zeal and become, at least on occasions, boosters for good causes. Let me give you two examples from what many regard as the best journals of all: Nature and Science.

A 2004 paper in Nature using the species-area model to predict species distribution in response to modelled climate change (in turn based upon emissions scenarios) concluded its abstract with a call to action: `These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.' The paper itself presented neither reason nor evidence for such conclusions.

The problem is confined to neither climate science nor modelling. Science, for example, not only published the fraudulent research on cloning of Dr Woo Suk Hwang, but rushed it into print after short review so that it appeared in an electronic version, accompanied by a press release that ensured media coverage, on the eve of a key vote in the US Congress to overturn an administrative order of the Bush Administration prohibiting the use of federal funds for cloning research. Not only did it seem such research was more promising than was the case at that time, but South Korea was seemingly passing the US by.

Not only have leading science journals yielded to the temptation of the need for `relevance', but the ramparts of the prevailing paradigms are now defended using information technology to marshal the troops. `Swarming' is not confined to partying adolescents in yellow sunglasses, enjoying their 15 megabytes of fame, but is to be seen whenever ideas emerge to challenge the consensus. The white cells of the immune system of the dominant paradigm are despatched electronically, dealing with the infectious ideas with all means at their disposal, including (but by no means limited to) typically anonymous posters to internet discussions.

One of the means commonly employed is the use of the term `denier', a rhetorically powerful signifier quite deliberately first used (as far as I can tell) by a couple of defenders of the faith reviewing Bjorn Lomborg's The Sceptical Environmentalist for Nature. It was used quite deliberately by Jeff Harvey and Stuart Pimm to liken Lomborg to a holocaust denier for daring to question the highly questionable estimates of the number of species extinctions that supposedly occur every year.

The computer-based estimates of species extinction range all the way from a few tens of thousands to 50-100,000 (if you can believe Greenpeace). The actual documented number accepted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature is around 800 over the 500 years for which we have records. While I'm prepared to accept we have missed more than a few, and I'm a passionate advocate for the conservation of charismatic megafauna (such as tigers and orangutans), I think the use of the term `denier' tells us more about the person using it than about the target. I think the use of it amounts to an example of Godwins's Law of Internet Discussions, which holds that eventually someone will liken someone else to Hitler, at which point rational debate is over. (Implicitly, the person using it loses). Unfortunately, the use of the term is rife in debates over climate change, where those on one side seem finally to have cottoned on to the point that scepticism in science is actually a good thing, and it was even used last year by the now minister responsible.

If it has served any purpose, this use of illiberal name calling serves to remind us of what is needed to ensure that noble cause corruption does not afflict the science informing public policy. Those of us who see value in both social democracy and liberal democracy - who are committed to humanist ideals but are open to evidence-based reasoning rather than ideology in determining how we are to advance them - must acknowledge that it is from liberal views of the celebration of different points of view, and the battle of contending ideas, that good science derives.

The philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, warned that scientists might engage in all manner of devices - from the rhetorical to the reprehensible - to have their points of view prevail. It seems to me that the only protection against any kind of corruption in science is to celebrate the liberalism inherent in Karl Popper's philosophy of science, regardless of whether we share his political liberalism - though separating the two might be difficult in practice. Feyerabend's prescription was a kind of anarchism and a rejection of any kind of marriage between science and the state.

As I said at the beginning of this lecture, the history of science is replete with error and fraud. In science, the best kind of quality assurance is to celebrate sceptical dissent and to reject any attempt to tell us that we should bow to a consensus, that `the science is settled' on principle - not just even, but especially when it supports our preferences. Because as Carl Sagan once put it, `Where we have strong emotions, we're liable to fool ourselves.'"



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 May, 2008

Alarmists lament growing skepticism! "The deniers are winning"

An amusing little rant by Joseph Romm below. Note his very vague usage: "The science". He means "The models" but that does not sound nearly as good. And it does not do much for his image as an intellectual that he cannot spell "colossal".

The science is clear about the reality of global warming and the fact that humans are the dominant cause (see "Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly"). But, sadly, that isn't clear to most Republicans.

Anybody who thinks the public debate is over - anybody who thinks the Big Lie doesn't work - should look at the latest poll results from the Pew Research Center (here):The proportion of Americans who say that the earth is getting warmer has decreased modestly since January 2007, mostly because of a decline among Republicans. Only 49% of Republican now even believe that the earth is warming! Thank you so much deniers, delayers, and mainstream media (see "Media enable denier spin 1: A (sort of) cold January doesn't mean climate stopped warming" and other links at the end).

Even more worrisome is just how many people don't believe humans are the cause of warming: Roughly half of Americans (47%) say the earth is warming because of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels [and only 27% of Republicans]. But nearly as many people (45%) say that rising global temperatures are either mostly caused by natural environmental patterns (18%), say they do not know the cause of warming (6%), or say that no solid evidence of warming exists (21%).

I'd like to thank the media, especially NBC news, for contributing to this core talking point of the disinformers (See Dateline NBC: "Whatever the cause . global warming is a reality").


According to the United States Office of Strategic Services, Hitler's strategy was based on the view:. people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. In fact, Hitler himself defined the term "Big Lie," in his autobiography Mein Kempf, as a lie so "collosal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

I don't think this useful term should be a banned from public use just because Hitler defined it first. I certainly apologize to anybody who is upset by the analogy - I'm not trying to compare deniers with Nazis - there is no such comparison possible - nor does it apply to all of the people who advocate one of the 5 myths below. No, the "Big Lie" refers mostly to the strategy of the professional class of those who spread disinformation for a living. I do think the term gets to a fundamental reason why global warming denial is so effective.

The science makes unequivocally clear that the health and well-being of billions of people (and most species) are at grave risk from continued unrestricted human emissions of greenhouse gases (See "Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity's self-destruction" and "Must Read Bali Climate Declaration by Scientists").

But who could possibly believe that so many credible-sounding people, including major public leaders in the conservative movement, would so strongly argue that 1. The earth is not warming and/or 2. Humans are not a major cause of whatever warming is occurring and/or 3. The problem is not an urgent one because the impacts are distant and tolerable and/or 4. The solution is painful if not impossible with existing technologies anyway and/or 5. Adaptation is a better strategy than mitigation.

It is hard to believe - indeed it is almost impossible to believe.And it has proven almost impossible for the traditional media to deal with (see "Media enable denier spin 2: What if the MSM simply can't cover humanity's self-destruction?").

I don't have any easy answers to offer in this post. Shaming the traditional media doesn't seem to work because they are mostly shameless - indeed the vast majority of journalists wear it as a badge of honor that they are criticized equally by "both sides." I suppose the only answer is vigilance. The cost of losing is simply too high.


British region sees longest cold spell since 1892

WEATHER experts say this April has been the wettest in Coventry and Warwickshire since 2004. Staff at Bablake Weather station in Coventry reported the city had nearly 70mm of rain in April, the third month out of four this year with above-average rainfall. They also recorded three days with sleet or snowfall last month in Coventry, which is the highest incidence of April snowfall since 1998.

There was nearly 100 hours less sunshine than during April last year and with an average monthly temperature of 8.2C, this has been the coldest April in the city since 2001. And, according to the station, the region as a whole has been cooler over the past year. A spokesperson from Bablake Weather station said: "It looks like global warming has plateaued out in our region over the past 12 months. "Every month since May 2007 has been cooler than its counterpart 12 months previously in Coventry, and April 2008 has now continued that trend for a twelfth consecutive month."

He added: "Looking at the records, this is the longest such spell locally since our records began in 1892 - the previous record stood at eight months in both 1897 and 1934." The warmest April recorded by the station was in 2007, with temperatures averaging 11.7C, and the coldest in 1917 and 1922 at 5.8C.



The once-green Sahara turned to desert over thousands of years rather than in an abrupt shift as previously believed, according to a study on Thursday that may help understanding of future climate changes. And there are now signs of a tiny shift back towards greener conditions in parts of the Sahara, apparently because of global warming, said the lead author of the report about the desert's history published in the journal Science.

The study of ancient pollen, spores and aquatic organisms in sediments in Lake Yoa in northern Chad showed the region gradually shifted from savannah 6,000 years ago towards the arid conditions that took over about 2,700 years ago. The findings, about one of the biggest environmental shifts of the past 10,000 years, challenge past belief based on evidence in marine sediments that a far quicker change created the world's biggest hot desert. "The hypothesis (of a sudden shift) was astonishing but it was still taken up," said Stefan Kropelin of the University of Cologne in Germany, lead author of the study with scientists in Belgium, Canada, the United States, Sweden and France.

The scientists, studying the remote 3.5 sq km (1.4 sq mile) Lake Yoa, found the region had once had grasses and scattered acacia trees, ferns and herbs. The salty lake is renewed by groundwater welling up from beneath the desert. A gradual drying, blamed on shifts in monsoon rains linked to shifts in the power of the sun, meant large amounts of dust started blowing in the region about 4,300 years ago. The Sahara now covers an area the size of the United States.


Kropelin told Reuters that improved understanding of the formation of the Sahara might help climate modellers improve forecasts of what is in store from global warming, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human emissions of greenhouse gases. The panel says that some areas will be more vulnerable to drought, others to more storms or floods.

The Sahara got greener when temperatures rose around the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. Warmer air can absorb more moisture from the oceans and it fell as rain far inland. "Today I think we have the same thing going on, a global warming," he said. And he said there were already greener signs in a huge area with almost no reliable weather records.

"I see a clear trend to a new greening of the Sahara, a very slow one," he said, based on visits to some of the remotest and uninhabited parts of the desert over the past two decades. "You go to unoccupied areas over a long time and you know there was pure sand there without a single snake or scorpion. Now you see tens of kilometers covered by grass," he said.

In Darfur in Sudan, where U.N. officials say 300,000 people may have died in five years of revolt, slightly higher rainfall was more than offset by a rise in the human population to 7 million from 1 million half a century ago. People and their animals quickly eradicated any greenery.



They know they will be out of government soon if they do not

The British government has shelved plans to get people to reduce their carbon footprint by allowing them to trade personal emissions permits because it would be too expensive and ambitious. After studying ways of encouraging individuals to cut their CO2 emissions so they could sell their excess permits to those who exceed their carbon quota, the environment ministry has concluded it is not yet practical. "Personal carbon trading has potential to engage individuals in taking action to combat climate change, but is essentially ahead of its time and expected costs for implementation are high," the ministry said Thursday.

The idea for personal CO2 trading is taken from the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which forces big industrial emitters of the gas that causes global warming to clean up their act or buy permits from companies that have. The ETS makes being green profitable and polluting more costly for business but does nothing to encourage more than 60 million people living in Britain to do anything about it, despite being responsible for a large chunk of Britain's total emissions.



The author below, Bernard Ingham is a journalist best known as Margaret Thatcher's press secretary

My text this week is taken from Corinthians I: "Behold, I shew you a mystery." In the election for London's Mayor, the Greens got just over three per cent of the vote. Leaving aside such misguided places as Norwich, where the Green Party gained three seats, they struggled elsewhere to poll anywhere near that. In my native Calderdale, with its strong "Green" lobby, they managed only just over one per cent - less than the BNP, English Democrats and Independents, the other small groups that fought the election there.

Yet Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Nationalists dance slavishly to the Green tune. To hear him talk, the dear, departed Ken Livingstone was as Green as grass. Gordon Brown would carpet Britain, onshore and offshore, with wind "farms". David Cameron sails under the "Vote Blue, Go Green" banner. The Liberal Democrats are mostly eco-nuts. And the European Union goes berserk at the very mention of carbon dioxide.

Which brings me to the mystery. What ails them? Have they lost their powers of reason? I ask because their pre-occupation with combating something that may or may not exist - that is, man-made global warming - is responsible for part of the growing burden of costs with which every household is now saddled. How much this energy/environmental burden contributed to Gordon Brown's Merrie May Day - otherwise known as Black Thursday - is far from clear, partly because consumers are unaware of what they are paying.

If they knew, all our politicians would belatedly bring some cost/benefit analysis to their environmentalism. It has been distressingly absent so far. Would the Prime Minister have had solar panels and Cameron a wind turbine installed on their houses had they known they would never get their money back on the "investment"? There are good and bad "buys", but they don't come much worse than waiting for decades, even half a century, for any return on your capital. It doesn't say much for their business acumen.

Belatedly, Labour MPs are pressing Gordon Brown to ditch some of his so-called green taxes since their environmentalism is only as strong as the economy or their political skins. So, how much is the Government forcing us to shell out to try to make them appear greenly virtuous? There's the rub. Governments are not in the habit of dishing out research grants to academics to show how stupidly they use our money, so all I can offer you are pointers.

Let's forget the so-called climate change levy (CCL), which has as marginal an effect on domestic consumers' bills as it does on CO2 reduction. Instead, the real damage is done by Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) designed to encourage the development of wind, wave, tidal, solar and other "renewable" forms of electricity. These are as idiotically conceived as the CCL, since nuclear and large-scale hydro-electricity, which emit next to no greenhouse gases, are excluded from both.

ROCs latterly have provided a 100 per cent subsidy substantially to wind power - so far the only major renewable source of electricity - and earlier this year, the Business Department forecast they would cost 23bn pounds by 2020, or, nearly 1,000 pounds per household. And for that we would optimistically get only 14 per cent of our electricity - and then only when the wind was blowing.

Unfortunately, that figure was out of date when it was calculated because Tony Blair had signed up to a battily impractical EU requirement to produce 20 per cent of our energy - and not just electricity - by 2020 from renewables. If we are to offset the massive use of oil and gas for transport and domestic heating with renewables, we shall, as things stand, have to generate up to 45 per cent of our power with wind. So that will treble the eventual cost to 3,000 per household - without providing a reliable power supply.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, says that eight per cent - or 80 pounds - of the current average current gas and electricity bill can be attributed to environmental charges and this is only going to rise with the billions required to link remote and largely useless wind farms to the grid.

This is not to mention more generally the costs of the carbon trading and offsetting rackets, the Treasury's punitive tax revenue from petrol and diesel, Gordon Brown's new "green levy" doubling car tax revenue to 4bn while, on the Treasury's own admission, reducing carbon emissions by less than one per cent, and taxes on rubbish. Why do we put up with this "green" extortion to so little purpose? That's the real mystery.



You may have wondered why there has been no Congressional effort to actually legislate the "global warming" policies that will supposedly save the planet from itself. For six years, the Democratic minority indulged in often nasty rhetoric, with the gist being: We know the problem. We know the solution. Your hearings are a delaying tactic. We. Must. Act. Now!

After winning the majority, Dems muttered for a while about how that mean George Bush would just veto their legi-salvation anyway: Why bother? We'll just work for a bigger majority - and the White House. Though, as I have noted on Planet Gore before, Bush had threatened no veto - and on those occasions since January 2007 when he did threaten a veto, in other policy contexts, the Dems typically took it as a challenge to pass something. So there seemed to be something missing from their political calculation, or at least their public rhetoric.

Today's E&E Daily (subscription required) has a hilarious apologia, "Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill," offering a walk-through of the phenomenon afflicting our crusaders. Here as in pretty much every country in the world (posturing notwithstanding), global warming is such a grave threat that other people need to "do something." Given the inescapable price tag, lawmakers looked and discovered that anything they propose would actually be doing nothing - besides harming state economies. And if forced to choose, it seems they would prefer it be other states' economies that are harmed.

"The Lieberman-Warner-Boxer camp is facing increasing demands from all corners of the Senate to change the bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system with midcentury emission limits of 70 percent below 2005 levels.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week he was holding out in his support for the Lieberman-Warner bill because it did not do enough to protect his home state's manufacturing jobs while still stimulating investments in alternative energy. "I have serious concerns about any climate-change bill that doesn't take into account energy-intensive industries like we have in Ohio - glass and chemicals and steel and aluminum and foundries," Brown said.

"He's concerned," Brown spokeswoman Joanna Kuebler explained yesterday. "He's leaning toward a no."

Sen. Maria Cantwell [NB: Democrat] of Washington said in an interview that she is also pushing for changes in the Lieberman-Warner bill to benefit her home state's abundant supplies of hydropower. "We want to make sure people who are already good at reducing CO2 emissions will continue to do that and not be penalized," she said. Cantwell explained that she has not joined the bill as a cosponsor because she wants to keep working on it.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he wants a more beneficial emission allocation system for his state's rural energy producers." Obviously, I represent a state that's a significant power producer," Conrad said. "Most people don't think of North Dakota that way. But we produce electricity for nine states. We have the largest coal gasification plant in the country. We have very large reserves of lignite coal." [Meanwhile], Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) maintained that he is a long way from backing the Lieberman-Warner bill. Instead, he is taking a close look at an alternative climate bill circulated from Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that opens with tax incentives for new energy technologies but falls back on cap and trade if the other ideas have not worked by 2030."

That mean George Bush and those nasty filibustering Republicans are blocking a climate bailout. Or, maybe not so much. As my CEI colleague Myron Ebell characterizes this: thieves fall out when it comes time to split up the loot.



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 May, 2008

Antarctica still pesky for the modellers

The modellers have only now tweaked their models so that they agree with the Antarrctic facts but they still have NO confidence that the tweaked models have any predictive power. Note that the prophecies of disaster all depend on getting Antarctica right. It contains 91% of the planet's glacial ice so unless that melts, sea level rise will be minor by Al Gore standards. A joint press release from the American Geophysical Union and the National Center for Atmospheric Research follows: Refer Peter Weiss [].

Computer analyses of global climate have consistently overstated warming in Antarctica, concludes a new study. The findings can help scientists improve computer models and determine if the southernmost continent will warm significantly this century, a major research question because of Antarctica's potential impact on global sea-level rise.

"We can now compare computer simulations with observations of actual climate trends in Antarctica," says Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., lead author of the study. "This is showing us that, over the past century, most of Antarctica has not undergone the fairly dramatic warming that has affected the rest of the globe. The challenges of studying climate in this remote environment make it difficult to say what the future holds for Antarctica's climate."

The study marks the first time that scientists have been able to compare the past 50 to 100 years of Antarctic climate with simulations run on computer models. The models are a primary method for researchers to project future climate. Scientists have used atmospheric observations to confirm that computer models are accurately simulating climate for the other six continents.

Antarctica's climate is of worldwide interest, in part because of the enormous water locked up in its ice sheets. If those vast ice sheets were to begin to melt, sea level could rise across the globe and inundate low-lying coastal areas. Yet, whereas climate models accurately simulate the last century of warming for the rest of the world, they have unique challenges simulating Antarctic climate because of limited information about the continent's harsh weather patterns.

Monaghan and his colleagues at NCAR and Ohio State University, in Columbus, published their findings last month in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The authors compared recently constructed temperature data sets from Antarctica, based on data from ice cores and ground weather stations, to twentieth century simulations from computer models used by scientists to simulate global climate. While the observed Antarctic temperatures rose by about [a minuscule] 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past century, the climate models simulated increases in Antarctic temperatures during the same period of 0.75 degrees C (1.4 degrees F). The error appeared to be caused by models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere, the new study concludes.

The models, however, have correctly captured trends in Antarctic snowfall, including increases in snowfall in the late twentieth century, prior to a decrease over the last decade.

Part of the reason that Antarctica has barely warmed has to do with the ozone hole over the continent. The lack of ozone is chilling the middle and upper atmosphere, altering wind patterns in a way that keeps comparatively warm air from reaching the surface. Unlike the rest of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by several degrees, in part because the winds there are drawing in warmer air from the north.

The study delivered a mixed verdict on Antarctica's potential impact on sea-level rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations, has estimated that sea-level rise could amount to 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) this century, in part because of melting glaciers worldwide. The new findings suggest that other effects of warming in Antarctica over the next century could reduce that by about 5 centimeter (2 inches) if the continent warms by 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) as computer models have indicated. The reason is that the warmer air over Antarctica would hold more moisture and generate more snowfall, thereby locking up additional water in the continent's ice sheets.

But the authors caution that model projections of future Antarctic climate may be unreliable. "The research clearly shows that you can actually slow down sea-level rise when you increase temperatures over Antarctica because snowfall increases, but warmer temperatures also have the potential to speed up sea-level rise due to enhanced melting along the edges of Antarctica," says Monaghan, who did some of his research at Ohio State University before going to NCAR. "Over the next century, whether the ice sheet grows from increased snowfall or shrinks due to more melt will depend on how much temperatures increase in Antarctica, and potentially on erosion at the ice sheet edge by the warmer ocean and rising sea level."

"The current generation of climate models has improved over previous generations, but still leaves Antarctic surface temperature projections for the twenty-first century with a high degree of uncertainty," adds co-author and NCAR scientist David Schneider. "On a positive note, this study points out that water vapor appears to be the key cause of the problematic Antarctic temperature trends in the models, which will guide scientists as they work to improve the climate simulations."

"Skeptic" magazine finally prints something skeptical

Though obviously through gritted teeth. The author below, Dr. Patrick Frank, is a chemist with more than 50 peer-reviewed articles. Excerpts only below. See the original for graphics and references. Details of the magazine's usual frantic Warmism here
"He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense." - John McCarthy

"The latest scientific data confirm that the earth's climate is rapidly changing. . The cause? A thickening layer of carbon dioxide pollution, mostly from power plants and automobiles, that traps heat in the atmosphere. .

[A]verage U.S. temperatures could rise another 3 to 9 degrees by the end of the century .

Sea levels will rise, [and h]eat waves will be more frequent and more intense. Droughts and wildfires will occur more often. Disease-carrying mosquitoes will expand their range. And species will be pushed to extinction."
So says the National Resources Defense Council, with agreement by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, National Geographic, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the US Congressional House leadership. Concurrent views are widespread, as a visit to the internet or any good bookstore will verify.

Since at least the 1995 Second Assessment Report, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been making increasingly assured statements that human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2) is influencing the climate, and is the chief cause of the global warming trend in evidence since about 1900. The current level of atmospheric CO2 is about 390 parts per million by volume (ppmv), or 0.039% by volume of the atmosphere, and in 1900 was about 295 ppmv.

If the 20th century trend continues unabated, by about 2050 atmospheric CO2 will have doubled to about 600 ppmv. This is the basis for the usual "doubled CO2" scenario. Doubled CO2 is a bench-mark for climate scientists in evaluating greenhouse warming. Earth receives about 342 watts per square meter (W/m2) of incoming solar energy, and all of this energy eventually finds its way back out into space. However, CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, most notably water vapor, absorb some of the outgoing energy and warm the atmosphere. This is the greenhouse effect. Without it Earth's average surface temperature would be a frigid -19C (-2.2 F). With it, the surface warms to about +14C (57 F) overall, making Earth habitable. With more CO2, more outgoing radiant energy is absorbed, changing the thermal dynamics of the atmosphere. All the extra greenhouse gasses that have entered the atmosphere since 1900, including CO2, equate to an extra 2.7 W/m2 of energy absorption by the atmosphere. This is the worrisome greenhouse effect.

On February 2, 2007, the IPCC released the Working Group I (WGI) "Summary for Policymakers" (SPM) report on Earth climate, which is an executive summary of the science supporting the predictions quoted above. The full "Fourth Assessment Report" (4AR) came out in sections during 2007.....

No matter what, global temperatures are predicted to increase significantly during the 21st century. A little cloud of despair impinges with the realization that there is no way at all that atmospheric CO2 will be stabilized at its present level. The Year 2000 scenario is there only for contrast. The science is in order here, and we can look forward to a 21st century of human-made climate warming, with all its attendant dangers. Are you feeling guilty yet?

But maybe things aren't so cut-and-dried. In 2001, a paper published in the journal Climate Research candidly discussed uncertainties in the physics that informs the GCMs. This paper was very controversial and incited a debate. But for all that was controverted, the basic physical uncertainties were not disputed. It turns out that uncertainties in the energetic responses of Earth climate systems are more than 10 times larger than the entire energetic effect of increased CO2. If the uncertainty is larger than the effect, the effect itself becomes moot. If the effect itself is debatable, then what is the IPCC talking about? And from where comes the certainty of a large CO2 impact on climate?

With that in mind, look again at the IPCC Legend for Figure SPM-5. It reports that the "[s]hading denotes the plus/minus one standard deviation range of individual model annual averages." The lines on the Figure represent averages of the annual GCM projected temperatures. The Legend is saying that 68% of the time (one standard deviation), the projections of the models will fall within the shaded regions. It's not saying that the shaded regions display the physical reliability of the projections. The shaded regions aren't telling us anything about the physical uncertainty of temperature predictions. They're telling us about the numerical instability of climate models. The message of the Legend is that climate models won't produce exactly the same trend twice. They're just guaranteed to get within the shadings 68% of the time.

This point is so important that it bears a simple illustration to make it very clear. Suppose I had a computer model of common arithmetic that said 2+2=50.1. Every time I ran the model, there was a 68% chance that the result of 2+2 would be within 0.1 unit of 5. My shaded region would be 0.1 unit wide. If 40 research groups had 40 slightly different computer models of arithmetic that gave similar results, we could all congratulate ourselves on a consensus. Suppose that after much work, we improved our models so that they gave 2+2=50.01. We could then claim our models were 10 times better than before. But they'd all be exactly as wrong as before, too, because exact arithmetic proves that 2+2=4.

This example illustrates the critical difference between precision and accuracy. In Figure 1, the shaded regions are about the calculational imprecision of the computer models. They are not about the physical accuracy of the projections. They don't tell us anything about physical accuracy. But physical accuracy - reliability - is always what we're looking for in a prediction about future real-world events. It's on this point - the physical accuracy of General Circulation Models - that the rest of this article will dwell....

Since the satellite era especially, specific aspects of climate such as cloudiness or surface temperature have been monitored across the entire globe. GCM climate models can be tested by retrodiction - by making them reproduce the known past climate of Earth instead of the future climate. Physical error in GCMs can be quantified by comparing the retrodicted past with the real past.

Figure 3 shows the December-January-February cloudiness observed by satellite on Earth, averaged over the years 1983-1990. It also shows global average cloudiness as retrodicted over the similar 1979-1988 period by 10 revised GCMs. The GCMs had been used in one attempt to reproduce the observed cloudiness, and were then revised and re-tested. This study was published in 1999, but the fidelity between GCM retrodictions and observed cloudiness has hardly improved in the past nine years. Looking at Figure 3, the GCMs do a pretty good job getting the general W-shape of Earth cloudiness, but there are significant misses by all the models at all latitudes including the tropics where clouds can have a large impact on climate.

So, how wrong are the GCMs? One approach to determining error is to integrate the total cloudiness retrodicted by each model and compare that to the total cloudiness actually observed (SI Section 3). Calculating error this way is a little simplistic because positive error in one latitude can be cancelled by negative error in another. This exercise produced a standard average cloudiness error of ~10.1%, which is about half the officially assessed GCM cloud error.24 So let's call ~10.1% the minimal GCM cloud error. The average energy impact of clouds on Earth climate is worth about -27.6 W/m2. 27 That means ~10.1% error produces a ~2.8 W/m2 uncertainty in GCM climate projections. This uncertainty equals about ~100 % of the current excess forcing produced by all the human-generated greenhouse gasses presently in the atmosphere. Taking it into account will reflect a true, but incomplete, estimate of the physical reliability of a GCM temperature trend.

Figure 4 shows the A2 SRES projection as it might have looked had the IPCC opted to show the minimal ~10.1 % cloud error as a measure of the physical accuracy of their GCM-scenarioed 21st century temperature trend. The result is a little embarrassing. The physical uncertainty accumulates rapidly and is so large at 100 years that accommodating it has almost flattened the steep SRES A2 projection of Figure 1. The ~4.4C uncertainty at year 4 already exceeds the entire 3.7C temperature increase at 100 years. By 50 years, the uncertainty in projected temperature is ~55. At 100 years, the accumulated physical cloud uncertainty in temperature is ~111 degrees. Recall that this huge uncertainty stems from a minimal estimate of GCM physical cloud error.

In terms of the actual behavior of Earth climate, this uncertainty does not mean the GCMs are predicting that the climate may possibly be 100 degrees warmer or cooler by 2100. It means that the limits of resolution of the GCMs - their pixel size - is huge compared to what they are trying to project. In each new projection year of a century-scale calculation, the growing uncertainty in the climate impact of clouds alone makes the view of a GCM become progressively fuzzier.

It's as though a stronger and stronger distorting lens was placed in front of your eyes every time you turned around. First the flowers disappear, then the people, then the cars, the houses, and finally the large skyscrapers. Everything fuzzes out leaving indistinct blobs, and even large-scale motions can't be resolved. Claiming GCMs yield a reliable picture of future climate is like insisting that an indefinable blurry blob is really a house with a cat in the window....

The rapid growth of uncertainty means that GCMs cannot discern an ice age from a hothouse from 5 years away, much less 100 years away. So far as GCMs are concerned, Earth may be a winter wonderland by 2100 or a tropical paradise. No one knows.

Direct tests of climate models tell the same tale. In 2002, Matthew Collins of the UK Hadley Centre used the HadCM3 GCM to generate an artificial climate, and then tested how the HadCM3 fared predicting the very same climate it had generated. It fared poorly, even though it was the perfect model. The problem was that tiny uncertainties in the inputs - the starting conditions - rapidly expanded and quickly drove the GCM into incoherence. Even with a perfect model, Collins reported that, "[I]t appears that annual mean global mean temperatures are potentially predictable 1 year in advance and that longer time averages are also marginally predictable 5 and 10 years in advance." So with a perfect climate model and near-perfect inputs one might someday "potentially [predict]" and "marginally [predict]," but can not yet actually predict 1 year ahead. But with imperfect models, the IPCC predicts 100 years ahead.

Likewise, in a 2006 test of reliability, William Merryfield used 15 GCMs to predict future El Nino-Southern Oscillations (ENSO) in a greenhouse-warmed climate,29 and found that, "Under CO2 doubling, 8 of the 15 models exhibit ENSO amplitude changes that significantly (p<0.1) exceed centennial time scale variability within the respective control runs. However, in five of these models the amplitude decreases whereas in three it increases; hence there is no consensus as to the sign of change." So of 15 GCMs, seven predicted no significant change, 5 predicted a weaker ENSO, and 3 predicted a stronger ENSO. This result is exactly equivalent to `don't know.' The 15 GCMs tested by Merryfield were the same ones used by the IPCC to produce its Fourth Assessment Report.

In light of all this, why is the IPCC so certain that human-produced CO2 is responsible for recent warming? How can the US National Academy of Sciences say, in a recent brochure, that, " . Earth's warming in recent decades has been caused primarily by human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere"? This brochure offers a very telling Figure 4 (SI Section 5), showing the inputs to 20th century global temperature from a GCM projection. Only when the effects of human greenhouse gasses are included with normal temperature variation, we are told, does the GCM projected temperature trend match the observed temperature trend.

But their Figure 4 has another trait that is almost ubiquitous in GCM temperature projections. It shows no physical uncertainty limits. We are given a projected temperature trend that is implicitly represented as perfectly accurate. NAS Figure 4 would be more truthful if the National Academy presented it complete with ~100 degree uncertainty limits. Then it would be obvious that the correspondence between the observations and the projection was no more than accidental. Or else that the GCM was artificially adjusted to make it fit. It would also be obvious that it is meaningless to claim an explanatory fit is impossible without added CO2, when in fact an explanatory fit is impossible, period.

It is well-known among climatologists that large swaths of the physics in GCMs are not well understood. Where the uncertainty is significant GCMs have "parameters," which are best judgments for how certain climate processes work. General Circulation Models have dozens of parameters and possibly a million variables, and all of them have some sort of error or uncertainty.

A proper assessment of their physical reliability would include propagating all the parameter uncertainties through the GCMs, and then reporting the total uncertainty. I have looked in vain for such a study. No one seems to ever have directly assessed the total physical reliability of a GCM by propagating the parameter uncertainties through it. In the usual physical sciences, an analysis like this is required practice. But not in GCM science, apparently, and so the same people who express alarm about future warming disregard their own profound ignorance.

So the bottom line is this: When it comes to future climate, no one knows what they're talking about. No one. Not the IPCC nor its scientists, not the US National Academy of Sciences, not the NRDC or National Geographic, not the US Congressional House leadership, not me, not you, and certainly not Mr. Albert Gore. Earth's climate is warming and no one knows exactly why. But there is no falsifiable scientific basis whatever to assert this warming is caused by human-produced greenhouse gasses because current physical theory is too grossly inadequate to establish any cause at all.

So, then, what about melting ice-sheets, rising sea levels, the extinction of polar bears, and more extreme weather events? What if unusually intense hurricane seasons really do cause widespread disaster? It is critical to keep a firm grip on reason and rationality, most especially when social invitations to frenzy are so pervasive. General Circulation Models are so terribly unreliable that there is no objectively falsifiable reason to suppose any of the current warming trend is due to human-produced CO2, or that this CO2 will detectably warm the climate at all. Therefore, even if extreme events do develop because of a warming climate, there is no scientifically valid reason to attribute the cause to human-produced CO2. In the chaos of Earth's climate, there may be no discernible cause for warming. Many excellent scientists have explained all this in powerful works written to defuse the CO2 panic, but the choir sings seductively and few righteous believers seem willing to entertain disproofs.



As executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group of 20 energy experts created in 2002, Jason Grumet has come in for some flack from environmentalists. NCEP's influential 2004 energy report called for several measures anathema to greens, including a "safety valve" that would set an upper limit on the price of carbon and CO2 permit giveaways to coal utilities and other big polluters.

But Grumet's experience finessing the contentious differences between opposing camps in the energy world clearly attracted Mr. Unity himself, Barack Obama. Grumet has been advising the Obama campaign on climate and energy matters, and representing it in public venues. Suffice to say, what he's peddling now is considerably stronger than NCEP's effort. I spoke with Grumet by phone in late April. [...]

Q: McCain policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that McCain is unlikely to put in place mandatory caps on carbon in the U.S. before China and India do. Will Obama?

A: First of all, that's a dramatic policy shift from what I understood John McCain's voice on this issue to be for the last decade, which is rather discouraging.

To be unequivocally clear, Sen. Obama believes that the United States must and will act to put a mandatory limit on our domestic greenhouse-gas emissions. That is a predicate for us leading the world to enact a truly equitable and global program in which China and India and Brazil and all the major emitting countries also put legal limits on their emissions. The story of this country has not been waiting to be led by others to address global challenges.

Q: What would Obama say to the common objection that caps here, without caps there, would disadvantage our economy and send jobs and manufacturing overseas?

A: Sen. Obama recognizes that it is a profoundly unacceptable outcome if our program simply results in exporting jobs and importing carbon. It is our view that a well-designed program that provides a reasonable trajectory for technology to advance while we achieve the reductions necessary, and provides real incentives so we are reinventing and modernizing our economy along the way, is going to be economically sustainable and ultimately productive here at home.

Up until now, the developed world has been trying to lead largely absent the U.S. Our commitment is to rejoin the league of nations and work together, recognizing that China, India, and others may be a step behind us, but the global economy and global environment cannot tolerate them being more than one step behind us. So we've tried to put forward carrots and sticks to encourage those nations to see the benefit of advancing their own decarbonization through technology-sharing and other incentives.

Q: The carrot is technology-sharing. What's the stick? A carbon tariff?

A: Ultimately, the solution to global climate change is going to be mediated through the lens of global trade. Sen. Obama has been supportive of mechanisms that have the U.S. take a first step, and if after a period of years other nations are not acting in what is deemed to be a commensurate responsible manner, look to our trade laws to try to ensure that there's no inequity or competitive disadvantage imposed on U.S. businesses. The idea that was initiated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in which importers of energy-intensive products would be required to purchase permits for the carbon embedded in those products -- the details need to be fleshed out, but that seems to be a reasonable approach to level the playing field, if we get there.

But Sen. Obama also has faith in the intellect of others. While he believes the United States has a vital role to play in leading this discussion, he does not believe we are going to have to bludgeon other countries into appreciating their own self-interest. Climate change is a real problem. The Chinese and the Brazilians and the Mexican government and others recognize that the exacerbating cycles of flood and drought will be devastating for countries trying to support billions of people on smaller amounts of arable land, who don't have the same kind of water-handling and -treatment systems.

More here


A celebrated green economy produces pollution elsewhere, ongoing power shortages, and business-crippling costs

In January 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stood before the California legislature in Sacramento and delivered his fourth State of the State address since his improbable 2003 election. It was a rhetorical tour de force that would win him widespread acclaim. "California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta," said Schwarzenegger. "Not only can we lead California into the future; we can show the nation and the world how to get there."

Schwarzenegger especially celebrated California for its leadership on energy and the environment. Just three months earlier, he had signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, committing California to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels-roughly 25 percent below today's-by 2020, and all but eliminating them by 2050. The Governator then lambasted the Bush administration for failing to tackle global warming: "It would not act, so California did. California has taken the leadership in moving the entire country beyond debate and denial to action." Such performances have helped establish Schwarzenegger as a national figure, even a statesman, on the environment. In April 2007, he posed for the cover of Newsweek, spinning a globe on his finger under the banner leadership & the environment, and in September, he even addressed the United Nations on climate change.

Schwarzenegger's reputation as an environmental trailblazer is in keeping with California's recent history and self-perception. California's political leaders, business titans, academics, and environmental activists proudly point to the fact that the state has infused its public policy over the last four decades with an environmental consciousness unmatched in the United States, while also maintaining a dynamic economy, arguably the eighth-largest on the planet, with a gross state product of more than $1.6 trillion. The widely shared assumption is that forward-looking Athenian wisdom has nourished awesome Spartan power.

In truth, however, the Golden State's energy leadership is a mirage. California's environmental policies have made it heavily dependent on other states for power; generated some of the highest, business-crippling energy costs in the country; and left it vulnerable to periodic electricity shortages. Its economic growth has occurred not because of, but despite, those policies, which would be disastrous if extended to the rest of the country.

More here

The climate change deniers

When heralded Canadian environmentalist Lawrence Solomon first set out two years ago - on a bet, no less - to find credible dissenters to the well-entrenched climate change dogma, he thought he might perhaps unearth enough material for a few National Post columns. Instead, like Alice passing through the looking glass, Mr. Solomon entered a world wherein it soon became clear the much-ballyhooed idea of a "scientific consensus" was as nonsensical as "Jabberwocky."

"I had picked several of the most essential and/or most widely publicized 'building blocks' of the case for catastrophic global warming," Mr. Solomon writes. "In each case, not only was I able to find a truly eminent, world-renowned leader in the field who disputed the point in question, but in each case the denier had more authority, sometimes far more authority, than those who put forward the building block in the first place."

The debate over anthropogenic - that is, human induced - climate change, is, in other words, just a bit more complicated than Al Gore suggested on "Oprah." Few books have captured this cognitive dissonance as well as "The Deniers," Mr. Solomon's essential, engrossing travelogue through the world of climate-change dissent.

In "The Deniers"' deniers are not the usual suspects paraded out by a media eager for Scopes Monkey Trial II: Flat Earthers' Revenge. They aren't blustery, ill-informed television pundits or slash-and-burn polemicists.

Rather, Mr. Solomon introduces us to legendary scientists with impeccable resumes and prestigious appointments at major universities and mainstream research institutes; thoughtful, serious professionals who, at their own professional peril, looked at one or another of the shibboleths of global warming alarmism - from the debunked "hockey stick" graphic and misread ice core samples to the amateurish or incorrect computer models and fear-mongering - and bravely refused to join the herd, profitable as that may be these days.

Likewise, Mr. Solomon's own position as founder and executive director of the well-regarded international environmental group Energy Probe makes it considerably more difficult for opponents to shellac him as a right-wing reactionary moonlighting as an oil company stooge - though, of course, no slander has been proven entirely off limits for demagogues who believe they are the Jack Bauers incarnate in a special environmental doomsday season of 24. ("There's no time for debate, Chloe, we've got to regulate now!") Witness "60 Minutes" reporter Scott Pelly's answer when queried as to why his reports featured no global warming skeptics: "If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?"

So who, exactly, has convened the conspiracy of silence Mr. Solomon is now attempting to shatter with "The Deniers?" Well, it's ... complicated. As the author would learn, many highly-qualified scientists who question even some small aspect of the global warming orthodoxy "don't want to be found at all and try very hard not to appear as dissenters. They have no wish to be called names in the press, or to lose their jobs, or to have their funding cut off as many deniers have."

Beyond the disturbing issue of self-censorship, however, stand those for whom the sexy business of saving the world is much too gratifying to bother with any credible contrarianism. Who wants to just live on an ever-changing planet when one could be a mini-Zeus lording over all the elements? Thus, even a balanced scientific report can end up resembling a lost quatrain from the Book of Revelation in the hands of regulation-happy politicians and reporters with small paychecks and large hero complexes.

Never mind that, as Mr. Solomon demonstrates to great effect in the closing pages of "The Deniers," the practical effect of popular climate change regulation schemes will likely be old-growth forests in Third World countries felled to make way for profitable "carbon intensive plantations." ("Every time we buy carbon offsets to salve our consciences at flying in a jet," Mr. Solomon writes, "we are helping to dispossess someone, somewhere, by boosting the carbon credit value of their land.") Forget that bio-fuel fads are pricing the world's poor out of sustenance. Ignore the myriad other environmental problems that could be addressed with the resources eaten up to solve a problem that very well may not exist.

"The Deniers" is a timely, necessary antidote to a political and scientific discussion poisoned by hubristic groupthink and the kind of scorched earth (mis)behavior that inevitably arises when a movement becomes so uncritically wedded to the commandments of a pseudo-religion its adherents would rather destroy their adversaries than risk debating them.


Wishful Thinking on Cellulosic Ethanol

Supporters of ethanol, stung by the backlash over its unintended but foreseeable consequences (see, e.g., here and here), namely, increasing hunger due to a run-up in global food prices and increased threats to biodiversity, now tell us that cellulosic ethanol will come to the rescue. The theory is that cellulosic ethanol, which is still in the research and development phase, would be produced from non-edible plant material, e.g., switchgrasses, crop residue and other biomass that is not currently grown or used as edible crops. Thus, it is implied, it would have no effect on food prices.

But this is wishful thinking. If cellulosic ethanol is indeed proven to be viable (with or without subsidies), what do people think farmers will do? Farmers will do what they've always done: they'll produce the necessary biomass that would be converted to ethanol more efficiently. In fact, they'll start cultivating the cellulose as a crop (or crops). They have had 10,000 years of practice perfecting their techniques. They'll use their usual bag of tricks to enhance the yields of the biomass in question: they'll divert land and water to grow these brand new crops. They'll fertilize with nitrogen and use pesticides.

The Monsantos of the world - or their competitors, the start-ups - will develop new and genetically modified but improved seeds that will increase the farmer's productivity and profits. And if cellulosic ethanol proves to be as profitable as its backers hope, farmers will divert even more land and water to producing the cellulose instead of food. All this means we'll be more or less back to where we were. Food will once again be competing with fuel. And land and water will be diverted from the rest of nature to meet the human demand for fuel.

Does this mean that biomass - and farmers - should play no role in helping us meet our energy needs? Not necessarily. If farmers can profitably grow fuel rather than food through their own efforts, so be it. But we shouldn't favor growing one over the other either through subsidies or indirectly through government mandates for so-called renewable fuels. And if anything should be subsidized or mandated, it shouldn't be growing fuels. That would inevitably compete with food.



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 May, 2008

Global Warming and Cooling - The Reality

Stephen Wilde has been a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1968. The first two articles from Mr Wilde were received with a great deal of interest throughout the CO2 Sceptic community. In Stephen Wilde's third and exclusive article below, he explores the mechanics and mechanisms involved in the Earth's warming and cooling. Needless to say, CO2 variations are unimportant

It's all very well doing what alarmists do which is to say that CO2 is rising and temperatures are rising so in the absence of any other known cause it must be man made CO2 that is warming the planet. That approach ignores both the differing scale of the possible influencing factors and the clear historical relationship between cooler climates and periods of a less active sun. The presence of the sun must be a much bigger influence on global temperatures than the greenhouse characteristics of CO2 on it's own.

At most the greenhouse effect can only be marginal though some have tried to talk it up by asserting that the planet would be very much colder without a greenhouse effect, which is correct, but avoids the issue of the rather small proportion of the overall greenhouse effect provided by CO2 and the even smaller proportion provided by man. It also begs the question as to whether the oceans are slowly releasing CO2 as a result of natural warming. If the oceans warm for any reason they will release CO2 into the atmosphere because water holds less CO2 at higher temperatures.

The greenhouse effect, as a whole, may smooth out rises and falls in temperature from other causes but is not itself the determining factor for global temperature. If the heat from the sun declines the global temperature will fall with or without any greenhouse effect and if the heat from the sun increases the global temperature will, of course, rise. The greenhouse effect does not create new heat. All it does is increase the residence time of heat in the atmosphere.

In the ice core record, CO2 increase has always lagged behind temperature rises and the lag involved is estimated to be 400 to 800 years. There has never been a period when a CO2 rise has preceded global warming. I have seen it argued that the past 30 years has been so exceptional that it MUST, for the first time in the history of the globe, be CO2 driving the warming trend. That is an assertion of such low probability that it should require very powerful evidence to support it. I have seen no such evidence. Indeed, on a cursory inspection the slow but steady increase in atmospheric CO2 is clearly not coming through in a slow but steady rise in global temperatures. Instead we see rises and falls in global temperatures that bear no obvious relationship to the steady rise in CO2 unless one puts the cart before the horse and announces that there is no other possible reason and the trend period adopted is carefully chosen to suit the proposition.

All it needs to cast doubt on the CO2 theory is an alternative possibility to explain a rising global temperature trend over the past 500 years and there is one. Everyone will have heard of the Little Ice Age and the global temperature would appear to have been recovering from it ever since. On a balance of probability is that not the more likely explanation of an overall warming trend ever since? Why introduce manmade CO2 at all except for politically motivated reasons? By all means exclude a recovery from the Little Ice Age as the reason if one can but the burden of proof is heavy and probably impossible to discharge with current knowledge. There was also a Mediaeval Warm Period (MWP) that preceded it. It has been asserted by some that the MWP was not as warm as the planet is now but there is evidence to the contrary such as Viking settlements in Greenland at the time. It has also been asserted that the MWP was not worldwide but some recent indications have been found in South America that it was warm there at about the same time. In any event it is unlikely that such a warm period affecting Greenland and Western Europe would not be worldwide. The heavy burden of proof is on those who would seek to deny it.

Be that as it may, there is a probability rather than a possibility that the warming trend since the lowest point of the Little Ice Age is continuing to this day and is the real cause of recent observed warming with only a minimal contribution, if any, from man made CO2 emissions.

Then there is the matter of scale. The greenhouse effect is mainly a phenomenon of the land surface and the atmosphere because more of the incoming heat is absorbed by water as compared to land and a lower proportion is reflected to participate in the greenhouse effect. However the surface of Earth is 70 % water. Water has a hugely greater heat carrying capacity than the land or the atmosphere above it. Land loses most of the heat it receives during the day via overnight radiation and the atmosphere loses heat rapidly via convection, rainfall and radiation to space despite the greenhouse effect. The true heat store that we need to consider, dwarfing by far any atmospheric greenhouse effect is all that water. I describe the implications of that below.

It seems so complex but the global heat balance only comes down to three parameters that swamp all others.

Heat from the sun.

The fact that 70% of the planet is water covered.

Heat, radiating out to a very cold Space.

Extra heat is constantly being generated within the Earth by convection and movement caused by external gravitational forces from the sun and other planets but that only seems to disrupt the basic scenario intermittently.

The heat from the sun varies over a number of interlinked and overlapping cycles but the main one is the cycle of 11 years or so. That solar cycle can last from about 9.5 years to about 13.6 years and appears to be linked to the gravitational effects of the planets of the solar system combining to affect the sun's magnetic field which seems then to influence the amount of heat generated and incidentally affects the number of sunspots. For present purposes I will concentrate on the past 1000 years during which the 11year cycle has been the main factor linked to observed temperature changes. For pre thermometer numbers we have to rely on less reliable indicators of past temperature.

It is clear that temperatures have varied so much over the past 1000 years that there have been substantial effects on human societies so disruption caused by weather and climate is by no means unusual. Many civilisations have fallen as a result of entirely natural changes in climate. Interestingly, they often blamed themselves for offending the Gods, nature or the planet (that sounds familiar!).

It is necessary to note that those disruptive changes have occurred quite quickly. A decade or two is quite enough to see changes that result in considerable hardship.

Because 70% of the planet is covered by water most heat from the sun is accepted by water. The seas take a long time to warm up or cool in comparison to land. Heat reaching the land by day is soon radiated back out to Space at night. Water has a much greater lag both in warming and cooling which also means that as a store of total heat the oceans are hugely effective. The strongest sunlight reaching the Earth is around the Equator that is primarily oceanic. The equatorial sun puts heat into the system year in year out whereas loss of heat is primarily via the poles with each alternating as the main heat loser depending on time of year.

The Earth therefore accumulates or loses heat to and from, primarily, the oceans. The land and the atmosphere are largely an irrelevance. That heat then has to find it's way out into Space over time. Before it can be radiated out into Space heat has to pass through the atmosphere.

The planet cannot maintain and does not maintain a constant temperature. It is not even possible to identify a specific current temperature for the whole planet and for present purposes there is no need to do so.

All I need to assert at this point is that whatever the Earth's temperature is at any given moment it will always be in the process of warming or cooling and, of course, the rate of that warming or cooling is highly variable.

Because the Earth is always either warming or cooling the point of balance could well be very fine so to attribute `blame' to any particular factor we have to ascertain the scale and degree of sensitivity of each factor we wish to consider.

The point I need to make here is that on the basis of historical evidence from weather and solar cycle records the largest single factor influencing global temperature, whatever it might be at any time, is variations in the input of heat from the sun.

It is clear from the historical record that warmer weather accompanies short solar cycles and cooler weather accompanies longer solar cycles. Although I refer to weather the fact is that weather over time constitutes climate so for present purposes they are the same. During the recent warming the cycle lengths were less than 10 years so that meant we were getting more heat from the sun whatever the alarmists say about Total Solar Irradiance (a flawed and incomplete concept).

So far, the current solar cycle (number 23) is into the 12th year in length and may go to the full 13.6 years for known astronomical reasons. The very fact that it is longer than the previous two cycles suggests we are getting less solar energy already and, surprise, surprise, it is now being accepted by alarmists that warming has stalled and the planet may be cooling for the next 10 years at least. All they can do now is bleat that the underlying man made warming signal is still there but they cannot prove that to be the case nor can they demonstrate the scale of it in relation to natural causes.

As far as I can see nobody seems to be able to say why the observed changes in weather that accompany changes in solar activity actually happen. They seem to be disproportionate to the changes in heat coming from the sun. This is where I feel the need to make a suggestion.

The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) Cycle has been heavily investigated for many years but seems to be looked at as a freestanding phenomenon that just redistributes heat around the globe, sometimes warming and sometimes cooling.

I think that is wrong. I believe that ENSO switches from warming to cooling mode depending on whether the sun is having a net warming or net cooling effect on the Earth. Thus the sun directly drives the ENSO cycle and the ENSO cycle directly drives global temperature changes. Indeed, the effect appears to be much more rapid than anyone has previously believed with a measurable response occurring within a few years of a change in solar energy input. Indeed I see some evidence for the proposition that for various reasons cooling occurs faster than warming but I will save that for another time.

It was no coincidence that during the years from 1975 to 2000 we had a strong emphasis on El Nino with warming-also known as a period of positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and now, with an emphasis on La Nina we have cooling or at least a stall in the warming (a period of negative PDO).

As regards the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that is simply a periodical change in the predominance either of El Nino (positive mode) or of La Nina (negative mode). El Nino events can occur in a positive PDO mode and vice versa.

I believe that both ENSO and PDO are manifestations of the same process and are directly driven by shifts in the balance of heat output from the sun as it switches to or from net warming and to or from net cooling effects on the Earth.

It was no coincidence that the change from one ENSO mode to the other was approximately contemporaneous with the extension of solar cycle 23 to a period longer than the preceding two solar cycles and at about the same time the PDO switched from positive to negative.

Although there are similar periodic oscillations in other oceans such as the Atlantic and the Arctic I believe that they follow the lead of ENSO and PDO. In effect they simply continue the distribution of the initial warming or cooling state around the globe and of course there are varying degrees of lag so that from time to time the other lesser oceanic oscillations can operate contrary to the primary Pacific oscillations until the lag is worked through.

I believe that this is a clear and simple theory of solar driven global climate change which should now be tested empirically.

Just looking at the activity levels of the past few solar cycles and the temperature and ENSO changes that occurred at about the same time would have revealed the truth if those who should have known better were not trying to implicate man generally and western nations in particular. Refer to my two earlier articles for fuller detail.

The fact is that the Earth could well be a highly sensitive water based thermometer as far as solar input is concerned. The balance between overall warming and overall cooling is probably finely linked to the energy received or not received from the sun over decadal time periods or possibly even less.

Advances have been made in predicting the likely activity levels of the sun so it should be possible to make general predictions as regards the onset of warming or cooling trends on Earth from solar observations and astronomical measurements of planetary influences on solar cycles.

Finally, one should consider whether other warming or cooling influences might have any significance to humanity and the environment.

The fact is that the solar effect is huge and overwhelming. Other influences can only ever delay or bring forward what would have happened anyway because of the time scales involved with solar changes that tend to develop and intensify over centuries. One must also remember that, the warmer the Earth gets, the faster the radiation of heat to Space because of an enhanced temperature differential so it would be false to propose an ever increasing positive differential as a result of adding any warming effect of man made CO2 to the effect of solar changes.

The length and intensity of a solar cool down would strip out the human portion of any extra CO2 quite ruthlessly because the cooler temperatures would increase the amount of CO2 absorbed by the oceans and oceanic life would flourish to lock it away in the carbon cycle again in the form of organic calcium carbonate from a multitude of tiny sea creatures (which generally prefer cooler waters) falling to the sea bed.

In effect, all life on Earth has the benefit of an oceanic and atmospheric air conditioning system that clears out excess CO2 as well as well as dust, other particulates and noxious substances created by either the planet itself or the life forms on it from time to time.

Of course a single organism can upset the balance of it's own environment for a time but the planet always renews itself and repopulates with new life forms if necessary. The solution is always a new balance between numbers and lifestyle for any particular organism and that includes us.

That is why, despite hugely different environmental conditions in the past, including far higher CO2 levels, there has never been a `tipping' point that changed the pattern of glaciations and interglacials that have occurred with clockwork precision based on astronomical movements throughout the historical record.

Nor need we fear any man made addition to solar warming because the proportion of the warming which we would be responsible for would be insignificant against the scale of the solar induced portion. In any event, since cooling is worse than warming for humanity and most life on the planet, our production of CO2, however large in our puny terms, would be wholly beneficial for life on Earth. CO2 is the least of our problems so our attention and resources should be better directed to a more general concept of sustainability


Environmentalists Still Can't Get It Right


Now that another Earth Day has come and gone, let's look at some environmentalist predictions they would prefer we forget. At the first Earth Day celebration, in 1969, environmentalist Nigel Calder warned, "The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind." C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization said, "The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed."

In 1968, professor Paul Ehrlich, former Vice President Al Gore's hero and mentor, predicted that there would be a major food shortage in the U.S. and "in the 1970s . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." Ehrlich forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989, and that by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million. Ehrlich's predictions about England were gloomier: "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."

In 1972, a report was written for the Club of Rome warning that the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987 and petroleum, copper, lead and natural gas by 1992. Gordon Taylor, in his 1970 book "The Doomsday Book," said Americans were using 50% of the world's resources and "by 2000 they (Americans) will, if permitted, be using all of them."

In 1975, the Environmental Fund took out full-page ads warning, "The World as we know it will likely be ruined by the year 2000." Harvard biologist George Wald in 1970 warned, "Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." That was the same year that Sen. Gaylord Nelson warned, in Look magazine, that by 1995 "somewhere between 75% and 85% of all the species of living animals will be extinct."

It's not just latter-day doomsayers who have been wrong; doomsayers have always been wrong. In 1885, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that there was "little or no chance" of oil being discovered in California, and a few years later they said the same about Kansas and Texas.

In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior said American oil supplies would last only another 13 years. In 1949, the secretary of the interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight. Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims, in 1974 the U.S. Geological Survey advised us that the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas. The fact of the matter, according to the American Gas Association: There's a 1,000- to 2,500- year supply.

Here are my questions:

In 1970, when environmentalists were making predictions of man-made global cooling and the threat of an ice age and millions of Americans starving to death, what kind of government policy should we have undertaken to prevent such a calamity?

When Ehrlich predicted that England would not exist in the year 2000, what steps should the British Parliament have taken in 1970 to prevent such a dire outcome?

In 1939, when the Department of the Interior warned that we only had oil supplies for another 13 years, what actions should President Roosevelt have taken?

Finally, what makes us think that environmental alarmism is any more correct now that they have switched their tune to man-made global warming?

Here are a few facts:

More than 95% of the greenhouse effect is the result of water vapor in Earth's atmosphere. Without the greenhouse effect, Earth's average temperature would be zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Most climate change is a result of the orbital eccentricities of Earth and variations in the sun's output. On top of that, natural wetlands produce more greenhouse-gas contributions annually than all human sources combined.


Hansen refuted: East Siberian Arctic Temperatures of the Last Interglacial

Earth's temps were 'much warmer than they are today at various times over the past million years'

Discussing: Kienast, F., Tarasov, P., Schirrmeister, L., Grosse, G. and Andreev, A.A. 2008. Continental climate in the East Siberian Arctic during the last interglacial: Implications from palaeobotanical records. Global and Planetary Change 60: 535-562.


In an attempt to portray earth's current temperature as being extremely high and, therefore, extremely dangerous (as well as CO2-induced), Hansen et al. (2006) have claimed the earth "is approximately as warm now as at the Holocene maximum and within ~1C of the maximum temperature of the past million years.

What was done

In a study that provides evidence that is pertinent to this claim, Kienast et al. studied plant macrofossils found in permafrost deposits on Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island (73N, 14130'E) of the New Siberian Archipelago on the coast of the Dimitrii Laptev Strait, from which they reconstructed climatic conditions that prevailed during the prior or Eemian Interglacial.

What was learned

In the words of the five researchers, "macrofossils of warmth-demanding shrubs and aquatic plants, occurring farther south today, indicate that local mean temperatures of the warmest month were at least 12.5C, thus c. 10C higher than today at that time," when maximum atmospheric CO2 levels were on the order of 290 ppm, or about 100 ppm less than they are today.

What it means

This finding is just one of many that indicate that various places on the planet have been much warmer than they are today at various times over the past million years, and when the air's CO2 content was also much lower than it is today. For more such examples, see our Major Report Carbon Dioxide and Global Change: Separating Scientific Fact from Personal Opinion, which also presents evidence refuting many of Hansen's other outlandish claims.


North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures of the Past 150 Years

"Considering the totality of their findings, the UK and Australian researchers concluded, in the broadest of terms, that "current 'warm era conditions' do not eclipse prior 'warm' conditions during the instrumental record"

Discussing: Hobson, V.J., McMahon, C.R., Richardson, A. and Hays, G.C. 2008. Ocean surface warming: The North Atlantic remains within the envelope of previous recorded conditions. Deep-Sea Research I 55: 155-162.

What was done

The authors used International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set sea-surface temperature data to calculate, in annual time steps, the mean August-September positions of the 12, 15 and 18C isotherms in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1854 to 2005 at 2-degree longitudinal intervals.

What was learned

This effort revealed, in the words of Hobson et al., that (1) the three isotherms "have tended to move northwards during two distinct periods: in the 1930s-1940s and then again at the end of the 20th century," that (2) "the chances of this occurring randomly are negligible," that (3) the 15C isotherm "reached a maximum latitude of 52.0N in 1932, and a latitude of 51.7N in 2005, a difference of approximately 33 km," and that (4) "of the 10 most extreme years, 4 have occurred in the 1992-2005 warm era and 3 have occurred in the 1926-1939 era."

What it means

Considering the totality of their findings, the UK and Australian researchers concluded, in the broadest of terms, that "current 'warm era conditions' do not eclipse prior 'warm' conditions during the instrumental record," which sounds an awful lot like what we have concluded, over and over, in our U.S. Temperature Record of the Week feature, i.e., that during the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century (1930 and onward) there has been little to no net increase in mean near-surface air temperature throughout the United States. Now the same appears to also have been true throughout a large sector of the North Atlantic Ocean.



By Andrew Bolt

The world has not warmed in a decade. Moreover, there is little evidence that tropical cyclones have got worse. And any link between hurricanes and warming is highly disputed. Yet Al Gore is already feeding on Burma's dead:

Using tragedy to advance an agenda has been a strategy for many global warming activists, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to tie the recent Myanmar cyclone to global warming. Former Vice President Al Gore in an interview on NPR's May 6 "Fresh Air" broadcast did just that...
"And as we're talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated," Gore said. "And last year a catastrophic storm from last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China - and we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."
Of course, a British judge has already rapped Gore for linking hurricanes to global warming. And the leading proponent of the warming=hurricanes claim [Kerry Emanuel] has backed off.


Note an additional problem for Gore: Here is a list of the 20 Deadliest Tropical Cyclones in World History. Note that all but one or two occurred before so called "global warming".

Blessed are the sceptics

Comment from Australia

In 1633 Galileo Galilei was hauled before the religious authorities of his day, the Inquisition, for daring to concur with Copernicus that the Earth was not the centre of the universe and also that it orbited the sun rather than the other way around. For his pains, he was placed under house arrest and forced to recant. Giordano Bruno failed to recant and suffered a crueller fate.

Today we are faced with a newer religion known as environmental activism which has insinuated itself into some aspects of science. It shares some of the intolerance to new or challenging ideas with the old. Immolation at the stake is no longer fashionable but it has been replaced by pillory in the media. The new faith makes it apostasy to question the proposition that our river systems are dying and that nothing like this has ever happened before. And it is the blackest heresy to suggest that the beatification of StAl and the Goronites may be a little premature.

The symbols and practices of the new and the old faiths are remarkably similar. The crucifix has been replaced by the wind turbine; where before there was the hair shirt and self-flagellation, mortification of the flesh now consists of switching off your airconditioner when it's hot and your patio heater when it's cold.

The head of the University of Tasmania's school of government, Aynsley Kellow, has pointed out the close similarity between medieval papal indulgences and carbon offsets. However, these things matter less than the corruption of science by faith and the failure to recognise the contingent nature of scientific concepts. Concepts are only valid until such time as they are demolished by the scientific methods of observation, measurement, experimentation and analysis. Phrases such as "the argument is over, the science is settled" are so much fatuous nonsense and should almost never be used in the scientific community.

Throughout history dissenters, sceptics, contrarians and innovators have suffered criticism, abuse and even persecution, but it is these people who have driven progress. To quote Thomas Huxley, "scepticism is the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin". Where would we be without the Galileos, Newtons, Darwins and Pasteurs? I would like to think that some time in the future we could add the names of our scholars to that list.

So what is this partnership between the Institute of Public Affairs and the University of Queensland to support environmental research about? What are we doing it for? There are two main reasons. First, to provide a haven for our scholars without ideological or commercial interference and with no prescription as to the end point of their inquiries. If they challenge orthodoxies and assumptions, particularly mine, then that's good. If they find that conventional wisdom is correct, then that's good, too. The only criterion is to seek empirical evidence.

Second, it is important that any research that our scholars undertake is made available to aid the development of better, more rational public policy. Good public policy means applying our resources more efficiently to achieve the outcomes we desire, such as lifting the poor out of their poverty, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and, in our case, managing our environment sensibly and productively.

I would like to think that what we have launched today is just the first step in something much bigger. I envisage that, in the future, to environmental lawyers and scientists we will add other disciplines: biologists, economists, statisticians, even philosophers. What we need to do is shine the hard light of reason and critical thinking on our environmental problems, aided by multiple skills and points of view. As they say, from tiny acorns do mighty oak trees grow; or, to make the metaphor more geographically relevant, from tiny gumnuts do mighty river red gums grow.

That's all I have to say but I would like to leave you with one thought. For those of you have a feeling of despair about the direction that some aspects of environmental science is taking, remember that most people now believe that Galileo was right.

The above is an edited version of a speech by Perth philanthropist Bryant Macfie, who is funding a research partnership between the Institute of Public Affairs and the University of Queensland.



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 May, 2008


An email from Lee Rodgers []:

There are certain statistical analysis methods that let a researcher know when they might be lying to themselves with misapplied statistical analysis. Lucia over at has been reviewing IPCC projections using advanced statistical methods. Lucia is a fastidious statistician who opens up all her methodologies to scrutiny. See here.

It may come as little surprise that Lucia finds the IPCC's long-range warming-only forecasts continue to be falsified, and become increasingly unlikely as the ongoing temperature plateau continues. See here

We've had almost nine years of stable global temperatures - another seven really puts the odds against the 2 degrC/century forecasts being likely. Maybe fifteen years of stable temperatures shall be Mother Nature's funny way of letting us know that the sky isn't falling.


Mounting public concern about global warming has forced NASA to fund a new probe of our heat source -- the Sun. The May 1 news release from Johns Hopkins University reports that Andrew Dantzler of the JHU Applied Physic Laboratory was selected to manage the $750 million Solar Probe, scheduled for launch in 2015. See here


Germany's ruling political party, the CDU, has proposed to amend the law on renewable energy by calling for a reduction of subsidies for solar energy. In a separate report, Handelsblatt said leading German research institute Rheinisch-Westfaelischse Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung is proposing a slash in subsidies for solar energy by 30 percent.

The newspaper cited an obtained report for the Federal Ministry of Economy. If the current subsidy regulation remains in place, state subsidies would amount to 120 billion euros by 2035, the paper said. See here


Below is a Letter to the Editor published in the "Canberra Times" on 5th. -- by Malcolm Miller []

I used to think that I lived in a world of scientific and social progress, where invention, innovation, and clever development of new ideas and techniques ensured that we would all live better, and our children in turn, better than we did.

Now I have lost that nave optimism. Sometimes I feel we have regressed to the Middle Ages. There are crazy religions proscribing normal human behaviours. There are warlords galore with fanatical followers prepared to kill anyone they decide is their enemy. There are growing shortages of basic foods that we thought had been overcome for all time by a green revolution. There are people who want us to throw away all our advanced technology and abolish our energy sources, the very ones that have extended many life expectancies and opened up a world of travel freedom.

It goes on and on. It is frightening, because it seems to be leading to a new and unpleasant world of shortages, of restrictions, of governments taking new and arbitrary power over citizens and businesses by taxing out of existence the very energy sources such as coal and oil and the very raw materials such as steel and aluminium that require energy to produce. It is a a picture of reversal, of retreat from the very successes that have made life better for so many, to a world of shortages, of power rationing, of higher taxes, of restrictions.

So far our world looks superficially OK. The engine hums, the tanks have fuel, all systems are working. But there are people who are trying to bring our world down, for spurious reasons of their own. If they win we can look forward to a new Dark Age.



Does the European Union have God on its side? Yes. When it comes to fighting climate change, the EU's next big thing, Brussels has the blessing of all the Faiths.

The Gods Squad, various clerics, imams, vicars, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, Grand Muftis (is there a collective noun for them?) and rabbis, all trooped into the European Commission's Berlaymont HQ on Monday to fight the good fight against us "greedy" consumers and our nasty CO2 emissions.

It is perhaps fitting that an out of touch, unpopular and referendum-phobic EU should look for divine help. After all both the eurocrats and theocrats have plenty in common. Both are a pretty preachy bunch and like nothing more than to lay on the guilt trips. Most importantly, both derive their authority from a higher source than the public.

Climate change has become the new orthodoxy for our times. It is the moral fable that justifies new limits and restrictions for our shiny 21st century. It provides, in a post-tradition world, a new internalised framework for individuals to govern their behaviour in the name of reducing their carbon footprint.

The new moral edicts of the climate change brigade - Don't go on holidays abroad! End cheap flights! Ban SUVs! Recycle! Switch off that light! - are all the more pervasive (certainly more than the nostrums of organised religion) because society is suffused with the anti-humanist sentiments that lie behind them.

Janez Jansa, the Slovenian PM and current holder of the EU presidency, speaking alongside the representatives of Europe's combined clergy, put it well. Climate change, he said, is about "changes in habits, philosophy and world outlook", getting rid of "things we do not really need", like overseas holidays, cheap flights, SUVs etc.

In this battle, science and religion have united behind the same orthodoxy to lower our expectations (one with a secular, environmentalist but deeply anti-humanist pedigree). "It is important to have a coordinated approach between science and the different types of religion," said Mr Jansa. "The joint approach is needed to lead to changes in habits... The role of religion is a big one... We have to overcome deep rooted ideas in public opinion."

For EU officials, old-time religion has the purely instrumental appeal of helping to legitimise policy, in this case climate change proposals, some of them, like the biofuels target, are getting a bit tarnished as we get to know more about them.

For clerics, the global warming agenda seems to provide them with a new source of moral authority in a relativistic world which no longer looks to organised religion for guidance on what is right or wrong.

It is not really about belief for either group. It is an unholy alliance of convenience to give their respective illegitimate forms of authority a gloss of relevance. Moreover, religious leaders jumping on the green bandwagon in a scramble for contemporary relevance are doing their faith no favours. While the god-fearing can unite with environmentalists in terms of a shared conformist credulity towards doom-mongering clap trap and junk science, the wider agenda is a problem.

Most modern religions still have man, for good or ill, at the heart of the moral universe. Environmentalists tend to view man as a harmful pathogen and elevate nature's blind nihilism over man's purpose or civilisation. In fact, in the case of climate change ideology, man's activity and human history itself is seen as the source of the problem.

At least, religion (and I say this as an atheist), accords man a soul, with humanising possibilities of redemption and transcendence. We may have to be meek (really bad advice, by the way) but we shall inherit the earth.

Not so with the environmentalists. For them we are fleshy gene machines, mere equals amongst others in the animal kingdom, with the misguided hubris to believe our civilisation, our soul, is beyond nature. Climate change is a sharp slap to put us back in our place.

The clerics want us to get on our knees and humble ourselves before God (an old story). More recently, the greens, and many of our rulers, want us to abase ourselves before their bureaucratic requirements in the name of a totally impersonal force, nature.



Let's call it Apocalypse Postponed. At least temporarily. German climate scientists have just published a study in the respected science journal Nature suggesting global warming has stopped and will not resume until at least 2015. In other words (my words, not theirs) contrary to the received wisdom of Al Gore's simplistic and propagandistic "An Inconvenient Truth," global temperatures aren't moving in lockstep with rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the science isn't settled and we don't know everything we need to know.

Based on new, computer-generated climate models that factor in natural ocean currents, the researchers conclude: "Our results suggest that global surface temperatures may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic (man-made) warming."

Noel Keenlyside of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences said if their calculations are correct, the 0.3 degree Celsius global temperature rise predicted by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change over the next decade won't happen. "We believe that ocean currents and systems could, in the short term, change global warming patterns, and even mean temperatures," he told National Geographic News.

Since there has actually been no global warming since 1998, that means there would be an almost two-decade span where concentrations of GHG emissions, most notably carbon dioxide, continued to intensify in the atmosphere, without global temperatures following suit.

These researchers aren't climate "deniers." They say their findings - based on cutting-edge computer modelling techniques still in their infancy - are a refinement of existing climate models. They also calculate that after 2015, global warming will resume, as the warming caused by man-made GHG emissions is no longer masked by the cooling effect of ocean currents. They aren't suggesting man-made global warming has permanently stopped.

And that's all fair enough. But let's not kid the troops. Prior to this study, anyone impertinent enough to point out, contrary to the Al Gore Nation, there hasn't been any global warming for a decade was apt to have their head shot off by climate hysterics.

As astrophysicist and award-winning former BBC science correspondent David Whitehouse - who made exactly that point in the British magazine New Statesman last Dec. 19 in an essay titled "Has Global Warming Stopped?" observed in the wake of this new research:

"Not long ago, anyone who looked at the global annual temperature data and disrespectfully pointed out that it might actually be significant that the world hasn't become warmer since 1998, was dismissed as foolish and accused of seeing what they wanted to see . . . Then, if they had the effrontery to point out that even the U.K.'s MET (British Meteorological Office) agreed that the annual data between 2001-7 was an impeccable flat line, they were told they were completely wrong as such things were obviously only year-on-year variability (as an unscientific environmental activist' damned my speculations in the New Statesman about the same topic, whilst at the same time implying I was lying)."

Indeed, Whitehouse got hit from all sides, including a brutal follow-up essay in New Statesman by its "environmental correspondent" who wrote: "I'll be blunt. Whitehouse got it wrong - completely wrong . . . readers of my column will know that I give contrarians, or skeptics or deniers (call them what you will) short shrift . . . So a mistaken article reached a flawed conclusion. Intentionally, or not, readers were misled, and the good name of the New Statesman has been used all over the Internet by climate contrarians seeking to support their entrenched positions."

There's only one problem. Whitehouse isn't a denier. As he wrote in his original essay, "Certainly the working hypotheses of CO2-induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles, but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far, or that the working hypotheses is a sufficient explanation for what is going on ... we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth's atmosphere's interaction with sunlight ... We know far less than many think we do, or would like you to think we do." Indeed.



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


6 May, 2008

No past, present or future anthropogenic global warming

Excerpt from an email from Dr. Miklos Zagoni, physicist, Budapest, Hungary []

I stated at the New York Conference on Climate Change that it is the Miskolczi theory which is able to serve the proper scientific background for the lack of past, present and future anthropogenic global warming. In the meantime we continued checking the theory over and over and could not recognize any flaw in it. I have excerpts, shorter and longer written summaries and explanations too, digging into different depth of the physics behind the theory. I am ready to deliver it in detail for any expert or layman audiences, at workshops, hearings, public lectures, as far as science and not politics is concerned. Again, the original paper's link is at the official web site of the Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service. [PDF -- in English]

I think the proper understanding of the new theory needs some further explanation, so I try to provide it in short: To put it in a language that IPCC will understand:

"Extra CO2 does not result extra 'radiative forcing' in the final account, as the energy constraint rules it back to its equilibrium value. Nature's regulatory instrument is water vapor: more carbon dioxide leads to less moisture in the air, keeping the overall GHG content in accord with the necessary balance conditions. So, contrary to the common wisdom, there is no positive H2O-temperature feedback on global scale: in Earth-type atmospheres uncontrolled runaway warming is not possible. This new theory seems to be only a little step forward in the two-hundred years old greenhouse science, but its consequences are revolutionary: actually it stops the possibility of man-made global warming."

I hope you start to feel how deep this work of Dr Miskolczi is. You may understand also why the mainstream does not want to learn it, and why I must help to distribute it in all possible ways.

Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Reaches "Unprecedented" Levels

Four of the past 5 months are "all-time" records for Southern Hemisphere sea ice anomalies, "unprecedented" since the data set began in 1979 as shown below:

On a global basis, world sea ice in April 2008 reached levels that were "unprecedented" for the month of April in over 25 years. Levels are the third highest (for April) since the commencement of records in 1979, exceeded only by levels in 1979 and 1982. This continues a pattern established earlier in 2008, as global sea ice in March 2008 was also the third highest March on record, while January 2008 sea ice was the second highest January on record. It was also the second highest single month in the past 20 years (second only to Sept 1996).

The graph below shows the monthly anomaly (aggregating NH and SH), collating information from

As suggested by a reader, here's the same information with each monthly series plotted as a separate line (April-solid; January - dotted.) The surge in anomaly area in 2008 is not limited to a single month, but is consistent for all 4 months to date (and for the YTD average).

At Cryosphere Today, they provide the following "scientific" description of recent sea ice changes:
You've heard Al Gore comment that the "Earth has a fever"? It may also have major tooth decay.
They provide an animation showing declining sea ice to 2007 lows, but not the subsequent recovery in 2008:
Peruse an archive of map displays of the atmospheric and radiative climatic conditions leading up to the record setting Northern Hemisphere sea ice minimum of 2007: sea ice autopsy
Instead of perhaps celebrating the dramatic recent increase in sea ice, they complain that there has been a loss of "multiyear sea ice". I've uploaded my collation of the NOAA data to .


Shock: Time Mag. does a fair and balanced global warming polar bear article!

Could it be? Time Mag. does journalistically fair and balanced article on global warming and polar bears? Perhaps some people at Time Mag. are feeling the heat from disintegrating man-made global warming fear campaign. Also see EPW Polar Bear Reports here

The cuddly polar bear has become global warming's favorite mascot. It's also become a political flash point: on one side, conservation groups say global warming threatens the bear by permanently damaging its Arctic habitat. On the other, conservative groups say the so-called plight of the polar bear is a gambit to intensify climate change hysteria. The battle flared up again last Monday, when a California federal district court judge ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Interior Department agency that evaluates endangered species, to decide on the polar bear by May 15 (a four-month extension of the original due date of Jan. 9). If FWS lists the bear as endangered, it would be the first mammal to face extinction due to global warming.

The question is whether the polar bear is actually in enough danger to warrant official government protection. Last year, a survey by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) concluded that two-thirds of the world's polar bears could disappear in the next 50 years if Arctic sea ice continues to evaporate at its current rate - sea ice is essential for polar bears, serving as the platforms from which they hunt. Similar discussion is ongoing in Canada, where two-thirds of the world's estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears reside. Last week, a Canadian scientific committee ruled that the bears should be considered a "special concern species," meaning there's reason for concern but not panic.

Pete Ewins, director of species conservation at World Wildlife Fund-Canada, says there's a general consensus in the scientific community that global warming inaction will result in reduced polar bear numbers, but admits that the data isn't entirely conclusive. "The problem comes when people start asking if we know everything we need to know about polar bears everywhere," he says. "The answer is, no. But a lack of scientific certainty hasn't been taken by the majority of polar ecologists as a reason to assume everything is O.K."

But those who oppose listing the polar bear, including several western senators, say that the species does in fact appear to be O.K. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, calls sea ice studies such as the one run by USGS a "classic case of reality versus unproven computer models." In fact, he says, the number of polar bears has increased over the past half-century as a result of initiatives like the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which sharply curtailed bear hunting; he thinks declaring the animal endangered would be a purely political move, a way to achieve global warming policy that eschews the legislative process. It's a classic bait-and-switch maneuver, he says, that would effectively turn the Endangered Species Act into a climate change law.

"The implications of such a policy would lead to drastic increases in litigation and eager lawyers ready to find ways to shut down energy production," says Inhofe, who has held two hearings this year for which he rounded up a retinue of doubtful experts. "These special interest groups believe no oil and gas leases should be allowed until the bear is listed, its critical habitat designated and a recovery plan put in place. That could be a very long time."

Those oil and gas-drilling leases include the $2 billion February sale of rights to 30 million acres of the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, home to about a fifth of the world's remaining polar bears. Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity and the author of the initial petition to list the polar bear takes the opposite view; she figures the FWS decision was delayed to allow the sale to go through in the first place. Not surprising coming from an administration Siegel calls rabidly "anti-wildlife." The scarcity of animals that have been listed endangered during the Bush years is undeniable: 59 in seven years. Bill Clinton added 521 during his two terms and George H.W. Bush listed 231 during his four years. Siegel's group has filed petitions on behalf of a number of other species, including the ribbon seal and a dozen different types of penguins. She's willing to file more lawsuits and ready to fight for her charges. Sort of like an angry polar bear.


Why Let The Facts Get in The Way of a Good Story?

Poor silly "science writer" Sharon Begley shows her ignorance of even the basics again

In the May 5, 2008 edition of Newsweek, there is an article by science writer Sharon Begley trying to convince us that "global warming isn't good for crops after all". Her first example is that a glacier in the Himalayas called the Gangotri glacier. She writes that over the last 25 years the glacier has shrunk about half a mile, "a rate three times the historical norm". The implication is, of course, that this was caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 produced by human activities. Since this glacier supplies 70% of the flow to India's Ganges River during the dry season, loss of the glacier would cause great harm to India's crop irrigation. However, this article in the Times of India, contains the following quote:
According to Geological Survey of India data, between 1935 and 1996, Gangotri glacier receded at an average 18.80 metres per year. Studies by other institutions show that yearly recession dropped to 17.5 metres during 1971-2004 and further to 12.10 metres in 2004-05.
The river flow may be falling and the glacier retreating, but is it really three times the historical norm? The Indian government calls it a "natural phenomena" that may have been exacerbated by the building of four dams.

Her second example is that in a human induced greenhouse world there would be more heat waves. She then lists many agricultural problems caused by the European heat wave of 2003 but she is apparently unfamiliar with this study by Roger Pielke Sr. and others stating that:
It therefore appears that the heat wave 2003 in south-central Europe was the unfortunate consequence of a combination of largely unrelated climate drivers, superimposed on an underlying warming trend, rather than as a direct result of lower tropospheric global warming.
Her next example is that of a diminishing snowpack in the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. Was she out of the country this winter? Take a look at these snow depth comparisons from the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center in Seattle, Washington.You can see that this year's snow pack in the Northwest was between 133% and 330% above normal. In many locations in the central Rockies, the midwest and northern New England, the highest snowfall amounts of any year were recorded. Of course, one year does not make a trend, but since the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has gone negative, this may indeed be the beginning of a trend.

In this last example, she quotes a Linda Mearns from the National Center for Atmospheric Research who says in reference to climate zones moving north that "the sun will not move with the climate". That is true, but she then says "the Dakotas will always have less daylight than Kansas." How can anyone who knows anything about climate make that statement? During the growing season, which is what she is talking about, the Dakotas do indeed have more daylight than Kansas. Between the spring equinox and the fall equinox, there is more daylight the farther north you go. Assuming you could find the correct temperatures, you could never grow apples at the Equator because there are only 12 hours of daylight in that location. At the Summer Solstice, Bismarck, North Dakota has almost 16 hours of daylight, which is over an hour more than Wichita, Kansas. You can easily find the sunrise/sunset times for any city at this web site, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story?


Global Warming? Northeast Skies Through a Snowy Season

Amid increasing concerns about the warming of the planet, ski resorts across the Northeast are reporting some of the best snowfall levels in recorded history. Waterville Valley in New Hampshire had a top-five year in terms of snow accumulation, with 192 inches having fallen to the slopes so far, the mountain's director of marketing, Deborah Moore, said. A recent snowstorm on Mt. Mansfield, the home of Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont, boosted the season snow total to 367 inches, making this ski season the snowiest in the last 10 years. "We're still expecting at least one more dump of snow," the communications director at Stowe, Jeff Wise, said.

For those who reject the popular consensus that the world is on the brink of a global warming crisis, the mass snowfall provides a form of validation. "The reports of global warming have been extremely overblown. It shouldn't be any surprise that we're going to have years with temperatures lower than average and snowfall higher than average," a senior fellow for environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, James Taylor, said.

While a majority of the Northeast has witnessed higher than average snowfalls this year, some areas in New Hampshire are on the brink of recording unprecedented numbers. In Concord, N.H., one more snowstorm could depose of a 134-year-old record. So far this winter, 115.8 inches of snow have hit the sidewalks of the city, the second greatest amount of snowfall ever recorded - and just a few inches short of the record of 122 inches recorded in the winter of 1873-74, a local meteorologist with the National Weather Service, James Hayes, said.

More here

No true consensus on global warming

By CLAUDETTE A. AZAR-KENYON -- A genuine Massachusetts Greenie sees the light

Responding to John Bullard's April 24 view, although I am not the president of a Sea Education Association, I am indeed an environmental conservationist. My automobile (endorsed by the Sierra Club) and my home stand as my evidence. My trash consists of one small bag weekly, often bi-weekly, but my recycling bins are always full. While this doesn't make me a scientist, it does show I care for our environment.

Not being a scientist and caring for our environment doesn't preclude an average person from being able to think or know when they are being deceived. As stated previously, I believe we should take care of the environment because it's the right thing to do.

I believe that climate change science is driven by ideology and not the study of long-term cycles. Mr. Bullard repeated my claim that global warming is based on 20 years of data and that warming and cooling is cyclical, but he omitted my "due to human action," which is an important clarifier. The question about global warming is if human-created carbons are at fault. Mr. Bullard says, "Mauna Loa records of CO2 concentrations go back over 50 years; ice cores go back about a million." If his claim is true, then what caused the cyclical behavior he admits is evident in the ice cores over the past million years - humans?

The global warming (due to the human-created carbons) issue and "scientific censorship" is claimed by many global authorities. To comply with Mr. Bullard's request for evidence, I put it forth here, albeit there are far too many to note them all.

As to the ice cores going back a million years, they may go back even further. However, it's important to note that the ice cores are not the vital factor, rather the records for measuring ice core lengths and the conclusions drawn on those samples are what is important, and these records are fairly recent. Various ice cores of varying depths have been drilled only since 1956, and the first ice core to reach bedrock was drilled in 1966.

Many respected scientists around the globe claim that until 1985, published CO2 readings were published correctly, but after 1985 certain readings disappeared from publication. That's 23 years of censorship and skewed study.

In fact, Dr. Roy W. Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, says, "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. ... Don't let five Norwegians on the Nobel Prize committee be the arbiters of what is good science." Good science is exactly what I am promoting!

Likewise, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Ph.D., chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Poland, who spoke to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 2004 said, "Attempts to support the global warming thesis with analyses of the carbon dioxide content in glacial ice samples are based on fudged data and ignorance of the physical processes of glacial ice formation."

The point here is that there are too many reliable scientific sources claiming censorship in climate science for us to say with any confidence that humans are responsible. In fact, even those scientists who claim global warming as fact have admitted the data isn't challenged in peer-reviewed scientific literature. I have a problem with that, and you should too.

If we are living in a climate that is unprecedented in all of human history and, as Mr. Bullard says, "the wonderful thing about science is the more we expand knowledge, the greater the area between the known and unknown," then shouldn't the debate include all the data so we are not acting on conclusions that are based on ideology and politics?

Mr. Bullard says "prudent people wouldn't delay acting," and on this we can agree. Prudent people should indeed act responsibly by demanding fair and full consideration of all the facts, using a healthy measure of scientific skepticism, and not reacting on fears created by a false scientific consensus.



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


5 May, 2008


How coincidental that the last 12 months have been so cold!

Either SC24 is the weakest ever solar cycle in a long time or I'm cursed. I look on Anthony Watts' excellent weblog and see that someone has sighted an SC24 spot in the Southern Hemisphere. And here's the magnetogram showing that it is indeed an SC24 phenomenon:

If you care to look at the last SC24 spot to appear in the Northern Hemisphere, then this does appear to be an SC24 spot, (the magnetic polarities being reversed between the hemispheres). So I snap into action, going to and... that it? Or is it a dead pixel in the camera? Let's check the magnetogram:

...and its gone!

Another SC24 "Tiny Tim" and I missed it.

Clearly spotting sunspots is more difficult than I thought. There cannot be more than a few hours between Anthony's post and mine, and yet the SC24 spot and magnetic signature had both disappeared. And on a sad note, it appears not to have been given a number by NASA. Maybe the person responsible went for coffee at just the wrong time.

Solar Science, 4 May 2008. (See the original for graphics)

If you want to be green - kill a cow

Some wisdom from the new Mayor of London below

Stop, stop. I can feel the guilt building up already. I can feel the self-loathing welling in my skull, the horror at my appallingly affluent consumerist lifestyle. In just a few short months, I will be taking the whole family off on holiday again, and once again our plane will contribute to the cat's cradle of CO2 that is swaddling the globe. Out of the nozzles of the Rolls-Royce turbo jets the lethal vapours will spew into the defenceless stratosphere, and, far beneath us, a startled look will pass over the features of another poor polar bear as he plops through the deliquescing floes.

I must atone! I must make a sacrifice! I must offset my emissions and appease the great irascible Sun-god as he prepares to griddle us all. I had heard somewhere that you could be "carbon-neutral" by planting trees before you fly. That's right. Shove in a few poplars, I was told, and bingo, you can feel all good about your skiing holiday or your winter break in Tunisia.

So I dialled up the eco-websites and - what's this? It turns out they have got it all wrong! Guilt-stricken Western holidaymakers and others have so far paid 300 million to have trees planted in their name by carbon offset companies, and the whole thing turns out to be a complete nonsense. It now appears the scientists think the trees just make things worse. Far from soaking up your share of CO2, most trees in non-tropical areas are thought to trap heat and thereby increase global warming.

Aaaargh! Bad trees! Killer trees! But what can I do to exculpate my sin? Here I am, a caring, modern, green politician, proposing some time before the end of this year to take about six people in a plane for no better purpose than simple recreation. Like Tony Blair, I must deal with the hate and rage of the new green puritans; and also, it goes without saying, I genuinely want to make amends for any damage I am doing.

So I have done my homework, and I have come up with a far more effective solution. As ever, I have consulted the ancient texts, and have been reminded that the Greeks and Romans were also convinced of the importance of making a sacrifice before any tricky voyage. You will recall that the Greek task force for Troy actually killed Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, in the hope of guaranteeing good sailing weather - with bad consequences for Agamemnon's conjugal relations.

Now we are only taking a family holiday, and I don't think Zeus or Jupiter would desire anything so extreme. A single cow would be about right. If I were an ancient Roman setting out on a family holiday, I would get some old milker and do her up as if for a party. She'd have her hair washed and combed and cut, and there would be ribbons and purple woollen fillets about her horns.

Then my chums and I would decently cover our heads and we'd drone loads of stuff in Latin and chuck some sacred meal about the place; and then one of us would hold a handful of food under the poor old girl's nose, and as she bent her head to snuffle it up we would take this - praise be! - as a sign that she had assented to her death, and at that auspicious moment she would be whopped hard on the side of the head and her throat would be cut; and then Jupiter would nod, and Olympus would tremble, and the whole family would be able to go off on holidays with a clear conscience.

And the funny thing is that, if we wanted to pay our debt to the great green earth-goddess Gaia, and neutralise the ill-effects of going up in a plane, then, as far as I can see, killing a cow is still exactly the right thing to do, two thousand years later. I mean it. There are 1.3 billion cows on this planet, and every year each cow produces about 90kg of methane, and as greenhouse gases go, methane is about 24 times worse than CO2 in sealing the heat in the air. According to a recent report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, agriculture produces 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent - and that, my friends, is more than is produced by the entire human transport industry. Think of it: for every cow you killed, you would be ridding the world of 90kg of methane a year - easily enough, surely, to justify an Easyjet flight.

Now it may be that you are repelled by the idea of killing a cow, and you may think that the poor farmers will only be driven to breed a new one to replace it. But there are still plenty of other things you could do that would make more sense than planting trees with these carbon offset companies. You could make sure that your house was properly insulated. You could turn down the central heating and wear more sweaters; and if you really wanted to tackle global CO2 emissions, you would campaign for nuclear energy, since power production is responsible for 24 per cent of global emissions. Or better still you could help do something to stop Third World countries from burning the forests, which produces 18 per cent of CO2.

But, of course, people aren't interested in these kinds of facts. They want the religion. They want the sweet moralistic feeling of telling someone to stop doing something. They want to be able to rage about Chelsea Tractors and Tony Blair's flights, and they want to give vent to their feelings of disgust at the whole triumph of Western consumerist capitalism; and what worries me is that, in the end, the moralising mumbo-jumbo becomes more important than the scientific reality.

We face huge decisions, such as whether or not to allow scientists to use human genetic material in animal cells; and I want those decisions taken on the basis of whether or not the advance can help cure disease, not on the basis of "Frankenbunny" headlines.

We should cease our pagan yammering for sacrifice, and look at what the science really demands. It is a sign of our terrifying ignorance that so many would still prefer to plant a heat-producing tree than see the wisdom of the ancients, and kill a flatulent cow.



Gordon Brown is poised to scrap a series of unpopular tax rises as part of sweeping changes to stave off a dangerous revolt over the rising cost of living which last week dealt Labour its worst electoral hammering in 40 years. Today the Prime Minister will respond to a growing suburban uprising by signalling moves to help motorists and other consumers. His intervention comes amid a fresh assault over the 10p tax rate change, which backbenchers warn could destroy his premiership.

Frank Field, the renegade ex-minister who forced Brown into offering compensation for the abolition of the 10p rate, said dismal local election results had shown poor families did not trust the Prime Minister to deliver on what Field described as an 'Alice in Wonderland' scheme to give them their money back.

The question of the Prime Minister's leadership was also raised openly for the first time since the vote; Labour backbencher Graham Stringer said ministers were privately discussing whether there should be a challenge to Brown. The Manchester Blackley MP told Sky News: 'I think Gordon is going to be the leader of the Labour party. There is no real tradition of regicide. But it would not be true to say that these conversations aren't going on between ministers and Labour backbenchers about whether there should be a challenge. There is a public display of loyalty and there is private despair.'

Last night Downing Street sources hinted the 2 per cent rise in fuel duty due in the autumn may not go ahead, in a concession to tight household budgets. Asked if it would be scrapped, a senior source said: 'We could do that, although it would not have any effect until October. We will reserve judgement until later this year.'

Brown is also expected today to highlight the role of the Competition Commission investigation into supermarkets in protecting families from high prices, promising that ministers will ensure stores do not keep prices artificially high. Ministers also want Brown to rethink green taxes - including motoring charges and proposed 'pay as you throw' schemes for household rubbish - and to sideline his passion for Africa and the climate to focus on domestic worries.

Internal polling in London found Ken Livingstone's green policies, such as new charges for gas-guzzling cars, alienated older voters, while the environment was at best a low priority for others, suggesting that, as families' budgets shrink, so does their willingness to pay to save the planet. 'My colleagues will say Labour has got to be brave on green issues, but the public are really feeling the pinch,' said one senior minister. Downing Street sources hinted last night that trials of household-rubbish taxes may never be widespread, adding that Brown was 'fairly sceptical' about the idea.

More here


Back to basics. White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is gaining on her Democratic rival, Barack Obama, in Indiana and North Carolina because of her clear-eyed energy policy, according to anecdotal reports from the two states with key upcoming primary contests.

Obama's opposition to suspending the federal gasoline tax--a measure supported by both Clinton and the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain--and emphasis on pie-in-the-sky alternative energy schemes (and scams) are factors that appear to be hurting him, our on-location stringers report.

For the first time in years, voters seem skeptical that solar, wind, ocean waves and currents, biofuels and other so-called renewable sources of energy can replace gasoline, petroleum-based diesel, home heating oil, natural gas, and propane to any significant degree in the foreseeable future. The water-gulping, energy-intensive biofuel, or agrofuel, ethanol, which Obama touts as a "transitional solution," is increasingly unpopular as it contributes to food inflation by driving up the price of corn oil and animal feed. Motorists also complain that ethanol added to gasoline results in poorer performance and mileage; and some scientists say ethanol actually makes the air dirtier.

Among ordinary middle class, working class and poor voters, global warming appears to be a non-issue. More and more hard-pressed people are more afraid of pauperization than the manmade greenhouse gases that supposedly cause climate change.

Our reports indicate, in short, that the brainy, aloof and elitist Obama is out of touch and out of date when it comes to the energy crisis. Returning to her lunch-bucket, bread-and-butter roots, Hillary at last seems to be playing Presidential politics in a winning zone.


Watch the web for climate change truths

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (reproduced below), Christopher Booker gives a lucid summary of recent pesky findings

A notable story of recent months should have been the evidence pouring in from all sides to cast doubts on the idea that the world is inexorably heating up. The proponents of man-made global warming have become so rattled by how the forecasts of their computer models are being contradicted by the data that some are rushing to modify the thesis

So a German study, published by Nature last week, claimed that, while the world is definitely warming, it may cool down until 2015 "while natural variations in climate cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions".

A little vignette of the media's one-sided view was given by recent events on Snowdon, the highest mountain in southern Britain. Each year between 2003 and 2007, the retreat of its winter snow cover inspired reports citing this as evidence of global warming. In 2004 scientists from the University of Bangor made headlines with the prediction that Snowdon might lose its snowcap altogether by 2020. In 2007 a Welsh MP, Lembit Opik, was saying "it is shocking to think that in just 14 years snow on this mountain could be nothing but a distant memory". Last November, viewing photographs of a snowless Snowdon at an exhibition in Cardiff, the Welsh environment minister, Jane Davidson, said "we must act now to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change"

Yet virtually no coverage has been given to the abnormally deep spring snow which prevented the completion of a new building on Snowdon's summit for more than a month, and nearly made it miss the deadline for 4.2 million of EU funding. (Brussels eventually extended the deadline to next autumn.)

Two weeks ago, as North America emerged from its coldest and snowiest winter for decades, the US National Climate Data Center, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement that snow cover in January on the Eurasian land mass had been the most extensive ever recorded, and that in the US March had been only the 63rd warmest since records began in 1895.

While global warming enthusiasts might take cheer from the NOAA's claim that "average global land temperature" in March was "the warmest on record", this was in striking contrast to a graph published last week on the Climate Audit website by Steve McIntyre. Tracking satellite data for the tropical troposphere, it showed March temperatures plunging to one of their lowest points in 30 years.

Mr McIntyre is the computer expert who exposed the infamous "hockey stick" graph - that icon of warmist orthodoxy which showed global temperatures soaring recently to their highest level for 1,000 years. He showed that the computer model that produced this graph had been so designed that it would have conjured even random numbers from a telephone directory into the shape of a hockey stick).

On April 24 the World Wildife Fund (WWF), another body keen to keep the warmist flag flying, published a study warning that Arctic sea ice was melting so fast that it may soon reach a "tipping point" where "irreversible change" takes place. This was based on last September's data, showing ice cover having shrunk over six months from 13 million square kilometres to just 3 million. What the WWF omitted to mention was that by March the ice had recovered to 14 million sq km (see the website Cryosphere Today), and that ice-cover around the Bering Strait and Alaska that month was at its highest level ever recorded. (At the same time Antarctic sea ice-cover was also at its highest-ever level, 30 per cent above normal).

The most dramatic evidence, however, emerged last week with an announcement by Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that an immense slow-cycling movement of water in the Pacific, known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), had unexpectedly shifted into its cool phase, something which only happens every 30 years or so, ultimately affecting climate all over the globe. Discussion of this on the invaluable Watts Up With That website, run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts, shows how the alternations of the PDO between warm and cool coincided with each of the major temperature shifts of the 20th century - warming after 1905, cooling after 1946, warming again after 1977 - and how the new shift to a cool phase could have repercussions for decades to come.

It is notable that the German computer predictions published last week by Nature forecast a decade of cooling due to deep-ocean movements in the Atlantic, without taking account of how this may now be reinforced by a similar, even greater movement in the Pacific.

Mr Watts points out that the West coast of the USA might already be experiencing these effects in the recent freezing temperatures that have devastated orchards and vineyards in California, prompting an appeal for disaster relief for growers who fear they may have lost this year's crops. Mr Watts's readers are amused by the explanation from one warmist apologist that "these natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities - or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it".

It is striking, in view of the colossal implications of the current response to "the greatest challenge confronting mankind" - as our politicians love to call it - how this hugely important debate is almost entirely overlooked by the media, and is instead conducted largely on the internet, through expert websites such as those run by Mr McIntyre and Mr Watts.

On one hand our politicians are committing us to spending unimaginable sums on wind farms, emissions trading schemes, absurdly ambitious biofuel targets, and every kind of tax and regulation designed to reduce our "carbon footprint" - all based on blindly accepting the predictions of computer models that the planet is overheating due to our output of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, a growing number of scientists are producing ever more evidence to show how those computer models are based on wholly inadequate data and assumptions - as is being confirmed by the behaviour of nature itself (not least the continuing non-arrival of sunspot cycle 24).

The fact is that what has been happening to the world's climate in recent years, since global temperatures ceased to rise after 1998, was not predicted by any of those officially-sponsored models. The discrepancy between their predictions and observable data becomes more glaring with every month that passes.

It won't do for believers in warmist orthodoxy to claim that, although temperatures may be falling, this is only because they are "masking an underlying warming trend that is still continuing" - nor to fob us off with assurances that the "German model shows that higher temperatures than 1998, the warmest year on record, are likely to return after 2015".

In view of what is now at stake, such quasi-religious incantations masquerading as science are something we can no longer afford. We should get back to proper science before it is too late.


Lubos Motl waxes sarcastic about global warming and shark attacks

Reproduced below. See the original for graphics & links

New research has determined that sharks began to attack people because of global warming. This is how the world looked like before global warming. It was a paradise. Caucasian fathers with their Asian children, tigers, birds, blonde women, and sharks were loving each other and living in peace. There exist witnesses who tell you more.

But as an article in the Guardian explains: "Surge in fatal shark attacks blamed on global warming". The world's top scientists in Florida have figured out what is behind the sharks' aggressivity.They calculated that in 2007, there was only 1 shark attack worldwide while in the first four months of 2008, there were 1+1+1+1 = 4 attacks. Feel free to check the math. Something is changing.

The next step in their sophisticated research was to find something else that is changing. Yes, it is the climate. Now, the logic is impeccable. If two things are changing, they must be correlated! Global warming makes sharks aggressive.

And while the deniers may want to emphasize their talking point that oceans were cooling since 2003, the ethical scientists know better.It is not the oceans what matters. What matters is the global warming. For example, sharks in Mexico become more aggressive because of the catastrophic warming of the Antarctic Peninsula. And one cannot look at the last 10 years or the next 10 years. The important thing is the trend of the global warming. And this trend has been determined by the world's top scientists to be positive forever and it explains all bad things that have happened and that will ever happen.

It has already brought early marriages to Uganda and stopped circumcisions in Kenya, among millions of other problems. Data from the thermometers therefore cannot change anything about it because data suck, after all. Data are the crap that is routinely abused by the deniers. Data must go.

The next scientific research we will read about will say that September 11, 2001 attacks were caused by global warming. Do you remember how you were asking why the hell the steel in the skyscrapers was melting? Yes, melting usually occurs because of warming! That new paper will hopefully be enough for all Americans to join the bandwagon! ;-)

Recently, al-Qaeda's pride was insulted by Iran's comments that the 9/11 attacks were organized by Israel rather than being a precious result of al-Qaeda. The new findings will bring some peace in between them. The 9/11 attacks were caused by burning oil i.e. by both Arabs who produce it as well as by George Bush who consumes it. And al-Qaeda, Iran, the IPCC, and sharks will be able to love each other again.



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 May, 2008


In the light of the inimitable Boris Johnson's just confirmed ascension to mayoral office in London, the following quotes may be of interest. Just for fun, however, I might firstly note here that, although Boris will now become Mayor of London, he will NOT be the The Lord Mayor of the City of London -- who is at present David Lewis. You don't have to be British to follow that but it helps. The "City" is only a small part of the London conurbation

Boris Johnson claimed a remarkable victory in the London mayoral contest on Friday night to cap a disastrous series of results for Gordon Brown in his first electoral test as Prime Minister. Mr Johnson's landmark victory, a result that would have been almost unthinkable six months ago, was the most symbolic blow to Mr Brown's authority on a day that left the Prime Minister facing the gravest crisis of his leadership.
--Andrew Porter and Robert Winnett, The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 2008

Mr Livingstone made clear he views 1 May as a referendum on his policies to tackle climate change and protect the health of Londoners. Aides claimed it would be the first election in British history to be decided largely on environmental issues.
--The London Evening Standard, 25 March 2008

Londoners now face a stark choice. Boris Johnson is an environmental vandal, whose main contribution to environmental policy was as a cheerleader for George W Bush's disastrous decision to oppose the Kyoto climate treaty. The election is neck and neck and everyone who cares about the environment needs to vote with the first and second preferences for myself and Sian Berry if we are to stop Boris Johnson wrecking London's environment.'
--Ken Livingstone, 25 April 2008

There are a hundred reasons why Boris Johnson should not be Mayor of London. But his dinosaur views on the environment alone are enough to show what a disaster he would be for our city. The man who backed Bush against the Kyoto treaty and who doesn't believe there's a risk from passive smoking cannot be trusted with our future - or even, really, with his own. He's a 19th century man in a 21st century city
--Sian Berry, Green Party, 25 April 2008

Under a climate change denier like Boris Johnson, we would have to fear for our futures, and for the jobs of all the hundreds who work for us. We would also have to fear for the physical security of the city itself, under the assault of unmitigated global warming, were others to follow Johnson's 'lead' on climate change.
--Jeremy Leggett, SolarCentury, 25 April 2008

The prospect of Boris as Mayor of London is just so scary. The prospect of Boris taking over London's Climate Change Action Plan is even scarier. He may have learnt not to reveal his full contrarian bigotry on climate change, but he really doesn't get it, and would rapidly scale back or completely get rid off the ambitious targets in the Action Plan. And that would be a massive set back. I just hope all the environmental NGOs can rally the troops in London in a pro-Ken campaign, even if they can't come out and explicitly endorse him.
--Jonathon Porritt, Sustainable Development Commission, March 2008

The hypocrisy of the Europeans over Kyoto is staggering. They attack America in hysterical terms, and yet the 15 EU countries have never come close to meeting their own eight per cent target for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. They have not even agreed which countries should cut the most. If America were to meet its Kyoto targets now, it would require a cut of 30 per cent in emissions, and how, exactly, is that supposed to work in the current economic downturn? It would exacerbate the recession, and when Bush says no, he is doing what is right not just for America but for the world
--Boris Johnson, The Daily Telegraph, April 2001

Surge in fatal shark attacks blamed on global warming!

One more for Prof. Brignell's long list of things allegedly caused by global warming. What makes the shark claim even more absurd than it initially appears is the fact that the oceans are COOLING!

Three decades have passed since the movie Jaws sent terrified bathers scrambling out of the ocean. But as any beach lifeguard knows, there's still nothing like a gory shark attack to stoke public hysteria and paranoia. Two deaths in the waters off California and Mexico last week and a spate of shark-inflicted injuries to surfers off Florida's Atlantic coast have left beachgoers seeking an explanation for a sudden surge in the number of strikes. In the first four months of this year, there were four fatal shark attacks worldwide, compared with one in the whole of 2007, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

'The one thing that's affecting shark attacks more than anything else is human activity,' said Dr George Burgess of Florida University, a shark expert who maintains the database. 'As the population continues to rise, so does the number of people in the water for recreation. And as long as we have an increase in human hours in the water, we will have an increase in shark bites. 'Some experts suggest that an abundance of seals has attracted high numbers of sharks, while others believe that overfishing has hit their food chain. 'I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's a convenient excuse,' Burgess said.

Another contributory factor to the location of shark attacks could be global warming and rising sea temperatures. 'You'll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn't in the past with some regularity,' he said.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is called the shark attack capital of the world. It has had more recorded incidents per square mile than any beach on Earth. So far this year there have been 10 attacks on surfers, including three in three days last week, although officials say most of the wounded were able to make their own way to hospital. 'It's more like a vicious dog bite, half a dozen stitches, a few bandages, that sort of thing,' said Scott Petersohn, a captain with the Volusia County Beach Patrol, which covers 47 miles of coastline including New Smyrna Beach.

'The sharks that inflict the most damage here, the black tips, can be about two or three feet long. There are some bigger ones along our coast, tiger sharks and bull sharks, but there's a sustainable food supply for them. People are not on the menu for sharks.

'At Solano Beach, California, where 66-year-old David Martin was killed last week by a great white shark estimated to be 4.5 metres long, and off the Mexican coast near Acapulco, where 25-year-old American tourist Adrian Ruiz fell victim to a suspected tiger shark, there were conflicting claims.

Meanwhile, the wildlife protection group Wildcoast has accused the Mexican authorities of 'international shark hysteria' over the slaughter of at least 10 near the beach at Troncones on the Pacific coast where Ruiz died. A navy spokesman said a 200-metre line with baited hooks was set up to catch any sharks threatening the beach.'They more than likely had nothing to do with the attack. Since sharks are threatened in Mexico, this is the worst type of vengeance security imaginable,' said Aida Navarro, the group's wildlife conservation programme manager. 'It's the equivalent of stepping on to the plains of the Serengeti when you step into the water,' Burgess said. 'It's not like a swimming pool. This is a wilderness experience and with it comes a certain amount of risk. 'What's needed is some kind of system to prevent people and sharks coming together in a dangerous way.'


More Carbon Dioxide, Please: If not, why not?

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

There seems to be an unwritten assumption among environmentalists - and among the media - that any influence humans have on nature is, by definition, bad. I even see it in scientific papers written by climate researchers. For instance, if we can measure some minute amount of a trace gas in the atmosphere at the South Pole, well removed from its human source, we are astonished at the far-reaching effects of mankind's "pollution."

But if nature was left undisturbed, would it be any happier and more peaceful? Would the carnivores stop eating those poor, defenseless herbivores, as well as each other? Would fish and other kinds of sea life stop infringing on the rights of others by feasting on them? Would there be no more droughts, hurricanes, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, or glaciers flowing toward the sea?

In the case of global warming, the alleged culprit - carbon dioxide - just happens to be necessary for life on Earth. How can Al Gore say with a straight face that we are treating the atmosphere like an "open sewer" by dumping carbon dioxide into it? Would he say the same thing if we were dumping more oxygen into the atmosphere? Or more nitrogen?

As a climate researcher, I am increasingly convinced that most of our recent global warming has been natural, not manmade. If true, this would mean that global temperatures can be expected to peak in the coming years (if they haven't already), and global cooling will eventually ensue.

Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that manmade global warming really is a false alarm. In that case, we would still need to ask: What are the other negative effects of pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere?

Well, plant physiologists have known for a long time that most vegetation loves more carbon dioxide. It grows faster, is more drought-tolerant, and is more efficient in its water use. While the pre-industrial CO2 concentration of the atmosphere was only about 280 parts per million (ppm) by volume, and now it is around 380 ppm, some greenhouses pump it all the way up to around 1,000 ppm. How can environmentalists claim that helping vegetation to grow is a bad thing?

The bigger concern has been the possible effect of the extra CO2 on the world's oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

Still, the main worry has been that the extra CO2 could hurt the growth of plankton, which represents the start of the oceanic food chain. But recent research (published on April 18 in Science Express) has now shown, contrary to expectations, that one of the most common forms of plankton actually grows faster and bigger when more CO2 is pumped into the water. Like vegetation on land, it loves the extra CO2, too!

It is quite possible that the biosphere (vegetation, sea life, etc.) has been starved for atmospheric CO2. Before humans started burning fossil fuels, vegetation and ocean plankton had been gobbling up as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as they could, but it was like a vacuum cleaner trying to suck through a stopped-up hose.

Now, no matter how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere each year, the biosphere takes out an average of 50 percent of that extra amount. Even after we triple the amount of CO2 we produce, nature still takes out 50 percent of the extra amount.

I think it is time for scientists to consider the possibility that more CO2 in the atmosphere might, on the whole, be good for life on Earth. Oh, I'm sure there will be some species which are hurt more than helped, but this is true of any change in nature. There are always winners and losers.

For instance, during a strong El Nino event, trillions of animals in the ocean die as the usual patterns of ocean temperature are disrupted. When Mother Nature does something like this it is considered natural. Yet, if humans were to do such a thing, it would be considered an environmental catastrophe. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical - even religious. It is entirely possible that there are other, more preferable states of balance in nature which are more robust and less fragile than whatever the state of nature was before we came along.

You would think that science is the last place you would find such religious opinions, yet they dominate the worldview of scientists. Natural scientists tend to worship nature, and they then teach others to worship nature, too. all under the guise of "science." And to the extent that this view is religious, then making environmental laws based upon that view could be considered a violation of the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The automatic assumption that mankind's production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels is bad for the environment needs to be critically examined. Unfortunately, scientists who question that point of view are immediately branded as shills for Big Oil. But since I am already accused of this (falsely, I might add), I really don't mind being one of the first scientists to raise the issue.


Three Climate Change Hypotheses - Only One Of Which Can Be True

Comment from Roger Pielke Sr.

The climate issue, with respect to how humans are influencing the climate system, can be segmented into three distinct hypotheses. These are:

* The human influence is minimal and natural variations dominate climate variations on all time scale;

* While natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings (including, but not limited to the human input of CO2);

* The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.

The third hypothesis, of course, is the IPCC perspective. The challenge to the scientific community, using the scientific method, is to present observational evidence that refutes one or more of these hypotheses. Climate Science's perspective is that the second hypotheses is correct, which has support from the National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

A new Nature paper by Keenlyside et al. entitled "Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector" provides evidence that is inconsistent with the third hypothesis. This paper has in its abstract:
"The climate of the North Atlantic region exhibits fluctuations on decadal timescales that have large societal consequences. Prominent examples include hurricane activity in the Atlantic, and surface-temperature and rainfall variations over North America, Europe and northern Africa..Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming."
There are several important messages from this paper:

While this Nature paper claims that this lack of global warming is temporary due to "natural climate variations", unless the first hypothesis is true, there are NO climate variations that are not affected by humans (i.e., the term "natural climate variations" is therefore a misnomer).

This new paper supports the perspective that climate variations and change (even the global average radiative imbalance) are dominated by regional alterations in circulations [as summarized in the 2005 National Research Council Report, and emphasized on Climate Science and associated papers (e.g. see) including the very important guest weblog on Climate Science by Roy Spencer (see) on this subject].

Since the multi-decadal global climate model predictions used for the 2007 IPCC report are failing to skillfully predict these "fluctuations on decadal time scales", there is no credible reason to accept the claim in the Nature paper that the "projected anthropogenic warming" will be accurately predicted after the next decade.



More than seven in 10 voters insist that they would not be willing to pay higher taxes in order to fund projects to combat climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey also reveals that most Britons believe "green" taxes on 4x4s, plastic bags and other consumer goods have been imposed to raise cash rather than change our behaviour, while two-thirds of Britons think the entire green agenda has been hijacked as a ploy to increase taxes.

The findings make depressing reading for green campaigners, who have spent recent months urging the Government to take far more radical action to reduce Britain's carbon footprint. The UK is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, a target that most experts believe will be difficult to reach. The results of the poll by Opinium, a leading research company, indicate that maintaining popular support for green policies may be a difficult act to pull off, and attempts in the future to curb car use and publicly fund investment in renewable resources will prove deeply unpopular.

The implications of the poll could also blow a hole in the calculations of the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, who was forced to delay a scheduled 2p-a-litre rise in fuel duty until the autumn in his spring Budget, while his plans to impose a showroom tax and higher vehicle excise duty on gas-guzzling cars will not take effect for a year. He is now under pressure to shelve the increase in fuel duty because of the steep rise in the price of oil.

The public's climate-change scepticism extends to the recent floods which inundated much of the West Country, and reported signs of changes in the cycle of the seasons. Just over a third of respondents (34 per cent) believe that extreme weather is becoming more common but has nothing to do with global warming. One in 10 said that they believed that climate change is totally natural.

The over-55s are most cynical about the effects of global warming with 43 per cent believing that extreme weather and global warming are unconnected.

Three in 10 (29 per cent) of all respondents would oppose any more legislation in support of green policies, while close to a third of citizens (31 per cent) believe that green taxes will have no discernible effect on the environment since people will still take long-haul flights regularly and drive carbon-heavy vehicles.

Mike Childs, the head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, blamed the Government for generating a cynical response to "green taxes". "People do get cynical unless they see benefits," he said. "The Government is playing a dangerous game. They are using climate change to identify potential new taxes and revenues but the public aren't seeing anything in return. The public aren't being helped to go green. The Government could put a windfall tax on the big oil companies and use that money to insulate homes or introduce a feed-in tariff to pay people to produce renewable energy."

Mark Hodson, of Opinium Research, said: "Britain appears to be feeling increasingly negative about being more carbon neutral. We are questioning the truth behind being greener and many feel that Government is creating a green fear for monetary gain."

The findings were released as the Prince of Wales yesterday called on Britain's business leaders to take "essential action" to make their firms more sustainable. Speaking in central London to some of the country's leading chief executives, Prince Charles said: "What more can I do but urge you, this country's business leaders, to take the essential action now to make your businesses more sustainable. I'm exhausted with repeating that there really is no time to lose."

Also attending the May Day Business Summit, the Prime Minister promised the Government will set out a "credible" long-term policy framework to help industry develop innovative low-carbon, resource-efficient products and services. He outlined the recommendations of a report, Building a Low Carbon Economy, for creating a "green" economy, including "seeking to encourage changes in consumer behaviour".

Gordon Brown said: "We know that we will only succeed if individuals and communities, as well as Government and business, are part of the solution."

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said: "The Government is committed to building a low-carbon economy, here and around the world. That means a complete change in the way we live and an economic transformation that will put Britain at the forefront of a technological revolution in the way we use and source our energy."

The research was conducted online amongst 2,002 adults by Opinium Research LLP between 11 and 14 April



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3 May, 2008


An email from Paul Stevens []

I find it amazing that proponents of AGW can maintain a straight face while they say that Pacific temperature oscillations and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation will have a cooling effect, and subsequently cancel out continued temperature increases over the next ten years.

If these effects can have that kind of impact, couldn't they have had an amplification effect on the preceding decades of warming? In effect, the last ten years of stasis in temperature increases, and the next ten years of cooling are natural, but the preceding 20 years of warming are all the result of humanity's society and technology.

Unbelievable. As a previous correspondent suggested, "I don't think that most climate modellers...can even blush anymore."


An email from Richard Courtney []

The issue is simple. It is like this: A horse-racing tipster predicted a horse would win the Derby, but that horse came last. Then, the tipster said he had amended his method and - using his amended method - he was confident that the same horse would win the Derby next year. Would anybody other than a fool believe him?

Now, compare that to the following: Several teams made climate models and all those models predicted global warming with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. None - not one - of those models predicted that global warming would peak in 1998 then stop for the following decade despite atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increasing by ~5%. But that is what has happened.

Now, one team has amended their model so it shows the cessation of global warming in 1998. Their amended model predicts that global warming will re-start in 2015. Does anybody other than a fool believe them?


Comment by Prof. Brignell, a specialist in signal detection. Note what he says about chartmanship. Graphs can be made to lie and there are some egregious examples of it in Warmist "science". Using tiny units of measurement, for instance, can give an impression of change where there is only random noise. If, by contrast, one took the average global daily range in temperature as the unit, one would see a temperature chart that is totally flat. And why not take our normal experience of temperature variation as the unit? It's an extreme proposal but it highlights how arbitrary and yet how important are the units of measurement used

As we were saying only last month, the motto du jour is get your rationalisation in first. The latest wheeze among the doomsayers is that hell fire is being postponed. Of course, it would have been more impressive if it had been published before the recent decade of measurements showing no warming at all. As it stands, it is nothing more than a testament to the infinite tunability of computer models. The warmers are getting more and more like those traditional predictors of the end of the world who, when the event fails to happen on the due date, announce an error in their calculations and a new date.

There is a new tendency that seems to afflict both believers and deniers alike, waiting for the next monthly data point and trying to make deductions and forecasts from it. A single new data point on a noisy graph tells you nothing about the development of trends (See the example of What happens next? in this presentation, slides 28-30). Fundamentals, such as the Uncertainty Principle and the estimation of trends ensure that a single point in time tells you nothing about the evolution of processes. Like the official definition of recession, you don't know it has happened until after the event.

PhD training used to be about eliminating tendencies such as getting excited about a new data point and loading upon it all sorts of fantastical premonitions that it is unable to bear, but that was another age and besides the culture is dead.

Furthermore, there is nothing more depressing for a referee than to find the introduction of a filter of mine own invention, as happened with the revival of the hockey stick by a pseudonymous author analysing data from a prominent Urban Heat Island. It is in the nature of the beast that at a certain stage in our development, scientists fall in love with the sheer romance of signal processing and rush to adopt the latest technique of linear algebra, including filtering, but it is a sign of maturity to stick to well known and fully understood procedures. In particular, a new procedure requires an enormous amount of analysis just to see what it actually does. More often that not (as for example in the introduction of the coppock) the only effect is to enhance the outcome desired by the author at the expense of perspicuity.

One of the most absurd examples of chartmanship you are ever likely to see is the one supposed to indicate an uprising of the dreaded methane. Not only are the units of the ordinates parts per billion, but the suppression of the zero is as dramatic as you can find. What is to all intents and purposes a horizontal line is transformed into a portentous curve, but even then it is indicative of a saturating phenomenon rather than an evolutionary one. It transpires, however, that the whole "threat" depends on a wriggle of noise at the very end of the plot. It might well transpire eventually that the curve is rising, but this nonsense does not establish it by a long chalk. Alas poor science!



(By DENNIS T. AVERY, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for the Center for Global Food Issues. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years". His email:

Now it's not just the sunspots that predict a 23-year global cooling. The new Jason oceanographic satellite shows that 2007 was a "cool" La Nina year-but Jason also says something more important is at work: The much larger and more persistent Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has turned into its cool phase, telling us to expect moderately lower global temperatures until 2030 or so.

For the past century at least, global temperatures have tended to mirror the 20-to 30-year warmings and coolings of the north-central Pacific Ocean. We don't know just why, but the pattern of the last century is clear: the earth warmed from about 1915 to1940, while the PDO was also warming (1925 to 46). The earth cooled from 1940 to 1975, while the PDO was cooling (1946 to 1977). The strong global warming from 1976 to 1998 was accompanied by a strong and almost-constant warming of the north-central Pacific. Ancient tree rings in Baja California and Mexico show there have been 11 such PDO shifts since 1650, averaging 23 years on length.

Researchers discovered the PDO only recently-in 1996-while searching for the reason salmon numbers had declined sharply in the Columbia River after 1977. The salmon catch record for the past 100 years gave the answer-shifting Pacific Ocean currents. The PDO favors the salmon from the Columbia for about 25 years at a time, and then the salmon from the Gulf of Alaska, but the two fisheries never thrive at the same time. Something in the PDO favors the early development of the salmon smolts from one region or the other. Other fish, such as halibut, sardines, and anchovies follow similar shifts in line with the PDO.

The PDO seems to be driven by the huge Aleutian Low in the Arctic-but we don't know what controls the Aleutian Low. Nonetheless, 22.5-year "double sunspot cycles" have been identified in South African rainfall, Indian monsoons, Australian droughts, and rains in the United States' far southwest as well. These cycles argue that the sun, not CO2, controls the earth's temperatures.

Dr. Henrik Svensmark's recent experiments at the Danish Space Research Institute seem to show that the earth's temperatures are importantly affected by the low, wet clouds that deflect more or less solar heat back into space. The number of such clouds is affected, in turn, by more or fewer cosmic rays hitting the earth. The number of earthbound cosmic rays depends on the extent of the giant magnetic wind thrown out by the sun.

All of this defies the "consensus" that human-emitted carbon dioxide has been responsible for our global warming. But the evidence for man-made warming has never been as strong as its Green advocates maintained. The earth's warming from 1915 to 1940 was just about as strong as the "scary" 1975 to 1998 warming in both scope and duration-and occurred too early to be blamed on human-emitted CO2. The cooling from 1940 to 1975 defied the Greenhouse Theory, occurring during the first big surge of man-made greenhouse emissions. Most recently, the climate has stubbornly refused to warm since 1998, even though human CO2 emissions have continued to rise strongly.

The Jason satellite is an updated and more-accurate version of the Poseidon satellite that has been monitoring the oceans since 1992, picking up ocean wind speeds, wave heights, and sea level changes. Jason is run by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a French team.

How many years of declining world temperature would it take now-in the wake of the ten-year non-warming since 1998-to break up Al Gore's "climate change consensus"?



The original of the article below includes lots of graphics and links

A paper published in scientific journal Nature this week has reignited the debate about Global Warming, by predicting that the earth won't be getting any warmer until 2015. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences have factored in cyclical oceanic into their climate model, and produced a different forecast to the "consensus" models which don't. But how will we know whether the earth is warming or cooling? Today, it all depends on the data source.

Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998. According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941.

By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880. The other two widely used global temperature data sources are from earth-orbiting satellites UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems.) Both show decreasing temperatures over the last decade, with present temperatures barely above the 30 year average.

Confusing? How can scientists who report measurements of the earth's temperature within one one-hundredth of a degree be unable to concur if the temperature is going up or down over a ten year period? Something appears to be inconsistent with the NASA data - but what is it?

One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again. The recent changes can be seen by comparing the NASA 1999 and 2007 US temperature graphs. Below is the 1999 version, and below that is the reworked 2007 version.

In order to visualize the changes, I overlaid the 2007 version on top of the 1999 version, above, and a clear pattern emerged. The pre-1970 temperatures have been nearly uniformly adjusted downwards (red below green) - and the post 1970 temperatures have been adjusted upwards (red above green.) Some of the yearly temperatures have been adjusted by as much as 0.5 degrees. That is a huge total change for a country the size of the US with thousands of separate temperature records.

How could it be determined that so many thermometers were wrong by an average of 0.5 degrees in one particular year several decades ago, and an accurate retrofit be made? Why is the adjustment 0.5 degrees one year, and 0.1 degrees the next?

Describing this more succinctly, the 2007 version of the data appears to have been sheared vertically across 1970 to create the appearance of a warming trend. We can approximate shear by applying a small rotation, so I tried "un-rotating" the 2007 graph clockwise around 1970 until I got a reasonably good visual fit at six degrees.

What could be the motivation for the recent changes? Further examination of the NASA site might give us a clue as to what is happening.

NASA staff have done some recent bookkeeping and refined the data from 1930-1999. The issues has been discussed extensively at science blog Climate Audit. So what is the probability of this effort consistently increasing recent temperatures and decreasing older temperatures? From a statistical viewpoint, data recalculation should cause each year to have a 50/50 probability of going either up or down - thus the odds of all 70 adjusted years working in concert to increase the slope of the graph (as seen in the combined version) are an astronomical 2 raised to the power of 70. That is one-thousand-billion-billion to one. This isn't an exact representation of the odds because for some of the years (less than 15) the revisions went against the trend - but even a 55/15 split is about as likely as a room full of chimpanzees eventually typing Hamlet. That would be equivalent to flipping a penny 70 times and having it come up heads 55 times. It will never happen - one trillion to one odds (2 raised to the power 40.)

Particularly troubling are the years from 1986-1998. In the 2007 version of the graph, the 1986 data was adjusted upwards by 0.4 degrees relative to the 1999 graph. In fact, every year except one from 1986-1998 was adjusted upwards, by an average of 0.2 degrees. If someone wanted to present a case for a lot of recent warming, adjusting data upwards would be an excellent way to do it.

Looking at the NASA website, we can see that the person in charge of the temperature data is the eminent Dr. James Hansen - Al Gore's science advisor and the world's leading long-term advocate of global warming.

Data Sources

NASA and Had-Crut data are largely based on surface measurements, using thermometers. They both face a lot of difficulties due to contaminated data caused by urban heating effects, disproportionate concentration of thermometers in urban areas, changes in thermometer types over time, changes in station locations, loss of stations, changes in the time of day when thermometers are read, and yet more factors.

NASA has a very small number of long-term stations in the Arctic, and even fewer in Africa and South America. The data has been systematically adjusted upwards in recent years - as can be seen in this graph, reproduced below. Temperatures from the years 1990 to present have more than one-half degree Fahrenheit artificially added on to them - which may account for most of the upwards trend in the NASA temperature set.

Official difference between the publicly reported temperature and the original data from USHCN/NASA Satellite temperature data (UAH and RSS) is more reliable because it covers the entire earth - with the exception of small regions near the north and south poles. They use the same methodology from year to year, and the two sources tend to agree fairly closely. The downside of satellite data is that it only goes back to 1978.

Now back to the present. NASA temperatures for March 2008 indicate that it was the third warmest March in history, but satellite data sources RSS and UAH disagree. They show March as the second coldest ever in the southern hemisphere, and barely above average worldwide. (The northern hemisphere in March was split between a cold North America and a very warm Asia, causing temperatures in the northern hemisphere to be above average.) Data so far for April shows both hemispheres back on the decline, and April is shaping up to be an unusually cool month across most of the globe (Africa, South America, North America and portions of Europe and Asia).

Bottom Line

Both of the satellite data sources, as well as Had-Crut, show worldwide temperatures falling below the IPCC estimates. Satellite data shows temperatures near or below the 30 year average - but NASA data has somehow managed to stay on track towards climate Armageddon. You can draw your own conclusions, but I see a pattern that is troublesome. In science, as with any other endeavour, it is always a good idea to have some separation between the people generating the data and the people interpreting it.

Some good news moving forward was reported this week by Anthony Watts, who blogs at Watt's Up With That? USHCN has issued a press release indicating that they are upgrading their methodology and ending the practice of adjusting data upwards for future temperature readings. This will make the data more credible, though will not resolve the issues associated with growing urban heat islands or a lack of spatial coverage across the planet.

Bear in mind that warming and cooling concerns are nothing new, as this alarming bulletin reminds us -
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
A RealClimate blogger? No, that was the US Weather Bureau in 1922.

We saw a global cooling scare in 1924, a global warming scare in 1933, another global cooling in the early 1970s, and another warming scare today. The changes the USHCN promised Watts won't help resolve anything for another decade or so, but perhaps future generations will be able to reduce the alarming increase in the number of climate alarms.



As if the politics of addressing global climate change weren't already daunting enough, a new paper published in Nature this week suggests that the Northern Hemisphere, where most of humanity lives, could be due for a cooling trend, thanks to shifting ocean currents. Coming at a time when the idea of global cooling has been making the rounds on the internet, the prospect of a break in the observable warming trend greatly complicates the task of policy makers who are answerable to their electorates. It would be much harder to contemplate jarring changes to the economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if the polar ice were to stop retreating and glaciers stabilized, or even began to grow again.

The new prediction is based on modeling work described in today's New York Times. It also prompts comparisons to predictions that global warming might trigger even more dramatic cooling, by altering the strength and path of the Atlantic thermohaline current, or "salt conveyor". Once again, we are reminded that global warming has always been a highly imprecise term for the complex processes now at work. That's why I prefer "climate change"--not as a euphemism, but as a more accurate description of the outcomes we face. Some even prefer "global weirding."

But while environmentalists may embrace this new scientific view of climate change as more volatile than the steady warming many have expected, climate skeptics will see it as a glaring inconsistency, particularly if the global rise in temperature stalls. That matters because it seems unlikely that the public's growing worries about climate change result from having absorbed the scientific consensus embodied in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rather than from media coverage of melting icecaps, shrinking glaciers, unusual heat waves and droughts, and the other evidence that fits a pattern of warming. If the visible evidence began seriously to diverge from that trend, I am skeptical that faith in science would sustain the public concern that must underpin any serious regulatory efforts, whether we're talking about emissions cap and trade, a carbon tax, or even the milder sector-specific targets that the President recently proposed.

Those who approach climate change with a quasi-religious fervor are likely to become apoplectic at any suggestion that a few cooler months or years might derail the growing policy momentum to institute the means of dramatically reducing emissions. But while they might be comfortable dismissing out of hand a winter that was 0.5 degrees Celsius colder than the previous one--punctuated by a sharp rebound in March--the rest of us might prefer a polite and practical conversation about how such variability could still be consistent with the overall trendline. Ultimately, our understanding of climate change must always remain incomplete, and so we must remain flexible enough to incorporate the new knowledge we will inevitably turn up along the way. Isn't that the essence of science?


Uncertainty is the only certainty

Comment from Australia by former Leftist politician Michael Duffy:

Global warming stopped six years ago. It might start again tomorrow, but from 2002 until now, average global temperatures have remained fairly constant. This is in contrast to the previous period when, as everyone knows, the temperature trend was upwards. Most people I've mentioned this to were not aware of it. They assumed that temperatures had continued to rise in line with greenhouse gas emissions, which have certainly continued to increase. So it's worth looking at what's happened.

The two most prominent organisations that record global average temperatures are the British Met Office's Hadley Centre and America's National Climatic Data Centre. Their records might be called "official"- Hadley, for instance, is closely involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Their records for temperature change can be found at their websites. Hadley expresses temperature changes in terms of deviations from the 1961 to 1990 average. In 2002 the rounded global temperature for land and sea was 0.46 above that average. In the next five years it was: 0.46, 0.43, 0.48, 0.42, and 0.40. The figures for the data centre are calculated slightly differently, but they too show no trend over the period in question.

What does this mean? Some global warming sceptics say these figures disprove the basic hypothesis of global warming, that rising greenhouse gas emissions automatically produce rising temperatures. Some have looked back to 1998, an unusually hot year (0.52 on Hadley's list) and said that global warming actually stopped back then. They conclude that after 10 years we can now say global warming is over, and we face the possibility of global cooling.

I suspect it's still too early to make these conclusions. As a sceptic on this issue, I've spent years arguing that we just don't know enough about what's going on to predict the future with any certainty. It's too soon to junk that caution based on six (or even 10) years' data and claim that global warming is over. The earth might start to cool next year (not necessarily a pleasant thought, incidentally), it might stay the same, or it might start to warm again. I don't think any of us knows.

This is the argument that has been put by some on the other side of the issue. Some have also suggested that the warming trend has actually continued, despite the above figures. A good source for this position is the paper Waiting For Global Cooling, published last month by Robert Fawcett and David Jones of the National Climate Centre at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. They say that the El Nino effect boosted the temperature for 1998, while the recent La Nina suppressed it, thereby masking the underlying trend. According to them, "the linear trend in globally-averaged annual mean temperatures . over the period 1998-2007 remains upward". This conclusion depends on the way they have used the raw data to calculate their trend line. As so often in the global warming debate, much depends on which data you look at and what you do with it.

Whatever the recent figures might signify, it's disturbing that they haven't received more publicity. If the trend had been different - if warming had accelerated, say - you can bet it would have been reported everywhere. But because the figures since 2002 might raise doubts about the orthodoxy, there has been a great silence. Most of those involved in public discussion of global warming simply ignored what was happening to the temperature record. The media have continued to interpret any minor weather event as proof of global warming. Political leaders have continued to crank up the panic. It's a response that has to raise concerns about the relative roles of reason, emotion and propaganda in public consideration of global warming.

The implications of the past six years for public policy are the same as for science: we need to be cautious. We simply don't know enough about this matter to justify urgent and dramatic action. It's worth reflecting on the number of scientists who are certain about what the temperature trend will be in a 100 years, yet in 2001 were unable to predict what would happen in the next six.



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 May, 2008


Now that there has been no global warming for ten years and there are signs of a new cooling phase starting, the prophets of doom are desperately trying to save their bacon. They are now prophesying COOLING, but say that the cooling will only be temporary. We can expect many years of cooling but then warming will resume, we are told. How can they know that? They cannot. They are just pulling it all out of their ass. Their entire global warming scare was based on around two decades of warming in the late 20th century so if that is followed by 20 years of stasis and cooling, which one of those two episodes represents the trend? How can we be sure that there is ANY trend? If natural fluctuations can cause an episode of cooling, how can we know that natural fluctuations did not cause the episode of warming? We cannot know that. The prophecies of doom are just irresponsible and very damaging speculation.

The latest ass-covering articles (both from "Nature") are here and here. Media summaries are here and here.

I reproduce below some comments from others on the matter:


An email from David Whitehouse [] ?

Isn't it curious. Isn't the self-correcting nature of science wonderful to behold? Not long ago anyone who looked at the global annual temperature data and disrespectfully pointed out that it might actually be significant that the world hasn't become warmer since 1998, was dismissed as foolish and accused of seeing what they wanted to see in the data.

Then if they had the effrontery to point out that that even the UK's Met Office agreed that the annual data between 2001-7 was an impeccable flat line they were told they were completely wrong as such things were obviously only year-on-year variability (as an unscientific environmental 'activist' dammed my speculations in the New Statesman about the same topic whilst at the same time implying I was lying).

Ten years is too short a period to tell what is going on, they said, conveniently forgetting, if they ever knew, that the IPCC itself was established after less than ten years of global warming data. It seems that ten years is enough to be significant if the data says the right thing!

Then some righteous journalists rushed to get the 'truth' out about the flat line because, as they said, 'sceptics' were already using it to ask questions. Strange then, that over the past few weeks we have seen from many sources people trying to explain this 'year-on-year' statistical variability by tangible physical effects although so far such are straining to explain the data.

The impeccable flat line in global average temperatures since 2001 we were told earlier this year by the Met Office will continue throughout 2008 because of the cooling effect of La Nina. Now we are told in a Nature paper that the cooling effect of the Atlantic will extend this flat line, and possibly even point it downwards between now and 2015. They say the Pacific will stay unchanged though as we saw yesterday there are other scientists who say that the Pacific will get colder over the same period.

So much for those TV commentators who several years ago pontificated that the 'science is settled.' Also curious is that over the next decade man-made global warming will be cancelled out by natural cycles. It's nice that Mother Nature (not the journal) is helping us this way but it does beg the question as to whether the man-made effect was all that significant if it can be nullified this way. What else could this unsettled science find to cool us down?

Then there are speculations about the effect of the downturn in solar activity. In Medieval times if a hypothesis, such as the heliocentric idea, disagreed with the consensus, then it was interpreted as being a convenient mathematical trick taken only to 'preserve the appearances' and not an indication of physical reality. Who today, I wonder, will history judge as preserving the appearances?


An email from John A [] of Climate Audit referring to the BBC report by Richard Black

The BBC report features some startling reversals such as The Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for a decade, as natural climate cycles enter a cooling phase, scientists have predicted. A new computer model developed by German researchers, reported in the journal Nature, suggests the cooling will counter greenhouse warming.

Oh my gosh! Just imagine that! Could the IPCC be completely wrong? "One message from our study is that in the short term, you can see changes in the global mean temperature that you might not expect given the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)," said Noel Keenlyside from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University" and in a tyre-squealing manoevre that would do Lewis Hamilton proud: "The projection does not come as a surprise to climate scientists, though it may to a public that has perhaps become used to the idea that the rapid temperature rises seen through the 1990s are a permanent phenomenon."

Now where do you think the public might have got that impression from? The BBC? The IPCC? Nature? I don't think that most climate modellers or BBC journalists can even blush anymore.


By Roger Pielke Jr.

For a while now I've been asking climate scientists to tell me what could be observed in the real world that would be inconsistent with forecasts (predictions, projections, etc.) of climate models, such as those that are used by the IPCC. I've long suspected that the answer is "nothing" and the public silence from those in the outspoken climate science community would seem to back this up. Now a paper in Nature today (PDF) suggests that the world may cool over the next 20 years, and this would not be inconsistent with predictions of longer-term global warming.

I am sure that this is an excellent paper by world class scientists. But when I look at the broader significance of the paper what I see is that there is in fact nothing that can be observed in the climate system that would be inconsistent with climate model predictions. If global cooling over the next few decades is consistent with model predictions, then so too is pretty much anything and everything under the sun.

This means that from a practical standpoint climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global climate policy. I am sure that some model somewhere has foretold how the next 20 years will evolve (and please ask me in 20 years which one!). And if none get it right, it won't mean that any were actually wrong. If there is no future over the next few decades that models rule out, then anything is possible. And of course, no one needed a model to know that.

Don't get me wrong, models are great tools for probing our understanding and exploring various assumptions about how nature works. But scientists think they know with certainty that carbon dioxide leads to bad outcomes for the planet, so future modeling will only refine that fact. I am focused on the predictive value of the models, which appears to be nil. So models have plenty of scientific value left in them, but tools to use in planning or policy? Forget about it.

Those who might object to my assertion that models are of no practical use beyond political promotion, can start by returning to my original question: What can be observed in the climate over the next few decade that would be inconsistent with climate model projections? If you have no answer for this question then I'll stick with my views.


Sampling of reactions from other scientists

Post below recycled from Marc Morano. See the original for links

1) Dr. Roger A. Pielke, Jr. Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado reacted to this study in the journal Nature by declaring: "Climate models are of no practical use." Pielke, who is not a climate skeptic, said on April 30, "There is in fact nothing that can be observed in the climate system that would be inconsistent with climate model predictions. If global cooling over the next few decades is consistent with model predictions, then so too is pretty much anything and everything under the sun. This means that from a practical standpoint climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global climate policy." (LINK)

2) Former Harvard University Physicist Dr. Lubos Motl, a string theorist who is currently a professor at Charles University in the Czech Republic said on May 1: "Wow. So the refutation of a prediction of a dangerous warming by the world's top 2,500 scientists ;-) "does not come as a surprise". Note that with no global warming since 1998, the paper predicts 20 years of no warming. Recall that Al Gore has predicted global destruction in less than 8 years from now. [.] The whole validation of all existing climate models is (or should be) mostly based on the data from the previous decades or centuries. If an effect that is argued to be as strong as the greenhouse effect has been neglected while it has the power to change 60-70 years of the temperature dynamics, it implies the existence of a critical flaw in the whole picture." (LINK)

3) UK Astronomer Dr. David Whitehouse, who authored the 2004 book The Sun: A Biography, said on May 1, 2008: "Isn't it curious that over the next decade man-made global warming will be cancelled out by natural cycles. It's nice that Mother Nature (not the journal) is helping us this way but it does beg the question as to whether the man-made effect was all that significant if it can be nullified this way."

4) Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn, founder of the UK based long-term solar forecast group Weather Action, said on April 30: "It is noteworthy that this 'prediction' in the journal Nature coincides pretty well with various solar-based predictions including the solar-magnetic based prediction we issued from WeatherAction in Jan this year - i.e. cooling till 2013 at least. It seems like the 'Anything But the Sun' faction of UN IPCC works by copying what has already been predicted by a number of solar-based forecasting techniques and then attributing the cause to something earth-based. That way they hope to save the lie that man's irrelevant earth-based efforts could cause climate change. Of course the long term cooling change expected in sea temperatures referred to in this paper in Nature as 'cause' is nothing of the sort it is a consequence of the changes in sun-earth magnetic and particle links. The Nature article is in effect saying that 'Climate Change causes climate change'. Give us a break! Why is there a 22 year cycle in the solar magnetic links and also the same cycle in world temperatures? The reason is that the earth-sun magnetic links drive world temperatures (and this understanding enables successful long-range weather forecasts to be made). The pillars of pseudo-science writing in nature believe their 'sea cycle' is the driver of what happens so they will have to tell us that that the sun's magnetic field is driven by the Earth's oceans. Does anyone buy this? Application of the scientific method to science would be a good idea!"


Stephen Wilde has been a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1968. The first article from Mr Wilde "The link between solar cycle length and decadal global temperature" was received with a great deal of interest throughout the Co2 Sceptic community.

In this second article from Stephen Wilde, he exposes a serious flaw in the IPCC modellers parameters for the changes to the Earths Climate in recent decades.

The reader will find the argument put forward in support of this article may have significant implications for the assumptions made by the IPCC on the influence of the Sun to the Earth as a result of this work.


By Stephen Wilde

As I understand it the solar effect on climate has been discounted by the climate modellers because the variation in total solar irradiance between the peak and the trough of a single eleven year (approximately) solar cycle seems far too small to make any difference to global temperature.

There are a number of problems with their assumption as follows:-

The concept of total solar irradiance is purely a convenient construct. We do not know all the different mechanisms by which the sun can have an influence on global temperature either directly or indirectly. The use of the word "total" is therefore misleading. Even the concept of irradiance is vague and maybe incomplete.

The fact is that in the real observed world over centuries cooler weather has been seen to occur at a similar time to longer less active solar cycles and warmer weather similarly occurs with shorter more active solar cycles. If total solar irradiance does not seem to account for it that is no reason to ignore the phenomenon yet the modellers and the IPCC do so. I assume that the reason they ignore it is because, being unaware of the cause of the observed phenomenon, they have no numbers representing it to feed into the models. Their model output should therefore be qualified by an admission that at least one substantial observable real world phenomenon has been wholly omitted. Unfortunately for them that would render the models useless for policy making purposes.

The IPCC and the modellers do recently seem to have come to accept the influence of the EL NINO/ LA NINA cycle as a warming/cooling process. However they currently regard it as a purely redistributive mechanism rather than one which could actually be part of a driving mechanism. They would be in error if variations in solar energy input to the Earth operated a switch between the predominance over time of either EL NINO or LA NINA.

The variation between peaks and troughs in the solar cycle may be very small but if continued over long periods the effects could soon accumulate. If, say, the difference is only 1% then if a reduction or increase in incoming solar energy continues for many years, perhaps over several solar cycles, then it is the cumulative effect that should be considered and that could well be substantial over a number of decades.

There could also be other unknown mechanisms driven by solar changes that exaggerate the effect of small variations in total solar irradiance. A current possibility being investigated is a suggested link between cosmic ray flux and cloudiness. The flux varies depending on the energy from the sun and may drive cloudiness changes.

It is possible that over the millennia the earth has become a very accurate "thermometer" in terms of its reaction to solar heat or other forms of solar energy input. The entirety of the global heat budget may be very sensitive to solar changes. Over millions of years the earth has arrived at a temperature balanced between incoming solar energy and outgoing radiation of energy to space. The balance could well be much finer than we have so far realised. There are certainly no available figures that describe the sensitivity of the global temperature to variations in solar input and without knowing that level of sensitivity as a first step I fail to see how we can know anything useful about the sensitivity of the Earth to other influences


Chickenfeedhawks: Global warm-mongering

By Mark Steyn

Last week, Time magazine featured on its cover the iconic photograph of the U.S. Marine Corps raising the flag on Iwo Jima. But with one difference: The flag has been replaced by a tree. The managing editor of Time, Rick Stengel, was very pleased with the lads in graphics for cooking up this cute image and was all over the TV sofas talking up this ingenious visual shorthand for what he regards as the greatest challenge facing mankind: "How To Win The War On Global Warming."

Where to begin? For the last ten years, we have, in fact, been not warming but slightly cooling, which is why the eco-warriors have adopted the all-purpose bogeyman of "climate change." But let's take it that the editors of Time are referring not to the century we live in but the previous one, when there was a measurable rise of temperature of approximately one degree. That's the "war": one degree.

If the tree-raising is Iwo Jima, a one-degree increase isn't exactly Pearl Harbor. But General Stengel wants us to engage in preemptive war. The editors of Time would be the first to deplore such saber-rattling applied to, say, Iran's nuclear program, but it has become the habit of progressive opinion to appropriate the language of war for everything but actual war.

So let's cut to the tree. In my corner of New Hampshire, we have more trees than we did a hundred or two hundred years ago. My town is over 90 percent forested. Any more trees and I'd have to hack my way through the undergrowth to get to my copy of Time magazine on the coffee table. Likewise Vermont, where not so long ago in St Albans I found myself stuck behind a Hillary supporter driving a Granolamobile bearing the bumper sticker "TO SAVE A TREE REMOVE A BUSH." Very funny. And even funnier when you consider that on that stretch of Route Seven there's nothing to see north, south, east, or west but maple, hemlock, birch, pine, you name it. It's on every measure other than tree cover that Vermont's kaput.

So where exactly do Time magazine's generals want to plant their tree? Presumably, as in Iwo Jima, on foreign soil. It's all these third-world types monkeying around with their rain forests who decline to share the sophisticated Euro-American reverence for the tree. In the Time iconography, the tree is Old Glory and it's a flag of eco-colonialism.

And which obscure island has it been planted on? In Haiti, the Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was removed from office on April 12. Insofar as history will recall him at all, he may have the distinction of being the first head of government to fall victim to "global warming" - or, at any rate, the "war on global warming" that Time magazine is gung-ho for. At least five people have been killed in food riots in Port-au-Prince. Prices have risen 40 percent since last summer and, as Deroy Murdock reported, some citizens are now subsisting on biscuits made from salt, vegetable oil and (mmmm) dirt. Dirt cookies: Nutritious, tasty, and affordable? Well, one out of three ain't bad. Unlike "global warming," food rioting is a planet-wide phenomenon, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Ivory Coast to the tortilla rampages in Mexico and even pasta protests in Italy.

So what happened? Well, Western governments listened to the eco-warriors, and introduced some of the "wartime measures" they've been urging. The EU decreed that 5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from "biofuels" by 2010, rising to 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. added to its 51 cents-per-gallon ethanol subsidy by mandating a five-fold increase in "biofuels" production by 2022.

The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you've suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it's not "you" who's got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.

Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that to date the "carbon debt" created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse.

The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized: "The production of biofuel is devastating huge swathes of the world's environment. So why on earth is the Government forcing us to use more of it?" You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here's the self-same Independent in November 2005:
At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a `biofuel obligation' on oil companies... This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol.
Etc. It's not the environmental movement's chickenfeedhawks who'll have to reap what they demand must be sown, but we should be in no doubt about where to place the blame - on the bullying activists and their media cheerleaders and weathervane politicians who insist that the "science" is "settled" and that those who query whether there's any crisis are (in the designation of the strikingly non-emaciated Al Gore) "denialists." All three presidential candidates have drunk the environmental kool-ethanol and are committed to Big Government solutions. But, as the Independent's whiplash-inducing U-turn confirms, the eco-scolds are under no such obligation to consistency. Finger-in-the-wind politicians shouldn't be surprised to find that gentle breeze is from the media wind turbine and it's just sliced your finger off.

Whether or not there's very slight global cooling or very slight global warming, there's no need for a "war" on either, no rationale for loosing a plague of eco-locusts on the food supply. So why be surprised that totalitarian solutions to mythical problems wind up causing real devastation? As for Time's tree, by all means put it up: It helps block out the view of starving peasants on the far horizon.



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


1 May, 2008

Global Warming Will 'Stop', New Peer-Reviewed Study Says

Global Warming Takes a Break for Nearly 20 Years? Post below recycled from Marc Morano. See the original for links

Today's UK Telegraph reports: "Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said. Researchers studying long-term changes in sea temperatures said they now expect a "lull" for up to a decade while natural variations in climate cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The average temperature of the sea around Europe and North America is expected to cool slightly over the decade while the tropical Pacific remains unchanged. This would mean that the 0.3C global average temperature rise which has been predicted for the next decade by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may not happen, according to the paper published in the scientific journal Nature."

This significant new study adds to a growing body of peer-reviewed literature and other scientific analysis challenging former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC). MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen's March 2008 analysis found the Earth has had "no statistically significant warming since 1995."- LINK.

Australian paleoclimate scientist Dr. Bob Carter also noted in 2007 that " the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998." Carter explained that the "temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2." (LINK)

In August 2007, the UK Met Office, Britain's version of our National Weather Service, conceded that global warming had stopped as well. Both the Nature and UK Met Office analysis predict a continuation of global warming in future years. [Note: Hyping yet more unproven computer models of the future in response to inconvenient evidence based data is the primary tool of the promoters of man-made climate doom.]

Today's new study in Nature essentially finds that global warming will have stopped for nearly 20 years. (1998 until 2015) According to the UK Telegraph article: "Writing in Nature, the scientists said: `Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic [manmade] warming.'"

The UK Telegraph article by reporter Charles Clover noted the significant deficiencies in UN climate models: "The IPCC currently does not include in its models actual records of such events as the strength of the Gulf Stream and the El Nino cyclical warming event in the Pacific, which are known to have been behind the warmest year ever recorded in 1998."

The evidence based data showing the Earth's failure to continue warming has confounded the promoters of man-made climate fear. The American people have consistently rejected climate alarm as a Gallup Poll released on Earth Day 2008 shows the American public's concern about man-made global warming is unchanged from 1989. Gore's $300 million dollar campaign to promote climate fear is attempting to convince American's that they face a climate "crisis" despite the new accumulating scientific evidence.

This new study in Nature further reveals a "tipping point" for the promoters of climate alarm. 2007 and now 2008 have challenged man-made climate fear 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 to declare themselves skeptical of a man-made climate "crisis" in 2008.

Full Text of UK Telegraph Article Below:

Global warming may 'stop', scientists predict

Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said. Researchers studying long-term changes in sea temperatures said they now expect a "lull" for up to a decade while natural variations in climate cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The average temperature of the sea around Europe and North America is expected to cool slightly over the decade while the tropical Pacific remains unchanged. This would mean that the 0.3C global average temperature rise which has been predicted for the next decade by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may not happen, according to the paper published in the scientific journal Nature.

However, the effect of rising fossil fuel emissions will mean that warming will accelerate again after 2015 when natural trends in the oceans veer back towards warming, according to the computer model. Noel Keenlyside of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Kiel, Germany, said: "The IPCC would predict a 0.3C warming over the next decade. Our prediction is that there will be no warming until 2015 but it will pick up after that." He stressed that the results were just the initial findings from a new computer model of how the oceans behave over decades and it would be wholly misleading to infer that global warming, in the sense of the enhanced greenhouse effect from increased carbon emissions, had gone away.

The IPCC currently does not include in its models actual records of such events as the strength of the Gulf Stream and the El Nino cyclical warming event in the Pacific, which are known to have been behind the warmest year ever recorded in 1998. Today's paper in Nature tries to simulate the variability of these events and longer cycles, such as the giant ocean "conveyor belt" known as the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), which brings warm water north into the North East Atlantic.

This has a 70 to 80-year cycle and when the circulation is strong, it creates warmer temperatures in Europe. When it is weak, as it will be over the next decade, temperatures fall. Scientists think that variations of this kind could partly explain the cooling of global average temperatures between the 1940s and 1970s after which temperatures rose again.

Writing in Nature, the scientists said: "Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic [manmade] warming." The study shows a more pronounced weakening effect than the Met Office's Hadley Centre, which last year predicted that global warming would slow until 2009 and pick up after that, with half the years after 2009 being warmer than the warmest year on record, 1998.

Commenting on the new study, Richard Wood of the Hadley Centre said the model suggested the weakening of the MOC would have a cooling effect around the North Atlantic. "Such a cooling could temporarily offset the longer-term warming trend from increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. "That emphasises once again the need to consider climate variability and climate change together when making predictions over timescales of decades."

But he said the use of just sea surface temperatures might not accurately reflect the state of the MOC, which was several miles deep and dependent on factors besides temperatures, such as salt content, which were included in the Met Office Hadley Centre model. If the model could accurately forecast other variables besides temperature, such as rainfall, it would be increasingly useful, but climate predictions for a decade ahead would always be to some extent uncertain, he added.

Source. The article in "Nature" appears to be this one.


"The shift in the PDO can have significant implications for global climate, affecting Pacific and Atlantic hurricane activity, droughts and flooding around the Pacific basin, the productivity of marine ecosystems, and global land temperature patterns." --NASA JPL
A cool-water anomaly known as La Nina occupied the tropical Pacific Ocean throughout 2007 and early 2008. In April 2008, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that while the La Nina was weakening, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation - a larger-scale, slower-cycling ocean pattern-had shifted to its cool phase.

This image shows the sea surface temperature anomaly in the Pacific Ocean from April 14-21, 2008. The anomaly compares the recent temperatures measured by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite with an average of data collected by the NOAA Pathfinder satellites from 1985-1997. Places where the Pacific was cooler than normal are blue, places where temperatures were average are white, and places where the ocean was warmer than normal are red.

The cool water anomaly in the center of the image shows the lingering effect of the year-old La Nina. However, the much broader area of cooler-than-average water off the coast of North America from Alaska (top center) to the equator is a classic feature of the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The cool waters wrap in a horseshoe shape around a core of warmer-than-average water. (In the warm phase, the pattern is reversed).

See the entire story here. See the PRESS RELEASE from JPL here

Look out California agriculture. The wine industry, fruits and nut growers will be hit with a shorter growing season and more threats of frost, among other things. Recently in Nevada County, much of their grape crop was wiped out. From The Union in Nevada County (h/t Russ Steele)
"Nevada County's agricultural commissioner will seek disaster relief from the state after tens of thousands of dollars worth of crops were ruined from last week's freezing temperatures. Orchard trees, wine grapes and pastures were hardest hit, Pylman said. The commissioner is compiling a report of damages that he will send to the state Office of Emergency Services in coming weeks. "Growers don't have anything to harvest. That's a disaster in my mind," Pylman said....
Here is a short history of PDO phase shifts:

In 1905, PDO switched to a warm phase.
In 1946, PDO switched to a cool phase.
In 1977, PDO switched to a warm phase.

California agriculture has ridden a wave of success on that PDO warm phase since 1977, experiencing unprecedented growth. Now that PDO is shifting to a cooler phase, areas that supported crops during the warm phase may no longer be able to do so.



The unintended consequences of climate change alarmism are growing clearer by the day. Prices for wheat are 60 percent higher than a year ago - resulting in soaring bread prices of around 36 percent per year. This is primarily due to agricultural land being used for biofuel production (which now takes up 30 percent of American agricultural capacity). Bread riots, a red light for every regime since time immemorial, toppled the government in Haiti a few days ago and are spreading across the world. Similar developments have triggered protests and riots in countries ranging from Africa, India, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Alarmed by this, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Argentina have restricted food exports in order to feed their own populaces. Even in the US, probably not much longer the bread basket of the world, rationing of food has begun over the last 6 weeks. Bloggers in New York are relating amazing stories:

"I've heard that rice, flour, beans, and cooking oil are the main items being rationed at places like Pathmark, ShopRite, and Costco. One friend who lives in Flushing mentioned that she was not allowed to purchase more than one 25lb sack of rice in a local grocery. As far as I know, the main neighborhoods being rationed so far are all in the outer Boroughs (Queens, Bronx, Jersey City, parts of Brooklyn, and Harlem).
In silicon valley you could not buy more than one big sack of rice last week. With the growing media coverage of food shortages and related unrest abroad, the already protectionist mood among Americans has lead to calls for a moratorium on wheat exports. American bakery owners marched on Congress last month demanding to curtail wheat exports to give them some relief. Thanks to the collapse of the American dollar it's becoming cheaper for foreigners to buy out US supplies. Bread and butter issues are increasingly likely to become an issue in this November presidential election.


Another way the warmists cost you money

Aside from all the other little problems (like starvation in poor countries) associated with ethanol production, gasoline blends using ethanol actually cost motorists more, even when the blend is cheaper per gallon. The Kansas City Star explains:
"...a gallon of E-10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and conventional gas now widely available in the Kansas City area, there's an energy difference of about 3.4 percent [in energy content]. "
So motorists get lower mileage. In fact most of the people I know get mileage much worse than merely a 3.4% decline. And the Star quotes motorists to that effect. Ten percent seems to be the consensus among those whom I have heard comparing their experience with E-10 to ordinary gasoline. In Missouri, E-10 is now mandatory. But in Kansas, where many suburbs of Kansas City are located, it is not mandatory, so people are buying ordinary 100% gasoline fuel there.

E-85 blend gasoline, with 85% ethanol gets much worse mileage. But vehicles need some fairly special minor special equipment to be able to operate with it. General Motors is betting heavily on "flex fuel" vehicles to sustain its green street cred. But now, with the rise in price for corn and other commodities, even with federal subsidies, it is turning out that fuel costs rise when motorists purchase both ethanol blends.

AAA now calculates a price for E-85 to adjust for its energy content. The national average pump price for the fuel on Thursday was $2.91 per gallon; regular gasoline was $3.56. But adjusted for its energy content, the price for E-85 jumps to $3.83, or 27 cents more than regular.


Plastic hysteria strikes again

A new health scare - over the safe and useful plastic component, bisphenol-A (BPA) - has taken wing, fomented by the usual suspects: "experts" in rat toxicology working with alarmist, chemical-hating "environmental" activists and self-serving media scaremongers. Soon, we know all too well, will come the plaintiffs' lawyers to "protect" the public from the non-existent (but lucrative) threats lurking in our plastic bottles.

Once again, our environmental stewards have ventured into an area to which they are ill-suited: human health. The new draft report on the chemical, issued by the National Toxicology Program (NTP, a branch of the EPA), is being trumpeted by greeniacs everywhere as if a cure for cancer had been discovered or malaria eradicated.

The facts buried in the report are quite the opposite of the newspaper headlines. There is no cause for concern, much less alarm, over the tiny exposures we face from plastic bottles made with BPA. The hysteria, aggravated by reports of moms nationwide throwing out "toxic" baby bottles with the number 7 on them, is based (as usual) on rat tests and "general themes" of toxicity, rather than on anything approaching scientific evidence.

The NTP panel found that high doses of BPA caused illnesses in rats and mice. To this unsurprising news, they helpfully added that some researchers are concerned that low doses might have effects on embryonic rodents as well. Never mind that it's always the same small group that discovers these "low-dose effects." Mainstream scientists strongly doubt the existence of such hypothetical effects - if large doses don't harm, how can small ones do so? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that makes no sense, just someone acquainted with the basic principle of toxicology that the dose makes the poison.

Please take note: there is no evidence at all - none - that human beings of any age or developmental stage have been harmed in any way by common exposure to BPA. Even workers using the chemical in manufacturing have not been shown to have suffered any harm. The fact that rodents suffer at high doses of the chemical has nothing to do with human health: The same animal tests performed on natural chemicals we eat and drink every day give the same "toxicity" results. If we consistently banned substances based on these tests, we'd be left with nothing at all, natural or manmade. And the presence of tiny amounts of BPA in our bodies and tissues does not mean that it causes us any harm - although you would never know that from the news stories describing the "chemical soup" we live in.

The NTP panel exposes its bias by proclaiming that there is some evidence of "hormonal effects" in workers from BPA. When one delves into the sources of this assertion, it seems that the evidence shows no such thing at all. The only "evidence" the panelists cite derives from rodent tests - and now, even the EPA has declared such tests to be unreliable for human health risk assessment.

This alarmist tripe follows the recent uproar about contaminated toys from China. But while that concern was actually about excessive lead content - a regulatory rather than a public-health issue - the media and the activists managed to provoke fear about plasticizer phthalates in toys as well, and they have successfully gotten several states to ban these perfectly safe chemicals - over nothing. Again, the source of the "evidence" comes from one or two labs whose careers have been built on fomenting baseless chemical fears.

This new scare is part and parcel of the "back to nature" school of public health. There is no substance to the dogma promulgated by technophobes that "natural is good, synthetic is bad." All of the great epidemic infections we have conquered are of "natural" origin - and we beat them with technology. The same folks who warn us against BPA - and phthalates in toys and all the other phony threats - tend to oppose gene-splicing technology, which holds the promise of relieving food scarcity now threatening world health and stability. But they'd rather rant about non-existent health threats they invent than deal with real-life problems. They have been warning us about the dangers of cosmetics, French fries and vaccines - while ignoring real problems, such as smoking and underutilization of interventions such as colonoscopy and adult immunizations.

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