Friday, October 13, 2006


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 11 October 2006)

Discussing: Hartmann, B. and Wendler, G. 2005. "The significance of the 1976 Pacific climate shift in the climatology of Alaska". Journal of Climate 18: 4824-4839.

What was done
The authors used near-surface air temperature data obtained from all 19 first-order U.S. National Weather Service stations scattered among six regions of Alaska to study the thermal history of the state over the period 1951-2001.

What was learned
The regional changes in mean annual air temperature from 1951 to 2001, based upon linear least squares regression analysis, were determined to be +1.9øC (South-Central), +1.6øC (West), +1.7øC (Interior), +0.8øC (Southwest), +1.3øC (Southeast) and +1.9øC (Arctic). However, and this is a really big "however," Hartmann and Wendler report that a significant amount of this warming was the result of a dramatic regime shift that occurred in 1976. Omitting that single year, for example, and looking at the two 25-year periods on both sides of the regime shift, they say that they "generally observe the opposite trend: cooling."

What it means
With respect to the temperature behavior of Alaska over the last half of the 20th century, the two researchers from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks note that "a gradual increase might be expected from the observed steady increase of greenhouse gases" over that period. However, their results show something radically different: a general tendency for cooling over the 25 years preceding 1976, as well as a general tendency for cooling over the 25 years following 1976.

Clearly, Alaska is not the canary-in-the-coal-mine "poster child" for CO2-induced global warming that U.S. Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton make it out to be (see our Editorial of 24 Aug 2005) or that former U.S. Vice President Al Gore claims it is (see his recent movie). Quite to the contrary, the state's climatic history is a testament to the incredible power of periodically-occurring climate regime shifts that rapidly heat and cool this and many other parts of the world without any regard to what the air's CO2 content may be doing.

Abstract of the paper discussed above:

The 1976 Pacific climate shift is examined, and its manifestations and significance in Alaskan climatology during the last half-century are demonstrated. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation index shifted in 1976 from dominantly negative values for the 25-yr time period 1951-75 to dominantly positive values for the period 1977-2001. Mean annual and seasonal temperatures for the positive phase were up to 3.1°C higher than for the negative phase. Likewise, mean cloudiness, wind speeds, and precipitation amounts increased, while mean sea level pressure and geopotential heights decreased. The pressure decrease resulted in a deepening of the Aleutian low in winter and spring. The intensification of the Aleutian low increased the advection of relatively warm and moist air to Alaska and storminess over the state during winter and spring. The regime shift is also examined for its effect on the long-term temperature trends throughout the state. The trends that have shown climatic warming are strongly biased by the sudden shift in 1976 from the cooler regime to a warmer regime. When analyzing the total time period from 1951 to 2001, warming is observed; however, the 25-yr period trend analyses before 1976 (1951-75) and thereafter (1977-2001) both display cooling, with a few exceptions. In this paper, emphasis is placed on the importance of taking into account the sudden changes that result from abrupt climatic shifts, persistent regimes, and the possibility of cyclic oscillations, such as the PDO, in the analysis of long-term climate change in Alaska.

EU committee backs nutty law on "chemicals"

Every plant and animal is full of thousands of chemicals. Which ones do we pick out for testing?

An EU committee has endorsed tough new laws on chemicals, against the wishes of industry and European ministers. The European Parliament's environment committee backed a law which would force companies to replace dangerous substances where safer ones exist. Last year ministers from EU nations voted for a weaker version which would have merely "encouraged" substitution. Environmental groups have welcomed the decision but an industry group has warned of "pointless red tape".

The legislation, called Reach (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) will oblige manufacturers to demonstrate that about 30,000 substances already in use are safe. Chemicals used in household products such as computers, toys and detergents will be tested for their impact on health and the environment for the first time. Companies will have to register all chemicals they produce or import, and get authorisation for the most dangerous substances.

This much has been agreed by all parties; disagreement has centred on what action manufacturers will have to take on chemicals found to pose a hazard. Whereas the European Council of Ministers backed demands from industry for the softer option of encouraging substitution, the environment committee has now endorsed mandatory replacement with a safer and economically viable alternative if it exists.

An amendment proposed by Italian MEP Guido Sacconi would also oblige companies to demonstrate that the benefits of hazardous substances outweigh the risks. Endorsement of the committee's stance by the Parliament itself would put two of the EU's central institutions at loggerheads.

"The substitution principle is clearly the cornerstone of the legislation," Mr Sacconi told reporters following the committee's decision. "If there's a safer alternative and if it's economically viable, that alternative must be used."

Environmental groups, which had been dismayed by the stance taken by the Council of Ministers in December, reacted warmly to the committee's vote. "It sends a strong message back to the Council [of Ministers] that MEPs remain determined that chemicals of very high concern should be replaced with safer alternatives whenever possible," said a coalition of campaign groups including WWF and Greenpeace in a statement. "This legal obligation is essential to drive innovation of safer chemicals, in order to end the build-up of harmful substances in our bodies and the environment."

But the Union of European Community Industries (Unice) said the vote would produce "serious problems" for industry. "A mandatory substitution principle, even if the risk is proved to be adequately controlled, adds pointless red tape and puts industrial processes at risk with no environmental or health benefits," it said. Industrial and environmental groups are expected to continue lobbying lawmakers; the EU wants to finalise Reach early next year.



All the experts made wrong forecasts. And if they cannot predict a few months ahead ....?

The weatherman got it wrong again, and this time he disrupted more than a picnic. In May, U.S. government and private forecasters warned of another dire Atlantic hurricane season. Coming on the heels of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the forecasts kept oil prices near a record for months. They scared away some insurance investors in a year the companies may end up turning in higher profits. And hedge funds like Amaranth Advisors LLC gambled big that natural gas prices would climb -- and lost.

No hurricanes have struck the U.S. coast so far this year, deflating natural gas prices. This week, one of the most closely watched forecasters, Colorado State University, said it had overstated the hurricane risk. The bungled forecasts shed light on what happens when energy traders, investors and, in some cases, the news media, rely too heavily on an inexact science. "That's the nature of the game when it comes to forecasting," says Philip Klotzbach, the 26-year-old research associate who is the lead author of the Colorado State hurricane report. "We did the best we could with the information we had."

Colorado State, based in Fort Collins, is part of a cottage industry of weather forecasters, from governments and universities to private firms. A U.S. National Weather Service Web site lists 322 "commercial weather vendors." Their reports are pored over by traders in the $6 billion- a-day natural gas futures market, insurers calculating what to charge policyholders, investors judging how much to pay for insurance stocks and, of course, by coastal residents. The university's hurricane reports have been considered a bellwether because of the reputation of their founder, William Gray. He got his start as a U.S. Air Force meteorologist in the 1950s and developed the first seasonal forecasts for tropical storms in the 1980s. Gray, 76, has lately ceded some responsibility for the reports to Klotzbach, a graduate student in atmospheric sciences, and has spent more time researching whether global warming is intensifying hurricanes. By contending there is no connection between global warming and hurricanes, Gray has drawn criticism from some colleagues in the field.

In many years, "Dr. Gray's Tropical Storm Forecast," the title of a Colorado State Web site where the free report is updated monthly during the hurricane season, proved uncannily accurate. Early in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the reports correctly predicted the number of named storms in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for the entire year. The National Weather Service gives tropical storms a name, running through the alphabet each year starting with A, once they sustain winds of 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour. The storms are classed as hurricanes when winds exceed 73 mph. Last year, when a record 28 named storms formed in the Atlantic, the Colorado State report sounded an early alarm, warning in May 2005 of "a well-above-average hurricane season" and predicting 15 named storms. That track record is one reason this year's first forecast, published in April, drew so much attention. "We foresee another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season," Klotzbach and Gray wrote. They predicted 17 named storms, five of them intense hurricanes. The paper said there was an 81 percent chance of a major hurricane striking the U.S. coastline. It put the risk of one of them hitting the Gulf Coast, the center of U.S. oil production, at 47 percent.

Other reports took a similar view. The federal government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May predicted 13 to 16 named storms. Risk Management Solutions of Newark, California, which helps insurers set rates, said in March that an insurer that expected $100 in annual storm claims for a property in the U.S. Southeast before 2004 should assume an average of $150 a year through 2010.

The price of crude oil futures reached a record $78.40 in July. Hurricane fears also propped up natural gas prices, which touched a record $15.78 in December. At one point after Katrina and Rita, all of the Gulf's oil production and 80 percent of its gas output was shut. While natural gas prices fell through midyear, as of late August they were still about $7, several times higher than the pre-Katrina lows. "Worries of a repeat were a major factor in keeping prices high this summer," says Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Gray's forecast helped seal the case for some traders, says Guy Gleichmann, president of United Strategic Investors Group, a futures broker in Hollywood, Florida. "When you get a specialist like that and others saying there's going to be a very active storm season, it did build up the bullishness," he says. Insurers, already reeling from Katrina, raised prices to recoup last year's losses. Katrina alone cost $40.6 billion. All 2005 hurricanes cost $57.3 billion, according to the Jersey City, New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., which surveys insurers. Prices for commercial properties along the U.S. coast rose as much as 500 percent in the second quarter this year, according to a survey by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. The biggest U.S. commercial property insurance unit of American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer, raised rates an average of 50 percent. Storm worries prompted insurers to sell a record number of catastrophe bonds, which pay out in the event of specific disasters. The protection comes at a price: high interest rates. When Swiss Re sold $950 million of the bonds in June, it offered yields as much as 39 percentage points over the London interbank offer rate, or Libor, says Martin Bisping, head of risk-sharing at the Zurich-based reinsurer. The industry expects $4 billion of the bonds to be sold this year, triple the number in 2005.

Some investors stayed away from insurers. The Standard & Poor's 500 Property & Casualty Insurance Index fell 2.8 percent this year through Aug. 15, compared with a 3 percent advance in the S&P 500 Index. "After two years of catastrophe losses, people start to think that's a normal state of affairs and they start investing that way," says Eric Holmes, who helps manage $21 billion at Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Asset Management, including the shares of Allstate Corp. "The Colorado State report reinforced the idea that this would be a normal level of risks." Yet little in the way of storms materialized. As of this week, no hurricanes had made landfall in the U.S. Hurricane Ernesto briefly threatened the Florida coast in August before weakening to a tropical storm and causing $100 million in damage in Virginia. Only nine named storms formed in the Atlantic. The Colorado State researchers said in an Oct. 3 report that the greatest danger to the U.S. from hurricanes this year was over.

"So Much for the Hurricane Forecasters," A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. analyst Paul Newsome wrote in a Sept. 12 research report, raising earnings estimates for Hamilton, Bermuda-based Ace Ltd., Allstate and other U.S. insurers. Seven of the 10 members of the S&P Property and Casualty Insurance Index will earn more this year than last, according to the brokerage Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc. in London. Since mid-August, the S&P Property & Casualty Insurance Index has gained 9.2 percent, beating the S&P 500's 4.5 percent increase.

"In hindsight, we should have bought more insurance stocks," Holmes says. "We were cautious on not having too much weight in property-exposed stocks." Some energy traders were also re-thinking. Natural gas futures in late September touched a four-year low of $4.20.

Klotzbach says he and Gray still aren't sure why their forecast was so wrong. Gray didn't respond to a phone message and an e-mail seeking comment. The main factor may have been an unexpected El Nino, a warming of Pacific Ocean waters that suppresses the formation of Atlantic hurricanes, Klotzbach says. The warming had never occurred so suddenly and so late in the hurricane season -- typically June through November -- he says.


Drought caused by government??

That's what the Australian Green party claims. That Australia has always had punishing droughts and big bushfires is ignored:

Drought and bushfires ravaging Australia are the devastating outcomes of global warming, the Australian Greens said. Bushfires are raging in South Australia and Victoria, while firefighters have managed to bring blazes in suburban Hobart under control overnight. And drought has a tight grip on much of Australia, as farmers prepare to harvest significantly reduced winter crops.

Greens leader Bob Brown said the fires and drought were the result of the Federal Government's massive environmental mismanagement. "What I would call the Howard-enhanced drought and bushfire season. It's a very serious situation that the Australia nation faces," Senator Brown told reporters today. "We are going to have enormous economic, environmental and social damage done to this nation over the coming century."

Senator Brown said the only way for Australia to haul in global warming was through a revolution in dealing with climate change. "We need a revolution in politics in this country to not only catch up with world's best practice(with renewable energy and energy conservation), but to get behind those industries in this country which can technologically and otherwise help us to recover ground and deal with climate change."

Leading Nationals senator Ron Boswell said no coup d'etat was necessary. "Drought's always a problem, it's been a problem for about the last six or seven years, and I think we're doing as much as we can on it," Senator Boswell told reporters.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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