Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Has the new ice age begun?

Post below lifted from Lubos Motl

According to the most recent data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the year 2006 is set to be
  • colder than 2005
  • colder than 2004
  • colder than 2003
  • colder than 2002
  • ... and, most obviously, ...
  • colder than 1998,

despite the new El Nino that has been warming the Earth again for a couple of months at the end of 2006 and that will probably continue in 2007. Yes, right now it seems that 2006 will become the coldest year among the most recent five years, and it will belong to the colder half of the years in the last decade.

The number of hurricanes in 2006 was below the long-term average. The total number of Atlantic tropical storms was the second lowest number during the last 12 years, after 1997.

Using the WMO terminology, 2006 is set to become the "sixth warmest year" after 1998, 2005, 2002, 2003, and 2004: see WMO's top five. Nevertheless, when a naive and innocent girl would read most of the newspapers, she would most likely start to think that we live in an era of a spectacular global warming. In reality, we live in an era of a spectacularly inexpensive propaganda produced by unusually blinded zealots.

And that's the memo.

Figure 1: Global cooling. This graph, depicting 6 warmest years since 1998 according to their rank, shows how Al Gore and other people with comparable moral and scientific standards would be presenting the recent temperature records if cooling became more convenient for their goals than warming.

Note that various tricks that are popular with some politicians and journalists-activists are used although not as intensely as in the media. The beginning of the graph is appropriately chosen. Some years that would lead to undesirable conclusions are removed. The decreasing links are emphasized and scientifically interpreted while the increasing links are suppressed and painted as scientifically irrelevant episodes.

Some particular years, in this case 2005, are drawn as exceptions from the underlying trend if it can help the case. In fact, I forgot:

They would also add pictures that would make it clear that the past climate is what it should be while the future is a disaster: yes, the guy is stuck in between two glaciers and all of us will be. ;-)

They would also extrapolate the graphs in some catastrophic way up to 2050 and beyond and shoot a cynical movie about all these threats. A campaign showing that the CEOs of the companies producing heating devices - together with the nasty owners of the ski resorts - are vampires who are ready to sacrifice the planet to increase their profits would follow. Steve Jobs is a vampire, too: he is selling millions of white iPods that increase the reflectivity of the Earth, via the mirror effect, and bring us closer to the new ice age.

Media would inform you that they want to hide that a new ice age is imminent. We would be constantly reading about 25,000 Britons who froze to death during the 2005-2006 winter. Scary hurricanes would be described as a consequence of global cooling and heat waves would either become unimportant weather events or consequences of the global cooling.

The world would be different in details but the general picture would be isomorphic.

The Improving State of the World

Indur Goklany, a former EPA official, has collected 450 pages of data showing that the world is cleaner, happier, and healthier than ever before. The new book is recommended by various famous people such as Nobel prize winners and Chicago economists but not only them.

Goklany shows amazing numbers how the economic growth and technological progress has improved nutrition the in the third world, how it has made the environment cleaner - the countries that have abandoned communism are an important example. The food prices in real terms dropped by 75 percent in the last 50 years. The life expectancy has grown tremendously and the infant mortality has decreased four-fold. Also, it is cheaper to adapt to different temperature than to try to stop its change by introducing heavy-handed interventionism.

One of the things that the book disproves is the hypothesis that the economic growth leads to an increasing damage of the environment.

Irradiation back on the table

Food-related illnesses renew calls for a known safe process -- but one that freaks out the Greens

Two high-profile E. coli outbreaks this year have some in the food business wondering -- once again -- if it's time to go nuclear. For decades, many food safety experts have argued that irradiation -- zapping food with high-energy rays to kill microorganisms -- could avert hundreds of deaths and perhaps millions of illnesses each year. But for just as long, federal regulators and food retailers have been leery of bringing the technology to market.

Despite exhaustive reviews by federal scientists and endorsements by public health and medical groups around the world, irradiation by its very name conjures up images that are anything but wholesome: nuclear fallout, for one. That imagery, combined with some lingering uncertainties about irradiation's effects on food, has helped grass-roots activists make a potent case against it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation as a disinfectant for a limited range of foods, including spices and ground beef. But a food industry petition to greatly expand that approval to include many ready-to-eat products -- fresh bagged greens, for instance -- has been awaiting review by the agency for more than seven years. Now, with both government officials and the produce industry feeling pressure to respond to the recent outbreaks, irradiation is again up for debate.

Jeff Barach, vice president of the Food Products Association, the trade group that brought the 1999 irradiation petition, said he had for months been unable to get an audience with FDA officials -- until September's outbreak of E. coli in Salinas Valley spinach. "We all of a sudden got a meeting" with the head of the department that is evaluating the petition, Barach said. He said that he offered to limit the scope of the request to fewer products -- to focus only on fresh packaged vegetables, lunch meats, and a few other items -- in exchange for a quicker decision from the agency. "I think we've made some good progress," he said. An FDA spokesman said the agency can't comment on the petition's status.

Members of California's fresh greens industry recently have been discussing irradiation -- among other strategies -- in their ongoing negotiations on food safety standards, according to Trevor Suslow, a specialist in perishable produce at the University of California, Davis, who has been present at some of the sessions. One appeal of irradiation to the produce industry has to do with the difficulty of pinpointing the source of contamination following a foodborne illness outbreak. By the time someone gets sick, there is a good chance the offending bacteria have died off. So, farmers and food processors -- and federal investigators -- can't tell where safeguards failed. Irradiation introduces the prospect of a final "kill step," for fresh produce, an additional layer of protection if other precautions fail.

The high-energy rays can penetrate packaging, making it possible to do a final disinfection after, say, spinach leaves have been washed and sealed in a bag. The technology can also kill pathogens nestled where disinfectants like chlorine don't always reach: in a crevice in a leaf of spinach, for instance. Recent studies have shown that the technology will reduce populations of common foodborne disease pathogens by at least 99.9 percent without hurting the quality of most fresh produce, according to Brendan Niemira, a lead scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Intervention Technologies lab in Pennsylvania.

Irradiation disinfects food by damaging the DNA of microorganisms, rendering them unable to reproduce. The most common irradiation machines employ the high-energy gamma rays produced by radioactive cobalt. Newer alternatives use X-ray and electron acceleration techniques that do not require radioactive material. Units suitable for mass food processing cost between $4 million and $8 million, according to executives at two U.S. food irradiation firms. Irradiation was first identified as a food disinfectant in the 1920s. It does not make food radioactive, and its safety is supported by the results of nearly all studies of the technology performed over the past 50 years.

Still, were the irradiation of ready-to-eat produce to be approved, it would likely be the target of fierce campaigning by some public-advocacy groups. "I would characterize our view on irradiation as calling for a moratorium," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. In 1999, when the USDA was considering whether to allow irradiation and genetic engineering in certified organic foods, Kimbrell's group helped build strong opposition that included 300,000 public comments. The agency decided to keep both technologies out of the production of organic foods. Kimbrell says that research results don't provide proof of the safety of irradiation. He also argues that its widespread use would lead the food industry to be sloppy in other areas.

Michael Pollan, an influential writer on food and agriculture, raises another objection: If a costly food safety technology like irradiation becomes a standard step in food processing, small producers are likely be hurt more than large ones who are in a better position to absorb major expenses. That's particularly galling, Pollan says, since the national-scale outbreaks of foodborne illness that tend to prompt the use of such technologies are usually linked to big operations.

The average grocery shopper doesn't have much of an opinion one way or the other about irradiation, said Christine Bruhn, a cooperative extension specialist at UC Davis who has studied consumer attitudes toward the technology for more than 20 years. About 15 percent know about the technology and support it, while 10 percent express strong opposition, she said. While the recent E. coli episodes have again prompted discussion of wider use of irradiation, a major change isn't likely unless the produce industry's troubles continue, she said. "I suspect it's going to take a few more outbreaks," she said.



Benny Peiser gives his personal view of global warming -- and says that the politicians have painted themselves into a corner with their panic rhetoric

Peiser believes the lack of a practical short-term solution means that policymakers should be trying to tone down the current climate change discourse and prepare citizens for the long haul. "You have to say, 'Okay, these are the challenges, these are the issues, we won't be able to do it in the short-term but in the long-term we might'." Currently, however, the discourse in the UK is heading in precisely the opposite direction. Earlier this month Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, criticised politicians, environmental groups and the media for talking about the potential impacts of climate change in catastrophic terms (LTT 16 Nov). Peiser has been making this point for some time and sees a strong cultural dimension to the alarmist discourse. "The emergence of environmental apocalypticism is perhaps the most significant ideological development in the western world since the demise of Marxism," he says.

He acknowledges that his technological approach is at odds with the more alarmist predictions. "If I were to counsel people to take this more long-term perspective they would say 'You underestimate the severity of the problem and that we're facing Armageddon now'," he says. "I personally think this kind of hype is unhelpful. This is not the first time in history that a population has been stirred up, become very emotional to the point of near hysteria over an issue. It's very, very poisonous for a rational policy-making process when emotions are so high and people stop pondering and weighing different options. Whenever the end is nigh, the solutions are worse than the malady."

Trapped by rhetoric

Peiser says the catastrophic emphasis in climate change discourse has been stoked by all three of Britain's main political parties because each is desperate to capture the 'green' vote. "The Conservatives are now greener than the Greens," he laughs. "From a policy perspective it is a situation where you can only lose because any government, whether it is Labour or the Conservatives, will be faced with the reality that their policies don't match the rhetoric," he says. "Tony Blair has made climate change top of the agenda but actually hasn't done anything to bring down emissions." "Where does that leave policy-makers?" asks Peiser. "It leaves them looking very exposed. But that's the price you pay for exaggerating a risk that you actually cannot address." Politicians, he says, "have cornered themselves". "They have dug themselves into such a hole that there is no way out. There is currently no way out of this hole for any British party."

Peiser says the tensions between the rhetoric and the reality are now becoming apparent. He cites the pressure that the Government is facing from over 400 MPs and Friends of the Earth to include annual carbon dioxide reduction targets in the Climate Change Bill. "If you want to sacrifice the British economy then please include annual targets in the legislation," he says." But politicians should be very honest about that and say, 'You want to save the planet? Okay, but don't come and complain about unemployment, rising energy prices and industries simply relocating to other parts of the world where they are taking a different approach'."

"[Chancellor] Gordon Brown knows that it is impossible to realise annual targets," says Peiser. "But once you actually hype up the problem of climate change and then say, 'Hold on, we cannot reduce CO2 year-on-year,' you look very bad. You look like someone who doesn't take the problem seriously. So that is the problem for any policy-maker: you exaggerate the threat and then you don't follow it up because you can't. You will be found out as a hypocrite. And that's what this Government looks like."

Runways and roads

Transport policy will give the Government particular problems, Peiser believes. "The Government will find itself in an increasingly difficult situation to legitimise spending money on any road improvements and any airport expansions," he says." Unless you actually do what the green campaigners say and make flying a luxury for the rich you will have an increase in air flights. The same is true for traffic on the roads. So the Government is faced with a conundrum."

Surprisingly, Peiser actually praises environmental commentator George Monbiot who, following the Stern Review, called for the road and airport expansion programmes to be scrapped, and even out-of-town shopping centres to be closed in the longer term (LTT 2 Nov). "George Monbiot is spot on as far as I'm concerned," says Peiser. "He's the only person who is actually consistent. He says 'Listen to the science, we've got ten years to solve this problem, otherwise it's too late. That means the complete halt of road expansion, airport expansion, a reduction of road traffic - make it more expensive, tax left, right and centre'." Peiser, of course, disputes the foundation of Monbiot's argument. "I question the disaster scenarios. That's why I say I have no problems with expanding a few airports because I don't think they're going to cause our civilisation to collapse."....

Perhaps nowhere are the tensions between the climate change and economic agendas more apparent than in the media. The Guardian and Independent newspapers have been among the most prominent in reporting and commenting on the threats that climate change could present, with both giving extensive coverage to the more alarming predictions. Yet, at the same time, both papers carry reader travel offers to far-away destinations and adverts for cars, cheap flights and energy-intensive consumer products.

"The problem with the Guardian and the Independent is that if they took the climate change threat seriously, they would stop advertising all the trappings of the 'good life'," says Peiser. "They would stop all ads for cars and all ads for holidays. If we really are facing disaster and collapse, why are they then profiting from all the companies and all the industries they blame for this?"

"In reality, the newspapers contribute to the problem perhaps just as much as the car industry, oil industry or any other, because they are promoting the lifestyles. They are the ones who are promoting and encouraging people to go on holiday and to fly and to use flashy cars - that's the ads they place for their readers." "They're claiming the 'End is nigh' but 'Look at this flashy car', 'Look at this cheap flight to Spain'. What signals are they sending out?"

Peiser says the contradictions simply illustrate our reliance on fossil fuels. "Without advertising the Guardian and Independent wouldn't survive. The problem for any person and any institution is that you can't actually drop out [of the carbon economy]."...

Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to announce tax increases on motoring and air travel in next week's pre-Budget statement and is likely to cite concern about climate change as a key justification for doing so. But Peiser believes that, though the public is undoubtedly concerned about climate change, many people will not be prepared to accept the pain associated with the measures to tackle the problem.

He points to the "field day" that the tabloid newspapers had with the leaked memo from environment secretary David Miliband urging the Chancellor to make motoring and air travel more expensive (LTT 2 Nov). "The Daily Mirror had a comment column saying: 'Thank God there are still scientists who think this whole climate change thing is nonsense'," he says.

"So would you believe it, if policy goes against people's own interest then they start asking questions. As long as it's free everyone wants to be seen to be green and everyone is green. But once people start to feel the pain, they will start wondering, 'Hold on, is that actually right?'" Similarly, Peiser believes the idea of personal carbon rationing (championed by commentators such as Mayer Hillman and George Monbiot, and even floated by Miliband) is politically impractical. "Let's go back to rationing and see how long the Government survives," says Peiser. "Good luck to them. It's political suicide even to attempt it unless other countries are doing the same thing. People in Britain would realise that their living standards are going down while other countries' living standards are going up."

More here

New Australian Leftist leader ignores the Greens

Kevin Rudd has infuriated green groups by shutting them out of a key national environment debate, the formation of Labor's Tasmanian forest policy, and pledging strong support for the island state's forest industry. In one of his biggest policy moves since assuming the Labor leadership, Mr Rudd has rejected the party's previous position on Tasmanian forests and backed existing deals between the Howard Government and the pro-logging Lennon Government. Stopping in Tasmania on his national "listening" tour, Mr Rudd declared that former Labor leader Mark Latham had got it wrong with his pledge on forestry conservation before the 2004 election - which was blamed for Labor losing two seats. In rejecting the Latham policy, Mr Rudd confirmed that there was no place for the conservation movement in shaping Labor's new policy on Tasmania's forests.

Green groups reacted angrily, with the Wilderness Society saying Mr Rudd had paved the way for a sell-out on forests. Mr Rudd also came under fire from Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown and conservationists for not taking new Labor environment spokesman Peter Garrett with him on his trip to Tasmania.

But the local forest industry warmly welcomed Mr Rudd's pledge to support the existing Regional Forests Agreement and Community Forests Agreement, negotiated between the state and the Howard Government. Mr Rudd's statement on forests came days after he pledged to push for relaxation of Labor's restrictive policy on uranium mining - a move that has put him at odds with Mr Garrett.

On Tasmanian forests, Mr Rudd said Labor's guiding principle was that it wanted to see a long-term sustainable industry, based on three pillars:

* Close consultation with the State Government, unions and forest industries.
* No overall loss of jobs.
* Consultation with the State Government over conservation and protection of old growth forest areas.

Mr Rudd said he was in Tasmania to listen carefully to local communities, but confirmed that he had spoken to no-one in the forest industry on his visit. He said he would talk to the conservation movement from time to time. "But when it comes to the architecture of our forests policy here in Tasmania, it is as I've described before, based on those three principles and two sets of agreements which we support." Labor's loss of two seats in Tasmania at the last election, Bass and Braddon, was attributed to Mr Latham's $800 million package that would have secured [locked up] nearly all remaining contested old growth areas.

Industry and unions instead backed the more modest Howard conservation package in what was widely portrayed as a poll-eve political coup by the Prime Minister. Mr Rudd followed his predecessor, Kim Beazley, in distancing himself from the Latham policy. "Labor got it wrong. Part of the reason it got it wrong was that it didn't listen to the local community," he said.

His statement yesterday was welcomed by the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania. "We support and endorse the approach that Kevin Rudd has outlined," said executive director Terry Edwards.

The conservation movement, which has fought for more than 20 years for the protection of the state's old growth forests, came out swinging. "The policy Kevin Rudd is set to adopt is the one endorsed by the Lennon Labor Government which is destroying our forests," said the Wilderness Society's campaigns manager, Geoff Law. "It is desperately ironic that it comes almost 20 years to the day after Peter Garrett came to the Lemonthyme forest in Tasmania, and stood beside Bob Brown and said these forests must be saved."

The Australian Conservation Foundation said it was surprised that Mr Rudd was closing doors during a "listening" tour. "I think he should be certainly talking to the wide range of environmental stakeholders to get a full picture of issues as complex as these," said Matt Ruchel, Manager of Land and Water for the ACF.

Mr Rudd deflected questions about Mr Garrett, the former rock star and ACF head who now holds the Climate Change and Environment portfolio on Labor's front bench. In 2004, Mr Garrett described the Tasmanian timber industry as logging gone mad and carnage in the forests. Mr Rudd said that he was now leader of the party, and Mr Garrett had a job to do on climate change. Mr Rudd was speaking on a visit to bushfire-ravaged areas of Tasmania's east coast, where he said he had seen no indication of any gaps in the federal response to the fires. The main east coast fire has burned more than 20 homes and 25,000 hectares of land.



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

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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1 comment:

Ian Parker said...

I would like to make a plea for technological development. Greenery talks about 2050 and the rise of sea levels then. Won't we have a Von Neumann machine by then? Won't we able to control climate by then?

BTW Aviation we are told is burgeoning and contributing to global emissions. Ironic but CETIA is linked to Airbus. Note the comments of "Polymath".
They are giving high quality software away free to competitors in a robotic competition. I think stewps towards a VN machhineshould count in carbon trading. Those who buy an Airbus should benefit. just a thought.