Saturday, December 02, 2006

Inaccurate 2006 Hurricane Forecast Should Remind Americans that Climatology is an Uncertain Science - And Political Science, Even More So

As the 2006 hurricane season comes to a close, the failure of forecasters to accurately predict the frequency and intensity of this year's hurricanes should remind Americans that climatology is an uncertain science. It should also cause Americans to question the reliability of definitive claims made by prominent environmental activists that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes.

Today marks the official end of the 2006 hurricane season. The number of hurricanes was 38 percent below the number originally forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The number of hurricanes that qualified as "major" - category 3 or above - fell 50 percent below NOAA forecasts. Not a single hurricane made landfall. "If we can't depend on hurricane forecasts made one to six months ahead of time, how can we expect to depend on predictions about the behavior of hurricanes decades from now," asked David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Those who claim that rising global temperatures would definitely lead to more intense hurricanes appear to be relying upon political science, not climate science."

Forecasters say their projections this year were off the mark, in part due to a late-developing El Nino, which produced wind sheers that destabilized developing hurricanes. El Ninos are a phenomena that some climate scientists believe would increase in frequency if average global temperatures rise. "If increasing global temperatures increases the frequency and duration of El Ninos as these scientists suggest, global warming could result in less intense hurricanes," said Ridenour. "That is exactly the opposite of what Albert Gore and other often-quoted advocates of immediate action on climate change have been saying."

With uncertainty surrounding the actual effects of planetary warming, The National Center contends that catastrophic scenarios are frequently raised to make the case for action more compelling. "When it comes to hurricanes and global warming, the rhetoric was only thing that grew in intensity in 2006. It is now at such a fevered pitch that even those who believe action on climate change is needed are growing uncomfortable with the shrill nature of the discourse on climate change," said Ridenour. "Mike Hulme, one of Britain's top climate scientists, and a man who believes climate change is underway, probably put it best: 'The language of catastrophe is not the language of science.'"



The British Government is planning to spend 1 billion pounds replacing 78,000 ministerial and civil service vehicles under a programme to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions from its fleet by 15 per cent. The Government has recruited 15 manufacturers from Europe, Asia and North America to supply cheaper, greener cars over the next four years, The Times has learnt. The cost will be shared by 38 government departments and agencies which have agreed to "green'' their fleets in exchange for large discounts on cars available under the partnership.

The programme, which is limited to light commercial cars and vans and does not cover heavy diesel vehicles, aims to slash carbon emissions from the public sector fleet by 15 per cent by 2010-2011 under targets set by the Government this year. The programme is expected to save departments œ100 million, and comprises some of the efficiency savings to be outlined in next week's Pre-Budget Report. The initiative, spearheaded by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), comes as Britain faces pressure to fall into line with EU moves to limit greenhouse emissions, the debate over green taxes and national efforts to combat climate change.

After a tender process of unprecedented size and scale earlier this year, Vauxhall, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Ford - including Volvo - and BMW won places in the programme. Ford, which already supplies Jaguar and Volvo cars as well as its "Blue Oval" models to Whitehall and the NHS, will now have access to a vast range of agencies and suppliers. Ford currently supplies Jaguars at close to half price to the Government Car and Dispatch Agency, which organises cars for Ministers.

The NHS, which keeps a fleet of 48,000 cars, and the Department for Work and Pensions, which has 2,500 vehicles, joined the programme to satisfy targets set by the Government. The NHS expects to spend 420 million replacing its fleet with the new range of cars, 19.7 million less than it would have cost the department to replace its fleet with the same vehicles again.

Departments wanting to join the programme must calculate the amount of pollution caused by their current fleet by entering engine size, carbon dioxide emission and "Euro 4'' engine rating into a model designed by the OGC. They can then access a database of cars available under the programme, and "shop" for their desired vehicles. They are expected to use the OGC model to monitor the desired fleet's carbon footprint. Annual reports outline the department's progress on environmental targets.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, the Work and Pensions Minister, pledged to use the scheme to meet the Government's targets. "This will not only contribute to the Government's efficiency goals but will also help the public sector to hit its targets on vehicle emissions." The Department for Work and Pensions expects to save about 15 per cent with the discounts that are available under the scheme. Toyota, which currently supplies the popular Prius model being adopted by ministers, hopes that the programme will entice departments to its British-made Avensis model


Australia: Mainstream clergy often prefer Greenie faith to God

By Christopher Pearson

Last Saturday's column was devoted to eco-fundamentalism, the new deep-green religion. It may have come as a surprise to some readers who had imagined themselves sceptical agnostics or atheists to learn that they were in the grip of an essentially religious enthusiasm. Some have written in to deny it and others have wondered whether I may have been carried away by a metaphor or trying to taint the greenhouse hypothesis by associating it with superstition.

To answer the last point first, I'm not remotely anti-religious and use the term fundamentalism in a diagnostic rather than a dismissive way. There is a vast gulf fixed between the sceptical, rational approach and a religio-magical view of the world. The crucial distinction is that scientific propositions have to be falsifiable, to be capable of being proved wrong. Religious conceptions of what is true come from one or other form of higher authority (gods, prophets, the zeitgeist) and have to be accepted at face value, without question. They are, by definition, unfalsifiable.

The conviction that greenhouse gas-induced global warming is about to endanger mankind's survival is an article of faith rather than an assertion of science. The parallels with previous apocalyptic movements are readily apparent in Norman Cohn's classic, The Pursuit of the Millennium. That the greenhouse scaremongering is endorsed by so many people with science degrees says more about the state of contemporary scholarship than anything else. For, as Nigel Lawson so powerfully reminds us, the science is not settled and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise. Not only is it dishonest; it's also a betrayal of the West's tradition of reason and tolerance and a retreat into irrationality and dogmatic thinking.

How is it that people with no conscious sense of religious convictions should find themselves enthralled by unexamined and, prima facie, outlandish beliefs? It happens quite easily over time if most of your friends and family take what they see on television or learn at school for granted. Anyone beguiled by ingratiating invitations to help save the planet has a primary responsibility to reinforce the fear that, in one way or other, it's at risk.

Lawson says: "It is not difficult to understand the appeal of the conventional climate change wisdom. Throughout the ages something deep in man's psyche has made him receptive to apocalyptic warnings: 'The end of the world is nigh.' Almost all of us are imbued with a sense of guilt and a sense of sin, and it is so much less uncomfortable to divert our attention away from our individual sins and causes of guilt, arising from how we have treated our neighbours, and to sublimate it in collective guilt and collective sin."

There is a further refinement of bad faith that is worth mentioning here. Those most inclined to assertions of collective guilt and sin are usually those with the least to reproach themselves about. So they can enjoy the catharsis of self-denuciation and the inner certainty of being relatively blameless.

Lawson points out the role of weather in religious meta-narratives from the flood onwards. "In primitive societies it was customary for extreme weather events to be explained as punishment from the gods for the sins of the people, and there is no shortage of examples of this theme in the Bible either, particularly but not exclusively in the Old Testament. The main change is that the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than the clerics of the established religions, and the new religion is eco-fundamentalism. But it is a distinction without much of a difference. And the old religions have not been slow to make common cause."

How, you may be wondering, could the old religions and Christianity in particular, make common cause with a pagan apocalyptic cult? Are they not completely antithetical? Where even 30 years ago the answer to that question might have been a resounding affirmative, Australian Christianity has undergone a sea change. Readers looking for a timely account of matters should get themselves a copy of Michael Gilchrist's Lost! Australia's Catholics Today (Freedom Publishing). It is especially instructive about the process by which fashionable add-ons such as socialism, environmentalism and feminism have come to colonise Catholicism's religious orders and eventually the church at large. Gilchrist's analysis is also sufficiently broad-brush so that it can be applied pretty much across the board to the other denominations.

Considering the same phenomena, I'm inclined to an explanation that is rather more radical than Gilchrist's. Where he sees mostly bewilderment and educational or leadership failures, I see an explicit collapse of faith. There has been a problem, at least since the Enlightenment, of ostensibly Christian priests and teachers who - with varying degrees of furtiveness - shared a gnosis, a hidden understanding. Their secret conviction was that Christianity wasn't ultimately true and that the best that could be done was to turn it into an engine of political change, redistribution of wealth and even revolution.

The theological modernists the Vatican tried to suppress at the turn of the 19th century went underground until the 1950s. The de-mythologisers in the Protestant churches were far freer to pursue the modernist project, especially in the groves of academe. It wasn't until the "God is dead" ructions in the '60s that it became suddenly clear how many senior theologians in all the churches no longer believed in the resurrection but still thought themselves entitled to their benefices and to speak in the name of the church on anything that took their fancy.

Apart from those Catholic and Anglican bishops who decline to affirm the Nicene Creed when asked, I have no way of knowing which of them are wolves in sheep's clothing. The charitable thing to do is to assume the best. Perhaps the conversion of so many of them to eco-fundamentalism betokens nothing more than theological lapses, scientific ignorance, susceptibility to pagan superstition or the zeitgeist and perhaps the frailties of age.

It is in these terms, rather than bad faith, that we ought to view last year's position paper on climate change on behalf of the Catholic bishops. It was endorsed by archbishops John Bathersby and Adrian Doyle and bishops Christopher Toohey, Christopher Saunders, Eugene Hurley and Patrick Power. It began with a false assertion: "Rapid climate change as the result of human activity is now recognised by the global scientific community as a reality." It concluded that the least the federal Government could do was to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Had the bishops considered Australia's national interest and the relative equity of Kyoto's allocated emissions targets? Had they pondered the possibility that Kyoto may have capriciously or corruptly favoured some classes of nations at the expense of others? Had they reflected on the almost entirely symbolic character of signing up in the face of general non-compliance? We can safely conclude that in each case the answer was in the negative and that they were carried away by posture politics. More recently Bathersby told a Brisbane Walk Against Warming rally: "I don't think we can be Christian unless we are ecologically converted." In terms of sheer fatuity and presumption, it was on par with the former Anglican primate Peter Carnley announcing that he didn't think it was possible to be a Christian and a conservative.

The Anglican communion has no shortage of eco-fundamentalists, but the most egregious is the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning. The bishop, who was obliged to resign his see over a sexual affair but was in short order forgiven by a broad-minded diocese where matters of that kind are nowadays deemed not so serious, is, if anything, even more sanctimonious than he was before his lapse became public. In early November he wrote to John Howard and Kim Beazley, telling them that "Australians could not morally vote at next year's federal election for a party that did not have a comprehensive policy on climate change. This is the most serious issue facing global humanity ... We desperately need leaders who can act on this imperative with courage, vision and passion ... We now know that what we are doing is harming the Earth; our living is tilting the balance against life with catastrophic and immediate consequences. We have no mandate to ruin what does not belong to us and our actions are nothing short of apocalyptic." If this is how the bishops talk in public forums, just imagine how much twaddle the average family in the pew must have to endure from younger and less educated clergy.


Australia: The pain of a Greenie judge

Justice Nicola Pain's ruling that the NSW Government must consider the greenhouse gas impacts of all new developments before approving them will be recorded as one of the most ill-considered decisions of the state's Land and Environment Court. When she took up her appointment to the bench in 2002, Justice Pain brought with her baggage stacked with green credentials. The judge's background is as an environmental activist lawyer. She was the principal solicitor with the non-government Environmental Defender's Office, effectively the green movement's legal wing, from 1987 until 1992 and a member of its board for seven years up to 2001. When former premier Bob Carr appointed her to the court, Justice Pain was the EDO's acting director. The move made headlines within the international green movement. This is not the first of Justice Pain's rulings that appear to defy common sense. In September, she approved the development of a brothel in western Sydney despite police evidence that one of the brothel's managers was "unfavourably known" to them. The judge said that "the reputation of a person seeking development consent is not generally a matter for the court to consider in an application of this nature".

On Monday, Justice Pain laid her green credentials on the line in a ruling that could prove devastating for the state's coal and many other industries and pose a giant headache for the Iemma Government in the countdown to the March 2007 election. In a far-reaching decision, the judge found that the director general of the NSW Department of Planning had erred in accepting the environmental impact statement for a new mine proposed for the Upper Hunter. This was because the EIS did not consider the greenhouse impact of burning the 10,000 million tonnes of coal expected to be extracted from the mine each year. Justice Pain fell short of rejecting the application for Centennial Coal's Anvil Hill mine. But in an extraordinary move she then proceeded with a landmark ruling that means all planning approvals in NSW may have to include an assessment of a development proposal's future greenhouse emissions. The court's review of the EIS approval followed a challenge by Newcastle student Peter Gray, a member of the climate change group Rising Tide. Mr Gray's applied to the court to overturn the director-general's approval on the grounds that there was no consideration of the mine's climate change effects.

Justice Pain's ruling is problematic from whatever angle it is examined. Does the judge really imagine that one iota less coal will be burned around the globe or one gram less carbon emitted into the atmosphere if her decision makes it harder for NSW to open new coal mines or expand existing operations? Indonesia, one of the fastest-growing exporters of thermal coal in the world, or South Africa will happily fill any contracts Australia is unable to supply. Recognising this reality, the International Energy Agency has reported that fossil fuels will still be the dominant source of world energy in 2030, with global consumption of coal, oil and gas predicted to increase by about 1 per cent a year. Even more concerning is Justice Pain's apparent use of her judicial authority in what looks like an attempt to dictate government policy from the bench. Climate change is a serious global issue exercising some of the brightest minds of governments, industry, science and environmental experts. The debate has long since advanced from alarm to finding solutions to complex problems. Narrow ideological decisions of the kind produced by Justice Pain aimed at closing down the coal industry mine by mine, pit by pit, contribute nothing to finding the solutions.



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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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If it is the quietest hurricane season in decades, doesn't that indicate that there is something strange happening?