Sunday, December 31, 2006


I reproduce below a report of a recent Arctic event from what is arguably the world's "Greenest" mainstream newspaper -- the London "Independent" (known to many as the "Subservient"). The event is hailed as evidence of global warming and I am sure that refutations of that will soon emerge but in the meantime I think I should make some preliminary comments:

I am not a physicist or a chemist. I am a much-published psychologist with an interest in the sociology of knowledge. So I see my role in reporting on scientific questions outside my own field as being simply to draw attention to the full range of available information on the question concerned. Most scientists are probably aware that there is a "confirmatory bias" towards accepted theories in what is published in the academic journals so particular attention to non-confirmatory findings is simply good science.

But although I rarely comment personally in fields in which I am not expert, I am always, of course, delighted to point to failures in logic and it seems to me that the "Greenie" interpretation of the recent arctic event is very suspect from that point of view.

Why would a large bit of the Arctic ice shelf break off and fall into the sea? If global warming is happening, it should surely just shrink and melt away, with no reason to lose contact with the land. On the other hand, if the ice-shelf is EXPANDING then it should eventually get so big that it expands beyond the boundaries of the land -- causing the bit that is no longer supported by the land to fall into the sea.

So the recent event points overwhelmingly to an EXPANDING ice mass in that area of the Arctic, not a shrinking one -- which is what the Greenies would have you believe. Pesky eh?

I will leave it to others to comment on the other misrepresentations in the article below

A vast ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has broken up, a further sign of the astonishing rate at which polar ice is now melting because of global warming. The Ayles ice shelf, more than 40 square miles in extent - over five times the size of central London - has broken clear from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic, it emerged yesterday. The broken shelf has formed an ice island, in what a leading scientist described as a "dramatic and disturbing event", citing climate change as the cause.

The news caps a dramatic year of discovery about just how quickly the polar ice is disappearing. It comes as America's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, warns in today's Independent that the Earth is being turned into "a different planet" because of the continuing increase in man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

The break-up of the Ayles shelf occurred 16 months ago, in an area so remote it was not at first detected. "This is a dramatic and disturbing event," said Professor Warwick Vincent of Laval University in Quebec City. "It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years."Ice shelves float on the sea, but are connected to land (as opposed to ice sheets, which are wholly land-based). In the past five years, several ice shelves along the fringes of the Antarctic peninsula have started to become unstable or break up. The most spectacular was the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf, the size of Luxembourg.

Until now, there had not been a similar event among the six major shelves remaining in Canada's Arctic, which are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. Professor Vincent, who studies Arctic ecosystems, travelled to the newly formed ice island and was amazed at what he saw. "It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf," he said. "Unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role. It is consistent with climate change." The collapse was picked up by the Canadian Ice Service, which notified Luke Copland, head of the new global ice laboratory at the University of Ottawa. Using US and Canadian satellite images, as well as seismic data - the event registered on earthquake monitors more than 150 miles away - Professor Copland discovered that the ice shelf collapsed in the early afternoon of 13 August 2005. Scientists were surprised at the speed of the event, Professor Copland said - it took less than an hour.

There have already been several disturbing indications this year that the Arctic ice is melting at a much faster rate than expected. In September, two Nasa reports showed a great surge in the disappearance of the winter sea ice over the past two years, with an area the size of Turkey disappearing in 12 months.

Note that the article below points to a COOLING arctic, which again suggests that the ice-shelf breakoff is due to an EXPANDING ice-mass, not a shrinking or melting one. I hope to have more to say about sea-ice versus land-based ice tomorrow

Because global warming is a religious belief rather than a scientific one, however, Greenies do from time to time accept that the ice-mass in places like Greenland and the Antarctic is expanding. They say that global warming produces more evaporation off the ocean and hence more snowfall and hence ice buildup. NO evidence can count against their belief. The global warming belief thus fails the test of falsifiability, which is basic not only to scientific statements but to empirical statements generally. The global warming belief is thus a theological, not a scientific one -- on a par with the Christian ability to explain the existence of evil despite their God being omnipotent and benevolent

Greenland has cooled down since the 1930s

Post lifted from Lubos Motl

Greenland is one of the regions that play a crucial role in the global warming theory. The existing climate models predict an amplified warming for Greenland and other high-latitude areas. Moreover, these regions that are far away from the equator should also get more warming because of the vegetation feedback mechanism. Also, we frequently read that the Greenland's glaciers are reatreating: we're doomed. On the other hand, the name of Greenland suggests that it could have been green in the past. Who is right: hysterical journalists on one side or historians and linguists on the other side?

There exists a better method to decide similar questions than both hysterical journalism as well as history: the method is called science. The following 2006 paper in Journal of Geophysical Research

by B. Vinther, K. Andersen, P. Jones, K. Briffa, and J. Cappelen has looked at the available data and reconstructed the temperatures for winters from 1829 to 2005 and summers from 1855 to 2005.

The results? The warmest winter at some places was the winter of 1917. The authors do not indicate whether the reason was Lenin and his Great October Socialist Revolution. ;-)

The warmest year in all of Greenland was 1941 while the 1930s and 1940s were the warmest decades (see page 8 of 13 in the PDF file above). The coldest year was 1863 while the 1810s were the coldest decade, largely because of two large volcanic eruptions that took place in this period.

Well, the global warming theory and the existing climate models seem to be in trouble because of these observations (and others). Is there an explanation that would be consistent with the climate change paradigm? You bet.

The anthropogenic explanation of the nicely cool decade of the 1810s relies on some of the successful actions of the Luddites who were destroying the textile machines between 1811 and 1816. Once these heroes and predecessors of the contemporary warriors against the climate change were beaten up by the evil capitalists, a catastrophic period of warming started. The only glimpse of hope was the coldest year of 1863 when slavery was abolished and the former slaves didn't have to breath so much and emit so much carbon dioxide. Finally, this cataclysmic period of warming ended around 1941 when the Nazi soldiers were freezing near Moscow which much reduced the expansion and the CO2 emissions of the Third Reich. ;-)

This story sounds great but I will stick with the volcanos, solar activity, and other natural phenomena that seem to explain the observed graphs more naturally.

More comments at WorldClimateReport. A critical perspective on the article by Vinther et al. is offered by Steve McIntyre who argues that they again extract low-frequency signals out of high-frequency patterns which is no good. The paper by Vinther et al. is also discussed by RealClimate from an alarmist perspective.

The nuke train is getting up steam in Australia

Australians are more likely to be attacked by a shark or hit by lightning than die from a nuclear power plant disaster. In releasing a report commissioned on the viability of nuclear power in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said there were no sound reasons to not go nuclear.

The final report from the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy review board said the risk of implementing nuclear power is of an acceptably low level. The risk of dying in a nuclear disaster was below that of dying from smoking, driving, owning firearms, drowning, fire, electrocution and snake bites, the report said. There have been 31 direct fatalities from nuclear reactors since 1969 - including the Chernobyl disaster - compared to more than 25,000 fatalities in the coal industry. This did not take into account the estimated 4000 people who could eventually die from cancer caused by radiation exposure from the Chernobyl meltdown.

The report also stated that the particles spewed into the atmosphere by traditional forms of power generation resulted in an estimated loss of life expectancy of 8.6 months for the average European.

Mr Howard said the Government would respond quickly to the board's recommendations. "Nuclear power is part of the solution both to Australia's energy and climate change challenges," Mr Howard said. He agreed nuclear power was not a "silver bullet" and wasn't economically feasible at the moment. "It's not going to come immediately because it's not economic at present, but it will become increasingly economic as we clean up the use of coal," Mr Howard said. He said the Government would, in the short term, focus on the report's recommendation that skilled personnel for nuclear power and uranium mining industries be trained and recruited.

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd rejected the need for nuclear power and said Labor was committed to renewable sources. "We think the right way involves clean, green energy," he said. "Mr Howard's solution is too expensive, it's too dangerous and it's too slow to bring about real results on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the immediate term."

The review board, headed by former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski, was established six months ago to investigate nuclear power as an alternative to coal-fired power plants in the face of growing concerns about climate change. The country's demand for electricity is predicted to more than double by 2050.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said nuclear power would not halt the effects of climate change. "The Government is now scrambling to create a perception that it is doing something, knowing full well that nuclear power is too slow, too expensive and too dangerous to provide any answer to global warming," Senator Milne said.


The Australian environment needs a nuclear China

As does the whole of Asia

We walked west into a fiery red sunset in St. Kilda last night, on our way to pick up some yogurt for dinner. On our way back, the moon rose before us in the east, nearly as dark and orange as the sun setting behind us. We turned sideways with one celestial body on each hand and enjoyed the beauty and symmetry for a few quiet seconds, looking at the skyline of Melbourne in front of us, caught between a nuclear source of light and the dead moon reflecting it. Then we took off our poetry hat and put on our thinking beanie and our brain began to boil.

The Chinese are going to burn enough coal in the next fifty years to make every Melbourne sunset look like the end of the world. For instance just this week China's Huaneng Group launched the country's first 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power generating unit. A little info-mining tells us that a 500 mega watt coal-fired power plant provides about 3.5 billion kilowatt hours of juice per year. That's enough to power a city of 140,000 people and enough to consume about 1.4 million tons of coal.

Sit down for a second and consider the following. China's great migration or rural farmers to urban enclaves means relocating 400 million people into new or existing cities. Those people will live in buildings that need air conditioning and work in factories that use electricity and eat in restaurants that cook with electric appliances and refrigerate with electric freezers. Where will the power come from? If it comes from coal, China will have to build a staggering 2,857 500 mega watt coal-fired plants to meet the demand. This would produce-without cleaner-burning technology-around 10.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. A 500 mega watt coal-burning plant spews nearly 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.

We don't know what a ton of carbon dioxide looks like, or how you would carry it on your back. Neither do we know if it causes the earth's temperature to rise. But we do know that when you burn coal you also produce what are called particulate emissions. These include sulfur and nitrous oxides and other pleasant by products like lead, mercury, and arsenic.

We know that all this coal-burning must excite the Australian coal industry. But if China burns this much coal in the next twenty years, its neighbors in Japan and Korea are going to borrow a phrase from Australia and ask, "Where the bloody hell are you?" They'll ask because they won't be able to see each other through the thick pall of smog blown west from China.

Last night's orange moon didn't come from Chinese pollution. It came from bush fires and the normal pollution of hundreds of thousands of cars burning petrol on the way home to watch the beginning of England's second innings in the Adelaide Test of the Ashes. And atmospherically speaking, the jet stream probably prevents Australia from having to bear the brunt of Chinese energy consumption habits, at least directly. But what could Australia do about it if a big orange cloud descended from China? Would the border patrol try and turn it back? Would customs arrest it? Would A Current Affair find someone to blame?

Japan and Korea have complained bitterly to China about the black cloud, but with little effect. It wouldn't surprise us to see the Japanese build giant coastal fans, nuclear powered of course, to blow the smog back. But that wouldn't really solve anything. To solve this problem, we have to get at its root causes. One of the biggest causes is the aversion to nuclear power by the lunatic fringe of the political and environmental world.

You never hear anti-nuclear forces whinge about the sun. But by all rights, if they're being consistent, they should. After all, the sun's radiation causes skin cancer. And the sun itself is a giant nuclear fusion reactor, ceaselessly bombarding the Earth and the other planets in the solar system with heat, light, and energy that is stored in Earth's plant life. This fossilized plant life eventually turned into the oil and natural gas the industrial world has been living off of for the last 200 years.

Why not go straight to the source and nuclear? This would be good for cleaner for global energy needs, in addition to unleashing a "Uranium Rush" in Australia. Yesterday's report by the House of Representatives on Australia's nuclear future emphasized the economic benefits of expanded uranium mining. It also concludes that nuclear energy is the "only means" for cutting green house gas emissions. The 700-page report, which sits on ominously on our desk, is entitled "Australia's Uranium: Greenhouse friendly fuel for an energy hungry world."

And here is our main point. The nuclear debate in Australia isn't so much about Australia as it is about China and India. Australia, like every other major Western economy, ought to develop a safe, efficient, and clean nuclear industry for the day when conventional hydro-carbons like oil, coal, and gas, are no longer plentiful and cheap. That day is fast approaching, and is probably already upon us. But the main reason Australia ought to encourage nuclear power use is that if China and India don't go the nuclear route, the world will soon be a dirtier, sweater, and more dimly lit place. The sunsets might be romantic. But if you can't breathe, you won't be able to enjoy them all that much.

More here

Australia: Landowners standing up for their rights

The natives are getting restless. On February 11 there will be a rally in Hyde Park to protest against the State Government's long-running assault on democracy and private property. At a meeting at Rouse Hill just before Christmas, about a dozen community groups decided to join forces for what they hope will be a big event. The political ramifications could be interesting. Some of the groups are small, but others have previously organised demonstrations of thousands of people in their own areas. They have a range of issues, but as a coalition they are calling for three things.

1. Fair compensation when government legislation, such as rezoning or native vegetation law, reduces the value of private property.
2. An end to developer donations to political parties.
3. Restoration of the planning powers of local councils, possibly by entrenching councils in the constitution of NSW.

Most members of the coalition are in one of three broad categories. The first opposes the way the State Government has taken planning powers away from councils to enforce urban consolidation on municipalities that, as the Herald's front page showed on Tuesday, are unsuited to it and don't want it. This category includes the Coalition Against Private Overdevelopment, which is fighting the replacement of the Royal Rehabilitation Centre at Putney with 795 flats.

The second category of groups is located in western Sydney, often representing people with blocks of land from two to 10 hectares, of whom there are many thousands, who are protesting not against urban consolidation but the way government is going about releasing more land on the fringe. One common complaint is that the process is being done to assist big developers and disadvantage smaller ones. Here, too, the State Government has crushed obstructions from councils. This category includes Hands Off Private Property in the north-west, formed last year when the Government proposed to turn properties zoned as awaiting urban development into green zones. The group managed to stop what would effectively have been the state theft of a big proportion of landowners' assets.

The third group involved in the rally are farmers, many of whom have seen their livelihoods and assets devastated by the State Government. The biggest cause of this is native vegetation legislation, which prevents farmers clearing even woody weeds. Farmers are, naturally, upset and this year have been blockading properties in western NSW to prevent officials from the Department of Natural Resources from entering to investigate suspected illegal clearing of woody weeds. (Officials have the right to enter properties at will.) Another big rural issue at the moment, as reported by Daniel Lewis in the Herald on December 16, is the Government's theft of water that irrigators have been promised and have paid for.

The legal situation regarding compensation for the state theft of property rights was considered in a 2003 paper by Bryan Pape, a senior lecturer at the University of New England's law school. The State Government is legally obliged to pay just compensation if it takes property, but has no obligation at all if it only goes halfway, as it were, and reduces a property's economic value by taking away some of the usage rights previously attached to it. These might be the right to remove scrub on a farm, or in the case of a heritage listing, the right to build another storey on a house (subject to council approval). Pape wrote that "there appears grounds for characterising an uncompensated taking as an unchallengeable tax. Such an implicit tax may be regarded as invalid."

One farmer who will be at the rally is Peter Spencer, who lost the use of about 90 per cent of his property because of native vegetation law. Backed by a new group called the Constitutional Property Rights Association, he is pursuing legal action against his council, because the rates it charges him are still based on the assumption his land is economically productive. He also hopes to take on the Federal Government in the High Court. Although native vegetation law is a state matter, Canberra contributed a great deal of the money used to implement it and now takes credit internationally because affected farms such as Spencer's are carbon sinks. The Federal Government is possibly more vulnerable to legal action than the states for uncompensated "regulatory takings", the term used for the modern version of what was once called the nationalisation of private property.

Regulatory takings have been the subject of successful counterattacks by the community in parts of the US, starting in Oregon, the home of urban consolidation, when landowners found the value of their properties under attack from restrictive rezoning by a state government in pursuit of the urban environmental vote. Some other countries, such as Britain, have long taken a much fairer approach: farmers are paid "stewardship fees" as compensation if they suffer financially in order to achieve an environmental outcome desired by the wider community.

It is the way of democracy that governments can get away with a hell of a lot, but eventually they go too far and the people turn on them. The big question is how far is too far. Turnout at the February 11 rally could provide an indication.

Here are the groups supporting the rally so far: the Aboriginal Housing Company, Alex Avenue Residents Action Group, Anti-Transmission Tower Action Group, Coalition Against Private Overdevelopment, Hands Off Private Property, Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment, Keep Our Property Private, Land and Asset Protection Group, Marsden Park Schedule Lands, North-Western Railway Alignment Injustice Lobby, Property Rights Association (NSW), Rally Ku-ring-gai, Riverstone Release Area Scheduled Lands, Rouse Hill Heights Action Group, and Save Our Suburbs.



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, December 30, 2006


Post lifted from Tim Blair

Geoffrey Lean, the Independent’s environment editor, presents a global scoop of apocalyptic proportions:

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India’s part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

Terrifying! You’ll note, however, that Lean doesn’t tell us exactly when Lohachara vanished. Was it last week? A few months ago? Maybe we’ll find out later.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

It’s the domino theory of island obliteration! As environmentalists always warned, once Lohachara falls, that’s it for Egypt.

The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

Got that right, Geoffrey. I can’t remember Lohachara ever disappearing previously.

Until now the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea were expected to be the first populated ones to disappear, in about eight years’ time, but Lohachara has beaten them to the dubious distinction.

By quite a margin, as it happens. Lean doesn’t say so, but Lohachara apparently vanished two decades ago. So much for Lean’s scoop; the event took place back when Lean had hair, and several years before he emerged from a coma. Some locals aren’t buying that global warming line, by the way:

Atanu Raha, director of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, said the islands were getting eroded by oceanic currents, not by rising sea levels. “Erosion and accretion are natural phenomena. Across the world islands submerge and new ones emerge. This is natural,” Raha said.

Not according to Lean, who evidently believes all weather change is due to Meddling Humans. And that’s all change, whether towards cold or heat. In 2004, Lean reported that “Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming”. Two years later, he asked: “So where has all the snow gone?” There’s no pleasing Geoffrey.

UPDATE. This nonsense was republished in the NZ Herald.

UPDATE II. Lean has previously been convicted of sins of omission and other crimes against journalism.


The sale of milk and meat from cloned animals moved a step closer yesterday after the US Government ruled that the products were safe to eat and could be sold in supermarkets without labelling. The landmark draft decision, taken by the US Food and Drugs Administration, was condemned by consumer groups and food safety experts, who gave warning of the implications for food consumption throughout the world. FDA officials said that they saw little problem with the controversial technology, which could result in cloned food being sold in the US within months without any labels identifying its origins. They added that cloned food products, if approved, could also be exported.

Authorities in Britain have yet to address the issue of the sale of food from cloned animals, including those approved by the US - cattle, pigs and goats. However, precedents set by the FDA are often followed by UK and European authorities. The Food Standards Agency said last night that it had not received an applications for the marketing of food products from cloned animals in the United Kingdom. The move would have to be approved by the European Union before such products could be introduced, even if they were only being imported from the US. The UK's Advisory Committee for Novel Foods would also be consulted.

The FDA, which overseas food safety for the US Government, determined after a five-year review that food from cloned livestock was as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The decision was all the more controversial because the agency declared that special labels were not needed to alert shoppers to its origin.

Decrying the ruling, consumer groups gave warning that cloned food would enter the food chain untested on humans, and from a field of science in which cloned animals are often born sick or with severe abnormalities. "Consumers are going to be having a product that has potential safety issues and a whole load of ethical issues tied to it, without any labelling," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Washington-based Centre for Food Safety.

Some US consumer groups maintain that surrogate mothers, in which the cloned animals are grown, are treated with high levels of hormones. They claim that clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and receive massive doses of antibiotics, opening the way for large quantities of pharmaceuticals to enter the food supply. The US National Academy of Sciences also warned recently that the commercialisation of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illness, such as E-coli infections.

Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat senator from Maryland, wrote in an open letter to the FDA: "Just because a scientist can manufacture food in the laboratory, should Americans be required to eat it?" Experts say it would probably take years for sales of cloned food to begin in earnest, because the technology's high cost makes it prohibitive for most farmers. It costs about $15,000 to clone one dairy cow. But already several hundred cattle among America's nine million have been cloned.

The FDA pointed out that many consumers confuse cloning with genetic modification. To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal. Supporters of the technology say that it will be used primarily for breeding good milk and meat producers, and that produce will most likely be drawn from offspring, rather than the cloned animal. The FDA said yesterday that meat and milk from clones was as safe to consume as products derived from naturally raised animals. Within six to eighteen months, cloned animals were "virtually indistinguishable" from conventionally-bred livestock, it said. "Meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, the director of the FDA Centre for Veterinary Medicine.

Final approval for lifting the current ban on cloned food could come early next year. The agency will accept comments from the public for the next three months before announcing a final decision.

The Consumer Federation of America said that it would run a publicity campaign to ask food companies and supermarkets to refuse to sell cloned food. Polls show already that most Americans do not favour eating such a product, and many food companies are skittish about selling cloned food. Opponents also maintain that cloning results in high failure rates and distress for the cloned animals. The Centre for Food Safety points to the example of Greg Wiles, whose Maryland farm was the first to have cloned cows. He says he told the FDA that one of his cloned cows was having terrible health problems, but was ignored.

More here


Climate-change panic is not new, nor is unusual weather

During the long, hot summer of 1976, when Britain faced its worst drought in 250 years, the Government considered a number of unusual solutions. An emergency Drought Act was passed on August 6 and, by August 20, the Government had gathered information on the sinking of bore holes, the use of oil tankers to bring water from Norway, and the seeding of rain clouds - a method of forcing clouds to rain by spraying chemicals into the air. But cloud-seeding was ruled out and ministers were told that building a barrage at Morecambe Bay would be a cheaper way access water than importing it from Norway.

A letter of August 23 from the Home Office to the Prime Minister reported on the challenge facing the fire service: "Everything is tinder dry and the particular difficulty this weekend has been caused by higher wind speeds. The fires in Hampshire and Dorset are under control at present but the situation could change dramatically if the wind increases."

Days later, over the Bank Holiday weekend, the heavens opened and the drought came to an end. But the Government had been shaken and said the population needed to have its complacency about water availability "shattered".


Greenhouse gases 'not to blame' for Australia's partial drought

The drought gripping southeast Australia is due to natural variations in climate rather than the greenhouse effect. The finding, based on CSIRO research, undermines claims by South Australian Premier Mike Rann at a water summit in Canberra last month that Australia was in the grip of a one-in-1000-year drought. "It is very, very highly likely that what we are seeing at the moment is natural climatic variability," researcher Barrie Hunt told The Australian, saying the CSIRO's model of 10,000 years of natural climate variability put the current drought into perspective. "When people talk about it as a 1000-year drought, they haven't got the information. They don't understand that according to natural variability we could get another one in 50 years or it might be another 800 years, and there's no way of predicting it."

The CSIRO's global climate model incorporates measurements of air pressure, temperature and wind at different levels of the atmosphere, sea surface temperatures and rainfall. Mr Hunt's research focused on three 500 sq km sites in Australia: one on the Queensland-NSW border, going down to the coast; southeast Australia, which included Melbourne, Sydney and much of the Murray River basin; and southwest Western Australia, including the Perth region. He looked at the frequency of dry sequences lasting eight years or longer. "In each of those places there are about 30 occasions over 10,000 years where you get one of these eight or more years sequences," he said. "The longest sequence was 14 years in Queensland-NSW, 11 in the southeast and 10 in the southwest."

Mr Hunt said the Queensland-NSW area had had an 800-year period without an eight-year dry, "but there is another period of 462 years where you get five of these". Mr Hunt said the onset, duration and termination of the long dries could not be predicted because they were due to random processes. He said the current drought was an example of a dry sequence that began with an El Nino weather system. "It starts a drought and you get sea-surface temperatures flickering backwards and forwards a bit. The rainfall may go back to fairly near normal but it is still below average, and then you get another El Nino," he said. "This can go on for a decade. Eventually it breaks. You don't know why, it is a random thing. This is just part of the beauty of the climatic system."

Most of Victoria is in a 10-year dry sequence, the Murray River is in its sixth year of drought, while Brisbane and much of NSW are also experiencing a six-year dry.

"It is important that people realise that natural variability says it will break. It may not break next year, because one of these things went on for 14 years, but it will break," Mr Hunt said. Mr Hunt was previously leader of the CSIRO's climate modelling program. He said a problem in assessing droughts -- and giving them titles such as a one-in-1000-years drought -- was that Australia did not have extensive records. Mr Hunt said climate change due to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere built on naturally occurring patterns and would be felt in the coming years. "At the moment I think natural variability dominates. Increasingly, over the next few decades you would expect to see the greenhouse effect start to dominate, particularly with things like temperature," he said.

Mr Hunt said the dry sequence in the southwest was different, with a decline over 30 years, which included the odd year of above-average rainfall. "It isn't violating what I am saying, but it is a very unusual sequence of events there," he said.



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, December 29, 2006


Rationality is in short supply in anything Greenies touch and the new "Green" bridge over the river in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) is no exception. It has a cycle path, a pedestrian path and two road lanes that mostly empty buses trundle over but the road lanes are not open to cars. It is an anti-car bridge! Since there is little additional car-parking close to the bridge, it seems unlikely to be much used -- despite its cost to the taxpayer of $54 million.

The idiocies do not end there, however. It does not encourage pedestrians either. Have a look at the photo above and note the partial awning over the pedestrian path. It is situated on the South of the path but Brisbane is South of the tropic of Capricorn so the sun always comes from the North. So the awning is totally useless as a sunshade. And you can see that it is little use as a rain-shelter either. Someone must not have told the architect that the rain rarely falls straight down!

My previous post about the bridge was on December 17th (scroll down).


Polar bears might be facing extinction and should be on the US endangered species list, the Bush administration said today, in a move that could see a change in US attitudes on global warming. Listing the bears as threatened would force US government agencies to ensure they in no way jeopardised the animal's existence. That in turn could pressure the Government to consider tougher measures to clean up the air because most scientists believe carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.

"Today the Interior Department's US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act," said interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne. "We are making this proposal because a scientific review of the species by the Fish and Wildlife service found that populations may be threatened by receding sea ice, which polar bears use as a platform for many activities essential to their life cycle, including hunting for their main prey, Arctic seals."

Today's announcement follows a campaign by environmental groups, which sued the Government seeking action to protect the polar bear.

There will now be a period of public comment and scientific review before a final decision in 12 months over whether to list the polar bear as threatened. The only wild polar bears in the US live in Alaska. Andrew Wetzler, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council, one of the groups that sued the Government, said: "Global warming is the single biggest threat to polar bears' survival, and this will require the Government to address the impacts on the polar bear."...

There are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive today. A Canadian group of polar bears, one of the most widely studied, has seen a substantial decline in recent years, but officials said today that the Alaskan polar bears had not suffered a statistically significant decline.

Source. See what the polar bear experts say about polar bear numbers here


Below is an open letter from Neil Craig, of Scotland's 9% growth political party:

The Boss of the National Environment Research Council, Alan Thorpe has called for an open public & online debate to disprove the position of sceptics on warming. That is a very welcome development when one bears in mind that such scientific luminaries as a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland have spoken against allowing debate, becvause the scientific case is "settled". One might even hope that this debate might be hosted by the BBC. By recently hiring David Attenborough to assure us that, such is the current sea rise, that in 20 years much of Norfolk will be underwater yet refusing airtime to scientists who are actually measuring it & could say that this is, quite decidedly not so, the BBC has strayed from impartiality. Hosting an open debate would, if not remove the appearance of propagandising from the allegation (assuming Norfolk doesn't sink by 2026), at least dilute it.

Mr Thorpe's Council however, being committed to "impartial environmental research" (it says so on their website) is clearly in a position to put the catastrophe enthusiast's position robustly. The site does not explain how it receives funding - presumably not from oil companies or organisations committed to a belief in warming either, or how it ensures, when awarding grants, that it maintains an impartial balance in research.

According to the story repeated almost verbatim in a number of papers he believes that the computer models on the enthusiast's side have been consistently proven correct. I would be very interested in reading his explanation of how the Hockey Stick theory which predicted a continuous fast rise since the 1990s has been proven accurate by current figures showing temperature has been lower than that of 1998 for 5 of the succeeding years. He would probably also be able to explain how it was that the Hockey Stick computer programme, the pride of the IPCC's report was, when tested by Stephen McIntyre, able to produce exactly the same warming prediction virtually whatever figures were put into it.

Having myself contributed to this debate in the letters column & online in the "Scotsman" (the online comments, which are not selected by staff, have been overwhelmingly of the sceptical view) I look forward, with some enthusiasm, to see whether Mr Thorpe's "impartial" future contributions, so heavily trailed, prove convincing. Let us see if the media will permit a debate with 2 sides.

In his online version of the above letter, Neil unleashes at the end a bit of good Scottish skepticism in the words "I hae ma douts". People sometimes surprise me by how poorly they understand Scots, so perhaps I should add that the words translate as "I have my doubts"

Global cooling in Queensland

If an unusually hot summer in London proves global warming, surely an unusually cool summer in Brisbane proves global cooling!! Or don't the colonies count?

It still hasn't broken the drought, but more good soaking rain across much of the state yesterday seemed to wash away our concerns - at least for a moment or two. As a southerly air stream brought more record cold December temperatures and unseasonal drizzle, many swapped the traditional post-Christmas day at the beach for a rare stroll in the rain....

There were smiles too on the Darling Downs, where the light drizzle was just enough follow-up to storm rain a fortnight ago. Graingrower Frank Stenzel said the 8mm of light rain that had fallen since Christmas Day at his Greenmount property, 25km south of Toowoomba, was a welcome boost for his 120ha crop of sorghum. But Mr Stenzel said he would need a further 100mm in coming weeks to ensure a reasonable harvest. "The cool weather has allowed the rain to soak in and hopefully well get more by the weekend," he said.

The bureau has forecast cloudy skies and patchy rain for today in a band from the northwest to the southeast of the state, slowly clearing northwards. Tomorrow, rain is expected to ease and clear northwards, with temperatures climbing but still generally below average. The highest rainfall recorded yesterday was 29mm at Baralaba, 200km southwest of Gladstone.

Bureau senior forecaster Geoff Doueal said record low December maximums had been recorded at several places, including Brisbane Airport (19.1C), Toowoomba (13.9C), Ipswich (18.4C) and Oakey (15.5C). Emerald's maximum of 16.7C was the lowest December maximum for a century. The previous lowest December temperature was 18.3 in 1907.

More here

And it is indeed a remarkably cool summer here in Brisbane. There is a distinct nip in the air at night. Usually, at this time of the year, I am accustomed to having a warm shower by turning on the cold water only!


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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

These lands are your lands

This is the 15th anniversary of the publication of Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, the magnum opus for those who view property rights, local initiative, and economic incentives as friends, not enemies, of the natural world. Max Borders of TCSDaily has said that this is "the book that changed the way many people look at environmental issues." It is "the book that defined a generation of newer environmentalists, a generation that is friendly to markets, to green values, and to the idea that these are not mutually exclusive."

For Anderson and Leal, "At the heart of free market environmentalism is a system of well-specified property rights to natural resources." "Whether these rights are held by individuals, corporations, non-profit environmental groups, or communal groups, a discipline is imposed on resource users because the wealth of the owner of the property right is at stake if bad decisions are made," argued Anderson and Leal, who are part of PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center, in Bozeman, Montana, which is in the vanguard of free market environmentalism. They cite the Nature Conservancy (TNC) as "an excellent example of how free market environmentalism works." TNC is the world's largest land trust with a million members and supporters which has protected 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. Its primary mission is to protect the highest value expressions of biodiversity.

ANDERSON AND LEAL challenged the reigning paradigm of scientific management of public lands through the instrumentality of the federal government. This was the legacy of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (1905-1910) and the Progressive Movement which sought to rely on government experts to regulate and prioritize the multiple uses of land through an administrative or political process. The insights of Anderson and Leal as they relate to the sausage making which is public lands management were revelatory:

There is good evidence that political land management has ignored important recreational and amenity values and that there is potential for providing them through markets in ways that promote harmony between development and ecology.

Incentives matter.That is a bedrock principle of free market environmentalism. There is also the appreciation for the inadequacies of information and the necessity of trade-offs, both of which make "political" management difficult. These realities can trump the best of intentions:

Even if the superintendent of national parks believes that grizzly bear habitat is more valuable than more campsites, his good intentions will not necessarily yield more grizzly bear habitat. In a political setting where camping interests have more influence over a bureaucrat's budget, his peace and quiet, or his future promotion, intentions will have to override incentives if grizzly bear habitat is to prevail. But if a private resource owner believes that grizzly habitat is more valuable and can capitalize that value, then politics will not matter.

If you consider all the infamous battles over public land use, you can appreciate how "scientific management," at least on federal lands, degenerates into the political equivalent of mud wrestling: owls versus logging, salmon versus irrigation and dams, snowmobiling versus cross-country skiing, grazing versus biodiversity.

There are, of course, countervailing arguments, based on equity and ecology, which point to the benefits of public lands. Access is one. Scale, in terms of watersheds, ecosystems, and vistas, is another. But as the TNC example proves, free market, private sector approaches can compensate for or overcome the disadvantages of political management of landscapes.

Free Market Environmentalism also emphasized the tendency of the political sector to externalize costs. The Holy Grail of most economists is to internalize costs, i.e., make those who benefit from the economic activity bear the costs or avoid the spillover effects, e.g., pollution, from their activities. This encourages efficiency and equity by discouraging waste and harm.....

The arguments of free market environmentalists are quintessentially Lockean with their emphasis on well-specified, defendable, transferable property rights. These techniques can work very well for certain consumptive uses such as hunting for fee, or individual fishing quotas for marine fishing allotments. However, for a property rights approach to succeed environmentally in these and other areas such as air and water quality, it is often necessary to adopt some regulatory drivers or mandates to create mechanisms such as cap-and-trade programs which allow for the sale of credits generated by a discharger who can reduce pollution more efficiently than others.

To put it another way, while libertarians view free market environmentalism as an end in itself, many others will view it as a means of achieving community or ethical norms of environmental stewardship. Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute describes the latter position as "free-market socialism," but a Burkean conservative might be more forgiving.

But these are abstract questions which need not worry us. There is ample room to inject more freedom, incentives, and efficiency into our existing regulatory programs while pursing this new paradigm in numerous areas of resources management and protection, up to and including biodiversity or ecosystem protection.

More here

The case of the DDT deniers

Poor little Kenya. That's the message the media have been sending as the United Nations and European nations hold out this African country as the poster child of America's environmental sins. In the weeks leading up today's presentation of oral arguments in Massachusetts v. EPA - the Supreme Court case in which northeastern states are suing the Bush administration to regulate carbon dioxide as a "pollutant" under the Clean Air Act - global-warming alarmists and the media have been pointing to malaria epidemics in the cooler regions of Kenya as proof of the harmful effects of human-induced "climate change."

At the United Nations global-warming summit earlier this month in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, the Associated Press breathlessly filed a dispatch citing Kenya as the prime example of how "a warmer world already seems to be producing a sicker world." The article proclaimed that because global warming was "disrupting normal climate zones" in Kenya, "malaria epidemics have occurred in highland areas where cooler weather historically has kept down populations of the disease-bearing mosquitoes."

The AP article followed the predictable pattern of blaming America for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, describing how the mostly Europeans signatories were discussing "how to draw the United States into a plan for mandatory emission caps." Many friend-of-the-court briefs point to recent cases of malaria appearing in the world's cooler regions to try to persuade the Supreme Court that carbon dioxide is already affecting public health and thus should be regulated. With examples such as Kenya, they are likely trying to persuade swing justices, such as Anthony Kennedy, who increasingly weigh international considerations in their judgments about laws.

Al Gore's book and DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, also showcases Kenya. Recent malaria outbreaks in the city of Nairobi, Gore proclaims, show that "now, with global warming, the mosquitoes are climbing to higher altitudes." At the Nairobi summit, U.N. head Kofi Annan also turned up the heat by proclaiming that climate change "is a threat to health, since a warmer world is one in which infectious diseases such as malaria . will spread further and faster." Annan then pointed his finger at what he called "the few diehard skeptics" that "try to sow doubt," concluding that "they should be seen for what they are: out of step, out of arguments, and out of time."

But when it comes to global warming and malaria, many of the "diehard skeptics" who are "out of step" with Annan and the media are prominent scientists who have produced studies published by the U.N.'s own World Health Organization. Research papers from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show not only that global warming is not to blame for malaria in Nairobi and the highlands, but that flawed environmental policies are the real culprit. We indeed should cry for Kenya, but our tears need to be directed at the right target. In Kenya and elsewhere, it is modern environmentalism that is "producing a sicker world." And it is now primarily the U.N. and Europe that are blocking Kenya from using the best tool to fight her malarial epidemics. That tool is the "environmentally incorrect" insecticide DDT.

If the AP and other news services had bothered to talk to critics of global-warming alarmism or had even done a simple Google search with words such as "Kenya," "malaria," and "history," they would have discovered a remarkable fact: Epidemics of malaria in Nairobi and in the highlands are nothing new under Kenya's sun. They have occurred many times before in this century. In those regions of Kenya, as elsewhere, malaria was greatly reduced by the use of DDT to combat the mosquitoes spreading the disease. And there as elsewhere, malaria came back with a vengeance after DDT use was halted due in large part to the scare-mongering of Rachel Carson and other enviros.

If Annan, Gore or the AP had bothered to look at a comprehensive 1999 WHO report published in conjunction with the U.N. and World Bank's Roll Back Malaria partnership, they would have come across this startling conclusion about malaria in the Kenyan highlands: "malaria among highland populations is better described as a re-emerging [underlining in original] problem rather than a new, unprecedented phenomena." This paper, written by scientists at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, documents that malaria "[e]pidemics in highland Kenya, varying in magnitude, location, and effect, were to recur throughout the 1940s." As for Nairobi, that city experienced malaria outbreaks in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, according to the WHO report, which is entitled "The epidemiology, politics, and control of malaria epidemics in Kenya: 1900-1998."

What brought an end to malaria in these regions for decades until it recently resurfaced? In substantial part, the spraying of DDT. "Following concerted attempts to interrupt transmission during the 1950s and 1960, . malaria risks declined significantly," says the WHO study. And DDT was a large component of these "concerted attempts." According to the WHO paper, authorities in Kenya began spraying DDT in the 1940s, with an immediate 98 percent reduction in some regions. The report credited this spraying in substantial part for malaria not reoccurring in Nairobi after a flood in 1961.

The WHO report also casts a skeptical eye on climate playing any significant role in Kenya malaria resurgence. Measuring temperature and rainfall in Kenya's Kericho district in the highlands, the study states that "there is no obvious effect of `warming' in this area since 1967." The U.S. CDC reported similar findings in 2005. The CDC study concluded: "Doubts exist as to the plausibility of climate change as proximate cause of epidemic malaria because global warming cannot explain the World War II epidemics. Dramatic increases in malaria in the 1990s are not mirrored by prospectively collected climate data." And malaria researchers have also noted that the disease was endemic in many of other regions of the world, including the American South, until DDT eradicated malaria in those places after World War II.

But the malaria increases do seem to be mirrored in the reduction of DDT use. After the unfounded hysterics of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson and other eco-activists, DDT began to be used in Kenya less and less. Supply was restricted by U.S. and other nations' bans, and in 1990 Kenya itself outlawed the insecticide's use. Now there is extensive debate in Kenya, as elsewhere, about bringing back DDT. Two of the things that may be holding Kenya back from doing this, according to the online magazine Science in Africa, are the United Nations and the European Union. Although the WHO has commendably now called for DDT's use in anti-malaria efforts, the U.N. Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants phases out DDT. It does have an exception for health reasons, but imposes expensive paperwork requirements on countries that use the substance. The European Union is also shedding crocodile tears for Kenya. "Europe is tightening its restrictions on insecticide residues on East African products," according to the magazine, and this is discouraging DDT's use, even though it would not be used in agriculture.

Imposing strict Kyoto-like reductions on carbon dioxide may worsen Kenya's public-health systems, as well as those of other countries including our own, by making electricity use more expensive in setting such as hospitals. My colleague Marlo Lewis delves into more of these details in his report, "A Skeptic's Guide to An Incovenient Truth." Critics of global-warming alarmism are often slammed as "deniers." But to save Kenya and other poor nations from the ravages of malaria, we need to stand up to the activists and bureaucracies who should be called the DDT deniers.


Australian government points out the high cost of "green" power

THE switch to "clean green" energy sources will cost households up to 40 per cent more on their power bill, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has said. Mr Macfarlane said it was inevitable there would be "big jumps" in power bills, but said most people were unaware of the looming increases. "I don't think the consumers fully understand the price tag associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions," he told The Courier-Mail in an exclusive interview. "There is no doubt that if we are going to lower greenhouse gas emissions then electricity is going to cost significantly more - for consumers it will be anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent."

Mr Macfarlane said the price rise would occur during the next decade as the nation moved to cleaner, but more expensive energy sources such as clean coal technology. His estimate of a jump of up to 40 per cent in power bills is at the high end of industry expectations. But with the average annual household electricity bill in southeast Queensland about $1300 to $1400, a 40 per cent price rise would add more than $500 - or $125 a quarter - to the average power bill.

Last month, nuclear advocate Ziggy Switkowski said the increase in power bills would probably "not be noticeable" for consumers. But Mr Macfarlane said the cost of electricity production from coal-fired powered stations would almost double from $35 a megawatt-hour to more than $60 as gas emissions were cut. Coal is the main source of electricity and delivers 90 per cent of Queensland's power.

Labor's climate change spokesman, Peter Garrett, yesterday accused the Government of failing to take action on global warming and said it was impossible to make predictions about future energy prices. "In the absence of any targets, timelines and any certainty in greenhouse gas reductions the Government effectively leaves the issue of prices up in the air," Mr Garrett said. Prime Minister John Howard has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement that sets targets for cutting emissions but earlier this month set-up a taskforce to examine a global emissions trading system.

Mr Macfarlane angrily rejected the accusation the Government has failed to act and said more than three years ago it began pursuing technology-based solutions. He believes it is time for a detailed debate about the impact of cutting emissions and is highly critical of those who promote wind and solar power as a potential solution to future energy needs. He said solar power was four to five times more expensive than electricity from coal and that wind power was twice as expensive - even though it was heavily subsidised. "While the energy source is free, converting that to electricity is expensive," he said of wind and solar power. The Government believes nuclear energy can be a future source of clean energy, but Labor has ruled it out as too dangerous.

All nations, including Australia, are under pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as a blanket of carbon dioxide around the earth and is blamed for heating up the atmosphere. Labor's industry spokesman Kim Carr says the longer the nation waits to change energy sources the more it will cost.



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


A recipe for blackouts

Nature seems to like her little ironies, like the cold weather that pursues Big Al round the world as he promotes his global warming scare. So she provided a stationary high, of the sort mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this page, at the very moment that the new gigantic monstrosity on the Thames Estuary was announced. If all those white elephants were in position now they would be providing no power at all, just when the country is immersed in freezing fog and needing it. This letter in the Telegraph almost says it all:

Sir - Once again the public are being misled by the wind industry. These windfarms, which are going to cover over 100 square miles of the approaches to the Thames Estuary, will never power one third of London homes.

If as suggested the installed capacity of the 400-plus turbines is 1.3 Gw (1300Mw) then even with a generous load factor of 30 per cent the average output will only be 390Mw. This would in fact be enough to provide 5Kw to 78,000 homes, about enough to power an electric kettle and a toaster. If, as there frequently is, a high pressure system is sitting over south-east England , then there will be zero output from these windfarms. The claims about carbon dioxide savings are equally dishonest. Using widely accepted data the annual, theoretical savings of CO2 for these turbines would be approximately 1.46 Mt and would reduce global levels by a farcical 0.005 per cent

What your readers really need to know is that these windfarms will receive approximately œ160 million per year in subsidies, paid for by them. This windfarm scandal has gone on long enough and needs to be exposed for what is. We are destroying our landscapes and now our seascapes for nothing more than green tokenism, and are being expected to pay for it as well.

Bob Graham, Chairman, Highlands Against Windfarms, Orton, Moray

Unfortunately it rather understates the case. Time averages are of no significance in this application. The point is that for about 80% of the time these machines would produce no power at all. Fossil fuel generators would have to provide the missing power and then be switched to warm standby while the wind is blowing. Even if CO2 were a significant factor in global warming, the fraction saved would be derisory.

It was a particularly irksome time to read this nonsense, as the announcement of the latest hike in electricity bills came through the letter box on the same day. Ordinary punters have no idea how much they are paying for these religious observances and they cannot see the connection with the front page headline on the same day.

Pity the poor grid controller when the wind drops suddenly: by the time his call for extra fossil power has been answered, the cascade of failures across the network will already have begun to propagate.

From Numberwatch - Post of Dec 22


By Jeff Jacoby

Remember The Twilight Zone? Back in 1961, Rod Serling wrote an episode that was set in New York City amid rampant global warming. Somehow the Earth's orbit had shifted, and the planet was moving inexorably toward the sun. "This is the eve of the end," Serling intoned in his introduction. "Because even at midnight it's high noon, the hottest day in history, and you're about to spend it -- in the Twilight Zone."

The story revolves around a few desperate New Yorkers struggling to survive the murderous heat. As the temperature climbs, social order crumbles. An intruder, crazed with thirst, breaks into an apartment to steal water. An elderly woman collapses and dies. Thermometers shatter, their mercury boiling over. Finally Norma, the main character, screams and passes out. Then comes the "Twilight Zone" twist: Norma wakes up to find that it's snowing outside. She'd been having a nightmare. The Earth isn't hurtling toward the sun, after all; it's spinning *away* from the sun. The world isn't going to end in searing heat, but in a dark and deathly deep-freeze. Fade to credits. Well, that's climate change for you. Maybe Mother Earth is warming up, or maybe she's cooling down, but either way it's always bad news.

Here, for example, is former vice president Al Gore in 2006, on the threat posed by global warming: "Our ability to live is what is at stake." It doesn't get much more dire than that. Yet here is climatologist Reid Bryson, in Fortune magazine's award-winning analysis of global *cooling* in 1974: "There is very important climatic change going on right now, and it's not merely something of academic interest. . . . It is something that, if it continues, will affect the whole human occupation of the earth -- like a billion people starving." It doesn't get much more dire than that, either.

Bryson's article is quoted in "Fire and Ice," a richly documented report by the Business & Media Institute, an arm of the Media Research Center. Climate-change alarmism, the report shows, is at least a century old. A few examples: "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again," asserted a New York Times headline in February 1895. Worrisome if true, but just seven years later, the Los Angeles Times reported that the great glaciers were undergoing "their final annihilation" due to rising temperatures worldwide. By 1923, though, it was the ice that was doing the annihilating: "Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada," the Chicago Tribune declared on Page 1.

So it was curtains for the Canadians? Er, not quite. In 1953, The New York Times reported that "nearly all the great ice sheets are in retreat." Yet no sooner did our neighbors to the north breathe a sigh of relief than it turned out they weren't off the hook after all: "The rapid advance of some glaciers," wrote Lowell Ponte in The Cooling, his 1976 bestseller, "has threatened human settlements in Alaska, Iceland, Canada, China, and the Soviet Union." And now? "Arctic Ice Is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say," the Times reported in 2002.

Over the years, the alarmists have veered from an obsession with lethal global cooling around the turn of the 20th century to lethal global warming a generation later, back to cooling in the 1970s and now to warming once again. You don't have to be a scientist to realize that all these competing narratives of doom can't be true. Or to wonder whether any of them are.

Perhaps that is why most Americans discount the climate-change fear-mongering that is so fashionable among journalists and politicians. Last spring, as Time magazine was hyperventilating about global warming ("The debate is over. Global warming is upon us -- with a vengeance. From floods to fires, droughts to storms, the climate is crashing"), a Gallup poll was finding that only 36 percent of the public say they worry "a great deal" about it.

Still, there is always a market for apocalyptic forebodings. Paul Ehrlich grew rich writing jeremiads with such titles as The Population Explosion and The Population Bomb, which predicted the imminent deaths of hundreds of millions of human beings from starvation and epidemic disease. The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome's 1972 bestseller, warned that humankind was going to experience "a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline" as the world's resources -- everything from gold to petroleum -- ran dry. Jonathan Schell and Carl Sagan forecast a devastating "nuclear winter" unless atomic arsenals were frozen, or better still, abolished. Those doomsday prophesies never came to pass. Neither have the climate-change catastrophes that have been bruited about for a century.


What Greenie dam-hatred has achieved in Australia

Water restrictions have cut consumption by Australian households to 1950s levels, but a chronic failure by state governments to invest in infrastructure will force further crackdowns on use in 2007 unless the nation receives significant rain.

Research by national water utilities has found water consumption per head has been driven down to 1950s levels by the tough restrictions. Up to 20 per cent of the cuts in household consumption were reported since 2001, when severe restrictions were implemented as rainfall in the catchment areas began to drop. This is despite a doubling in the average size of houses, with more bathrooms and increased numbers of swimming pools.

According to Water Services Australia, in 1955-56 Sydneysiders used 343 litresper person per day, while Melburnians used 330L. In 2005-06, people in Sydney used slightly less -- 339L per person per day -- while Melbourne residents used 331L. Usage peaked at about 500L in the 1980s. But in the same period, the populations of the cities on the eastern seaboard have more than doubled while investment in water infrastructure has failed to keep pace.

After a post-war boom in developing new dams and water storage, investment in new dams has fallen sharply in the past decade, with little investment in alternative technologies such as recycling and desalination -- with the exception of Perth. The water spokesman for the Australian Council for Infrastructure Development, Graham Dooley, said Australia had enough water but was unable to manage it because of chronic infrastructure failures. "We have a supply crisis and we have an infrastructure crisis. We don't actually have a water crisis," he said. "It's in the wrong place and the wrong quality. It's either seawater or stormwater or sewage, not drinking water." The problem, he said, was under-investment in infrastructure. "You can solve all of these problems by being cleverer."

State governments have continued to take the profits from their water utilities rather than reinvesting in new infrastructure, taking $659 million in 2004/05 from urban water authorities. A report by Marsden Jacob Associates found the capital city water businesses had not increased capital expenditure significantly "and certainly not increased it to the levels required to have avoided the current shortfall in supply". Instead, the water authorities have relied on increasingly severe restrictions to manage supply, as dams fall to unprecedented lows. Only Hobart and Darwin are exempt from the national crisis. Sydney's Warragamba dam is at an unprecedented low of 36.7per cent. Only huge transfers of water from the Shoalhaven system this year have kept the Warragamba above the desalination trigger point of 30 per cent.

Southeast Queensland's Wivenhoe dam is in a worse position, and is now 23 per cent of capacity. "We've never seen it this low in all the time we've been coming here," Ipswich resident Steven Ryder said during a visit with his wife Carla. Melbourne's Thompson dam is at 40 per cent. The city will get more severe restrictions on January 1, but what worries water managers is the possibility of bushfire in the dam's catchment. Mr Dooley said Adelaide had even more severe problems because of its heavy reliance on dwindling inflows to the Murray River for water supplies. "Adelaide is basically stuffed," he said. "Adelaide has no option but to recycle or desalinate." Mr Dooley said Perth was the only city to have a thorough water strategy, although its dams received only a third of the inflows they got before 1974. "They have done everything possible, and even so they haven't got enough, and that is because it is the best example in the world of climate change," he said.

Water Services Association chief Ross Young said bringing back consumption to 1950 levels "is an outstanding achievement if you compare it to electricity, gas or ... petrol, which have all risen substantially over that period".



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Love global warming

When talk turns to global warming, there are only three socially acceptable opinions that may be expressed. It's going to be bad, terrible or catastrophic. As our leading alarmist, former Vice President Al Gore, makes clear in his book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, "the negative impact of climate change vastly outweighs any local benefits."

Researchers have warned us that a temperature rise of a few degrees will bring about plagues of jellyfish on our shores, more poison ivy in our gardens, maple syrup shortages, drowning polar bears, invasions by hordes of smaller and smaller ants, and a proliferation of new types of crime (at least in Australia). Dry areas will become deserts, wet places malarial swamps. Sea levels will rise faster and, worst of all, the effects will fall hardest on women, minorities, children and the poorest people in the poorest countries.

Yes, rising sea levels, if they happen, would be bad for a lot of people. But a warming trend would be good for other people. At the risk of committing heresy, I'd like to suggest that the debate about climate change include, for once, a fair assessment of the benefits alongside the declamations of harm.

For example, cold winter storms kill a lot of people. More people die from blizzards and cold spells than from heat waves. Increased death rates usually persist for weeks after the unusually cold temperatures have passed, which suggests that the cold is killing people who would otherwise live into another season at least. Mortality rates during heat waves are just the reverse. The increase ends and often the rate drops below normal as soon as temperatures cool, which suggests that the higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway. It is true that mortality rates from both cold and hot weather have been declining in rich countries for a long time. That's because wealthier societies can adapt and protect themselves better from temperature extremes. But it also appears that deaths from hot weather have been declining more rapidly than those from cold.

So modest climatic improvement would be to have fewer and less severe big winter storms. Amazingly, that's exactly what we should get if global warming theory turns out to be true. The models say that much of the warming will occur in the upper latitudes and in the winter. At the risk of further ridicule in kooky blogs in England, where global warming alarmism is now a religion, that sounds pretty good to me. Fewer people will die from the cold.

And once you think about it, there are likely to be other beneficial consequences as well. Life in many places would become more pleasant. Instead of 20 below zero in January in Saskatoon, it might be only 10 below. And I don't think too many people would complain if winters in Minneapolis became more like winters in Kansas City.

In fact, there is no question that most people prefer less severe winters. North Dakota and Maine haven't been gaining much in population. Every census since 1960 shows rapid population growth in Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and Nevada. For the elderly and infirm, warmer weather is definitely healthier as well as more pleasant.

This promising scenario of milder winters in northern regions, which would become reality in the unlikely event that global warming turns out to be as considerable as predicted, comes with a catch, however. Air-conditioning is now considered a necessity, not only in Houston and Washington, D.C., but even in some northern climes where no matter how hot it gets during the day, it still cools down at night. Air-conditioning takes a lot of energy. But to stop global warming, we're supposed to use much less energy. Given our obvious preference for living in warmer climates as long as we have air-conditioning, I doubt that we're going to go on the energy diet that the global warming doomsters urge us to undertake.



Without mosquitoes, epidemics of dengue fever and malaria could not plague this planet. The skin-piercing insects infect one person after another while dining on a favorite meal: human blood. Eliminating the pests appears impossible. But scientists are attempting to re-engineer them so they cannot carry disease. If they manage that, they must create enough mutants to mate with wild insects and one day to outnumber them.

Researchers chasing this dream, including an N.C. State University entomologist, know they may court controversy. Genetically modified crop plants such as soybeans and corn have become common in the United States, but an altered organism on wings would be a first.

Critics of bio-engineering, especially in Europe, view some genetic alterations as unnatural, even monstrous. People fearful of so-called Frankenfood could sound similar alarms over Frankenbugs.

But with advances in molecular biology and millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this quest may be within reach. And its promise is huge, the scientists say.

"We're looking at a timeline. But this is coming," said Fred Gould, the NCSU insect expert.

Gould is working on the project with scientists on four continents. They landed $19.7 million under a Grand Challenges in Global Health grant offered by the Gates philanthropy and a National Institutes of Health foundation. The funders selected researchers ready to collaborate rather than compete on risky research aimed at solving massive health threats in poor places.



In one of his final initiatives as governor, Jeb Bush on Monday announced the creation of the Interamerican Ethanol Commission to promote the use of the alternative fuel throughout the Americas and slowly wean the region off gasoline. Bush said his support for ethanol was shaped by watching the suffering of Floridians through eight hurricanes in the past two years, and the resulting damage caused by a temporary loss of fuel supply. "Wouldn't it be nice to have alternative sources of fuel as we prepare for hurricanes?" he said.

Also launching the commission was Luis Alberto Moreno, head of the Interamerican Development Bank, and former Brazilian agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues, who now heads the country's agribusiness council. "For the last 35 years, I have been thinking how stupid has been humankind to build a whole civilization over oil, which is something that is going to finish one day," an emotional Rodrigues told a crowd of more than 100 mostly business leaders at the Biltmore Hotel.

Rodrigues said in the coming months the group will begin presenting "road shows" on ethanol throughout Latin America. Bush leaves office in January. He said increased ethanol consumption will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, help improve the environment and provide a catalyst for poor nations to "grow their own energy."

But some experts have questioned whether a sufficient amount of ethanol could be produced to make a significant dent in oil consumption. Brazil meets nearly half its fuel demand for passenger motor vehicles with ethanol, almost all of it made from sugar cane. It is also Florida's top trading partner, with $10.9 billion in trade last year.

Bush acknowledged that broadening an international ethanol push in other parts of the United States is a tough sell, especially in the Midwest, which receives billions of dollars in federal subsidies for corn production, a major source of ethanol.

Earlier this year his brother, President Bush, opposed an extension of the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, but Congress passed the measure Dec. 8. "You can see how agriculture producers in our country worry about ideas that take away some of their protection," he said, joking that the unpopularity of his stance in the Midwest was "living proof that I'm not running [for president]."

But he added that expanding the worldwide consumption of ethanol will create plenty of opportunities for U.S. producers. "There's no possible way that Brazil by itself or the United States by itself could expand capacity that quick. So a level of cooperation, I don't think, is threatening for American agriculture," he said. "In fact I think it will yield lowering of cost and expansion of markets."



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, December 25, 2006


The excerpt below is from a review by an atheist of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. The closing quote is from Karl Marx

The most curious feature of Dawkins' crusade against religion is that it is mounted at a time when the social influence of religion is at a low ebb. In the USA, Dawkins follows liberals in grossly exaggerating the influence of the religious right as a way of avoiding any reflection on the lack of popular appeal of their own agenda. In the UK, Dawkins concentrates his fire on one school in Gateshead where creationism has crept on to the curriculum (allowing him to sneer at Peter Vardy, the vulgar `car salesman' millionaire who has bankrolled the school). Yet, while he happily tilts at windmills, Dawkins ignores much more influential currents of irrationality - such as the cult of environmentalism - which has a far greater influence on the national curriculum than notions of `intelligent design'.

While Dawkins can readily identify common features between South Pacific cargo cults and the Christian churches, he seems oblivious to the religious themes of the environmental movement. Just like evangelical Christians, environmentalists preach a `repent, the end is nigh' message. The movement has its own John the Baptist - George Monbiot - who has come out of the desert (well, Oxfordshire) to warn us of the imminent danger of hellfire (in the form of global warming) if we do not repent and embrace his doctrines of austerity and restraint. Beware - the rough beast of the apocalypse is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born!

Far from challenging the pervasive influence of this bleak outlook, Dawkins goes so far as to endorse the abjectly anti-humanist theories of Peter Singer, one of the movement's most fundamentalist apostles. Though this movement's promotion of the anti-scientific `precautionary principle' constitutes a greater threat to scientific experimentation than the pathetic attempt of a few evangelicals to return the teaching of biology to the Old Testament, it is entirely ignored by Oxford's professor `for the public understanding of science'. While university theology departments are in decline, courses in various schools of `alternative health' (which share only a foundation in pre-scientific thought) have grown apace in recent years - but Dawkins is too busy berating the bishops to notice.

In the turbulent years before the First World War, Jewish anarchists in London's East End provoked riots by picketing the synagogue in Brick Lane on holy days, baiting the faithful while they fasted, by publicly eating ham sandwiches. In a similarly self-indulgent fashion, Dawkins seems to revel in causing offence to the devout. But this sort of posturing against religion does nothing to challenge the roots of religious faith. The Brick Lane synagogue was built as a Christian church and is now a mosque: while much else has changed around it, it is clear that the need for religious worship endures. `Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.'


The toxicity of environmentalism

Recently a popular imported mineral water was removed from the market because tests showed that samples of it contained 35 parts per billion of benzene. Although this was an amount so small that only 15 years ago it would have been impossible even to detect, it was assumed that considerations of public health required withdrawal of the product. Such a case, of course, is not unusual nowadays. The presence of parts per billion of a toxic substance is routinely assumed to be a cause of human deaths. And whenever the number of projected deaths exceeds one in a million, environmentalists demand that the government remove the offending pesticide, preservative, or other alleged bearer of toxic pollution from the market. They do so, even though a level of risk of one in a million is one-third as great as that of an airplane falling from the sky on one's home.

While it is not necessary to question the good intentions and sincerity of the overwhelming majority of the members of the environmental or ecology movement, it is vital that the public realize that in this seemingly lofty and noble movement itself can be found more than a little evidence of the most profound toxicity. Consider, for example, the following quotation from David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, in his prominently featured Los Angeles Times book review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature:

This [man's "remaking the earth by degrees"] makes what is happening no less tragic for those of us who value wildness for its own sake, not for what value it confers upon mankind. I, for one, cannot wish upon either my children or the rest of Earth's biota a tame planet, be it monstrous or-however unlikely-benign. McKibben is a biocentrist, and so am I. We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value-to me-than another human body, or a billion of them.

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line-at about a billion years ago, maybe half that-we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.

It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

While Mr. Graber openly wishes for the death of a billion people, Mr. McKibben, the author he reviewed, quotes with approval John Muir's benediction to alligators, describing it as a "good epigram" for his own, "humble approach": "'Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouth-fill of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty." Such statements represent pure, unadulterated poison. They express ideas and wishes which, if acted upon, would mean terror and death for enormous numbers of human beings.

These statements, and others like them, are made by prominent members of the environmental movement. The significance of such statements cannot be diminished by ascribing them only to a small fringe of the environmental movement. Indeed, even if such views were indicative of the thinking only of five or ten percent of the members of the environmental movement-the "deep ecology," Earth First! wing-they would represent toxicity in the environmental movement as a whole not at the level of parts per billion or even parts per million, but at the level of parts per hundred which, of course, is an enormously higher level of toxicity than is deemed to constitute a danger to human life in virtually every other case in which deadly poison is present.

More here

Earth's Climate Changes in Tune with Eccentric Orbital Rhythms

Ocean sediment reveals the pattern behind the rise and fall of ice ages and the shape of Earth's orbit

The useless shells of tiny ocean animals--foraminifera--drift silently down through the depths of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, coming to rest more than three miles (five kilometers) below the surface. Slowly, over time, this coating of microscopic shells and other detritus builds up. "In the central Pacific, the sedimentation rate adds between one and two centimeters every 1,000 years," explains Heiko Palike, a geologist at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, England. "If you go down in the sediment one inch, you go back in time 2,500 years."

Palike and his colleagues went considerably further than that, pulling a sediment core from the depths of the Pacific that stretched back 42 million years. Limiting their analysis to the Oligocene--a glacial time period that lasted between roughly 34 million and 23 million years ago--the researchers found that global climate responds to slight changes in the amount of sunlight hitting Earth during shifts in its orbit between elliptical and circular. "Of all the records so far, this is both the longest and, also, the clearest that most of the climatic variations between glacial and interglacial at that time [were] most likely related to orbital cycles," Palike says.

The researchers pulled specific foraminifera samples from the core and then dissolved the shells in acid. They pumped the resultant carbon dioxide gas into a mass spectrometer and determined exactly what elements comprised the shells. This allowed them to distinguish between shells composed of the relatively lightweight isotopes of carbon and oxygen versus those made with a higher proportion of heavier isotopes.

The isotopes, in turn, reveal a picture of the climate eons ago. Oxygen (O) with an atomic weight of 16 evaporates more readily than its heavier counterpart 18O. Thus, when ice caps form, ocean water bears a higher ratio of the heavier isotope. Because the tiny creatures build their shells from materials in seawater, their calcium carbonate homes reflect the ratio of the two isotopes in the seas of that time. "They are a recorder of how much ice is present on the earth at any given time," Palike notes.

The same is true for the various isotopes of carbon, 12C and 13C. Because plants preferentially use the lighter isotope, its scarcity is a record of how much life the oceans supported. By matching these isotope ratios to the astronomical cycle--Earth's orbit oscillates between an elliptical and circular path on a roughly 400,000-year cycle--the researchers found that patterns of glaciation and ice retreat followed the eccentricity of our planet's orbit, they report in the December 22 Science.

But the eccentricity of Earth's orbit does not cause that much of a flux in the amount of sunlight the planet receives; that energy budget is much more strongly impacted by variances in the degree ofEarth's tilt toward or away from the sun, which would lead one to expect glaciation to occur on a shorter cycle. Instead, the long times required to move carbon through the oceans apparently acts as a buffer. "Each carbon atom that you put in the ocean stays there for about 100,000 years," Palike explains. "The climate system accentuates very long periodic variations and dampens shorter term variations."

Earth is currently nearly circular in its orbit and, if this Oligocene pattern were to be followed, would next be headed into another ice age in about 50,000 years. But the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached levels not seen for millions of years prior to the Oligocene. Thus, to get an accurate picture of what the climate might be like in coming years, scientists will have to continue back even farther in history to a period known as the Eocene.

It is already clear, however, that the effects of the carbon released now will affect the oceans for years to come. "Another effect of this residence time of carbon in the ocean is that it takes a long time to flush the system out," Palike says. "It will take a very long time to go back to the level that existed before a large excursion of CO2. It's not going to be doomsday, end of the world, but a rise in sea level would affect a very large percentage of humankind." Not to mention the shells laid down today on the deep ocean floor of the Pacific.



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

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.