Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's almost certain: humans caused planet to heat up

The headline above and the text below is how "The Australian" (national daily) reported the latest IPCC report. It rightly notes the huge range in predictions offered and includes some skeptical comments. The range of predictions is a bit like a fortune-teller saying to someone: "One day you will be either a Prince or a pauper". I doubt that such a totally vague fortune-teller would stay in business long

Scientists are now almost certain temperature increases over the last half of the 20th century were caused by human activity, and have warned of ominous further increases up to 4C by 2100.

The world's most significant weather forecast, released last night in Paris, revealed growing confidence in climate modelling that suggests greenhouse gases are reaching dangerous levels and need to be reduced. The first volume of the fourth assessment report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported similar warming projections to its previous report six years ago. The new report is based on the results of 23 climate models, a three-fold increase from the seven models used in 2001 to deliver best estimates of temperature increases ranging from 1.8C to 4C. The increased number of models has widened the likely temperature ranges from 1.1C to 6.4C, compared with from 1.4C to 5.8C six years ago. [The 1.1C prediction is at least fairly consistent with the ACTUAL rise of .6C in the 20th century]

Significantly, the report finds man-made release of greenhouse gases is more than 90 per cent likely to have caused most of the observable increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century, about 0.65C.

The range of projected rises in global sea levels is from 0.18m [a mere 7 inches over an entire century] to 0.59m by 2100, driven largely by their expansion from rising water temperatures.

The IPCC also reports greater confidence in the projected patterns of warming and other regional-scale features, including contracting snow cover, shrinking sea ice on the poles and the high likelihood of more frequent hot extremes, heatwaves and heavy rainfall patterns.

The Antarctic ice sheets are predicted to remain too cold for widespread surface melting and are expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall. While the Greenland ice sheet is projected to contribute to sea-level rises after 2100, the report says this will need to be sustained for millenniums to result in its complete elimination and a resulting sea-level rise of about 7m.

The report predicts the emission of carbon dioxide this century will contribute to global warming and sea-level rises for the next millennium. The report predicts increasing intensity in cyclones, including higher peak wind speeds and more heavy rain patterns, but with the possibility of a reduction in their frequency. Other storms are likely to track towards the poles as the world's weather systems adapt to changes in heat in the atmosphere and deep oceans. Rainfall will shift from the subtropical regions towards the poles.

Australian Academy of Science president Kurt Lambeck praised the quality of the report by Working Group I of the IPCC. He urged governments and industries to take swift action to reduce the pace of change to give "societies and ecosystems" time to adapt to a warmer and more unstable world. "Climate change is here to stay," said Professor Lambeck. "We must open our eyes to what may be the most significant issue facing not only Australia but the planet."

In Britain, Royal Society president Martin Rees agreed, saying the report was a "comprehensive picture" of the latest scientific understanding of the nature, processes and likely outcomes of climate change. But he correctly predicted a "vocal minority" would raise objections to the findings.

In Melbourne, former head of the weather bureau's National Climate Centre William Kininmonth was among the sceptics. "My feeling is that the report is more alarmist than the evidence suggests," he said. He was particularly critical of the IPCC's interpretation of the data and of the separate computer modelling systems used to predict future climate changes. He added that, along with Canadian climate-change sceptic Ross McKitrick, he had contributed to an "independent summary for policymakers", to be released in London next Monday.

The current head of the NCC, Michael Coughlan, disputed Mr Kininmonth's objections. He said the latest report built on past work and reflected continuing refinement in the understanding of the complex processes of the climate system. Dr Coughlan said the new report fitted neatly with continuing observations of climate and ocean systems. "Globally, we're seeing the trends (noted in the report) being laid down now: warming nights and fewer colder days and more heatwaves and heavy precipitation events," he said. "These global trends are consistent with what we've been seeing in Australia over the past 50 to 100 years."

The head of the UN's Environment Program said last night the IPCC report had rendered "almost redundant" a European Union goal of limiting global warming to 2C. Achim Steiner said the new report "gives us a stark warning that the potential impact will be more dramatic, faster and more drastic in terms of consequences" than previously thought.


Delaware global warming skeptic stands pat

State climatologist on opposite side of governor in court case

Delaware's state climatologist has found himself in the middle of a political squall after taking skeptical stands on global warming and climate change -- in one case directly contradicting the state's own policy. David R. Legates, a University of Delaware geography professor, co-wrote a "friend of the court" brief that opposed Delaware's position in a multi-state U.S. Supreme Court case.

In the appeal, state regulators argued that carbon dioxide from new cars should be regulated because of evidence the gas was contributing to rising global temperatures, climate shifts and changes in the environment. The Bush administration and industry critics opposed the demand, saying the dire warnings are unproven.

Enter Legates, a Ph.D. climatologist who received the title of state climatologist in 2005 from Daniel Leathers, now the head of the University of Delaware's geography department. Legates joined a group of scientists late last year in urging the court to reject the state claims, in a brief filed by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. "It is simply impossible to conclude that the net effect of greenhouse gases endangers human health and welfare," the brief said. The institute has sued the government in the past to block some fuel economy standards for automobiles.

Two sides of the coin

The appearance of Delaware's climatologist on the other side of the court case left some state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials frustrated. "He's taken a position that 'The climate is changing, but we don't have any danger signs,' " said Ali Mirzakhalili, air quality management chief for DNREC.

Recently branded "a favorite scientist of the global warming denial machine" by one national environmental group, Legates said he was following scientific evidence in arguing the institute's position in the court case. He has taken similar positions dating back to at least 1998, while a professor at Louisiana State University. "The science brought in by the one side had given a more extremist view of climate change," Legates said. "What we're trying to say is, the science isn't necessarily that well settled, and in many cases it isn't that extreme. I'm not saying it isn't a problem."

As state climatologist, a position the state doesn't fund, Legates collects and shares climate data with the National Climatic Data Center, the Northeast Regional Climate Center and the National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly, N.J. Similar positions exist in 41 other states and Puerto Rico, generally staffed by state employees or university staffers. "I don't think the doctor [Legates] speaks for the state's position," said Philip Cherry, a DNREC administrator who recently invited Legates to address agency employees. "I think the governor speaks for the state's position."

Delaware has accepted the view human activities contribute to global warming, and changes are needed to curb risks of sea level rise and climate change. The state adopted a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2000.

An updated report on global warming and its consequences by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due Friday, is expected to include forecasts of rising sea levels and changing weather and climate conditions worldwide.

Legates disputes warnings

Federal scientists have long warned that sea-level increases could be most pronounced along the mid-Atlantic, including the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay. Some forecasts have predicted that Delaware could lose 50 percent or more of its tidal wetlands under worst-case scenarios. But during a presentation sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation last year, Legates said, "This has become climate alarmism."

Then in early 2006, the National Policy Research Center, a conservative think tank, published a paper by Legates saying science "does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21st century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change."

NPRC listed Legates as an adjunct scholar at the time the paper was released, as well as director of the University of Delaware's Climatic Research Center. In 2003 Legates was called to testify in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, a global warming skeptic prone to talk of "debunking" scientific climate change conclusions that are now widely accepted.

During that testimony Legates disputed findings of the international panel, saying researchers failed to prove recent warming trends or that human causes are "the only significant factor."

Wilmington resident Chad Tolman, a retired DuPont Co. research scientist who held positions with the National Academy of Sciences, said Legates' position clashed awkwardly with most Delaware scientists. "I just don't know how, in the face of all the evidence, [he] maintains [his] position," Tolman said. Cherry, who is managing Delaware's efforts with other states to cap regional greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, said Legates was free to take a stand that contradicts Delaware. "But I have to say he's in the very small minority," Cherry said.


Empowering Africa?

The NGO Working Group on Climate Change argues that community empowerment has to be at the centre of the adaptation agenda:

‘Identifying what communities are already doing to adapt is an important step towards discovering what people’s priorities are and sharing their experiences, obstacles and positive initiatives with other communities and development policy-makers. Giving a voice to people in this way can help to grow confidence, as can valuing their knowledge and placing it alongside science-based knowledge.’

African ‘voices’ are central to climate change advocacy as the science of climate change leaves many questions unanswered, particularly with regard to the impact of climate change in Africa.  Information, to support the urgency of action in this area, is often obtained from those in Africa, patronised as having a ‘deeper’ understanding than that which can be provided by ‘Western’ science. For example, the views of Sesophio, a Maasai pastoralist from Tanzania are given prominence in the Africa – Up in Smoke 2 report:

‘It is this development, like cars, that is bringing stress to the land, and plastics are being burnt and are filling in the air. We think there is a lot of connection between that and what is happening now with the droughts. If you bring oil and petrol and throw it onto the grass it doesn’t grow, so what are all these cars and new innovations doing to a bigger area? Every day diseases are increasing, diseases we haven’t seen before.’

Climate change advocates patronisingly argue that they are empowering people like Sesophio by ‘valuing’ his knowledge and giving him a ‘voice’. In fact, they are exploiting Sesophio’s lack of knowledge about climate change and the fears and concerns generated by his marginal existence.....

‘To survive the droughts, people have had to resort to practices that damage their dignity and security, their long-term livelihoods, and their environment, including large-scale charcoal production that intensifies deforestation, fighting over water and pastures, selling livestock and dropping out of school.’

The view of climate change, rather than underdevelopment, as responsible for poverty, results in an outlook that tends to blame local survival strategies, such as cutting down trees to make some money from selling charcoal. When these views are reflected back to Western advocates, the African poor reflect Western views that they are part of the problem:

‘In nearby Goobato, a village with no cars, no motorcycles, no bicycles, no generators, no televisions, no mobile phones, and dozens of $5 radios, Nour, the village elder, said increased temperatures bake the soil… Nour also said villagers share the blame: “We cut trees just to survive, but we are part of the problem.”’

The strategy of adaptation, tends to problematise African survival strategies because, by talking up isolated positive examples of adaptation under international aid, it inevitably problematises the real life choices and decisions which poor Africans have to make.


Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate fluctuations because of a lack of development. The lack of development means that 70 percent of the working population (90 percent of Africa’s poor) rely on agriculture for a living, the vast majority of them by subsistence farming.  It is no coincidence that the continent with the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions is also the most vulnerable to climate change. The lesson of Africa is that development provides a better way of dealing with climate uncertainties than does concern with the individual lifestyles and survival strategies of the poor.

The ‘adaptation agenda’ allows Western governments, international institutions and international NGOs to claim they are doing something positive to address the impact of global warming but the consequences for Africa could be disastrous. ‘Learning from the poor’, ‘empowering the poor’ and strategies to increase their ‘resilience’, end up patronising Africa’s poor and supporting an anti-development agenda that would consign Africa to a future of poverty - and climate dependency.


Climate Change Contradictions and Inconsistencies

Karl Marx enthusiastically targeted the "Contradictions of Capitalism". His critics denounced Marx's "Internal Inconsistencies" with equal glee. Both Marx and his critics would have a field day if they were commentating on the New Zealand scene today. For example: The climate doomcasters' major message is that we have been "spewing" carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere and therefore temperatures are rising. The change is real, and is happening, and we must panic, before it's too late.

Measuring stations near, or within, large urban areas can give high readings. Hence we should look for locations as far as possible from human habitation to get the real picture. What could be further from human habitation than the South Pole? Gerrit van der Lingen of the NZ Climate Science Coalition has kindly prepared a graph which will, naturally, show that as CO2 concentrations rise, the temperature follows. And here it is.

Funny that the CO2 trend line goes up, while the temperature trend line goes down. How can this be? Would someone ask Al Gore?

The Expertise of Stern and Gore.

I routinely get kindly messages asking me to present my qualifications - the underlying assumption being that as a non-certified climate scientist I have no business having an opinion. Similar challenges were launched against Bjorn Lomborg, the non-dismal Dane, and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist". He was criticized for being "just a statistician". But Lomborg was comparing claims with the evidence, which is what statisticians do - they analyse data. However, those who yearn for catastrophe have their own way of thinking. They have never challenged the credentials of Mr Stern, the Global International Banker, and they never question the credentials of Mr Gore, the American politician who developed his views on the environment while studying theology - not science.

One green commentator, no doubt resting up after an anti-American and anti-globalisation demonstration, recognized this contradiction but explained it away on the grounds that Al Gore has been passionate about climate change for a long time. So that's all right then.

Follow the Money.

Greenpeace routinely claims we skeptics are all in the pay of the oil companies in general and of Exxon Mobil in particular. Exxon Mobil has given several millions in grants to US think tanks, who then commission other people to do research. Naturally, all this research is corrupted by the money.

The US Government, has spent over $23 billion on climate-change related research to date. I wonder who got their hands on all that lolly? Presumably their work is corrupted too.

Some of us were surprised to learn that Al Gore is actually an owner and director of an investment fund, Generation Investment Management. This fund will invest in "sustainable" business and naturally the more we are scared of climate change the more attractive such investments will be. At least we now understand why he was invited to talk to our own Superannuation Fund. It's a useful device for siphoning money from my pockets into Al's. One commentator gushed that Mr Gore was "putting his money where his mouth is". Maybe he is putting his mouth where his money is.

A Stadium on the Waterfront.

Just after waxing lyrical over the wisdom of the great Al Gore, the Government announced a plan to build a 60,000 seat stadium on the waterfront even though Al Gore is convinced we are going to be awash under a 6 metre sea-level rise. None of the drawings suggest the stadium will be on 6 metre stilts. Seems that climate change is now like astrology. Even those who believe in it, really don't believe in it.



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

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

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