New derivation of equations governing the greenhouse effect reveals "runaway warming" impossible
Miklos Zagoni isn't just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was. That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Langley Research Center.
After studying it, Zagoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. "I fell in love," he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.
"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states. Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount. How did modern researchers make such a mistake? They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.
Miskolczi's story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution -- originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today -- ignored boundary conditions by assuming an "infinitely thick" atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.
So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference ... but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.
NASA refused to release the results. Miskolczi believes their motivation is simple. "Money", he tells DailyTech. Research that contradicts the view of an impending crisis jeopardizes funding, not only for his own atmosphere-monitoring project, but all climate-change research. Currently, funding for climate research tops $5 billion per year.
Miskolczi resigned in protest, stating in his resignation letter, "Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results." His theory was eventually published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in his home country of Hungary.
The conclusions are supported by research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year from Steven Schwartz of Brookhaven National Labs, who gave statistical evidence that the Earth's response to carbon dioxide was grossly overstated. It also helps to explain why current global climate models continually predict more warming than actually measured.
The equations also answer thorny problems raised by current theory, which doesn't explain why "runaway" greenhouse warming hasn't happened in the Earth's past. The new theory predicts that greenhouse gas increases should result in small, but very rapid temperature spikes, followed by much longer, slower periods of cooling -- exactly what the paleoclimatic record demonstrates.
However, not everyone is convinced. Dr. Stephen Garner, with the NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), says such negative feedback effects are "not very plausible". Reto Ruedy of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies says greenhouse theory is "200 year old science" [What a pathetic defence. The length of time a thing has been accepted is no guarantee of its truth] and doubts the possibility of dramatic changes to the basic theory.
Miskowlczi has used his theory to model not only Earth, but the Martian atmosphere as well, showing what he claims is an extremely good fit with observational results. For now, the data for Venus is too limited for similar analysis, but Miskolczi hopes it will one day be possible.
Global warming makes fish go deaf!
This sounds like a hoax but it is from a mainstream journal. It is of course absurd. The reef is very long North to South and covers a large climatic range. Are we to assume that the fish in the warmest parts are all deaf?
Going deaf is not a problem that most of us would automatically associate with global warming. For coral reef fish, however, hotter seas could pose a real threat. Young coral reef fish with misshapen ear bones are more likely to get lost and die, and exposure to warmer waters makes the problem worse, according to a study of fish living around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
After hatching, most reef fish spend a few weeks out in the open ocean before returning to the reef to settle down. And it seems that sound is a key factor in guiding them to the right habitat. The young fish have to home in on the high-frequency noises made by invertebrates like shrimp and sea urchins, and avoid the low-frequency noises made by crashing waves and adult fish. Monica Gagliano at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Queensland, and colleagues found that at hatching, just over half of Ambon damselfish had asymmetrical otoliths, or ear bones.
The team had suspected that it might be harder for these fish to pinpoint the origin of a sound, increasing the chance they would get lost in the ocean. And, indeed, their results showed that the asymmetrical fish were significantly less likely to make it back to the reef.
The team also broadcast high frequency and low frequency sounds from traps laid close to the reef, and found that the fish attracted to the high frequency traps - mimicking invertebrate food sources - were more likely to have symmetrical otoliths. (Listen to high frequency noises here, and low frequency sounds here.)
Gagliano says that as-yet-unpublished work shows that exposing adult reef fish to higher water temperatures and increasingly acid water - both of which are associated with global warming - increases the percentage of offspring born with asymmetrical otoliths.
Increased acidification reduces the availability of calcium to be absorbed by fish to make bones. "And general stress, such as having to regulate their internal pH when it is changing in the water, also seems to affect the development of otoliths in the baby fish," says Gagliano. The work suggests that global warming could have an impact on the number of fish returning to a reef, and so disrupt reef ecosystems, she says.
But while there's a correlation between otolith asymmetry and increased mortality, a direct cause hasn't been proven, says Arthur Popper, director of the Aquatic Bioacoustics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park, US. Otolith asymmetry is extremely common, Popper points out, and he says he's not convinced that it would affect a fish's ability to locate a sound. Other factors might explain the difference in proportions of fish making it back to the reef, he says.
Eco-Hysteria We Pay For, Again
By Bob Parks
Not long ago, I wrote about the hysteria environmentalists cause in order to create "awareness". Years ago, we were all told we were using way too many paper bags at the supermarket. We were selfish, greedy, and responsible for the cutting down of trees. Now I don't remember, as a consumer, being responsible for the introduction of paper bags to the supermarkets in the first place, yet we were the ones blamed for their use. We were told plastic bags were the most responsible alternative, and we were forced to comply.
According to Wednesday's Boston Herald, State Sen. Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) wants to place a levy on plastic shopping bags, calling the ubiquitous carryalls an environmental hazard. Each bag would be taxed 2 cents at the checkout at first. In seven years, that tax would climb to 15 cents. The idea is to get you, the shopper, to stop using them. "I think we've come up with a fairly modest stipend," Joyce said.
Besides the fact this is a money-grab from a revenue-strapped state legislature, why are we being made out to be the guilty party for using this "powerful symbol of consumerism gone wild"?
We, the consumer, never lobbied politicians to make the change from paper to plastic bags. If memory serves, we were all told that plastic bags were the best way to save tress, thus the environment. Why is it when politicians screw up, we are the ones made to feel guilty before we are forced to pay for their errors in judgment?
Shoppers who use paper, biodegradable or reusable bags would be exempt from the tax. His proposal will be aired in a hearing at the State House tomorrow. "We're not trying to make money off this," he insisted. "We're trying to gently prod the consumer."
Joyce cited a litany of bag evils: They're made from petroleum, in a process that produces pollutants. A single bag takes 1,000 years to biodegrade, and if they are buried, they block groundwater. Americans use a staggering 380 billion plastic bags a year, most of which wind up as trash or litter.
What I would love to see (and this is a pipedream, so work with me here) is responsibility in legislation. If a lobbying group prods politicians into making decisions that affect all of us and they are later proven to be wrong, THEY should be the ones to incur the cost of reverting back. Not the citizens who had legislation rammed down our throats, only later be guilt-tripped into paying taxes to alter the behavior they forced us into.
But Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation says the government can't be trusted to figure its way out of this plastic bag. Whole Foods supermarkets recently announced plans to stop offering plastic bags altogether, and Anderson said the private sector should be left alone to deal with the issue. Anderson said she uses reusable bags herself, but she's considering going back to plastic in protest.
Arrogant politicians revel in their ability to alter our behavior by force. I just find it maddening that these same political bodies, whipped by enviro-screeching, forced us to use plastic bags in the first place. Again, I contend if they were held financially responsible for their error in judgment, future decisions would be made more responsibly.
If all the environmental groups were held financially responsible for the hysteria they cause over the use of products they now have problems with, they may do impacts studies to get an idea of what their changes may cause. That is, if they can see that far. It's usually all about what they want now. And should they screw up, oh well.. Environmentalists are never held accountable for their errors when we later realize just how wrong they were again.
And don't get me started on those compact fluorescent lamps that we were told would save the world, just to find out they contain potentially toxic amounts of mercury that's released when broken. How long will it be before those who use them now are called "killers", just to be taxed until they change back to the traditional light bulb?
"I don't understand what the love affair with plastic bags is," said Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who is drafting his own legislation to ban the bags in Boston. "I spent $90 on groceries yesterday, and I got them all home in two reusable bags."
It was the environmentalists that initially created the love affair with anything that spared trees. According to the panic they caused back then, we should be a virtual desert by now, with trees now a distant memory like the record player. However, trees are in abundance, we are still breathing, and no retraction from environmentalist hysteria has ever been issued.
Maybe one day, those who put "recycle" bumper stickers on their cars and force children to learn "green" will be the ones taxed for the environmental damage their knee jerking caused. Maybe one day those who implement their wishes on the public, without exploring the possible impact, will be held accountable for their lapse in judgment. Who am I kidding?
THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT DOESN'T REALLY BELIEVE IN THE THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
By Dominic Lawson
It's a brave reporter who challenges Arnold Schwarzenegger face to face. Who knows what physical retribution the former Terminator might wreak? Yet one man was brave enough to trade (verbal) blows with the Governor of California last week. It followed the revelation by the Los Angeles Times that Schwarzenegger - who after Al Gore is the US politician most identified with the "battle against climate change" - had been commuting almost every day by private jet. Let me share with you this extract from a transcript of a news conference, as released by Schwarzenegger's office:
"Governor, there have been reports coming out that you're flying up and down the state on a daily basis in a [private] jet...How do you reconcile your public rhetoric on global warming versus your personal lifestyle choices?".
"Are you always that positive? What a positive guy! To me it's very important that I serve the people of California but also at the same time that I serve my family... do the homework with the kids, spend time with my wife and everything."
"So global warming is for other people to worry about, as long as you can afford carbon offsetting?"
"You're absolutely correct. Global warming is very important and that's why we're fighting global warming... in all kinds of things we are promoting."
Schwarzenegger might be a hypocrite, but at least he is not charging the public: It's his own private jet and he's paying all the bills. In Britain, where the New Labour government vies with the Governor of California to be seen as a "leader in the battle against global warming", such moral inconsistency is entirely funded by the taxpayer.
Yesterday it was disclosed that two Cabinet ministers, Ed Balls and Shaun Woodward, used chauffeur-driven ministerial cars to travel 150 yards from Downing Street to a dinner party for Labour donors. The chauffeurs waited outside and then after dinner drove the pair, separately, a further 300 yards to the House of Commons. This has come to light because the Conservative MP Justine Greening has written to the Cabinet Secretary arguing that since the event was a Labour Party fundraiser, official limousines should not have been made available - at least for the first 150 yards of this 450-yard round trip.
The more obvious, but less party-political point, is that if ministers truly believe what they say about the dire threat of irreversible and murderous climate change through man-made carbon emissions, how could they simultaneously behave in such a casually wasteful manner? Surely they cannot be so wicked as knowingly to condemn another African to a premature death through thirst - or whatever the latest climate-catastrophe theory insists - in order to avoid walking for a quarter of a mile down Whitehall?
I think it is more likely that the ministers, deep down, don't really believe the conventional wisdom that such consequences flow from being driven everywhere in limousines - but of course they would do anything rather than confess that: better even to be thought a monumental hypocrite than a "climate change denier".
If I am right, it would explain quite a lot about Alistair Darling's first Budget, which was pre-sold as being "The Greenest Budget in history". The allegedly passionless Darling emoted impressively about the scale of the problems posed by man-made climate change: "We need to do more and we need to do it now. There will be catastrophic economic and social consequences if we fail to act." So he deferred the increase in duty on petrol that had been originally scheduled for this Budget; instead he promised that from 2010 cars with the biggest engines would face a one off levy - amounting to o950 for top-of-the-range 4x4s.
This is, of course, not rational if you really believe that unpredictable weather is caused by the consumption of petrol. In that case you would continue to concentrate solely (and proportionately) on the actual use of petrol, through excise charged at the pump, rather than on the size of a car's engine. The new levy, however, qualifies as an "eye-catching initiative", just as does Mr Darling's threat to make retailers charge the public for disposable bags, even though this will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Darling's promised measures to make homes "greener" amount to a similar exercise in spectacular tokenism. Under all the rhetoric about "zero-carbon" houses, the Chancellor's actual commitment was for grants of o26m for such improvements as loft insulation, solar panels and roof-top wind turbines. This means that if every household in England and Wales were to implement such measures, each of them would get an additional grant of one pound. Since a wind turbine costs thousands of pounds to install ( assuming you get the planning permission), and takes more than 50 years to recover those costs through fuel bill reductions, I fear that Mr Darling's solitary pound will not have a decisive influence.
So the Green lobby has been united in denouncing Mr Darling for failing to deliver on his promise to deliver a Budget which would help to save the planet. To be fair to the Chancellor, to have satisfied them would have been politically suicidal. He is clearly - and rightly - concerned with the rise in "fuel poverty", as energy costs have soared.
Ministers have even waved the (probably illegal) threat of some form of statutory price controls at electricity and gas suppliers, and have - not so very long ago - bleated to Saudi Arabia to bring down the price of oil by increasing the supply of crude to the market.
Yet if the Government really believed that the planet was being brought to premature extinction through the consumption of fossil fuels, it would be encouraging the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Counties (Opec) to keep on squeezing the consumer, and thus choking off demand. It would be happy that, partly as a result of the Saudis' refusal to boost production, domestic fuel bills could rise to the level at which people might decide to keep the central heating switched off and instead wear balaclavas and mittens indoors.
It would, admittedly, be a brave Government - and a short-lived one - which told voters that a bit more shivering in the cold is the price we must all pay to ensure that the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere don't have to endure even hotter weather than they do already. It would be an even more bizarre Government which implemented such policies even though its members couldn't quite believe the stories of catastrophic man-made climate change in the first place. This Government is not actually deranged and neither does it have a death wish: so it will continue to ensure that its policies don't match its rhetoric.
Trees trump people
Comment from Australia
One balmy Sunday evening last month, when the Queen Victoria and QE2 cruise ships came to Sydney Harbour, Neutral Bay mother Phionna Tomaszewski gathered with friends in a park at Cremorne Point to watch. Her six-year-old daughter was climbing trees and swinging off branches with other children when an "irate, elderly woman" berated her for "damaging" a coral tree and threatened to call council rangers.
Tomaszewski found her daughter "bawling her eyes out ... My daughter (all 20-odd kilograms of her) ... was reduced to tears by a stranger when all she was doing was playing in a tree" she wrote in a letter last week to The Mosman Daily, where a lively feud has continued ever since. But in another letter to the paper, Margaret Watson, a friend of the elderly woman, defended her interference by saying the children had been "swinging on the branches, breaking one off ... After another branch broke, my friend approached and requested that they cease".
Tomaszewski, who said on Friday she would prefer not to comment further, denies branches were broken. She let fly with two letters to the paper: "Last week's storms would have done more damage to the gorgeous foliage of Cremorne Point than an entire army of kids playing in and around the tree. Climbing trees and having adventures outside is a key element of childhood physical and mental development."
Well, they used to be. But these days, it seems, trees are more important than people. To reprimand a six-year-old girl for swinging on the branch of a tree reflects more than simple intolerance towards children. It represents a new world view in which flora and fauna are more important than humans. In this era of climate alarmism, humans are seen as the source of all evil. Without humans, goes the addled thinking, there would be no carbon dioxide, and hence no global warming. Thus, when the Medical Journal Of Australia published a satirical letter from Perth obstetrician Barry Walters in its December issue proposing a carbon tax on babies, and carbon credits for sterilisation, it was reported as a serious news story. Such outlandish sentiments have become so acceptable that few people got the joke.
Environmentalists and animal rights activists openly spruik genuine anti-human philosophy, without fear of criticism. Briton Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and director of the world's largest animal rights group PETA, has been quoted as saying "Mankind is the biggest blight on the face of the earth" and that human life has no special meaning. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals." Similarly, American environmentalist, and founder of Earth First! Dave Foreman, who equates economic growth with environmental vandalism, has been quoted saying: "Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."
The mainstreaming of this extremist view probably began with Australia's own philosopher Peter Singer, now Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, feted by The New York Times as the "greatest living philosopher" for his thesis that humans are no more precious than animals. To uphold the sanctity of human life, he says, on his website, is "speciesism, and wrong for the same reasons that racism and sexism are wrong. Pain is equally bad, if it is felt by a human being or a mouse". He holds that abortion to nine months can be morally justified, as can the killing of a "defective infant" for up to 28 days after birth and euthanasia for the elderly and mentally disabled. He has suggested the animal kingdom be divided into "non-human persons", such as apes and dogs, and "human non-persons", such as old and infirm people.
Singer's ideas have taken root in subtle ways, only noticeable if you look for them over time. When North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffery joined former prime minister Paul Keating in blasting the recent Superboat Grand Prix for disturbing the harbour, she said, "I wonder how many marine animals were either injured or killed during the event". Maybe none - but a man was.
When it comes to certain human desires, such as water views, footpaths without cracks, or children's Saturday sport, foliage has been taking precedence for some time in many Sydney councils. But now human health is being put at risk by councils with a sacred mission to return suburbia to the jungle. Killara Park, for instance, has become infested with disease-causing ticks since the council stopped mowing an "environmentally significant bushcare site". Locals are now refusing to walk their dogs there for fear of tick attack, The North Shore Times reported last week.
These are small stories along the same continuum. Over time they eat away at the idea of human exceptionalism and, ultimately, the sanctity of human life. This idea provides the moral underpinning for western civilisation, which is why it is under threat. The surprise is that defending it has virtually become a fringe activity, left to people labelled religious fundamentalists - or angry mothers.
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