"Scientific American" was once a fairly useful publication but it has deteriorated greatly in recent years. Opening its doors to assorted Green/Leftists has a lot to do with that. Propaganda is a poor substitute for knowledge. Note the coat-dragging reference to Fred Singer in the article below. Apparently Fred once referred in passing to the research showing that the health consequences of inhaling secondhand tobacco smoke are negligible. So SciAm says of Fred that he is "best known for his denial of the dangers of secondhand smoke". Fred is best known for many things but that is not one of them.
It is of course an attempted slur but the slur boomerangs on the slurrers because the best scientific evidence is that secondhand smoke is NOT harmful to health. Fred was right.
Following the SciAm article I reproduce the abstract of what is probably the most thorough piece of medical research on the subject. It is the SciAm writers who are the unscientific ignoramuses.
Even Skeptics Admit Global Warming is Real [Video]
Sure, global warming is real, said participants in a recent climate change conference, but that doesn't mean we should do anything about it. Help us edit our coverage
By David Biello and John Pavlus
The 2,500 or so scientists, economists and other experts of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call global warming "unequivocal" and think it "very likely" that humans have contributed to the problem. The world's governments agree with the panel, which also shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Then there's the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). These 23 individuals from 15 countries, including a handful of scientists, disagree. Led by physicist S. Fred Singer-best known for his denial of the dangers of secondhand smoke-they argue the reverse: "Natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause" of climate change.
The NIPCC goes on to contend: "We do not say anthropogenic greenhouse gases cannot produce some warming. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a significant role."
In other words, even skeptics, deniers, contrarians-pick your favorite term-agree that global warming is real, or so it appears from the recent three-day conference in New York City put together by the Heartland Institute, a bastion of free-market thinking on the perils of junk science and government economic regulation. They just disagree-even amongst themselves-whether it is man-made.
On the one side sits Patrick Michaels, the recently resigned state climatologist of Virginia who ascribes global warming to fluctuations in the sun's energy output aided and abetted by human activity. In his conference dinner address, Michaels said: "Global warming is real and people have something to do with it."
On the other side is astrophysicist Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. He lays the blame on the sun for all the agreed-on warming. And meteorologist William Gray of Colorado State University in Fort Collins believes the sun will soon reverse its effect. "We should begin to see cooling coming on," he predicts. "I'm ready to make a big financial bet."
And now for the facts:
Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98.
By Enstrom JE & Kabat GC.
School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To measure the relation between environmental tobacco smoke, as estimated by smoking in spouses, and long term mortality from tobacco related disease.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study covering 39 years.
SETTING: Adult population of California, United States.
PARTICIPANTS: 118 094 adults enrolled in late 1959 in the American Cancer Society cancer prevention study (CPS I), who were followed until 1998. Particular focus is on the 35 561 never smokers who had a spouse in the study with known smoking habits.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for deaths from coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease related to smoking in spouses and active cigarette smoking.
RESULTS: For participants followed from 1960 until 1998 the age adjusted relative risk (95% confidence interval) for never smokers married to ever smokers compared with never smokers married to never smokers was 0.94 (0.85 to 1.05) for coronary heart disease, 0.75 (0.42 to 1.35) for lung cancer, and 1.27 (0.78 to 2.08) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among 9619 men, and 1.01 (0.94 to 1.08), 0.99 (0.72 to 1.37), and 1.13 (0.80 to 1.58), respectively, among 25 942 women. No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.
CONCLUSIONS: The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.
Originally published in The British Medical Journal, 2003;326:1057 (17 May). Also here
NOTE. In an email Fred comments: "I am certainly no expert on lung cancer or on epidemiology. My only 'offense' was to quote an official report by our Congressinal Research Service and the extensive documentation by a federal judge that exposed the dubious way in which EPA cooked the data to come up with its claim of 3000 cancer deaths from SHS. I have never smoked and am on the advisory board of ACSH, a well-known anti-smoking organization. Personally, I hate SHS; but that does not affect my science".
More background on the secondhand smoke nonsense here
Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring (or does it?)
The article below is by a "science" writer for the Associated Press. It is so nauseous that I have excerpted only the first half of it. The writer's science is however of the schoolboy variety. I follow it by a rebuttal from a real scientist: Roger Pielke
By SETH BORENSTEIN
The capital's famous cherry trees are primed to burst out in a perfect pink peak about the end of this month. Thirty years ago, the trees usually waited to bloom till around April 5. In central California, the first of the field skipper sachem, a drab little butterfly, was fluttering about on March 12. Just 25 years ago, that creature predictably emerged there anywhere from mid-April to mid-May. And sneezes are coming earlier in Philadelphia. On March 9, when allergist Dr. Donald Dvorin set up his monitor, maple pollen was already heavy in the air. Less than two decades ago, that pollen couldn't be measured until late April.
Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying. "The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast," Stanford University biologist Terry Root said. Blame global warming.
The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year's authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the country, in nearly every state.
What's happening is so noticeable that scientists can track it from space. Satellites measuring when land turns green found that spring "green-up" is arriving eight hours earlier every year on average since 1982 north of the Mason-Dixon line. In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, the satellites show spring coming a tad later, and bizarrely, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said.
Biological timing is called phenology. Biological spring, which this year begins at 1:48 a.m. EDT Thursday, is based on the tilt of the Earth as it circles the sun. The federal government and some university scientists are so alarmed by the changes that last fall they created a National Phenology Network at the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor these changes. The idea, said biologist and network director Jake Weltzin, is "to better understand the changes, and more important what do they mean? How does it affect humankind?"
There are winners, losers and lots of unknowns when global warming messes with natural timing. People may appreciate the smaller heating bills from shorter winters, the longer growing season and maybe even better tasting wines from some early grape harvests. But biologists also foresee big problems. The changes could push some species to extinction. That's because certain plants and animals are dependent on each other for food and shelter. If the plants bloom or bear fruit before animals return or surface from hibernation, the critters could starve. Also, plants that bud too early can still be whacked by a late freeze.
The young of tree swallows - which in upstate New York are laying eggs nine days earlier than in the 1960s - often starve in those last gasp cold snaps because insects stop flying in the cold, ornithologists said. University of Maryland biology professor David Inouye noticed an unusually early February robin in his neighborhood this year and noted, "Sometimes the early bird is the one that's killed by the winter storm." ....
While some plants and animals use the amount of sunlight to figure out when it is spring, others base it on heat building in their tissues, much like a roasting turkey with a pop-up thermometer. Around the world, those internal thermometers are going to "pop" earlier than they once did. This past winter's weather could send a mixed message. Globally, it was the coolest December through February since 2001 and a year of heavy snowfall. Despite that, it was still warmer than average for the 20th century.
Phenology data go back to the 14th century for harvest of wine grapes in France. There is a change in the timing of fall, but the change is biggest in spring. In the 1980s there was a sudden, big leap forward in spring blooming, scientists noticed. And spring keeps coming earlier at an accelerating rate. Unlike sea ice in the Arctic, the way climate change is tinkering with the natural timing of day-to-day life is concrete and local. People can experience it with all five senses
And now for some real science:
Comments On The News Article by Seth Borenstein entitled "Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring"
Post below lifted from Roger Pielke Sr.. See the original for links
On March 20 2008, the Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein published a news report titled "Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring". This article, unfortunately perpetuates the inaccurately narrow perspective that only "global warming" can produce an earlier greening up in the spring. Indeed, even though some areas are greening up later, the article has the audacity to write:
"In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, the satellites show spring coming a tad later, and bizarrely, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said." Thus, everything is attributable to "global warming".
This inaccurate characterization of climate science ignores the following issues:
1. Plants only know about their immediate microclimate. They are not a metric of global warming, but only whether local conditions are conducive to earlier green-up. This can clearly occur due to landscape change in the vicinity of the plants, thus this issue needs to be considered in any explanation of changes in phenology.
2. The biogeochemical effect of higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (both in the background atmosphere, and, if in an urban or suburban region, the local enhancement of CO2 levels) can alter plant phenology. We found, for example, that the biogeochemical addition of added CO2 has a larger effect on temperatures and precipitation than the radiative effect of the added CO2 (in a regional model simulation);
Eastman, J.L., M.B. Coughenour, and R.A. Pielke, 2001: The effects of CO2 and landscape change using a coupled plant and meteorological model. Global Change Biology, 7, 797-815.
3. The biogeochemical effect of human caused nitrogen deposition can significantly effect plant responses including phenology. Nitrogen deposition is a major issue, as reported on Climate Science;
Further Evidence of the Role of Nitrogen Deposition as a First-Order Climate Forcing
Is Nitrogen Deposition a First-Order Climate Forcing?
4. Land fragmentation due to human land management is well known to alter bird, insect and other animal migration, reproductive and other activites as well as to introduce invasive species which significantly alter the local and regional ecosystems; e.g. see
Plant diversity- Another Climate Metric
If Seth Borenstein really wanted to do balanced news reporting, he would have addressed these other issues in his article, before advocating "global warming" as the cause for the change in phenology of vegetation in the spring. Instead, the AP news story is yet another example of the misuse of science to promote the inaccurately narrow perspective that global warming is the main culprit whenever an environmental change is observed.
Marc Morano also emailed the Borenstein propaganda machine as follows:
How could you have failed to note that the 1930's were the hottest decade in the U.S. before 80% of man-made CO2 emissions occurred? Don't you think that is relevant to a story like yours? Why did your editor's allow this oversight to occur? Wouldn't the fact that temps were warmer in the U.S. before 80% of man-made CO2 went into air have placed your article in a much different light? Please consider a follow up noting these simple facts.
I understand that there has been no reply so far. Borenstein has a long history of promoting man-made climate fears. See here and here
The Sloppy Science of Global Warming
While a politician might be faulted for pushing a particular agenda that serves his own purposes, who can fault the impartial scientist who warns us of an imminent global-warming Armageddon? After all, the practice of science is an unbiased search for the truth, right? The scientists have spoken on global warming. There is no more debate. But let me play devil's advocate. Just how good is the science underpinning the theory of manmade global warming? My answer might surprise you: it is 10 miles wide, but only 2 inches deep.
Contrary to what you have been led to believe, there is no solid published evidence that has ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth - not one peer-reviewed paper. The reason: our measurements of global weather on decadal time scales are insufficient to reject such a possibility. For instance, the last 30 years of the strongest warming could have been caused by a very slight change in cloudiness. What might have caused such a change? Well, one possibility is the sudden shift to more frequent El Nino events (and fewer La Nina events) since the 1970s. That shift also coincided with a change in another climate index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
The associated warming in Alaska was sudden, and at the same time we just happened to start satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice. Coincidences do happen, you know.that's why we have a word for them.
We make a big deal out of the "unprecedented" 2007 opening of the Northwest Passage as summertime sea ice in the Arctic Ocean gradually receded, yet the very warm 1930s in the Arctic also led to the Passage opening in the 1940s. Of course, we had no satellites to measure the sea ice back then.
So, since we cannot explore the possibility of a natural source for some of our warming, due to a lack of data, scientists instead explore what we have measured: manmade greenhouse gas emissions. And after making some important assumptions about how clouds and water vapor (the main greenhouse components of the atmosphere) respond to the extra carbon dioxide, scientists can explain all of the recent warming.
Never mind that there is some evidence indicating that it was just as warm during the Medieval Warm Period. While climate change used to be natural, apparently now it is entirely manmade. But a few of us out there in the climate research community are rattling our cages. In the August 2007 Geophysical Research Letters, my colleagues and I published some satellite evidence for a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics that was not thought to exist. Called the "Infrared Iris" effect, it was originally hypothesized by Prof. Richard Lindzen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
By analyzing six years of data from a variety of satellites and satellite sensors, we found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up due to enhanced rainfall activity, the rain systems there produce less cirrus cloudiness, allowing more infrared energy to escape to space. The combination of enhanced solar reflection and infrared cooling by the rain systems was so strong that, if such a mechanism is acting upon the warming tendency from increasing carbon dioxide, it will reduce manmade global warming by the end of this century to a small fraction of a degree. Our results suggest a "low sensitivity" for the climate system.
What, you might wonder, has been the media and science community response to our work? Absolute silence. No doubt the few scientists who are aware of it consider it interesting, but not relevant to global warming. You see, only the evidence that supports the theory of manmade global warming is relevant these days.
The behavior we observed in the real climate system is exactly opposite to how computerized climate models that predict substantial global warming have been programmed to behave. We are still waiting to see if any of those models are adjusted to behave like the real climate system in this regard.
And our evidence against a "sensitive" climate system does not end there. In another study (conditionally accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate) we show that previously published evidence for a sensitive climate system is partly due to a misinterpretation of our observations of climate variability. For example, when low cloud cover is observed to decrease with warming, this has been interpreted as the clouds responding to the warming in such a way that then amplifies it. This is called "positive feedback," which translates into high climate sensitivity.
But what if the decrease in low clouds were the cause, rather than the effect, of the warming? While this might sound like too simple a mistake to make, it is surprisingly difficult to separate cause and effect in the climate system. And it turns out that any such non-feedback process that causes a temperature change will always look like positive feedback. Something as simple as daily random cloud variations can cause long-term temperature variability that looks like positive feedback, even if in reality there is negative feedback operating.
The fact is that so much money and effort have gone into the theory that mankind is 100 percent responsible for climate change that it now seems too late to turn back. Entire careers (including my own) depend upon the threat of global warming. Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes.
While it takes only one scientific paper to disprove a theory, I fear that no amount of evidence will be able to counter what everyone now considers true. If tomorrow the theory of manmade global warming were proved to be a false alarm, one might reasonably expect a collective sigh of relief from everyone. But instead there would be cries of anguish from vested interests.
About the only thing that might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling.or at least, very little warming. We have now had at least six years without warming, and no one really knows what the future will bring. And if warming does indeed end, I predict that there will be no announcement from the scientific community that they were wrong. There will simply be silence. The issue will slowly die away as Congress reduces funding for climate change research.
Oh, there will still be some diehards who will continue to claim that warming will resume at any time. And many will believe them. Some folks will always view our world as a fragile, precariously balanced system rather than a dynamic, resilient one. In such a world-view, any manmade disturbance is by definition bad. Forests can change our climate, but people aren't allowed to.
It is unfortunate that our next generation of researchers and teachers is being taught to trust emotions over empirical evidence. Polar bears are much more exciting than the careful analysis of data. Social and political ends increasingly trump all other considerations. Science that is not politically correct is becoming increasingly difficult to publish. Even science reporting has become more sensationalist in recent years.
I am not claiming that all of our recent warming is natural. But the extreme reluctance for most scientists to even entertain the possibility that some of it might be natural suggests to me that climate research has become corrupted. I fear that the sloppy practice of climate change science will damage our discipline for a long time to come.
Sea Levels: The background
Post below lifted from Prof Stott. See the original for links and graphics
Today, I present a simple primer on world sea-level change through geological time. How we need such a perspective:
(a) Sea-level is never stable, globally, regionally, or locally. It is always rising or falling, sometimes both, with movements in either direction changing ecologies and, during human times, economies. The causes of sea-level change are highly complex and multifarious, and include a wide range of geological factors, the thermal expansion and contraction of the oceans, and the altering of the mass balance of land ice;
(b) Over the last 500 million years, during what we call the Phanerozoic, sea-levels have varied by over 400 m, with present-day sea-levels remaining lower than at any time since the Triassic Period (251 to 199 Ma), around 240 million years ago [see graph here]. World sea-levels were at their peak during the Ordovician Period (488 to 443 Ma), especially in what is known as the Tremadocian (488.3 ñ 1.7 to c. 478.6 ñ 1.7 Ma), when marine transgressions were the greatest for which there is evidence preserved in rocks;
(c) The graph above (top) presents sea-level change over the last 22,000 years, since the peak of the most recent glacial episode [the vertical axis is in (m)]. Since the `Last Glacial Maximum', sea-level has risen by over 120 m, with a significant meltwater pulse (known as `Meltwater Pulse 1A') from deglaciation at 14.7 - 14.2 thousand years ago [to see a larger version of this graph with full axes, go here];
(d) The following graph, below, shows sea-level change at a more detailed level over the last 9,000 years, during what we call the Holocene:
Sea-level continued to rise rapidly until around 7,000 years ago, when the rate of change significantly slowed. Overall, sea-level during the Holocene has risen by more than 14 m, a fifth of the change taking place more erratically, and more slowly, during the last 7,000 years;
(e) This slow, uneven sea-level rise has continued during the last 150 years, as can be seen here, which has witnessed a rise of around 20 cm. This probably represents a very tiny spurt following the end (c.1880) of the period known as the `Little Ice Age';
(f) The change in global mean sea-level predicted by a number of `global warming' models, following `business-as-usual' emissions scenarios and acknowledging the full uncertainty bar, ranges from 10 cm to 80 cm during the next 100 years (see here).
Thus to summarize: seal-level always changes; in geological terms, sea-level remains at its lowest for the last 240 million years, despite a rise during the last 22,000 years of around 120 m; current sea-level is rising in cms per hundred years, and this trend is likely to continue, with or without `global warming', although it may slow if we enter a new cooling phase; any bigger changes will be in millennia; regional and local effects of sea-level change will remain complex, varying as described in a previous posting: `Ups and Downs of Sea-Levels' (March 7).
I believe no further comment is necessary. There is nothing like a bit of perspective, is there?
Americans Cool to Global Warming Action, New Poll Finds
Nearly Half Wouldn't Be Willing to Pay Even a Penny More for Gasoline; Opposition to Taxes Especially Strong Among Minorities
Forty-eight percent of Americans are unwilling to spend even a penny more in gasoline taxes to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new nationwide survey released today by the National Center for Public Policy Research.
The poll found just 18% of Americans are willing to pay 50 cents or more in additional taxes per gallon of gas to reduce greenhouse emissions. U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, has called for a 50 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 33% of the U.S.'s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Over 60% of these emissions - or about 20% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions - result from burning gasoline in personal automobiles. "With one-fifth of all U.S. CO2 emissions coming from light trucks and cars, any serious effort to significantly reduce U.S. emissions would have to encourage fuel conservation in personal automobiles," said David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "But almost half of all Americans oppose spending more for gasoline, despite polls indicating wide public concern over global warming. These results suggest Americans' concern may not be as deep as we've been led to believe."
Opposition to increased gasoline taxes was especially strong among minorities, with 53% of African-Americans indicating they are unwilling to pay higher gas taxes in any amount. Eighty-four percent of blacks and 78% of Hispanics opposed paying an additional 50 cents or more for their gasoline. "It's not surprising that minorities oppose higher gas taxes in large numbers, as such taxes are sharply regressive, harming the economically-disadvantaged disproportionately," said Ridenour. "An extra $300 per year in taxes means little to someone making $100,000 annually. When you're just getting by, it can mean not having enough for food, rent or utility bills."
Voters were told: "Congress is currently considering legislation that would raise the tax on gasoline in an attempt to motivate Americans to conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions." They were asked to indicate how much more they'd be willing to pay on top of what they already pay in gasoline taxes. They were given seven choices: nothing, less than 50 cents, 50 cents, one dollar, two dollars, five dollars, eight dollars or more.
Eighteen percent indicated they are willing to pay an additional 50 cents per gallon of gas or more; eight percent indicated they're willing to spend a dollar or more and just 2% said they're willing to spend $2 or more.
"Congressman Dingell's proposal to raise gas taxes by 50 cents per gallon appears to be dead-on-arrival as far as the public is concerned. Even if it wasn't, Dingell's proposal is too modest to encourage any meaningful fuel conservation," said Ridenour. "Europeans routinely pay between $4 and $5 per gallon of gas in taxes and their fuel appetite continues to grow nevertheless. Just 1% of Americans are willing to spend an additional $5 dollars or more. Republicans are willing to do so by a 3 to 1 margin over Democrats."
Opposition to any gas tax hike was strongest in the Great Lakes, home of the automakers and Congressman John Dingell, at 56%, followed by New England (51%) and the Farm Belt (50%). Opposition grew once respondents were informed that eliminating passenger cars in the United States altogether would only reduce world emissions by a fraction.
Among those who indicated they are willing to pay more for gasoline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 58% indicated that they are less willing to do so, and 42% much less willing, when informed their sacrifice would produce little positive results. "Many global warming polls ask the wrong questions," said Ridenour. "We shouldn't ask Americans if action is needed on global warming, but how much more they're willing to pay for that action. We need to also ask whether people would still be willing to pay more, given the almost certain futility of it."
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