Thursday, April 17, 2008

MEGA-PESKY! Coral survives direct nuclear strike!

Greenies are always moaning that a temperature rise of a degree or two will wipe out coral reefs (despite the fact that corals already flourish over a large climatic range). Yet that change is nothing compared to what hit Bikini atoll back in the 1950s. So Bikini is a sterile wasteland now? Read on

SOME corals are again flourishing on Bikini Atoll, the Pacific site of the largest American atom bomb ever exploded, but other species have disappeared. A team of international scientists, including Australians, recently dived on the atoll, more than half a century after the stunning blast, to examine its marine life.

Zoe Richards from Queensland's James Cook University, along with other scientists from Germany, Italy, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands, said the team had dived into the vast Bravo Crater left by the 1954 atom bomb. The 15 mega-tonne bomb was a thousand times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in Japan in WWII. It vapourised three islands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees, shook islands 200km away and left a crater 2km wide and 73m deep.

Ms Richards said she did not know what to expect when she dived on the crater but was surprised to find huge matrices of branching Porites coral - up to eight metres high - had established, creating a thriving coral reef habitat. "Throughout other parts of the lagoon it was awesome to see coral cover as high as 80 per cent and large tree-like branching coral formations with trunks 30cm thick. "It was fascinating - I've never seen corals growing like trees outside of the Marshall Islands.''

The healthy condition of the coral at Bikini today was proof of the atoll's resilience and ability to bounce back from massive disturbances if the reef was left undisturbed and there were healthy nearby reefs to source the recovery.'' But Ms Richards said the research also revealed a disturbingly high level of loss of coral species from the atoll. "Compared with a famous study made before the atomic tests were carried out, the team established that 42 species were missing compared to the early 1950s. "At least 28 of these species losses appear to be genuine local extinctions probably due to the 23 bombs that were exploded there from 1946-58, or the resulting radioactivity, increased nutrient levels and smothering from fine sediments.''

The coral survey was carried out at the request of the atoll's local government. For comparison the team also dived on neighbouring Rongelap Atoll, where no atomic tests were carried out directly although the atoll was contaminated by radioactive ash from the Bravo Bomb. Local inhabitants were also evacuated and, for the most part, have not returned.

The marine environment at this atoll was found to be in a pristine condition. "The team thinks that Rongelap Atoll is potentially seeding Bikini's recovery because it is the second-largest atoll in the world with a huge amount of coral reef diversity and biomass and lies upstream from Bikini,'' Ms Richards said.


Climate Speculators Have (Robin's) Egg on Their Face

Ah, spring! I know it's here when swarms of red-breasted robins descend on my Virginia farm, rooting for every worm that survived winter. No one gains much political traction writing about global warming's threat to turkey buzzards, but robins are cute, so they're more often the subject of climate change speculation.

Global warming is not pushing the robin to extinction. Au contraire: It's expanding the robin's range northward, into places where it's never been seen. Robins are venturing so far north that they've even been sighted in the Inuit territory of northern Canada, where, Sen. John McCain tells us, there isn't even a word for the birds. Yes, even John McCain has feathered his political nest with the robin's expansion. Back in 2004, after a hearing McCain organized as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, The New York Times' Andrew Revkin noted that he was particularly concerned about the rapid warming of the Arctic. "The Inuit language for 10,000 years never had a word for 'robin,'" McCain lamented, "and now there are robins all over their villages." The BBC even titled a program on arctic warming "No Word for 'Robin': Climate Change in the Canadian Arctic." What a shame! Pretty little birds invading the Arctic, bringing joy with their whoop of spring!

But, of course, it's not true. Like the tale of the endangered polar bears that happen to be at or near record population levels, the robin story is yet another climate confabulation. It ranks with the death of frogs in the mountains of Colombia now shown to be caused not by global warming, but by the introduction of fatal fungus on the shoes of concerned ecotourists.

It's always instructive to consult the wisdom of our elders about climate change, and so I found an article, "The Naming of Birds by Nanamuit Eskimo," by Laurence Irving of the U.S. Public Health Service in Anchorage, Alaska, in a 1953 edition of the refereed journal Arctic. Irving describes his extensive visits with the people of Northern Alaska, residing in the Brooks Range - the most northerly mountain chain in the United States. He compared English names for birds with the Eskimo names of the ones they encountered. Irving noted that the bird names were given by the Nanamuit elders. They were no birdie-come-latelys.

Irving's list brings us the Nanamuit word for "robin": "Koyapigaktoruk." While this may surprise Sen. McCain or the BBC, the Nanamuits saw robins, and this is their phonetic way of describing the tones of an arriving redbreast looking for a mate. Nesting, and not just some windblown flotsam? Irving designated the robin's status as "NM," meaning "nesting migrant."

The lack of due diligence on the subject of climate change can be breathtaking. In 1913, Vilhjalmur Stefansson published a book, now available at, called "My Life With the Eskimo." Look it up online and search for "robin," and on page 493 you will find text describing robin sightings, obviously before 1913 (and before global warming), all over the Canadian Arctic. Stefansson gives the word as "Kre-ku-ak'tu-yok," which sounds suspiciously like the 1953 word given by Irving. That's the Canadian word. It's "Shab'wak" in Alaskan Eskimo. There are plenty of words in Inuit, or Eskimo, describing our red-breasted harbingers of spring. What's a little disturbing is how the myth of the robin persists, when it is so easy to find the truth.

My minions in Charlottesville informed The Times of the error six months ago. Finally, on April 3, Andrew Revkin posted an acknowledgement on his blog, but no correction in the newspaper itself. We've been holding our breath waiting for it to appear in print, only to turn robin's-egg blue.

At the same time, how about a little truth-telling about the hoax of "Warming Island," an islet off Greenland that was - erroneously - thought to be a part of Greenland, connected by land lying beneath the ice.

As Greenland warmed over the last decade, the ice melted and revealed open water underneath, thus giving birth to a "new" island. Climate change enthusiasts claimed the channel between island and mainland had not been revealed for countless millennia. As it turns out, maps show that Warming Island, indeed, was very much an island a mere 50 years ago, when Greenland, in fact, was warmer than it has been for the last 10 years.

As sure as the robin's song of spring, we continue to hope that America's best newspaper (and the BBC) will sing out the truth about climate change and the bob, bob, bobbin' of the red, red Koyapigaktoruk in the North American Arctic.



Just recently, Sloan and Wolfendale published a paper in Environmental Research Letters, called "Testing the proposed causal link between cosmic rays and cloud cover". In the Institute of Physics Press Release, it said, "New research has deal a blow to the skeptics who argue that climate change is all due to cosmic rays rather than man made greenhouse gases". Did it really?

First, we should note that so called "skeptics" like myself or my serious colleagues never claimed that cosmic rays explain all the climate change, it does however explain most of the solar-climate link and a large fraction (perhaps 2/3's of the temperature increase over the 20th century). Now for the paper itself.

Sloan and Wolfendale raise three points in their analysis. Although I certainly respect the authors (Arnold Wolfendale is very well known for his contributions to the subjects of cosmic rays and high energy astrophysics, he was even the astronomer royal, and for good reasons), their present critique rests on several faulty assumptions. Here I explain why each of the three arguments raised cannot be used to discredit the cosmic-ray/climate link. [...]


Sloan and Wolfendale raised three critiques which supposedly discredit the CRF/climate link. A careful check, however, reveals that the arguments are inconsistent with the real expectations from the link. Two arguments are based on the expectation for effects which are much larger than should actually be present. In the third argument, they expect to see no phase lag, where one should actually be present. When carefully considering the link, Sloan and Wolfendale did not raise any argument which bears any implications for the validity or invalidity of the link.

One last point. Although many in the climate community try to do their best to disregard the evidence, there is a large solar-climate link, whether on the 11-year solar cycle (e.g., global temperature variations of 0.1øC), or on longer time scales. Currently, the cosmic-ray climate link is the only known mechanism which can explain the large size of the link, not to mention that independent CRF variations were shown to have climatic effects as well. As James Whitcomb Riley supposedly once said:

"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I would call it a duck".

More here

Hot Air in Bangkok

After five days of contentious discussions in Bangkok, governments from nearly 200 countries last week agreed to an agenda for further talks to forge a new United Nations global warming agreement. One sticking point has been developing nations' insistence that industrialized countries should take the first steps in reducing emissions and should help finance reductions in developing countries. But this represents a serious misreading of the underlying economic situation.

The theory behind the "developed countries should pay" model was articulated by Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change: "The problem of climate change . . . is a result of rich countries' emissions, not the result of poor countries' emissions. The historic responsibility of this problem lies with industrial nations."

Yet although greenhouse gas emissions can be blamed on nations based on the location of emission activities, these emissions are the effluvia of civilization and all its activities. In today's interconnected world, economic activity in one country helps provide livelihoods and incomes for many inhabitants elsewhere, and vice versa. A substantial portion of economic growth in developing countries is attributable to trade, remittances, tourism and direct investment from industrialized countries. For example, remittances, mainly from the United States, Britain and the oil-rich Gulf states, account for 13% of Bangladesh's GDP. Absent economic activities that directly or indirectly fuel such contributions to developing countries, U.S. emissions might be lower, but so would jobs and incomes in developing countries like Bangladesh.

These linkages have had hugely positive effects. Greenhouse-gas-fueled economic activity has enabled today's rich societies to invest in agricultural, medical and public health research that has raised crop yields and lowered hunger in developing countries; to devise effective medical interventions to address old diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea and smallpox and new diseases like AIDS; and to provide aid in times of famine or other natural disasters. Absent such economic activity, human capital would have been lower worldwide. Consider, for instance, the millions of non-Americans who have been cycled through universities in the U.S. who then returned to advance their native countries' economic and technological development.

Some might argue that one should not take indirect effects of greenhouse-gas-producing activities into consideration: Only direct effects should be considered. But the notion of assigning responsibility or demanding compensation for climate change is itself based on indirect and inadvertent outcomes. Industrialized countries did not emit greenhouse gas emissions just for fun. There are clearly benefits. So if the U.S. contribution to global warming, for instance, could be estimated, the next step would be to estimate the net harm caused to, say, Bangladesh. This requires estimating both direct and indirect impacts not just of climate change but all greenhouse gas-producing activities on Bangladesh.

This raises some serious questions, including: Had there been no greenhouse gas-producing activities in the U.S., what would have been Bangladesh's GDP and level of human well-being? How would that affect life expectancy, which is currently 62 years but was only 35 years in 1945? Would Bangladesh's hunger and malnutrition rates rise? How many Bangladeshis were saved in the 1960s and 1970s because of food aid from industrialized countries? How much of its increase in agricultural productivity is due to higher CO2 levels, or indirectly due to efforts enabled because the U.S. was wealthy enough to support them? If future agricultural productivity declines due to climate change, how do you subtract past and present benefits from future harms?

Clearly, it's premature to assign "responsibility" to industrialized countries for net damages to developing countries, since we don't know whether those damages have, in fact, been incurred. Even if one could assign responsibility for climate change, it does not follow that it would be "fairer" if industrialized nations were to expend resources now on ambitious mitigation measures, based partly on the premise that it would reduce future climate change risks for developing nations. The same resources would, in the short- to medium term, provide greater and faster benefits to precisely those nations by reducing existing -- and generally larger -- climate-sensitive risks and vulnerabilities such as hunger, malaria and the threat of cyclones and other extreme events. The U.N. climatocrats owe it to the people of the developing world to consider these trade-offs before they charge ahead with their ambitious new agenda.



The EU Commission on Monday rejected claims that producing biofuels is a "crime against humanity" that threatens food supplies, and vowed to stick to its goals as part of a climate change package. "There is no question for now of suspending the target fixed for biofuels," said Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "You can't change a political objective without risking a debate on all the other objectives," which could see the EU landmark climate change and energy package disintegrate, an EU official said.

Their comments came amid growing unease over the planting of biofuel crops as food prices rocket and riots against poverty and hunger multiply worldwide. UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler told German radio Monday that the production of biofuels is "a crime against humanity" because of its impact on global food prices.

EU leaders, seeking to show the way on global warming, have pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020. As part of a package of measures the 27 member states have set a target of biofuels making up 10 percent of automobile fuel by the same year. "We don't have an enormous danger of too much of a shift from food production to biofuels production," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. Mann, like Helfferich speaking to reporters in Brussels, stressed that the 10 percent target would in part be achieved through higher yields and increased production.

Ziegler also accused the European Union of subsidising its agriculture exports with effect of undermining production in Africa. "The EU finances the exports of European agricultural surpluses to Africa ... where they are offered at one half or one third of their (production) price," the UN official charged. "That completely ruins African agriculture," he added.

More here

Will Global Warming Harm Human Health?

This week committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives will be holding hearings on whether global warming will cause future harm to human health. As they examine this question, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urges them to consult the extensive statistical evidence that warmer temperatures and climates are overwhelmingly safer and healthier.

"We are skeptical that the warming predicted by activists will ever appear, but even if it does, the available evidence suggests that slightly warmer temperatures would be a boon for human health and well being," said CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis. "The threats from extreme cold dramatically outweigh those from extreme heat, and whatever possible influence future warming may have on extreme weather, the record of the 20th century-allegedly a period of `unprecedented' global warming-is clear: Both mortality rates and aggregate mortality related to extreme weather have declined dramatically since the 1920s."

In addition to fewer cold-related deaths, a slight warming caused, in part, by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, would increase agricultural productivity, reduce heating costs and improve transportation safety. Despite dramatic rhetoric that a warmer world would represent a categorical disaster for mankind, most people would likely experience an increase in overall well being.

"Not only do global warming alarmists ignore the advantages of a warmer world, but, even more troublingly, they advocate policies that we know would make the world poorer and less resilient to changes of any kind," said Lewis. "The central policy they advocate - limiting access to affordable energy - would have a far worse impact on poor and vulnerable populations around the world than any expected rise in average global temperatures."



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.



Anonymous said...

John, too bad that's not a Robin in your picture accompanying the article. That particular bird has a red face much like the people who said the Eskimos have never seen robins should have not the red breast which is typical of the robin.

For a real robin. Also note that the Range diagram for the Robin there clearly shows it's range extends very far north.

Anonymous said...

Do you know why many birds had bright orange-red chests? It's beta carotene! If you smash a vitamin shop gel capsule of beta carotene, you best clean it up or your whole flat will get smudged with reddish oily streaks! All robins have orangish busts, but the male has a much deeper red since it is a sexual display. Evolutionarily, this has a classic "handicap effect" similar to that of a peacock tail. The orange color literally *is* beta-carotene, and shows that not only is that male robin able to escape being easy to see, but that his health is good. If his immune system was chronically at work using oxidant bombs (almost literally) and having to then clean up the mess with anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, he would be a pale male robin indeed.


P.S. Speaking of sexual selection, The Bikini bathing suit got its name from those islands. Also, since it was radioactive for so many years, the USA used it as a dumping ground for old ships, so not only is the coral happy now, but it has become one of the best scuba diving sites in the world since diving through old ships is thrilling. I was originally from Minnesota, and robins are were all over the place, decades ago, along with blackbirds which are evil since they make loud clicking noises instead of actually sing songs.

Anonymous said...

I know lots of ESKIMOS who have robins as pets. That was a lie. But what is not a lie is that some of my ex–friends said ENVY-based crap like you just did: "too bad", since bad wasn't enough to EXPOSE their PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE nature, but TOO much so did they do that, on a first–name basis, that they became X friends, quickly, since humans are social status animals and in real public, but NOT online, can you play such "ha ha" games.

You are what is never talked about in the real world, since trolls don't exist there.

I'll translate your statement:

"Sorry, John, you are an idiotic asshole since, might I just point out, as a complete disbunking of your round robin theory of the ESTABLISHED FACT THAT LACK OF HEAT is the main Stop SIgn of species territorial expansion, you have finally made a typo, so I own you, forever, boxing or no boxing, debate or not, I, me me me, I (sorry old man), FOUND a trivial defect in your blog.

So I win.


What do I win?

A bitch slap from -=Nik=-?

A request from -=Nik=- to actually demonstrate that recent LOCALIZED warming has lead to a general greening of the Earth in formerly DESERT regions otherwise known as "The Arctic"?

There's a word us scientists have for people who merely drop bombs: NITWITS.

It's not the stupidity factor that makes us so fond of such terms. It's more the fact that we worked on Christmas when you didn't and YOU TYPES OF PEOPLE hated yourselves, and thus hated us, real scientists. We actually stayed up late at night reading books on chemical mechanisms. You didn't. I still do. You still don't.

Guess what? I went to Harvard. You didn't. I did research while you were out Bird Watching.

Revenge of the Nerds is upon you. Batman trumps Robin. Why? Since Robin is gay? No, because Batman's empire pays for R&D, whereas Robin is limited to "Holy Shark Spray Batman, what next?"