Thursday, May 15, 2008

The art of the dishonest summary

We all know how unrepresentative of the findings are IPCC summaries but now we have another example of it. The article below appeared under the heading "Studies confirm greenhouse mechanisms even further into past" and the articles does its best to portray the findings as supportive of Warmism. Note the actual evidence upon which it is based, however. If you look at their graph carefully, you will see (and the graph subtext confirms it) that the rises in CO2 FOLLOW the warming, not vice versa, as Warmism claims. Their findings completely UNDERMINE Warmism. The sad thing is that the scientists behind this article probably wanted to tell the truth but did not feel it safe to do so. So they presented the truth only in an obscure way

The ice core boring at Dome C in Antarctica shows that the curves for the temperature and the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane follow each other over the past 800,000 years -- with few deviations. (See arrows) Credit: Professor Thomas Blunier, Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

The newest analysis of trace gases trapped in Antarctic ice cores now provide a reasonable view of greenhouse gas concentrations as much as 800,000 years into the past, and are further confirming the link between greenhouse gas levels and global warming, scientists reported today in the journal Nature.

They also show that during that entire period of time, there have never been concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane as high as the current levels, said Edward Brook, an associate professor of geosciences at Oregon State University, and author of a Nature commentary on the new studies. "The fundamental conclusion that today's concentrations of these greenhouse gases have no past analogue in the ice-core record remains firm," Brook said in the report. "The remarkably strong correlations of methane and carbon dioxide with temperature reconstructions also stand."

The latest research, done by members of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, extend the data on trace gases back another 150,000 years beyond any studies done prior to this, Brook said. Ultimately, researchers would like to achieve data going back as much as 1.5 million years.

The tiny bubbles of ancient air trapped in polar ice cores have been used to provide records of trace gases in the atmosphere at distant points in the past, and better understand the natural fluctuations that have occurred, largely as a result of cyclical changes in Earth's orbit around the sun. "These natural cycles that occur on the order of tens or hundreds of thousands of years can help us understand both the forces that have controlled and influenced Earth's climate in the past, and the implications of current changes on future climate" said Brook, who is co-chair of an international group that organizes global studies in this field.

According to the data, the current levels of primary greenhouse gases - those that are expected to cause global warming - are off the charts. The concentration of carbon dioxide is now a bit more than 380 parts per million, compared to a range of about 200-300 parts per million during the past 800,000 years. The current concentration of methane is 1,800 parts per billion, compared to a range of about 400-700 parts per billion during that time.

In every case during that extended period, warm periods coincide with high levels of greenhouse gases. Of some interest, the latest studies are showing that the temperature increases have been even more pronounced during the most recent 450,000 years, compared to several hundred thousand years prior to that. "It appears there may even be very long term natural cycles that have operated on much longer periods of 400,000 years or more," Brook said. "We still have quite a bit to learn about these past cycles and all the forces that control them."

Most of the time during the past 800,000 years, the Earth has experienced long, cooler periods about 80,000 to 90,000 years long, which eventually lead to ice ages. Those have been regularly interrupted by "interglacial" periods about 10,000 to 20,000 years long that are considerably warmer - this is the stage the Earth is in right now. Abrupt climate changes on much shorter time scales are also possible, researchers believe, possibly due to shifts in ocean circulation patterns or other forces.

Scientists are continuing to search for the optimal sites in Antarctica that will allow them to take the ice core records back even further, Brook said.


The "listed" Polar bear

Press release below from National Center President Amy Ridenour []. My comment: You cannot blame the bureaucrats behind this. They would have been hounded by a campaign of hate if they had NOT listed the bears -- JR

The decision to list the polar bear as "threatened" announced today by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was probably the best that could be expected from a government agency operating under a severely-flawed Endangered Species Act, but it is a regrettable decision nonetheless.

The Secretary's clear intent to deny environmental organizations the power to regulate the energy use of the American people through Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits is commendable, but it is only through a failure of lawmaking that such a threat to representative government is even possible. It remains to be seen if the Secretary's effort to keep the development of climate policies it belongs -- with Congress -- will succeed.

Environmental organizations will continue to try to use the Endangered Species Act to impose energy-use restrictions on the American public, but no climate policy should be adopted without the consent of the public as expressed through the votes of their elected representatives in Congress.

Those politicians who support the effort to impose climate policy without public consent are doing so due to political expediency. The present majority leadership of the House and Senate claim to be persuaded that the theory that human beings are causing significant climate change is correct, yet it is unwilling to push energy-use restrictions through Congress because the public does not support this action. The Congressional leadership is taking the coward's way out.


An email from Wendell Krossa [] below:

Every once in a while it strikes one how far green totalitarianism is suffusing our societies today. Ads everywhere (radio, TV, billboards) play on primal emotions of guilt and fear. Some are milder in approach, urging us to be more eco-friendly, to be greener. Drive this car, use this light bulb, don't waste energy.

CNN even hosts specials promoting the new heroes of society- the greenest people who have found ways to cut energy use and save the environment. And not to be entirely Scrooge-like, yes, it is only common sense to try to be more efficient, but not for the reasons that Green devotees are urging. And not under the sense of compulsion or else...

Other ads are more sinister such as the cartoon ad on TV showing someone dropping something plastic or a tin can (not recycling properly) and then being subject to some catastrophe. The message ends stating that "Karma is gonna get you". The same old pagan threat that the violence of nature is evidence of the god's anger and their taking revenge on humanity for wrong behavior.

And again, of course, it is only decent to put trash where it belongs. But there is another threat at work in such communication that is not benign at all.

Observing this "tsunami of insanity" it is interesting to note the powerful influence that a devoted few can try to hold over vast majorities of citizens in terms of shaping and controlling their behavior or way of living. We even had an incident reported in our local paper where a lady saw a police officer writing up his post-incident report/ticket in his car which he had left idling. She went over and reprimanded him for his offense against nature. Probably would have written him a ticket if she could have. The officer told her that he had to keep the engine running while using his computer and in case the person he had pulled over tried to flee. But what unnecessary guilt was inflicted upon the poor man just trying to do his job.

With green totalitarianism, as with all forms of totalitarianism, who was it that said, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing.

A convenient silence in Britain

Prof. Brignell writes:

Two years ago Number Watch drew attention to the phenomenon of Greenflation and its inevitable consequences. It is a remarkable tribute to the power of political and journalistic blinkering that the Governor of the Bank of England can now make a speech about the present, very real and very serious, problem of inflation, and the BBC can report it, without a single reference to the fact that this time it is the result of deliberate policy.

It is not, of course, these days a unique occurrence that the establishment media politely sweep under the carpet anything that is an inconvenient truth (to coin a phrase): you only have to look at the coverage of the destruction of British postal services or the garbage collection farce, without any mention of authorship by the EU, for glaring examples among the many.

Since that first mention of Greenflation there has been added a third string to the bow of the activists. Not only have they fostered draconian rises in taxation and systematically blocked the development of abundant energy resources, but they have now promoted an equally disastrous international programme of biofuels, heavily subsidised (of course) by taxpayers.

High food and fuel prices are now officially described as "external factors", when they are in fact foreseeable and unavoidable outcomes of policies embraced by governments themselves. Fuel, in particular, affects the price of everything.

Clearly, as with the DDT ban, it matters little that millions of people in the poorer parts of the world will suffer deprivation and death, but now ordinary people in the developed world are feeling the pain. The new factor is that they no longer have the power to vote out those responsible. Europeans are governed by an unelected and unsackable bureaucracy in

Brussels, while Americans are offered a choice between three green presidential candidates. That is the consequence of the rise of a new complacent political class, divorced from the laws of physics and economics.

There are times in human history when the only way is down. This is one of them. Up to now the human spirit has risen from the ashes, eventually and triumphantly to overcome such disasters, but it has never before had to face a universal political machine of such single-minded potency.



EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is dead against the current plans by the European Commission to reduce CO2 emissions for new cars. He is warning against rules that interfere in the private life of citizens.

Verheugen warned again patronizing citizens with ever more climate laws and regulations. "I watch with growing uneasiness how legislators constantly issue new regulations on all levels that intrude the private sphere," he told a newspaper. "We are approaching a state which I would call lifestyle-regulation," Verheugen said. He did not wish to live in a society where people would be prescribed how they would have to live in their own four walls. Already people were talking about an "eco-dictatorship:" "We shouldn't put off citizens," he warned.

More here (In German)

Public transport rips off the poor

The New York Times has a piece on how spiralling petrol prices are sending some commuters to government mass transit programs. What it inadvertently does is also show us what is the problem with such mass transit programs. Basically the argument is that mass transit "are seeing standing-room only crowds". One transit bureaucrat brags: "In almost every transit system I talk to, we're seeing very high rates of growth in the last few months." Old transit systems see only a minor increase, perhaps 5 percent. But the new systems that are seeing larger increases.

Here in Denver, for example, ridership was up 8 percent in the first three months of the year compared with last year, despite a fare increase in January and a slowing economy, which usually means fewer commuters. Several routes on the system have reached capacity, particularly at rush hour, for the first time.

The paper notes that all around the country the high petrol prices are pushing up ridership. So how does this expose the problem? Even with large increases in riders these systems are losing money every day. The paper notes: "Typically, mass transit systems rely on fares to cover about a third of their costs, so they depend on sales taxes and other government funding." In other words one third of the actual cost of riding mass transit is paid by the commuter and the other two-thirds is paid by people who don't commute. And even with increases in ridership some services are seeing shortfalls increase.

The reason for the increase is that rely on taxes to pay the bill. And in some places tax revenue is falling due to the economic slowdown. But think about the system of subsidies and taxes. And think about the typical system of transit.

I think San Francisco is fairly typical and I know the system fairly well so I will use it as an example. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system basically is a series of train lines that run from the bedroom communities to the financial district of San Francisco. Of course, along the way they run through other areas. But the feed is to and from the financial district. Similarly the Loop in Chicago is the center of interest for mass transit.

I rode the trains to Chicago when I worked at the Merchandise Mart building and lived in the suburbs. So I know that system as well. And here is what I know. Commuters on these lines often held fairly well paying jobs in the city centers. Let us give an example that the New York Times uses: "Michael Brewer, an accountant who had always driven the 36-mile trip to downtown Houston from the suburb of West Belford, said he had been thinking about switching to the bus for the last two years. The final straw came when he put $100 of gas into his Pontiac over four days a couple of weeks ago."

An accountant can easily between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. Of course many of the people commuting to the financial districts of the various cities earn a lot more than that. Here is the question. If the transits systems only charge commuters one-third of the actual cost who pays the other two-thirds? And how does the earning power of the taxpayers compare with that of the recipients of government generosity?

One of the great secrets of the American political system of redistribution of wealth that the political process tends to redistribute wealth up the ladder not down. When I commuted in Chicago my commute was subsidized. I rode in from the well-to-do suburbs with lots of people who were earning a hell of lot more money than I did. At that time the gas tax was used to help subsidize the mass transit system. And what studies found was that those commuters who drove to work, and hence paid the subsidies, earned far less than those commuters who used mass transit. Working class people subsidize the comfortable train rides of workers from the financial district.

And the subsidies are very generous indeed. The Department of Transportation looked at subsidies and taxes in transit over a twelve year period (1990 to 2002) and found that mass transit commuters received subsidies of $118 per 1,000 passenger miles. For every 1,000 passenger miles of automobile commuters they lost money. That is the services they received were less than what they paid for in taxes.

The Times article says that the favorite way of funding such subsidies are sales taxes. Yet sales taxes are very regressive and impact the living standard of poor people far more than it does wealthy people. I am not saying that there are no poor people who benefit from such systems. Obviously some do. But the systems primarily feed wealth suburbanites to good-paying jobs in the city center and home again.

Where did he lower-income workers go? It usually isn't the city center or financial districts. The factories, plants, steel mills and the like are not well served by mass transit. My grandparents lived near the steel mill because that was why my grandfather could get to work.

Certainly in the large cities one can take mass transit to almost any part of the city -- if you have a lot of patience and time. Take BART again as an example. I can catch a train to the city, during the day, within 15 minutes of arriving at the station, at the worst. I'm guaranteed a seat as well. By the time it gets to the poorer areas there simply are no seats and it is standing room only. At most I have a very short wait and a comfortable ride. But I also lived in the city itself at one point and there were times when I had to go to the poor areas of the city. One business I dealt with had a warehouse in the poorest area of the city. Transit to the warehouse was almost non-existent.

Typically as you move to the less wealth areas of the city the number of transfers one has to take increases. Instead of waiting 5 or 10 minutes for a comfortable train, in a protected station, these commuters stand on the corner, exposed to rain, snow and any foul weather and they wait. They can wait up to 30 minutes for a bus to arrive which then takes them to another bus stop where they often have to repeat the process with another bus.

As one who took buses frequently when I lived in the city I also know that frequently I ended up walking. Even knowing the bus schedule didn't help. Too often the bus that was schedule for 10:15 just never showed. The people most inconvenienced by mass transit are the poorest people, the ones hurt most by the taxes used to subsidize the rides. They get the least amount of service in virtually all the systems. Yet the poor continue to pay through sales taxes so that wealthy workers from the financial district have a comfortable ride to the city.

The poor end up driving. And they end up driving, when they can, because the service they get is unreliable. But if they need to be at work at 8:30 they can't afford to have a bus show up 40 minutes late. I know that when I go over to the BART station for a ride that even if one train doesn't show up when it is supposed to that another will be there within 15 minutes maximum. I also know that when the buses screw up it can delay someone as much as an hour. So what ends up a minor inconvenience for the wealthy becomes a major problem for the working poor.

Nor should we forget that in many areas the mass transit doesn't service the areas where the working poor actually work. If I think back to Chicago the big mills and refineries that hired the average working sod were in places like the East Side (many people don't know Chicago even had an East Side), Whiting, East Chicago, Hammond and Gary. But mass transit didn't go there.

Generally when it comes to the State figure that the political process tends to reward wealth and influence. Poor people have no wealth and damn little influence. And that is why I argue that wealth and rights tend to get distributed up the wealth ladder and not down it. Poor people or the working poor tend to subsidize the middle classes and the middle classes tend to subsidize the wealthy.

In politics it is the Archer Daniels Midlands and Halliburtons who end up at the top of food chain. And when well-meaning reformers try to change the system by increasing State power what they end up doing is giving another means by which the poor are plundered to benefit the wealthy.

From the beginning liberals, by which I mean classical liberals, understood this. The great free market advocates of Richard Cobden and John Bright saw how government regulation was starving the poor and subsidizing the landed aristocracy of England. The first great working people's movement was the one that pushed the repeal of the infamous Corn Laws and instituted free trade in grains. The net result was that the poor benefited and the rump of England's feudal lords lost out.

Just move forward a few years from that to the Progressive Era in the United States and you will see example after example where the wealth special interest groups pushed for new regulations that limited competition. That guaranteed them profits and higher prices. Once again the poor ended up subsidizing the wealthy. But the wealthy had allies in that campaign -- so called "progressives" and "socialists" who foolishly believed that expanded State power meant the plutocracy would lose power. Yet the plutocrats have always thrived on the expansion of state power. It is by deregulation and limited state power that competition is encouraged and that hurts the old aristocracy and helps the poor.

If you assume that government is a Robin Hood that robs the poor to feed the rich you will be right more often than you are wrong. In the real world Robin Hood works for the Sheriff.



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.


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