Sunday, May 04, 2008


In the light of the inimitable Boris Johnson's just confirmed ascension to mayoral office in London, the following quotes may be of interest. Just for fun, however, I might firstly note here that, although Boris will now become Mayor of London, he will NOT be the The Lord Mayor of the City of London -- who is at present David Lewis. You don't have to be British to follow that but it helps. The "City" is only a small part of the London conurbation

Boris Johnson claimed a remarkable victory in the London mayoral contest on Friday night to cap a disastrous series of results for Gordon Brown in his first electoral test as Prime Minister. Mr Johnson's landmark victory, a result that would have been almost unthinkable six months ago, was the most symbolic blow to Mr Brown's authority on a day that left the Prime Minister facing the gravest crisis of his leadership.
--Andrew Porter and Robert Winnett, The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 2008

Mr Livingstone made clear he views 1 May as a referendum on his policies to tackle climate change and protect the health of Londoners. Aides claimed it would be the first election in British history to be decided largely on environmental issues.
--The London Evening Standard, 25 March 2008

Londoners now face a stark choice. Boris Johnson is an environmental vandal, whose main contribution to environmental policy was as a cheerleader for George W Bush's disastrous decision to oppose the Kyoto climate treaty. The election is neck and neck and everyone who cares about the environment needs to vote with the first and second preferences for myself and Sian Berry if we are to stop Boris Johnson wrecking London's environment.'
--Ken Livingstone, 25 April 2008

There are a hundred reasons why Boris Johnson should not be Mayor of London. But his dinosaur views on the environment alone are enough to show what a disaster he would be for our city. The man who backed Bush against the Kyoto treaty and who doesn't believe there's a risk from passive smoking cannot be trusted with our future - or even, really, with his own. He's a 19th century man in a 21st century city
--Sian Berry, Green Party, 25 April 2008

Under a climate change denier like Boris Johnson, we would have to fear for our futures, and for the jobs of all the hundreds who work for us. We would also have to fear for the physical security of the city itself, under the assault of unmitigated global warming, were others to follow Johnson's 'lead' on climate change.
--Jeremy Leggett, SolarCentury, 25 April 2008

The prospect of Boris as Mayor of London is just so scary. The prospect of Boris taking over London's Climate Change Action Plan is even scarier. He may have learnt not to reveal his full contrarian bigotry on climate change, but he really doesn't get it, and would rapidly scale back or completely get rid off the ambitious targets in the Action Plan. And that would be a massive set back. I just hope all the environmental NGOs can rally the troops in London in a pro-Ken campaign, even if they can't come out and explicitly endorse him.
--Jonathon Porritt, Sustainable Development Commission, March 2008

The hypocrisy of the Europeans over Kyoto is staggering. They attack America in hysterical terms, and yet the 15 EU countries have never come close to meeting their own eight per cent target for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. They have not even agreed which countries should cut the most. If America were to meet its Kyoto targets now, it would require a cut of 30 per cent in emissions, and how, exactly, is that supposed to work in the current economic downturn? It would exacerbate the recession, and when Bush says no, he is doing what is right not just for America but for the world
--Boris Johnson, The Daily Telegraph, April 2001

Surge in fatal shark attacks blamed on global warming!

One more for Prof. Brignell's long list of things allegedly caused by global warming. What makes the shark claim even more absurd than it initially appears is the fact that the oceans are COOLING!

Three decades have passed since the movie Jaws sent terrified bathers scrambling out of the ocean. But as any beach lifeguard knows, there's still nothing like a gory shark attack to stoke public hysteria and paranoia. Two deaths in the waters off California and Mexico last week and a spate of shark-inflicted injuries to surfers off Florida's Atlantic coast have left beachgoers seeking an explanation for a sudden surge in the number of strikes. In the first four months of this year, there were four fatal shark attacks worldwide, compared with one in the whole of 2007, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

'The one thing that's affecting shark attacks more than anything else is human activity,' said Dr George Burgess of Florida University, a shark expert who maintains the database. 'As the population continues to rise, so does the number of people in the water for recreation. And as long as we have an increase in human hours in the water, we will have an increase in shark bites. 'Some experts suggest that an abundance of seals has attracted high numbers of sharks, while others believe that overfishing has hit their food chain. 'I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's a convenient excuse,' Burgess said.

Another contributory factor to the location of shark attacks could be global warming and rising sea temperatures. 'You'll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn't in the past with some regularity,' he said.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is called the shark attack capital of the world. It has had more recorded incidents per square mile than any beach on Earth. So far this year there have been 10 attacks on surfers, including three in three days last week, although officials say most of the wounded were able to make their own way to hospital. 'It's more like a vicious dog bite, half a dozen stitches, a few bandages, that sort of thing,' said Scott Petersohn, a captain with the Volusia County Beach Patrol, which covers 47 miles of coastline including New Smyrna Beach.

'The sharks that inflict the most damage here, the black tips, can be about two or three feet long. There are some bigger ones along our coast, tiger sharks and bull sharks, but there's a sustainable food supply for them. People are not on the menu for sharks.

'At Solano Beach, California, where 66-year-old David Martin was killed last week by a great white shark estimated to be 4.5 metres long, and off the Mexican coast near Acapulco, where 25-year-old American tourist Adrian Ruiz fell victim to a suspected tiger shark, there were conflicting claims.

Meanwhile, the wildlife protection group Wildcoast has accused the Mexican authorities of 'international shark hysteria' over the slaughter of at least 10 near the beach at Troncones on the Pacific coast where Ruiz died. A navy spokesman said a 200-metre line with baited hooks was set up to catch any sharks threatening the beach.'They more than likely had nothing to do with the attack. Since sharks are threatened in Mexico, this is the worst type of vengeance security imaginable,' said Aida Navarro, the group's wildlife conservation programme manager. 'It's the equivalent of stepping on to the plains of the Serengeti when you step into the water,' Burgess said. 'It's not like a swimming pool. This is a wilderness experience and with it comes a certain amount of risk. 'What's needed is some kind of system to prevent people and sharks coming together in a dangerous way.'


More Carbon Dioxide, Please: If not, why not?

By Roy Spencer (Dr. Roy W. Spencer is a former senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where he received NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, and is currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville)

There seems to be an unwritten assumption among environmentalists - and among the media - that any influence humans have on nature is, by definition, bad. I even see it in scientific papers written by climate researchers. For instance, if we can measure some minute amount of a trace gas in the atmosphere at the South Pole, well removed from its human source, we are astonished at the far-reaching effects of mankind's "pollution."

But if nature was left undisturbed, would it be any happier and more peaceful? Would the carnivores stop eating those poor, defenseless herbivores, as well as each other? Would fish and other kinds of sea life stop infringing on the rights of others by feasting on them? Would there be no more droughts, hurricanes, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, or glaciers flowing toward the sea?

In the case of global warming, the alleged culprit - carbon dioxide - just happens to be necessary for life on Earth. How can Al Gore say with a straight face that we are treating the atmosphere like an "open sewer" by dumping carbon dioxide into it? Would he say the same thing if we were dumping more oxygen into the atmosphere? Or more nitrogen?

As a climate researcher, I am increasingly convinced that most of our recent global warming has been natural, not manmade. If true, this would mean that global temperatures can be expected to peak in the coming years (if they haven't already), and global cooling will eventually ensue.

Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that manmade global warming really is a false alarm. In that case, we would still need to ask: What are the other negative effects of pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere?

Well, plant physiologists have known for a long time that most vegetation loves more carbon dioxide. It grows faster, is more drought-tolerant, and is more efficient in its water use. While the pre-industrial CO2 concentration of the atmosphere was only about 280 parts per million (ppm) by volume, and now it is around 380 ppm, some greenhouses pump it all the way up to around 1,000 ppm. How can environmentalists claim that helping vegetation to grow is a bad thing?

The bigger concern has been the possible effect of the extra CO2 on the world's oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

Still, the main worry has been that the extra CO2 could hurt the growth of plankton, which represents the start of the oceanic food chain. But recent research (published on April 18 in Science Express) has now shown, contrary to expectations, that one of the most common forms of plankton actually grows faster and bigger when more CO2 is pumped into the water. Like vegetation on land, it loves the extra CO2, too!

It is quite possible that the biosphere (vegetation, sea life, etc.) has been starved for atmospheric CO2. Before humans started burning fossil fuels, vegetation and ocean plankton had been gobbling up as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as they could, but it was like a vacuum cleaner trying to suck through a stopped-up hose.

Now, no matter how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere each year, the biosphere takes out an average of 50 percent of that extra amount. Even after we triple the amount of CO2 we produce, nature still takes out 50 percent of the extra amount.

I think it is time for scientists to consider the possibility that more CO2 in the atmosphere might, on the whole, be good for life on Earth. Oh, I'm sure there will be some species which are hurt more than helped, but this is true of any change in nature. There are always winners and losers.

For instance, during a strong El Nino event, trillions of animals in the ocean die as the usual patterns of ocean temperature are disrupted. When Mother Nature does something like this it is considered natural. Yet, if humans were to do such a thing, it would be considered an environmental catastrophe. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical - even religious. It is entirely possible that there are other, more preferable states of balance in nature which are more robust and less fragile than whatever the state of nature was before we came along.

You would think that science is the last place you would find such religious opinions, yet they dominate the worldview of scientists. Natural scientists tend to worship nature, and they then teach others to worship nature, too. all under the guise of "science." And to the extent that this view is religious, then making environmental laws based upon that view could be considered a violation of the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The automatic assumption that mankind's production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels is bad for the environment needs to be critically examined. Unfortunately, scientists who question that point of view are immediately branded as shills for Big Oil. But since I am already accused of this (falsely, I might add), I really don't mind being one of the first scientists to raise the issue.


Three Climate Change Hypotheses - Only One Of Which Can Be True

Comment from Roger Pielke Sr.

The climate issue, with respect to how humans are influencing the climate system, can be segmented into three distinct hypotheses. These are:

* The human influence is minimal and natural variations dominate climate variations on all time scale;

* While natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings (including, but not limited to the human input of CO2);

* The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.

The third hypothesis, of course, is the IPCC perspective. The challenge to the scientific community, using the scientific method, is to present observational evidence that refutes one or more of these hypotheses. Climate Science's perspective is that the second hypotheses is correct, which has support from the National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

A new Nature paper by Keenlyside et al. entitled "Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector" provides evidence that is inconsistent with the third hypothesis. This paper has in its abstract:
"The climate of the North Atlantic region exhibits fluctuations on decadal timescales that have large societal consequences. Prominent examples include hurricane activity in the Atlantic, and surface-temperature and rainfall variations over North America, Europe and northern Africa..Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming."

There are several important messages from this paper:

While this Nature paper claims that this lack of global warming is temporary due to "natural climate variations", unless the first hypothesis is true, there are NO climate variations that are not affected by humans (i.e., the term "natural climate variations" is therefore a misnomer).

This new paper supports the perspective that climate variations and change (even the global average radiative imbalance) are dominated by regional alterations in circulations [as summarized in the 2005 National Research Council Report, and emphasized on Climate Science and associated papers (e.g. see) including the very important guest weblog on Climate Science by Roy Spencer (see) on this subject].

Since the multi-decadal global climate model predictions used for the 2007 IPCC report are failing to skillfully predict these "fluctuations on decadal time scales", there is no credible reason to accept the claim in the Nature paper that the "projected anthropogenic warming" will be accurately predicted after the next decade.



More than seven in 10 voters insist that they would not be willing to pay higher taxes in order to fund projects to combat climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey also reveals that most Britons believe "green" taxes on 4x4s, plastic bags and other consumer goods have been imposed to raise cash rather than change our behaviour, while two-thirds of Britons think the entire green agenda has been hijacked as a ploy to increase taxes.

The findings make depressing reading for green campaigners, who have spent recent months urging the Government to take far more radical action to reduce Britain's carbon footprint. The UK is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, a target that most experts believe will be difficult to reach. The results of the poll by Opinium, a leading research company, indicate that maintaining popular support for green policies may be a difficult act to pull off, and attempts in the future to curb car use and publicly fund investment in renewable resources will prove deeply unpopular.

The implications of the poll could also blow a hole in the calculations of the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, who was forced to delay a scheduled 2p-a-litre rise in fuel duty until the autumn in his spring Budget, while his plans to impose a showroom tax and higher vehicle excise duty on gas-guzzling cars will not take effect for a year. He is now under pressure to shelve the increase in fuel duty because of the steep rise in the price of oil.

The public's climate-change scepticism extends to the recent floods which inundated much of the West Country, and reported signs of changes in the cycle of the seasons. Just over a third of respondents (34 per cent) believe that extreme weather is becoming more common but has nothing to do with global warming. One in 10 said that they believed that climate change is totally natural.

The over-55s are most cynical about the effects of global warming with 43 per cent believing that extreme weather and global warming are unconnected.

Three in 10 (29 per cent) of all respondents would oppose any more legislation in support of green policies, while close to a third of citizens (31 per cent) believe that green taxes will have no discernible effect on the environment since people will still take long-haul flights regularly and drive carbon-heavy vehicles.

Mike Childs, the head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, blamed the Government for generating a cynical response to "green taxes". "People do get cynical unless they see benefits," he said. "The Government is playing a dangerous game. They are using climate change to identify potential new taxes and revenues but the public aren't seeing anything in return. The public aren't being helped to go green. The Government could put a windfall tax on the big oil companies and use that money to insulate homes or introduce a feed-in tariff to pay people to produce renewable energy."

Mark Hodson, of Opinium Research, said: "Britain appears to be feeling increasingly negative about being more carbon neutral. We are questioning the truth behind being greener and many feel that Government is creating a green fear for monetary gain."

The findings were released as the Prince of Wales yesterday called on Britain's business leaders to take "essential action" to make their firms more sustainable. Speaking in central London to some of the country's leading chief executives, Prince Charles said: "What more can I do but urge you, this country's business leaders, to take the essential action now to make your businesses more sustainable. I'm exhausted with repeating that there really is no time to lose."

Also attending the May Day Business Summit, the Prime Minister promised the Government will set out a "credible" long-term policy framework to help industry develop innovative low-carbon, resource-efficient products and services. He outlined the recommendations of a report, Building a Low Carbon Economy, for creating a "green" economy, including "seeking to encourage changes in consumer behaviour".

Gordon Brown said: "We know that we will only succeed if individuals and communities, as well as Government and business, are part of the solution."

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said: "The Government is committed to building a low-carbon economy, here and around the world. That means a complete change in the way we live and an economic transformation that will put Britain at the forefront of a technological revolution in the way we use and source our energy."

The research was conducted online amongst 2,002 adults by Opinium Research LLP between 11 and 14 April



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1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

> trillions of animals in the ocean die as the usual patterns of ocean temperature are disrupted. When Mother Nature does something like this it is considered natural. Yet, if humans were to do such a thing, it would be considered an environmental catastrophe. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Actually, Robert Heinlein commented, in "Time Enough For Love", through his character 'Lazarus Long', on this attitude decades ago:

. There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who 'love Nature' while deploring the 'artificialities' with which 'Man has despoiled Nature'. The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are NOT part of 'Nature' -- but beavers and their dams ARE. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the 'Naturist' reveals his hatred for his own race -- i.e., his own self-hatred.
. In the case of 'Naturists' such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.
. As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have.
. Fortunately for me, I LIKE being part of a race made up of men and women -- it strikes me as a fine arrangement and perfectly 'natural'.

The underlying question itself was addressed, quite cogently and eloquently, by J. Petr Vajk, in "Doomsday Has Been Cancelled" in the late 70s (emphasis mine):

. Yosemite Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California is one of my favorite places on Earth. When the glaciers, which formed its sheer vertical walls, receded some ten thousand years ago, they left a large lake in the upper half of the valley, dammed up behind the detritus of gravel and boulders deposited by the melting ice at the lower margin of the active glacier. Over a few thousand years, the lake silted up, creating the flat floor of the valley. When tourists first started visiting the valley in large numbers, less than a century ago, the valley floor was a mix of forest and meadow, with a large, clear lake at the upper end of the valley, reflecting the spectacular, granite faces which surround it- - Cloud's Rest, Half Dome, North Dome, and Washington Column. Today the forests have taken over more of the valley floor, and the siltation of Mirror Lake continues, so that even in years of normal precipitation the lake is reduced to an expanse of mud with a small stream meandering through one side during half the summer and fall.
. A conservation ethic, dedicated to the preservation of the biosphere in its status quo, would be just as lethal- - both to ourselves and to the rest of the system- - as it would be to pave the entire planet with concrete and asphalt. If we were to attempt to preserve Yosemite Valley, unchanged forever, which Yosemite should be preserved: the Glacial Lake, the silted marshland of a few thousand years ago, the Yosemite our grandparents knew, or the Yosemite to come, with very little meadow space and no Mirror Lake?
. How shall we use and shape the planet?