Monday, May 05, 2008


How coincidental that the last 12 months have been so cold!

Either SC24 is the weakest ever solar cycle in a long time or I'm cursed. I look on Anthony Watts' excellent weblog and see that someone has sighted an SC24 spot in the Southern Hemisphere. And here's the magnetogram showing that it is indeed an SC24 phenomenon:

If you care to look at the last SC24 spot to appear in the Northern Hemisphere, then this does appear to be an SC24 spot, (the magnetic polarities being reversed between the hemispheres). So I snap into action, going to and... that it? Or is it a dead pixel in the camera? Let's check the magnetogram:

...and its gone!

Another SC24 "Tiny Tim" and I missed it.

Clearly spotting sunspots is more difficult than I thought. There cannot be more than a few hours between Anthony's post and mine, and yet the SC24 spot and magnetic signature had both disappeared. And on a sad note, it appears not to have been given a number by NASA. Maybe the person responsible went for coffee at just the wrong time.

Solar Science, 4 May 2008. (See the original for graphics)

If you want to be green - kill a cow

Some wisdom from the new Mayor of London below

Stop, stop. I can feel the guilt building up already. I can feel the self-loathing welling in my skull, the horror at my appallingly affluent consumerist lifestyle. In just a few short months, I will be taking the whole family off on holiday again, and once again our plane will contribute to the cat's cradle of CO2 that is swaddling the globe. Out of the nozzles of the Rolls-Royce turbo jets the lethal vapours will spew into the defenceless stratosphere, and, far beneath us, a startled look will pass over the features of another poor polar bear as he plops through the deliquescing floes.

I must atone! I must make a sacrifice! I must offset my emissions and appease the great irascible Sun-god as he prepares to griddle us all. I had heard somewhere that you could be "carbon-neutral" by planting trees before you fly. That's right. Shove in a few poplars, I was told, and bingo, you can feel all good about your skiing holiday or your winter break in Tunisia.

So I dialled up the eco-websites and - what's this? It turns out they have got it all wrong! Guilt-stricken Western holidaymakers and others have so far paid œ300 million to have trees planted in their name by carbon offset companies, and the whole thing turns out to be a complete nonsense. It now appears the scientists think the trees just make things worse. Far from soaking up your share of CO2, most trees in non-tropical areas are thought to trap heat and thereby increase global warming.

Aaaargh! Bad trees! Killer trees! But what can I do to exculpate my sin? Here I am, a caring, modern, green politician, proposing some time before the end of this year to take about six people in a plane for no better purpose than simple recreation. Like Tony Blair, I must deal with the hate and rage of the new green puritans; and also, it goes without saying, I genuinely want to make amends for any damage I am doing.

So I have done my homework, and I have come up with a far more effective solution. As ever, I have consulted the ancient texts, and have been reminded that the Greeks and Romans were also convinced of the importance of making a sacrifice before any tricky voyage. You will recall that the Greek task force for Troy actually killed Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, in the hope of guaranteeing good sailing weather - with bad consequences for Agamemnon's conjugal relations.

Now we are only taking a family holiday, and I don't think Zeus or Jupiter would desire anything so extreme. A single cow would be about right. If I were an ancient Roman setting out on a family holiday, I would get some old milker and do her up as if for a party. She'd have her hair washed and combed and cut, and there would be ribbons and purple woollen fillets about her horns.

Then my chums and I would decently cover our heads and we'd drone loads of stuff in Latin and chuck some sacred meal about the place; and then one of us would hold a handful of food under the poor old girl's nose, and as she bent her head to snuffle it up we would take this - praise be! - as a sign that she had assented to her death, and at that auspicious moment she would be whopped hard on the side of the head and her throat would be cut; and then Jupiter would nod, and Olympus would tremble, and the whole family would be able to go off on holidays with a clear conscience.

And the funny thing is that, if we wanted to pay our debt to the great green earth-goddess Gaia, and neutralise the ill-effects of going up in a plane, then, as far as I can see, killing a cow is still exactly the right thing to do, two thousand years later. I mean it. There are 1.3 billion cows on this planet, and every year each cow produces about 90kg of methane, and as greenhouse gases go, methane is about 24 times worse than CO2 in sealing the heat in the air. According to a recent report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, agriculture produces 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent - and that, my friends, is more than is produced by the entire human transport industry. Think of it: for every cow you killed, you would be ridding the world of 90kg of methane a year - easily enough, surely, to justify an Easyjet flight.

Now it may be that you are repelled by the idea of killing a cow, and you may think that the poor farmers will only be driven to breed a new one to replace it. But there are still plenty of other things you could do that would make more sense than planting trees with these carbon offset companies. You could make sure that your house was properly insulated. You could turn down the central heating and wear more sweaters; and if you really wanted to tackle global CO2 emissions, you would campaign for nuclear energy, since power production is responsible for 24 per cent of global emissions. Or better still you could help do something to stop Third World countries from burning the forests, which produces 18 per cent of CO2.

But, of course, people aren't interested in these kinds of facts. They want the religion. They want the sweet moralistic feeling of telling someone to stop doing something. They want to be able to rage about Chelsea Tractors and Tony Blair's flights, and they want to give vent to their feelings of disgust at the whole triumph of Western consumerist capitalism; and what worries me is that, in the end, the moralising mumbo-jumbo becomes more important than the scientific reality.

We face huge decisions, such as whether or not to allow scientists to use human genetic material in animal cells; and I want those decisions taken on the basis of whether or not the advance can help cure disease, not on the basis of "Frankenbunny" headlines.

We should cease our pagan yammering for sacrifice, and look at what the science really demands. It is a sign of our terrifying ignorance that so many would still prefer to plant a heat-producing tree than see the wisdom of the ancients, and kill a flatulent cow.



Gordon Brown is poised to scrap a series of unpopular tax rises as part of sweeping changes to stave off a dangerous revolt over the rising cost of living which last week dealt Labour its worst electoral hammering in 40 years. Today the Prime Minister will respond to a growing suburban uprising by signalling moves to help motorists and other consumers. His intervention comes amid a fresh assault over the 10p tax rate change, which backbenchers warn could destroy his premiership.

Frank Field, the renegade ex-minister who forced Brown into offering compensation for the abolition of the 10p rate, said dismal local election results had shown poor families did not trust the Prime Minister to deliver on what Field described as an 'Alice in Wonderland' scheme to give them their money back.

The question of the Prime Minister's leadership was also raised openly for the first time since the vote; Labour backbencher Graham Stringer said ministers were privately discussing whether there should be a challenge to Brown. The Manchester Blackley MP told Sky News: 'I think Gordon is going to be the leader of the Labour party. There is no real tradition of regicide. But it would not be true to say that these conversations aren't going on between ministers and Labour backbenchers about whether there should be a challenge. There is a public display of loyalty and there is private despair.'

Last night Downing Street sources hinted the 2 per cent rise in fuel duty due in the autumn may not go ahead, in a concession to tight household budgets. Asked if it would be scrapped, a senior source said: 'We could do that, although it would not have any effect until October. We will reserve judgement until later this year.'

Brown is also expected today to highlight the role of the Competition Commission investigation into supermarkets in protecting families from high prices, promising that ministers will ensure stores do not keep prices artificially high. Ministers also want Brown to rethink green taxes - including motoring charges and proposed 'pay as you throw' schemes for household rubbish - and to sideline his passion for Africa and the climate to focus on domestic worries.

Internal polling in London found Ken Livingstone's green policies, such as new charges for gas-guzzling cars, alienated older voters, while the environment was at best a low priority for others, suggesting that, as families' budgets shrink, so does their willingness to pay to save the planet. 'My colleagues will say Labour has got to be brave on green issues, but the public are really feeling the pinch,' said one senior minister. Downing Street sources hinted last night that trials of household-rubbish taxes may never be widespread, adding that Brown was 'fairly sceptical' about the idea.

More here


Back to basics. White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is gaining on her Democratic rival, Barack Obama, in Indiana and North Carolina because of her clear-eyed energy policy, according to anecdotal reports from the two states with key upcoming primary contests.

Obama's opposition to suspending the federal gasoline tax--a measure supported by both Clinton and the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain--and emphasis on pie-in-the-sky alternative energy schemes (and scams) are factors that appear to be hurting him, our on-location stringers report.

For the first time in years, voters seem skeptical that solar, wind, ocean waves and currents, biofuels and other so-called renewable sources of energy can replace gasoline, petroleum-based diesel, home heating oil, natural gas, and propane to any significant degree in the foreseeable future. The water-gulping, energy-intensive biofuel, or agrofuel, ethanol, which Obama touts as a "transitional solution," is increasingly unpopular as it contributes to food inflation by driving up the price of corn oil and animal feed. Motorists also complain that ethanol added to gasoline results in poorer performance and mileage; and some scientists say ethanol actually makes the air dirtier.

Among ordinary middle class, working class and poor voters, global warming appears to be a non-issue. More and more hard-pressed people are more afraid of pauperization than the manmade greenhouse gases that supposedly cause climate change.

Our reports indicate, in short, that the brainy, aloof and elitist Obama is out of touch and out of date when it comes to the energy crisis. Returning to her lunch-bucket, bread-and-butter roots, Hillary at last seems to be playing Presidential politics in a winning zone.


Watch the web for climate change truths

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (reproduced below), Christopher Booker gives a lucid summary of recent pesky findings

A notable story of recent months should have been the evidence pouring in from all sides to cast doubts on the idea that the world is inexorably heating up. The proponents of man-made global warming have become so rattled by how the forecasts of their computer models are being contradicted by the data that some are rushing to modify the thesis

So a German study, published by Nature last week, claimed that, while the world is definitely warming, it may cool down until 2015 "while natural variations in climate cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions".

A little vignette of the media's one-sided view was given by recent events on Snowdon, the highest mountain in southern Britain. Each year between 2003 and 2007, the retreat of its winter snow cover inspired reports citing this as evidence of global warming. In 2004 scientists from the University of Bangor made headlines with the prediction that Snowdon might lose its snowcap altogether by 2020. In 2007 a Welsh MP, Lembit Opik, was saying "it is shocking to think that in just 14 years snow on this mountain could be nothing but a distant memory". Last November, viewing photographs of a snowless Snowdon at an exhibition in Cardiff, the Welsh environment minister, Jane Davidson, said "we must act now to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change"

Yet virtually no coverage has been given to the abnormally deep spring snow which prevented the completion of a new building on Snowdon's summit for more than a month, and nearly made it miss the deadline for œ4.2 million of EU funding. (Brussels eventually extended the deadline to next autumn.)

Two weeks ago, as North America emerged from its coldest and snowiest winter for decades, the US National Climate Data Center, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement that snow cover in January on the Eurasian land mass had been the most extensive ever recorded, and that in the US March had been only the 63rd warmest since records began in 1895.

While global warming enthusiasts might take cheer from the NOAA's claim that "average global land temperature" in March was "the warmest on record", this was in striking contrast to a graph published last week on the Climate Audit website by Steve McIntyre. Tracking satellite data for the tropical troposphere, it showed March temperatures plunging to one of their lowest points in 30 years.

Mr McIntyre is the computer expert who exposed the infamous "hockey stick" graph - that icon of warmist orthodoxy which showed global temperatures soaring recently to their highest level for 1,000 years. He showed that the computer model that produced this graph had been so designed that it would have conjured even random numbers from a telephone directory into the shape of a hockey stick).

On April 24 the World Wildife Fund (WWF), another body keen to keep the warmist flag flying, published a study warning that Arctic sea ice was melting so fast that it may soon reach a "tipping point" where "irreversible change" takes place. This was based on last September's data, showing ice cover having shrunk over six months from 13 million square kilometres to just 3 million. What the WWF omitted to mention was that by March the ice had recovered to 14 million sq km (see the website Cryosphere Today), and that ice-cover around the Bering Strait and Alaska that month was at its highest level ever recorded. (At the same time Antarctic sea ice-cover was also at its highest-ever level, 30 per cent above normal).

The most dramatic evidence, however, emerged last week with an announcement by Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that an immense slow-cycling movement of water in the Pacific, known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), had unexpectedly shifted into its cool phase, something which only happens every 30 years or so, ultimately affecting climate all over the globe. Discussion of this on the invaluable Watts Up With That website, run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts, shows how the alternations of the PDO between warm and cool coincided with each of the major temperature shifts of the 20th century - warming after 1905, cooling after 1946, warming again after 1977 - and how the new shift to a cool phase could have repercussions for decades to come.

It is notable that the German computer predictions published last week by Nature forecast a decade of cooling due to deep-ocean movements in the Atlantic, without taking account of how this may now be reinforced by a similar, even greater movement in the Pacific.

Mr Watts points out that the West coast of the USA might already be experiencing these effects in the recent freezing temperatures that have devastated orchards and vineyards in California, prompting an appeal for disaster relief for growers who fear they may have lost this year's crops. Mr Watts's readers are amused by the explanation from one warmist apologist that "these natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities - or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it".

It is striking, in view of the colossal implications of the current response to "the greatest challenge confronting mankind" - as our politicians love to call it - how this hugely important debate is almost entirely overlooked by the media, and is instead conducted largely on the internet, through expert websites such as those run by Mr McIntyre and Mr Watts.

On one hand our politicians are committing us to spending unimaginable sums on wind farms, emissions trading schemes, absurdly ambitious biofuel targets, and every kind of tax and regulation designed to reduce our "carbon footprint" - all based on blindly accepting the predictions of computer models that the planet is overheating due to our output of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, a growing number of scientists are producing ever more evidence to show how those computer models are based on wholly inadequate data and assumptions - as is being confirmed by the behaviour of nature itself (not least the continuing non-arrival of sunspot cycle 24).

The fact is that what has been happening to the world's climate in recent years, since global temperatures ceased to rise after 1998, was not predicted by any of those officially-sponsored models. The discrepancy between their predictions and observable data becomes more glaring with every month that passes.

It won't do for believers in warmist orthodoxy to claim that, although temperatures may be falling, this is only because they are "masking an underlying warming trend that is still continuing" - nor to fob us off with assurances that the "German model shows that higher temperatures than 1998, the warmest year on record, are likely to return after 2015".

In view of what is now at stake, such quasi-religious incantations masquerading as science are something we can no longer afford. We should get back to proper science before it is too late.


Lubos Motl waxes sarcastic about global warming and shark attacks

Reproduced below. See the original for graphics & links

New research has determined that sharks began to attack people because of global warming. This is how the world looked like before global warming. It was a paradise. Caucasian fathers with their Asian children, tigers, birds, blonde women, and sharks were loving each other and living in peace. There exist witnesses who tell you more.

But as an article in the Guardian explains: "Surge in fatal shark attacks blamed on global warming". The world's top scientists in Florida have figured out what is behind the sharks' aggressivity.They calculated that in 2007, there was only 1 shark attack worldwide while in the first four months of 2008, there were 1+1+1+1 = 4 attacks. Feel free to check the math. Something is changing.

The next step in their sophisticated research was to find something else that is changing. Yes, it is the climate. Now, the logic is impeccable. If two things are changing, they must be correlated! Global warming makes sharks aggressive.

And while the deniers may want to emphasize their talking point that oceans were cooling since 2003, the ethical scientists know better.It is not the oceans what matters. What matters is the global warming. For example, sharks in Mexico become more aggressive because of the catastrophic warming of the Antarctic Peninsula. And one cannot look at the last 10 years or the next 10 years. The important thing is the trend of the global warming. And this trend has been determined by the world's top scientists to be positive forever and it explains all bad things that have happened and that will ever happen.

It has already brought early marriages to Uganda and stopped circumcisions in Kenya, among millions of other problems. Data from the thermometers therefore cannot change anything about it because data suck, after all. Data are the crap that is routinely abused by the deniers. Data must go.

The next scientific research we will read about will say that September 11, 2001 attacks were caused by global warming. Do you remember how you were asking why the hell the steel in the skyscrapers was melting? Yes, melting usually occurs because of warming! That new paper will hopefully be enough for all Americans to join the bandwagon! ;-)

Recently, al-Qaeda's pride was insulted by Iran's comments that the 9/11 attacks were organized by Israel rather than being a precious result of al-Qaeda. The new findings will bring some peace in between them. The 9/11 attacks were caused by burning oil i.e. by both Arabs who produce it as well as by George Bush who consumes it. And al-Qaeda, Iran, the IPCC, and sharks will be able to love each other again.



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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