Sunday, June 01, 2008


An email from Lee Rodgers [], in a rather manic mood

It's no coincidence a U.S. climate bill is percolating itself through the committee fumaroles of Congress since it was high time for the election silly season now upon us. With presidential candidates and Congress jockeying to and fro, trying to galvanize the ovine polity into frissons of this-or-that, for-or-against and so on, we now have three presidential candidates calling the invocation of CO2 reductions that the the knaves in the back pews may come forward and take shared climate communion.

For us climate agnostics we're left to wonder at such naked attempts to construct temporary polities based on Gaia-fear, built from righteous congregants who'll dutifully crowd themselves to the front so to suborn themselves against apostasy, perfidy and damnation. After all, it's worked before. Why pre-Kyoto supplicants steeled themselves against fate in hopes of paradise with a litany of "Hale Bop! Pass the Transubstantiating Kool-aid!"

Gore the Messiah, being from the government and here to help, has a "new and improved" liturgy that sings the praises of Gaia, replete with Gaia-fire, sins, indulgences, heresies and apostates. If it weren't for the carbon emissions he might press for prescriptive Auto da f‚. Ahhh, so much smoke to blow upward into everyone's hind side, so little time.

But what's poor Al to do if global warming turns more dud than heat flood? Maybe Gore will prepare us for the penultimate rapture with a long liturgy premised on 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4): "Hale Apophis, the Great NEO!" But a mitigation mission will be called and heroes will be needed. But we can't send Bruce Willis, he's just an actor. Perhaps we might send Gore himself and forget to install the return rocket booster?

With each presidential candidate's call for impossible CO2 reductions that'd entail draconian new levels of government controls, the public is somehow supposed to forget that government should remain only a necessary evil that when unnecessary, becomes just plain evil. If carbon taxes won't work, then we'll switch to rationing. The regimen will be enforced, even if it takes vast scores of new aparats, acolytes and climate inquisitors to ram it down our throats: "Confess! By your very nature, you emit carbon! This is your original sin! Confess!!"

But as all good apostates eventually do, they get their day in the sun (spotless though it may be) by showing that the portents of a climate hell may well be mistaken. Do we offer a new Enlightenment? Or are we pawns of a helio-centric Mephistopheles who whispers in our ear, "Wouldn't humanity find it better to rule in a self-made hell than to serve in a green heaven?"

Well. So is the "seance settled" and all we supplicants need do is consecrate this new coercion at the polls? Are the non-theistic doomed to fill some God-shaped hole in their lives by adopting a green theology premised not on empiricism but on neurotic risk analysis, the hang-wringing principle of precaution?

Or will the public defend itself against apostles of a new green theocracy, rejecting this weird pagan-romanticist assault against empiricism, reason and secular separations of church and state, and expose once and for all that this moribund Ptolemaic System of CO2 epicycles is no more than a rotten foundation from a tired old socialist church that still seeks empire?

This political silly season, silly as it is, may prove a dangerous moment. Is it too facile, to sanguine, to surmise Republican Senator John McCain's endorsement of CO2 reductions are feigned for the sake of swing voters? There's no reason for history to repeat the state construction of sanctions against science. But if all three candidates are true to their words, the political "tipping point" may be teetering away from American climate heretics despite all the current empirical data weighing on our side. I continue to suspend belief that we must suffer such an unnecessary fate.

And please no one disrupt my insouciant and solipsist daydream until hell freezes over, or solar cycle #25, whichever comes first.


An email from Will Alexander [] in South Africa

Southern Africa probably has a longer and more comprehensive hydrometeorological database than any other subcontinental region in the world. The development of prediction modelling techniques for water resource development in particular, dates back for more than a century. At the other end of the continent, water level measurements in the Nile River date back for some 5000 years. Joseph's biblical prophecy of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine was almost certainly based on these observations.

Returning to Southern Africa, it is only within the past two decades that records have become long enough to identify the presence of statistically significant, 21-year (it varies within narrow limits), periodicity in the data and it's synchronous linkage with the double sunspot cycle. This indicates that the multi-year solar mechanism that produces changes in sunspot activity is closely, but not exactly, synchronous with the mechanism that produces climatic changes. This periodic behaviour is predictable on a multi-year scale, particularly droughts and sequences of above average rainfall and river flow.

Another line of study has been the search for trends in the data that could be attributable to global warming. Despite a diligent study motivated by the real and urgent need to incorporate this in our water resource development and operation procedures, we were unable to detect it. Our studies were reported in peer reviewed publications and in my 93-page submission to the Stern Review. It was ignored.

Our studies continue with some promising results. The scepticism regarding our ability to develop broad, multi-year climate prediction models and their relationship with the synchronous, long period variations in solar activity, is not very helpful. Our studies are based on the analyses of data published by the responsible authorities, and not on unverified and unverifiable computer models based on theories that are becoming increasingly suspect.

Millions of people are suffering on the African continent, while the rest of the world spends millions of dollars on futile climate change research, and unending international conferences at popular holiday resorts.


The Bishop of Chester was under fire last night after suggesting mankind is not to blame for global warming, which he said would happen "come what may".

Friends of the Earth condemned the comments by Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, insisting scientists were united in their certainty that global temperatures were rising because of carbon dioxide emissions. The green group said everyone had a responsibility to "wake up to the threat posed by climate change", adding: "The debate is over. The alarm bells are ringing."

The row followed the Bishop of Chester's speech in a House of Lords debate on energy, in which he said discussion about the causes of global warming was "still open". Describing himself as a "scientist in a previous incarnation", Dr Forster - whose diocese includes Wirral - said there was no consensus among climate scientists that "carbon dioxide levels are the key determinant". And he told peers: "Climate science is a notoriously imprecise area, because the phenomena under investigation are so large. "That makes precision difficult to achieve."

The bishop's views are in stark contrast to those of his near-neighbour, the Bishop of Liverpool, who once warned that the chances of Earth surviving the century were no better than 50/50.



Higher energy prices are a "legitimate" way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Gordon Brown's chief adviser on climate change said on Friday, even as the government faces mounting pressure from MPs to ease fuel taxes.

Adair Turner, the chairman of the government's climate change committee and new head of the Financial Services Authority, told the Financial Times that, as a matter of principle, "everyone accepts that putting a price on carbon is a crucial instrument" to cut emissions. "That will put up the price of energy and there is no way round that. We should not deny that is what these policies do," he said.

Lord Turner's comments underline the growing conflict between environmental policies - which rely on increasing the cost of energy to encourage people to cut their emissions - and the government's need to respond to widespread concerns over the effects of high energy prices. The timing of Lord Turner's intervention could hardly be worse for Mr Brown. As Labour on Friday suffered its worst poll rating since records began in 1943, the prime minister remained under intense pressure over his handling of the fuel crisis.

Mr Brown this week unveiled a flurry of measures including state support to ease fuel poverty, signals of a U-turn on motoring taxes and a minor boost to North Sea oil production. He highlighted the impact on families of "the cost of filling up at the petrol station and in the rise in gas and electricity bills". Though he refused directly to criticise Gordon Brown, Lord Turner said the emphasis should be on encouraging people to cut their fuel use, rather than easing price pressures: "There are huge opportunities for energy efficiency."

He added: "If you are worried about the impact on low-income groups of fuel prices, the response should be to intensify support for them to improve their energy efficiency, rather than say you have to give up on climate change objectives."

Lord Turner will wield the greatest influence of any official over the government's climate policies for the next six months as he crafts a strategy for emissions reductions for the next five years and beyond. After that, he will give up his climate change responsibilities to focus on the FSA.

The Tories have latched on to fuel prices as an electorally potent issue, which played well in the this month's Crewe by-election victory. Alan Duncan, shadow business secretary, accused the government of having "desperately tried to make it look as if they're doing something about energy prices. In fact they're not."


Global warming, an unsettled science

The thesis of man-made global warming has been portrayed as a scientific consensus, but this is more a policymaker and media phenomenon than a settled matter?

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group One, a panel of experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, issued its Fourth Assessment Report. This included predictions of dramatic increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years and serious harm resulting from the predicted temperature rise.

Founding director of the UN Environment Programme Maurice Strong once analyzed global environmental challenges as follows: "We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse." "Industrial civilization" has been pumping additional carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse effect, whereby carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor combine to trap sunrays bouncing off the earth's surface, keeping the earth at a temperature conducive to supporting life.

What ultimate benefit the collapse of industrial civilization could bring at a time when - as Oxford University economist Paul Collier put it in his award-winning book The Bottom Billion - around four billion people are being lifted out of poverty, remains unclear. However, the IPCC outlines that "deep cuts in global emission will be required," while the European Commission supports emissions cuts of 25-40 percent by 2020. The US, however, considers such cuts beyond reach, at least before 2050, while Japan says it is premature to commit to 2020 limits.

On 26 May, G8 environment ministers endorsed slashing greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century, but failed to agree on much more contentious near-term targets. Environmentalists were disappointed, according to AP reports: They missed the "opportunity to accelerate the slow progress of G8 climate negotiations, but they failed to send a signal of hope for a breakthrough," said Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of the Climate Change Program at WWF Japan. Whether or not such emissions cuts, and the industrial and economic turmoil that could ensue, are necessary, depends precisely on whether global warming or climate change is man-made, or whether the anthropogenic aspect outweighs natural factors.

On 10 May 2007, UN special climate envoy Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland declared the climate debate "over," adding that "it's completely immoral, even, to question" the UN's scientific "consensus." Questions about the "consensus" are mounting, however, as are apparently growing numbers of scientists who dispute the notion that "the science is settled."

Unraveling consensus

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature - the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California - report a 0.7C cooling in 2007 - a reversal of the warming that has taken place over the 20th Century.

A recent study in the journal Nature by scientists from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, postulates that global temperatures are unlikely to rise again until around 2015-2020, after a decade-long leveling-off since the 1998 recorded high. In other words, it is possible that by 2020, the world will not have warmed for over 20 years.

Dr Vicky Pope of the Hadley Centre at the UK Met Office told ISN Security Watch that natural climate variations linked to the Pacific cooling system known as La Nina, as well as a cooling phase of a system of Atlantic currents, contributed to the 2007 cooling and what the Leibniz/Nature study predicts for the coming decade.

The climate prediction modeling system used by the IPCC postulates that global temperatures will rise in tandem with carbon dioxide emissions, and at an unprecedented and dangerous rate, hence the need for, if not the collapse of industrial civilization, then reductions in carbon emissions as outlined since the Kyoto agreements in 1998.

Another study published in Nature in mid-May postulated that "Changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone," and that man-made climate change is having "a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally."

Speaking about this study to the Financial Times, Barry Brook, director of climate change research at the University of Adelaide, said: "[We should] consider that there has been only 0.75C of temperature change so far, yet the expectation for this century is four to nine times that amount."

However, Richard Lindzen (Alfred P Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), told ISN Security Watch that predictions such as the IPCCs were based on flawed modeling: "The text of the IPCC [as opposed to the spin-oriented summary] makes clear that a major assumption of attribution studies is that the models were used properly and adequately account for natural internal variability. This study acknowledges that they did not. Under the circumstances, it is absurd to depend on these same models to predict the end of phenomena that they could not predict in the first place."

Dr Pope conceded that "climate science is an evolving subject," but in reference to the second Nature study, said that "they looked at secondary impacts of climate change, and made a stronger link back to core causes, along the lines of the latest research being done on this issue."

Arguments over the reliability of climate models have emerged at various times, in recent years. Most notoriously, the "hockey stick" graph used by the IPPC showing a rapid temperature rise over the industrial era was revised after allegations that it glossed over previously occurring natural cycles, including the Little Ice Age, running to around 1850, and the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures may have been higher than now.

A warm Middle Ages saw vineyards in England, while Greenland got its name due to the relatively lush coastal regions encountered by contemporary exploring Vikings, whose villages there lasted until around the 17th Century, until a cooling climate reduced the snow-free land available to the settlers and indigenous people alike, leaving Greenland as we know it today. Needless to say, such temperature levels occurred well before any "industrial civilization" was in place to emit copious amounts of carbon dioxide.

But in response to counter-arguments to the man-made global warming thesis, the UK Royal Society has drawn up another point-by-point counter-argument, which states "our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming." The Royal Society, however, goes on to outline: "While climate models are now able to reproduce past and present changes in the global climate rather well, they are not, as yet, sufficiently well-developed to project accurately all the detail of the impacts we might see at regional or local levels. They do, however, give us a reliable guide to the direction of future climate change. The reliability also continues to be improved through the use of new techniques and technologies."

In turn, Director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project S Fred Singer has responded to the Royal Society's position in a paper authored for the Centre for Policy Studies in London. And referring to the Leibniz Institute Nature study, he told ISN Security Watch that "natural climate fluctuations can be greater than manmade forcing," and that it is feasible that "the modeled manmade forcing has been greatly exaggerated."

The 4th IPCC report was released 10 months before it shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore, and that publication made it clear that there was a consensus of 2,500 scientists across the globe who believed that mankind was responsible for greenhouse gas concentrations, which in turn were very likely responsible for an increase in global temperatures. However, just two weeks ago, Dr Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine told the National Press Club in Washington DC that more than 31,000 scientists had signed the so-called Oregon Petition rejecting the IPCC line.

Moreover, some of those included on the IPCC's list have also raised objections. On 12 December 2007, the US Senate released a report from more than 400 scientists, many of whose names were attached to the IPCC report without - they claim - their permission. In the report, the scientists expressed a range of views from skepticism to outright rejection of the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

While the US remains outside the Kyoto system, along with developing-country high carbon emitters such as China and India, US President George Bush has made conciliatory noises on climate issues in recent months, while all three remaining presidential candidates have been vocal about their commitment to offsetting.

Less commented-upon is the data on emissions reduction: The US has cut the rate of increase of its carbon emissions more than any party to Kyoto, according to the Index of Leading Economic Indicators' figures for 1997-2004, the last year for universal emission data.

The US Senate will convene next week to discuss a climate bill, which aims, through a mandatory cap-and-trade scheme, to reduce emissions 70 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, even though countries such as China, Russia and India have no such plans.

Alarmism misplaced?

Prior to the December Bali climate summit, some of the scientists who signed the Senate and Oregon letters penned an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, outlining their view that climate alarmism was misplaced, and the policy options discussed were futile:

"The UN climate conference in Bali has been planned to take the world along a path of severe CO2 restrictions, ignoring the lessons apparent from the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, the chaotic nature of the European CO2 trading market, and the ineffectiveness of other costly initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. [.] Furthermore, it is irrational to apply the 'precautionary principle' because many scientists recognize that both climatic coolings and warmings are realistic possibilities over the medium-term future. [.] The current UN focus on "fighting climate change" [.] is distracting governments from adapting to the threat of inevitable natural climate changes, whatever forms they may take."

Whether this distraction results in the destruction of industrialized civilization or not, some analysts, such as Bjorn Lomborg, author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, believes that an inappropriate reaction to global warming will cause more problems than contribute solutions.

Carbon trading has been pitched as part-panacea to man-made global warming. Stanford University academics believe that the system does little to prevent emissions, while cynics believe that proponents of the schemes can benefit financially - a sort-of counter-argument to the "big oil funds climate dissent" view held by green activists.

Problems aside, Dr Terry Barker, director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Research, tells ISN Security Watch that the ongoing climate negotiations need to "establish a global carbon price through a global cap-and-trade scheme for international transport, not adequately covered by national jurisdiction." He adds: "Governments need to agree to quantified targets [...] with a reasonable chance of achieving the EU's 2 degree target."

It seems that policymakers are in a bind: EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas reacted to the Bali summit as follows: "Now the real hard work must begin. It is essential that the agreement to be worked out over the next two years is ambitious enough to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels."

And more incongruently, only last week, Slovenia's UN ambassador Sanja Stiglic, speaking on behalf of the EU, whose rotating Presidency Ljubljana holds, said that "the present [food] situation highlights the urgent need to reach ambitious, global and comprehensive targets for reductions in CO2 emissions."

The massive rise in world food prices in the past two years came to a head recently, with widespread food riots in numerous countries, and many analysts point to the diversion of cropland to the subsidized biofuels industry - aimed to curb carbon emissions - as a contributory factor to the food crisis.

Global warming, therefore, is causing the food crisis, but most directly through human efforts to prevent warming. In any case, the IPCC itself concedes that for a warming of anything up to 3 percent, "globally, the potential for food production is projected to increase."


Australia: Plans to drill for oil off Sydney

Greenie reaction predictable but it seems it is going to happen -- unlike the American situation, where almost all coastal waters are blocked from exploration

PLANS to drill for oil off the NSW coast have been revived because of sky-rocketing world oil prices. In a move that has outraged green groups, an Australian joint venture has announced it will establish a drilling rig 22km offshore between the Central Coast and Newcastle to look for gas and oil deposits. One of the firms, Perth-based MEC Resources, has been conducting air surveys of the area since January following a review of geological formations and says there are early indications of petroleum stores at the intended dig site.

"MEC was reviewing new data from an airborne survey conducted east of Newcastle which detected evidence of petroleum seeps on the sea surface,'' it says in a document lodged with the Australian Stock Exchange on Friday. The only thing delaying the operation is the availability of a suitable sea-drilling rig. A joint contract led by Australian firm Bounty Oil and MEC Resources is expected to be executed this year. "A rig is to be secured, in the near future, to fulfil the work commitments,'' MEC said ahead of a June annual meeting.

The target exploration site is part of the massive Sydney basin which stretches inland and includes coal seams from Newcastle to the Illawarra. The MEC report contains optimistic estimates that undersea reserves could contain one billion barrels of oil and enough gas to meet Sydney's entire needs for the next decade.

MEC has told shareholders the price of oil has prompted renewed interest in the site. "Based on the present oil price exceeding $US80 per barrel (and) perceived future demand ... hydrocarbon exploration in the area is justified,'' it says. The project has applied to the State Government for an extension of a licence to explore the site while awaiting the arrival of a drilling rig to Australia. A spokeswoman for Premier Morris Iemma yesterday confirmed the application had been received.

MEC has told shareholders it expects the application to be approved. News of the potential drilling close to the NSW coast has outraged green groups. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon yesterday slammed the idea. "A world oil shortage is no justification for pushing ahead. We have to adjust to the fact the petroleum products are now in short supply,'' she said. "The chance of having an oil spill would be considerable and the damage that would do to the tourism industry, the marine industry and fisheries just isn't worth it. "It would be highly irresponsible for the amount of oil we might be able to produce.''

The companies are confident they will book a drill by November, but the unit could take a further six months or more to arrive. Initial exploratory digging is expected to take as little as three weeks. "By pursuing the exploration and drilling of (the reserve), the company is targeting an oil and gas project with potential in the hundreds of millions of dollars,'' the report reads.

MEC is attempting to get shareholder approval for a restructuring of its gas and oil assets to improve access to capital for exploration. In a document for shareholders, regarding the Sydney basin, it says there are four other large leads in the area, each with significant potential gas recoveries. "If available estimates were to be realised, (the area) would be on a par with some of the largest gas reserves in the world. "Should an oil play be established, potential oil resources could be in excess of one billion barrels in place. Oil has been recorded from some 55 locations within the onshore basin. "The potential reward from a successful drilling program makes this a very attractive exploration opportunity.''



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1 comment:

Woody said...

It's funny to think that one day, in the far distant future, Al Gore's remains will be part of an oil reserve.