Friday, June 20, 2008

A little bit of fun

Read the following and see what you think

New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago. The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed.

The analysis of more than 386,000 earthquakes between 1973 and 2007 recorded on the US Geological Survey database proved that the global annual energy of earthquakes on Earth began increasing very fast since 1990. Dr Chalko said that global seismic activity was increasing faster than any other global warming indicator on Earth and that this increase is extremely alarming. "The most serious environmental danger we face on Earth may not be climate change, but rapidly and systematically increasing seismic, tectonic and volcanic activity," said Dr Chalko.

"Increase in the annual energy of earthquakes is the strongest symptom yet of planetary overheating. "NASA measurements from space confirm that Earth as a whole absorbs at least 0.85 Megawatt per square kilometer more energy from the Sun than it is able to radiate back to space. This 'thermal imbalance' means that heat generated in the planetary interior cannot escape and that the planetary interior must overheat. Increase in seismic, tectonic and volcanic activities is an unavoidable consequence of the observed thermal imbalance of the planet," said Dr Chalko.

Dr Chalko has urged other scientists to maximize international awareness of the rapid increase in seismic activity, pointing out that this increase is not theoretical but that it is an Observable Fact. "Unless the problem of global warming (the problem of persistent thermal imbalance of Earth) is addressed urgently and comprehensively -- the rapid increase in global seismic, volcanic and tectonic activity is certain. Consequences of inaction can only be catastrophic. There is no time for half-measures."

For further information please read Dr Chalko's scientific article published at NU Journal of Discovery. Dr Tom Chalko, MSc, PhD, former Melbourne University academic (between 1982-2001) is Head of Geophysics Division at Scientific Engineering Research, Mt Best, Australia.


It sounds sort of plausible, doesn't it? Until you think about it. How can minor changes in the atmosphere affect events deep down beneath the earth? I downloaded the story from a press-release service that Tom Chalko used to circulate it. So did quite a few other people. No need to think much more about it, however. It is pseudo-science -- as even a Leftist blogger pointed out.

The amusing thing, though, is that Associated Press -- the great grand fact-checking news service that newspapers worldwide rely on -- was also taken in and included it in their feed. And even the proudly-fact-checking CBS (remember Dan Rather?) was taken in. They have however now taken it down. If you have forgotten the CBS Dan Rather fun and games, see here. Once again pajamas beat the (largely mythical) media fact-checkers.

For yet another AP booboo see here (fifth picture caption).

LA Times: Is famine coming? Claims global warming 'reducing grain output' around the world

Oh really? Then why do we see headlines such as "Cold temps shorten growing season". And why do greenhouse owners feed extra CO2 into their greenhouses to promote growth? Both extra warmth and extra CO2 are GOOD for crops

We're not "headed" for a major global food shortage this year -- it's already here. Because of a perfect storm of drought, booming demand from Asia and ill-considered energy policy, global grain reserves have fallen to their lowest level in half a century. The real question is whether today's crisis is short-term and, if not, what action needs to be taken.Conventional wisdom holds that these are both temporary and self-correcting: High prices will encourage the farm sector to bring on new supplies -- by planting more acres and by boosting per-acre yields with new technologies. That's how we've solved previous shortages -- as when we used Green Revolution seeds and fertilizers to avert famine in East Asia and Africa -- and, say optimists, that's what we'll do again, this time with a hot new stable of genetically modified, or GM, crops.

However, a growing number of skeptics, including myself, worry that the factors driving today's crisis make it much harder to solve. Demand, for example, is much stronger than before. Not only is population soaring, but many of the newcomers are wealthy enough to eat meat, our most resource-intensive food -- it takes an average of eight pounds of grain to make a pound of meat. All told, we'll need to boost total grain output by 50% by 2030, and no one knows how, or even if, all that extra grain can be grown. Farm land is increasingly scarce -- most of the readily arable land is already under cultivation, and much of what remains is in forest.

Further, many of the inputs of industrial farming are much more expensive today than they were even a decade ago. Oil, the lifeblood of modern agriculture, costs more than 10 times as much as it did during the Green Revolution. Synthetically manufactured nitrogen fertilizers, which are responsible for 40% of the calories produced worldwide, have tripled in price in the last year. Water is increasingly scarce: One sixth of the populations of India and China, for example, are now fed using irrigation systems that are draining underground water systems.

And overlaying this is climate change, which is already reducing grain output not only in destitute Africa but in grain powerhouses like the United States. The "100-year" floods that are currently erasing the Midwest grain crops (and derailing the market's attempts to "correct" this crisis on its own) are precisely the kind of natural disaster that, under many climate forecasts, will become routine a few decades from now.

In short, just as basket cases like sub-Saharan Africa, their populations swollen by earlier Green Revolution success, are in desperate need for our famous grain surpluses, we may not have as much to send them.

What can be done? In the near term, the U.S. and the European Union must step up relief efforts to afflicted regions while reducing subsidies for biofuels, which are draining off critical food supplies. Longer term, we'll need to commit serious money to developing alternative forms of agriculture that need less energy, water and fertilizers, and which can tolerate a changing climate. (And don't expect a GM silver bullet any time soon: Boosting yields "trans-genically" is much harder than most GM proponents will admit.)

Lastly, we must start a global conversation about meat. One needn't be a vegetarian (and I'm not) to realize that the current trend in global meat consumption simply cannot be sustained and that if we're to achieve a global per capita intake that is sustainable and equitable, countries like the United States will have to reduce their intake, which is currently 230 pounds a year.

None of these steps will be easy or appealing. Spending more on alternative farming will be politically challenging -- as will urging Americans, the world's top carnivores, to eat less meat. But sooner or later (and probably sooner, given how badly flooding is likely to hurt this year's grain crop), we'll need to face the fact that the current crisis isn't just a repeat of past crises and that to solve it, we will need new ways of making, and thinking about, food.... blah, blah, blah

More here

No shortage of land for food

Across a great arc of the Eurasian steppe from Ukraine through Russia to Kazakhstan lies enough arable land to feed the world for years to come, with spare for biofuels to help plug the energy gap. In the days of Nikita Khrushchev - a great enthusiast for the vast Sovkhoz collectives - the Soviet Union farmed 240m hectares, badly. The same territory now farms 207m hectares. These reserves of idle soil are alone enough to meet the entire global need of 30m extra hectares over the next decade, as estimated by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Moscow investment bank Troika Dialog says that just 43pc of the arable land in Russia is cultivated. Crop yields in the trio of leading ex-Soviet states remain at pre-modern levels. Yields can be doubled in Russia, and tripled in the Ukraine using modern kit and know-how. "The potential is tremendous," said Kingsmill Bond, Troika's chief strategist.

The great leap forward may at last be underway as the clutter of Soviet-era restrictions are broken down and Russia's new found wealth pours into high-tech farm investment. It comes in the nick of time. World corn prices are flirting with the once unthinkable level of $8 a bushel - up fivefold in little over two years. This has lifted the entire nexus of grains in its wake as farmers switch to corn. Soybeans are up 84pc in the past year.

Troika Dialog has written a detailed report - "The New Frontier" - to guide western investors through the Slav land boom and on how to play the opportunities on both the Moscow bourse (for the brave) and European stock exchanges (for the timid). The message is simple. Buy those who control the "bottlenecks" between the land and the market: the processors, the logistics firms, the shippers and movers, the silo makers and fertilizer companies.

Strictly speaking, there is no global shortage of land. Cereal production peaked at around 740m hectares in 1981 and slid steadily for over two decades before recovering a little in the latest revival to 680m, according to the FAO. Urban sprawl accounts for some of this loss, especially on China's eastern seaboard, but the chief reason is that crop yields rose so fast that marginal or high-cost farms were driven out of business.

Troika's pitch is that investment funds scrambling to buy land - almost anywhere, at any price - on assumptions of a Malthusian food crisis are likely to face a rude shock. "The consensus view that the world is running out of land is a fallacy," said the bank. "Global population growth has long since peaked. Calorie consumption per capita has peaked in most developed markets and China is at 90pc of [Western] calorie levels. Even the switch to meat is a less powerful driver than it was."

More here

An older example of kids being brainwashed

The Warmists have some nasty antecedents

A chilling essay, written by a 10-year-old schoolboy praising the Nazis, is to be auctioned in Britain. The rare essay was written by German pupil Gunther Himpfel as a gift for Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday in 1939.

The 20-page booklet entitled 'Der 50 Gerburtsag des Fuhrers' which translates as 'The Fiftieth Birthday of the Fuhrer', was discovered at a flea market in Berlin and is now set to fetch 150 pounds at auction in Shropshire.

The pupil received top marks for the essay in which he pays tribute to "greatest leader Germany have ever had" and says he hopes Hitler will live for many years to come. Experts say the booklet serves as a chilling reminder of how the Nazi propaganda machine even extended to vulnerable schoolchildren.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, a historical documents expert at Mullocks auctioneers who will sell the booklet at Ludlow Racecourse next Wednesday, said: "You never cease to be amazed at depths the Nazi propaganda machine plunged in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War II. "Here you have a ten-year-old schoolboy who should be involving himself with childhood things, instead being used as a political pawn in the Nazis' evil game."


Kiwis commit chilling climate crime

Two New Zealand refrigeration engineers have been convicted of depleting the ozone layer - by letting the gas out of a drinks chiller. The country's Ministry for Economic Development prosecuted the two men in the first ever case taken under a 1996 law protecting the ozone layer. The pair released an ozone-depleting substance, chlorodifluoromethane HCFC22, into the atmosphere as they were repairing a drinks chiller, and ignored a warning that it was hazardous.

The ministry said it took the case as a warning to industry. The two were convicted and fined $NZ750 ($600) each. Permits are needed to handle HCFCs, which will be banned under an international agreement from 2015.


Scientists advocating for action are overselling the predictive capabilities of climate models

By Roger Pielke, Jr.

The famous physicist Niels Bohr is attributed with saying that "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." Anyone who pays attention to weather forecasts or economic predictions knows how true this is. But given that the future can't be predicted with perfect accuracy, seeing predictions fail is actually an important part of their usefulness. Whether one is faced with evacuating from a possible hurricane landfall or investing in a mutual fund, decision-making is improved when uncertainties are readily understood.

On the highly politicized issue of climate change, however, understanding uncertainties is made difficult when scientists advocating for action oversell the predictive capabilities of climate models, such as those of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But action on climate change makes sense even if many climate scientists oversell predictive capabilities.

Scientists oversell the predictive capacity of climate models when they claim that the most recent weather events occurring around the world are consistent with predictions from climate models. For example, last fall a scientist who had contributed to the most recent IPCC reports said that the intense southern California wildfires occurring at the time "are consistent with what the latest modeling shows." Similarly, in 2006 a Berkeley professor and climate change expert asserted that "the current heat waves throughout much of North America and Europe are consistent with the predictions of our global climate models." A quick Internet search will reveal countless scientists who have made such claims about the predictive prowess of climate models.

But what does it mean to say that some weather events are "consistent with" climate model predictions? The implication of such statements of course is that models are reliable and offer accurate predictions that have been borne out by experience. But unfortunately, the real answer is that saying that any recent weather events are "consistent with" model predictions is an empty statement.

All of these claims of consistency between recent weather and model-based predictions might lead one to ask, in principle, what observations of weather events would be inconsistent with predictions from climate models. Guess what? It turns out that nothing that could be observed over a time period less than a decade or more - short of abrupt and unprecedented climate change, like an ice sheet advancing on New York - would be inconsistent with climate model predictions.

There are good reasons for why predictions of climate models are not useful on short time periods of less than a few decades. Urs Neu, a climate scientist from Switzerland, says that climate models are not designed to tell us anything about the evolution of the climate system in the short term; rather, they "are designed to simulate the long-term behaviour as accurately as possible. Long-term behaviour means the trend over at least 20-30 years." Similarly, two climate modelers, Claudia Tebaldi and Reto Knutti, observed in a research paper that "it is important to note that climate projections, decades or longer in the future by definition, cannot be validated directly through observed changes. Our confidence in climate models must therefore come from other sources."

If climate models are designed to make predictions about trends in the global climate system over several decades, then there is nothing that can be said about a model's accuracy on time scales of less than a decade, much less one fire season, or a few heat waves, or any other transient phenomena. Consequently, any claim that recently observed weather events are "consistent with" predictions is actually quite misleading.

On a longer term, more can be said about predictive accuracy of climate model predictions. The first IPCC projections of future climate were issued in 1990, and with more than 17 years of observations since that prediction we can confidently state that the IPCC's 1990 "best guess" overstated the global temperature increase as well as sea level rise for the subsequent two decades. But such retrospective evaluations are typically dismissed because those predictions were made using outdated models based on earlier understandings. The IPCC issues predictions for 20- to 30-year periods into the future, and updates them every 6-7 years, so in practice its current predictive capabilities can never be evaluated against real world data. As Tebaldi and Knutti observe, "climate projections, decades or longer in the future by definition, cannot be validated directly through observed changes."

So in the debate on what to do about climate change, what are we to make of the overstated claims of predictive accuracy offered by many scientists?

Not surprisingly, the reason for overstated claims lies in the bitter and contested politics of climate change. Myanna Lahsen, an anthropologist who has studied climate modelers, finds that many of these scientists are acutely aware of the fact that any expressed "caveats, qualifications and other acknowledgements of model limitations can become fodder for the anti-environmental movement." She documents how, more than a decade ago, a prominent climate scientist warned a group of his colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, home of one of the main U.S. climate modeling efforts that informs the IPCC, to "Choose carefully your adjectives to describe the models. Confidence or lack of confidence in the models is the deciding factor in whether or not there will be policy response on behalf of climate change."

I witnessed this dynamic in practice while I was waiting to testify on climate policy before the U.S. Congress in 2006. A prominent climate scientist testifying on the panel appearing before mine was asked by a member of Congress about uncertainties in predictions from climate models. The scientist replied, enthusiastically and accurately, that there are a range of important uncertainties coming from scenario inputs and choices in parameterization schemes, instantly overwhelming his congressional audience with technical detail. Much later, and after a long break, the scientist requested an opportunity to clarify his earlier comments, and this time he said, "I would like to give you a little more direct answer to the question on reliability of climate models. I think they are reliable enough to be a very useful guide into the future."

Lost in the Manichean debate over climate change is the real significance of what climate models really are telling us: We should act on climate mitigation and adaptation not because we are able to predict the future, but because we cannot. The academic literature, far from public view, contains a much more realistic perspective on the uncertain predictive capabilities of climate models. Oxford University's David Frame and colleagues, all climate modelers, explain that "Rather than seeing models as describing literal truth, we ought to see them as convenient fictions which try to provide something useful."

They are useful because the predictions from models suggest that the climate patterns experienced in the past century or so may not be a useful guide to the future - but exactly how change might occur is uncertain. Ten years ago Simon Shackley and his colleagues warned that "The impression that climate change can be so predicted and managed is not only misleading, but it could also have negative repercussions should policy makers act on this assumption." By this they meant that "the societal perception that the `climate change problem' is being adequately handled could inhibit the emergence of, and support for, creative social, policy and economic responses to the challenge of coping with a possibly inherently unpredictable system such as climate."

The reality is that the future state of the climate is uncertain, and as such it represents a type of risk management problem. In 2002 Steve Schneider, a climate scientist at Stanford University and long-time advocate for action on climate change, explained "uncertainties so infuse the issue of climate change that it is still impossible to rule out either mild or catastrophic outcomes." Combatants in the climate debate congregate around the extremes, emphasize either mild or catastrophic outcomes as is convenient and overstate the certainty of such outcomes.

When scientists advocating action overstate the certainty of predictions, and policy-makers commit political and other resources based on those claims, they find themselves in a difficult situation because, according to Frame and colleagues, "they are likely to face strong criticism if they revise up their estimates of uncertainty in the relatively near future." Scientists who oversell the predictive capacity of climate models provide a basis for legitimate criticism by their political opponents, and in the process, actually create obstacles to action on climate change.

I have been asked by some of my colleagues why I raise these points, since action on climate change is a good thing and those questioning climate models typically are opposed to action. So what, I am told, if action on climate change is based on some exaggerations and false claims to certainty, isn't the end goal important enough to justify bending the truth just a bit? After all, those opposed to action often show no hesitation toward exaggeration and hyperbole.

My short answer to such questions is that false claims to certainty were exactly what got us into the Iraq war. A somewhat longer reply involves explaining how both science and democracy flourish when we are open and honest about what science can actually deliver. Effective action on climate change is more likely when we fully appreciate what science can, and cannot, do. We should expect more from our scientific community.



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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