Thursday, June 12, 2008


A satirical comment:

So it's tornado chasing season and I usually try to get out to chase some storms down because this is what really cool, hip economist type guys do to impress the girls. And while dabbling on the internet I found this chart that showed where tornadoes occur and it occurred to me it is a nearly identical match to which countries enjoy 1st world status. i.e. - where there is the most tornadic activity there is also the most economic growth. Heck, even South Korea is plagued with tornadoes, but it's evil communist twin to the north is not.

This can only mean one things. CAPITALISTS ARE CONTROLLING THE GLOBAL WARMING TO BRING MORE TORNADOES TO THEIR COUNTRIES AND THUS MORE ECONOMIC GROWTH! Those greedy bastards! Hogging all the tornadic activity to themselves!

Of course, this is not much more outlandish than most theories tendered by leftists.


Bad Science. A grand tradition

By Roy Spencer

With the failure of the Lieberman-Warner global-warming bill in the Senate last Friday, I am reminded of the long and grand tradition the scientific community has had in promoting "bad science." (It is mere coincidence that the acronym for this term is "BS."). While the failure of the carbon cap-and-trade legislation was largely a result of economic concerns over what it would cost the country, its proponents will no doubt return next year with claims that no price is too great to save us from planetary destruction.

But I believe that the huge cost of "doing something" substantial about global warming will inevitably cause us to reexamine the science. Just how certain are we that recent warming really has been caused by SUVs spewing carbon dioxide and cows belching methane? After all, the greater the cost of the advertised fixes, the more certain we must be that the scientific consensus really is more than just a political statement.

And why should the science of global warming be so uncertain? Mostly because it is a whole lot easier to make scientific measurements than it is to figure out what those measurements are telling us about how the natural world works. The famous humorist and writer Mark Twain once said, "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

I consider the theory that global warming is caused by mankind to be just one more example of the continuing tradition scientists have of extrapolating well beyond what they think they know. In his 1883 book Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain also expressed perfectly the proclivity of scientists for turning observations of the natural world into long range predictions which were clearly outlandish.

Twain humorously extrapolated an observed change in the length of the Mississippi River forward and back in time by millions of years to demonstrate the absurdity of the conclusions one can reach when one assumes something currently observed will continue to happen at the same rate, indefinitely. Twain famously concluded, "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture from such a trifling investment of fact."

Possibly the most prolific purveyor of failed environmental predictions is the MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich. Beginning in the 1960s, Dr. Ehrlich embarked on a series of premonitions that included dead oceans by 1979, hundreds of thousands of smog deaths in cities, pesticide-related cancers reducing average life expectancy to 42 years by 1980, and such an abuse of pesticides that would cause other countries to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. out of fear of global poisoning.

For some strange reason, the more dire the prediction, the better chance of receiving a prestigious award for scaring the rest of humanity with it - Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize comes to mind.

Now, I am assuming that your local newspaper has already kept you sufficiently warned concerning the many different ways that you will suffer a premature death, most of which are now ultimately the result of manmade global warming. But one you might not have heard about is the recent decline in Great Lakes water levels which is (of course) also due to global warming. For instance, Lake Superior water levels in 2007 reached near-record lows.

I say "near-record" because a similar decline was observed in the early 1920s which culminated in the record low lake level of 1926. From reading media reports of the 1926 event, one can see the continuing tradition of experts to predict events that non-experts (the public) recognize to be foolish. A Duluth Herald editorial at the time gave the common sense explanation for low lake levels: "The weather bureau has issued a report on low lake levels.the Great Lakes watershed is in a cycle of light precipitation.levels will come back when.the dry cycle is succeeded by a wet one. There have been dry cycles before..and for every dry cycle there has been a wet one to follow."

But the "experts" had a very different take on the issue, as reported in the May 27, 1926 issue of Daily Mining Journal: "Ultimate extinction of the American side of the falls at Niagara is mathematically certain unless water levels in the Great Lakes are raised."

I have a difficult time reading that statement without laughing. But I suspect it wasn't meant to be a joke. The silliness of such statements isn't a failure of the scientific method, but a reflection of the fact that scientists are - believe it or not - human. I have personally heard scientists in leadership positions express the opinion that we need to stop producing carbon dioxide, no matter what the science says. These are the anointed ones who keep us informed on the "scientific consensus" on global warming, and who proclaim that "the debate is over."

While the global-warming debate will probably slow down for some number of months, it will likely return with a vengeance sometime after the fall elections. This is, of course, unless our eight-year stretch of no warming continues. Since January of 2006 when Al Gore announced we have only ten years left to save ourselves, the globally averaged satellite measured temperature of the lower atmosphere has fallen by one degree Farenheit. Last month was the fifth-coolest month in the 30-year satellite record.

If global warming doesn't get its act together pretty soon, there will be a lot of scientists (and more than a few politicians) who will look pretty foolish - but only to those who remember the foolish predictions. Since we still remember a few scientists in the 1970s who were announcing the arrival of a new ice age, I am hopeful that we will also be reminded of the catastrophic warming forecasts when they also fail.

But by then we will have moved on to new kinds of environmental catastrophes to predict and wring our hands over. After all, we scientists are human, too, and we must preserve our traditions.



Every day we hear that Britain is facing a 'fuel crisis'. The world oil price breaks records every week. The cost of petrol and gas soars. Foreign suppliers of gas and oil are holding Britain to ransom and charging exorbitant prices. The average family, we are told, faces fuel bills of 1,500 pounds a year. Yet all this pales into insignificance compared with the real energy crisis roaring down on Britain with the speed of a bullet train as, within six or seven years, we stand to lose 40 per cent of all our existing electricity-generating capacity.

Thanks to decades of neglect and wishful thinking by successive governments - and now the devastating impact of a directive from Brussels - we are about to see 17 of our major power stations forced to close, leaving us with a massive shortfall.

Even after 2010, the experts say our power stations cannot be guaranteed to provide us with a continuous supply, meaning that we face the possibility of power cuts far worse than those which recently - largely unreported - blacked out half-a-million homes. By 2015, when the power stations which meet two-fifths of our current electricity needs have gone out of business, we could be facing the most serious disruption to our power supplies since the 'three-day week' of the 1970s.

But the impact of such power cuts on the Britain of today would be far more damaging than they were in the time of Edward Heath 35 years ago. Compared with then, our dependence on continuous electricity supplies is infinitely greater - thanks, above all, to our reliance on computers. We are no longer talking just about factories shutting down or lighting our homes with candles. Without computers, our entire economy would grind to a halt. Scarcely an office, shop, bank or hospital in the land would be able to function. Our railway system would be immobilised. Road traffic would be in chaos as traffic lights ceased to operate and petrol stations closed down. Yet this is the scale of the catastrophe which may be facing us, thanks to the failure of government to give Britain a proper energy policy.

Scaremongering? Just look at the hard facts. At the moment, to meet Britain's peak electricity demand, our power stations need to provide a minimum 56 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. Ten gigawatts, nearly a fifth, comes from our ageing nuclear power stations, all but one of which are so old that over the next few years they will have reached the end of their useful working life. On top of that, however, we shall also have to shut down nine more major power stations - six coal-fired, three oil-fired - forced to close by the crippling cost of complying with an EU anti-pollution law, the so-called Large Combustion Plants directive. This will take out another 13GW of capacity, bringing the total shortfall to 22GW - a staggering 40 per cent of the 56GW we have today.

Waking up at last to the scale of the abyss that is yawning before us, our Government - not least Prime Minister Gordon Brown - has realised the only way to avert this disaster must be to build as fast as possible at least 20 new power stations, gasfired, coal-fired or nuclear.

Part of the cause of this crisis was that, for more than two decades, we went for gas-fired power stations, in the days when we still had abundant supplies of cheap gas from the North Sea. But that is fast running out. Within 12 years, we shall have to import 80 per cent of our gas, at a time when world prices are soaring - and it would be folly to become over-dependent for our energy on countries as politically unreliable as Mr Putin's Russia, where gas is produced.

Building new coal-fired stations might have made more sense if we hadn't closed down most of our own coal industry, and if this didn't now involve the colossal extra costs imposed by the new EU rules. As we saw from the recent response to a proposed new coal-fired plant in Kent, any mention of coal-burning has the green lobby screaming up the wall.

As the Government itself has belatedly recognised, by far the most sensible way to try to fill the gap would be to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. But how on earth is this to be done? There are only a handful of companies equipped to build these nuclear power plants, and countries all over the world are queuing up to place their own orders. Until October 2006, the British Government itself owned one such firm, Westinghouse, but in an act of supreme folly we sold it to Toshiba in Japan for a knockdown 2.8 billion - and it has 19 new orders on its books already.

Our best hope, it seems, is the state-owned French company EDF (ElectricitÈ de France), which has recently been bidding to buy British Energy, owner of almost all our existing nuclear power stations. These would provide the most obvious sites on which to build new ones.

France, of course, went for nuclear energy in a big way just when we were retreating from it - having been world leader for 20 years - and currently derives 80 per cent of its electricity from 58 nuclear power stations. But with such a worldwide demand for new nuclear power, what chance is there that even EDF could provide enough reactors to meet our needs, when building each new one might take ten years or more?

Yet another reason why we have allowed this mindbogglingly serious crisis to creep up on us has been the obsession of those who rule us - both in London and in Brussels - with 'renewable' energy. Incredibly, we are 'obliged' by the EU, within 12 years, to generate no less than 38 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources - such as tens of thousands of wind turbines - when currently only 4 per cent comes from renewables, with wind farms providing barely 1 per cent. As our Government privately recognises, we have no hope of achieving even a fraction of that target (we would anyway need to build a mass of new conventional power stations simply to supply back-up when the wind is not blowing).

Whichever way it is looked at, Britain is threatened by what, thanks to years of dereliction and misjudgment, has become arguably our most serious potential crisis of modern times. Politically, the blame for this astounding mess lies in all directions - with the Tories, with Labour, with Brussels, with those smugly shortsighted 'environmentalists'. But all that matters now is that we put the need to avert this disaster right at the top of our national political agenda. We need to get on with solving as terrifying a problem as our politicians have ever faced.


Planetary perspective

Anthony Watts has a wonderful post up that puts the Earth and its climate in physical perspective. Yes, there are pictures and a pretty cool animation file, but there is also this:
What is very clear though, when you look at history, and the graph above, is that our earths atmosphere and resulting climate is extremely sensitive to variations in solar output. The sweet center point seems to be about 1365 watts per square meter of irradiance.what we consider as "normal" climate. Take 1.5 watts/sq. meter away, and we get significant cooling, harsh winters, cool summers, and increases in ice and glaciers. Add 1.5 watts,/sq. meter and we get hotter summers, mild winters, and melting of ice and glaciers.

The scariest thing we have learned about climate change -- not admitted by most people who want to shape public policy on account of it -- is how little control we have over it. The sun can twitch ever so slightly in either direction and humanity confronts a demographic disaster. A bit too cool, and the most agriculturally productive areas suffer severe crop failures. A bit too hot, and the vast numbers who live at sea level have to migrate at somebody else's expense.

Scary stuff indeed.


Congress Fiddled With Warming While Earth Cooled

Last week Democrats tried to kill the economy in the name of solving a problem that doesn't exist. Republicans should hang this bill around their necks in every district where an incumbent voted for the woefully misnamed and deservedly DOA Climate Security Act, technically S.3036. Asking Americans to pony up even more at the pump with already record gasoline prices creeping higher almost daily seems offensive enough. But compelling such burden under the guise of moral imperative to curb global warming at a time when the planet is actually cooling rings downright obscene.

And that's why last week's cavalcade of Senators opposing the Act -- which would have directed the EPA to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases -- entirely on economic grounds was so confounding.

Don't get me wrong -- the fiscal arguments against the bill's draconian business regulations were inexorable -- its massive consequent spike in energy costs would be nothing short of ruinous to the nation. An April EPA analysis of the bill estimated a 53 cents per gallon increase in the price of gasoline and a 44% jump in electricity costs by 2030 should it become law. Even those figures precariously assumed a 150% increase in nuclear and "significant use of biomass" for electricity generation; otherwise costs will be "significantly higher." Add a projected net loss of almost a trillion dollars in GDP by that very same year and this blatantly socialistic power-grab attempt deserved the pauper's funeral it received on financial grounds alone. That's without even considering that there's no proof whatsoever that the actions of mankind can influence global temperatures even one degree Celsius in either direction.

With Americans struggling to keep food on the table in lighted rooms of solvent homes as soaring energy costs drive prices painfully northward across the board, a bill that would hemorrhage thousands of additional dollars from each family's survival-chest annually would seem inopportune at best. Indeed, this public display of politicians debating climate science in terms of macroeconomics, while betraying a comprehension of neither by a disturbing majority within their ranks, was a wonder to behold in these truly trying times.

Green dreams were peddled. Imagine the insolence of countering the economic-suicide predicted from arbitrary and inherently unmonitorable CO2 limits with unfounded promises of some imaginary "green job" boom. Or basing short-term impact projections on the advent of renewable energy "technological advances," naively citing alternately the Apollo Mission and Manhattan Project as prognosticators of success's inevitability. And amid all these fantasies, legislating likewise non-existent Carbon capture and sequestration technology shackles upon the only energy source realistically capable of providing the nation's electricity for decades to come: Coal. Particularly given no proof whatsoever that the actions of mankind can influence global temperatures even one degree Celsius in either direction.

It's no secret how much liberals covet European models for just about everything. Yet, Europe's even less intrusive attempts at cap-and-trade have failed miserably, wreaking havoc upon economies with no significant decrease in atmospheric carbon levels. Britain's efforts to legislate carbon limits have sparked trucker and taxi-driver strikes and protests and even threaten Labor's majority. In fact, climate legislation across the pond has failed so miserably that a new poll found "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."

Yet, despite all the consumer misery endured, CO2 levels in Great Britain still increased by 3.39% between Kyoto ratification in 1997 and 2004. True, the global average was 18.05%, but the United States, whose refusal to ratify allowed continued economic growth, managed a mere 6.57% increase. Compare that to other Kyoto signers like Japan (10.61%), Russia (15.61%) or Italy (15.53%). In fact, lib-beloved France, with all its Carbon pontification, barely beat the US (6.21%), despite deriving the majority of its electricity from carbon-neutral nuclear plants.

S.3036 ostensibly gambled on non-existent technology to accomplish essentially nothing at inescapably catastrophic costs.

The Silence of the Shams

GOP failure to challenge the act's underlying premise of man's influence on climate not only circumvented the strongest case against it, but also set perilous precedent by implying acceptance of the unaccepted in the halls of congress. Such oblique capitulation throughout the MSM, the leftie blogosphere and pop culture has already handed the alarmists a victory of sorts. And a Senate floor debate tacitly based upon the junk which is the Democrats' science can only serve to further dye the fraudulent claim of "consensus" into the ever docile fabric of public psyche.

Consequently, from the outset of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 debate, the greenie claim that the global warming "debate has ended" appeared as though a foregone conclusion. And everyone from Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to John Warner (R-VA) to Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was thus handed the pulpit from which to preach that we have no choice but to act now regardless of the economic fallout involved -- to do otherwise would be downright immoral. During last week's Democrat radio address Boxer waxed Goraclesque:
"There are some in the Senate who insist that global warming is nothing more than science fiction. These are the same kind of voices who said that the world was flat, cigarettes were safe, cars didn't need air bags -- long after the rest of us knew the truth."

And with this shifty alarmist sleight-of-tongue (intentionally omitting the "anthropogenic" prefix), the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works chair set the tone for debate. Not whether or not mankind's Carbon footprint stinks, but rather what steps are necessary to assuage its feculence. A June 2nd piece at WaPo lamenting the Senate's probable failure to pass S.3036 (for now) further exemplified the left's disregard for the science by stating that:
"The world has clamored for U.S. leadership on climate change. Yet for seven years the Bush administration denied and dithered while the planet warmed."

An interesting accusation, particularly considering that the planet stopped warming 2 years before Bush took the oath in 2001, has been cooling since 2002 and that this year's was the fourth coldest May since 1979.

That's right -- the University of Alabama, Huntsville just published its satellite-derived temperature anomalies for May. The figures depict a global temperature drop of 0.195øC between April and May, and a drop of 0.379øC since May of last year. Anthony Watts, one of myriad scientists attributing recent cooling (and global temperature anomalies overall) to the activity of that yellow dwarf star at the center of our solar system and other historically correlative natural forces, notes that: [emphasis in original]
"Even more impressive is the change since the last big peak in global temperature in January 2007 at 0.594øC, giving a 16 month ?T of -0.774øC which is equal in magnitude to the generally agreed upon `global warming signal' of the last 100 years."

Please consider those words carefully. And also that, as previously noted, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently confirmed that an impending phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation will likely bring colder temperatures for as many as the next 20-30 years.

So amid all the dreadful economics, the Democrats were actually proposing the single largest government intrusion into the nation's economy since WWII rationing in order to stop something that stopped almost 10 years ago. And which, despite continually rising atmospheric CO2 levels, exhibits no signs of restarting. A socialistic solution in search of a problem if ever there were one.

Das Klima Kapital

Have I mentioned that there's no proof whatever that the actions of mankind can influence global temperatures even one degree Celsius in either direction? In last Tuesday's NRO, Lawrence Solomon reminded us that Lieberman-Warner is based primarily upon the premise that there exists "scientific consensus on [manmade] global warming." And that this over-talked talking point is based largely upon the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's headline of "2500 Scientific Expert Reviewers."

Even if true, why then does Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine's petition against global warming alarmism continue to add signatures to its over 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 with PhDs? Just who are the UN's "expert reviewers" whose opinions have been elevated to the realm of "indisputable?" Solomon contacted the Secretariat of the IPCC to learn the names of these 2,500 scientists and just what exactly they endorsed. Writes Solomon:
"I planned to canvas them to determine their precise views. The answer that came back from the Secretariat informed me that the names were not public, so I would not be able to survey them, and that the scientists were merely reviewers. The 2,500 had not endorsed the conclusions of the report and, in fact, the IPCC had not claimed that they did. Journalists had jumped to the conclusion that the scientists the IPCC had touted were endorsers and the IPCC never saw fit to correct the record. There is no consensus of 2,500 scientist-endorsers. Moreover, many of those 2,500 reviewers turned thumbs down on the studies that they reviewed - I know this from my own interviews with them, conducted in the course of writing a book about scientists who dispute the conventional wisdom on climate change."

So why champion a bill that gambled on non-existent technology to accomplish essentially nothing at inescapably catastrophic costs to solve a non-problem that no one has the slightest idea how to solve anyway?

Addressing the National Press Club last month, Czech President Vaclav Klaus described the government control over business afforded by cap-and-trade as "something which resembles very much the dreams of communist central planners." And while Lieberman-Warner, which would have extracted trillions of dollars from the economy by selling greenhouse gas credits to American industry, already fit that bill, the so-called Boxer Substitute Amendment would bring a smile to the face of comrade Marx himself. Responding to claims that cap-and-trade would harm poorest Americans the most, Boxer's was a typical liberal fix that "sets aside a nearly $800 billion tax relief fund through 2050, which will help consumers in need of assistance related to energy costs." Translation - control the nation's commerce while redistributing its profits.

In 1867, Karl Marx argued that capitalism's cycle of labor exploitation could not endlessly sustain itself and would ultimately be its doom. Modern greenies insist that capitalism's cycle of environmental exploitation will not endlessly sustain itself and will ultimately be not only its doom - but the entire planet's. Cap-and-trade thus represents the perfect liberal synergy of environmentalism and socialism.

With both energy costs and atmospheric carbon levels on the rise while global temperatures fall, one might expect prudent policymakers to adopt a watch-and-wait philosophy over the next 10 years or so. But the envirosocialists are instead feeling the heat to enact their green-red social reforms before the "consensus" lie is exposed -- and the public's hypochondriacal fever cools.

All the more reason why Republican senators should have scooped up handfuls of nascent practical science and with it buried the decaying piles of junk science that shelter the counterfeit arguments coming from the other side of the aisle. And Friday's defeat of S.3036 doesn't change that imperative one iota.

Yes, having failed to muster the 60 votes (48-36) necessary to overcome a GOP filibuster and move to final consideration, Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to pull the bill from the floor. But with both Presidential nominees supporting cap-and-trade and likely Democrat gains in both houses, this insidious scheme may smell funny, but it's by no means dead. Especially with a majority of the citizenry reading headlines the likes of Republican lawmakers block US climate bill still of the mind that their carbon-spewing lifestyles somehow threaten the world of their descendancy.

So when next the battle wages, government topography, public hysteria and lower energy costs might coalesce to favor the alarmists' scare tactics over the economic realities. That's why then -- as now and before - disputing and debunking the sham science will be key to curing this greenhouse gas dementia once and for all.


NYT 1993: ' Study of Greenland Ice Finds Rapid Change in Past Climate'

The next time some New York Times reporter wants to write about how man is responsible for warming the planet, maybe he should take a look at an amazing article his paper published on July 15, 1993, largely refuting any connection between the burning of fossil fuels and rising temperatures. Written by Walter Sullivan, "Study of Greenland Ice Finds Rapid Change in Past Climate" addressed findings that suggest "the period of stable climate in which human civilization has flourished might be unusual, and that the current climate may get either warmer or colder much more quickly than had been believed -- in spans of decades or even less." Doesn't sound like today's hysterical press claims concerning global warming, does it? Neither does this:
The scientists said their data showed that significantly warmer periods and significantly colder periods had occurred during the last interval between glacial epochs, about 115,000 to 135,000 years ago. They said they could not tell whether that meant similar changes were in store. Their findings were reported today in two papers in the journal Nature....

The new studies found that the average global temperature can change as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit in a couple of decades during interglacial periods, [Dr. J. W. C. White of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research of the University of Colorado] said. The current average global temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wow. You mean natural forces -- i.e. unrelated to anything done by man! -- can create temperature swings of 18 degrees in a couple of decades? And folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore, along with most in the media and an overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress are advocating economically destabilizing legislation all because temperatures have risen about one degree in the past 150 years? But there was more:
The research on the last period between glaciers is considered important because it may provide hints about the effects of rising levels of atmospheric gases, like carbon dioxide, that have a warming effect similar to that caused by the glass in a greenhouse. "As the last interglacial seems to have been slightly warmer than the present one," the new report said, "its unstable climate raises questions about the effects of future global warming."

Pay particular attention to this next segment:
At one point between the last two glacial epochs, the climate melted enough polar ice to raise sea levels some 30 feet. As noted by a member of the drilling team, Dr. David A. Peel of the British Antarctic Survey, it was so warm in England that hippopotamuses wallowed in the Thames and lions roamed its banks.

And this happened without the anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels? How can that be? In his commentary, Dr. White wrote:
"We humans have built a remarkable socioeconomic system during perhaps the only time when it could be built, when climate was sufficiently stable to allow us to develop the agricultural infrastructure required to maintain an advanced society. We don't know why we have been so blessed, but even without human intervention, the climate system is capable of stunning variability. "If the Earth came with an operating manual, the chapter on climate might begin with a caveat that the system has been adjusted at the factory for optimum comfort, so don't touch the dials."

Don't touch the dials. Amen to that, brother!



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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