Saturday, August 02, 2008

UK 'delusional' over climate change

The UK has massively overstated its reduction in carbon emissions, say two new reports which cast a harsh light on Britain's environmental policy. Government claims of reduced emissions are based on calculations which exclude significant contributing factors to global warming, the reports read. If aviation, shipping and the importing of goods are factored into the calculations UK greenhouse emissions are actually 49 per cent higher than reported. That means UK emissions have actually risen since the 1990s - contrary to government claims.

Both reports are by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in the University of York.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Steve Webb said: "The government has been unbelievably complacent about the UK's record on greenhouse gases. "The reality is that we have simply exported our emissions to countries that do the manufacturing that we used to do in the past."

Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "Rather than hiding behind dodgy data and relying on green gimmicks the government need to make urgent changes to move the country to a low carbon economy."

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Climate change "isn't happening" say experts in Spain

Climate change isn't happening was the main message of a course on the subject at the Universidad de Verano de Adeje (UVA) (Adeje summer university).

A team of experts in various aspects of the subject , with the exception of one, agreed with this tenet. The course was led by Jose Ramon Aravalo Sierra, Profesor of Ecology at the University of La Laguna, who refuted the usual claims that extreme weather conditions are already increasing, or that more forest fires were occurring.

Professor of Geography at the Madrid Complutense University, Maria Eugenia Perez, spoke about the actual temperature measurements around the globe. She recalled that most temperatures are recorded in urban areas where microclimates can be warmer, and the reduction of the number of stations at high latitudes since the collapse of the USSR, both of which could bias data upwards.

She also commented on the reliability of some data, and its short period of collection (some stations only for 50 years), but then showed that the general trend in the last 10 years has been slight cooling. This was after a cool period of around 1940-1970, which was followed by the rapid rise in temperatures to the end of the nineties which caused scientists to start thinking that global warming was happening. She warned against drawing conclusions about climate change from data sets of less than three sets of 30 years.

Two other eminent speakers, Chris Horner an American lawyer, and Gabriel Calzada, Professor of Economics at the University Rey Juan Carlos, spoke in strong terms against the Kyoto protocol, which both believed was not designed to reduce CO2 emissions, and was not in fact doing anything to reduce them.

Spain's rapid growth in the period since 1990 has left the government with a problem to resolve as the growth of Spain's emissions by 48% means it is virtually impossible for the it to meet its commitment to keep emissions growth to only 15%.

There was also a presentation by a journalist, Antonio Salazar, about the role of the media in popular hysteria about subjects such as climate change; and the final lecture was from Jose Maria Fernandez-Palacios, a Professor of Ecology at the University of La Laguna. He held a more conventional view that global warming was occurring and detailed the likely ecological consequences for the Canary Islands which is likely to involve a reduction in biodiversity.

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Is global warming causing hurricanes and wildfires? No, warming message morphs as Earth cools

Global Warming Committee chair Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently told students gathered at the U.S. Capitol that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina. "There now is no question that this harm is being caused by human activity. It's warming up the planet and melting the glaciers," he said. "The planet is running a fever."

Markey was not aware that global temperatures stopped warming in 1998 and since 2002 have been declining. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the 3,000 global ARGO diving buoys they deployed in 2003 have shown that the world's oceans have cooled, too.

This cooling has occurred even as CO2 increased 3.5 percent. A similar decoupling took place from the 1940s to the late 1970s, when temperatures fell as CO2 accelerated upwards into the post-war boom years. This on-again, off-again correlation suggests CO2 is not the primary driver of climate.

Rep. Markey also was not aware that in a NOAA press release, hurricane specialist Chris Landsea stated: "There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts." MIT's Kerry Emanuel, earlier a proponent of a global warming - hurricane link, published a new paper showing that even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.

Despite these new findings and defections, climate alarmists have adopted the position that all extremes of weather are due to man. They blamed the serious spring flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest on global warming even though they were caused by a cooling Earth, a return to a cold Pacific and a strong La Nina.

The National Wildlife Federation's Amanda Staudt noted in a press release: "Warmer air can carry more water, and this means more heavy precipitation in the central United States. Big Midwestern storms that used to be seen every 20 years or so will likely occur every four to six years by century's end."

But Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado responded in his Climate Science blog, Staudt presents no evidence that this flood event was due to warmer air and an increase in atmospheric water vapor, which has not increased over North America. She also ignored evidence that flood losses are actually decreasing in the United States.

Also, it was not warm. In fact, it was unusually cold. The last winter and spring period ranked as the 25th coldest out of 113 years for the north central states. The cold air suppressed the jet stream and storm track, resulting in heavy snows, spring floods and severe weather.

And though the 119 tornado deaths so far this year are tragic, they fall far short of more than 300 deaths recorded in 1965 and 1974, and the over 800 who died in 1927. Indur Glokany, an IPCC reviewer, reported that global mortality rates due to extreme weather have declined by 95 percent since the 1920s.

Despite the evidence, don't expect alarmists to concede anything on this issue anytime soon. They have too much of a vested interest in having you believe what they say is true. So expect them to blame any unusual weather on man-made climate change. As Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault's admonished the media "Global warming can mean colder; it can mean drier; it can mean wetter; that's what we're dealing with."

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In Science, Ignorance is not Bliss

Comment by Physicist Walter Cunningham, NASA Apollo 7 Astronaut

NASA has played a key role in one of the greatest periods of scientific progress in history. It is uniquely positioned to collect the most comprehensive data on our biosphere. For example, recently generated NASA data enabled scientists to finally understand the Gulf Stream warming mechanism and its effect on European weather. Such data will allow us to improve our models, resulting in better seasonal forecasts.

NASA's Aqua satellite is showing that water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, works to offset the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This information, contrary to the assumption used in all the warming models, is ignored by global warming alarmists.

Climate understanding and critical decision making require comprehensive data about our planet's land, sea, and atmosphere. Without an adequate satellite system to provide such data, policy efforts and monitoring international environmental agreements are doomed to failure. Our satellite monitoring capability is being crippled by interagency wrangling and federal budget issues. As much as a third of our satellites need replacing in the next couple of years.

NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it is becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science. Advocacy is replacing objective evaluation of data, while scientific data is being ignored in favor of emotions and politics.

There are excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the Sun and the Earth's temperature, while scientists cannot find a relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption, and global temperatures. But global warming is an issue no longer being decided in the scientific arena.

Saying the Earth is warming is to state the obvious. Since the end of the ice age, the Earth's temperature has increased approximately 16 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels have risen a total of 300 feet. That is certain and measurable evidence of warming, but it is not evidence of AGW-human-caused warming.

We can track the temperature of the Earth back for millennia. Knowing the temperature of the Earth, past or present, is a matter of collecting data, analyzing it, and coming up with the best answer to account for the data. Collecting such data on a global basis is a NASA forte.

I believe in global climate change, but there is no way that humans can influence the temperature of our planet to any measurable degree with the tools currently at their disposal. Any human contribution to global temperature change is lost in the noise of terrestrial and cosmic factors.

Our beautiful home planet has been warming and cooling for the last 4.8 billion years. Most recently, it has been warming-be it ever so slightly-but there is nothing unusual about it! The changes and rates of change in the Earth's temperature, just since the Industrial Revolution, have occurred many times in our climatic history. While climate scientists generally agree that the Earth's temperature is always changing, not many of them would say that humans are responsible for those changes.

None of this is to say there are not legitimate reasons to restrict emissions of any number of chemicals into the atmosphere. We should just not fool ourselves into thinking we will change the temperature of the Earth by doing so.

In a December 2007 Senate report, 400 prominent scientists signed a letter pointing out that climate change was a well-known natural phenomenon, and that adapting to it is far more sensible than attempting to prevent it. Their ranks included experts in climatology, geology, oceanography, biology, glaciology, biogeography, meteorology, economics, chemistry, mathematics, environmental sciences, engineering, physics, and paleo-climatology. Their message: When changes are gradual, man has an almost infinite ability to adapt and evolve.

The fearmongers of global warming base their case on the correlation between CO2 and global temperature, even though we cannot be sure which is cause and which is effect. Historically, temperature increases have preceded high CO2 levels, and there have been periods when atmospheric CO2 levels were as much as 16 times what they are now, periods characterized not by warming but by glaciation.

You might have to go back half a million years to match our current level of atmospheric CO2, but you only have to go back to the Medieval Warming Period, from the 10th to the 14th Century, to find an intense global warming episode, followed immediately by the drastic cooling of the Little Ice Age. Neither of these events were caused by variations in CO2 levels.

Even though CO2 is a relatively minor constituent of "greenhouse gases," alarmists have made it the whipping boy for global warming (probably because they know how fruitless it would be to propose controlling other principal constituents, H2O, CH4, and N2O). Since human activity does contribute a tiny portion of atmospheric CO2, they blame us for global warming.

Other inconvenient facts ignored by the activists: Carbon dioxide is a nonpolluting gas, essential for plant photosynthesis. Higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere produce bigger harvests.

In spite of warnings of severe consequences from rising seas, droughts, severe weather, species extinction, and other disasters, the U.S. has not been stampeded into going along with the recommendations of the UN Panel on Climate Change-so far. Even though evidence supports the American position, we have begun to show signs of caving in to the alarmists. With scientific evidence going out of style, emotional arguments and anecdotal data are ruling the day. The media subjects us to one frightening image of environmental nightmare after another, linking each to global warming. Journalists and activist scientists use hurricanes, wildfires, and starving polar bears to appeal to our emotions, not to our reason. They are far more concerned with anecdotal observations, such as the frozen sea ice inside the Arctic Circle, than they are with understanding why it is happening and how frequently it has occurred in the past.

After warnings that 2007 would be the hottest year on record and a record year for hurricanes, what we experienced was the coolest year since 2001 and, by some measures, the most benign hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere in three decades.

Even though recent changes in our atmosphere are all within the bounds of the Earth's natural variability, a growing number of people are willing to throw away trillions of dollars on fruitless solutions. Why do we allow emotional appeals and anecdotal data to shape our conclusions and influence our expenditures with the science and technology we have available at our fingertips? ....

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Cool summer posing challenges for gardeners in Minnesota

As the month of July winds down, home gardeners across the area have become increasingly worried about their prospects for harvesting many warm weather crops. The persistent cool weather this summer has slowed the growth of virtually all garden plants, but is posing the biggest challenge to those plants that need real heat to mature. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash and corn are all behind and could well run into the end of the growing season before reaching maturity.

"I doubt that some of these varieties will make it," said Kendall Dykhuis, an educator with the St. Louis County Extension Service in Virginia. According to Dykhuis, most area gardens are about three weeks behind, at least from where they've been in recent summers. "They could make it up, but it will take some heat to push it," said Dykhuis.

Marcia Mahoney is keeping her fingers crossed for some of that heat. Mahoney, an avid home gardener, is also the manager of the highly successful farmer's market in Ely. The market has found a niche in Ely on Tuesday nights in the summer, but so far this year she said shoppers have had pretty limited choices for freshly-grown produce.

"It has definitely had an effect on our growers," she said. "It's a pretty big impact, really." To date, only two growers, both of whom operate small greenhouses, have had any fresh vegetables to sell. Mahoney said she expects that to change soon. "Things are finally coming around. I had several of my growers say they'll be able to start bringing stuff this week."

But ripe homegrown tomatoes are still a luxury item at the farmer's market this year, and Mahoney isn't optimistic. Despite using row covers and even heaters earlier in the summer, Mahoney said tomatoes appear a long ways off. "They're blooming, but I don't think I have any tomatoes yet."

"I think we'll be picking lots of green tomatoes this year," said Becky Gawboy, whose large family of adopted children maintains a nearly half acre garden on their rural farmstead south of Tower. According to Gawboy, most of their heat-loving crops are well behind by recent standards, but not so much when compared to conditions in the late 1980s and 90s. "I've kept records on the garden since I've lived here. This is like the old days," she said. Indeed, many North Country gardeners used to take green tomatoes for granted, Gawboy noted.

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Ignore this missive from people-hating doctors

The British Medical Journal's insistence that people should have fewer children speaks to our misanthropic, Malthusian, baby-fearing times

We live in a culture that finds it increasingly difficult to value life. So it isn't surprising that even the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published an editorial calling on doctors to advise their patients to have fewer children. According to the authors of the editorial - life-long Malthusian Professor John Guillebaud and Pip Hayes, an Exeter-based GP - not having children is `analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high-carbon cars'. Newborn babies are a danger to the environment, they argue, and although they rhetorically state that `we must not put pressure on people', pressure is exactly what they want doctors to exercise as part of this new Malthusian crusade.

`We are not criticising those people in Britain who had large families in the past, because a lot of people had no inkling about the sustainability implications', Guillebeaud informed the UK Guardian (1). In fact, as a hard-line Malthusian zealot, Guillebeaud has been criticising people who breed `too much' for a very long time. All that has changed in recent years is the packaging of anti-natalist arguments.

In the past, Malthusians warned that overpopulation would lead to famine. When that argument disintegrated, they said overpopulation would undermine economic development. Later they claimed that overpopulation might assist the spread of communism, and more recently they have argued that it aids terrorism (lots of poor young men with no jobs apparently leads to apocalyptic violence).

Now they have latched on to environmentalism and the widespread concern about humanity's impact on the planet. What we have today is a new form of joined-up scaremongering, where the traditional fear of human fertility is linking up with anxieties about what humans are doing to the Earth.

King Herod's fear of the newborn was confined to one baby. Today's misanthrophic fear merchants have a far bigger target in their sights. One Australian professor of obstetric medicine, Barry Walters, believes the survival of the planet requires stringent controls on the number of children parents can have. He argues: 'Anthropogenic greenhouse gases constitute the largest source of pollution, with by far the greatest contribution from humans in the developed world. Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society. What then should we do as environmentally responsible medical practitioners? We should point out the consequences to all who fail to see them, including, if necessary, the ministers for health. Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and thereby rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a "Baby Levy" in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the "polluter pays" principle.' (2)

Throughout history, different cultures have celebrated birth as a unique moment, signifying the joy of life. The reinterpretation of a new birth as `greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour' speaks to today's degraded imagination, where carbon-reduction has become the supreme moral imperative. Once every newborn baby is dehumanised in this way - represented as little more than a professional polluter who is a `potent source of greenhouse gas emissions' - then it becomes difficult for people to read the BMJ editorial without nodding along in agreement.

If the birth of a baby is regarded as an unnecessary and unacceptable burden on the carrying capacity of the planet, then it's only a matter of time before a child's very existence will be regarded as a threat. One of the distinct features of contemporary environmentalism is its intense suspicion of the human species. Environmentalists' systematic spread of fear about the `human impact' promotes mistrust of people's motives, and in the end of people themselves. Going further down this route, the new demands for a carbon tax on fertility means that the defining identity of a newborn baby would be `Polluter'.

Subjecting the act of birth itself, that once-celebrated creation of a new life, to the `polluter pays' principle exposes the dark side of today's misanthrophic imagination.

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.

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1 comment:

Bishop Hill said...

It's not surprising that Guillebaud isn't criticising people who had large families in the past, since he has three children himself.