Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Democrats to let offshore drilling ban expire

House Democrats will allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week. Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey is telling reporters that language continuing the moratorium will be omitted this year from a spending bill to keep the government in operating funds after Congress recesses for the election.

Republicans have made lifting the ban a key campaign after gasoline prices soared beyond $4 a gallon this summer and public opinion turned in favor of more drilling. President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling in July. The Interior Department estimates there are 18 billion barrels of recoverable oil beneath coastal waters now off-limits.


Below: Britain's Greenest newspaper blames increased incidence of Legionnaires' disease on global warming

As the figures from Britain's Hadley climate centre show, there has been no global warming since 1998, so the paper CANNOT be right! The disease may be exacerbated by hot weather but you don't need climate change to have hot weather! There have ALWAYS been spells of hot weather!

Britain has suffered its first deaths from infectious disease attributable to global warming, official figures suggest. Cases of Legionnaires' disease, the bacterial lung infection which kills more than one in 10 of those it infects, reached record levels in August and September and experts say the extreme summer weather is the most likely cause of the rise. Doctors say that as the world gets hotter, Britain could be threatened by diseases such as malaria, spreading from the tropics. In 2003, an estimated 2,000 UK deaths, mostly elderly people, were attributed to the 90-degree summer heatwave which was blamed on global warming. But the record levels of Legionnaires' disease reported by the Health Protection Agency this summer are believed to be the first example of an increase in infectious disease in Britain driven by climate change.

Legionnaires' disease is a bacterial infection spread through water. It is not transmitted from person to person and is caught only when infected water is inhaled as a vapour. Hotel showers are a particular risk. There were 128 cases of Legionnaires' in August, the highest since records began in 1980, and more than double the total in August 2005 of 63 cases. To the end of September this year, there have been 340 cases, almost 100 more than in the whole of last year, and the highest for the first nine months of any year. A total of 177 cases were diagnosed in August and September.

Public health experts blame the sudden leap on climate change. The hottest July on record, then a wetter than normal August are thought to have provided ideal breeding conditions for Legionella bacteria. Carol Joseph, a specialist in Legionnaires' at the HPA, said previous peaks had been linked to single outbreaks, such as that in Barrow-in-Furness in 2002 when 179 people were infected by a leaking cooling tower.

But the latest surge covers all regions and cannot be traced to one or two outbreaks. Dr Joseph said: "This latest peak [in August] is exceptional. We think this is some kind of weather effect. There are always more cases in August and September because of the warm weather and because more people stay in hotels. There is a definite link with hotels that have poor water systems and dodgy showers. Only a small proportion of these cases had travelled outside the UK.

Other countries such as Denmark had a similar rise in cases during hot spells of weather, Dr Joseph said. The annual total of cases in Britain is on course to exceed 400 for the first time this year. The total has exceeded 300 every year since 2002, having remained below 200 for the previous 20 years. Improved reporting had contributed to the rise.

Legionnaires' disease affects three times as many men as women and is commoner in those over 50, though it can strike at any age. It starts as a flu-like illness with muscle aches, fever and tiredness then pneumonia. It can be treated with antibiotics.

A Met Office spokesman said July was the hottest July since records began in 1659. In August, temperatures fell, rainfall was 10 per cent above average and sunshine 15 per cent below average. September was also the hottest on record. Asked about global warming, the spokesman said: "It is the sort of thing we would expect to see in accordance with the climate models."


UC hits tree-sitters with a richly deserved surprise

Berkeley's infamous tree-sitters have been hit with a rude surprise since they came down to earth: Judges are socking them with thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. Ironically, much of the money - which could total more than $10,000 per sitter - is going straight to the University of California, the very institution the tree-sitters were protesting as they tried to save a grove of trees outside Memorial Stadium.

"It's really vindictive," said an attorney for some the sitters, Dennis Cunningham. "They don't have this kind of money." Maybe, but university lawyer Michael Goldstein isn't making any apologies. "We've asked the judge to throw the book at them," Goldstein said flatly.

UC Berkeley estimates it spent more than $800,000 on police and other security measures during the 22 months sitters were up in the trees. The university spent $40,000 alone on the scaffolding that went up around the final tree during the last day of the protest this month. Now, the school wants its pound of flesh.

So far, most of the 15 to 20 protesters arrested in the past year have been hit with fines of about $100 for trespassing and little or no jail time. Once they were back on the street, however, the university hauled them back into court on contempt charges for violating an order issued in October by Judge Richard Keller of Alameda County Superior Court that banned people from sitting in the trees or doing anything to help the protesters already up in the branches.

Protesters Eric Eisenberg, Michael Schuck, Gregg Horton, Terri Slanetz and Matthew Taylor were found guilty last month of violating Keller's injunction. Each was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, and two were sentenced to serve five extra days in jail. The university is also seeking as much as $10,000 from each of them for its attorney fees.

Five more protesters are to go to trial on contempt charges Oct. 1, and UC plans to file a contempt complaint against six others later this month - including the final four tree-sitters who came down Sept. 9. Lawyers on both sides said the tree-sitters' chances of beating the contempt charges are slim. As Cunningham noted, "You were either up in the trees or not. What's to argue?" To which Goldstein added, "Who said free speech is always free?"



by Jeffrey A. Glassman, PhD


Classical and advanced signal analysis techniques applied to the climate data of global temperature, solar wind, and El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) reveal new events and correlations in graphical form. The results include:

1. Major state changes appear in the global temperature record around 1934.4 and 1979.5.

2. A major state change occurred in the solar wind index around 1937 to 1939, and a secondary state change occurred in the 1970s.

3. Major state changes occurred in the Southern Oscillation Index beginning about 1919.3 and 1979.4. A large state change occurred during the brief period of 1940.2 to 1942.0.

4. The state changes are real in the records, but may be due either to data acquisition artifacts or to real physical phenomena.

5. The Southern Oscillation Index has a weak cyclic behavior with a period of 3.38 years.

6. Global temperature lags the Southern Oscillation Index by about 5 months.

7. The global temperature record appears to suffer from excessive processing.

8. High correlations found by other investigators may be the result of prior data smoothing.

9. The low level of correlation between temperature and other parameters may be due to excessive noise, equivalently due to low signal to noise ratio. More importantly, it may be due to the closed loop gain of a mechanism in the climate, unknown to the Consensus on Climate, that regulates global surface temperature.

10. Global temperature is weakly correlated with ENSO. The SOI could account for 4.6% of the measured variation in global temperature.

11. Global temperature and the solar wind index are correlated. The solar wind index may contribute as much as 8.9% of the processed global temperature variations.

12. Global temperature lags the solar wind index by about two to five years.

13. ENSO and the Southern Oscillation affect the global surface temperature. The reverse, that temperature might affect either, is not true.

ENSO may, as the Consensus says, devastate, but it has only half the capacity of the solar wind to warm the planet. By omitting the solar wind, the Consensus underestimates the natural causes of global warming, simultaneously overestimating the anthropogenic sources by the equivalent of two ENSOs, assigning the error to carbon dioxide emissions.

Much more here

Straight out lies from the AP

Greenie writer Seth Borenstein admits below that the sun has cooled but then asserts that a cooling sun will not affect temperatures on earth! Quite aside from being intrinsically improbable, that is demonstrably false. The correlation between solar activity and climate cycles on earth has been known for over 100 years -- though the mechanism is non-obvious. But the recent work by Svensmark has provided a reasonable answer regarding the mechanism

The sun has dialed back its furnace to the lowest levels seen in the space age, new measurements from a space probe show. But don't worry - it's too small a difference to change life on Earth, scientists said Tuesday. In fact, it means satellites can stay in orbit a little longer.

The solar wind - a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun's upper atmosphere at 1 million miles per hour - is significantly weaker, cooler and less dense than it has been in 50 years, according to new data from the NASA-European solar probe Ulysses. And for the first time in about a century, the sun went for two months this summer without sunspots, said NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. That record was broken Monday when a cluster of eight sunspots surfaced. Sunspots are temporary regions of high magnetic activity that from Earth appear to be black splotches.

The cause for the sun's slight weakening seems to be a change in its magnetic flux, said Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. Why it's happening is a mystery, but it has fluctuated like this in the past. Weaker solar winds mean less drag on satellites so they can stay in orbit a bit longer. While that's good for satellites, it also means more space junk.

Normally the sun goes through an 11-year cycle of more, then fewer, sunspots and a similar cycle when it comes to solar wind strength. But scientists said Tuesday the sun is in "a very prolonged minimum." Typically a solar minimum lasts about a year, but this low point has gone on since the summer of 2006.

It is "like turning down the heat on a stove," said McComas, a scientist who used the Ulysses solar probe to document a significantly weaker solar wind. The 17-year-old space probe, which circles the sun from a distance of about 337 million miles, has been studying the environment above and below the poles of the sun. It is just months away from shutting down because of freezing fuel.

Recently, the solar wind has been about 14 percent cooler and 17 percent less dense, according to a paper by McComas in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

For the past 15 years or so, the sun's overall output seems to be lower than normal, even when it was at the maximum for its cycle about eight years ago, McComas said. It may be part of a centurylong trend, said Boston University space physicist Nancy Crooker.

Some people historically have connected sunspots to weather, such as the Old Farmer's Almanac. But solar scientists say there is no evidence to make any connection between solar activity and weather or long-term climate change.


New Australian envy tax watered down to almost nothing

The Greenies protect luxury car buyers!

The Federal Government's luxury car tax increase finally passed parliament's upper house tonight after being heavily amended by cross bench senators. The Government's four bills seek to lift the luxury car tax, which applies to cars worth more than $57,180, from 25 per cent to 33 per cent. The bills were defeated in the Senate earlier this month after Family First Senator Steve Fielding sided with the coalition to vote it down.

However, the Government resurrected the legislation after striking a deal with Senator Fielding to exempt primary producers and tourist operators from the increase. Senator Fielding's amendment was approved last night, against the wishes of the coalition. A Greens amendment to exempt fuel efficient cars from the tax was also passed. Under the Greens amendment, the tax would no longer apply to cars valued up to $75,000 which use no more than seven litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Twenty five imported car models - including the Audi A4, BMW 3 series and Jaguar X-type - would be exempted from the tax altogether as a result of the change.

Coalition front bencher Eric Abetz said only about 1500 of the one million cars sold in Australia each year would be affected by that change. "Nobody could argue that this is going to have a serious impact on climate change," Senator Abetz said. "Nothing but window-dressing."

The Senate also agreed to Senator Xenophon's request to apply a sunset clause to the tax's indexation to the controversial consumer price index for motor vehicles (CPIMV). It also approved Senator Xenophon's request to ensure the increase would not apply to people who entered into contracts before the night of the Federal Budget in May, when the Government announced its plan.

But the Senate rejected an Opposition proposal to have the tax increase applied only to vehicles worth more than $90,000. "This is just another part of the raid on the budget surplus," he said. Three of the four bills passed the Senate unchanged. The amended bill will now return to the lower house where the Government will approve the cross bench changes.

Government Senate leader Chris Evans said the legislation had passed with its major components intact. "We think it's a really useful measure, it provides revenue to the government, revenue that will assist us in dealing with really difficult economic times," he told the ABC. Senator Evans said he hoped the Opposition would abandon its stalling tactics and take a more constructive approach to the Government's other Budget bills.



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