Monday, September 01, 2008


Unusually cool weather from North to South in Australia. See three current reports below. And Australia is a big slice of the earth's landmass. See map.

Up until a couple of years ago, even isolated episodes of hot weather were proclaimed as "proof" of global warming. Now, however, we have endless reports of unusually cold weather from all over the world but they are always attributed to "normal variation". Could it be clearer that we are dealing with Leftist politics rather than science?

Coldest South Australian August in 35 years

ADELAIDE has recorded its coldest August in more than 35 years. The city had an average temperature of 14.8C for the last month of winter. That compared with a usual average of 16.6C for August. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Allan Beattie said the previous record for a cold August was in 1970 when the average temperature was 14.4C. But the coldest August was in 1951 when the average temperature was 14.1C.

Adelaide's winter this year also had a below-average temperature of 15.5C, compared with the usual average of 16C. Last month was also wetter than usual for August. Adelaide received 85mm of rain compared with an average of 66.5mm, the wettest August since 2005. However, winter as a whole received average rainfall of 222mm of rain.

Adelaide's coldest maximum temperature this winter was 11.1C on July 7, Mr Beattie said, while the coldest minimum temperature was 0.7C on July 28.


Sydney August was coldest in 64 years

SYDNEY'S global warming sceptics have a new bit of ammunition - the harbour city just experienced its coldest August in 64 years. But the skies are expected to clear in September, that is once the current rainy spell clears later this week. With official monthly figures released today, meteorologists say Sydney is likely to clock an average temperature of 12.7C, the lowest since World War II.

Some suburbs experienced their chilliest August on record including Canterbury, Homebush, Penrith, and Richmond - all which started keeping records 12 years ago, along with Bankstown, Parramatta and Prospect Dam, which began keeping records 37 years ago. "They broke minimum temperature records," Weatherzone meteorologist Matt Pearce said.

He said the extreme - by NSW standards - cold was caused by a "longways trough", a large system pushing west to east, over the state. "There's no real indication that September's going to be as cold as August was."


Brisbane records coldest August in eight years

THE weather experts have confirmed what Brisbane people suspected - the city has just shivered through its coldest August in at least eight years. It also was the driest since 2001, with Brisbane picking up just 16mm of rain, below the long-term norm of 35mm.

Brisbane recorded an average minimum of 9C and an average maximum of 22C, slightly down on the long-term normal temperature for the month of 23C, Weatherzone meteorologist Matt Pearce said. "This made it the coolest August in terms of daytime temperatures since records began at the site in 2000," he said. "In fact, on the 18th, the temperature struggled to just 17C - the coldest August day in three years."

August nights also were cool in Brisbane. Gladstone, Yeppoon, Emerald, Toowoomba and Rainbow Beach also set record August lows. Wetter and warmer conditions are expected for the first week of September, with rain and maximum temperatures of 19C to 21C forecast to Friday.


Has Autumn come early to Britain?

With purple blooms of heather on the hills, crops of berries in the hedgerows and huge numbers of fungi fruiting around the country, the British countryside looks to have entered Autumn a month earlier than normal

Botanists and phenologists are reporting that the recent unseasonably miserable summer weather has caused widespread disruption to the normal ebb and flow of Britain's flora and fauna. On the rolling moors of Scotland and Yorkshire, dramatic blooms of heather have come out far earlier than normal while wild berries, which are normally the harbingers of autumn, have appeared on bushes nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

Fungi has also enjoyed a bumper year and has been spotted sprouting on lawns and meadows in huge numbers for this time of the season. Mosses and liverworts in woodlands, which are normally shrivelled and dry over the summer months, have also flourished in the wet and humid August this year.

Botanists have reported unusual behaviour from flowers such as wood cranesbill and wisteria which have flowered twice within a few months. They believe the unsettled conditions have tricked the plants into believing it is spring again.

David Knot, curator of outdoor collections at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, said: "We had an excellent spring and together with the wet and humid summer it has led to a really good growing year. "In the south east of Scotland the wet conditions seem to have caused the fungi to appear in quite large numbers and the heather on the hills is looking spectacular."

But the abnormal August weather has also caused concern for some of the country's best loved animals and birds. Moth numbers have been drastically low, with some wildlife centres reporting half the average number of the insects compared to the previous 20 years. The early berry season has also worried some wildlife experts who fear that the crops, which provide vital food for animals and birds in the lead up to the cold winter months, may disappear too early. Dave Leech, head of the nest record scheme at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: "If the berry crop is extended then it could be a very good year for birds that eat them, as it will help them survive the winter, but if is early and short then it could be tough. "This year has been a poor breeding year for many birds like robins and blackbirds."

At the Cumbria Wildlife Trust's garden in Plumgarth, staff have reported lush moss carpets beneath the trees while rowan trees in the region have produced displays of golden-orange berries due to the mild and wet summer. Peter Bullard, director of the trust, said: "The other strange thing is that quite a few early summer flowers are reflowering. Wood cranesbill usually flowers in early June in Cumbria, making the roadsides a beautiful pale purple. This August the wood cranesbills have started flowering again, as have the wisteria. It's like a second spring, without a winter."

Mushrooms and fungi have sprung up in fields and woods in huge numbers in many parts of the country. Fungi often remain dormant beneath the ground for years until they get wet enough conditions to fruit, but the wet and humid weather has been perfect. The Woodland Trust, which runs a project monitoring reports of the changing seasons, has already had five reports of the fly agaric fungus, which is normally seen in September and October. The project has also received 465 records of ripe autumn berries appearing on a range of plant species, with the first appearing in Portsmouth on 13 July. Last year the first report of a ripe autumn berry was on 19 August.

In southern England, leaves on some trees have also started to change colour, but Dr Kate Lewthwaite, manager of the Nature's Calendar Project at the Woodland Trust, said this was mainly due to poor sunlight levels through the past month. She said: "It is not yet cold enough for the leaves to start changing colour, although species like the horse chestnut have had a bad year with diseases like bleeding canker and leaf miner."

This August has been far wetter than average. The daytime temperatures have also been cooler than normal but the nights have been warmer. In England the maximum temperature this August has been more than a degree cooler than the average reading of 19.6C. But forecasters claim that far from facing an early start to autumn, Britain could expect to enjoy an Indian summer with warmer, sunnier conditions returning to the country through September.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: "It has been a very wet and humid August, but it is well within the natural variance of a British summer. The start of September is looking considerably better and more settled so we can expect it to be warmer with more sunshine."


August skiing in Europe?

Warm temperatures on Europe's glaciers have led some summer ski resorts to close early, but the majority remain open and the leading snow-reporting service has snow depth details for all of them. The company tracks snow conditions several times daily, year round, at more than a thousand European ski resorts, including the dozen that are currently offering summer snow sports. Remarkably, ski areas in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland have all reported fresh snow falling at times over the past fortnight.

The Tux glacier in Austria was amongst those recording fresh snowfall in the past week, topping up snow depths on the glacier to 105cm. Although temperatures have been variable, reaching +9C degrees at the bottom of the glacier ski area and +4C at the top, the centre currently has 13km of piste open , served by the three giant Glacier Bus lifts, one chair and five drag lifts. The ski day starts at 8.15 in the morning with the ski area winding down by 1pm daily because of the heat. The action then moves to the Treffpunkt Panoramaterrasse restaurant which also has specials on between 11am and 1pm. The lifts back down run to 4.30pm so there's no need to hurry!

You can also ski on the Dachstein Glacier, which has two kilometers of piste on a 180cm base available although the terrain park is now closed until (hopefully) September. The Molltal glacier is currently running three lifts, serving nine kilometers of slopes. A fourth choice, Kaprun, has about 70cm of snow on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier and five runs open served by six lifts. Several more glacier ski areas in Austria are due to re-open in September, including the Kaunertal, Pitztal and Stubai areas...

The Matterhorn Ski Paradise in Switzerland, above Zermatt and also accessed from Cervinia in Italy, is Europe's highest ski area, one of the largest summer snow operators, and one of the few remaining year-round operators. Following recent snowfalls glacier snow depths are around 190cm with 10km of runs available served by six lifts. The resort is currently installing a pioneering new snowmaking system from Israel that can make snow in plus temperatures which the resort hopes will bridge a piste-gap that has grown at the base of the glacier where it has melted away, so skiers no longer need to walk to the lift station but can ski there as they could 20 years ago.

Norway's three summer ski destinations remain open. Galdhoppigen has two kilometers of skiing and a snow depth of 180cm, Folgefonn four kilometers of piste and a snow depth of 120cm and Stryn five kilometres and a 150cm base.

More here

North Pole to remain frozen

Another Warmist prediction fails

Santa can rest easy. It’s looking like the ice at the North Pole won’t melt to water next month, as had been feared. It would have been the first time in thousands of years that the most northerly place on the planet would have been ice-free.“It’s quite unlikely at this point,” Walt Meier a research scientist at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, said today.

The ice in the Arctic Ocean is at near historic lows, and breaks records every couple of years due to human-caused global warming, the scientists at NSIDC say. This spring, it was looking like the ice might retreat so far that the North Pole itself would be ice-free for at least a day in September – the height of the ice-melt season. The chances were great enough that the scientists at NSIDC were laying almost even odds on it in an office pool.

But while global warming is playing an important role, seasonal variability does, too. And this summer turned out to be a little cooler than last summer, when the record for ice retreat was set, Meier said. “We only have about two or three weeks more of ice melt, and it’s not going to make it to the North Pole,” Meier said.

The Arctic Ocean has two types of ice. One type is the seasonal ice that starts forming in late September, typically reaches 10 to 15 feet thick, and may or may not survive the summer’s heat. The second type is the perennial ice that lasts year after year -- at least it has until the last couple decades when so much of it has melted.

NSIDC scientists got interested in a possibly ice-free North Pole this year when they noticed that that perennial ice had retreated south of the North Pole. That left only the seasonal ice. But the season was cooler than expected, so the seasonal ice is holding. “We’re not going to set a record every year,” Meier said.

More here

Record low for climate science

By Patrick Michaels

Ever since Soviet and Western climate scientists published the first international compendium on global warming, back in 1985, we have known that scaring people to death is very good for the environmentalist business. Such documents appear once or twice a year under the aegis of sundry governmental and international agencies, such as the United States' Climate Change Science Program (CCSP)...

Having been a climate scientist for about as long as these documents have been around, I have had the opportunity to review and comment on many documents that do this - not that my comments are listened to very much. I found two changes in the thousands of pages of the last (2007) IPCC report - after I sent in a 30,000-word point-by-point review. I'll be lucky to get even that much attention after my equally long critique of a new CCSP report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The sum of my analysis: This is the worst document in this genre I have ever seen. By comparison, it makes the 1962 Mets (or, for that matter, 2008's Washington Nationals) paragons of professional excellence.

Virtually every sentence can be contested or simply ignores published science that disagrees with CCSP's preconceived message. In its own words: "Aggressive near-term actions would be required to alter the future path of human-induced warming... future generations will inherit the legacy of our decisions." If "future generations" and "legacy of our decisions" sound more to you like politics rather than science, you're correct. The CCSP report isn't a science document at all. Not unless global warming science is a virtually one-sided world where almost everything is bad and getting worse, and where a moderate response dishonors our progenitors.

Of course, this can't be. Global warming lengthens growing seasons. Carbon dioxide, the cause of (part of the) warming (dormant for 11 years now) clearly improves crop yields in a world where stupid global warming policies (like burning our food supply in cars) are increasing food scarcity. If they have the money, by and large, Americans move to a warmer climate. And so on - which is why the CCSP document and the delete key should become intimate friends.

How did such a remarkable distortion see the light day? The "product lead" is Tom Karl, who heads the Commerce Department's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. He is perhaps the most political and politically savvy climate scientist in U.S. history. When Al Gore was vice president, he would issue monthly briefings on the horrors of climate change. When Mr. Gore exaggerated some local flood, or claimed Florida would burn because of global warming, Mr. Karl stood by and remained mute. But now, with the prospect of an increasingly Democratic Senate, and a president who will go along with the madness of climatically futile policies (Barack Obama or John McCain on global warming? Pick em!), Mr. Karl and CCSP have picked up the scent.

From a policy viewpoint, it's even worse. The current administration has punted to the next president the question of what rules EPA should make about global warming. All the levers of political power - the presidency, Congress and the relevant agencies - are therefore all pointed in the same direction. All will cite the CCSP as their bible, and anyone who voices a more factual opinion will in fact be marginalized as insane.

Want more evidence as to the perfidy of the CCSP process? The senior editor is no climate scientist; it's Susan J. Hassol, who wrote the HBO global warming "documentary," "Too Hot Not to Handle." Laurie David, the force behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," was the executive producer. This isn't science, it's science fiction. The first illustration inside the front cover gives away the spin. It's a picture of people of as many races and sexes as possible holding hands. What that has to do with climate change science is a mystery, but it certainly reflects a political view.

The draft CCSP report knowingly uses Photoshopped imagery of a flood, uncritically publishes a misleading temperature history, which splices together two completely different sets of climate data, and generally assumes people are stupid.

There's a wonderful picture on Page 55 of two senior citizens, captioned: "The elderly are especially vulnerable to extreme heat." If that's true, then there must be massive and increasing numbers of heat-related fatalities in hot cities with old populations. In fact, Tampa and Phoenix have a disproportionately elderly population and very few heat-related deaths; statistically, Tampa has the fewest of any major U.S. city. It may shock the CCSP, but when heat waves become more frequent, people change their habits and localities adapt their infrastructure to better deal with the heat.

Trash the entire report. It's neither scientific nor logical. It's a political document. Send the product lead back to Asheville and the senior editor back to Hollywood. But of course, that won't happen. Instead, the CCSP report and its production team will be lionized. It will serve as the basis for the most onerous environmental legislation and regulations in U.S. history. And when historians look back at a nation made poorer by foolish policies (which themselves will have no effect on warming), they will wonder how climate science could have gone so far into the wilderness of politics.



The European Union's main tool against global warming could be altered to lighten the impact on heavy industry and reduce the chances of the EU tightening its CO2 reduction goals, a document seen by Reuters shows. As part of its drive to lead the world in fighting climate change, the 27-country EU has committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by one fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. It is also considering increasing the cut to 30 percent if big countries such as China and the United States commit to their own reductions.

But members of the European Parliament's influential industry committee are mulling an amendment that would demand a full impact assessment before cutting beyond 20 percent. Any such move to extend cuts would also be subjected to full legislative scrutiny by the EU's member states and EU lawmakers before becoming law.

Industry committee members returning to work this week are also considering amendments to alter the EU's flagship Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) so it has less impact on energy-intensive industries such as steel. The ETS seeks to put a cap on EU emissions by making polluters pay for permits to emit carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change. The power sector, which now gets most of its permits for free, will have to pay for all of them from 2013, under European Commission proposals.

The power sector passes on the extra cost of carbon emissions permits to consumers, but companies which operate in globally competitive markets such as the steel sector are less able to do that. EU steelmakers say the current plans could cost the sector more than 50 billion euros ($78 billion) between 2013 and 2020 and put thousands of jobs at risk. The European Commission is considering whether to allow steel and other energy-intensive industry to continue to get free permits from 2013. The steel industry is particularly worried changes would require steelmakers to buy CO2 emissions permits for electricity that it produces by recycling waste gas from blast furnaces.

But the industry committee's proposed changes would exempt "electricity produced either in connection with industrial heat or from residues from an industrial process including waste gases", the parliamentary document of "compromise amendments" shows. Steelmakers say the Commission's plan to make power generators buy 100 percent of their emissions allowances at auction from 2013 would particularly raise costs for the most environmentally efficient electric arc furnaces that produce steel from scrap.

But the proposed amendments would allow the Commission to "allocate additional allowances to these installations to take into account the effect of pass through of the cost of allowances in the electricity price."



Households are paying hundreds of pounds more in "green taxes" than is justified by the environmental cost of their carbon emissions, a new study claims today. The Taxpayers' Alliance has calculated that every household in the UK is paying as much as $1600 a year more in environmental taxes than is necessary. Its analysis claims the Treasury made $40 billion in "excess" revenue from environmental taxes last year - from supposedly "green" levies on motoring, energy bills and waste disposal.

The report is the latest attack on the Government's use of green taxes and will strengthen suspicions that ministers are using the environment as a cover for revenue-raising measures. The TPA said its figures showed ministers were "wrapping revenue-raising tax hikes in a green banner." However, the Treasury rejected the group's figures as misleading.

More here

An academic's duty is to truth, not trends

By Bjorn Lomborg

Gary Yohe says I am a global warming naysayer - but just because a political movement has clarity, doesn't mean it's smart

Gary Yohe claims that I misrepresent and deliberately distort his findings. Curiously, the only example he submits is one in which I quote him correctly. While debating with Oliver Tickell in these pages, I referred to Yohe's paper. I said that "global warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070". Yohe finds that this is a "deliberate distortion of our conclusions". However, the paper he prepared for Copenhagen Consensus 2008 indeed shows that until about 2070, the net effect of climate change on global GDP is positive (see Figure 4.1, p25). It is - according to Yohe's own estimates - not until after 2070 that the net impact of climate change becomes negative. It is surprising that Yohe takes issue with my repetition of his own findings.

Yohe goes on to say that I distort his message because the distribution of the benefit is not equally felt. High latitude (often rich) countries will gain disproportionately, whereas low latitude (often poor) nations will gain less or lose. This is a point I have made countless times - but was not the debate in which I engaged Tickell. To claim that I am deliberately misrepresenting a statement by reproducing Yohe's own figure is simply wrong. To claim that whenever one talks about one climate change issue (net benefits) one must also talk about another (distribution of benefits) seems feebly engineered to allow complete control over any climate debate.

In the article that Yohe takes issue with, I described the goals and outcome of the Copenhagen Consensus 2008. The project clearly demonstrates that there are many ways to help the poor much better than by addressing climate change through mitigation. (Instead of avoiding a couple of thousand extra malaria deaths in a century through expensive CO2 cuts, maybe we should avoid a million malaria deaths now through low-cost health policies.)

I wrote that "the best climate solution from the top economists from the Copenhagen Consensus" shows that "we should focus on investing in finding cheaper low-carbon energy". Yohe claims that this misrepresents his findings. It does not, because in this instance I am not referring to his work. Let me explain.

Copenhagen Consensus is an effort to rank solutions between different major world problems, to identify the investments that would do the most good for the planet. Charles Krauthammer from the Washington Post has called it a "thought Olympics" because it makes academics from a lot of different fields compete to identify the best use of the world's scarce resources. We ask not only smart climate economists like Yohe to present their recommendations on climate, but also smart health economists to submit the smartest investments that could be made to tackle major world health issues. Eight of the world's best economists, including five Nobel Laureates, listened to all these recommendations and ranked the best investments for humanity. Unsurprisingly, the climate specialists would like to see their proposals ranked first, as would the health economists and everyone else. As in the real Olympics, not only is there a winner at the top of the podium, but there are also proposals that come in last. The proposals from Yohe came in at the bottom two places.

However, Professor Chris Green of McGill University showed that focusing much more on energy R&D, followed by eventual CO2 cuts, had a dramatically higher benefit for mankind - the estimate was three to four times better than Yohe's estimates for his solutions. This recommendation was ranked much more promising (at place 14 though by no means highest) by the Copenhagen Consensus panel. And this was the solution I was referring to.

Yohe claims that I say reducing CO2 emissions is a waste of resources. I have repeatedly gone on record arguing for a small reduction in emissions - it is a large reduction that I believe is a waste. And this is exactly what came out of Yohe's own analysis, showing that for each dollar spent on a simple reduction in carbon emissions, we would achieve about 90 cents worth of benefits.

After accusing me incorrectly of misquoting him, Yohe claims that I dismiss efforts to craft a global carbon cap as "constant outbidding by frantic campaigners". As Yohe should be aware, this quote refers to a debate with campaigners like Tickell who argue that a 4 degrees temperature rise would mean sea level rises of 70 metres and the extinction of the human race. Yohe, to his credit, makes no such claims, as he also follows the IPCC findings.

Yohe finally states sweepingly that there is now general agreement that we need a comprehensive solution to global warming, ostensibly involving immediate cuts in CO2. He laments that I am apparently a naysayer, who is confusing this "momentum and clarity". Of course, there have been many political movements in history with substantial momentum and clarity, and it doesn't mean they were all smart. It is an academic's duty not to be swept up in the tide but to state the evidence



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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