Friday, October 31, 2008


An email from Richard S. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU], Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

The developing world early realized that carbon control was a ploy to constrain their development into meaningful competitors. Now they are matching the cynicism of the developed world.

Rajendra Pachauri simultaneously helped prepare a climate report for the Government of India that argues that climate change will not be a problem for India, while, as head of the IPCC, he preaches that climate change will bring doom and disaster to the rest of the world, and urges the west to become vegetarian. Somehow, the cynicism seems remarkably clear to many - even if the Nobel Peace Prize Committee fails to notice it.

MIT scientists baffled by global warming theory, contradicts scientific data

Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature - and not the direct result of man's contributions.

The two lead authors of a paper published in this week's Geophysical Review Letters, Matthew Rigby and Ronald Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, state that as a result of the increase, several million tons of new methane is present in the atmosphere.

Methane accounts for roughly one-fifth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, though its effect is 25x greater than that of carbon dioxide. Its impact on global warming comes from the reflection of the sun's light back to the Earth (like a greenhouse). Methane is typically broken down in the atmosphere by the free radical hydroxyl (OH), a naturally occuring process. This atmospheric cleanser has been shown to adjust itself up and down periodically, and is believed to account for the lack of increases in methane levels in Earth's atmosphere over the past ten years despite notable simultaneous increases by man.

Prinn has said, "The next step will be to study [these changes] using a very high-resolution atmospheric circulation model and additional measurements from other networks. The key thing is to better determine the relative roles of increased methane emission versus [an increase] in the rate of removal. Apparently we have a mix of the two, but we want to know how much of each [is responsible for the overall increase]."

The primary concern now is that 2007 is long over. While the collected data from that time period reflects a simultaneous world-wide increase in emissions, observing atmospheric trends now is like observing the healthy horse running through the paddock a year after it overcame some mystery illness. Where does one even begin? And how relevant are any of the data findings at this late date? Looking back over 2007 data as it was captured may prove as ineffective if the data does not support the high resolution details such a study requires.

One thing does seem very clear, however; science is only beginning to get a handle on the big picture of global warming. Findings like these tell us it's too early to know for sure if man's impact is affecting things at the political cry of "alarming rates." We may simply be going through another natural cycle of warmer and colder times - one that's been observed through a scientific analysis of the Earth to be naturally occuring for hundreds of thousands of years.



Where they will emit MORE CO2

HeidelbergCement says the European Commission's planned extension of its emissions trading scheme in 2013 could threaten cement production in the EU. The company cites studies by management consultants McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group that say the price of the emissions permits that will be required to produce and transport cement could reduce the price competitiveness of EU-manufactured cement by -50% to -100% by 2020.

HeidelbergCement, which has 36 cement plants in the EU, 12 of which are in Germany, said that in the worst case scenario the scheme could add _ 920 million to its annual costs from 2013. "If we were forced to close the German plants, for example, we could offset this with the construction of two new high-performance production facilities in China with an investment volume of _ 300 million", said Dr Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the company's Management Board.

The company employs 8200 people in Europe, 1500 of whom are based in Germany.

Dr Scheifele continued, "The cost advantages of China would almost double as a result of the CO2 expense, making competitive domestic production in Europe no longer an option. It would be feasible to supply European markets from locations outside the EU via an efficient trading network."

HeidelbergCement says it has made significant reductions in CO2 emissions in recent years. Having set a goal of reducing emissions per tonne of cement by -15% by 2010 it exceeded this, claiming to have achieved a decline of -18% in Germany and -20% in Europe by 2007. A company statement said, "Through their use of innovative technology, the European plants are among the most efficient locations worldwide in terms of CO2 reduction. This technology is being transferred to all cement plants throughout the Group."



China has admitted that controlling greenhouse emissions is a "difficult task" and warned that there is little prospect of an early improvement. In its first policy paper on climate change, Beijing acknowledges for the first time that its greenhouse gas emissions are equal those of the US. China's reliance on coal to ensure economic growth makes pollution control difficult, the paper says. It adds that the developed world should do more on the issue.

The paper admits the problems caused by climate change. "Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts, have increased in frequency and intensity," the paper says. But it says the "coal-dominated energy mix cannot be substantially changed in the near future, thus making the control of greenhouse gas emissions rather difficult".

BBC China editor Shirong Chen says the paper marks a tactical change on the issue for Beijing. He says that although China has been resisting international pressure over its greenhouse gas emissions, it has now taken the initiative to tell the world that it knows the severity of the problem.

China's top climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said Beijing would consider limits on its worst polluting industries if rich nations handed over the technology to help clean them up. China's fast GDP growth in the past 30 years has lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and economic development is sure to remain its top priority, our editor says. But Mr Xie added: "There is no other road for China except the road to sustainable development."


Climate Science: Is It Currently Designed To Answer Questions?

By Richard Lindzen

For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors."

By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective.

The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of `carrots and sticks' whereby reputations are made and broken.

The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research.

This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.


Although the focus of this paper is on climate science, some of the problems pertain to science more generally. Science has traditionally been held to involve the creative opposition of theory and observation wherein each tests the other in such a manner as to converge on a better understanding of the natural world. Success was rewarded by recognition, though the degree of recognition was weighted according to both the practical consequences of the success and the philosophical and aesthetic power of the success. As science undertook more ambitious problems, and the cost and scale of operations increased, the need for funds undoubtedly shifted emphasis to practical relevance though numerous examples from the past assured a strong base level of confidence in the utility of science. Moreover, the many success stories established `science' as a source of authority and integrity. Thus, almost all modern movements claimed scientific foundations for their aims. Early on, this fostered a profound misuse of science, since science is primarily a successful mode of inquiry rather than a source of authority.

Until the post World War II period, little in the way of structure existed for the formal support of science by government (at least in the US which is where my own observations are most relevant). In the aftermath of the Second World War, the major contributions of science to the war effort (radar, the A-bomb), to health (penicillin), etc. were evident. Vannevar Bush (in his report, Science: The Endless Frontier, 1945) noted the many practical roles that validated the importance of science to the nation, and argued that the government need only adequately support basic science in order for further benefits to emerge. The scientific community felt this paradigm to be an entirely appropriate response by a grateful nation. The next 20 years witnessed truly impressive scientific productivity which firmly established the United States as the creative center of the scientific world. The Bush paradigm seemed amply justified. (This period and its follow-up are also discussed by Miller, 2007, with special but not total emphasis on the NIH (National Institutes of Health).) However, something changed in the late 60's. In a variety of fields it has been suggested that the rate of new discoveries and achievements slowed appreciably (despite increasing publications)2, and it is being suggested that either the Bush paradigm ceased to be valid or that it may never have been valid in the first place.

(2 At some level, this is obvious. Theoretical physics is still dealing with the standard model though there is an active search for something better. Molecular biology is still working off of the discovery of DNA. Many of the basic laws of physics resulted from individual efforts in the 17th-19th Centuries. The profound advances in technology should not disguise the fact that the bulk of the underlying science is more than 40 years old. This is certainly the case in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences. That said, it should not be forgotten that sometimes progress slows because the problem is difficult. Sometimes, it slows because the existing results are simply correct as is the case with DNA. Structural problems are not always the only factor involved.)

I believe that the former is correct. What then happened in the 1960's to produce this change? It is my impression that by the end of the 60's scientists, themselves, came to feel that the real basis for support was not gratitude (and the associated trust that support would bring further benefit) but fear: fear of the Soviet Union, fear of cancer, etc. Many will conclude that this was merely an awakening of a naive scientific community to reality, and they may well be right. However, between the perceptions of gratitude and fear as the basis for support lies a world of difference in incentive structure. If one thinks the basis is gratitude, then one obviously will respond by contributions that will elicit more gratitude. The perpetuation of fear, on the other hand, militates against solving problems. This change in perception proceeded largely without comment. However, the end of the cold war, by eliminating a large part of the fear-base forced a reassessment of the situation. Most thinking has been devoted to the emphasis of other sources of fear: competitiveness, health, resource depletion and the environment.

What may have caused this change in perception is unclear, because so many separate but potentially relevant things occurred almost simultaneously. The space race reinstituted the model of large scale focused efforts such as the moon landing program. For another, the 60's saw the first major postwar funding cuts for science in the US. The budgetary pressures of the Vietnam War may have demanded savings someplace, but the fact that science was regarded as, to some extent, dispensable, came as a shock to many scientists. So did the massive increase in management structures and bureaucracy which took control of science out of the hands of working scientists. All of this may be related to the demographic pressures resulting from the baby boomers entering the workforce and the post-sputnik emphasis on science. Sorting this out goes well beyond my present aim which is merely to consider the consequences of fear as a perceived basis of support.

Fear has several advantages over gratitude. Gratitude is intrinsically limited, if only by the finite creative capacity of the scientific community. Moreover, as pointed out by a colleague at MIT, appealing to people's gratitude and trust is usually less effective than pulling a gun. In other words, fear can motivate greater generosity. Sputnik provided a notable example in this regard; though it did not immediately alter the perceptions of most scientists, it did lead to a great increase in the number of scientists, which contributed to the previously mentioned demographic pressure. Science since the sixties has been characterized by the large programs that this generosity encourages. Moreover, the fact that fear provides little incentive for scientists to do anything more than perpetuate problems, significantly reduces the dependence of the scientific enterprise on unique skills and talents. The combination of increased scale and diminished emphasis on unique talent is, from a certain point of view, a devastating combination which greatly increases the potential for the political direction of science, and the creation of dependent constituencies. With these new constituencies, such obvious controls as peer review and detailed accountability begin to fail and even serve to perpetuate the defects of the system. Miller (2007) specifically addresses how the system especially favors dogmatism and conformity.

The creation of the government bureaucracy, and the increasing body of regulations accompanying government funding, called, in turn, for a massive increase in the administrative staff at universities and research centers. The support for this staff comes from the overhead on government grants, and, in turn, produces an active pressure for the solicitation of more and larger grants.3

(3 It is sometimes thought that government involvement automatically implies large bureaucracies, and lengthy regulations. This was not exactly the case in the 20 years following the second world war. Much of the support in the physical sciences came from the armed forces for which science support remained a relatively negligible portion of their budgets. For example, meteorology at MIT was supported by the Air Force. Group grants were made for five year periods and renewed on the basis of a site visit. When the National Science Foundation was created, it functioned with a small permanent staff supplemented by `rotators' who served on leave from universities for a few years. Unfortunately, during the Vietnam War, the US Senate banned the military from supporting non-military research (Mansfield Amendment). This shifted support to agencies whose sole function was to support science. That said, today all agencies supporting science have large `supporting' bureaucracies.)

One result of the above appears to have been the deemphasis of theory because of its intrinsic difficulty and small scale, the encouragement of simulation instead (with its call for large capital investment in computation), and the encouragement of large programs unconstrained by specific goals.4

(4 In fairness, such programs should be distinguished from team efforts which are sometimes appropriate and successful: classification of groups in mathematics, human genome project, etc.)

In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage.

This new paradigm for science and its dependence on fear-based support may not constitute corruption per se, but it does serve to make the system particularly vulnerable to corruption. Much of the remainder of this paper will illustrate the exploitation of this vulnerability in the area of climate research. The situation is particularly acute for a small weak field like climatology. As a field, it has traditionally been a subfield within such disciplines as meteorology, oceanography, geography, geochemistry, etc. These fields, themselves are small and immature. At the same time, these fields can be trivially associated with natural disasters. Finally, climate science has been targeted by a major political movement, environmentalism, as the focus of their efforts, wherein the natural disasters of the earth system, have come to be identified with man's activities - engendering fear as well as an agenda for societal reform and control. The remainder of this paper will briefly describe how this has been playing out with respect to the climate issue.

Much more here

Feeling cold, thinking hot

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

Treasurer Wayne Swan had to get out of his woollies yesterday before telling us the world really was warming - and we must pay. You see, just days before he stood in Canberra, waving a Treasury document he claimed would help stop us heating to hell, his own family had shivered through a day that should make him finally wonder if there really is any global warming. Brisbane, his home town, had just endured its coldest October morning in 32 years, yet here was Swan telling us to spend billions in the belief the planet was cooking instead.

It's not only here that global warming believers are feeling a chill they never expected. In London on Tuesday, British politicians overwhelmingly passed amendments to a Climate Change Bill that promises huge spending to stop a catastrophic global warming they say is caused by our gases. Yet, even as they voted, snow began to fall on Parliament House - the first October snow in London in 74 years.

Yes, this is weather, not climate - something to remember the next time some headline shrieks "global warming" at just another hot day. But the fact is, as satellite measurements show, the planet hasn't warmed since 1998, and temperatures have now fallen for six years or more. The small warming we had from the 1970s on has paused, if not stopped, and more scientists now suggest we may be in for decades of cold.

But in these mad times, cognitive dissonance rules. People feel cold but think hot. Warming preachers demand carbon sacrifices, but fly first class. In fact, cognitive dissonance is becoming government policy. Take the Government's Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel, which last week said the word "drought" made farmers feel bad, and we should say "dryness" instead. That would also make us think the drought was actually global warming.

Likewise, Swan yesterday sold the Government's planned tax on coal-fired power and all things gassy, from steel to burping cows, as something to help, not hurt, the economy. And, of course, the Government is spending $164,000 a day on ads to persuade us that this recent cooling should be called "climate change" - and proof of warming instead. Weird, yet it works. Cooling is warming, and not even snow can persuade politicians they're not frying.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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