Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Greenie coverup

The Warmist "scientists" are deathly afraid of Steve McIntyre. They KNOW he can expose their fraudulent statistical manipulations since he knocked off the fraudulent Mann "hockeystick" temperature chart.

Now he has turned his laser eyes onto the latest bit of data "adjustment" -- the claim that there is no mismatch between the actual atmospheric temperature data and the "models" -- if you "adjust" the data properly.

McIntyre wrote to Santer -- the lead author of the "adjustments" -- with a request that they provide him with their detailed figures. In science, that sort of request is normally replied to with all good speed and goodwill. But what if you have something to hide? The reply below from Santer to McIntyre shows you:
Dear Mr. McIntyre,

I gather that your intent is to "audit" the findings of our recently-published paper in the International Journal of Climatology (IJoC). You are of course free to do so. I note that both the gridded model and observational datasets used in our IJoC paper are freely available to researchers. You should have no problem in accessing exactly the same model and observational datasets that we employed. You will need to do a little work in order to calculate synthetic Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) temperatures from climate model atmospheric temperature information. This should not pose any difficulties for you. Algorithms for calculating synthetic MSU temperatures have been published by ourselves and others in the peer-reviewed literature. You will also need to calculate spatially-averaged temperature changes from the gridded model and observational data. Again, that should not be too taxing.

In summary, you have access to all the raw information that you require in order to determine whether the conclusions reached in our IJoC paper are sound or unsound. I see no reason why I should do your work for you, and provide you with derived quantities (zonal means, synthetic MSU temperatures, etc.) which you can easily compute yourself.

I am copying this email to all co-authors of the 2008 Santer et al. IJoC paper, as well as to Professor Glenn McGregor at IJoC.

I gather that you have appointed yourself as an independent arbiter of the appropriate use of statistical tools in climate research. Rather that "auditing" our paper, you should be directing your attention to the 2007 IJoC paper published by David Douglass et al., which contains an egregious statistical error.

Please do not communicate with me in the future.

Ben Santer

More here.

Mac is now trying to get the figures via Freedom of Information requests. Stay tuned.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Are Biofuels To Blame? It's Not Easy Being Green

Biofuels are under siege from critics who say they crowd out food production. Now these fuels made from grass and grain, long touted as green, are being criticized as bad for the planet. At issue is whether oil alternatives -- such as ethanol distilled from corn and fuels made from inedible stuff like switch grass -- actually make global warming worse through their indirect impact on land use around the world.

For example, if farmers in Brazil burn and clear more rainforest to grow food because farmers in the U.S. are using their land to grow grain for fuel, that could mean a net increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, the main "greenhouse gas" linked to climate change.

The issue has been heating up for months in scientific, corporate and environmental circles. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it plans to measure each biofuel's emissions based partly on the ripple effect that its production in the U.S. can have overseas, and is preparing to seek comments on a proposal. Some scientists, as well as General Motors Corp., DuPont Co., Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and other companies with an interest in the outcome, are warning of a muddled calculus.

"If population grows in America and therefore ... we need to build a new Wal-Mart, are we going to debit that pregnant woman with the indirect life-cycle greenhouse-gas footprint of her decision to have that child?" says Michael Parr, a senior government affairs manager at DuPont.

Environmental groups say disclosing the emissions levels associated with land-use change caused by biofuels is critical to determining which fuels will best help the U.S. reduce its dependence on oil. A study published in February in the journal Science found that U.S. production of corn-based ethanol increases emissions by 93%, compared with using gasoline, when expected world-wide land-use changes are taken into account. Applying the same methodology to biofuels made from switch grass grown on soil diverted from raising corn, the study found that greenhouse-gas emissions would rise by 50%.

Previous studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline reduces greenhouse gases. Those studies generally didn't account for the carbon emissions that occur as farmers world-wide respond to higher food prices and convert forest and grassland to cropland.

But some scientists and many biofuel proponents have challenged the Science study, saying it relied on unrealistic assumptions. And there is disagreement among scientists and economists over how to measure the impact of land-use changes in one country on land-use changes in another. When a Brazilian farmer chops down rainforest to grow a crop, for instance, how can the EPA be sure his decision wasn't influenced by local factors, such as the construction of a new highway that made it easier to bring the crop to market?

DuPont, ADM, GM and representatives of the biotechnology industry have asked that the EPA hold off on quantifying the greenhouse-gas impacts of so-called indirect land-use change, and instead seek comment on the methodology the agency plans to use. The companies, along with some scientists, say that methods for measuring such indirect effects are still new, and that trying to assess emissions levels based on immature methods could lead to unwarranted conclusions that would discourage investment in biofuels.

An EPA spokesman declined to speculate on "what is or isn't" going to be in the administration's proposal. The agency's efforts are driven by a 2007 energy law that says the EPA, in determining each fuel's "lifecycle greenhouse-gas emissions," must consider "direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as significant emissions from land use changes."

Bruce Dale, a chemical-engineering professor at Michigan State University, says he is skeptical that policy makers can establish an accurate system for gauging the indirect effect of biofuel production on overseas land use. "All this stuff is accounting," which in turns depends on data and "assumptions you make about how the world works," he says.

Nathanael Greene, director of renewable-energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, acknowledges the difficulty of quantifying emissions levels associated with indirect land-use change. But he says that isn't a valid reason for not trying to measure them.

If anything, Mr. Greene says, biofuels producers -- particularly those that specialize in making fuels that don't come from corn -- stand to benefit from new regulations, because such standards will "inoculate" the industry against the kinds of criticisms that have buffeted food-based biofuel crops.

"This industry, like many other industries, relies on government subsidies," Mr. Greene says. "If public opinion turns against [advanced biofuel producers] because they're associated with clear-cutting forests and harming endangered species ... those incentives and that public support are going to evaporate."


Obama to Back Ailing Ethanol Makers, Follow Failed Bush Policy

President-elect Barack Obama plans to support unprofitable U.S. ethanol producers and pursue the same policies that failed George W. Bush. Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois, the second- biggest corn-growing state, will maintain Bush's goal requiring fuel producers use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuels in 2022, said Heather Zichal, the campaign's senior energy adviser. The ethanol industry, which loses about 66 cents a gallon at current prices, will receive at least as much support as from the current administration, including tax credits to spur consumption, she said.

``Obama recognizes how important the renewable and biofuels industry is to creating jobs and meeting our goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil,'' Zichal said in a Nov. 3 interview. ``He's fully committed to it and sees tremendous value in the renewable fuels standard and continuing down this path.''

Ethanol makers are collapsing after wrong-way bets on corn prices overwhelmed $20 billion in federal aid and government- guaranteed demand for the fuel additive. VeraSun Energy Corp., the second-largest producer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 31.

Bush's approach has been criticized for hurting the environment, increasing global food prices and contributing to riots from Haiti to Egypt. Earlier this year, at least 51 members of his own party, led by Texas Governor Rick Perry, called for relaxing the policy.

Distillers struggle to make money because costs to produce ethanol are rising while increasing supplies drive down prices of the fuel. U.S. output climbed to a record 647,000 barrels a day in August, more than double the 318,000 barrels a day in June 2006, when VeraSun had its initial public offering, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Rising feed costs caused third-quarter profit to plunge 92 percent at Tyson Foods Inc., the nation's largest meat producer. Pilgrim's Pride Corp. said Sept. 25 it may breach a credit covenant because of a ``significant'' loss in the quarter ended Sept. 27. Pilgrim's Pride shares dropped 24 percent on Oct. 17 amid speculation the company may file for court protection from creditors.

Record prices for corn, soybeans and wheat in the past 12 months helped boost net farm income to a record $95.7 billion this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are about 2 million farmers in the U.S., according to the USDA. Farm belt states that voted Republican in 2004, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio, went to Obama this time.

``We know that corn farmers like ethanol very, very much,'' said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in Houston. ``Corn farmers have a lot of political influence in swing states such as Iowa and Missouri. Certainly ethanol continues to enjoy some support because of its political and electoral significance.'' Corn futures traded in Chicago more than doubled in the past three years to almost $8 a bushel as worldwide demand expanded to make sweeteners and fuel. U.S. ethanol prices dropped 5 percent because output from new mills grew faster than demand, damaging profit for distillers.

``Obama has clearly said part of his energy policy has been for renewable fuels, including ethanol,'' said Ronald Miller, chief executive officer of Aventine Renewable Holdings Inc., a Pekin, Illinois-based ethanol producer, which delayed the opening of a plant in Aurora, Nebraska, until the second quarter. Producers ``are managing the day-to-day business on near zero margins,'' he said.

Obama, 47, plans to spend $150 billion over 10 years to develop renewable fuels and to create 5 million so-called green collar jobs. He will also require at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels be produced by 2030. Ethanol is a form of alcohol created by fermenting and distilling the starches from corn and other crops.

Bush's Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in December, called for ethanol production to more than double to 15 billion gallons in 2015 from 6.5 billion last year. The U.S. pays oil refiners 51 cents in tax credits for each gallon of ethanol they blend into regular gasoline. A 54 cent-a-gallon tariff is slapped on imports from Brazil to protect and stimulate U.S. production. Obama supports the mandate and wants to expand it and move toward so-called cellulosic ethanol, Zichal said. Cellulosic ethanol is derived from non-food crops such as switch grass and wood chips. Speaking in Missouri in July, Obama said corn-based ethanol isn't ``our best strategy'' because of its impacts on food, adding the current additive will usher in commercial production of cellulosic.

``He very much sees it as an important bridge fuel and important source of revenue for many rural communities but something that is the beginning of hopefully a greater investment and greater commitment to advanced biofuels,'' Zichal said.

Falling margins caused Gateway Ethanol LLC, Heartland Ethanol LLC, LiquidMaize LLC, Greater Ohio Ethanol, Glacial Lakes Corn Processors and Abengoa SA to curtail production. Biofuel Energy Corp., based in Denver, said in August that it didn't have enough money to cover $46 million in losses on contracts for corn, ethanol and the natural gas used to run its distilleries. The company locked in third- and fourth-quarter corn costs of $7.01 and $6.90 a bushel, respectively. Corn plunged to about $4 a bushel for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Failure stems from ``the way they operate their companies rather than the government support,'' said Ian Horowitz, an analyst at Soleil Securities Corp. in New York. ``You can't policy your way out of bad hedging positions.''


Obama portrays failed traffic scheme as "innovative"

If the Lightbringer likes it, it must be innovative, of course. London was the pioneer of such schemes and the scheme seemed to work there for a while but it is now back to the congestion of old

BARACK Obama's transport advisers are studying Greater Manchester's congestion-charge plans - to see if they could work in the US. The President-elect's team have asked an American consultant who helped draw up the proposed charge to provide information about this scheme and similar systems around the world. Jack Opiola - who previously worked on congestion charging in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Italy and the US - said the move proved `the eyes of the world' were on Manchester. He said: "In the US, Greater Manchester is being held up as a shining example of dynamic new thinking."

Mr Obama, who takes over at the White House on January 20 after his historic election victory last week, stood on a manifesto that included pledges to cut traffic and boost public transport. He recently praised plans - which were later scrapped - to charge motorists to enter Manhattan in New York as 'thoughtful and innovative'.

Mr Opiola said: "I was 'noticed' by key people in the Obama campaign and I have been providing input to his strategy team in Chicago, including information about Greater Manchester's bid. "Manchester's approach is being highlighted as the latest thinking and conceptual approach that is beyond the earlier concepts used in Milan, Stockholm, London and Singapore, which are previous generations of congestion-charge systems."

Greater Manchester is bidding for more than 2.75bn pounds of investment from the government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), including 318m pounds to set up a peak hour, weekday-only congestion charge. Of the total, 1.2bn would be in the form of a loan, paid back over 30 years out of profits from the charge


So just one city is prepared to squander billions of taxpayer money on something of at best marginal benefit -- and that is "a shining example of dynamic new thinking"!


Think that the causes of the current financial crisis are hard to figure out? Think that the Wall Street wizards went too far in creating sub-prime mortgages and asset-backed papers and hedges and off-setting derivatives and other financial instruments that few understood on their own, whose value no one could easily establish, and whose interactions no one on this planet could ever figure out, except maybe in theory? Think that central bankers have lost control of their currencies and that they are flailing about, as clueless as to what needs to be done as the governments that throw rescue package upon bailout package at the crisis, hoping that something, somewhere, somehow, will stick?

Think we have learned our lesson about creating artificial securities, divorced from the real world and highly leveraged, so volatile and inscrutable as to be capable of sending markets into even worse hells, and entire economies into real depressions? Think again.

To the layers of confusion that now exist in our financial markets we are about to add another, as opaque and volatile as the others, and as unhinged from the real world - a carbon currency. President-elect Barack Obama wants it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants it and their European counterparts, to some extent, already have it.

Europe's Emissions Trading System (ETS) is the world's largest trading exchange for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If ambitious Kyoto-style plans come to fruition, ETS will morph to account for, among other things, the carbon content of all industrial and biological processes, and the carbon carrying capacity of all the real estate on our planet. Because carbon is a building block of life, and because we live in a carbon-based planet, carbon prices will become more ubiquitous than the U.S. dollar. It would become, in effect, a globally traded currency tied to gaseous commodities that until recently were nowhere traded.

What might this commodity-based currency be like? A week ago, the commodity traded on the ETS -- EU allowances of greenhouse gas emissions -- plummeted in value by 20%, after falling 20% three months earlier. This comes just two years after the ETS exchange had its first major collapse -- a 70% decline on rumours that some governments were about to give their industries extra emission rights, followed by even steeper declines that virtually wiped out the value of the allowances. Prior to the declines, the allowances had seen a steep climb in value.

The good news - and the reason no one much cares about these collapses - is that the carbon emissions market is in its infancy, a mere $64-billion last year, compared to the trillions trading hourly in international markets. A collapse in today's carbon market roils international stock markets far less than, say, a collapse of the Thai bhat might, which is to say not at all.

But what will happen should carbon become a major currency, and a highly volatile one at that? For starters, every carbon-intensive business will need protection against the extreme changes seen in carbon prices. This protection - carbon-hedging mechanisms of various kinds - will themselves assume outsized proportions because the businesses subject to carbon fluctuations will vastly outnumber those that now hedge against fluctuations in fossil fuels - in addition to the energy industry, airlines, utilities and others that now need fossil fuel hedges, will be forestry, agriculture, real estate, deserts, dams and other land-based sectors.

How will the new financial sector that emerges to price these hedges determine values? The "marketplace" for carbon allowances will be one in which both supply and demand are set by governments, in which intense corporate lobbying for changes to both supply and demand is all but certain, and in which moral hazard - in the form of an expectation of a government bailout - is an absolute certainty. Valuing the toxic instruments created by Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, that corrupted the pool of debt securities, will seem like child's play in comparison.

To avoid a future market meltdown of the likes we are now experiencing, almost all are agreed, we need to avoid opaque financial instruments that can't be easily understood or valued. Carbon offsets, credits, allowances sinks and other instruments attempt to create pricing for something that no one wants, can't be seen, is entirely a creature of government and that may prove to benefit rather than harm the environment. They are obscure and opaque, instruments both green and toxic.


The Climate-Change Reformation

Al Gore - outdone only by L. Ron Hubbard in his ability to weave science fiction into a religion - is reforming the climate change faith, and turning it toward the discussion of energy independence and American financial viability.

The truth, alas, has proved too inconvenient to ignore. Among non-partisan researchers, there is now little doubt that human-generated carbon dioxide makes only an insignificant contribution to climate change. More importantly, there is agreement among virtually all climatologists that the planet is experiencing the beginnings of a cold spell, expected to last as long as 30 years, due to a decrease in solar activity.

Most significantly, however, the tangible financial crisis has displaced concerns over the invisible climatological one. With the mercury plunging alongside the Dow Jones, the Gore age is on the way out. In an op-ed in today's New York Times, Gore dispenses with the elastic "findings" of various environmentalists, and simply tells climate-change skeptics to "wake up." While he lays out a five-part "plan that would simultaneously move us toward solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis - and create millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced," he only gets down to proper CO2 fear-mongering in the last of his five points.

Gore's "new" plan includes some wedged-in pandering to mortgage crisis victims, etc., but it is simply another version of packaged government incentives dependent upon the fantasy that scientific solutions to energy dependence are just around the corner.

Of course, a scientific solution has been with us for decades: nuclear energy. George W. Bush may say the word funny, but at least he says it. Apocalypse Al can't risk scaring off his evangelical Greenpeacers with actual science just yet. So, we have more talk of billions of dollars being thrown at unwieldy processes that will supposedly save billions of dollars.

As we plunge into a 30-year deep freeze, it's safe to suppose bottom-of-the-list climate concerns will slide off the page altogether. And as we confront the realities of an international market meltdown, costly Rube Goldberg energy schemes will be abandoned for broader drilling and revamped nuclear power initiatives.

We'll never know if Al Gore finally understands that he fell for an enormous and costly political scam. But he clearly realizes no one is throwing money into cooling the planet during a chilly recession. And he must sense that the collective American consciousness can only accommodate one overarching fiction at a time. Right now, it's Obama change - not climate change - that "we can believe in."



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