Tuesday, December 09, 2008


They now want "technology" to be the solution. George Bush must be laughing. That was his idea but he was howled down over it

Barack Obama's great virtue is his ability to behave like a cynical politician without getting a reputation as a cynical politician. The latest example is his left-pleasing promise during the campaign for a windfall oil tax, now quietly removed from his transition Web site. Explained an aide, the tax was all along meant to apply only if oil prices are over $80 a barrel. "They are below that now and expected to stay below that."

Mr. Obama here makes a choice in favor of good economic policy. But there's something else going on. He's a student of the late radical thinker Saul Alinsky, who argued that you do or say what's necessary in a democracy to gain power, while keeping your true aims to yourself. Mr. Obama's novel contribution has been to turn this exploitation on his supporters on the left (who admittedly are so wedded to their hero that, so far, they don't seem to mind).

His next big challenge is an upcoming conference updating the Kyoto targets. Mr. Obama has not backed off his overwrought climate rhetoric, but listen carefully to Al Gore. Now that Democrats are on the verge of power, he's backing off cap-and-trade and carbon-tax proposals (i.e. visible energy price hikes for consumers) in favor of a new approach -- massive government subsidies for "green technology."

Two fans, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaustell, co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute, write approvingly of what they call Mr. Gore's highly "significant shift." "He knows that cap-and-trade, and most any new regulation, would raise energy prices -- a political nonstarter during a recession."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore, when he's close to power, always drops the politically unpopular medicine his climate views would seem to necessitate. When he ran for president, he tried to lower gasoline prices by opening up the petroleum reserve. There was no recession at the time.

But the former veep is perfectly in sync with Mr. Obama. Energy taxes popular with the left but unpopular with voters will soon be off the table to preserve his second-term hopes. But that doesn't mean an end to "climate policy, " which can still be used to foster a network of trade groups willing to kick back some of their taxpayer subsidies to maintain Democrats in power. This will do nothing for climate change (and indeed nothing proposed or entertained in Washington would make a difference to climate). But it will help cement Democratic ascendancy over Washington's iron triangle of interest groups, politicians and the bureaucracy.

Indeed, Mr. Gore, as an investor and promoter of several green energy funds himself, is a walking conflict of interest here -- one whose bogus credibility Mr. Obama will happily make use of. Alinsky would be proud.


Blame our droughts on the sun

Robert Baker of the University of New England blames our drought on the sun, not man-made "global warming". Here's the abstract of his new paper for Geographical Research:
There is growing interest in the role that the Sun's magnetic field has on weather and climatic parameters, particularly the ~11 year sunspot (Schwab) cycle, the ~22 yr magnetic field (Hale) cycle and the ~88 yr (Gleissberg) cycle. These cycles and the derivative harmonics are part of the peculiar periodic behaviour of the solar magnetic field. Using data from 1876 to the present, the exploratory analysis suggests that when the Sun's South Pole is positive in the Hale Cycle, the likelihood of strongly positive and negative Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values increase after certain phases in the cyclic ~22 yr solar magnetic field. The SOI is also shown to track the pairing of sunspot cycles in ~88 yr periods. This coupling of odd cycles, 23-15, 21-13 and 19-11, produces an apparently close charting in positive and negative SOI fluctuations for each grouping.

This Gleissberg effect is also apparent for the southern hemisphere rainfall anomaly. Over the last decade, the SOI and rainfall fluctuations have been tracking similar values to that recorded in Cycle 15 (1914-1924). This discovery has important implications for future drought predictions in Australia and in countries in the northern and southern hemispheres which have been shown to be influenced by the sunspot cycle. Further, it provides a benchmark for long-term SOI behaviour.

If true, our governments are making false predictions on false evidence and pushing for false solutions.


Creeping do-gooder Fascism

From the trans-fat Nazis in the Northeast to those on duty keeping school bake-sales safe for humanity out West; from banning plastic shopping bags - which were foisted on us by greenies to begin with - to fines for "light pollution," one can't help but think that our once-free country is in the final stages of nannydom and well on its way toward total government control of our lives.

Many folks calmly accepted the banishment of smokers and nodded in submissive agreement that our public schools should control the sexual, moral and nutritional upbringing of our children, and most seem to think that the plethora of laws regulating an ever-growing list of our daily activities are relatively unobtrusive. After all, they mostly apply to public places and have no bearing on our actual home lives, right?

Well now, we have the fireplace police out in force in California's Bay Area, sniffing out illicit smoke. Under a law passed in July, on so-called Spare the Air days this winter, it will be illegal for 1.4 million residents to burn wood in the fireplaces on their own private property. And they will enforce it with all the gusto that liberal busybodies can muster. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The fireplace police say they are determined to keep law and order in the living room."

Color me confused, but does the liberal mantra that the government is to stay out of our bedrooms not apply to the rest of the house? Nevertheless, no matter what room you use to try and hide out from government intrusion, you'd best be sure to do it with the lights off, unless the bulbs therein meet with the approval of you-know-who.

What can be the reason for denying citizens the warmth of a winter fire that would save them lots of money during these hard times? Says a district spokeswoman: "This is a major health threat. The weather conditions are such that smoke is trapped closer to the ground and anyone with respiratory problems will have a hard time breathing." So once again, the tyranny of the minority shall rule the land in the form of a few unfortunates who have breathing woes.

So, anyone who is against the ban and would suggest that those poor souls merely stay indoors during high pollutant periods must be an insensitive lout, yes? But what about the ghastly pollutants that occur in the summer time? What does our nanny recommend then? "People who are especially sensitive to pollution are advised to limit their time outdoors, particularly in the afternoon hours."

The bureaucrats in charge of enforcement of this heinous dictate also helpfully provide a toll-free number (1-877-4NO-BURN) so you can snitch on your inconsiderate and Earth-hating neighbors. This little trick was a favorite of fascists and Communists for decades, so no one should be surprised that dropping a dime on your fellow Americans is considered by liberals to be a civic-minded duty. Indeed, pediatricians around the country are already inducing children to inform on their parents' habits; nothing like giving the little tykes a lesson in citizenship.

Now, some in California might choose to employ their little gray cells and ask why officials - bowing to extreme environmentalist groups - refuse to allow routine maintenance of heavily wooded areas to prevent huge and devastating forest fires which throw more "pollution" into the air than fireplaces ever could, but then they might risk being sent to "smoke education class."

So far I've never been to one of these re-education camps but I would imagine the teaching goes something like this: many of the practices of humans dating back thousands of years have now been found to be harmful; like burning wood for warmth and cooking, parental control of child-rearing, and the right to eat whatever one darn well pleases. Conversely, many of the practices banned by human beings for thousands of years have now been found to be beneficial to society; like abortion, gay marriage and pornography on demand.

And it's not going to get better any time soon. Our recent elections have led to a perfect storm for big government control freaks: our nation's capitol in the hands of liberal Democrats. But some of our time-honored, constitutionally-guaranteed rights may still remain: it's unclear if it's legal to burn the American flag on Spare the Air nights, so use caution.



By Jeff Jacoby

The mail brings an invitation to register for the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, which convenes on March 8 in New York City. Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a prominent Chicago-based think tank, the conference will host an international lineup of climate scientists and researchers, from institutions as varied as the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Pasteur Institute in France, and the University of Alaska. According to the invitation, the participants will focus on four broad areas: climatology, paleoclimatology, the impact of climate change, and climate-change politics and economics.

But if last year's gathering is any indication, the conference is likely to cover the climate-change waterfront. There were dozens of presentations in 2008, including: "Strengths and Weaknesses of Climate Models," "Ecological and Demographic Perspectives on the Status of Polar Bears," "Climate Change and Human Health," and "The Overstated Role of Carbon Dioxide in Climate Change."

Just another forum, then, sounding the usual alarums on the looming threat from global warming? Actually, no. The scientists and scholars Heartland is assembling are not members of the gloom-and-doom chorus. They dispute the frantic claims that global warming is an onrushing catastrophe; many are skeptical of the notion that human activity has a significant effect on the planet's climate, or that such an effect can be reliably measured or predicted. Some point out that global temperatures peaked in 1998 and have been falling since then. Indeed, several argue that a period of global cooling is on the way. Nearly all would argue that climate is always changing, and that no one really knows whether current computer models can reliably account for the myriad of factors that cause that natural variability.

They are far from monolithic, but on this they would all agree: Science is not settled by majority vote, especially in a field as young as climate science. Skepticism and inquiry go to the essence of scientific progress. It is always legitimate to challenge the existing "consensus" with new data or an alternative hypothesis. Those who insist that dissent be silenced or even punished are not the allies of science, but something closer to religious fanatics.

Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change, far too many people have been all too ready to play the Grand Inquisitor. For example, The Weather Channel's senior climatologist, Heidi Cullen, has recommended that meteorologists be denied professional certification if they voice doubts about global-warming alarmism. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wants oil-company executives put on trial for "crimes against humanity if they continue to dispute what is understood scientifically" about global warming. Al Gore frequently derides those who dispute his climate dogma as fools who should be ignored. "Climate deniers fall into the same camp as people who still don't believe we landed on the moon," Gore's spokeswoman told The Politico a few days ago.

But as the list of confirmed speakers for Heartland's climate-change conference makes clear, it is Gore whose eyes are shut to reality. Among the "climate deniers" lined up to speak are Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT; the University of Alabama's Roy W. Spencer, a pioneer in the monitoring of global temperatures by satellite; Stephen McIntyre, primary author of the influential Climate Audit blog; and meteorologist John Coleman, who founded the Weather Channel in 1982. They may not stand with the majority in debates over climate science, but -- Gore's dismissal notwithstanding -- they are far from alone.

In fact, what prompted The Politico to solicit Gore's comment was its decision to report on the mounting dissent from global-warming orthodoxy. "Scientists urge caution on global warming," the story was headlined; it opened by noting "a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation."

Coverage of such skepticism is increasing. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Michael Scott reported last week that meteorologists at each of Cleveland's TV stations dissent from the alarmists' scenario. In the Canadian province of Alberta, the Edmonton Journal found, 68 percent of climate scientists and engineers do not believe "the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled." Expect to see more of this. The debate goes on, as it should.



Just days before the EU Summit, Germany's federal government is coming under increasing pressure to reverse it climate politics: With reference to the economic recession, Germany's most important states have warned Chancellor Angela Merkel against climate policies that put additional burden on German companies.

Massive resistance is growing in Germany against the EU's energy and climate package which Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the other heads of state and government, intend to decide at the weekend in Brussels. German federal states run by the governing Christian Democrats are vehemently calling for significant corrections of the current mode of climate politics. The view is expressed ever more strongly that companies and industries should not be burdened with additional costs in face of the economic downturn.

"The management of the global economic crisis must now be given priority also in the European Union," J_rgen R_ttgers (CDU), the North-Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister demands. Above all, the EU's emissions trading scheme should not be allowed to undermine the competitiveness of enterprises, the Prime Ministers of Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saarland, Saxonia as well as the Hessian Finance Minister are demanding.

For the chancellor, who spoke with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy about the topic on Sunday, the demand by the federal states is not binding. However, as leader of the ruling Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel can ill-afford to ignore such a united front of Prime Ministers.

More here. [transl. BJP]

Uncertainty Doublespeak

Last week the Boston Globe reported that a new report from the U.S. military included a few sentences on climate change suggesting the existence of uncertainty on the issue, prompting outrage in some quarters: The report, titled Joint Operating Environment 2008, states that "the impact of global warming and its potential to cause natural disasters and other harmful phenomena such as rising sea levels has become a prominent - and controversial - national and international concern. Some argue that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters, others that there will be fewer."

The Boston Globe reported MIT's Kerry Emanuel "took issue with the report's assertions about future storm intensity." The report's entire discussion of future storm behavior is as follows: "Some argue that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters, others that there will be fewer". To justify this sentence the report cites a 2008 paper titled "Hurricanes and Climate Change" that Emanuel was the lead author on.

That paper concludes: "These simulations show potentially large changes in tropical cyclone activity in response to global warming, though the sign and magnitude of the changes vary a great deal from basin to basin and from model to model, reflecting large regional differences in the global model predictions as well as natural multidecadal variability in each model that cannot be averaged out over the 20-yr periods considered here".

But what is really interesting is Emanuel's quote in the Globe article explaining why the military's assertion of arguing scientists on this issue is incorrect: "Everyone pretty much agrees that the intensity of events could go up with global warming, although we argue how much". So Emanuel says that the military's reports assertion of scientists arguing over future storm activity is incorrect, but Emanuel asserts that the scientists argue??? Hmmmm . . . OK.

Here is the entire discussion of climate change from the military report (available here in PDF), which I should add, seems spot on to me:
G. Climate Change and Natural Disasters The impact of global warming and its potential to cause natural disasters and other harmful phenomena such as rising sea levels has become a prominent-and controversial-national and international concern. Some argue that there will be more and greater storms an natural disasters, others that there will be fewer. In many respects, scientific conclusions about the causes and potential effects of global warming are contradictory.

Whatever their provenance, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes have been and will continue to be a concern of joint force commanders. In particular, where natural disasters collide with growing urban sprawl, widespread human misery could be the final straw that breaks the back of a weak state.

In the 2030s as in the past, the ability of U.S. military forces to relieve the victims of natural disasters could help the United States' image around the world. For example, the contribution of U.S. and partner forces to relieving the distress caused by the catastrophic Pacific tsunami of December 2006 reversed the perceptions of America held by many Indonesians.

Perhaps no other mission performed by the Joint Force provides so much benefit to the interests of the United States at so little cost.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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