Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monckton's mocking reply to an email from a "Thermista" in the Canadian Civil Service

Lord Monckton read classics at Cambridge so he enjoys his Latin and Greek but I doubt that "Thermista" will replace "Warmist" any time soon. There may be some American readers who do not recognize the salutation "Sir Humphrey" in the letter so maybe I should note that it is an allusion to a dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrat in the BBC comedy "Yes Minister"

Dear Sir Humphrey - The "Abundance of scientific statements" that you mention is no sound or logical basis for deciding or believing anything. The question is whether the scientific statements have any rational justification, and whether those making them are in effect making statements that are political rather than scientific, rent-seeking rather than objective. After all, this is the age of reason (or it was). Therefore, one should not accord to "scientists" the status of infallible high priests merely because they mumble a hieratic language with which one is unfamiliar. There is clear, compelling evidence that many of the major conclusions of the IPCC, your new religion's constantly-changing Holy Book, are based on evidence that has been fabricated. The "hockey stick" graph that purported to abolish the mediaeval warm period is just one example. So let me try to lure you away from feeble-minded, religious belief in the Church of "Global Warming" and back towards the use of the faculty of reason.

Let us begin with the "devastation of New Orleans" that you mention. Even the High Priests of your Church are entirely clear that individual extreme-weather events such as Hurricane Katrina cannot, repeat cannot, be attributed to "global warming". Even the Holy Book makes this entirely plain. There was one priest - Emanuel (a good, religious name) - who had suggested there might be a link between "global warming" and hurricanes; but he has recently recanted, at least to some extent. Very nearly all others in the hierarchy of your Church are clear that ascribing individual extreme-weather events to "global warming" is impossible. Why? Well, let's take the question of landfalling Atlantic hurricanes such as Katrina. The implication of your attribution of Hurricane Katrina to "global warming" is twofold: that "global warming" is happening, and that in consequence either the frequency or the intensity of tropical weather systems such as hurricanes is increasing.

Neither of these propositions is true. Yes, there has been "global warming" for 300 years, since the end of the 60-year period of unusually low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum (after the celebrated Astronomer Royal who studied it). But there has been no net warming since 1995, and Keenlyside et al, in the theological journal Nature a few months ago, say they do not expect a new record year for global temperatures until 2015 at the earliest. If these theologians are correct, there will have been a 20-year period of no net "global warming" even though the presence of the devil Siotu in the ether grows inexorably stronger. And, secondly, the number of Atlantic hurricanes making landfall has actually fallen throughout the 20th century, even as temperatures have risen. Indeed, some theologians have argued that warmer weather actually reduces the temperature differential between sea and sky that generates hurricanes, reducing their frequency, and that the extra heat in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system increases wind-shear in tropical storms, tending to reduce their intensity. Certainly the frequency of intense tropical cyclones has fallen throughout the 30-year satellite record, even though temperatures have increased compared with 30 years ago. Also, the damage done by Hurricane Katrina was chiefly caused by the failure of the Democrat-led city administration to heed repeated warnings from the Corps of Engineers that the levees needed to be strengthened.

Next, you mention the recent earthquake damage at Galveston, and you imply that this is something new and terrible. Perhaps you would like to do some research of your own to verify whether the High Priests of your Church, some of whom have blamed the Galveston incident on the wrath of the devil Siotu, are likely to be telling the truth. And how, you may ask, may a non-theologian such as yourself argue theology with your High Priests? Well, the Galveston incident will give you just one indication of the many ways in which a lay member of the Church of "Global Warming" may verify for himself whether or not the Great Druids of his religion are speaking the truth from their pulpits in the media. Cast your eye back just over a century, to 1906, and look up what happened to Galveston then. Which was worse - Galveston 2008 or Galveston 1906? Next, check the global mean surface temperature in 1906: many theology faculties compile surface temperature data and make it publicly available to the faithful and to infidels alike. Was the global mean surface temperature significantly lower or significantly higher in 2008 than in 1906? What implications do your two answers have for your proposition that Galveston 2008 can be attributed to "global warming"?

Next, you mention fires in California. Once again, you can either sit slumped in your pew, gazing in adoration at the Archdruids as their pious faces flicker across your television screen, or you can do a little research for yourself. It may, for instance, occur to you to ask whether droughts were worse in the United States in the second half of the 20th century than they were in the first half. Once again, you may want to check with your local theological faculty to obtain the answer to this question. Or you may like to pick up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. And you may want to verify whether temperatures in the second half of the 20th century were warmer than in the first half. Once again, what are the implications of your two answers for your proposition that "global warming" is causing forest fires? You could also talk to the Fire Department in California and obtain its data on the causes of forest fires. You might be mightily surprised by the answers you get.

Next, you talk of beetles in your forests destroying natural resources. Here, you could ask the Druids just a couple of simple questions. What evidence do they have, if any, that whichever species of beetle you have in mind has not wrought havoc in the forests before? And, even if your clergy think that they have evidence that the beetle-damage is new, what evidence do they have, if any, that the beetle-damage is greater because of "global warming" than it would otherwise have been? Of course, you could ask them the wider question what evidence there is that anthropogenic "global warming", as opposed to solar warming, is the reason for the temperature increases that have occurred over the past 300 years. The more honest parish priests will admit that for 250 of the past 300 years none of the inferred warming can be attributed to human industry. They will also be compelled to concede, if you press them, that the warming of the most recent 50 years has not occurred at a rate any greater than that which was observed before, so that it is in fact very difficult to discern any anthropogenic signal at all in the temperature record.

Next, you talk of people migrating from one place to another because in some places water has become scarce. Once again, it is easy for a layman, whether a true believer such as yourself or not, to verify whether such migrations are as a result of "global warming". For instance, you could ask whether there have been changing patterns of drought and flood before in human history. Once you have collected some historical data - most theological faculties have quite a lot of this available, though you may have to dig a little to get it - you could compare previous migrations with those of which you now speak. And you could also ask your local parish priest whether a theological phenomenon known as the Clausius-Clapeyron relation mandates that, as the atmosphere warms, the carrying-capacity of the space occupied by the atmosphere for water vapor decreases, remains static, or increases near-exponentially. Once you have found the answers to these not particularly difficult questions, you may like to spend some of your devotional time meditating on the question whether, or to what extent, the changes in patterns of flood and drought that have occurred in the past give you any confidence that such changes occurring today are either worse than those in the past or attributable to "global warming", whether caused by the increasing presence of the devil Siotu in the atmosphere or by the natural evolution of the climate. During your meditation, you may like to refer to the passage from the 2001 edition of the Holy Book of the IPCC that describes the climate as "a complex, non-linear, chaotic object" whose long-term future evolution cannot reliably be predicted.

If you are willing to reflect a little on the questions I have raised - and, with the exception of the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, I have done my best to avoid anything that might be too technical for a layman to find out for himself - you will perhaps come to realize that there is very little basis in scientific fact for the alarmist, hellfire preaching in which your clergy love to indulge. And you may even find your faith in your new religion beginning to weaken a little in the face of the truths that you will have unearthed by the not particularly difficult process of simply checking those statements of your clergy that you can easily and independently verify. There are, of course, many environmental problems posed by the astonishing recent success of humankind. If you were concerned, for instance, about deforestation, or the loss of species whose habitats have been displaced by humans, then your concerns would have a good grounding in fact. But, given the abject failure of global temperatures to rise as the Druids had forecast, it must surely be clear to you that the influence of the devil Siotu on global temperatures - your theologians call this "climate sensitivity" - must be a great deal smaller than your Holy Book asks you to believe.

Finally, you may wonder why I have so scathingly described your pious belief in your new religion as founded upon blind faith rather than upon the light of reason. I have drafted this email in this way so that you can perhaps come to see for yourself just how baffling it is to the likes of me, who were educated in the light of TH Huxley's dictum that the first duty of the scientist is skepticism, to see how easily your hierarchy is able to prey upon your naive credulity. I do not target this comment at you alone: there are far too many others who, like you, are in positions of some authority and whose duty to think these things through logically is great, and yet who simply fail to ask even the most elementary and blindingly obvious questions before sappily, happily, clappily believing in, and parroting by rote, whatever the current Establishment proposes. I do not know whether you merely believe all that you are told by the Druids because otherwise you will find yourself in conflict with other true believers among your colleagues or, worse, among your superiors. If you are under pressures of this kind, I do sympathize. But if you are free to think for yourself without penalty, may I beg you - in the name of humanity - to give the use of reason a try?

Why "in the name of humanity"? Because, although the noisy preachers from the media pulpits have found it expedient not to say so, there have been food riots all round the world as the biofuel scam whipped up by the High Priests of your religion takes vast tracts of agricultural land out of food production. Millions are now starving because the price of food has doubled in little more than a year. A leaked report by the World Bank says that fully three-quarters of that doubling has occurred as a direct result of the biofuel scam. So your religion is causing mass starvation in faraway countries, and is even causing hardship to the poorest in your own country. Can you, in conscience, look away from the sufferings that your beliefs are inflicting upon the poorest and most helpless people in the world? - Monckton of Brenchley

The Nonsense of Global Warming

By Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author

August was one of the nastiest months I can remember: torrential rain; a hailstorm or two; cold, bitter winds; and mists. But we are accustomed to such weather in England. Lord Byron used to say that an English summer begins on July 31 and ends on Aug. 1. He called 1816 "the year without a summer." He spent it gazing across Lake Geneva, watching the storms, with 18-year-old Mary Shelley. The lightening flickering across the lake inspired her Frankenstein, the tale of the man-made monster galvanized into life by electricity.

This summer's atrocious weather tempted me to tease a Green whom I know. "Well, what about your weather theory now?" (One of the characteristics of Greens is that they know no history.) He replied: "Yes, this weather is unprecedented. England has never had such an August before. It's global warming, of course." That's the Greens' stock response to anything weather-related. Too much sun? "Global warming." Too little sun? "Global warming." Drought? "Global warming." Floods? "Global warming." Freezing cold? "Global warming."

I wish the great philosopher Sir Karl Popper were alive to denounce the unscientific nature of global warming. He was a student when Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was first published and then successfully tested. Einstein said that for his theory to be valid it would have to pass three tests. "If," Einstein wrote to British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington, "it were proved that this effect does not exist in nature, then the whole theory would have to be abandoned."

To Popper, this was a true scientific approach. "What impressed me most," he wrote, "was Einstein's own clear statement that he would regard his theory as untenable if it should fail in certain tests." In contrast, Popper pointed out, there were pseudo-scientists, such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Marx claimed to be constructing a theory of scientific materialism based on scientific history and economic science. "Science" and "scientific" were words Marx used constantly. Far from formulating his theory with a high degree of scientific content and encouraging empirical testing and refutation, Marx made it vague and general. When evidence turned up that appeared to refute his theory, the theory was modified to accommodate the new evidence. It's no wonder that when communist regimes applied Marxism it proved a costly failure.

Freud's theories were also nonspecific, and he, too, was willing to adjust them to take in new science. We now know that many of Freud's central ideas have no basis in biology. They were formulated before Mendel's Laws were widely known and accepted and before the chromosomal theory of inheritance, the recognition of inborn metabolic errors, the existence of hormones and the mechanism of nervous impulse were known. As the scientist Sir Peter Medawar put it, Freud's psychoanalysis is akin to mesmerism and phrenology; it contains isolated nuggets of truth, but the general theory as a whole is false.

The idea that human beings have changed and are changing the basic climate system of the Earth through their industrial activities and burning of fossil fuels--the essence of the Greens' theory of global warming--has about as much basis in science as Marxism and Freudianism. Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.

Those who buy in to global warming wish to drastically curb human economic and industrial activities, regardless of the consequences for people, especially the poor. If the theory's conclusions are accepted and agreed upon, the destructive results will be felt most severely in those states that adhere to the rule of law and will observe restrictions most faithfully. The global warming activists' target is the U.S. If America is driven to accept crippling restraints on its economy it will rapidly become unable to shoulder its burdens as the world's sole superpower and ultimate defender of human freedoms. We shall all suffer, however, as progress falters and then ceases and living standards decline.

Out of Balance

When I'm driving to my country home in Somerset, I pass two examples of the damage Greens can cause when their views are accepted and applied. Thanks to heavy government subsidies, many farmers switched from growing food to biofuel crops--perhaps the most expensive form of energy ever devised. The result has been a world shortage of food, with near starvation in some places, and a rise in the cost of food for everyone. We're now getting wise to this ridiculous experiment; shares in biofuels have fallen, and farmers are switching back to their proper work. But the cost has been enormous.

The other thing I pass is a new windmill, spinning slowly around. Windmills were the great invention of the early Middle Ages--man harnessing nature and using it to replace muscle power. When I was a boy more than 70 years ago there were still a few windmills, but nobody doubted they were on their way out. The thought of going back to wind power would have seemed preposterous. Nevertheless, under pressure from Greens this has happened. Wind power is a grotesquely expensive and inefficient form of energy, and the new windmills are hideous things, ruining the landscape and making an infernal noise.

Marxism, Freudianism, global warming. These are proof--of which history offers so many examples--that people can be suckers on a grand scale. To their fanatical followers they are a substitute for religion. Global warming, in particular, is a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science. If people are in need of religion, why don't they just turn to the genuine article?


Big eco-brother is watching you!

Keeping track of your carbon footprint could become as simple as slipping a mobile phone in your pocket: a London-based start-up company has developed software for mobile phones that uses global positioning satellites to work out automatically whether you are walking, driving or flying and then calculate your impact on the environment.

Carbon Diem's inventors claim that, by using GPS to measure the speed and pattern of movement, their algorithm can identify the mode of transport being used. It can therefore calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that a journey has emitted into the atmosphere - without any need for input from the traveller.

The system's inventor, Andreas Zachariah, a graduate student of the Royal College of Art in London and chief executive of the Carbon Hero company, said that Carbon Diem is the world's first automated carbon calculator.

Because it keeps a constantly updated diary of a person's carbon emissions, Zachariah said that a user can easily track their environmental impact and, if they choose, modify their behaviour to lower-carbon alternatives.

"We're facilitating people to make little changes and allow those changes to be noted and registered and possibly shared," he said. "If lots of people realise we're in this marathon [in tackling climate change] and we're not running alone, then we actually think people will be motivated to stick to changes."

He has tested the software in Nokia and Blackberry phones, using computer algorithms to predict the kind of transport a person is taking. He claims that in tests over the past year, the software was almost 100% accurate in working out when people were on airplanes or trains; it was between 65-75% accurate at guessing when people travelled on buses.

Zachariah said he had the idea for Carbon Diem when he tried to work out his own carbon footprint using the many online calculators available. These usually involve manually entering the details of type of transport and the length of a journey. "The whole process is so painful," Zachariah said. "That's when I realised it had to be effortless."

Zachariah believes companies could also benefit from the software, as firms committing to reducing their environmental impact may need to collect travel data on their employees. He accepts there could be concerns over privacy but says the software can be used to record only the carbon impact, not the actual routes.

Friends of the Earth's climate campaigner, Robin Webster, said: "Individuals have an important role to play in tackling climate change - and technologies like the Carbon Diem could help people cut their carbon footprint."

The European Space Agency (Esa) gave the Carbon Diem software a regional award last year in its European satellite navigation competition. It will launch commercially in spring next year.


Reality Check: McCain Prius Backlash

In the battleground state of Michigan, John McCain is taking heat in recent days for purchasing foreign cars - especially the pet Prius he bought his daughter.

Welcome back to the real world, candidate McCain. As a senator, McCain has basked in the approving glow of Washington and press elites who think that purchasing a Toyota Prius is a high moral achievement. McCain was quick to note to the Detroit News, when he visited us during the primaries, that he had purchased the Japanese-made hybrid for his daughter - part of his moral duty to "do everything" to "save the planet." His hybrid investment no doubt is also well received at Georgetown and Sedona diner parties.

But now that he is campaigning in the industrial Midwest, his purchase is being seen in a wholly different moral light: A betrayal of American industries trying to "save American jobs." Union independents - so-called Reagan Democrats - are crucial to McCain winning here in November, a fact that Obama-supporting UAW President Ron Gettelfinger knows all too well. So Gettelfinger has unleashed a fusillade of criticism aimed at McCain for buying foreign.

It's not that the UAW chief is opposed to hybrids, mind you. But if it's green McCain wants, he should buy a Ford Escape hybrid as Gettelfinger's man Obama has done. Never mind that McCain's personal car (he owns 13 vehicles in all, just three of them foreign) - a Cadillac CTS - contains 82 percent of domestic-manufactured parts while Obama's Ford contains only 63 percent.

"`Buy American' can't just be a slogan John McCain rolls out when he's in Michigan," Gettelfinger said Sunday. "We are going to make an all-out, full-court press to make sure these issues get out in front of our members and the general public." Saving the planet apparently isn't common cocktail conversation with these voters.

All of which serves as a reminder that green is an upper-class thing. Those politicians who think it trumps middle-class pocketbook issues need only look at how easily Mr. McCain's Prius can be exploited.


'World is riding a 50-million-year-long cooling trend'

With all the focus on human-triggered global warming, it may be hard to imagine that the world is riding a 50-million-year-long cooling trend. But it is, and blame the trend on a continental-scale collision, say geophysicists Dennis Kent of Rutgers University and Giovanni Muttoni of the University of Milan in Italy.

Researchers say there is strong evidence that increases in atmospheric CO2 contributed to a warm spell 50 million years ago dubbed the Early Eocene climate optimum - the warmest period in 65 million years. But over the following 15 million years, deep sea temperatures fell by about 10.8 degrees F., reflecting a significant cooling at the surface. This cooling ultimately allowed the cycle of ice ages to emerge.

Drs. Kent and Muttoni have mined paleomagnetic and other data and suggest that atmospheric CO2 dropped because India collided with Eurasia, shutting down a productive, natural CO2 factory.

Some 120 million years ago, the subcontinent that is now India was migrating north from Antarctica. As it moved, it shoved the ocean crust that was ahead of it under an existing crustal plate. As long as this zone off the Eurasian coast was under water, bottom muck enriched by carbon from the biologically-rich ocean plunged under the plate. It got recycled as lava in volcanoes along a geological feature dubbed the Kohistan Arc, as well as in a vast lava-oozing formation called the Deccan Traps. The eruptions released the carbon as CO2, which helped warm the climate. But once India collided with Eurasia 50 million years ago, India rode over the top of the zone and shut off the process. This, plus changes in ocean circulation as continents rearranged themselves, contributed to the long chill, the researchers suggest.

The results appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Australia: Professor "Think of a number"

It is clear that there is no science involved here -- just rather inept politics

The federal government's top climate change adviser Ross Garnaut has toughened his recommended greenhouse targets - but fears they won't come to pass. After infuriating green groups earlier this month by recommending a 10 per cent greenhouse target by 2020, he's now more open to a 25 per cent cut in emissions. He also aspires to a 90 per cent target by 2050, compared with the Federal Government's 60 per cent goal.

Professor Garnaut today released his long-awaited 620-page final report on what the nation should do about climate change. "Strong mitigation, with Australia playing its proportionate part, is in Australia's interests,'' the report says. ''(Australia) should express its willingness to reduce its own entitlements to emissions from 2000 levels by 25 per cent by 2020, and by 90 per cent by 2050 in the context of an international agreement.'' [The escape hatch]



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Blind Greenie propaganda in "The Economist"

A comment in reply by Philip Stott, Emeritus professor of biogeography from the University of London

Your assertion that "global warming is happening faster than expected" exhibits a disturbing degree of cognitive dissonance ("Adapt or die ", September 13th). Since 1998 the world's average surface temperature has exhibited no warming, according to all the main temperature records. The trend has been a combination of flatlining and cooling, with a marked plunge over the past year; many countries, including Australia, Canada, China and the United States, experienced severe winters.

Moreover, recent work demonstrates that the Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for at least a further decade through the impact of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. In addition, the next 11-year cycle of solar storms-Solar Cycle 24-is late by more than two years. The sun is currently spotless, conditions that obtained during the "Dalton Minimum", an especially cold period that lasted several decades starting from 1790 and which was implicated in the rout of Napoleon's Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812.

Finally, one expert, Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has gone so far as to give warning that the Earth may enter a new "Little Ice Age" for up to 80 years because of decreases in solar activity. The immediate portents thus point in the direction of a cooling period.

Whatever one thinks about longer-term trends in world average temperatures and their possible relationship with carbon emissions, it cannot be claimed that currently "global warming is happening faster than expected". It troubles me when a publication with the standing of The Economist permits such a gap between observed reality and political rhetoric.



Governor Patrick says there's a real possibility that people in America could freeze to death this winter due to the soaring cost of home heating fuel. Patrick met today with members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation on Capitol Hill and later testified before a House panel on the need for heating aid in cold-weather states.

Patrick said the cost of heating a home -- whether by electricity, gas or oil -- is expected to cost between 20 and 31 percent more than a year ago. He said that will have an impact on many families, and not just those who are defined as low-income.

The House has approved legislation to double the government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to 5.1 billion dollars for the coming winter. Massachusetts would receive 163 million dollars under the plan, an increase of 36 million dollars from the last fiscal year.


Japanese convenience stores under attack

Facing attack from critics that want convenience stores to shut down at night as a measure to prevent global warming, the Japan Franchise Association has responded by stating that convenience stores play a crucial role as safe havens for lost children and victims of crime:
More than 13,000 cases of women finding refuge in convenience stores across the country were reported during fiscal 2007. Nearly half of them occurred after 11 p.m. and about 40 percent were due to stalkers and molesters, the association said. In addition, there were 6,000 cases of lost children requiring assistance and 12,000 cases of elderly people found wandering the streets alone.

The 12 companies that comprise the JFA operate around 42,000 convenience stores. Explaining the significance of convenience stores, a JFA official said they provide a "substitute for `koban' (police boxes) and streetlights in the middle of the night."

The National Police Agency says that koban and "hashutsujo" police branch offices are located at about 13,000 places across the country, but that number is down by around 1,000 from five years earlier.

In addition, the JFA has also stated that convenience stores with limited nighttime hours would still have to keep on their refrigeration systems when closed, so the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be negligible.


British Green heretic persecuted for his nuclear views

The climate change expert Mark Lynas has been scorned by eco-colleagues for daring to speak up for atomic power. He states his case below

I know I should be furious. The EDF takeover of British Energy means that four nuclear power stations could now be built around the UK, the first nuclear new build in a generation. As a long-standing Green party member, one who chops his own wood, grows his own leeks, keeps chickens and puts the kids in washable nappies, antinuclear indignation should spring easily to my lips.

After all, energy is something I care about. The last time I checked my carbon budget, I came in at a fifth of the national average. I rarely fly, even when booked to address faraway audiences about my personal obsession, climate change - a subject I've covered in three books. Whenever the word "nuclear" comes up at my talks, a shudder runs through the room. Because everyone knows that real environmentalists loathe nuclear power. It is just evil. Full stop.

Except, well, I don't believe that any more. Just a month ago I had a Damascene conversion: the Green case against nuclear power is based largely on myth and dogma. My tipping point came when I discovered just how much nuclear power has changed since I first set my mind against it. Prescription for the Planet, a new book by the American writer Tom Blees, opened my eyes to fourth-generation "fast-breeder" reactors, which use fuel much more efficiently than the old-style reactors, produce shorter-lived waste and can also be designed to be "walk-away safe".

Best of all, these new reactors - prototypes of which have already been tested - can produce power by burning up existing stocks of nuclear waste. As Blees puts it: "Thus we have a prodigious supply of free fuel that is actually even better than free, for it is material that we are quite desperate to get rid of." Who could object to that?

Just about everyone on the eco-scene, it turned out. I began to receive e-mails from friends and colleagues warning me off the topic. Did I really want to risk my entire reputation by alienating the green movement? The backlash to my first magazine article on the subject prompted my inbox to collapse, the blogs to drip with venom, the dirty looks to multiply.

A former Greenpeace campaigner posted on my website that I needed to show "a bit of humility" and "less arrogance". On Greenpeace's blog my views were mocked as "wishful thinking of the day". On Radio 4's Today programme, Green party leader Caroline Lucas accused me of having "lost the plot". When I argued back, she accused me of "just being silly". I was a traitor.

This was a moment I had been dreading for nearly three years, ever since I first suspected that much of what I had been brought up to believe about nuclear power - that it is, without exception, dirty, dangerous and unnecessary - was untrue. Science has moved on. The old figures just don't stack up any more.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear is just as low-carbon a power source as wind and solar: the world's 439 operating nuclear reactors save the planet from 2 billion extra tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which would have been emitted had coal been used instead.

And those dangers? They're still there but we need to discuss them truthfully. Take Chernobyl. We all know it was a disaster: the Greenpeace website states a death toll of 60,000 already and predicts another 140,000 deaths in the future. But these statistics fly in the face of mainstream science: according to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, 28 people died in the initial phase and several thousand more have suffered from nonfatal thyroid cancer because of the accident. The UN report concludes that "there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident" - so the real death toll from the world's worst nuclear accident is tiny. On a deaths per gigawatt-year basis, nuclear is safer than coal and oil.

Curiosity whetted, I searched the scientific literature for evidence to support the other great green charge levelled at nuclear power: it kills its neighbours. I sifted through piles of rigorous epidemiological studies from all over the world, searching for proof that people who live near nuclear sites are more prone to cancer and leukaemia. None of the reputable journals turned up a link. These are just two examples of eco-myths: there are many more. If only we were allowed to discuss them without being flayed for heresy.

When I e-mailed a senior ecological scientist with my conclusions, he agreed, but only privately. "Do not cite me as promoting nuclear," he begged. I am still shocked that people of his stature are too intimidated to speak out. The result of this fear is that the public is dangerously misinformed about nuclear power.

I have finally thought of something useful that I can do with my Green party membership card: I'll auction it on eBay and send the money to EDF - with a suggestion that it beefs up its marketing department. Any bids?


Global warming has paused: We still need to study nature's contribution to trend

By Syun-Ichi Akasofu, a former director of the Geophysical Institute and the International Arctic Research Center, both on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Recent studies by the Hadley Climate Research Center (UK), the Japan Meteorological Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of East Anglia (UK) and the University of Alabama Huntsville show clearly that the rising trend of global average temperature stopped in 2000-2001. Further, NASA data shows that warming in the southern hemisphere has stopped, and that ocean temperatures also have stopped rising.

The global average temperature had been rising until about 2000-2001. The International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and many scientists hypothesize rising temperatures were mostly caused by the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide (CO2), and they predicted further temperature increases after 2000. It was natural to assume that CO2 was responsible for the rise, because CO2 molecules in the atmosphere tend to reflect back the infrared radiation to the ground, preventing cooling (the greenhouse effect) and also because CO2 concentrations have been rapidly increasing since 1946. But, this hypothesis on the cause of global warming is just one of several.

Unfortunately, many scientists appear to forget that weather and climate also are controlled by nature, as we witness weather changes every day and climate changes in longer terms. During the last several years, I have suggested that it is important to identify the natural effects and subtract them from the temperature changes. Only then can we be sure of the man-made contributions. This suggestion brought me the dubious honor of being designated "Alaska's most famous climate change skeptic."

The stopping of the rise in global average temperature after 2000-2001 indicates that the hypothesis and prediction made by the IPCC need serious revision. I have been suggesting during the last several years that there are at least two natural components that cause long-term climate changes.

The first is the recovery (namely, warming) from the Little Ice Age, which occured approximately 1800-1850. The other is what we call the multi-decadal oscillation. In the recent past, this component had a positive gradient (warming) from 1910 to 1940, a negative gradient (cooling - many Fairbanksans remember the very cold winters in the 1960s) from 1940 to 1975, and then again a positive gradient (warming - many Fairbanksans have enjoyed the comfortable winters of the last few decades or so) from 1975 to about 2000. The multi-decadal oscillation peaked around 2000, and a negative trend began at that time.

The second component has a large amplitude and can overwhelm the first, and I believe that this is the reason for the stopping of the temperature rise. Since CO2 has only a positive effect, the new trend indicates that natural changes are greater than the CO2 effect, as I have stated during the last several years.

Future changes in global temperature depend on the combination of both the recovery from the Little Ice Age (positive) and the multi-decadal oscillation (both positive and negative). We have an urgent need to learn more about these natural changes to aid us in predicting future changes.


Climate change only the 5th priority for Australians

AUSTRALIANS rate protecting jobs and strengthening the economy ahead of tackling climate change on a list of foreign policy goals, according to a new poll. In a rearrangement of priorities reflecting the level of global financial uncertainty, climate change tumbled from being the most important issue in last year's pre-federal election Lowy Institute Poll to just equal fifth this year. A majority still said climate was a highly important issue, but the drop was significant - from 75% to 66%.

Comparatively, the importance of keeping the economy strong (79%) and job protection (70%) both increased. "Concern over economic issues has risen at the expense of the environment," Lowy Institute executive director Allan Gyngell said.

Environmental issues seem to create a disconnect in the public. While an overwhelming majority want action on climate change, more than half of those polled - 53% - were not willing to pay more than $10 extra a month on their electricity bill to help the fight against rising greenhouse gas.

Political leaders are often quick to highlight the limits on Australia's ability to combat global environment problems alone. However, recent surveys indicate Australians are more attuned to climate concerns. A Melbourne University AsiaLink poll earlier this month showed almost 60% of Australians ranked climate change as their main worry, compared with barely 20% of Indonesians. While in the United States, a poll in March suggested almost 60% of Americans did not believe global warming would pose a serious threat to their way of life.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Going over the top in the `climate war'

A recent BBC series showed how dubious scientific conclusions are weapons in the politicised debate over global warming

`Anyone who thinks global warming has stopped has their head in the sand. The evidence is clear - the long-term trend in global temperatures is rising, and humans are largely responsible for this rise.' (1) This emphatic statement from the UK Met Office yesterday is just the latest shot in the `climate war'. But in truth, the polarised and highly politicised nature of the current discussion on global warming features plenty of people on both sides with their heads firmly buried, using `science' to disguise the real debate about the future political and economic direction of society.

This was neatly illustrated by a recent BBC TV series, Earth: The Climate Wars, which ended on Sunday. Last week's episode, entitled `Fightback' was a particularly one-sided attempt to undermine the critics of the orthodox position on global warming.

Iain Stewart, professor of geosciences communication at Plymouth University, introduced last week's instalment with the words: `Global warming - the defining challenge of the twenty-first century.' The programme examined the arguments made by the two putative `sides' in the global warming debate, to show `how [the sceptic's] positions have changed over time'. But Stewart misconstrued scepticism of the idea that `global warming is the defining issue of our time' with scepticism of climate research. In this story, `the scientists' occupied one camp (situated conveniently on the moral high ground) and the bad-minded, politically and financially motivated sceptics the other. But there was no nuance, no depth and no justice done to the debate in this unsophisticated tale, and it did nothing to help the audience understand the science.

`At the start of the 1990s it seemed the world was united', Stewart told us. World leaders were gathered at the Rio Summit to sign up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the instrument that would pave the way for the Kyoto Protocol. He recalled the excitement felt by researchers at the prospect of the world being united by concern for the environment. `Even George Bush [Senior] was there. But the consensus didn't last.' Sceptics, it seems, are responsible, not just for the imminent end of the world, but also for corroding global unity.

Stewart's intention was to show that `the scientific consensus' existed prior to international agreements to prevent climate change. But the basis of the UNFCCC was not a consensus about scientific facts. It could not have been, because scientific facts about human influence on the climate did not exist in 1992, as is revealed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) First Assessment Report in 1990, which concluded that `The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect from observations is not likely for a decade or more.' Even the second IPCC assessment report in 1995 did not provide the world with the certainty that Stewart claims: `Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors.' (2)

Instead of consensus and certainty, the UNFCCC was driven by the precautionary principle. Principle 15 of the Rio declaration states: `In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.'

Omitting the role of the precautionary principle creates the idea that scientists have always known that industrial activity caused global warming. So, with the benefit of hindsight, Stewart could lump various objections to the interpretation of controversial evidence which existed at the time into one `sceptic' category. Not according to the scientific substance of the argument, but according to whether the argument was later vindicated; not by the consistency of the argument with reality, but whether or not it `supported' the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

In 1992, the data simply wasn't available to conclude with any great confidence that global warming was happening. But by the logic of Stewart's argument, as long as you were right about global warming being a `fact' at that time - even if that meant in reality you were wrongly interpreting the evidence available - you were a `scientist'. But, if you were right about the unreliability of data in 1992, then you were wrong in 2001, because you were a `sceptic'. If this were just a debate within an academic discipline, such challenges would not have any major significance outside of it. But Stewart, like many others, takes routine and isolated differences of scientific opinion, and groups them to imbue them with political significance.

A warming world?

The first scientific debate Stewart presented concerned the reliability of data generated by compiling the records of tens of thousands of surface-based weather stations. Sceptics had argued that these installations were too sparsely distributed and data from them had been contaminated by urbanisation over the twentieth century. Stewart demonstrated that this is indeed a problem. He used the example of the temperature at Las Vegas Airport - home to a monitoring station and heavily urbanised since it was originally set up - and compared it with the temperature outside the city limits, which was markedly cooler. This suggests that making comparisons over time using data from many such stations, where the local environment has changed, may result in over-stating global warming.

The sceptics' argument was seemingly corroborated in the 1990s by satellite data that showed a slight cooling trend over the 1980s. Ten years later, it turned out that the satellite data had been flawed, Stewart told us. The satellite's orbits had been drifting downward, and the data they had produced improperly compiled. A correction to the data revealed a warming trend. `The sceptics had to admit the world was warming', said Stewart.

But here again, we see an artefact of the retrospective polarisation of the `climate wars'. The truth was that both `sides' were wrong while they had invested their confidence either in the surface station data or the satellite data; both sets of data were `wrong' - Stewart had just demonstrated it himself. But the nuances of the debate don't interest Stewart. `The scientists' are vindicated by any evidence which shows that `the earth is warming', regardless of its quality. The sceptics, on the other hand, are not vindicated for having pointed out that the surface station record was questionable.

The not-so jolly `hockey stick'

Stewart then examined the sceptic claim that an episode in Earth's history known as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) shows that current temperatures are not unprecedented in recent geological history. This was countered by climate researcher Michael Mann, who reconstructed past temperatures where no instrument data were available. By analysing `proxies', such as tree-ring width, ice cores, and coral reefs, he produced a graph which apparently revealed that the MWP was not a global phenomenon, and showed current temperatures to be in excess of anything in the previous millennium.

`Sceptics hated it' announced Stewart. Indeed they did. Mann's study remains highly controversial for good reasons. But Stewart gave no time to explaining the objection to these reconstructions, other than to characterise them as `personal attacks' against Mann. The graphic had been the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 Third Assessment Report, used to demonstrate the unequivocal influence of human activity on the climate.

Yet perhaps one of the reasons it was so prominent - in spite of criticism - is that Mann himself was a lead author on the chapter which featured it (3). The IPCC is understood to be a meta-review of the available literature on climate change, but allowing authors to review their own work represents something of a departure from the scientific process. In 2007, following continued criticism of Mann's method, the IPCC were far more circumspect about the value of such reconstructions. Where Stewart presented these reconstructions as `proof' of todays high temperatures, the IPCC give the statement that `twentieth century was the warmest in at least the past [1,300 years]' just 66 per cent confidence (4).

Sceptical `guns for hire'

It is only Stewart's binary treatment of the issue into true and false and `scientists'/'sceptics' that allowed him to reach his conclusion: `There are a lot of people who don't want global warming to be true', he tells us. `Cutting back on greenhouse gases threatens the freedom of companies to go about their business.' According to Stewart, companies used the media to emphasise the uncertainties in climate science for their own ends - profit - a cause and strategy taken up by the Bush administration.

This is an almost verbatim copy of an argument put forward by a prominent climate change advocate and science historian at the University of California, San Diego, Naomi Oreskes. She had claimed that the `climate change denial' movement comprised the same individuals and network of organisations that had been instrumental in denying the link between smoking and cancer (5). By emphasising doubt and uncertainty in the claims of honest and decent scientists, Oreskes claims, `the tobacco strategy' aimed to influence public opinion to secure the interests of oil and tobacco companies, and the political Right. It should be no surprise then, that Naomi Oreskes was credited on the first episode of the series.

Stewart's and Oreskes' conspiracy theories depend on reducing scientific arguments to meaningless factoids, and casting the debate as one between goodies and baddies. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the film's closing moments. In order to demonstrate that `the sceptics' had changed their arguments in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, the film used footage from the Manhattan Conference on Climate Change earlier this year, a meeting that featured a large number of sceptical writers and researchers.

`For years, climatologist Pat Michaels has been one of the most vocal sceptics. And yet, today, he's in surprising agreement with the advocates of global warming', said Stewart. Michaels is then shown giving his talk, saying `global warming is real, and in the second half of the twentieth century, humans had something to do with it'. But there is nothing surprising about Michael's apparent turnaround, because it isn't one. A 2002 article in the Journal of Climatic Research, authored by Michaels et al argued for a revision of the IPCC's projections for the year 2100. Instead of saying that there would be no warming, the paper concluded that rises of `of 1.0 to 3.0 degrees Celsius, with a central value that averages 1.8 degrees Celsius' were more likely than the IPCC's range of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius (6). Hardly climate change denial.

What could have been an interesting film was instead a fiction. It attached fictional arguments to fictional interests to legitimise the politicisation of the debate - exactly what it accused the sceptics of. Rather than concentrating on the arguments that have actually been made, Stewart invented the sceptic's argument to turn climate science into an arena for an exhausted political argument for `change' that has failed to engage the public.

The real `climate war' is between those who do not believe that our future is determined by the weather and those who think that `climate change is the defining challenge of our time' and define themselves - and everybody else - accordingly. Don't expect a documentary film about it any time soon.


BBC investigated after peer says climate change programme was biased 'one-sided polemic'

The BBC is being investigated by television watchdogs after a leading climate change sceptic claimed his views were deliberately misrepresented. Lord Monckton, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, says he was made to look like a `potty peer' on a TV programme that `was a one-sided polemic for the new religion of global warming'.

Earth: The Climate Wars, which was broadcast on BBC 2, was billed as a definitive guide to the history of global warming, including arguments for and against. During the series, Dr Iain Stewart, a geologist, interviewed leading climate change sceptics, including Lord Monckton. But the peer complained to Ofcom that the broadcast had been unfairly edited.

`I very much hope Ofcom will do something about this,' he said yesterday. `The BBC very gravely misrepresented me and several others, as well as the science behind our argument. It is a breach of its code of conduct. `I was interviewed for 90 minutes and all my views were backed up by sound scientific data, but this was all omitted. They made it sound as if these were just my personal views, as if I was some potty peer. It was caddish of them.'

Ofcom confirmed it was looking into a `fairness complaint' about the documentary. A BBC spokesman said: `We stand by the programme.'

Lord Monckton, 56, a former journalist and Cambridge graduate, says scientific data shows the world is cooler today than in the Middle Ages. He appeared alongside other sceptics including distinguished Florida-based meteorologist Professor Fred Singer, John Christy, a climate change expert and adviser to the U.S. government and the climatologist Dr Patrick Michaels, of the University of Virginia. All their interviews, he claims, were heavily cut so that they appeared as personal views.

`We do not dispute that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but we do dispute its effects', he said. `The data shows that 2008 is the same temperature as 1980 and that the effects of these changes in the atmosphere are not negative but more likely to be beneficial.'

Lord Monckton played a key role in a legal challenge heard in the High Court in October 2007 in an effort to prevent Al Gore's film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, from being shown in English schools.


GAO Faults 'Credibility' Of CO2-Offset Market

The growing U.S. market for carbon offsets -- vouchers that let companies and individuals project an environmentally friendly image by paying others to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions -- is so opaque and loosely regulated that it offers consumers "limited assurance of credibility," according to a federal audit. The report, expected to be published on Friday, stops short of recommending new regulations. But it suggests members of Congress think carefully before letting companies use offsets as a means of complying with legislation to control carbon-dioxide emissions, which are not currently regulated by the U.S. government.

Estimates vary on the size of the U.S. offset market, with some analysts putting the value of U.S. carbon offsets traded in 2006 at $91.6 million, an amount expected to grow sharply as more companies and individuals seek to lighten their impact on the atmosphere, or at least appear to be trying. Some companies are also betting the offsets they buy now will count toward their obligations under a future mandatory U.S. emissions-reduction system.

As purchases of voluntary offsets have soared in recent years, so have questions about whether money being spent on them funds real emissions cuts. Such offsets, which are often bought by consumers from online sellers, are supposed to represent emissions avoided through projects such as installing wind turbines or planting trees. Skeptics -- including some members of Congress -- have questioned how consumers can know in the absence of federal regulation whether such cuts are actually being implemented, or would have happened anyway.

While the findings of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, are generally consistent with those criticisms and don't break new ground, they could help influence the design of whatever mandatory program for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions emerges from Washington.

The report says that in purchasing offsets from 33 retail providers, the GAO "did not always obtain sufficient information to understand exactly what we received as a result of the transaction." Because there is no single registry for keeping track of offset projects -- and ensuring that projects are not counted multiple times -- "it is difficult for consumers to determine the quality of the offsets they purchase," the report says.

Some kinds of offsets also are more credible than others, the auditors added. Planting trees, for example, "may not be permanent, because disturbances such as insect outbreaks and fire can return stored carbon to the atmosphere."

The report doesn't call for specific new regulations for the voluntary U.S. market. Instead, it suggests that if lawmakers decide to allow offsets in a mandatory scheme for reducing carbon emissions, they should consider setting clear rules on the types of projects that companies can use and a registry for tracking the creation and ownership of offsets.

Some of the GAO's other findings are likely to add fuel to a long-simmering conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the way that House Democratic leaders have gone about trying to make the Capitol's operations more environmentally friendly. The report finds that because of an error, the House chief administrative officer, Daniel Beard, last year bought $24,447 more offsets than were needed under a broad effort by Democrats to reduce the House's carbon footprint.

"In our rush to demonstrate our green bona fides, we failed to remember our No. 1 mission -- to safeguard the public's money," said Rep. Tom Davis (R., Va.). A spokesman for Mr. Beard acknowledged the error but said the additional credits are in an account with the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary greenhouse-gas reduction and trading system whose members commit to cutting their emissions. The extra credits, the spokesman added, will be used to reduce the House's carbon footprint in 2009. "We regard the over-purchase as an investment in future attempts to offset our emissions," the spokesman added.


Fires of the Feds: How the Government Has Destroyed Forests

As the wildfires in California and elsewhere burn forests, homes, and businesses, and as a Katrina-sized evacuation continues, environmentalists and the media are making new claims: these disasters are the results of global warming.

According to a recent "60 Minutes" broadcast and new claims on CNN, global warming is causing these newest disasters, and if we wish to have fewer fires in the future, we need to "change our lifestyles" now. Declares one environmentalist publication:
The wildfires consuming Southern California are extraordinary: Extraordinary because they have claimed so many homes. [E]xtraordinary because they started so quickly and have burned so intensely. Extraordinary because they are exhausting the formidable firefighting resources in a region used to wildfire.

But in the years to come, they may become ordinary. Scientists have already tied increased frequency and intensity of wildfires to the changing climate, and scientists are confident that the conditions that will be brought on by global warming will only make conditions more ripe for wildfire.

Says Anderson Cooper of CNN, in plugging CNN's "Planet in Peril":
At the top of the next hour . the big picture. These fires are really a piece of it. Fire, drought, global warming, climate change, deforestation, it is all connected, tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. "Planet in Peril" starts in just 30 minutes.

There are even scientists providing the "fig leaf" for this new theory of forest fires, like this recent article from Science:
Western United States forest wildfire activity is widely thought to have increased in recent decades, yet neither the extent of recent changes nor the degree to which climate may be driving regional changes in wildfire has been systematically documented. Much of the public and scientific discussion of changes in western United States wildfire has focused instead on the effects of 19th- and 20th-century land-use history. We compiled a comprehensive database of large wildfires in western United States forests since 1970 and compared it with hydroclimatic and land-surface data. Here, we show that large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly in the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longer wildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. The greatest increases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests, where land-use histories have relatively little effect on fire risks and are strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.

The translation is this: government forest management has been just fine; global warming is the cause of the modern forest fires that are consuming huge acreage in the American West. Perhaps it is convenient that government-paid scientists tell us that the real problem is private enterprise producing all that carbon dioxide that is supposedly killing us all.

There is this little problem, however, of government management of western forests for more than a century that has given us a situation that has inevitably led to what we are now seeing. A recent paper by Alison Berry of the Property and Environment Research Center points to a much different - but familiar - culprit, the federal government. Writes Berry:
For most of the 20th century, U.S. federal fire policy focused on suppressing all fires on national forests. The goal was to protect timber resources and rural communities, but this policy ignored the ecological importance of fire. North American forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. Fire returns nutrients to soils, encourages growth of older fire-resistant trees, and promotes establishment of seedlings.

Decades of fire exclusion have produced uncharacteristically dense forests in many areas. Some forests, which previously burned lightly every 15-30 years, are now choked with vegetation. If ignited, these forests erupt into conflagrations of much higher intensity than historic levels. Grasses, shrubs, and saplings in the understory now form a fuel ladder, through which flames can climb to the forest canopy, killing entire forest stands.

The fire problem is exacerbated by decreasing federal timber harvests since the late 1980s. In the absence of fire, and with reduced timber harvests and thinning, numerous small diameter trees have proliferated. Stressed trees compete for scarce water, sunlight, and growing space.

To understand how we came to this place, we have to remember that we are dealing with old political legacies. First, the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 placed all new western lands in the hands of the federal government. Even today, the government owns more than half of all western lands.

Second, the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt gave us more than just belligerence and anti-business rhetoric; it also gave us socialistic government land policies. Roosevelt was strongly influenced by Gifford Pinchot, a Progressive who held to the view that the state would be a better manager of lands than private enterprise. According to Wikipedia:
Pinchot sought to turn public land policy from one that dispersed resources to private holdings to one that maintained federal ownership and management of public land. He was a Progressive who strongly believed in the Efficiency Movement. The most economically efficient use of natural resources was his goal; waste was his great enemy. His successes, in part, were grounded in the personal networks that he started developing as a student at Yale and continuing through his career. His personal involvement in the recruitment process led to high esprit de corps in the Forest Service and allowed him to avoid partisan political patronage. Pinchot capitalized on his professional expertise to gain adherents in an age when professionalism and science were greatly valued. He made it a high priority to professionalize the Forest Service; to that end he helped found the Yale School of Forestry as a source of highly trained men.

At the time, loggers were clear cutting large expanses of private forests, and some conservationists expressed alarm, fearing that all US forests could disappear soon. (Like so many other dire predictions, this one had no basis in fact, but was nonetheless a useful rhetorical tool to spread fear among the public, and to empower the state.)....

Simply put, the state knew best. During much of the 20th century, government forests were "managed" mostly to serve timber interests, and often engaged in outright policies of subsidizing logging firms. While the lumber industry thrived under those conditions, there were two problems. First, there was the issue of economic calculation in which the value of things depended as much on the political whims of Congress and the executive branch as the value that such resources would have in a free market.

Second, and more important to the present-day situation, the politics of forest management and fire suppression underwent important changes. While the Forest Service temporarily suspended its "Smokey the Bear" policy, a spate of huge wildfires in 1988, including the conflagration at Yellowstone National Park in which a "let it burn" policy was in effect, led to a huge public (or more specifically, political) outcry, so the policy was abandoned and Congress once again demanded fire suppression.

During the late 1980s, and especially during the Bush I and Clinton administrations, the government began to aggressively push the Endangered Species Act as a way to "preserve" western forests. Doing an about-face from its policies of permitting lumber firms from logging western forests, the policies were changed to "leave the forests absolutely alone," a policy that changed the character of the forests.

For one thing, no logging meant that trees would grow more closely together, making forests so dense that it became inevitable that once-routine fires would turn into conflagrations. While these policies were popular with environmentalists, they were disastrous for people who once depended on logging for a livelihood. (Let me also point out that many of the anti-logging and anti-mining directives of the Clinton Administration had the effect of impoverishing those counties that had the effrontery of voting for Clinton's political opponents in presidential elections. Whether this was by coincidence or by design is left up to the reader to decide.)

But while the loggers moved out, the millionaires moved in. Wealthy people who wanted to get away from the crowded West Coast cities built new homes in areas adjacent to national forests. However, environmentalist-dominated governments refused permission to these homeowners to clear land near their homes, which meant that if the nearby forests caught on fire, their homes would almost certainly burn down. Application of the Endangered Species Act to prevent homeowners from removing nearby natural fire hazards also helped to ensure that new homes would be vulnerable to fires.

This is especially true in the coastal mountains of Southern California, where the latest spate of fires have occurred. People have built their "dream homes" in the cooler and more scenic higher elevations, hoping that the danger of fire would remain only a danger and not reality. State and federal policies, citing the Endangered Species Act, have specifically prohibited individual landowners from protecting their own homes and property by changing the nearby landscape to lessen fire dangers.

Fires are natural in that they have always occurred on earth, and will continue to occur. The real problem with the current fires, however, is government. Governments - in the name of "scientific" and "ecological" management - have grossly mismanaged the natural environment. Environmental policy has operated on the assumption - as so eloquently stated by Lew Rockwell - that "private ownership is the enemy." He writes that environmentalists believe:
Nature is an end in itself. So it must be owned publicly, that is, by the state. The state, in its management of this land, must not do anything to it. There must not be controlled burning, brush clearing, clear cutting, or even tourism. We can admire it from afar, but the work of human hands must never intervene.

Indeed, we see the handiwork of such policies: utter destruction of human and animal habitat. Those endangered species that the law was supposed to protect are swallowed up along with the million-dollar houses that environmentalists hate. So much for the state that "protects" nature. In fact, government has dealt with the natural environment in much the same way that the US Armed Forces dealt with Vietnam: they have destroyed it in order to "save" it.


Carbon gas continues to rise -- while the weather gets COLDER!

The warming is just theory, not fact. Only the CO2 rise is fact. Report from Australia below does not mention that

GLOBAL carbon emissions are continuing to rise at alarming rates despite efforts by households and governments across the developed world to go green. Official new figures show the rate of emissions is increasing at an alarming 3.5 per cent a year - exceeding the worst-case scenarios of the UN's peak scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Despite years of effort to change our ways, the Global Carbon Project report shows that for the first time, humans are now emitting more than 10 billion tonnes of carbon annually. And the emissions are accelerating, having already increased over the past eight years at four times the rate in the 1990s.

The biggest problems have come from the developing world, which now accounts for more emissions than rich nations. China has overtaken the US as the world's biggest carbon emitter, two years earlier than expected and India is set to relegate Russia to fourth place within a year.

In Australia, meanwhile, the situation is just as worrying. Local fossil fuel emissions are growing by 2 per cent a year, despite all other developed nations cutting their pollution.

Perhaps most alarmingly, the report found that, globally, atmospheric carbon dioxide growth is now outstripping the growth of natural carbon dioxide sinks such as forests and oceans. And the figures only relate to carbon dioxide emissions. While the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at 383 parts per million (ppm), the concentration of total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is now about 410 ppm. According to the most recent UN political scientific reports, if the concentrations topped 450 ppm the world risks mass extinction of species and temperatures would soar more than 2.5C.

The report said the findings revealed a concerning trend in light of much-touted global efforts to curb emissions. All of these changes characterise a carbon cycle that is generating stronger climate forcing, and sooner than expected, it warned. British climate expert Corinne Le Quere said the numbers provided a stark reality check. The scale of efforts (to tackle emissions) is not enough, she said.

Meanwhile, the State Government announced it had purchased 18 per cent of its total energy bill last year from carbon offsets, hydro energy, wind farms and bagasse - a sugar cane by-product. But Queensland's 68,000 tonne reduction pales in comparison to the 1.8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases produced by China last year - 26,470 times the State Government's energy offset.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

BBC2 still furiously biased

The Climate Wars is at the centre of a new TV global warming row after four contributors claimed it misrepresented them.The complaints surround the 14 September episode of the three-part, in-house programme, in which presenter Dr Iain Stewart interviewed key global warming sceptics, including Lord Monckton of Brenchley.

Lord Monckton has made a formal complaint to Ofcom and the BBC Trust that the programme-makers unfairly misrepresented him in a 90-minute interview. "In the two minutes it [BBC2] broadcast, it omitted all my scientific points, including my criticism of the defective 'hockey-stick' graph which the presenter had questioned me about," Monckton told Broadcast.

Canadian climate expert Dr Tim Ball and fellow contributor Dr Fred Singer also told Broadcast that they would complain to Ofcom and another scientist, Dr Roy Spencer, said he was considering complaining to both Ofcom and the BBC Trust.

The row follows the controversy that surrounded Channel 4's 2007 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Ofcom said it had received four complaints from viewers about the 14 September episode of Climate Wars. The BBC said it stood by the programme.


Another skeptic: Dr. Martin Hertzberg, a retired Navy meteorologist with a PhD in physical chemistry

A letter to USA Today from Dr. Hertzberg [ruthhertzberg@msn.com]:

As a scientist and life-long liberal Democrat, I find the constant regurgitation of the anecdotal, fear mongering clap-trap about human-caused global warming (the Levi, Borgerson article of 9/24/08) to be a disservice to science, to your readers, and to the quality of the political dialogue leading up to the election. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows that the Gore-IPCC theory that human activity is causing global warming is false. For details see my article, "The Lynching of Carbon Dioxide", in the "guest authors" section of www.carbon-sense.com .

The difference between a scientist and propagandist is clear. If a scientist has a theory, he searches diligently for data that might contradict it so that he can test it further or refine it. The propagandist carefully selects only the data that agrees with his theory and dutifully ignores any that contradicts it. The global warming alarmists don't even bother with data! All they have are half-baked computer models that are totally out of touch with reality and have already been proven to be false.

Here is some of the latest data. From the El Nino year of 1998 until Jan., 2007, the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere near its surface decreased some 0.25 C. From Jan., 2007 until the Spring of 2008, it dropped a whopping 0.75 C. The National Weather Service just issued a Sea Ice Advisory for the Western and Arctic Alaskan Coastal waters for significant ice developing in the next 10 to 14 days, with sea surface temperatures some 2 to 8 C colder than last year. Such recent data is "just the tip of the iceberg" that is in process of sinking the Gore-IPCC ship of cards.

Strong heat island effect now recognized by NASA

Summer 2008 in Southern California goes down in the books as cooler than normal. The thermometer in downtown Los Angeles topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) just once in July, August and the first two-thirds of September. But don't expect this summer's respite from the usual blistering heat to continue in the years to come, cautions a group of NASA and university scientists: The long-term forecast calls for increased numbers of scorching days and longer, more frequent heat waves.

One hundred years of daily temperature data in Los Angeles were analyzed by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the University of California, Berkeley; and California State University, Los Angeles. They found that the number of extreme heat days (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32.2 degrees Celsius in downtown Los Angeles) has increased sharply over the past century. A century ago, the region averaged about two such days a year; today the average is more than 25. In addition, the duration of heat waves (two or more extreme heat days in a row) has also soared, from two-day events a century ago to one- to two-week events today.

"We found an astonishing trend - a dramatic increase in the number of heat waves per year," says Arbi Tamrazian, lead author of the study, and a senior at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tamrazian and his colleagues analyzed data from Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in downtown Los Angeles. They tracked the number of extreme heat days and heat waves from 1906 to 2006. The team found that the average annual maximum daytime temperature in Los Angeles has risen by 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 degrees Celsius) over the past century, and the minimum nighttime temperature has increased nearly as much. They also found that heat waves lasting six or more days have been occurring regularly since the 1970s. More recently, two-week heat waves have become more common....

So what's behind this long-term warming trend? Patzert says global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases is responsible for some of the overall heating observed in Los Angeles and the rest of California. Most of the increase in heat days and length of heat waves, however, is due to a phenomenon called the "urban heat island effect."

Heat island-induced heat waves are a growing concern for urban and suburban dwellers worldwide. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, studies around the world have shown that this effect makes urban areas from 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 6 degrees Celsius) warmer than their surrounding rural areas. Patzert says this effect is steadily warming Southern California, though more modestly than some larger urban areas around the world. "Dramatic urbanization has resulted in an extreme makeover for Southern California, with more homes, lawns, shopping centers, traffic, freeways and agriculture, all absorbing and retaining solar radiation, making our megalopolis warmer," Patzert said.

These trends may capture the attention of utility companies and public health officials. "We'll be using more power and water to stay cool," says study co-author Steve LaDochy of California State University, Los Angeles. "Extreme heat, both day and night, will become more and more dangerous, even deadly."


Shrinking Glaciers and Presidential Politics

CO2 Truth-Alert: Are earth's glaciers wasting away at an accelerating pace as a result of CO2-induced global warming? John McCain and Barack Obama believe they are, and they have plans for massive government programs to reverse the dreaded meltdown by reducing our country's CO2 emissions. But are these actions needed? Watch the video to find out.


There is No Natural Evidence for Man-made Global Warming

This is the third in a seven part series detailing our objections to plans by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to claim unlimited power over the life of every American. Those plans were laid out in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), dated July 11, 2008. The EPA is inviting comments to this advance notice. This article explains the second of our six major objections to the EPA plans. The total of our objections, including our letter, our comments, and a link to the EPA website, may be accessed here

We oppose these measures on the grounds of natural history, because claims to man-made global warming contradict the evidence from Earth's past and present.

The provisions in the ANPR are based on a specious, unproven, scientifically unsupported, a-historical claim that impending disaster is caused by our very prosperity. This claim is leading us into the clear and present danger of federal economic controls imposed on a scale previously intolerable in the United States.

As a bedrock to its proposals the EPA has accepted the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that man-made global warming is a settled issue. But the evidence of natural history shows no causal connection between so-called greenhouse gases and global temperatures. For a half a billion years, temperatures have risen and fallen independently of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations.

The EPA is also following the decision of the US Supreme Court that CO2, a natural compound vital to all living organisms, is a "pollutant." This ruling contradicts the evidence of natural history, the facts of biology, and the wisdom gleaned by farmers from 8,000 years of agriculture.

Claims that the Earth is now undergoing an unprecedented rise in temperature-both in absolute terms and in the rate of increase-should be examined using precedents from the long-term history of the Earth.[1] At least seven major ice age cycles have occurred in the last billion years, when mile-deep ice sheets periodically advanced beyond polar areas and engulfed regions that were once warm, before again melting in retreat. On a shorter timescale, some eleven glacial and interglacial periods have cycled during the past one million years. We are now living in a temporary interglacial warm period, the Holocene, that began with a relatively sudden rise in temperature about 11,000 years ago. We should expect the next glacial period to begin in the near future, meaning a few thousand years. These cyclical temperature changes in the Earth's prehistory have far surpassed the lesser variations since the dawn of industrial life.

What causes such temperature variations? One of the central tenets of the man-made global warming hypothesis is that high atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have a direct effect on temperatures around the globe. The thermometer, however, was not invented until the Renaissance. Scientists must study ancient temperatures and chemical concentrations indirectly, by gathering "proxy data" taken from fossils, tree rings, ice cores, coral reefs, peat bog cellulose and other evidence. All of this requires highly technical scientific interpretation, and is subject to new discoveries and complex methods of statistical analysis.

Using information derived from such proxy measurements, it is possible to reconstruct, at least roughly, temperature levels and the CO2 concentrations going back into the Earth's deep history. Dr. Christopher Scotese, a geologist at the University of Texas at Arlington, used ancient evidence and computer models to determine average temperatures going back over 600 million years ago (mya).[2] Other scientists have worked to determine CO2 concentrations.[3] A basic outline of these CO2 and temperature reconstructions is as follows (values are rounded to the accuracy implied in the figures). Bear in mind that the average temperature today is about 59øF, and CO2 is about 380 parts per million (ppm):

From 600 to 430 mya, CO2 was about 5000ppm; temperature was about 72øF. (One model has CO2 up to 7000 ppm, another as lower than 5000 ppm)

From 430 to 360 mya, CO2 fell below 1500ppm; temperatures shifted from 72øF to 54øF, then back up to 72øF

From 360 to 245 mya, CO2 fell to about 1000ppm; temperatures fell back to 54øF, then returned to 72øF, after a spike to 74øF

From 245 to 146 mya, CO2 held near 1000ppm; temperature stayed near 72øF, until falling to about 60øF. (Other reconstructions show CO2 as rising to about 2000 ppm about 200 mya, until falling again)

From 146 to 65 mya, CO2 decreased to 750ppm or less; temperatures-trending opposite to CO2-rose to 72øF

From 65 into the present, CO2 decreased to under 300ppm. Temperatures held at 72øF-far higher than today-then fell to 54øF before beginning to rise

This graph, Figure 1, illustrates these general trends. The heavy line shows average temperatures, the thin line shows a rough average of atmospheric CO2 concentrations:

Overall, the average global temperature has moved up and down between 54øF to 72øF, while atmospheric CO2 concentrations dropped from about 5000 to under 300ppm. If man-made global warming theory is correct, the Earth should have been blistering hot when CO2 was 16 times higher than today, and temperatures should have fallen when CO2 levels moved below 1000ppm. Even if other factors mitigated extreme temperature changes, there should be some correlation between temperatures and CO2. The Earth's temperatures, however, varied independently of the CO2. The Earth was an average of 72øF-far higher than today-when CO2 was both 5000ppm and under 750ppm.

Dr. R. Tim Patterson, professor of geology at Carleton University and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, wonders "whether Earth's climate record actually supports the assumption that CO2 is a major climate driver."[4] He reminds us that during an ice age about 450 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations were about 15 times higher than at present. He concludes that there is "no statistical correlation between the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the last 500 million years and the temperature record in this interval."

Scientists from the University of New Mexico wrote that their studies of goethite [iron oxide] formations in Wisconsin "suggest that 440 Myr ago [million years ago] atmospheric CO2 was ~ 16 times higher than today. However, this enhanced level of atmospheric CO2 does not seem to have been accompanied by unusually warm temperatures in the tropics, and in fact may have been contemporaneous with high-latitude continental glaciation on Gondwanaland [the southern super-continent]."[5]

Some scientists will dispute the precise figures here, and man-made global warming supporters will attack this overview as simplistic, but it remains clear that overall, global temperatures and CO2 variables have not at all correlated as the man-made global warming hypothesis requires and its proponents have maintained. This strongly suggests that other natural factors, not atmospheric CO2 concentrations, were controlling the temperature changes.

Variations During the Past Five-hundred Thousand Years

A picture of the more immediate past is seen in reconstructions of temperatures and CO2 concentrations derived from Antarctic ice core samples collected at the Russian Vostok Research Station. The ice core reached down over 3300 meters to reveal ice as old as 422,000 years. Scientists determine ancient temperatures by analyzing the ratio of heavier oxygen-18 to ordinary oxygen-16, and heavier deuterium-2 to ordinary hydrogen-1, in the ice.

Over the 422,000 years, temperatures have varied nearly 22øF, from about 16øF below to 6øF above the temperatures of the past century.[6] Scientists have noted that CO2 levels today "seem to have been unprecedented during the past 420,000 years."[7] But the highest temperatures recorded in the ice core samples are about 6øF higher than today, at 128,357 and 323,482 years ago. If CO2 levels today are "unprecedented" and CO2 causes warming, then why are temperatures today lower than at several times in the Antarctic past?

Scientists working under the auspices of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography brought greater precision to their reading of the Vostok data. In the abstract of their published research, they wrote: "High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 80 to 100 parts per million by volume 600 ñ 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations. Despite strongly decreasing temperatures, high carbon dioxide concentrations can be sustained for thousands of years during glaciations . . ." (emphasis added)[8]

Patterson recognized that the time lag between rising or falling temperature and rising or falling CO2 is about 800 years. To illustrate the causal implications of this relationship, he draws an analogy with human history. If you think that climate is being driven by CO2, "then you probably would have no difficulty in accepting the idea that Winston Churchill was instrumental in the defeat of King Herold by Duke William of Orange at the Battle of Hastings in 1066."

Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics agrees that "Atmospheric CO2 variations generally follow changes in temperature and other climatic variables rather than preceding them." [9]

In his book An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore ignores this time lag in order to create a false image of a frightening rise in temperature caused by CO2 emissions today.[10] He graphs CO2 and temperatures as rising and falling in parallel, thus depicting the "repeating correlation" that Patterson discussed: the two lines move in tandem, and the spike in CO2 to over 350ppm today runs ominously off the graph.

But Gore's visually impressive graph distorts the issue in two ways. First, it does not accommodate the earlier CO2 levels of up to 5000ppm, or 16 times those of today. The graph we have presented in this article, Figure 1 above, has a higher vertical CO2 axis, and depicts today's CO2 variations in accurate proportion to earlier changes: as tiny waves at the bottom right-hand side of the graph. Gore also omits values on the temperature axis, an egregious omission that makes it impossible to quantify the scale of temperature variations.

Second, Gore adds to the confusion by conflating correlation with causation. His parallel CO2 and temperature lines obscure the fact that large temperature rises preceded small CO2 rises by 500 to 1500 years. Perhaps it is inconvenient for Gore to accept that the huge 22øF temperature changes in the Vostok ice core samples cannot be explained by the tiny-100ppm-changes in CO2 that followed those temperature changes.

Gore's CO2 / temperature graph is a distortion of the historical record designed to elicit an emotional response for a political purpose.

More here

There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

AUSTRALIA'S most active unionist pushing for clean coal technology says the Greens are becoming increasingly marginalised by maintaining their opposition to clean coal. Greenies will never be happy because what they want is self-contradictory: A return to a primitive past plus all the comforts of modern life

CFMEU mining division president Tony Maher said his union had done polling that showed roughly 5 per cent of the population supported the Greens' position of opposition to clean coal. "A few years ago there was some scepticism about clean coal, but now you even have environmentalists ... like Tim Flannery who say 'we've got to fix coal'," Mr Maher said.

"I don't think their position has any environmental credibility or any economic credibility. On the environmental front, while coal is a big industry for Australia, we still only produce 4 per cent of the world's coal. We could shut down the industry tomorrow and other countries would just pick up the slack. And economically it would throw a huge amount of people out of work."

He said clean coal research in Australia was moving to a new level and that, while individual states had pursued worthwhile projects in the area, there was now a need for a nationally co-ordinated approach.

Mr Maher said as the states had control of the power system - and in the case of Queensland, were active participants in power generation - it was natural they would initially do most research into clean coal technology. He said that he was hopeful that Kevin Rudd's Global Institute for Carbon Capture and Storage, announced last week, would be able to fill such a role. "Energy is a state-based matter, and while all the research so far has been great, it all needs a bit of direction," Mr Maher said.

"The missing link so far has been co-ordination. In my view there's sufficient money now from both government and industry to get us to the stage of building pilot plants with zero emissions. But the real issue will be the large-scale plants which are commercially viable. Being able to get them coming on stream will mean you're going to have to guarantee commercial viability, and that will need a solid business case, and that's where you need to put together all this research that's being done."

He said Queensland had been the most active state in clean coal research, followed by Victoria. "NSW have got a bit of ground to make up," he said. "There is some research being done at Newcastle University, but it's nowhere near the amount being done in Queensland with Zerogen and with Victoria's Otway Basin project."

The Queensland Government has put $300 million towards the Zerogen project in central Queensland, which involves the construction of a zero-emissions pilot plant near Rockhampton. The Howard government refused to back the project, which is proceeding on a new basis with mining companies putting in extra money. The Queensland Resources Council, which represents coal mining companies, said that, while there was a need for more research, the issue was who paid for it.

QRC chief executive Michael Roche said: "The coal industry knows that in the long term, its social licence to operate does depend on successful commercialisation of low-emission coal technologies. "And as Professor Ross Garnaut has pointed out, this will require a huge investment of public funds, alongside industry funds, over the coming decade."



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.