Friday, October 31, 2008


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

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

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

MIT scientists baffled by global warming theory, contradicts scientific data

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

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

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

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

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

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



Where they will emit MORE CO2

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


Climate Science: Is It Currently Designed To Answer Questions?

By Richard Lindzen

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much more here

Feeling cold, thinking hot

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

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

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

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

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

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



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Update about the censorship of climate realist Deming by President Boren at the University of Oklahoma

There is a scathing Facebook entry here from a former OU student about Boren. I don't think it would be wise of me to reprint it. It is basically an attack on Boren's character in response to an attempt by him to censor emails being circulated at OU. Some of the adjectives applied to him are "Fascist", "queer" etc. And "buffoon" is one of the milder descriptions applied to him. My own description of him as a Fascist does therefore have some support. He would appear to be a most unpleasant character beneath the surface.

A possibly encouraging passage in the Facebook entry is as follows:

"Why is everyone so scared of the fathead David Boren? .... As this incident shows, he'll back down in a minute whenever a few people get together and start calling him out."

Self-righteous British legislators fail to look out the window

Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate

Snow fell as the House of Commons debated Global Warming yesterday - the first October fall in the metropolis since 1922. The Mother of Parliaments was discussing the Mother of All Bills for the last time, in a marathon six hour session.

In order to combat a projected two degree centigrade rise in global temperature, the Climate Change Bill pledges the UK to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The bill was receiving a third reading, which means both the last chance for both democratic scrutiny and consent.

The bill creates an enormous bureaucratic apparatus for monitoring and reporting, which was expanded at the last minute. Amendments by the Government threw emissions from shipping and aviation into the monitoring program, and also included a revision of the Companies Act (c. 46) "requiring the directors' report of a company to contain such information as may be specified in the regulations about emissions of greenhouse gases from activities for which the company is responsible" by 2012.

Recently the American media has begun to notice the odd incongruity of saturation media coverage here which insists that global warming is both man-made and urgent, and a British public which increasingly doubts either to be true. 60 per cent of the British population now doubt the influence of humans on climate change, and more people than not think Global Warming won't be as bad "as people say".

Both figures are higher than a year ago - and the poll was taken before the non-Summer of 2008, and the (latest) credit crisis.Yet anyone looking for elected representatives to articulate these concerns will have been disappointed. Instead, representatives had a higher purpose - demonstrating their virtue

And for the first 90 minutes of the marathon debate, the new nobility outdid each other with calls for tougher pledges, or stricter monitoring. Gestures are easy, so no wonder MPs like making them so much. It was all deeply sanctimonious, but no one pointed out that Europe's appetite for setting targets that hurt the economy has evaporated in recent weeks - so it's a gesture few countries will feel compelled to imitate.

The US Senate has Senator James Inhofe, but in the Commons, there wasn't an out-and-out sceptic to be found. It was 90 minutes before anyone broke the liturgy of virtue. When Peter Lilley, in amazement, asked why there hadn't been a cost/benefit analysis made of such a major change in policy, he was told to shut up by the Deputy Speaker.(And even Lilley - one of only five out of 653 MPs to vote against the Climate Bill in its second reading - felt it necessary to pledge his allegiance to the Precautionary Principle.)

It fell to a paid-up member of Greenpeace, the Labour MP Rob Marris, to point out the Bill was a piece of political showboating that would fail. While professing himself a believer in the theory that human activity is primarily the cause of global warming, he left plenty of room for doubt - far more than most members. The legislation was doomed, Marris said. MP Rob Marris had previously supported the 60 per cent target but thought that 80 per cent, once it included shipping and aviation, wouldn't work. We could have a higher target, or include shipping and aviation, but not both.

He compared it to asking someone to run 100m in 14 seconds - which they might consider something to train for. Asking someone to run it in ten seconds just meant people would dismiss the target. "The public will ask 'why should we bother doing anything at all?'

The closest thing to a British Inhofe is Ulsterman Sammy Wilson, Democratic Unionist Party, who'd wanted a "reasoned debate" on global warming, rather than bullying, and recently called environmentalism a "hysterical psuedo-religion". Wilson described the Climate Bill as a disaster, but even colleagues who disagree with his views of environmentalism are wary of the latest amendments. The Irish Republic is likely to reap big economic gains if it doesn't penalise its own transport sector as fiercely as the UK pledges to penalise its own in the bill. Most Ulster MPs were keenly aware of the costs, and how quickly the ports and airports could close, when a cheaper alternative lies a few miles away over the border.

Tory barrister Christopher Chope professed himself baffled by the logic of including aviation and shipping. If transportation was made more expensive, how could there be more trade? "As we destroy industry we'll be more dependent on shipping and aviation for our imports!" he said. "When the history books come to be written people will ask why were the only five MPs... who voted against this ludicrous bill," he said. It would tie Britain up in knots for years, all for a futile gesture, Chope thought.

However, Tim Yeo, the perma-suntanned Tory backbencher who wants us to carry carbon rationing cards, said it would "improve Britain's competitiveness". He didn't say how. Lilley impertinently pointed out that no cost/benefit case had been made for handicapping shipping and aviation. It was the first mention in the chamber of the cost of the commitments being discussed. Estimates put the total cost of the Climate Change Bill at 210bn pounds, or 10,000 per household - potentially twice the benefits.

Quoting Nordhaus, Lilley noted that Stern ("Lord Stern - he got his reward") had only got his front-loaded benefits by using improbable discount rates - and then only half the benefits of making drastic carbon reductions will kick in by the year 2800. The government has said it wasn't using Stern's discount rates to calculate the cost of shipping and aviation restrictions, but a more sensible and traditional rate of 3.5 per cent instead - yet it refused to reveal the costs.

Lilley asked:"I ask the house - is it sensible to buy into an insurance policy where the premiums are twice the value of the house?" Lilley was "building a broad case on a narrow foundation", the Deputy Speaker told him. "I really must direct him to the specific matter that's included in these clauses and amendments."

Earlier, the Tories had said they would be tougher on carbon than Labour, and the Lib Dems the toughest of the lot. Much more representative of the tone of the debate was Nia Griffith, the NuLab MP for Lanelli. Her comments are worth repeating (Hansard link to follow today) because language tells us a lot - not only about the bureaucratic ambitions of the exercise, but how the modern politician thinks about governing. Griffith told the House that the Bill was "a process not an end in itself", and had great value as a "monitoring tool". MP Nia Griffith "It's the targets that make us think," she said. She also used the phrase "raise consciousness" - as in, "it must raise consciousness amongst nations that follow suit."

In other words, if you take a gesture, then pile on targets and penalties, you will change people's behaviour. Maybe she hasn't heard of Goodhart's law. Yesterday, however, it seemed that the only MPs exhibiting enough "consciousness" to actually think - and ask reasonable questions about cost and effectiveness of the gesture - got a good telling off.

The Bill finally passed its third reading by 463 votes to three.



China raised the price of its co-operation in the world's climate change talks yesterday by calling for developed countries to spend 1 per cent of their domestic product helping poorer nations cut greenhouse gas emissions. The funding - amounting to more than $300bn based on Group of Seven countries - would be spent largely on the transfer of "green" technologies, such as renewable energy, to poorer countries. Gao Guangsheng, head of the climate change office at the National Reform and Development Commission, the Chinese government's main planning body, said that even such large funds "might not be enough".

China's toughened stance comes weeks ahead of United Nations talks in Poland aimed at forging a successor to the Kyoto protocol, whose main provisions expire in 2012.

The two-week-long talks scheduled for early December in Poznan, Poland, are not expected to produce much progress in the two-year negotiations, which began last year in Bali and will culminate late next year at a conference in Copenhagen. However, the timing of China's intervention is seen as significant because the Poznan talks will be the first to take place after the US presidential election.

George W. Bush has been seen as the biggest obstacle to a new international framework on climate change, and both presidential candidates have pledged support for cutting emissions. The new president will be under pressure from industry not to jeopardise US finances. Under China's proposals, the US would have to give more than $130bn and the European Union more than $160bn to technology transfer.

Officials involved in the talks said China's demand was unlikely to be agreed by developed countries, but reflected a feeling among poor nations that they were not receiving sufficient funds to help them deal with climate change, despite demands from rich countries that the developing world should bear more of the burden of emissions cuts.

China's demand is the latest signal of developing countries flexing their muscles on climate change. At the Group of Eight industrialised nations meeting in July, China joined with India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa to demand G8 countries cut their emissions by 80-95 per cent by 2050.

Although emissions from China, India and other emerging economies have grown rapidly in recent years - with China now the world's biggest emitter, having overtaken the US - their per capita emissions are still much lower than those of developed countries. "Climate change policies need a lot of money to be invested, however developed countries have not made any substantive promises about how much they are going to spend on," said Mr Gao. "And they did not fulfil some of the promises they made in the past very well either."



The Italian government on Tuesday said it would stick to its opposition to an EU climate plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020, saying it would be too harmful for industry. A statement said the plan was not acceptable because it would cost Italian companies 40 percent more than other EU countries. "This would be untenable for our production, particularly in light of the current global economic crisis," it said.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shocked other European Union leaders at a summit this month by threatening to veto the EU proposal unless it was adapted to protect Italian industry. The move added Italy's weight to a group of former communist nations that say the curbs will make their coal-powered industry uncompetitive, particularly with economists now predicting a sharp slow-down in the world economy.

The statement was issued after a government meeting of representatives from the Environment, EU, Development and Economy ministries.



"Going green" doesn't have quite the cachet it used to, at least on Wall Street.

Investors in renewable energy stocks have seen their sector hit hard in recent weeks on concerns that tightening credit and a weak global economy could arrest growth of the high-flying industry despite its long-term promise. "The general economic slowdown is taking everybody's eyes off what was an increasing momentum around concerns of climate change and the cost of energy," said Paul Maeder, a general partner with venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners.

Until credit becomes more available, big solar and wind projects will be more difficult to finance, and certainly more expensive. A drop in demand will also mean lower prices on solar panels and wind turbines, hurting manufacturers' profitability.

In the end, experts said, the downturn will determine who the winners and losers are in what had been a booming environment for all. "There are too many players out there, and there are too many smaller players," Chris Walsh, manager of the $28 million Alger Green Fund, said of the burgeoning solar industry. "You have to be careful about which ones you invest in now."

Solar stocks, considered the darlings of alternative energy for their meteoric rise in 2007, have retreated so much this year that most have given back the triple-digit gains they logged last year. Investors fear that scarce access to credit will threaten development of costly solar and wind projects, while falling oil prices are dampening interest in alternative energy across the board. To make matters worse, a frozen market for initial public offerings and an increasingly picky venture capital community have restricted key avenues of funding for startups.

More here


Oil supplies will actually last for far longer than our politicians think, the scaremongers fear, and the oil companies tell us. So says Dr Richard Pike, head of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and someone who isn't afraid to stir controversy.

In a wide-ranging interview, Dr Pike talked about energy independence, Peak Oil, and how to educate our scientifically illiterate elites.

Before becoming chief executive of the RCS, Pike spent twenty five years in the oil industry. His background hasn't prevented him from calling for alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, and making criticisms that have embarrassed industry executives, latterly over the amount of oil lost to leakages.

But the most intriguing argument is that we're simply not told the truth about how long oil supplies will last. Conventional wisdom reports the oil reserves as 1.2 trillion barrels. There's far more than the oil companies report. This is neither cock-up nor conspiracy, he says, but a combination of conservative reporting, a failure to understand probability theory, and consequently a lack of understanding of the figures actually mean. Oil engineers and planners have their own - these are figures we don't see.

More here


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Renewable-Energy Sticker Shock

These days, everyone seems to have big plans for major changes in the U.S. energy sector. Barack Obama wants to "put 1 million plug-in hybrid cars - cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon - on the road by 2015." John McCain says he will "commit $2 billion annually to advancing clean-technologies." And just last week, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service identified 197 million acres of federal lands in 12 Western states that it proposed to lease for geothermal development.

Most of today's energy plans are premised on the notion that government has to do something to meet our energy challenges - and that something generally involves promoting green or renewable energy through substantial subsidies, at substantial cost to consumers and taxpayers. Absent is any consideration of the true cost and practicality of the plans, or any alternative means - like the marketplace - by which our energy goals might be achieved.

This certainly holds true in Texas, which generates more electricity from wind than any other state. The Lone Star State's renewable-energy mandates - combined with the federal government's generous tax credit for wind-energy production - have helped Texas become the nation's leading installer of wind-energy capacity. You won't find much opposition here to wind energy's rapid expansion, because so much money is pouring into the state. It's all fun and games - until Texas consumers pay the long-term price for everyone else's short-term gain.

And pay they will. In my just published study, Texas Wind Energy: Past, Present, and Future (PDF here), we estimate that forcing even modest levels of wind-energy generation on Texans will cost ratepayers and taxpayers up to $4 billion a year, and at least $60 billion through 2025. Apply these numbers on a national scale with the idea of replacing coal or natural gas - or both - with wind, and the numbers become staggering.

But cost isn't the only challenge that confronts wind energy's expansion. Its intermittent nature, the lack of large-scale electricity storage, and the limitations on electric transmission also limit the role wind can play in powering our future.

The greatest impediment to wind's large-scale contribution to our energy supply is its intermittent nature. The wind must blow in order for wind turbines to produce power - peak capacity comes when the wind blows at about 31 miles per hour. But because those conditions are rare, wind turbines typically produce only around 30 percent of their installed capacity over time. As in many other places, the wind in Texas blows least when we need it the most. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) relies on a mere 8.7 percent of wind power's installed capacity when determining available power during peak summer hours.

The reason that intermittency is an issue for wind is because electricity cannot currently be stored on a commercial scale. Without adequate wind-power storage - to save the power of evening breezes for use during midday doldrums - wind-generating units must be backed up by units that generate electricity from conventional sources. In Texas's case, that means natural gas, a fuel source with extreme price volatility. Thus, wind energy is currently an inherently less valuable resource than fuel sources requiring no backup. Although efforts to develop large-scale storage are underway, such technology is probably decades away.

Even if the technology existed to deliver wind-generated electricity when needed, Texas and most other places lack the infrastructure to transmit it from the areas most suitable for wind-energy generation to the areas most in need of the power. Of course, infrastructure can be built for the right price. For Texas consumers, that price should top $17 billion by 2025.

So much for wind energy being free, as some would claim. The wind itself may be free, but getting it from the prairie to your power tools is anything but. Combine the transmission costs with production costs, subsidies, tax breaks, economic disruptions, and grid management costs, and you find yourself facing that $60-billion price tag.

Wind, like every other energy resource, has its pros and cons, and there is no doubt that wind power should be part of the nation's energy options. We need a variety of fuel sources, plus concerted efforts at conservation and efficiency, in order to meet our energy needs. But the marketplace - rather than government mandates and subsidies - is the means by which all of this should be determined. Otherwise, higher electricity prices for U.S. consumers will be here to stay.


Stranger Than Fiction

Earlier this year, I wrote an eco-satirical column under the pseudonym Ethan Greenhart, in which I (or rather, Ethan) called upon Greens everywhere to pray for an economic downturn. The column argued that nothing would benefit our human-ravaged planet more than a "big, beautiful, stock-crashing, Wall Street-burning, consumer-baiting, home-evicting, bank-busting recession."

We need something to stop humans "raping the planet," I said, tongue pressed ferociously against my cheek, and "the recession might just be the chemical castration for the job." A recession could be the "antibody Gaia so desperately needs to deal with her human itch," since it would force people to buy less and live more humbly.

The column said recession would be a just punishment for the "lunatics" of humankind, before the arrival of the "final big disease" - that glorious moment when a rampant sickness will "reduce the human population to sustainable levels" and "end industrialism . . . just as the Plague contributed to the demise of feudalism."

I was going too far, right? Yes, there are super-aloof Gaia worshippers who, caring little for the living standards of their fellow men, argue that a recession would be a good thing - and, sure, they deserve a few satirical darts tossed their way. But surely no right-minded Green (assuming such a thing exists) would celebrate the depletion of mankind by a "preferably painless but speedily contagious disease"?

You'd be amazed. Not 24 hours after the column was published, "Ethan" received an e-mail (my alter ego came with his own inbox) from Valerie Stevens, chairperson of the U.K.-based Optimum Population Trust. The OPT is an influential green-leaning outfit that campaigns for strict controls on population growth. Ms. Stevens, believing - remarkably - that Ethan Greenhart is a real person, wrote: "What a marvellous piece of writing. I feel exactly the same as you!"

Consider what this means. The head of one of Britain's most vocal Green lobby groups feels "exactly" that people who work in shops are comparable to "concentration camp guards"; that humankind is a "poisonous bacteria in Gaia's bloodstream"; that "consumerism makes us mentally ill"; that the consumer society has "turned us into savages . . . well, not us, obviously, but certainly them"; and that a disease should come and decimate "the plague that is mankind." All of these statements were contained in the pretend eco-rant that OPT chair Valerie Stevens described as a "marvellous piece of writing" with which she agrees "exactly."

The OPT has numerous Green bigwigs on its advisory board, including Jonathon Porritt, who was director of Friends of the Earth from 1984 to 1990 and is currently an adviser to Prince Charles, the insufferably eco-minded heir to the British throne. Ms Stevens' enthusiastic agreement with Ethan Greenhart unwittingly revealed the backward, misanthropic thinking that rattles in the attics of Britain's posh Green elite.

It also revealed something else: the environmental movement is now so pompous, hysterical, bloated, and disconnected that it is almost beyond satire. My weekly Ethan Greenhart columns, published in my online magazine, spiked, have now been turned into a book: Can I Recycle My Granny? And 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas. In the course of writing it, I discovered that satirizing Greens is forever an uphill struggle, as one's campaign to mock environmentalism continually threatens to be derailed by the latest ridiculous utterance from the Greens themselves.

Ethan Greenhart has argued that climate-change denial should be recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a "mental disorder" and that there should be "eco-lobotomies" for persistent deniers. Well, this is only a more extreme version of a leading British Green's demand for "international criminal tribunals" to try those who "preach the gospel of denial." Yet it turns out that many Greens are already discussing the "psychological processes" that contribute to climate change denial, with The Ecologist, an influential British magazine, arguing that "angrily denying the problem [of climate change] outright" is a form of "psychotic denial." Perhaps eco-lobotomies aren't so far off now.

Ethan Greenhart has claimed to have set up something called Bottlefeeders Anonymous, for those moms who have strayed from The Ethical Path by bottlefeeding rather than breastfeeding their offspring. "Bottlefeeding is a form of child abuse," he declares, since it involves "stuffing your child's gut with powder produced in a factory by a really big and probably quite evil conglomerate." Lo and behold, it turns out that eco-minded "militant lactivists" really do look upon bottlefeeding as abusive. Green columnist George Monbiot believes that feeding your child formula is "tantamount to child abuse."

Ethan has even celebrated suicide as a sensible solution to human overcrowding on Gaia's "pretty face." Here he was inspired by cranky Green groups like the Church of Euthanasia. Yet this outlook ain't so cranky anymore. Shortly before Can I Recycle My Granny? was to hit the shelves - in which Ethan maintains that "non-existence is the most perfectly ethical way of being" - a book by David Benatar (a professor of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, no less) appeared under the title Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.

Horace said the purpose of satire is to "laugh men out of their follies." Yet such is the depth of contemporary Green folly that even mockery can be mistaken for another sensible idea or contribution to the "Green cause." Of course (and I would say this, wouldn't I?) my book is still full of cutting-edge satire - "richly comic," hails The Independent. But you had better buy it quick before its maddest, zaniest send-ups of the environmentalist movement become the latest Green orthodoxy.


China Grows ever Greener as CO2 Concentrations Grow Ever Higher

You never hear the good news about increased CO2 emissions. Scientific research has shown that China is growing ever Greener as global CO2 concentrations grow ever higher.

(H/T Agmates)

Pesky! Alaska's Glaciers Are Growing

Alaska's glaciers grew this year, after shrinking for most of the last 200 years. The reason? Global temperatures dropped over the past 18 months. The global mean annual temperature has been declining recently because the solar wind thrown out by the sun has retreated to its smallest extent in at least 50 years. This temperature downturn was not predicted by the global computer models, but had been predicted by the sunspot index since 2000.

The solar wind normally protects the earth from 90 percent of the high-energy cosmic rays that flash constantly through the universe. Henrik Svensmark at the Danish Space Research Institute has demonstrated that when more cosmic rays hit the earth, they create more of the low, wet clouds that deflect heat back into outer space. Thus the earth's recent cooling.

Unusually large amounts of Alaskan snow last winter were followed by unusually chilly temperatures there this summer. "In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years," says Bruce Molnia of the U.S. Geological Survey, and author of The Glaciers of Alaska. "It's been a long time on most glaciers where they've actually had positive mass balance (added thickness)."

Overall, Molnia figures Alaska had lost 10-12,000 square kilometers of ice since 1800, the depths of the Little Ice Age. That's enough ice to cover the state of Connecticut. Climate alarmists claim all the glaciers might disappear soon, but they haven't looked at the long-term evidence of the 1,500-year Dansgaard-Oeschger climate cycles. During the Little Ice Age-1400 to 1850-Muir Glacier filled the whole of Glacier Bay. Since then, the glacier has retreated 57 miles. But the Little Ice Age was preceded by the Medieval Warming, the cold Dark Ages, a Roman Warming, and a whole series of moderate warmings and coolings that extend back at least 1 million years based on the evidence of the microfossils in the world's seabed sediments.

The real question is whether today's warming is different than the previous Dansgaard-Osechger warming cycles. I think that the difference, if any, is slight. Most of our Modern Warming occurred before 1940 and virtually all of our human-emitted CO2 came after that date. The temperatures in 1998-the recent peak-were only 0.2 degree C higher than in 1940. After the temperature drop of the past 18 months, the temperatures are now cooler than in 1940.

The 1,500-year cycles usually start with a sudden shift of 1-2 degrees-in temperate zones-and double that in Alaska. Then temperatures erratically rise and fall with the sun's total irradiance changes, often in 11-year cycles. At the end of the warming, comes another Little Ice Age; or, every 100,000 years, a Big Ice Age that will drop temperatures about 15 degree C. That's when insulation will truly become the most important invention in history.

The sunspots are now predicting a 30-year cooling of the earth. That would thicken the Alaskan glaciers somewhat, but probably wouldn't refill Glacier Bay with ice. That'll have to wait for the next icy age.

The sunspot index has a 59 percent correlation with our temperatures (with a roughly ten-year lag). CO2 has only an "accidental" 22 percent correlation with our temperatures, which should be grounds for dismissing CO2 as a major climate player.

All this is radically different from the 5-degree C warming predicted by the computer models. However, the scientific rule says: if actual observations tell you something that's the opposite of your theory, change your theory.


Another Dissenter: Meteorologist Justin Loew

It is the topic that won't stay off the headlines and it could get more interesting depending on who gets elected U.S. President next Tuesday. One aspect that I have mentioned before is the shifting terminology. I get a little skeptical when the headlines seem to be changing without a shift in the science behind the headlines. For almost 20 years, the problem was "global warming", and if you want to be even more accurate you would call it "anthropogenic global warming" (AGW). I have tried to spread this terminology to mainstream media sources but they continue to use the less accurate "global warming" and the misleading term "climate change".

As you know, I am all for conservation and alternative energy. I practice what I preach. However, I do get skeptical of the motivation of some of the scientists and media outlets when they use "climate change" instead of AGW. After all, the problem, as we are told, is human caused climate change, not "climate change" in general. I guess on the most basic level "climate change" will always force humans and life on this planet to adjust and cope, but that is not what has been in the headlines for nearly 20 years. The drill has been "global warming"= "climate change"=AGW=the end of the world. Call me skeptical, but I think the headlines have shifted dramatically over the last year (to "climate change") in response to the fact that the earth hasn't warmed one degree since 1998. In fact, the average global temperature has gone down slightly. I suppose it might start to sound silly saying "global warming" when the globe hasn't warmed for 10 years. If the AGW theorists are confident in the global climate model predictions of environmental armageddon, then they should not be afraid to continue using the term "global warming" or more accurately AGW.

Here is one of the "climate change" headlines and it has an interesting twist. Researchers have found that some forests have done well during the warm-up over the last century. There is also word of some other gasses that will come under regulation. NF3 is more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2 and is used in electronics manufacturing. Levels have grown in recent years and might continue to do so in the near future.

The talk about environmental destruction because of AGW invariably leads to talk about how to stop it and the main plan of attack is to restrict the use of fossil fuels. Here is an article predicting a path to eliminate fossil fuels by 2090. I have got news for these prognosticators - the world only has enough oil to last about another 30 years - using it at current rates. Of course, coal could last for much longer, but there is a possibility we could use coal without releasing the evil CO2. These three articles (1, 2, and 3) show some promise in converting or storing CO2 produced by energy plants or heavy manufacturing industries. Besides these factors there is also technological progress to consider.

This prediction is based on linear advancement in technology (at best). What is more likely is that by the 2020s we will have significantly more powerful technology to develop energy sources we cannot even dream about today. I can't even imagine what it will be like in 2090. So I am basically throwing this forecast out. It isn't a realistic path for the future. Besides, there are much greater problems facing humanity than global warming. Which brings me to one caveat about future predictions. I suppose there is a slight chance we could enter a new "dark age" dominated by tyranny and less progress and that would certainly change future energy predictions.



Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won office promising to be a climate change warrior but his chief weapon -- a carbon trade scheme to slash emissions -- is falling victim to shifting politics and world financial tumult. A former diplomat, Rudd made ratification of the Kyoto climate pact -- opposed by the former conservative government for more than a decade -- his first act after winning November elections tinged green by the seeming onrush of climate shift. "The Rudd government was elected partly on its promises to take strong action, not just symbolic and token gestures, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and in particular to build renewable energy," says carbon trade and environment academic Mark Diesendorf from the University of New South Wales.

Even before winning, Rudd commissioned respected climate economist Ross Garnaut to design an emissions scheme to rival in breadth the world's biggest regime already operating in Europe. Successive surveys showed Australians overwhelmingly wanted a government to fight global warming after climate scientists said the country was experiencing a pace of climate change unmatched elsewhere, bringing droughts, storms and agricultural hardship.

Now, after a sharp economic slowdown, bloodletting on world financial markets and unemployment lifting off a three-decade nadir, the government seems to have dropped its sights in line with Australians fast-shifting concern to their jobs.....

Rudd says the problem of global warming "doesn't disappear because of the global financial crisis", but appears to have softened his zeal, promising Garnaut only to take account of recommendations a year in the drafting.

Garnaut certainly sensed the shift, recommending a two-track approach towards Rudd's 2050 target of a 60 percent cut in 2000-level emissions, focusing on a "practical" interim cut of 10 percent by 2020 while also laying out more ambitious options. That offers Rudd the attractive post-crisis option of a scheme that will not bring too much upheaval, for business or the public, but allow him to have delivered on a key election promise in the possible environment of a global recession. "The government is hardly likely to have a stronger cap than Garnaut. Sadly the government has already rejected some of his best suggestions, like no free permits," says Diesendorf.

Quiggin says an artificially low fixed carbon price may go some way to mollifying big polluters, who unsurprisingly favour no scheme or a limited one, but warns it will drive international investment out of Australia's protected market and into the more lucrative $40 billion carbon trade in Europe.

Renewable energy firms want higher prices to make solar, wind and wave power more competitive, while coal-fired electricity generators and other emission intensive industries want adjustment costs as low as possible. When the prevailing carbon price in the European Union is around 22 euros, or $27, per tonne, insiders in Canberra are tipping a two-year price under A$10 a tonne, or just $6.70, with some saying it could even be as low as A$8.

"To have a serious target you need a price which is of the order of A$30 a tonne, while the other, and they go together, is you essentially need to close down brown coal power stations, replacing them with low-emission technologies," he says.

And that is Rudd's conundrum. While his public appeal is tied to recognition of climate change and helping Aborigines, he promised business to govern as an economic conservative. In Canberra, that means looking after coal and resource interests. Australia is the world's fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter on a per head basis and relies on ageing coal-fired power stations for 80 percent of its energy needs. It is also the world's biggest thermal coal exporter.

An Auspoll survey last week for the independent Climate Institute showed public backing for Rudd's management of climate change had slumped from a pre-Kyoto ratification high of 43 percent to just 28 percent. But a recent Lowy Institute poll showed voters did not back climate action if it costs jobs or income.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Skeptical scientist has university certification revoked!

The Green/Left never stop trying to stifle dissent. Press release from Dr. David Deming [] below. He is a geophysicist and an associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma who has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Deming's Senate December 6, 2006 testimony is available here. University President Boren is a "staunch supporter of Obama". One Fascist supports another, I guess

For ten years or more, professor David Deming has taught a course in environmental geology at the University of Oklahoma. In October 2008, he was informed that the "general education" certification for his course was being revoked. Under the University of Oklahoma system, this means that student enrollment in the course is likely to drop by two-thirds.

This is a course which receives outstanding student evaluations. Professor Deming is well-known to be a global-warming skeptic. In 2006, he testified before the US Senate that media coverage of global warming had descended into "irrational hysteria." See here.

Professor Deming is unaware of any other case in the history of the University of Oklahoma where the "gen ed" certification for a course has been revoked. It would appear possible that professor Deming's position on global warming was a motivating factor. But in this case, the tragedy is that the people being punished are the students, not the professor. Those who wish to express their concern can do so by writing or calling University of Oklahoma President David Boren.

David Boren, President
University of Oklahoma
110 Evans Hall
Norman, OK 73019
telephone: 405-325-3916

Germany's chief climate alarmist defends his job

If you headed a body named the "Potsdam Instituts fuer Klimafolgenforschung" (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), you would hardly say there was no impact ("Folgen") would you? The report below is probably the first English-language report of the press conference that I mentioned here on 20th

SEA levels will rise by 1m this century, according to German scientists who warn global warming is happening faster than previously predicted. Citing UN data on climate change, two senior German scientists say that previous predictions were far too cautious and optimistic. Earlier estimates predicted a rise of 18cm to 59cm in sea levels this century. But that estimate is woefully understated, according to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who heads the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects [That's not a literal translation but it is a fair one], and Jochem Marotzke, a leading meteorologist. "We now have to expect that the sea level will rise by a metre this century," Professor Schellnhuber said in Berlin.

He said it was "just barely possible" that world governments would be able to limit the rise in average global temperatures to just 2C by the end of the century, if they all strictly adhered to severe limits in carbon dioxide emissions. Those restrictions call for halving greenhouse emissions by 2050 and eliminating CO2 emissions entirely by the end of the century.

But the German researchers said the resulting limited increase in temperature was predicated on strict adherence to those restrictions without exception, and even then there were many variables which could thwart the goals.

Professor Schellnhuber, who is official adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues, said the new findings employed data unavailable to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its most recent global warming report. The two experts said the IPCC report had been based on data up to 2005 only, but since then ice loss in the Arctic had doubled or tripled. While Antarctic ice increased]

Professor Schellnhuber said 20 per cent of the loss of the ice sheet on Greenland could be directly linked to the added emissions from new Chinese coal-fired power stations. [Racist!]


Researchers discover 700,000-year-old ice in Arctic - Survived Warmer Temps than today

This complements previous reports that much of the Greenland icecap survived earlier much warmer periods

Canadian researchers studying the Arctic's ancient permafrost have discovered 700,000-year-old ice wedges buried in the soil that have survived earlier periods of global warming, adding complexity to predictions about the impact of contemporary climate change. Duane Froese, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science at the University of Alberta, found what he describes as "the oldest ice in North America" in the Klondike region of Canada's Yukon Territory about 10 feet below the surface.

Because these ice wedges were found under a layer of volcanic ash, researchers from the University of Toronto and the Geological Survey of Canada were able to use a technique known as "fission track dating" of the ash to date it at roughly 700,000 years old. This means the ice was older than the ash and older than the previous record holder - 120,000-year-old ice wedges found in Alaska. "The fact that this ice survived the interglacials about 120,000 and 400,000 years ago, which we think were warmer than present, really illustrates how stubborn permafrost can be in the face of climate warming," Mr. Froese said.

According to a recent article in Ambio, a journal produced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, permafrost regions occupy about 25 percent of the Northern Hemisphere, with more than 60 percent in Russia. Warming, thawing and degradation of permafrost have already been observed, and there are fears that its shrinkage could lead to increased output of greenhouse gases and unstable structures built on what was once ice-hard ground. Permafrost can vary from almost a mile thick in parts of Siberia to a few feet and turn up over a large region, in scattered regional patches or isolated, the magazine noted. In Canada, permafrost can be found across half the country, in 80 percent of Alaska, 30 percent of Russia, and 20 percent to 30 percent of China and Mongolia, Mr. Froese said. "Permafrost is the glue" that holds the Arctic together and widespread thawing could have dramatic effects on the northern environment, he said.

During the life span of the recently discovered ice wedges, the earth's climate has shifted from long ice ages or glaciations - when woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers roamed the Northern Hemisphere - and short warming periods, which may have been much warmer than our current climate. "This ice is not right at the surface, so it survived several earlier periods of global warming that were longer and warmer than ours," Mr. Froese said.....

So far, only one wedge of permafrost this old has been found, but Mr. Moorman said there may be more, and this could change the way environmentalists look at the effects of climate change. The current Canadian Arctic is a place of complex and varied temperatures and snowfalls - the Yukon is dry, and the Western Arctic is heating faster than the Eastern Arctic. [i.e. the effects are local, not global]

Mr. Moorman said that global warming models and grids do not take into account all the complexities of regional variations on the planet, but they are improving. However, the professor notes that 2007 and 2008 have shown a slight reduction in global temperature averages and that low sunspot activity also point to near-term cooling periods.


Record High Number of Polar Bears

Manitoba Conservation does an annual aerial survey from the Churchill area to the Manitoba/Ontario border, roughly the inland range of the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. In late July (the 22nd I believe), they flew the range and counted around 34 bears. Most were still out on the bay feasting on seals. In fact, there were still two little bits of ice floe in southwestern Hudson Bay on August 22nd...! This means that many of the bears stayed out on the ice until mid-August, almost a month later than usual (or at least, earlier than usual for the last decade, but simply similar to the 'glory days' of the early eighties).

So, almost all of the bears visiting Churchill are in really good shape (around ten to twelve in buggyland right now). This seems to have translated through the larger population with 266 polar bears being counted on the fall aerial survey in September. This is the largest number of bears recorded in the history of this survey. Isn't that crazy?!? Life is good for the bears!

Of course, this also leads to the cut in quota for Nunavut's Inuit. Arviat, an economically challenged traditional Inuit town just north of Churchill (and when I say just north, I mean 250 miles) has had their quota wiped out. From 23 polar bears harvested last year, political pressure (not research) has led the government of Nunavut to cut it to three bears. All three bear 'tags' have now been used in self-defence kills (partially because we relocate bears north from Churchill... but that's another story). So, no commercial hunt, no income, no community pride for Arviat... hmmm...


Global warming caused by solar panels

This finding is kind of cute. Alexander Ac has pointed out that a greenhouse gas emitted during the production of solar panels and HDTVs, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) that is used for cleaning some parts of the gadgets, is about 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The concentration of NF3 in the atmosphere was artificially increased by a factor of 20 during the last two decades. The measurements of the concentration surpassed the previous estimates by a factor of five.

The present 5,400 tons in the atmosphere - that will stay there for 700+ years - creates the equivalent warming of all Finland's CO2 emissions (I can't tell you how much it is, because of the unknown feedbacks, but the comparisons are pretty reliable).

Given the fact that the solar panels produce about the same percentage of the global energy as Finland, it is reasonable to guess that the state-of-the-art solar panels that would replace fossil fuels would cause a comparable amount of warming per Joule as fossil fuels.


Australia: The young are turning against proposed Warmist laws

Younger people - the strongest supporters of an emissions trading scheme to cut greenhouse gases - are turning against the Rudd Government's 2010 deadline for the implementation of such a scheme. In a reversal of support, those aged between 18 and 34 years old are now most strongly in favour of a delay in the implementation of an emissions trading scheme, The Australian reports.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, the impact of the financial crisis is turning people against a carbon reduction scheme, or making them want delays. While 72 per cent of those surveyed still favour an emissions trading scheme to drive up the cost of greenhouse gas producing energy, such as electricity and petrol, there is growing opposition.

In July, a Newspoll survey on an emissions trading scheme found that only 11 per cent of people were totally opposed to a carbon emissions reduction scheme and 23 per cent wanted a delay until other major greenhouse gas emitters, particularly China and India, acted. That Newspoll survey confirmed widespread public support for an emissions trading scheme, with 60 per cent of voters backing the adoption of a scheme "regardless of what other countries do". According to the latest Newspoll survey, 21 per cent now oppose an emissions trading scheme under any circumstances.

The Rudd Government has pledged to introduce in 2010 an emissions trading scheme that would push up energy prices by placing a price on carbon. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has urged the Government to delay the introduction of the scheme. The former leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, lost his authority within the Coalition when he was rolled in shadow cabinet over the suggestion the Opposition should take a tougher stand against an emissions trading scheme.

Dr Nelson said in July the Coalition's greenhouse gas plan would not be popular but "our priority in deciding our policy is to act in Australia's best interest and for Australia not to get too far out in front of the big guys of greenhouse gas emissions such as India and China". "We need to have our economic eyes wide open," Dr Nelson said.

Opposition to an emissions trading scheme has been strongest among men, those aged over 50 and Coalition supporters, while the strongest supporters of a carbon cutting scheme have been among the young, women and Labor supporters. The weekend's survey found the strongest support overall for an emissions trading scheme even if it put up energy costs, was still among the young, women and ALP voters.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Climate Alarmism's Flimsy Foundation

Forget pretty much any news reporting you see that attributes disastrous phenomena to global warming, because it's all designed to create a fog surrounding the core issue: is climate change human-caused or not? A most recent example is from Monday's Washington Post, in which alarmist reporter Kari Lydersen (who has a long record of such journalism, in addition to work she does for leftist publications such as In These Times and the Progressive, on topics including "environmental racism") told about how waterborne diseases are expected to multiply due to future climate devastation:
Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world. Rainfalls will be heavier, triggering sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers. Higher lake and ocean temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites and algal blooms to flourish. Warmer weather and heavier rains also will mean more mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever. Fresh produce and shellfish are more likely to become contaminated.

The inevitable devastating consequences, as in so many environmentalist reporter articles, dominate the opening paragraphs of Lydersen's piece. She follows by asserting that a trend of heavier rainfalls "will accelerate," citing the 2007 report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I asked Lydersen where in the IPCC report it states with certainty that heavier rainfalls would rapidly increase, and she promised to get back to me on that -- "That was paraphrasing, not a direct quote from the report," she told me in an email.

I'm sure. Regardless, this kind of distractive reporting buttresses the lucrative industry that is global warming alarmism. "It's going to cause sea levels to rise!" cry the coastal scientists and fisheries experts. "It will massively displace wildlife!" scream the biological scientists. "It will prolong droughts and intensify rainfalls," warn the geologists and agricultural scientists. Their wailing fills up their applications for billions of dollars in grants from governments and sympathetic nonprofit foundations.

But these outcries miss the point, because they do not address the core issue of whether the temperature uptick (of one degree Celsius) over the last century is attributable chiefly to man's influence and thus mitigable, or to natural fluctuations and that nothing can be done about it. In other words, the vast majority of research (80 percent? 90 percent? more?) tied to climate change has nothing to do with its cause. Therefore we have a whole derivative economic sector constructed on the foundation of a single premise: that increasing greenhouse gas emissions are having a greater impact on global climate than are other phenomena such as solar activity, cloud cover, ocean temperatures, El Nino/La Nina, etc.

If that single thesis is deemed false, then all these offshoot opportunities for researchers, government, universities, nonprofits, rent seekers, and media goes into a deep chill. Goodbye grants. Adios agency positions. Ciao, charitable contributions. So long, subsidies. And where hast thou gone, writing awards? Just think -- if it's shown beyond the mainstream media's reach that carbon dioxide and its gaseous sisters (methane and a few others) do not jack up the atmospheric temps, we would no longer have to live under the environoia of this collaborative claptrap.

So obviously it's in each of the alarmists' interests to dismiss their dissenters and undermine any evidence that global warming is not a threat to the planet or to mankind. Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, has said, "You could have a convention of all the scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth."

There was the classic Newsweek smear job by Sharon Begley last August which labeled some differing-but-credible climate scientists as a fossil fuel industry-funded "denial machine." Meanwhile the green-journalism Society of Environmental Journalists marginalizes the opposers as "skeptics and contrarians." Discourteous folks call 'em "flat-earthers."

But the difficulty of the alarmists' protectionist task only grows. There has been no significant warming since 1995, and none at all since 1997. The numbers of detracting scientists were already sizable and are only continuing to grow (PDF). The oceans are cooling, Antarctic ice grows, current temperature measuring data are biased in favor of heat, and legitimate explanations for Arctic ice loss (by the way, not an unprecedented phenomenon) other than increased greenhouse gases are published.

When you think about it, the global warming industry is not dissimilar to the current mortgage-instigated mess the country now faces. We have a planetary heat crisis and an insufficient home ownership crisis. Government demands intervention to remedy both mistaken theories. Media joins in celebrating and promoting the new agenda. A bubbling system of artificial wealth is created. But because both foundations are shaky, they cannot hold up the continued weight placed upon them. One has finally collapsed. When will the other?

Source (See the original for links)

Seeding doubt: how sceptics use new media to delay action on climate change

By Alex Lockwood, University of Sunderland. Paper delivered to the Association for Journalism Education (AJE) annual conference, "New Media, New Democracy?" Sheffield University, 12th September 2008. Some deeply Fascist attitudes from a very dogmatic man. He offers not a single argument in favour of his warmist beliefs. He just asserts their truth

This paper explores the ways in which new media is used to derail action on climate change. Climate change can be a gloomy subject; but in the spirit of this conference I'll attempt to map out some productive coordinates for what is an increasingly urgent question. First I provide a (very) brief summary of the scientific consensus, and examples of where this is undermined online. Then I explore whether this phenomena is of substantive enough importance for our attention. Finally, I address its implications for new media and democratic renewal.

On 3rd August this year, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told the Chicago Tribune: "The science about climate change is very clear. There really is no room for doubt at this point."i Since publication of the 4th IPCC report in 2007, the mainstream media has, in general, accepted this position. As Andreadis and Smith (2007) note, UK journalists are no longer required to balance each warning voice. Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, Cristine Russell concurred, suggesting that for US journalists "the era of `equal time' for sceptics... is largely over."ii

However, the results of a long campaign of disinformation are depressing. In a poll conducted by Ipsos Mori in June this year, 60% of the UK public agreed that "many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change." A third of Conservative MPsiii and three?quarters of Republicans in Congress think the same.iv

What is new media's role in this? Nearly a quarter of the world's population now use the Internet on a regular basis.v Over 41 million people went online in the UK in March 2008, 67% of the Yet little research has been conducted into the web's influence on climate consensus. It is interesting to return to Cristine Russell and her claim that "the era of `equal time' for sceptics... is largely over, except," she adds "on talk radio, cable and local television."vii

I have argued in a response to the CJRviii that Russell's list must include new media. My definition here includes what Clay Shirky calls the extra-institutional blogosphere (Shirky, 2008), as well as mainstream media and the multitude comments and links that extend through the web. It is my contention that new media is providing the spatial and temporal freedoms that, when combined with the ability to publish free from peer-review and from journalistic codes, provides the `room for doubt' for which Pachauri says there is no longer any time.

Do we have time for ill-informed scepticism and disinformation? As Oreskes and Renouf revealed just this Sunday on BBC2, we've had 30 years of it now.ix The IPCC warn that we have only 10 years to act to avoid runaway climate change. The question could also be: does our democracy even have time for new media? Such a question is, to quote Raymond Williams, writing in 1974, one of the "extreme social choices" that we have to face as the result of a technology that is "used to affect, to alter, and in some cases control our whole social process" (Williams, 1974).

Anna Notaro argues, convincingly, this is more relevant for the Internet today than TV in the 1970s (Notaro, 2006). At around the same time, writing in 1971, Robert Dahl described societies as `polyarchies' or worlds of competing interests, where contested information is just one facet of that competition. This is a useful way to think about climate change in relation to democratic renewal, as sceptic discourses have been found to sow doubt as a means to protect the economic interests of Western enclaves (McCright and Dunlap, 2003).

What is the contribution made to this contest by new media? The question hangs off three issues: use, volume, and impact. I'll take each in turn. First, in what ways is new media used to spread sceptical discourse? Three examples. In December 2007, the New Statesman published an article by David Whitehouse claiming "global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased."x Three weeks later, New Statesman columnist and climate author Mark Lynas wrote: "Whitehouse got it wrong - completely wrong."xi Web editor Ben Davies let the forum debate run five months, attracting 3,004 comments: this could not happen in a letters page.

This delivers the promise of what Howard Rheingold saw as "a way of revitalising the open and widespread discussions among citizens that feeds the roots of democratic society" (Rheingold 1993). The important thing here is that the comments were in support of the sceptic Whitehouse, by a ratio of about six to one. Do we believe this ratio is representative, or just mimics the internecine morass afflicting news sites such as the Guardian's Comment is Free?

The same ratio was quoted by Downing and Ballantyne in their 2007 report `Turning Point or Tipping Point?' for comments received after the airing of Channel 4's Great Global Warming Swindle. According to them "Channel 4 anecdotally reported that among the 700 comments it received [including phone, but mainly online], supporters outnumbered critics six to one." Channel 4 Head of Documentaries Hamish Mykura, writing in the Guardian, used this `anecdotal' evidence to shore up its broadcast (to 2.7m viewers).xii

That comment-board rants are used to justify such flawed programming is indicative of the force of new media in promulgating sceptical positions. Andy Revkin, on the New York Times Dot Earth Blog in July, writes of the "whiplash" suffered by the public, "created by blow-by-blow media coverage of scientific findings on global warming." He quotes an expert on risk from Harvard, who explains the dizzying confusion as the result of "flaws in the web of relationships among participants in communication; these tend to amplify overstatements."

Revkin continues: "In the comments below, I'll add ideas and context provided by other experts whose voices didn't fit in the newspaper article-one of the values of a blog is that it provides depth for those seeking it."xiii Revkin handily summarises how his own new media practice-to compensate for the paper's space limitations-is central to the confusion he describes, and prompts us ask: how is it that unlimited new media space a priori has a wider set of parameters for assessing authentic viewpoints?

These examples are illustrative of the myriad ways in which different forms of new media are utilized to support climate disinformation. I have specifically chosen mainstream media sites, and their permeation into other forms of media, rather than individual blogs, to move away from the idea that it is only single issue fanatics (SIFs) that propagate climate denial.

There is presence, but what of the volume? There is very little research in this area, perhaps because as of February this year there were 112m blogs tracked by, not including the 72.8m in China.xiv In research to be published, Neil Gavin argues that few people are searching out climate change information online, and those that are find "an environment that is more digital jungle than `public cyber?sphere'" (Gavin, forthcoming).

However, rather than Googling as Gavin does, turning up 80 million entries for climate change or global warming, another starting point is to look at blog aggregation sites. While this omits traditional media, it is a good measure for extra-institutional influence. On Wikio, four of the top 20 science blogs are sceptics. The most successful,, the US-based blog of sceptic and former weatherman Anthony Watts, in July this year posted 646,024 page views (2.8m since launch). It is in the top four of 3.4m blogs using the free online blog authoring tool, Wordpress xv. Using the latest Nielsen Net Ratings data, even the most conservative estimate would give it over 300,000 monthly visits and a readership of over 31,000 users.xvi Compare that to the New Statesman's 12.7% year-on-year decline, to headline sales of just over 26,000.

It is not just individuals. In McCright and Dunlap's 2003 study of the US rejection of Kyoto, they focused on 14 conservative think tanks that used their publishing capacities to "advance science-related positions outside of the peer-reviewed scientific community" (McCright & Dunlap, 2003). Of the 14 think tanks, eight have progressed to using blogs formats, e.g. Cato-at- Liberty, of the Cato Institute singled out for its propaganda in Nick Davies' book (Davies, 2008); the other six all publish daily or weekly updates on their existing sites.

In the UK sceptic sites are fewer, but are well read and bound up with concepts of nationalism. Climate denialist An Englishman's Castle is in Total Politics magazine's Top 20 libertarian blogs. Political sites dominate online, and many libertarian sites such as (70th most influential blog, according to regularly support denialist views. It reminds us of John Armitage's note of warning, that "cybercultural technologies, like all technologies, are innately political" (Armitage, 1999).

In August Australia's ABC TV ran a news item where bloggers, not politicians, were the key sources. Australia's Herald Sun blogger Andrew Bolt was an interviewee. This his blog warning to a "lazy media": Many politicians tell me they've drawn on the blog for evidence to get their party to get tougher in resisting the global warming hysteria... But more than that, blogs like mine have given frustrated academics, even from India and Canada, a place to send dissenting material on global warming that much of the media prefers to ignore. A debate the media often says is "over" is on again. Thanks to blogs.xvii

Analysis of online does need some healthy, well, scepticism. As Mathew Nisbet argues, the fragmentation of media has meant information rich science enthusiasts get richer, while the lay citizen becomes even further excluded from the debate (Nisbet, forthcoming). And in his book Zero Comments, Geert Lovink critiques blogs for their `nihilist impulse' to undermine traditional media values through their in-crowd dynamic in which social ranking is the primary concern (Lovink, 2006). The rise of the issue enthusiast and lay expert is part of the `citizen journalism' revolution and is providing, to quote online journalism blogger Paul Bradshaw, "more boots on the ground than any commercial news operation... more background, savvy and commitment to the case."xviii

This has been rightly celebrated. But ascribing a "technological idealism" to the democratic potential of the Internet risks holding it apart from history and politics (Notaro, 2006). Anthony Watts and A Englishman's Castle are boots on the ground, but ones leaving heavy footprints.

So there is volume, but what of its impact? In research to be published, Krosnick found that including a sceptical perspective in a news story about global warming reduced the proportion of those who perceived scientific consensus from 58 to 47 percent.xix It is perhaps a question of amplification, the ways in which message multipliers use the web to not only publish but proliferate.xx In one of the few pieces of research addressing the issue, Ladle et al. tracked one climate science report published in the journal Nature, and found considerable misrepresentation of the report across the Internet from "self-styled `not forprofit' foundations with an explicit right-leaning political agenda" (Ladle et al., 2005). They found that "though there are relatively few anti-environmentalist sites on the Internet, they tend to rank high on search engines" due to optimization and in-crowd linking. The dangers of the amplification could result in, "web-literate laypersons [being] easily misled or polarised, undermining the considered public debate that underpins effective environmental policy" (Ibid.).

Perhaps the best known example of political impact has been the work of sceptical blogger Steve McIntyre, whose criticisms of the hockey stick graph used in the IPCC reports led to a US Congressional Committee to examine its validity. And politicians are beginning to engage further with online. In June, Liberal Democrat MP and environment spokesperson Steve Webb launched a campaign with `ten green bloggers' to influence the government to increase emissions reductions targets in the Climate Change Bill to 80%.xxi He may have been following Al Gore's recent surprise visit to the bloggers assembled at the Netroots Nation conference, telling them they "were on the leading edge of reclaiming American democracy."xxii And as Andreas Ytterstad says in his study of Norwegian blogger influence on government climate policy, misquoting H.G. Wells, it is surely the shape of things to come (Ytterstad 2008). According to Ofcom, UK use of online increased fourfold between 2002 and 2007.xxiii

So what does this mean for new media's democratic value? There is clearly a need for research into the ways in which climate scepticism online is free to contest scientific fact. But there is enough here already to put forward some of the ideas in circulation. One of the founders of the Internet Vint Cerf, and lead for Google's Internet for Everyone project, made a recent suggestion that the Internet should be nationalised as a public utility .xxiv As tech policy blogger Jim Harper argues, "giving power over the Internet to well-heeled interests and self-interested politicians" is, and I quote, "a bad idea."xxv Or in the UK every new online publication could be required to register with the recently announced Internet watchdog: from which at least the ownership and political economy of the web could be assessed.

However, a tale from Belarus, where a law requiring registration with the national government of every new blog has just been signed into force. Rightly, Reporters Without Borders called the law "repressive" and predict that censorship will increase.xxvi Suppressing debate where it legitimately exists risks leaving the mainstream agenda open to dismissal. `Green bully' and `religious environmentalist' personas are invoked as evidence of hysteria at the heart of environmental commitment.

In April this year, blogger Jo Abbess urged her readers to "challenge any piece of media that seems like it's been subject to spin or scepticism" after successfully petitioning the BBC's Roger Harrabin to correct an error on the news website.xxvii This was picked up by online magazine The Register, under the headline "Blog bully crows over BBC Climate Victory."xxviii

Ladle et al. advocate for "a clear, definitive, authoritative and realistic web resource written in accessible language that is explicit about the assumptions and limitations of the work... [and] a framework within which people can access information about new science, allowing them to access and judge information and its implications" (Ladle et al., 2005). While perhaps a utopian view, this does fit with the Habermasian [Juergen Habermas, a prominent Marxist theoretician] "electronic agora" promoted by Rheingold and others, and almost describes Yale University's new climate project, Yale 360.xxix

Finally, in his book The Future of the Internet: and How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain builds on his idea of a `generative Internet' that, borrowing from Chomsky, is predicated on the idea that finite tools-a PC, some code, enthusiasm-will lead to infinite new media freedoms. But Zittrain warns this is under threat from spam, viruses and malware, which for Becky Hogge, Founder of the Open Rights Group, are "turning people away from the Internet" into the arms of single networks tethered to corporate providers, such as Apple's iPhone or Microsoft's

I would argue that climate disinformation online is a form of cultural and political malware every bit as threatening to our new media freedoms, used not to foster a forum for open politics but to create, in Nancy Fraser's term, a "multiplicity of fragmented publics" that harms not only our democracy, but our planet (Fraser, 1993).

I promised I wouldn't be too miserable, so I'll leave you with: last month, a two-part article in the Columbia Journalism Review was written solely in response to not even a blog writer, but a blog commenter, Jeff Huggins, who has relentlessly challenged the ways in which climate change has been represented.xxxi As the scientists at stated, these articles were "proof (if such were needed) that commenting on blogs can make a difference."xxxii


Should Greenies love hurricanes?

The torrential rains of a single typhoon can bury tons of carbon in the ocean, two new studies suggest. It's Nature's way of healing itself.

The findings help determine how much carbon that big storms have historically taken from the atmosphere and buried for thousands of years beneath the sea. More carbon could be buried by these storms if global warming increases their intensity and frequency, as some scientists have predicted.

Scientists have been looking at ways to store carbon to lower the levels of carbon dioxide building up in Earth's atmosphere. Scientists have long suspected that hurricanes and typhoons (along with cyclones and tropical depressions, these are all versions of storm systems called tropical cyclones) can cleanse the environment of a lot of carbon, because their rains sweep soil and plant material into rivers and then out to sea. This effect is particularly significant for mountainous islands prone to frequent hits from tropical cyclones.

Two different groups of researchers took samples of the sediment in rushing river waters on Taiwan during Typhoon Mindulle, which hit the island in July 2004.

One group, whose findings are detailed in the Oct. 19 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, took sediment samples from the LiWu River, while the other group, whose work is detailed in the June 2008 issue of the journal Geology, sampled the Chosui River.

The Nature Geoscience study, funded by The Cambridge Trusts and the U.K. National Environmental Research Council, found that 80 to 90 percent of the organic carbon (in the form of soil and plants) eroded by the storms around the LiWu were transported along the river to the ocean. By dangling one-liter plastic bottles over the Chosui River during the typhoon, the researchers of the Geology study found that 61 million tons of sediment washed out to sea from the river. The amount of carbon contained in that sediment is about 95 percent as much as the river transports during normal rains over the entire year. That works out to more than 400 tons of carbon washing away during the storm for each square mile of the watershed, the researchers reported. Their work was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The carbon in the soil and plants came from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When the storm washes the sediment out to sea, it can sink down to the deep ocean, where it will eventually compact and form rocks that can store that carbon for millions of years.

If typhoons and hurricanes do become more intense or frequent, as some models have indicated, the burial of carbon in the ocean from storm runoff could counteract some part of the warming, by locking the carbon away in the deep ocean, the researchers of the Nature Geoscience study said.

But typhoon runoff is not a cure-all for the carbon dioxide that's been building up in the Earth's atmosphere. Not enough carbon is washed down either as plant material and soil or by chemical weathering of rocks (where carbon dioxide and water disintegrate rock) to get rid of all the extra carbon dioxide that has built up in the atmosphere. "You'd have to weather [and erode] all the volcanic rocks in the world to reduce the CO2 back to pre-industrial times," said Anne Carey of Ohio State University and a member of the Geology study team.

Understanding how typhoon runoff fits into the Earth's carbon cycle could help sharpen climate change models, though.


Green Drivel, Green Deceit

We are all so besieged by the drivel that Greens put out daily that it is easy to forget how idiotic it is and, in many cases, how deceitful it is.

I recently received an emailed news release with the following headline: "If you don't know what to buy for the holidays, the Better World Shopping Guide will help you decide." The Guide is described as "a must-have guide for the socially and environmentally responsible consumer or those who want to improve their awareness."

The guide purports to evaluate 1,000 companies and 75 product categories to determine "a product's value by price point and its cost to society." This, my friends, is bull feathers! When you are buying Christmas gifts this year, buy something the recipients will actually enjoy. If you're in the mall trying to figure out which product threatens all life on Earth, you are certifiably insane.

Slowly, but surely, people are beginning to realize that the environmental movement is not about saving the Earth, but about destroying everything that passes for industry, business, and the enhancement of human life through the use of every kind of energy for transportation and other purposes.

An example of this is a recent editorial in New Scientist magazine titled, "The Folly of Growth: How to stop the economy killing the planet." Using the "environment" to hide behind, all manner of lies are put forth to justify everything from preposterous schemes such as "cap and trade" of "greenhouse gas emissions", also sometimes called "pollution credits", to the claim that we have to scrap the most effective means of generating electricity, coal and nuclear, for wind turbines and solar panels.

The famous line from the movie about the Watergate scandal was "Follow the money." Who will get rich selling "carbon/pollution credits"? Al Gore and his friends. Who benefits from efforts such as a proposition on the ballot in San Francisco to require that only "clean" energy be used? The owners and investors in wind and solar energy.

The bonus for the Greens is that these and other schemes will impoverish the economy worse than any sub-prime mortgage meltdown. If you have to pay out millions for "carbon credits", as utilities around the nation are already doing, the person who gets socked with the cost is ultimately to consumer.

Making energy expensive is the single most effective way of wrecking the economy.

To achieve this goal, the nation's environmental organizations are pouring millions into getting Barack Obama elected. The trade publication, Greenwire, has published an article that affirms the findings of Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) investigation into the multi-million dollar funding and partisan political activities of environmental groups. They are non-profits that are not supposed to engage in partisan political activities, but as the article points out, "In every instance, the environmental groups are backing the Democrat."

Whether it's what to buy for Christmas, the increased cost of the electricity from your utility or national politics, the Greens are involved via propaganda, bizarre schemes to undermine the nation's energy needs, or who gets elected.

You are being played for a chump while the Greens pick your pockets.


Less Ice In Arctic Ocean 6000-7000 Years Ago

I guess it was all those SUVs the cavemen were driving

Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.

"The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don't know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today," says Astrid Lys†, a geologist and researcher at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

Shore features

Together with her NGU colleague, Eiliv Larsen, she has worked on the north coast of Greenland with a group of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, mapping sea-level changes and studying a number of shore features. She has also collected samples of driftwood that originated from Siberia or Alaska and had these dated, and has collected shells and microfossils from shore sediments.

"The architecture of a sandy shore depends partly on whether wave activity or pack ice has influenced its formation. Beach ridges, which are generally distinct, very long, broad features running parallel to the shoreline, form when there is wave activity and occasional storms. This requires periodically open water," Astrid Lysa explains.

Pack-ice ridges which form when drift ice is pressed onto the seashore piling up shore sediments that lie in its path, have a completely different character. They are generally shorter, narrower and more irregular in shape.

Open sea

"The beach ridges which we have had dated to about 6000-7000 years ago were shaped by wave activity," says Astrid Lys†. They are located at the mouth of Independence Fjord in North Greenland, on an open, flat plain facing directly onto the Arctic Ocean. Today, drift ice forms a continuous cover from the land here.

Astrid Lysa says that such old beach formations require that the sea all the way to the North Pole was periodically ice free for a long time. "This stands in sharp contrast to the present-day situation where only ridges piled up by pack ice are being formed," she says.

However, the scientists are very careful about drawing parallels with the present-day trend in the Arctic Ocean where the cover of sea ice seems to be decreasing. "Changes that took place 6000-7000 years ago were controlled by other climatic forces than those which seem to dominate today," Astrid Lysa believes. [Injecting belief into science??]

Inuit immigration

The mapping at 82 degrees North took place in summer 2007 as part of the LongTerm project, a sub-project of the major International Polar Year project, SciencePub. The scientists also studied ruined settlements dating from the first Inuit immigration to these desolate coasts.

The first people from Alaska and Canada, called the Independence I Culture, travelled north-east as far as they could go on land as long ago as 4000-4500 years ago. The scientists have found out that drift ice had formed on the sea again in this period, which was essential for the Inuit in connection with their hunting. No beach ridges have been formed since then.

"Seals and driftwood were absolutely vital if they were to survive. They needed seals for food and clothing, and driftwood for fuel when the temperature crept towards minus 50 degrees. For us, it is inconceivable and extremely impressive," says Eiliv Larsen, the NGU scientist and geologist.


Australia: More climate correctness

First "global warming" became "climate change". Now we have ....

Government experts say the word "drought" is making farmers feel bad and want people to use the word "dryness" instead. Farmers also needed to accept that drier weather was here to stay, said a report by the Government's hand-picked Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel.

"Words like drought ... have negative connotations for farm families," the report said. "There needs to be a new national approach to living with dryness, as we prefer to call it, rather than dealing with drought."

The report criticised the Government's $1 billion annual drought program, under which drought-stricken farmers are paid Exceptional Circumstances (EC) funding. "For all the assistance provided, farm families, rural businesses and communities currently living with dryness in rural Australia do not feel or perceive they are measurably better off," the report said. Farming families in drought-declared areas can get an EC payment of up to $21,000 a year. The report quoted some farmers as saying EC payments rewarded unproductive and irresponsible farmers and were of no help to good operators.

Panel chairman Peter Kenny said dryness was tough for farmers. "We wonder why people have got so much pressure on them out there and they are blowing their brains out and there is a lot of them doing that," he said. "It is clear that drought is having an impact on the wellbeing of farming families and rural communities."

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said the report showed rural families were not communicating with each other about their hardships. The Government had not got the policy right on tackling drought, he said. "Significant funds have gone to try and help rural communities, but you can't have these sorts of social outcomes and say that we've got it right," he said.



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