Saturday, January 10, 2009

Germany having 'one of the coldest winters in 100 years'

The cold has so far cost four people their lives and caused even the Muritzsee [a large lake] to freeze up.

One of the coldest winters in 100 years has cost Germany more lives. At minus 16 degrees a homeless man in Rhineland-Palatinate froze to death. Police said yersterday that the 58-year-old had for two years lived with a 43-year-old in a tent.

On Friday morning, a 53-year old Berliner was fished out dead from a hole in the ice in the Elde in Grabow (District Ludwigslust). According to the police at directorate Schwerin, the man's car was found with the key still in the ignition on the bridge of the federal 5th

In Nidda a man who lived in a nursing home became a victim of the cold, according to the police in Friedberg. The corpse of a man who on Sunday ran away from home, was found on Monday. Only now it has been established that he froze to death. On Monday in Weimar a demented 77 - year-old who had got lost froze to death.....

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), this is one of the coldest winters of the past 100 years. It is quite rare that such low temperatures as in the past days were recorded, the DWD meteorologist Thomas Schmidt said yesterday. The weather service Meteomedia reported yesterday a temperature of minus 34.6 degrees at the Funtensee in the Bavarian Alps. It was there in Christmas 2001, that the lowest temperature so far in Germany was recorded -- at minus 45.9 degrees Celsius, .

For the first time in years the Mueritz lake in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania -- with 11,700 hectares of Germany's largest lake scenery -- was again completely covered with ice. In northern Germany ice increasingly hampered inland ship movements: The Elbe was from Friday morning closed to shipping above Hamburg because of a thick blanket of ice.

More here. (Quick translation by JR)

Calling Paul Ehrlich: "Half the planet could be hit by food crisis by 2100"

These ignoramuses are smarter than Ehrlich in one respect: They put their prophecy way in the future

According to researchers, there is a 90 percent probability that by 2100 the minimum temperatures in the tropics and sub-tropical regions will be higher than the maximums so far recorded in those areas. The affect [effect?] on crop-growing in those regions would be dire, according to the projections based on direct observations and data culled from 23 computer models on the planet's evolving climate patterns.

"The stresses on global food production from temperature alone are going to be huge, and that doesn't take into account water supplies stressed by the higher temperatures," said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor. "We are taking the worst of what we've seen historically and saying that in the future it is going to be a lot worse unless there is some kind of adaptation," added Rosamond Naylor, director of Stanford University's Program on Food Security and the Environment.

In the tropics, the warmest temperatures will cut maize and rice harvests by 20 to 40 percent, the researchers said. [Rubbish! Rice crops best in high temperatures. Indonesia is close to the equator and they often get 3 rice crops a year there] The hotter weather will also reduce the moisture in the soil, cutting yields even further. [Really! Higher temperatures would cause more ocean evaporation and hence heavier rainfall!]

Some three billion people, or half the world's population, currently live in tropical and sub-tropical regions, and their number is set to double by the end of the century. These regions stretch from northern India, southern China to much of Australia and all of Africa, and also extend from the southern United States to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.


Freezing out the facts

Liam Dutton, the weatherman for the BBC, recently wrote on the BBC site:
Having worked at the BBC weather centre for about six years, I'm finding it hard to remember the last time I talked about cold weather constantly for such a long period of time - and that's saying something, as I'm a bit of a winter weather fan.

The start of the meteorological winter is 1 December and last month proved to be the coldest December in more than 30 years, with the average temperature at 1.7C (35F), compared with the long-term average of 4.7C (40F) for the first part of the month.

Dutton says the he is frequently asked if this unusually cold winter is a record breaker. He says it isn't: "The current UK lowest temperature record stands at -27.2C (-17F) at Braemar in Scotland, which was last reached in December 1995, and before that in 1982."

So the coldest winter on record in the UK is 1995 and before that 1982. The London Telegraph reports that even southern England, which is used to mild winters were shocked this year. "Dog walkers and boat owners were startled to discover that the waters around the exclusive Sandbanks peninsula which stretches out into the harbour at Pool, Dorset, were covered in ice." They report that a half mile section of the coast "reaching out about 20 yards to sea was frozen". The local marina manager says that in his 20 years of managing the marina "I cannot remember this ever happening before."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has urged people to bring all pets indoors and report that smaller pets outside have frozen to death. The water fountains in Trafalagar Square have frozen and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that the freezing temperatures are putting wild birds at risk as it is becoming difficult for them to find food.

In Milan, Italy a snowstorm brought the city to a halt. Warsaw, and Berlin, Germany, both saw minus 20 degrees Celsisus days. Police in Poland saw that this winter 76 people have died from the cold. In France, snow has cancelled rail service between Pairs and Marseille. Demand for energy is so high that the authorities are warning of black outs if people don't cut their heating needs. An icebreaker was brought into Rotterdam harbor to break up the ice that had closed the harbor

The deaths are a sad reminder that cold weather, not warm weather, is the main killer of people, especially the elderly. Last year England had 25,300 elderly die due to cold weather, that was up on the previous year when 23,740 died from the cold. A spokesman for the National Pensioners Conventions says: "Since 1997, we have lost over 260,000 pensioners during the winter months because of cold-related illnesses..."

I remember in 2003 that a particularly unusual heat wave hit France while many physicians were on their annual holiday. That summer France saw 14,802 people die from the heat. That got reported in the US. Now we read that cold has killed over a quarter of a million elderly people in just the UK alone in the last decade. The French heat wave from 2003 has not yet been repeated so those 14,802 deaths were in one year only. The UK sees that number of deaths EVERY year from cold plus around another 10,000 more. Did you see that reported in the US media? This is a far more tragic set of statistics but one the media in the US doesn't find "sexy". It doesn't have that "global warming" angle to it that the media loves so much.

A google news search on "coldest winter England" turns up quite a few stories from the UK regarding the bitter weather there this year but the US media barely appears in the listing. The rather unusual story about a section of sea water freezing got no hits from the US media in google news, though the UK media reported on it. I couldn't find a mention of at the New York Times while the BBC couldn't ignore it.

I'm not going to say that this weather proves global cooling -- even if I'm becoming more and more convinced that a global cooling is more likely than a global warming, at least for the rest of my lifetime. Weather extremes like this can't prove global cooling. Of course, neither do weather extremes in the other direction prove global warming. And it would be silly if a "skeptic" on the warming issue were to argue that this ultra-cold winter is proof of cooling. I am sure that many warming activists will go to great lengths to remind us not to be fooled by singular weather events like this one.

Well, except when those singular events appear to bolster their case. The on-line envrionmental publication Grist was very quick to note that extra heavy wild fires in California were a result of global warming -- even if experts in forest fires said that was poppycock. Grist justified their hysteria saying: "You've got to talk when people are paying attention" and "You've got to drive home the point while people actually care about wildfires (same true for hurricanes, droughts, etc.)." They said that jumping in during such disasters would be useful because "the media will lap it up."

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Green Left was all over the media with claims about how global warming was responsible. Not only that but more frequent and powerful storms would be battering the US as a result of this warming. Katrina hit in 2005. That year 15 hurricanes hit. The 2006 hurricane season was light, with just 5. The 2007 hurrican season ended with 6, 2008 was slightly more active with 8.

Torandos are a nasty piece of weather. And sometimes they hit in places where they normally aren't found. Since 1950 there have six recorded in New York City, about one every decade. The Washington Post ran an article on August 9, 2007 about the small tornado that had hit New York City the prior day. The Post gave it the scare headline: "Did Global Warming Cause NYC Tornado?" (The link for this story has been removed from the Post site and the story appears to have vanished from their archives as well. But all traces of the story have not vanished. If you go to this warming scare story you on the Post site you will see they forgot to delete a link to the story. Here is a screen capture of the "more stories" section listing the story. But if you try to click on the link it will take you no where.

In 2007 England suffered from some summer flooding that was unusually severe. The Independent reported: "It's official, the heavier rainfall in Britain is... being generated by man-made global warming." One atypical weather event and they hopped on the warming angle. The current cold spell, however, is reported without any mention of the warming worry. Later studies showed that warming had nothing to do with the floods. But all the major media outlet had already reported otherwise.

Weather extremes can be very nasty things. And the media can report them or ignore them. From what I've seen their tendency is to report endlessly any such extremes that substantiate the warming agenda that politicians and the UN are pushing. Weather extremes that would undermine such reports tend to get ignored or downplayed. I'm not even saying that the press is doing this intentionally. I suspect that they know what they know and information that confirms what they know is deemed important by them. Information, which seems to contradict or undermine what they know is selectively ignored or downplayed because "they know" it isn't, or can't be, important.


It's cold out there

If you are going out anytime over the next few months, may I suggest that you wear a hat? You might even buy earmuffs. We are experiencing yet another cold winter. Al Gore may believe in global warming, but I suggest that he have a word with his fellow environmental catastrophists at the UK's Hadley Centre for Climate Predictions. Since the end of 1998 global warming has ceased. In fact, it is getting colder out there. Two thousand eight was possibly the coldest year of this young century. Over the last two years temperatures have dropped by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius -- brrrr.

The reason I mention Al's co-religionists at the Hadley Centre is that they have come to realize that computer projections of global warming have been wrong. Carbon dioxide levels have indeed increased but not temperatures. So bundle up, Al. Last year, in many parts of the world, snowfalls reached levels not seen in decades. The Associated Press recently shrieked that global warming "is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid," but the facts are otherwise. The computer models that have predicted global warming have failed just as the computer models that predicted very few financial losses for the insurance industry from credit default swaps (CDSs) failed.

Christopher Booker, writing in London's Daily Telegraph, observes that "2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved." I am not sure I would go that far, but I do believe that the so-called consensus that the catastrophists claim exists among scientists has frayed, and it may be years before we know if global warming is long-range or what causes it. It may be caused by humans, but it may also be caused by natural activity on the sun.

From the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization has come a very interesting book of essays that displays the diverse views of some very serious scientific minds. One contributor, Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT, raises the question: "Is the Global Warming Alarm Founded on Fact?" He acknowledges that over the decades there has been some global warming but argues that the predictions of catastrophe are greatly exaggerated. "Actual observations suggest that the sensitivity of the real climate is much less than that found in computer models whose sensitivity depends on processes that are clearly misrepresented."

Then there is Freeman Dyson, who in the June 12, 2008 issue of the New York Review of Books writes very calmly about global warming. He assures us that "genetically engineered carbon-eating trees" are just around the corner, likely to be developed in twenty years, certain to be developed in fifty years. What is so promising about genetically engineered carbon-eating trees? Writes Dyson: "Carbon-eating trees could convert most of the carbon that they absorb from the atmosphere into some chemically stable form and bury it underground. Or they could convert the carbon into liquid fuels and other useful chemicals."

So relax. Our future is in the trees -- genetically engineered carbon eating trees. Frigid winters are on the return. Al Gore's next new thing will be the common cold. It is rather amazing to think of how he and the catastrophists whipped up hysteria worldwide. One wonders what their next fear will be, carnivorous trees?


The dangers of disputing warming orthodoxy

Book Review of "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed". By Christopher C. Horner

Those of us who refuse to accept calls from proponents of global warming for drastic restrictions on production often confront objections like this:
You skeptics, blinded by fanatical devotion to the free market, ignore evidence. True enough, you can trot out a few scientists who agree with you. But the overwhelming majority of climate scientists view man-made global warming as a great threat to the world. The course of inaction you urge on us threatens the earth with disaster.

Christopher Horner's excellent book provides a convincing response to this all-too-frequent complaint. But how can it do so? Will not an "anti-global-warming" book of necessity consist of an account of scientists who dissent from the consensus? If so, will it not fall victim to the difficulty raised in our imagined objection? The book will pick a few favored experts to back up a preconceived political agenda. Horner strikes at the root of this objection: it rests on a false premise. Contrary to what our objection assumes, there is in fact no consensus of scientists behind global-warming alarmism:
Professor Dennis Bray of Germany and Hans von Storch polled climate scientists to rate the statement, "To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes?" . They received responses from 530 climate scientists in 27 countries, of whom 44 percent were either neutral or disagreed with the statement. Science magazine helpfully refused to publish the findings, by the way. (p. 157)

But do not the most prestigious bodies of scientists, such as the National Academy of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim that man-made global warming is indeed a danger? Horner shows that matters are not what they appear. Environmentalists insinuated their way into the National Academy through "a special Temporary Nominating Committee for the Global Environment, bypassing normal election procedures" (p. 91). Once ensconced, these partisan figures used their position to elect more of their ilk and to block skeptics. The environmentalist members include Paul Ehrlich, who predicted in The Population Bomb (1968) that by the 1970s and '80s hundreds of millions of people would die from starvation. His manifest failure as a prognosticator has not deterred him from touting new and improved ways to cripple capitalism.

Appeal to the Intergovernmental Panel (IPCC) is likewise dubious. Far from expressing a consensus of the world's leading climate experts, the reports of IPCC alter the opinions of the contributors to reflect climate alarmism. Horner quotes to great effect several protests by IPCC experts over the distortion of their views.
Dr. Frederick Seitz . revealed that although the IPCC report carries heft due to having been the topic of review and discussion by many scientists, "the report is not what it appears to be - it is not the version that was approved by the contributing scientists listed on the title page." (p. 300)

Activists in charge of the report's summary exaggerated what the scientists had said to promote the global-warming agenda.

The drive against dissenters from global warming extends much further. Patrick Michaels, a leading critic, reports that an editor told him skeptical papers must face much stricter scrutiny to win acceptance. The "newly elected Democratic Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, . soon after taking office ratcheted up the effort to get Michaels removed" from his post of state climatologist (p. 113). In one case, when a skeptical paper evaded the landmines and secured publication, the global-warming enthusiasts demanded that an immediate rebuttal appear.

It gets much worse. Bjorn Lomborg affirms global warming, but he angered the alarmists because he thinks programs to reduce carbon emissions should not have a high priority. When he expressed this view in The Skeptical Environmentalist, the alarmists launched against him a campaign of contumely. A Danish Star Chamber court of inquiry, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, found him guilty of misrepresentation, even though it lacked evidence on which to base this charge. Instead, it took over and adopted as its own a bill of previously published charges.
The Committees ruled in January 2003, stating that "Objectively speaking, the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty." This opinion, such as it was, offered as evidence not analysis, but a list of those who had criticized Lomborg. (p. 122, emphasis and footnote number removed)

After more inquiry, the Danish government quashed the proceedings, and Lomborg emerged vindicated.

Some globalists go even further. Greenpeace has called Horner a "climate criminal"; and an environmentalist group even rummaged through his trash, apparently hoping to find evidence of an antiglobalist conspiracy. Environmentalist stalwarts have urged that skeptics be imprisoned: by endeavoring to undermine our battle against the global-warming menace, are not skeptics guilty of criminal conduct? In Australia, global-warming advocates want to strip deniers of their citizenship.

Why do the proponents of global warming try to stamp out dissent? As Horner makes clear, billions of dollars are at stake.
The University of California system, for example, is preparing to spend $500 million [in taxpayer dollars] to create a think tank to analyze global warming and the Public Utilities Commission has adopted a decision which will spend $600 million more for a separate think tank to study the issue. (p. 223)

Research grants to "prove" global warming can readily be obtained. Nor is the gravy train confined to scientists; journalists, environmentalist organizations, and television and movie producers benefit from the campaign to save the earth. Al Gore, among other politicians, has used global-warming propaganda to enhance his fame and fortune. As Horner shows in a chapter that makes painful reading, "educational" materials to enlist children into the crusade provide yet another source of profit. If the global-warming hypothesis were overthrown, all of this money would be at risk; hence the imperative necessity to silence the critics.

But here I must face an objection. Even if heavy funding supports global-warming research, this does not suffice to show that the results of this work lack validity. Even if someone is "in it for the money," his results may be right. Must not motives and results be kept strictly separate? Indeed so; but I have not argued that heavy financial backing undermines the conclusions of this sort of research. Rather, the financial interests explain why globalists suppress dissent. That said, the backing behind global-warming research should induce those of us who are not experts to hesitate before accepting in full the claims of the alarmists. The claim is not the fallacious "because you are an interested party, your results cannot stand"; it is the entirely defensible "because you an interested party, I will exercise caution before I accept what you say." Richard Posner, himself an alarmist, recognizes the point:
Fair enough; it would be a mistake to suppose scientists to be completely disinterested, and when the science is inexact or unsettled the normal self-interested motivations that scientists share with the rest of us have elbow room for influencing scientific opinion. To this it can be added that the climatic and other environmental effects of burning fossil fuels are red flags to the Greens. (Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response (Oxford, 2004), p. 54)

But, as Posner goes on to note, does not this point also tell against the skeptics? Businesses have supported some of their research. This should certainly be acknowledged. As Horner notes, though, the notion that global-warming skeptics are tools of oil companies and other big businesses has little to be said for it. Quite the contrary, many businesses avidly support global-warming alarmism. If legislation imposes restrictions on oil and coal, e.g., alternative energy sources stand to profit.

But does not the objection I posed at the outset now recur in modified form? Even if no scientific consensus endorses global warming, what justifies us in inclining to the skeptical position? Are we not choosing our experts to harmonize with our political opinions? Here we cannot escape. We must evaluate the evidence as best we can and this does entail choosing which experts to believe. It does not follow, though, that we must adopt agreement with a political position as our criterion for choice.

Horner offers a number of facts that lend strong backing to those who question the global-warming dogma. (The main focus of the book, though, lies not in scientific theory but in a depiction of the techniques and tactics of Horner's opponents.[1]) For one thing, a number of the thermometers used to measure global warming have been placed in situations likely to produce an upward bias, e.g., next to incinerators or in cities rather than less warm rural locations.

Horner does not deny that some increase in temperature has occurred since the panic about global cooling in the '70s. But the increase by no means pushes the earth's temperature higher than ever in recorded history, let alone prehistoric times. Temperatures in the Medieval Warming Period ranged at least as high as those now current. Further, the projected increase in temperature owing to human emissions of carbon dioxide, the basis for all the panic, amounts to very little. If temperature does increase somewhat, this may turn out to have largely good effects, such as greater growth in vegetation.
Subsequent research [to Michael Mann's discredited "hockey-stick graph"] has ratified the old, outdated thinking drawn from agricultural records, diaries, cultural artifacts, and the like that the Medieval Warming was warmer than today and the [following] Little Ice Age cooler, globally and not regionally. (pp. 108-9)

But what of claims that temperature increase may melt the polar icecaps, with dire consequences? Horner notes that the area near the North Pole has been warmer in the past than it is now; further, Antarctica, much larger than the Arctic Circle, now is colder than earlier in the 20th century. Alarms about flooding rest on highly disputable computer models.

Even if the skeptics have a good case, why need we adopt it? I do not mean that we should judge in favor of the alarmists and set to one side the arguments of their critics. Rather, why need we take sides in a scientific controversy, any more than, say, we need to adopt a particular interpretation of quantum mechanics?

Unfortunately, we cannot remain neutral while the experts battle. The global-warming advocates support drastic measures that would seriously affect production. Some of them go further and call for curbs on human population. In this connection, it is more than a little disturbing that John Holdren, chosen by Barack Obama as his science advisor since the publication of Horner's book, is a close associate of Paul Ehrlich. Holdren was among those elected to the National Academy of Science "from the temporary nominating group" earlier mentioned (p. 93). To decline to take a stand is to surrender to environmentalist extremists.

A nagging doubt remains. What if, however unlikely, the alarmists turn out to be right? Horner deploys in this connection what Herbert Hoover would have called a "powerful statistic": there is little that we can do to lower world temperatures. If all nations fully adhered to the guidelines of the Kyoto Protocol, this would have but a minute effect.
As Pat Michaels' World Climate blog summed it up: ".the amount of future global warming that would be 'saved' would amount to about 0.07øC by the year 2050 and 0.15øC by 2100." That amount of warming delayed for a few years at such tremendous cost is actually too small for scientists to distinguish from the "noise" of inter-annual temperature variability. (p. 249)

Measures to curb global warming cannot succeed, but they can do much harm. It is Horner's great merit to have called our attention to a real danger - not global warming, but the measures that global-warming alarmists wish to inflict on us.



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


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