Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Green Comes Clean

The global warming alarmist in chief has unveiled the environmentalists' real objective. And no, protecting the planet is not their top concern.

In a letter addressed to President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle, James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, makes an appeal for a carbon tax, ostensibly as a means for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that's allegedly causing a dangerous greenhouse effect and warming trend. Hansen suggests that the tax be levied "at the well-head or port of entry" from where it "will then appropriately affect all products and activities that use fossil fuels."

This tax will have "near-term, mid-term, and long-term" effects on "lifestyle choices," Hansen acknowledges. But he seems unconcerned about how such coercion will rearrange the lives and manage the behavior of a people who should be free of state coercion.

Acting either out of boldness or desperation, Hansen goes on to reveal the environmentalist left's deeper ambition: a collectivist redistribution of wealth. He recommends that the carbon tax be returned to the public in "equal shares on a per capita basis." That means wealthier Americans whose activities emit more CO2 will pay more in carbon taxes than they get back, while those who earn less will receive more in refunds than they will lose through taxes. "A person reducing his carbon footprint more than average makes money," explains Hansen, while "a person with large cars and a big house will pay a tax much higher than the dividend."

Hansen and his ilk never seem to question whether the government should be involved in behavior modification. They believe so zealously in their cause - establishing an egalitarian society where conspicuous consumption is limited to the few who make the rules - that they have no misgivings about using the police power of the federal and state governments to beat society into shape.

Nor do they question their hunch - the idea doesn't even rise to the level of theory - that CO2 emissions are causing climate change even as there are ample reasons to doubt it.

To his credit, Hansen expresses support in the letter for fourth-generation "nuclear power and coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and sequestration." But he's done so much yammering about global warming and encouraging "young people" to do "whatever is necessary to block construction of dirty coal-fired power plants," that any sensible ideas he might have are lost. That's what happens, though, when a first-rate mind latches onto a third-rate assumption.


Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted

Rather amazingly, the article below is from the Leftist Puffington Host

By Harold Ambler

You are probably wondering whether President-elect Obama owes the world an apology for his actions regarding global warming. The answer is, not yet. There is one person, however, who does. You have probably guessed his name: Al Gore. Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that "the science is in." Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind. What is wrong with the statement? A brief list:

1. First, the expression "climate change" itself is a redundancy, and contains a lie. Climate has always changed, and always will. There has been no stable period of climate during the Holocene, our own climatic era, which began with the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. During the Holocene there have been numerous sub-periods with dramatically varied climate, such as the warm Holocene Optimum (7,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C., during which humanity began to flourish, and advance technologically), the warm Roman Optimum (200 B.C. to 400 A.D., a time of abundant crops that promoted the empire), the cold Dark Ages (400 A.D. to 900 A.D., during which the Nile River froze, major cities were abandoned, the Roman Empire fell apart, and pestilence and famine were widespread), the Medieval Warm Period (900 A.D. to 1300 A.D., during which agriculture flourished, wealth increased, and dozens of lavish examples of Gothic architecture were created), the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850, during much of which plague, crop failures, witch burnings, food riots -- and even revolutions, including the French Revolution -- were the rule of thumb), followed by our own time of relative warmth (1850 to present, during which population has increased, technology and medical advances have been astonishing, and agriculture has flourished).

So, no one needs to say the words "climate" and "change" in the same breath -- it is assumed, by anyone with any level of knowledge, that climate changes. That is the redundancy to which I alluded. The lie is the suggestion that climate has ever been stable. Mr. Gore has used a famously inaccurate graph, known as the "Mann Hockey Stick," created by the scientist Michael Mann, showing that the modern rise in temperatures is unprecedented, and that the dramatic changes in climate just described did not take place. They did. One last thought on the expression "climate change": It is a retreat from the earlier expression used by alarmists, "manmade global warming," which was more easily debunked. There are people in Mr. Gore's camp who now use instances of cold temperatures to prove the existence of "climate change," which is absurd, obscene, even.

2. Mr. Gore has gone so far to discourage debate on climate as to refer to those who question his simplistic view of the atmosphere as "flat-Earthers." This, too, is right on target, except for one tiny detail. It is exactly the opposite of the truth.

Indeed, it is Mr. Gore and his brethren who are flat-Earthers. Mr. Gore states, ad nauseum, that carbon dioxide rules climate in frightening and unpredictable, and new, ways. When he shows the hockey stick graph of temperature and plots it against reconstructed C02 levels in An Inconvenient Truth, he says that the two clearly have an obvious correlation. "Their relationship is actually very complicated," he says, "but there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and it is this: When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer." The word "complicated" here is among the most significant Mr. Gore has uttered on the subject of climate and is, at best, a deliberate act of obfuscation. Why? Because it turns out that there is an 800-year lag between temperature and carbon dioxide, unlike the sense conveyed by Mr. Gore's graph. You are probably wondering by now -- and if you are not, you should be -- which rises first, carbon dioxide or temperature. The answer? Temperature. In every case, the ice-core data shows that temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide by, on average, 800 years. In fact, the relationship is not "complicated." When the ocean-atmosphere system warms, the oceans discharge vast quantities of carbon dioxide in a process known as de-gassing. For this reason, warm and cold years show up on the Mauna Loa C02 measurements even in the short term. For instance, the post-Pinatubo-eruption year of 1993 shows the lowest C02 increase since measurements have been kept. When did the highest C02 increase take place? During the super El Nino year of 1998.

3. What the alarmists now state is that past episodes of warming were not caused by C02 but amplified by it, which is debatable, for many reasons, but, more important, is a far cry from the version of events sold to the public by Mr. Gore.

Meanwhile, the theory that carbon dioxide "drives" climate in any meaningful way is simply wrong and, again, evidence of a "flat-Earth" mentality. Carbon dioxide cannot absorb an unlimited amount of infrared radiation. Why not? Because it only absorbs heat along limited bandwidths, and is already absorbing just about everything it can. That is why plotted on a graph, C02's ability to capture heat follows a logarithmic curve. We are already very near the maximum absorption level. Further, the IPCC Fourth Assessment, like all the ones before it, is based on computer models that presume a positive feedback of atmospheric warming via increased water vapor.

4. This mechanism has never been shown to exist. Indeed, increased temperature leads to increased evaporation of the oceans, which leads to increased cloud cover (one cooling effect) and increased precipitation (a bigger cooling effect). Within certain bounds, in other words, the ocean-atmosphere system has a very effective self-regulating tendency. By the way, water vapor is far more prevalent, and relevant, in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide -- a trace gas. Water vapor's absorption spectrum also overlays that of carbon dioxide. They cannot both absorb the same energy! The relative might of water vapor and relative weakness of carbon dioxide is exemplified by the extraordinary cooling experienced each night in desert regions, where water in the atmosphere is nearly non-existent.

If not carbon dioxide, what does "drive" climate? I am glad you are wondering about that. In the short term, it is ocean cycles, principally the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the "super cycle" of which cooling La Ninas and warming El Ninos are parts. Having been in its warm phase, in which El Ninos predominate, for the 30 years ending in late 2006, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation switched to its cool phase, in which La Ninas predominate.

Since that time, already, a number of interesting things have taken place. One La Nina lowered temperatures around the globe for about half of the year just ended, and another La Nina shows evidence of beginning in the equatorial Pacific waters. During the last twelve months, many interesting cold-weather events happened to occur: record snow in the European Alps, China, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Rockies, the upper Midwest, Las Vegas, Houston, and New Orleans. There was also, for the first time in at least 100 years, snow in Baghdad.

Concurrent with the switchover of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to its cool phase the Sun has entered a period of deep slumber. The number of sunspots for 2008 was the second lowest of any year since 1901. That matters less because of fluctuations in the amount of heat generated by the massive star in our near proximity (although there are some fluctuations that may have some measurable effect on global temperatures) and more because of a process best described by the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark in his complex, but elegant, work The Chilling Stars. In the book, the modern Galileo, for he is nothing less, establishes that cosmic rays from deep space seed clouds over Earth's oceans. Regulating the number of cosmic rays reaching Earth's atmosphere is the solar wind; when it is strong, we get fewer cosmic rays. When it is weak, we get more. As NASA has corroborated, the number of cosmic rays passing through our atmosphere is at the maximum level since measurements have been taken, and show no signs of diminishing. The result: the seeding of what some have taken to calling "Svensmark clouds," low dense clouds, principally over the oceans, that reflect sunlight back to space before it can have its warming effect on whatever is below.

Svensmark has proven, in the minds of most who have given his work a full hearing, that it is this very process that produced the episodes of cooling (and, inversely, warming) of our own era and past eras. The clearest instance of the process, by far, is that of the Maunder Minimum, which refers to a period from 1650 to 1700, during which the Sun had not a single spot on its face. Temperatures around the globe plummeted, with quite adverse effects: crop failures (remember the witch burnings in Europe and Massachusetts?), famine, and societal stress.

Many solar physicists anticipate that the slumbering Sun of early 2009 is likely to continue for at least two solar cycles, or about the next 25 years. Whether the Grand Solar Minimum, if it comes to pass, is as serious as the Maunder Minimum is not knowable, at present. Major solar minima (and maxima, such as the one during the second half of the 20th century) have also been shown to correlate with significant volcanic eruptions. These are likely the result of solar magnetic flux affecting geomagnetic flux, which affects the distribution of magma in Earth's molten iron core and under its thin mantle. So, let us say, just for the sake of argument, that such an eruption takes place over the course of the next two decades. Like all major eruptions, this one will have a temporary cooling effect on global temperatures, perhaps a large one. The larger the eruption, the greater the effect. History shows that periods of cold are far more stressful to humanity than periods of warm. Would the eruption and consequent cooling be a climate-modifier that exists outside of nature, somehow? Who is the "flat-Earther" now?

What about heat escaping from volcanic vents in the ocean floor? What about the destruction of warming, upper-atmosphere ozone by cosmic rays? I could go on, but space is short. Again, who is the "flat-Earther" here?

The ocean-atmosphere system is not a simple one that can be "ruled" by a trace atmospheric gas. It is a complex, chaotic system, largely modulated by solar effects (both direct and indirect), as shown by the Little Ice Age.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

So, let us indeed start a Manhattan Project-like mission to create alternative sources of energy. And, in the meantime, let us neither cripple our own economy by mislabeling carbon dioxide a pollutant nor discourage development in the Third World, where suffering continues unabated, day after day.

Again, Mr. Gore, I accept your apology.

And, Mr. Obama, though I voted for you for a thousand times a thousand reasons, I hope never to need one from you.

P.S. One of the last, desperate canards proposed by climate alarmists is that of the polar ice caps. Look at the "terrible," "unprecedented" melting in the Arctic in the summer of 2007, they say. Well, the ice in the Arctic basin has always melted and refrozen, and always will. Any researcher who wants to find a single molecule of ice that has been there longer than 30 years is going to have a hard job, because the ice has always been melted from above (by the midnight Sun of summer) and below (by relatively warm ocean currents, possibly amplified by volcanic venting) -- and on the sides, again by warm currents. Scientists in the alarmist camp have taken to referring to "old ice," but, again, this is a misrepresentation of what takes place in the Arctic.

More to the point, 2007 happened also to be the time of maximum historic sea ice in Antarctica. (There are many credible sources of this information, such as the following website maintained by the University of Illinois-Urbana: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg). Why, I ask, has Mr. Gore not chosen to mention the record growth of sea ice around Antarctica? If the record melting in the Arctic is significant, then the record sea ice growth around Antarctica is, too, I say. If one is insignificant, then the other one is, too.

For failing to mention the 2007 Antarctic maximum sea ice record a single time, I also accept your apology, Mr. Gore. By the way, your contention that the Arctic basin will be "ice free" in summer within five years (which you said last month in Germany), is one of the most demonstrably false comments you have dared to make. Thank you for that!


The warmaholics' fantasy

By Jon Jenkins (Jon Jenkins is an adjunct professor of virology specialising in computer modelling at Bond University, and a former independent member of the NSW Legislative Council)

THE warmaholics are fond of using the phrase "official records going back to 1850", but the simple facts are that prior to the 1970s, surface-based temperatures from a few indiscriminate, mostly backyard locations in Europe and the US are fatally corrupted and not in any sense a real record. They are then further doctored by a secret algorithm to account for heat-island effects. Reconstructions such as the infamously fraudulent "hockey stick" are similarly unreliable.

The only precise and reliable temperature recording started with satellite measurements in the 1970s. They show minuscule warming, all in the northern hemisphere, which not only stopped in 2000 but had completely reversed by 2008 (see graph).

The warmaholics also contend that global mean temperature and sea level rises are at the upper range of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change's projections. Well, no, actually they are not. Sea level rises since 1900 are of the order of 1-2mm a year, which is indistinguishable from tectonic movement, and the IPCC computer projections are simply completely wrong.

The warmaholics argue that they have been able to model all of the complex processes occurring on the earth, below the oceans and in the atmosphere, and yet also admit in the same breath that they cannot predict the single biggest transfer of energy that dwarfs all others on the planet: El Nino. How can the two statements be resolved? They can not: the computer models cannot predict either weather or climate.

Some scientists argue that human-induced changes to CO2 levels are more sudden, but this also does not stand up to scrutiny. Cataclysmic volcanic eruptions have often placed more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in few minutes than man induces in a decade. But, more importantly, they fail to explain how it is possible for concentrations of CO2 to have exceeded 6000 parts per million (about 20 times present levels) and yet for temperatures to have been cooler than today's average? How is this possible if CO2 is the predominant driver of temperatures?

Clear and unambiguous evidence against the warmaholics is dismissed with consummate ease. For example, freezing temperatures across the northern hemisphere and growing Antarctic ice sheets are explained away with unproven theories such as deep ocean currents and ozone hole-induced winds.

And this in the same year that the theory of human-induced ozone depletion was shattered by hard scientific findings that the rate constant for one of the critical reactions in the computer models of chlorofluorocarbon-induced ozone depletion was in error by a factor of 10 and as a result CFCs alone cannot be responsible for observed ozone depletion.

The warmaholics, drunk on government handouts and quasi-religious adulation from left-wing environmental organisations, often quote the consensus of scientists as being supportive of the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory and use the phrase "4000 scientists agree with the IPCC report" repeatedly. But again this does not stand up to scrutiny. The vast majority of the IPCC report is what-if scenarios, but all the what-if scenarios are centred around chapter nine, because it is this chapter that says "we humans are responsible". If chapter nine is wrong (that is, if the computer models are wrong) then the rest of IPCC computer projections are just useless hand-waving.

More than two-thirds of all authors of chapter nine of the IPCC's 2007 climate science assessment are part of a clique whose members have co-authored papers with each other and, we can surmise, very possibly at times acted as peer reviewers for each other's work. Of the 44 contributing authors (no, not the 4000 often quoted, just 44) to chapter nine, more than half have co-authored papers with the co-ordinating lead authors of chapter nine. It is no surprise, therefore, that the majority of scientists, who are sceptical of a human influence on climate, were unrepresented in the authorship of chapter nine.

So that's the real consensus: about 44 scientist mates who have vested interests in supporting IPCC computer modelling agreed that "we did it", and this has become the "consensus of thousands of the world's meteorologists". Compared with 31,000 (including 341 meteorologists) in the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine petition, the IPCC's 44 have no right to claim consensus at all.

Finally, to say "the question is not whether there is absolute certainty about the extent of global warming or its effects" is scientific blasphemy. Science is only about certainty and facts. The real question is in acknowledging the end of fossil fuels within the next 200 years or so: how do we spend our research time and dollars? Do we spend it on ideologically green-inspired publicity campaigns such as emissions-trading schemes based on the fraud of the IPCC, or do we spend it on basic science that could lead us to energy self-sufficiency based on some combination of solar, geothermal, nuclear and renewable sources? The alternative is to go back to the stone age.


Eiffel Tower closed, flights hit by snow

A winter storm brought blankets of snow across Europe on Monday, forcing the closure of an icy Eiffel Tower in Paris and causing flight cancellations. Up to 10 centimetres of snow was recorded in parts of France, the national weather service said. Most areas, including Paris, got about half that amount. French authorities issued traffic alerts in around 30 regions because of icy roads. The Eiffel Tower, one of Paris' main tourist attractions, was closed because of slippery conditions.

"We can't put down salt because it's metallic," Eiffel Tower press officer Isabelle Esnous said. "We can't use sand either ... because it risks getting into the elevator (cogs)." The cold, she said, was no problem, but snow could be dangerous.

Hundreds of passenger were stranded Monday at the main Paris airport of Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle by snow after scores of flights were cancelled. Some "1658 people will be accommodated by Air France Monday evening in hotels at the airport hub at Roissy after the cancellation of 120 Air France flights of the 400 scheduled since the beginning of Monday afternoon, mainly to European destinations but also some long haul services," the airline said. Passengers waiting for flights "will have available food and hot drinks" at the end of a day described as "difficult" by Air France. The Paris airports authority said passengers should ring their airlines to see if their flights were operating and said some might not leave Monday evening.

Traffic at Roissy and the second Paris airport at Orly was due to return to normal Monday evening. Northern, central and western France were hit by snow and freezing rain during Monday, causing accidents, one fatal. Weather services warned that the thermometer would fall further during the week as icy air arrived from Siberia and Scandinavia. Temperatures could fall to between minus five and minus 10 centigrade (23 and 14 Fahrenheit) in the north and northeast, forecasters said. The cold snap could last until the middle of the month in much of the country.

National elecricity consumption hit a record peak early Monday evening. In the Paris area transport authorities had to suspend some bus services as snow and freezing rain made roads impassable. At one point, heavy goods traffic moving towards Paris was limited.

In Germany, heavy snowfall snarled road traffic and flight delays and cancellations at the country's international airports. Duesseldorf International Airport said no flights were allowed in or out between 6am and 9am local time on Monday (1600 AEDT-1900 AEDT Monday) because clearing crews were unable to keep up with the snow. More than 30 flights were cancelled because of the bad weather, airport spokesman Christian Witt said. Up to 10 centimetres of snow was reported in Duesseldorf and about 15 centimetres in Potsdam, just outside Berlin.

Flights from Frankfurt International Airport were delayed as much as an hour but none had to be cancelled. Traffic stopped for hours on many of Germany's autobahns as snowploughs struggled to clear the roads amid heavy post-holiday traffic. Germany's National Weather Service is forecasting subzero temperatures for the coming days.

Snow also fell across Britain. Children built snowmen in parts of England, including Cambridge.


Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth

"Researchers in Australia say the growth of coral on the country's iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has fallen since 1990 to its lowest rate in 400 years"; variations of this message have been repeated around the world from South Korea to London with global warming, and the associated acidification of oceans, claimed to be the cause.

These reports are repeating claims in an Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) media release made just last Friday to coincide with the publication of research findings in the journal Science [1]. The media release also claimed the research to be "the most comprehensive study to date on calcification rates of GBR corals".

Having followed GBR issues for many years I was surprised to hear global warming associated with slow coral growth rates, indeed AIMS's researchers Janice Lough and David Barnes have published detailed studies concluding that coral growth rates increase significantly with an increase in annual average sea surface temperature [2].

Furthermore growth rates actually decrease from north to south along the GBR as this corresponds with a cooling temperature gradient of 2-3 degrees C. If there has been a slowing in growth rates of coral over the last nearly 20 years, as suggested by this new research, a most obvious question for me would be: Have GBR waters cooled?

This new research paper in Science presents evidence for a decline in coral growth rates since 1990, but no credible reason for the decline. While the study hints that the cause could be ocean acidification no direct evidence is provided to support this claim - not even a correlation. Indeed no data is presented to suggest the PH (a measure of acidity) of GBR waters has changed, and based on modelling of hypothetical changes in PH associated with increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide there is a timing problem - the decline in calcification rates should apparently have started years earlier.

Confronted with a lack of evidence in support of this hypothesis - that ocean acidification has caused the drop in growth rates - the researchers suggest in the paper "synergistic effects of several forms of environmental stress" and implicate higher temperatures. But no data is presented in the paper to contradict the well established relationship between increasing temperature and increasing growth rates - though various confusing statements are made and it is suggested that global warming has increased the incidence of heat stress in turn reducing growth rates - while at the same time the researchers acknowledge higher growth rates in northern, warmer, GBR waters.

Marine Biologist Walter Starck has perhaps aptly described the research as part of "the proliferation of subprime research presenting low value findings as policy grade evidence" and has suggested this has "science headed in the same direction as Wall Street."

Interestingly, Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, has decided the "massive decline in the reef's growth" will require new laws. None of this, however, gets us any closer to understanding why there has been an apparent dramatic decline in the growth rates of GBR corals over the last 20 years.



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


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