By JAMES TARANTO
The BBC brings us a humdrum bit of dire news:
The planet will be in "huge trouble" unless Barack Obama makes strides in tackling climate change, says a leading scientist. Prof James McCarthy spoke on the eve of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he heads. The US president has just four years to save the planet, said Prof McCarthy.
Just four years to save the planet! And McCarthy's is not the only such "scientific" prediction. Just before President Obama's inauguration, London's Guardian weighed in with this report:
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.
Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. "We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen. "We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."
Let's see, four years: That would that we are all doomed if nothing changes by January or February 2013. And we have at least two prominent scientists saying the same thing, and as we've all learned "scientific consensus" is always right.
Or is it? We have some questions: From what data did McCarthy and Hansen derive this deadline? How long have scientists "known" that the beginning of 2013 was the point of no return? Can anyone find an example of a scientist in, say, 2007 saying we have six years to act, or in 2002 saying we have 11 years? Is it a mere coincidence that the deadline is almost exactly the same as the end of the term of a new president who gives indications that he may be both gullible enough to swallow global warmism and egomaniacal enough to believe he can save the world?
It looks to us as if these predictions are no more than political punditry pretending to be science.
'Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say British meteorologists
Comment from Benny Peiser: The criticism by members of the Met Office seems to be of a tactical nature and looks more like an attempt to distract from their own contribution to the apocalyptic hype (see my Met Office comments from 2005 here). Nevertheless, I welcome the belated recognition that hype and fear-mongering is self-defeating. It certainly has helped to drive the wedge even deeper between climate extremists and moderate scientists
Met Office scientists fear distorted climate change claims could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions. Experts at Britain's top climate research centre have launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming. The Met Office Hadley Centre, one of the most prestigious research facilities in the world, says recent "apocalyptic predictions" about Arctic ice melt and soaring temperatures are as bad as claims that global warming does not exist. Such statements, however well-intentioned, distort the science and could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions, it says.
In an article published on the Guardian website, Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, calls on scientists and journalists to stop misleading the public with "claim and counter-claim". She writes: "Having to rein in extraordinary claims that the latest extreme [event] is all due to climate change is at best hugely frustrating and at worse enormously distracting. Overplaying natural variations in the weather as climate change is just as much a distortion of science as underplaying them to claim that climate change has stopped or is not happening." She adds: "Both undermine the basic facts that the implications of climate change are profound and will be severe if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut drastically."
Dr Peter Stott, a climate researcher at the Met Office, said a common misrepresentation was to take a few years data and extrapolate to what would happen if it continues. "You just can't do that. You have to look at the long-term trend and then at the natural variability on top." Dramatic predictions of accelerating temperature rise and sea ice decline, based on a few readings, could backfire when natural variability swings the other way and the trends seem to reverse, he says. "It just confuses people." Pope says there is little evidence to support claims that Arctic ice has reached a tipping point and could disappear within a decade or so, as some reports have suggested. Summer ice extent in the Arctic, formed by frozen sea water, has collapsed in recent years, with ice extent in September last year 34% lower than the average since satellite measurements began in 1979. "The record-breaking losses in the past couple of years could easily be due to natural fluctuations in the weather, with summer ice increasing again over the next few years," she says.
"It is easy for scientists to grab attention by linking climate change to the latest extreme weather event or apocalyptic prediction. But in doing so, the public perception of climate change can be distorted. The reality is that extreme events arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change." "This message is more difficult to get heard. Scientists and journalists need to find ways to help to make this clear without the wider audience switching off."
The criticism reflects mounting concern at the Met Office that the global warming debate risks being hijacked by people on both sides who push their own agendas and interests. It comes ahead of a key year of political discussions on climate, which climax in December with high-level political negotiations in Copenhagen, when officials will try to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto protocol.
New Paper: NAO - The Pacemaker of Major Climate Shifts
Wang, Swanson and Tsonis have a paper in press in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) entitled: `The pacemaker of major climate shifts.' This expands on the very important but largely ignored Tsonis et al (2007) GRL paper, which demonstrated a new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts. The Abstract of the new paper states:
Models and data suggest that the interplay of major climate modes may result in climate shifts [Tsonis et al., 2007]. More specifically it has been shown that when the network of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Pacific Index (NPI) synchronizes, an increase in the coupling between these oscillations destroys the synchronous state and leads the climate system to a new state. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. Here we probe the details of this network's dynamics to investigate if a certain oscillation is the culprit in these shifts. From a total of 12 synchronization events observed in three climate simulations and in observations we find that the instigator of these shifts is NAO. Without exception only when NAO's coupling with the Pacific increases a shift will occur. Our results suggest a dynamical sequence of events in the evolution of climate shifts which is consistent with recent independent empirical and modeling studies.
The paper concludes:
Many studies have in the past dealt with the origin and mechanisms of climate oscillations as well as with the consequences of their interactions. Our study with the help of a novel approach identifies for the first time which may be the most significant of these oscillations. In a dynamical scenario where the major modes of variability in the northern hemisphere are synchronized, an increase in the coupling strength destroys the synchronous state and causes climate to shift to a new state. Here we were able to identify that the major participant in this coupling strength increase is NAO, which we found to be behind all climate shifts observed in observations as well as in three climate simulations. Understanding variability of our extremely complex climate system is far from complete as new and often contradicting views are proposed. In this realm we hope that our results will provide some direction and focus to this perpetual quest for understanding climate variability.
UK'S CLIMATE ACT 'CERTAIN TO FAIL'
The UK's plans to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 are fundamentally flawed and almost certain to fail, according to a US academic. Roger Pielke Jr, a science policy expert, said the UK government had underestimated the magnitude of the task to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He added that it would be more effective to "decarbonise" economic growth rather than focus on targets.
Professor Pielke made his comments during a speech at Aston University. Professor Pielke said that a country's greenhouse gas trajectory was determined by three factors: economic growth; population growth; and changes in technology. This meant, the academic from the University of Colorado suggested, that if people migrate to the UK and the economy boomed, it would be harder for politicians to achieve emissions cuts based on historic levels.
He calculated that the combined effects of possible population growth and economic growth could oblige the UK to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon intensity of energy at an unprecedented annual rate of 5.4%. Conversely, if migrants left the UK and the economy slumped, there would be a downturn in emissions, for which politicians would claim unearned credit. Professor Pielke suggested that a more effective measure would be to track the emissions produced for every unit of wealth generated by individuals. In other words: CO2 per capita GNP.
How to curb climate change will be the subject of heated debates in 2009 This would focus efforts on delivering the technological change needed to reduce emissions, he believed.
However, Professor Pielke's approach also raises a number of questions. First, there is no guarantee that a change in measurement will provoke the scale of change the author believes is required. Moreover, his alternative system would reward governments that shifted to service-based economies and moved their emissions "offshore", creating an illusionary cut in emissions.
This difficulty could be overcome with a more complex measure based on CO2 per capita GNP and would include imported "embedded" emissions. But that has problems too: in modern supply chains: a computer may contain parts from 20 different countries and manufacturers regularly change suppliers, so it will often be impossible to keep an accurate tally of embedded carbon. It could also be too complex for many people to grasp easily.
Professor Pielke's position is strongly supported by Gwyn Prins, director of the Mackinder Centre at the London School of Economics. Professor Prins told BBC News: "Professor Pielke is far from being a so-called 'sceptic' on reducing CO2, so this makes his analysis all the more telling. "To begin to meet the legal targets of the Climate Change Act, the UK will have to achieve and maintain decarbonisation at (unprecedented) rates," he added. "The Climate Change Act will have to be revisited by Parliament or simply ignored by policymakers. What are the costs in terms of public cynicism about legislators and the legislative process, of passing aspirational rather than codifying laws?"
Colin Challen MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, said: "This raises questions which I do not think have been factored into the thinking behind the Climate Change Act.
MILLIONS OF BRITS FACE 'STEALTH TAX' ON HEATING BILLS TO SUBSIDISE GREEN ENERGY
Millions of families face yet another hike in heating bills to pay for a massive expansion of green energy. Ministers say that the money raised will subsidise solar panels, wind turbines and wood-burning boilers for hundreds of thousands of homes. But critics warn that the levy is an 'insidious' stealth tax that will hammer households at a time of rising unemployment, falling incomes and economic uncertainty. We are already paying an average of 410 pounds more on our annual energy bills after price rises last year of 59 per cent for gas and 26 per cent for electricity.
The green levy, or 'Renewable Heating Incentive', is part of an energy package to be unveiled today by the Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband. As well as grants for domestic windmills and solar panels, he will announce plans to insulate seven million homes. The measures will be funded by the levy on fossil fuel energy suppliers - which will be passed on to us in our household bills.
The Government insists that overall the package will cut energy waste and reduce fuel bills for millions. 'Not only do we want to cut fuel bills and greenhouse gas emissions, we also want to make Britain less reliant on imports of fossil fuels,' said a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change. 'Fossil fuel prices are more volatile.' Ministers have no idea at this stage how much the levy will be - or when it will be introduced.
Susie Squire of the Taxpayers' Alliance said the plan would hit families who are finding it hard to make ends meet. 'It sounds like another insidious stealth tax at a time of economic recession when people are already struggling,' she said. 'Increasing everyone's bills to subsidise the cost of green energy for a few is nonsense. People should be encouraged to be more energy efficient, but it should be voluntary.'
Professor Ian Fells of Newcastle University, a former government advisor on energy conservation, welcomed plans to insulate more homes. But he warned that the incentive scheme could see less-affluent families subsidising solar panels for others. 'All these renewable energy systems are expensive to put in,' he said. 'Even solar panels for heating take at least 12 years to pay back the costs.
Emptyheaded IPCC author Rutu Dave admits in video that she knows little about climate science
There was briefly a "part 3" video, where Dave admits that she was "thrown in" to her IPCC job; her focus had been "trade policy". To learn about climate, she read some books on a train. Early on, she mentions that she was not the smartest student in her class, and suggests that the "lot of cute guys that were there in suits" made Model UN meetings interesting.
There's no indication whatsoever that she knows anything useful about climate science; she praises Al Gore. She's obviously quite proud of the Nobel Peace Prize that "she" got. Rutu Dave presents herself as one of five people who wrote the first draft of the most recent IPCC Summary for Policymakers. Revealingly, more than once, she calls it the IPCC Summary OF Policymakers!
She talks about the problems trying to get the Summary approved in four days with language barriers, etc. She said the Chinese "just don't seem to shut up" and mentions "little tricks" to move things along.
She talks proudly about the IPCC getting "more famous" after Gore's propaganda movie came out, with media attention from all over. She said she had her choice of going to Bali or to Oslo (for the Nobel ceremony), she chose Bali (mentioning the beaches). She said she'd have chosen Oslo had she known Brad Pitt would be there. Also, someone she knows actually met Uma Thurman!!
Now Rutu Dave works for the World Bank; several times, she says that they are trying to help their clients "make money from climate change".
More here (See the original for links etc.)
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.