Tuesday, February 17, 2009


An email from David Whitehouse [me@davidwhitehouse.com]

These are the words of Lord Turnbull (Cabinet Secretary 2002-2005) talking on Channel 4 News (13th February) about the origins of the banking crisis.
"Now what it is, is a collective failure that all sorts of people - the regulator, the bankers, the economic policy makers. They believed in a particular view of the world and the things which should have acted as restraints in all this - the regulators, rating agencies, accounting, corporate governments - none of that worked, because of the power of consensus."

"It was a bit like Y2K. Why did we all believe Y2K? We all went along with each other. A very strong collective belief came about."

"The best source of this is Alan Greenspan. He had a view that banks would not be so foolish as to destroy themselves. But then he said in a rather plaintive sense, 'I'm terribly sorry but that was not right.' "

"And that was the collective view that things were all going well. There was a sense that a bubble was developing (although Greenspan said 'you cannot prick bubbles you can only pick up the mess'). But no-one believed that it was a bubble of the proportions that we now have."

If it can happen to bankers, can it happen to scientists?

Greenie threats to your health

British restrictions on garbage collections (to "encourage recycling"!) have led to an explosion in pest populations as garbage remains uncollected for long periods

The interval between prediction and outcome seems to be shrinking. Not that the rat explosion merits the title of prediction, since it was an outcome that was obvious to anyone except an idiot or a professional politician. It was adumbrated in a piece entitled STENCH in these pages less than two years ago. More worrying is the fact that related forecasts have serious outcomes that are not so obvious. When fly-borne diseases begin to increase in the warmer weather, it will no doubt be reported as an unfortunate random event (or even yet another outcome of global warming).

Plague was probably rat-borne

Plague is something that resides in history books and little history is taught any more. We now have hygiene, scientific knowledge, antibiotics, pesticides and many other resources to give hope that it is a thing of the past, though evolution will always be a powerful opponent. What has changed in recent times is that there is a new all-pervading political movement that is antihuman, glib and arrogant. Let us just remind ourselves of what plague can mean, from The Epidemiologists:
Plague was a rather vague term given to a variety of epidemic infectious diseases, but the most dramatic of them was the Black Death or bubonic plague. The sixteenth century occurrence was one of many outbreaks, from the Black Death of the fourteenth century to the great plague of 1665. The Black Death began with an outbreak in China in 1333 and over the next decade and a half it moved remorselessly westward, carried by merchants, pilgrims and other travellers along the established land and sea trade routes. It reached Constantinople in 1347, Messina in Sicily in October 1347, and Paris and the south coast of England in the summer of 1348. By 1350 it had covered most of Europe and reached as far as Iceland and Greenland . There were further outbreaks over the years, but in the final flourish the Great Plague of London (1664-1666) killed more people than any other epidemic, with approximately 68,500 burials of plague victims being recorded during its 18-month course.

The impact of the Black Death was profound, and it brought many social and economic changes. Land became less scarce, while labour became more expensive. After a few sporadic outbreaks, such as Marseille in 1720, the incidence of plague declined. Perhaps humanity had developed some immunity, but improved hygiene must have had an effect and the black rat was largely replaced by the brown rat. For as we now all know, the plague is carried by the black rat and transmitted by its flea, Xenopsylla cheopis. We should note that it is not undisputed that the Black Death was in fact bubonic plague and some authorities believe that it was more likely to have been a virus disease like Ebola.

As we have observed above, Green policies have promoted all sorts of risky behaviour in society, not least those that encourage the spread of pests, vermin and disease. Unfortunately, the mechanisms are so indirect that they are able to fend off any guilt by blaming something else, usually global warming. Now deaths have occurred that are clearly linked with Greenery. What more dramatic evidence can you have than the courageous Australian who endured intolerable legal harassment and draconian fines for taking decisive action that saved his home and family? Many have endured horrible deaths and injuries for being more conformist.

Bush fires are part of the long history of Australia . So much so that many plants have evolved (that word again) in such a way as to ensure survival. But now, of course, we know better than those ignorant aborigines

The basic problem is that the Greens have been able to create a situation in which they are not required to offer logical consistent argument, or to explore consequences. They appeal to ephemeral emotion. As in the case of our bath water example, simplistic actions produce accidental, unintended and often disastrous effects. The undemocratic EU, in addition to dismantling the industries that feed its population, is now imposing an increasing risk of pestilence and famine. It is increasingly looking as though the USA will follow the same path. Yes, we can!

...not forgetting

The other way that the Greens are going to kill people is with power cuts. A letter in The Times points out the lack of contribution by wind to power supplies during the recent prolonged cold spell in Britain . Number Watch has been banging on about the inevitability of such scenarios for years, even resorting to outright catastrophism.

One of the ways Greenies maintain their fictions is to ignore completely any salient facts that spoil their theories, such as the fact that wind power is available less than a third of the time.

The wind turbine programme is a sure route to disaster. It would be better to dig a big hole and pour billions of Euros into it. At least that would not wreck the operation of the Grid.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Thermageddon, the BBC and a giant snake

Listeners to BBC World Service's Science in Action program got a nasty surprise last week. In the midst of a discussion about the large snake fossil, a scientist dropped this bombshell:
"The Planet has heated and cooled repeatedly throughout its history. What we're doing is the rate at which we're heating the planet is many orders of magnitude faster than any natural process - and is moving too fast for natural systems to respond."

Hearing this, I did what any normal person would do: grab all the bags of frozen peas I could find in the ice compartment of my refrigerator, and hunker down behind the sofa to wait for Thermageddon. Hours passed. My life flashed before my eyes a few times, and a few times more. But then I noticed that the house was still there, and so was the neighbourhood. And so was I! Then I remembered something else.

According to our leading climate institutes, global temperatures have been static for almost a decade now. (You have to look the graphs, not the institutes' own press releases, which typically offer similar spine-chilling predictions) . The climate scientists are now predicting more of the same, or cooler. The latter, they explained, is because natural systems are at work.

So what is some random apocalyptic nutball doing in the middle of a discussion about paleontology. How did he get here? Did he just wander into to the discussion? Did the BBC producers find him on the street? "Say, you - we've got a feature about the world's largest fossilised snake. Can you liven it up somehow? We can't find Protein Man. Tell everyone the world's ending."

The R.A.N. turns out to be Jason Head, a faculty member at the University of Toronto, a palaeontologist with an eye for the publicity. In the media tarts directory for vertebrate palaeontologists, he notes:
"Areas of Expertise for Media Contacts: Reptile paleontology, climate change, dinosaurs, evolution, evolutionary developmental paleontology and morphometrics"

Notice anything odd, there? In the words of the Cookie Monster, "one of these things is not like the other". Like so much churnalism, this story originates with a press release. Here it is, and you'll note Head makes no claims about future temperature - merely that rainforests 58m to 60m years ago were warmer than tropical rainforests are today. The piece is immediately picked up by British weekly New Scientist, which allows Head to add some creative embellishments. Under the headline proclaims "Giant snake hints at a hotter future", we learn:
This "refutes the idea of the thermostat", says Head, and tells us "what equatorial temperatures will be as we continue to warm the planet: very hot."

Eh? How, you may ask, does a snake refute the idea of a climate thermostat? The science-free assertion is left unchallenged. The BBC then picks up the story, and Head makes his fridge-emptying soundbite. But even the BBC producers must have noticed a strange whiff about this story. One of the corporation's own environment correspondents, Richard Black, is wheeled in to qualify Head's assertion.

"There may be other factors", Black admits, that contribute to the size of fossil. A warmer climate he adds mean some species, for example fish, get smaller. So it isn't possible to infer temperature from body size. Or future temperature from the fossil record.

Jason makes the observation that tropical temperatures were warmer than now 58m years ago. Then, vaulting through all known logic, he extrapolates that the climate must be getting warm now so quickly, natural systems can't cope. It's quite a ride, and entirely science free from start to finish.

The broadcast contains one false assertion, and one invalid inference. We called Science In Action producer Peter McHugh to ask when the BBC would be issuing a correction. But he hasn't returned our call.


The BBC Attempts to Patch Up the Cracks - botches it

On Wednesday, normally stalwart UK global warming promoter - The Guardian, ran this remarkable headline:

`Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say experts'

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.

Undaunted and defiant, their comrades in global warming arms at the BBC, chose this as the lead story for Sunday morning:
`Global warming `underestimated'

The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned... "We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," he said. Prof Field said the 2007 report, which predicted temperature rises between 1.1C and 6.4C over the next century, seriously underestimated the scale of the problem. " Prof Field said rising temperatures could thaw Arctic permafrost

One fatal flaw with the BBC story is that Chris Field is not a climate scientist, as they claimed. He is actually a Professor of Biology in an Ecology Department. So how does the BBC choose their headlines? In matters of global warming, apparently the apocalyptic words of one American ecologist overrule those of the UK's own government climate scientists at The Met Office. Chris Field clearly does not have any credentials to be making the climate claims the BBC reported. This looks more and more like a Shakespearean comedy every day.

UPDATE: BBC Can't even get their reporting correct. The reporter in this video report that accompanies the web article says that "The fear is that increased global warming could set off what's called negative feedback..." and that now we are in "scenarios unexplored by the models". No kidding, it's that bad. For those of you that don't know, some alarmists [i.e. Warmists] claim that "negative climate feedback is as real as the Easter Bunny, which is what makes this BBC factual error so hilarious. [The whole of Warmism is founded on assertions of POSITIVE feedbacks. The actual warming observed over the 20th century would be too trivial to worry about otherwise]

More here

Pesky Indians find bacteria that gobble up that evil CO2

In a major breakthrough that could help in the fight against global warming, a team of five Indian scientists from four institutes of the country have discovered a naturally occurring bacteria which converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into a compound found in limestone and chalk.

When used as an enzyme - biomolecules that speed up a chemical reaction - the bacteria has been found to transform CO2 into calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which can fetch minerals of economic value, said Dr Anjana Sharma from the biosciences department of RD University, Jabalpur, who was part of the Rs 98.6 lakh project sponsored by the department of biotechnology (DBT) under the Union science and technology ministry.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas produced in the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial activities. The rising emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere is chiefly responsible for global warming. Reducing CO2 levels is the single most important strategy to fight global warming and the resulting effects of climate change.

"The enzyme can be put to work in any situation, like in a chamber fitted inside a factory chimney through which CO2 would pass before being emitted into the atmosphere, and it would convert the greenhouse gas into calcium carbonate,'' Dr Sadhana Rayalu, the project coordinator who is from the National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, told TOI on phone from Nagpur. This potentially means that the bacteria - extracted from a number of places including brick kilns in Satna, Madhya Pradesh - can be used to take out CO2 from its sources of emission itself.

Rayalu said the chemical reactions involved in the process have been successfully established while its economic viability, cloning, expression and single-step purification are under study. The team has published its findings in the Indian Journal of Microbiology and its paper has been accepted for publication in the World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Sharma said the breakthrough was the result of marathon research work spanning more than three years. Other members of the team are Dr K Krishnamurty from NEERI, Dr T Satyanarayana from Delhi University and Dr A K Tripathi from Banaras Hindu University. "Interestingly, it is nature that has come to the rescue of the human race from harmful effects of global warming. Investigators of the team have discovered as many as seven such micro-organisms that have the tendency to convert carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate at different natural locations,'' said Sharma, who was on a visit to Allahabad.


Who's afraid of global warming?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the article below is that it comes from Israel's Leftist "Ha Aretz". Is the Israeli Left getting ahead of the curve? Excerpts only below

The blackboard in Prof. Nir Shaviv's office in the Department of Physics at Hebrew University is covered with equations and graphs. He's hunched over the computer, searching for another illustration, another study that will underscore the subject of our talk: the effect of cosmic rays on the earth's warming.

Shaviv is the preeminent Israeli scholar among a handful throughout the world who believe that human beings are not responsible for global warming. The consequences of global warming were portrayed in Al Gore's successful 2006 film, "An Inconvenient Truth," which presents a frightening scenario to which one can hardly remain indifferent: giant ice caps melting, vast areas of human settlement covered by seas that overflow their banks, fierce hurricanes, new strains of bacteria, plagues and death.

Shaviv refuses to get worked up: "The hysteria surrounding the concept of 'global warming' will fade over the years," he says. "People will see that the apocalyptic forecasts are not coming true. Today there is no fingerprint attesting that carbon dioxide emission causes a rise in temperature. A Grad missile that falls in Sderot should be more cause for concern." Back to the Ice Age Last Wednesday, Shaviv was featured in a documentary broadcast on Channel 8, "The Cloud Mystery," alongside Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark, a physicist whose pioneering experiments conducted in Copenhagen revealed how changes on the sun's surface and cosmic rays are what affect climate, and not the polluting gases from manmade sources.

A few months from now, Am Oved will be publishing a Hebrew translation of Svensmark's book "The Chilling Stars," which was the basis for the film (and was written with Nigel Calder, former editor of the journal New Scientist). Several important chapters are devoted to Shaviv's work, and as the book's scientific editor, the final drafts of the translation are currently on the desk in his office. Shaviv, 36, is an associate professor at the Hebrew University, in the Racah Institute of Physics, where he lectures on star formation and high energies.

While he was living in Toronto, one of his colleagues asked him how supernovae (the explosion of massive stars) affect the earth. Shaviv examined the question seriously; his conclusions reinforced the argument that charged energy particles called cosmic rays, which are affected by the sun's activity, are what affect the earth's climate. Shaviv explains it as follows: "The sun's activity is cyclical. When it's more active, the wind that blows from it is stronger and then fewer cosmic rays reach the earth. Cosmic rays cause ions to be produced in our atmosphere, which are one of the factors required for the creation of the surface upon which clouds form, primarily above the ocean's surface. When there are fewer ions, the clouds that are formed are composed of large drops. Clouds of this type are less white and refract less of the sun's rays outward, and so the heat is preserved and the earth gets warmer."

In 2002, the prestigious scientific journal Physical Review Letters published Shaviv's article, "Cosmic Ray Diffusion from the Galactic Spiral Arms, Iron Meteorites, and a Possible Climatic Connection." The article was selected by the scientific magazine Discover as one of the year's 100 most important discoveries. In the article, Shaviv proposed the hypothesis that the earth's crossing of the spiral arms of the Milky Way is the cause of the ice ages the planet has experienced. The explanation: When the earth is "traveling" along the Milky Way, says Shaviv, it is exposed to more cosmic rays, in tandem with an increase in supernovae. "When there is a supernova near the earth, it will produce a lot of cosmic rays, which in turn will produce a lot of ionization and the formation of white clouds composed of many small drops of water. These refract the sun's rays outward, which eventually leads to a chilling of the earth.

"The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy with arms," Shaviv continues. "We traverse one of these arms every 145 million years. If the sun's cyclical changes translate into a shift of one degree on earth, then the changes when we traverse such an arm, close to supernovae, will be on the order of 10 degrees, which is a huge amount. When you look at the geological record of the earth, you see that in the past 100 million years, there were periods with ice at the Poles and periods without ice. I demonstrated in the article that the Ice Ages correlate chronologically with our traversing the arms of the Milky Way. In other words, every 145 million years there is an Ice Age. The conclusion is that cosmic rays affect the earth's temperature on long time-scales, too."

Persona non grata

At first, Shaviv didn't quite grasp the magnitude of his discovery. "I had no idea that this would lead me to get involved in the greenhouse effect," he says. "All I set out to do was to seriously answer a colleague's question. When I wanted to publish the article I ran into closed doors. I sent the article to Nature and was told - It's nice, but you need to find a stronger basis. After a while, I came to feel like people were always looking for another excuse not to publish the article."

The article was finally published in Physical Review Letters. Not long after its publication, Shaviv came across an article by a Canadian geologist named Jan Veizer, who had made geochemical measurements in order to reconstruct the earth's temperature over the past 550 million years. "One of his aims was to see how the temperature was affected by the amount of carbon dioxide," says Shaviv, "and he found that there was no relation between them. For example, 450 million years ago, it was much colder than it is today, but the amount of carbon dioxide was much, much higher. When he wanted to publish the article, he found it difficult. He was told that his findings couldn't be accurate. That carbon dioxide is known to have a big effect on temperature, so his measurements had to be wrong."

Veizer's geochemical findings fit Shaviv's hypothesis about Ice Ages like a glove. Shaviv hastened to write to him. "He was stunned," Shaviv recalls. "A week later, we met in Toronto at his hotel and we compared my reconstruction of cosmic rays with his temperature reconstruction. We saw that most of the changes on the geological time scales were explained by cosmic rays." Their joint work spawned a new article, published in 2003 in GSA Today under the title "Celestial Driver of Phanerozoic Climate?", looking at climate change over the past 550 million years. The two researchers forcefully argued that the amount of carbon dioxide has, at most, a minimal effect on global warming. This finding, which absolves human beings of responsibility for global warming, aroused stiff opposition.

Shaviv says that his campaign against the consensus has made him "persona non grata in certain communities. The trillion-dollar question today is how much the earth's temperature will rise if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Contrary to the claim of the IPCC, we said that by 2100 the temperature will rise by less than one and a half degrees. People didn't like it when we showed that the earth's sensitivity to carbon dioxide is low, and we became a persecuted minority."

"After I published the article with Jan, we received some furious reactions. There was a group of scientists headed by a German researcher who claimed that everything we did in our study was incorrect. This German fellow, who recruited a few more researchers, published a scathing response in the press. Their attack was fairly ridiculous. He claimed that everything I did was wrong. I put the exchanges between us, which were published in the scientific press, on my Web site at the university. Then this scientist contacted the university and alleged that I was violating his copyright and threatened to sue. Basically, he brought politics into science. Because of this incident, I started a blog, my own private Web site, where I can say whatever I want. I also donated 1,000 euros to plant trees so no one could say I was motivated by outside interests."

Al Gore's film features that famous graph showing a perfect correlation between the rise in temperature and the rise in carbon dioxide. How do you explain that? "There is no proof that the rise in temperature in the 20th century is due to human beings and carbon dioxide emissions. I see two things on the graph: a rise in temperature and a rise in the carbon dioxide level. Gore contends that the rise in carbon dioxide is causing the rise in temperature, and we maintain that the opposite is true - that the rise in temperature is what's causing the rise in carbon dioxide. There are places in the world where scientists have been able to determine the sequence of events, and there we've seen that the change in the amount of carbon dioxide was preceded by a change in temperature."

What about the argument that the amount of greenhouse gases we produce is what traps the sun's rays here and causes warming?

"The point is that no one knows how to calculate it properly. It's true that carbon dioxide warms the planet. But Veizer and I have shown that even if we were to double the amount of carbon dioxide on earth, the temperature wouldn't rise more than one and a half degrees. The UN report, which is based on simulations, talks about an increase of 2-4.5 degrees. Essentially, whoever wrote the report is saying, 'We can't really anticipate by how many degrees the temperature will rise.'"

So Al Gore doesn't know what he's talking about?

"In his movie, he doesn't bring a single piece of proof to show that global warming is due to human beings. He presents his nice graph, which as I said, doesn't prove anything. When I saw the movie for the first time it made me laugh. I knew that what was being said there was meaningless. Their arguments have lasted until now because there were no counter-arguments. And now we come with our argument, that cosmic rays are what cause warming, and they're fighting us tooth and nail....

More here


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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