Sunday, February 01, 2009

The problem for Revkin of the NYT

An email from James A. Peden, in response to signs that Revkin is now listening to the skeptics

The cold hard reality of the alarmists vs deniers battle is, one side or the other is dead wrong. I "came out of retirement" to study the issue at the request of others, and confess at the beginning of my personal investigation, I was inclined to believe the popular notion that mankind had indeed mucked up his environment ( again ). I come from an era when science was a noble profession where we all strived to diligently uncover the truth, shared our findings with others, and would quickly change our minds on a particular theory if material evidence proved otherwise. The mantra at the time I began my personal investigation was that the science was settled, the debate was over, and the time for rapid and radical overhaul of our entire civilization was long overdue. It didn't immediately appear illogical to me at the time, because I still trusted science, and scientists in general.

As a former atmospheric physicist with a relatively brief tenure in that particular field, my attention was first drawn to the raw physics of carbon dioxide and it's potential for warming the atmosphere. For me, the the laws of physics are not subject to change by virtue of a public consensus or declarations of highly placed politicians and government science bureaucrats. What I discovered was CO2 indeed had some potential for warming the atmosphere, but was relatively insignificant compared to water vapor and at the accepted current concentrations of 385 PPMV it was nearing saturation as an atmospheric heater and further increases beyond this point could not produce very much additional heating.

The problem was, the answers to my questions lay in fundamental and well known and accepted laws of physics, with the accompanying mathematical complexity well beyond the understanding of my laymen friends who had asked my opinion in the first place. I then undertook to write a highly simplified and obviously not exactly technically correct explanation of what my many months of research had revealed. The public had a right to know that they were being manipulated by a powerful group of science bureaucrats with decidedly evil motives to feather their own research funding nest through abysmal exaggeration and mass hysteria based not on science, but on computerized projections which had no more validity than trying to predict the outcome of the Superbowl game.

I don't know Andrew Revkin's educational background, or whether he is even capable of reading and understanding such classics as Gerlich and Tscheuschner's treatise on the subject. If not, then he, like so many others who attempt to write on science beyond their own personal pay grade, is faced with the question of just whom should one believe? It is not an enviable position in which to be. If he sides with the argument that eventually turns out to be the wrong one, then his credibility vanishes as soon as the truth becomes apparent to all. If he tries a fair and balanced position as a neutral reporter on the subject, then he faces the absurd position of trying to explain just how the earth can be flat and round at the same time.

Of this I am certain: The general public is hungry for information and would very much like a resolution to the current debate, which by now is obviously far from over as initially declared by Mr. Gore. My original editorial on the subject went viral within a week, has been read in over 140 different countries by almost 100,000 readers, and even has been translated into German. Overnight I found myself transformed from a retired retired atmospheric physicist and mountaineer into a global warming pundit, chatting up the subject with G. Gordon Liddy on satellite radio, addressing the Vermont congressional roundtable, and answering a hundred daily emails from both scientists and laymen eager to shed the light of truth on the subject and be done with it. Every day I face essentially the same task as Mr. Revkin: trying to explain an extraordinarily complex subject which no one person completely understands to an audience capable of understanding no more than crude analogies or gross approximations.

Mr. Revkin has his work cut out for him. In my opinion, we scientists on the denier side should not dwell on criticizing his past writings or beliefs, and concentrate on feeding him timely, accurate, and important current empirical science and data on the issue. He, at least, has one ear cocked our way, and whether you like it or not, the New York Times has a voice heard around the globe. This is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often, let's not blow it.

Scientific illiteracy among House Democrats

We read in their "stimulus" report:

"Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grants and Loans Recovery funding: $300 million Authorized in 2005, the DERA program provides grants and loans to states and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emission. Priority projects include those that maximize public health benefits by significantly reducing particulate matter emissions which are a significant threat to both human health and a likely contributor to global warming."

As Jim Peden emails: "Of course, almost any school child knows that PARTICULATE matter is a sun-blocker (albedo modification) and is usually associated with negative feedback, commonly known as COOLING. How interesting to note how consistently the AGW crowd gets it exactly backward...."

The world is getting colder

After the wet and cold centuries of the Little Ice Age (around 1550-1850 A.D.), the world's climate recuperated some warmth, but did not replicate the balmy period known as the Middle Age Warm Period (around 800-1300 A.D.), when the margins of Greenland were green and England had vineyards. Climate began to cool again after World War II, for about 30 years. This is undisputed. The cooling occurred at a time when emissions of C02 were rising sharply from the reconstruction effort and from unprecedented development. It is important to realize that.

By 1978 it had started to warm again, to everybody's relief. But two decades later, after the temperature peaked in 1998 under the influence of El Nino, climate stopped warming for eight years; and in 2007 entered a cooling phase marked by lower solar radiation and a reversal of the cycles of warm ocean temperature in the Atlantic and the Pacific. And here again, it is important to note that this new cooling period is occurring concurrently with an acceleration in CO2 emissions, caused by the emergence of two industrial giants: China and India.

To anyone analyzing this data with common sense, it is obvious that factors other than CO2 emissions are ruling the climate. And the same applies to other periods of the planet's history. Al Gore, in his famous movie "The Inconvenient Truth," had simply omitted to say that for the past 420,000 years that he cited as an example, rises in CO2 levels in the atmosphere always followed increases in global temperature by at least 800 years. It means that CO2 can't possibly be the cause of the warming cycles. So, if it's not CO2, what is it that makes the world's temperature periodically rise and fall? The obvious answer is the sun, and sea currents in a subsidiary manner.

The tilt of Earth, the shape of Earth's orbit (distance to the sun), and Earth's "wobble" as it turns around the sun are all important factors in the cyclical recurrence of ice ages and interglacial periods. It has been observed that ice ages last about 100,000 years, and warm interglacials only 12,000. And within these warm periods, variations in solar activity cause shorter periods of less-pronounced warming and cooling.

There is no way to know for sure if the present cooling period will last several decades or 100,000 years. Russian scientists have just warned that a fully-blown ice age is not to be ruled out, as about 12,000 years have elapsed since the end of the last one. Entering a new ice age would be a disaster for humanity: billions of people could die from lack of food, from the cold, and from the collapse of the world economy, social strife, war, etc.

And if what's ahead of us is only a little ice age, the consequences would still be pretty dire. World food reserves are already low, and we can barely feed the current population of the planet. Surfaces of arable land used for bio-fuels and biomass are increasing. Cool and wet summers would cause crop failures as they did in the Little Ice Age (as a result, starving Parisians had taken to the streets, soon sending their king to the guillotine). Winter frost would also bring its share of misery, destroying fruits and vegetables on a large scale. Let's just hope we'll only have a few years of cooling, and that another warming period will follow. But it may be wishful thinking. In any case, there will be hardship during the cold cycle, whatever its length.

As President Obama takes office, and as the European Union is about to waste one trillion euros to de-carbonize the economy (in a bid to stop nonexistent man-made global warming) they would be well-advised to perform a reality check on what's currently happening to the climate. Talking to independent scientists about the positive properties of CO2 (plant food that enhances crops) would also be a good idea. If they don't, we may be in for mass starvation. And let's not forget that the world population is increasing by about 78 million every year.


Record snow in the United Arab Emirates

Above is the frozen North ... of the United Arab Emirates. Note: The UAE is the "toenail" of the Saudi Arabian "boot". Dubai, its capital, is at 22ø47'N, which places it well SOUTH of Key West, as almost certainly is the rest of the nation.

Snow covered the Jebel Jais area for only the second time in recorded history yesterday. So rare was the event that one lifelong resident said the local dialect had no word for it. According to the RAK Government, temperatures on Jebel Jais dropped to -3øC on Friday night. On Saturday, the area had reached 1øC.

Major Saeed Rashid al Yamahi, a helicopter pilot and the manager of the Air Wing of RAK Police, said the snow covered an area of five kilometres and was 10cm deep. "The sight up there this morning was totally unbelievable, with the snow-capped mountain and the entire area covered with fresh, dazzling white snow," Major al Yamahi said. "The snowfall started at 3pm Friday, and heavy snowing began at 8pm and continued till midnight, covering the entire area in a thick blanket of snow. Much of the snow was still there even when we flew back from the mountain this afternoon. It is still freezing cold up there and there are chances that it might snow again tonight."

Aisha al Hebsy, a woman in her 50s who has lived in the mountains near Jebel Jais all her life, said snowfall in the area was so unheard of the local dialect does not even have a word for it. Hail is known as bared, which literally translates as cold. "Twenty years ago we had lots of hail," said Ms al Hebsy. "Last night was like this. At four in the morning we came out and the ground was white."

Jebel Jais was dusted in snow on Dec 28, 2004, the first snowfall in living memory for Ras al Khaimah residents. "I had flown there in 2004 when it snowed, but this time it was much bigger and the snowing lasted longer as well," said Major al Yamahi.

At the base of the mountains, residents also reported severe hail on Friday night. "We had hail. Last night was very cold, but there can only be snow on Jebel Jais because it's the tallest," said Fatima al Ali, 30, a resident of a village beneath the mountains. In Ras al Khaimah City, 25km from Jebel Jais, sheet lightning and thunder shook houses. Main roads from Qusaidat to Nakheel were still badly flooded on Saturday, while temperatures at the RAK International Airport fluctuated between 10 and 22øC.

M Varghese, an observer at the RAK Airport Meteorological Office, told of the storms that hit the emirate on Friday night. "We had thunderstorms with rain for more than 12 hours and we had around 18mm rain," Mr Varghese said. "The rain, along with the cold easterly winds and low-lying clouds, could have bought the temperatures further down on the mountains."

Giorgio Alessio, a meteorologist at the Dubai meteorology office, said: "In thunderstorms, the rain comes down very rapidly from higher levels, and the rain that usually forms can reach the ground in some places as snow. In the next few days the weather regime is completely different and will return to normal for the season, with a maximum temperature of 23øC or 24øC. "The night might cool down in the desert below 10øC. There is variability in the weather from year to year but it hasn't shown a trend in getting colder or getting warmer."


BBC abandons 'impartiality' on warming

Again and again the BBC has been eager to promote every new scare raised by the advocates of man-made global warming

Londoners might have been startled last Monday to see a giant mock-up of a polar bear on an iceberg, floating on the Thames outside the Palace of Westminster. They might not have been so surprised to learn, first, that this was a global warming propaganda stunt and, second, that the television company behind it is part-owned by the BBC.

It was ironic that, last week, while the BBC was refusing to show an appeal for aid to the victims of Israeli bombing in Gaza, on the grounds that this might breach its charter obligation to be impartial, a rather less publicised row was raging over Newsnight's doctoring of film of President Obama's inaugural speech, which was used to support yet another of its items promoting the warming scare. Clips from the speech were spliced together to convey a considerably stronger impression of what Obama had said on global warming than his very careful wording justified. While that may have been unprofessional enough, the rest of the item, by Newsnight's science editor, Susan Watts, was even more bizarre. It was no more than a paean of gratitude that we now at last have a president prepared to listen to the "science" on climate change, after the dark age of religious obscurantism personified by President Bush.

At last, after years when they could not speak openly on this subject, chirped Ms Watts, "scientists calculate that President Obama has just four years to save the world". She failed to explain (although she was later forced to clarify this on her blog) that the only scientist to say anything so silly was Dr James Hansen of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, whose utterances on climate change have lately become so wild and extreme that they have made him a laughing stock. (He was last week publicly disowned by his old boss Dr John Theon, who said that Hansen's unscientific claims had been an embarrassment to Nasa ever since he joined Al Gore in whipping up panic over global warming back in 1988.)

In all this, however, Newsnight only reflected the shameless way in which the BBC makes not the slightest attempt to provide impartial coverage of this issue. As its editorial guidelines make clear, "mainstream science" is now so overwhelmingly agreed on global warming that the BBC sees no reason to give balancing coverage to the views of a minority of "sceptics"; and examples are now legion of how it loses no opportunity to propagandise for the cause.

One of the madder instances was the 15 hours of airtime it gave in 2007 to the dreary Live Earth pop concert at Wembley, which was no more than a commercial for the views of Al Gore. Another was last year's lavish Climate Wars series, designed by the BBC's science team as an answer to Channel Four's The Great Global Warming Swindle. Nothing was more laughable than the sequence showing a huge poster of the infamous "hockey stick" temperature graph being driven round London on the back of a lorry, without any mention of the expert studies which have made the "hockey stick" one of the most comprehensively discredited artefacts in the history of science.

Again and again the BBC has been eager to promote every new scare raised by the advocates of man-made global warming. As late as August 28 this year it was still predicting that Arctic ice might soon disappear, just as this winter' s refreezing was about to take ice-cover back to a point it was at 30 years ago. Inevitably it fell for that "iconic" picture of two polar bears standing, seemingly forlorn, on a melting ice floe, despite the photographer's explanation that it had nothing to do with global warming and that she had only wanted to capture a dramatic snap of wind-sculpted ice.

The BBC couldn't wait to publicise the recent study claiming that Antarctica, far from getting colder over the past 50 years as all the evidence suggests, has in fact been warming. It didn't, of course, explain that the new study is based on a computer model run by the creator of the "hockey stick", which, in the absence of hard data, allows for inspired guesswork - what the study's authors call "sparse data infilling".

It was typical that, when that plastic polar bear was floated up the Thames last week, the BBC's favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, should be wheeled on to claim that, although he once been a "sceptic" on global warming (a fact we had all somehow missed), he now found the "science" entirely convincing.

In terms of journalistic professionalism, the sad thing about all this is that the debate about global warming has now entered a fascinating new stage. Honest coverage of all the new information coming to light would be vastly more interesting to the BBC's audience than the vapid propaganda which is all they get.

But inevitably this also exposes the hollowness of all those claims that the BBC still has a duty to remain "impartial", which on this issue is belied by own guidelines. As a particularly glaring example of how the BBC has, on so many issues, abandoned any pretence of impartiality, this can only provide more ammunition to those who argue that it no longer deserves that compulsory licence fee.


Green cultist at work

Woman bites driver over non-hybrid bus

Going green was a cause she could really sink her teeth into. The frantic passenger who bit a veteran driver's arm was upset that his bus wasn't a hybrid, he said Thursday. "She came on the bus, and she said she waited more than an hour for a hybrid," said MTA driver Peter Williams, 42. "I said, 'I'm not in control of what bus is assigned to me.'"

Williams, a dad of two who is in the Navy Reserves, plans to take a little time off after Wednesday's bizarre attack on an uptown M104 bus. The woman, Shelia Bolar, 49, started hollering at Williams soon after she boarded the Broadway bus on the upper West Side. When her rant was done, she she grabbed his arm.

"Miss, don't touch me while I'm operating the bus," Williams warned Bolar. At W. 79th St., Williams let passengers off and gestured to a dispatcher he called for help. "That's when she bit me. ... I couldn't believe it." Bolar chomped through a jacket, a sweater and a thick shirt, causing a bruise and swelling but not breaking skin. "She bit through all that," said Williams, still shocked.

And then she fled - but cops nabbed her blocks away. Bolar, who faces assault charges was held without bail, pending a psychiatric exam. Williams was released from St. Luke's Hospital and plans to return to work soon. "I hope it doesn't happen again," he said.



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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