Thursday, March 05, 2009


An email from Paul Biggs []

Kyle Swanson and Isaac Held make some odd comments in the Discovery News article, which questions where global warming went. Apparently, the 'radiative forcing' of CO2 will stay in an unknown hiding place for 30 years and then jump out on us!

This sounds like an excuse for buying more time for the failing hypothesis which attempts to implicate CO2 as THE driver of climate. They also seem to claim that natural variability largely manifests itself as cooling rather than warming.

Swanson was, of course, a co-author on the 2007 Tsonis et al GRL paper 'A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts' in which the authors claimed to be able to explain all the global temperature tendency changes and El Nino variability in the 20th century, without CO2. They go on to say that major climate shifts have occurred or will occur around 1913, 1942, 1978, 2033, and 2072 and they also predicted a 0.2 Celsius cooling between 2005 and 2020 which should be followed by a 0.3 Celsius warming until 2045 or so - then cooling for the rest of the 21st century.

The authors also state that, "The standard explanation for the post 1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse gases overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols [Mann and Emanuel, 2006]. However, comparison of the 2035 event in the 21st century simulation and the 1910s event in the observations with this event, suggests an alternative hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted after the 1970s event to a different state of a warmer climate, which may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend."

A new paper from Wang, Swanson and Tsonis, 'The pacemaker of major climate shifts' suggests the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) as the 'pacemaker.' The latest paper from Swanson and Tsonis, accepted for publication on 24th February, asks the question 'Has the climate recently shifted?' Their answer is yes it probably has. In 2001/02 climate shifted away from the consistent warming trend for the period 1976/77 to 2001/02. This is set against a background of global CO2 emissions increasing at a rate of 3.5% per year since 2000.

Meanwhile, Nir Shaviv's latest paper finds more evidence of an unknown solar amplification mechanism, where the radiative forcing associated with small changes in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) over the 11-year solar cycle are multiplied by 5 to 7 times. So, rather than developing a 'hiding place for CO2' hypothesis, we can look to the collective behaviour of known climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, and the North Pacific Oscillation, plus poorly understood solar factors as a big part of the explanation for climate change.

Of course, this explanation isn't attractive to social engineers or politicians wanting to impose 'green' taxes and restrictions. You can't tax the Sun, which brings us to the subject of falling solar activity. On 21st December 2006 NASA's David Hathaway was predicting that solar cycle 24 would be bigger than cycle 23. By January 2009 he changed his mind and predicted a smaller cycle 24. Hathaway also predicts a very small cycle 25, and Milivoje Vukcevic claims to have a formula that predicts cycle 26 that will be even lower than cycle 25.

In their 2008 GRL paper Weiss et al asked 'For how long will the current grand maximum of solar activity persist?' The answer was probably not very long, but they couldn't predict the level of the ensuing minimum and they remained loyal to the greenhouse warming 'consensus' by stating that any cooling would be "insignificant compared with the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. "

So, the lack of cycle 24 sunspots continues and the 'grand maximum' of solar activity we enjoyed during the 20th century may be coming to an end. Small changes in the Sun may have much larger effects on climate, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) seems to have entered a cool phase that could last between 21 to 25 years. If the global non-warming since 2002 continues for 30 years as Kyle Swanson suggests, then we have to consider the possibility that, rather than going into hiding, CO2 isn't the all powerful climate driver that some would have us believe.


Abreu, J. A., J. Beer, F. Steinhilber, S. M. Tobias, and N. O. Weiss (2008), For how long will the current grand maximum of solar activity persist?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20109

Swanson, K. L., and A. A. Tsonis (2009), Has the climate recently shifted?, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL037022, in press.(accepted 24 February 2009)

Shaviv, N. J. (2008), 'Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing,' J. Geophys. Res., 113, A11101, doi:10.1029/2007JA012989.

Tsonis, Anastasios A.; Swanson, Kyle; Kravtsov, Sergey, A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts', Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 34, No. 13, 12 July 2007

Wang, G., K. L. Swanson, and A. A. Tsonis (2009), Pacemaker of major climate shifts,' Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL036874, in press.

Democratic Revolt May Slow Obama Agenda

Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona have joined a quiet revolt in the House that could slow some of President Obama's fast-moving priorities. The two are among 49 Democrats from congressional districts that backed Republican Sen. John McCain 's 2008 presidential race and whose support for the Democratic majority's progressive agenda is increasingly not assured. A dozen of them were among 20 House Democrats who voted against the $410 billion discretionary fiscal 2009 spending package (HR 1105) on Feb. 25. Another group later forced House leaders to sideline a contentious bill (HR 1106) to allow bankruptcy judges to modify home loans.

Although only a handful of moderate and conservative Democrats abandoned their leaders during party-line votes on the economic stimulus law (PL 111-5), the group of vulnerable Democrats branded the omnibus spending bill as a budget buster and questioned whether the mortgage bill would raise interest rates on average home-owners and cause some struggling homeowners to rush to bankruptcy.

The defections could cause heartburn for Democratic leaders charged with ushering through Obama's three biggest priorities: a health care overhaul, a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions and his fiscal 2010 budget blueprint. The president might also have trouble winning their votes for an anticipated second financial bailout package.

"My job is not to be a rubber stamp for the president or Democratic leadership, but to be a voice for the people that elected me," Giffords said. "I voted for the stimulus, but found I could not vote for the omnibus." She faces a tough 2010 campaign in a state that will be dominated by McCain's expected re-election to his Senate seat....

Republicans are eyeing the group of 49 as prime targets in their party's push to expand the 178-seat minority in the 2010 elections. They are betting on "bailout and stimulus fatigue" and ramping up pressure by launching early attack advertising in their districts and daring them to line up behind Obama's ambitious to-do list.


Cap-and-trade plan will sink Michigan

An editorial from The Detroit News

President Barack Obama's proposed cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gas emissions is a giant economic dagger aimed at the nation's heartland -- particularly Michigan. It is a multibillion-dollar tax hike on everything that Michigan does, including making things, driving cars and burning coal. The president is asking for a system of government limits on carbon emissions. The right to emit carbon would be auctioned off to generate revenue for more government spending programs.

The president's budget projects receipts totaling $646 billion through 2019 from the sale of these greenhouse gas permits. The goal, according to the president's budget outline, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide to 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Doing so will drive up the cost of nearly everything and will amount to a major tax increase for American consumers.

Such a tax will hit the Midwest particularly hard, which is why House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told the New York Times, "let's just be honest and call it a carbon tax that will increase taxes on all Americans who drive a car, who have a job, who turn on a light switch, pure and simple." The carbon tax will be paid by energy companies, manufacturers and public utilities, who will pass the cost on to their consumers. Michigan will be especially targeted. It gets 60 percent of its electric power from coal plants, and the state's economy is still reliant on heavy manufacturing such as car and truck assembly and auto parts production. Michigan will lose as carbon tax money is shifted to states with a greater presence of high-tech and service businesses.

The proposed tax would take effect in 2012 and has the very real potential to throw the nation back into recession, if indeed the expected recovery has arrived by then. It's impossible to raise costs for such basics as manufacturing and energy production by more than half a trillion dollars over a decade and not have the effects felt across the economy.

The nation's gross domestic product contracted at an annualized rate of 3.8 percent in last year's fourth quarter -- the worst economic record in nearly three decades. Is this really a good time to be talking about a carbon tax? How will such talk impact investment decisions? Obama promises to use some of the revenues for tax relief for certain workers and some of the rest for subsidies for alternative energy. But that won't make up for the damage this huge new tax will do to the economy, especially in Michigan.

A similar program in Europe hasn't worked. European automakers complained about carbon dioxide limits the European Union proposed in 2007 as damaging to the economy.

The Obama cap-and-trade program will place even more of the economy under the control of the federal government. The only upside is that the negative impact it will have on economic growth and job creation will take care of the carbon emissions problem, for sure.


Carbon Tax Ignores History

Despite consistently describing the economic situation as being dire, President Barack Obama is rapidly moving forward with policies that have the potential to seriously harm American industry. He has tasked Vice President Biden to promote the cap-and-trade program that the envirolobby has been seeking after for over a decade.

The Vice-President, armed with a new study purporting to claim that cap-and-trade would promote green jobs - via government subsidy -is working to allay fears in industry-heavy states, many of which were instrumental in Obama's victory. The study, produced by the liberal environmentalist group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), reveals a large number of companies that could add jobs if cap-and-trade were introduced.

But the question is begged: If green energy is so wonderful, why isn't the free market jumping at the opportunity? If the program needs the government's hand to jump-start it, it will need government's dollars to sustain it. And if those are ever in short supply, it will risk collapse.

A good case study is ethanol. After years of promoting it as an alternative to fossil fuels, the sad truth has emerged over time that the industry is almost entirely dependent upon the government. To make matters worse, ethanol-only gasoline actually ends up being more expensive than petroleum-based gas.

And without the government subsidies that support it, it would likely fail. As previously reported, there can be unintended side-effects - in the case of ethanol, government subsidies have contributed to food shortages in certain regions around the world, leading to political and economic destabilization.

But even if the green industry could stand on its own, it won't start overnight. The corporations in place that would offer green jobs are not nearly large enough to absorb the massive numbers of workers that would be laid off when the new cap-and-trade energy policy takes effect. And new, "green" energy plants will not be able to be built at the same rate at which the old ones will fail.

So what will happen? Bail them out? That would compromise the environmental principles upon which the carbon tax is based. Perhaps they may share the fate of the Lehman Brothers, who were refused help while they watched their fellow investment bankers receive government aid.

Energy independence is a positive, strategic goal. Renewable energy is a smart, practical goal. But if government tries to "help" the country decide what is best route to that goal, it will only result in failure. The free market is more than capable of discovering and implementing efficient energy policy - while rejecting energy ideas that have no sound economic or scientific basis. For example, nuclear energy - coupled with fuel reprocessing - is a proven renewable energy resource.

America has many resources, to boot. But, like ethanol, not all of them can be efficiently converted into energy. If the government forces an energy revolution for which the market is not ready, it will end up with multiple failed programs on its hands. And the nation has enough of those.

The perfect example is the state of California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger began implementing a cap-and-trade program in 2006, promising that "green" jobs would spring up to replace lost ones. But that didn't happen. California has been losing jobs for quite some time now to more business-friendly states. Unemployment has increased from just under 5 percent to over 9 percent. This will happen on a national level too, if Mr. Obama gets his way.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Obama Administration is trying to force the issue. Even if Mr. Obama tries a government-encouraged, market-based approach (as California did), he will wind up having to bail out the program once it fails. By heavily subsidizing the rise of "green power," yet another government bureaucracy will be created. But perhaps that was its goal all along-greater government control over the economy and most certainly over energy production.

The price will be heavy. Politically, the industrial states may not forgive the man they placed in office in 2008. Economically, millions of Americans will risk losing jobs over a special-interest program. And the energy promised will come at such a high cost that Americans may just pine for those days back in the summer of 2008, when gas was "only" $4 a gallon. But by then, it will be too late.

President Obama needs to take a step back and re-evaluate his energy policy - and his ideological environmentalist policies. The experience with ethanol has clearly shown that government-subsidized energy initiatives are subject to high cost and likely failure. And with the current economic climate, cap-and-trade is the last thing that most companies can afford. And despite the loud claims of the envirolobby, America cannot afford it either.


American biodiesel is BAD

A key European Union trade panel approved on Tuesday temporary anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of biodiesel from the United States, sources with knowledge of the decision said. "It went through with no problem," one source told Reuters on condition of anonymity after a meeting of the EU's anti-dumping committee of 27 national trade diplomats. From March 13, U.S. firms exporting biodiesel into the EU will have to pay additional tariffs for an initial six months, ranging from 26 euros ($32.88) to 41 euros per 100 kg.

Also per 100 kg, Archer Daniels Midland will face duties of 26 euros, Cargill 27 euros, Imperium Renewables 29 euros, Green Earth Energy Fuels 28 euros and World Energy Alternatives 29 euros. Peter Cremer North America and most other U.S. biodiesel companies exporting to Europe will pay 41 euros per 100 kg. The duties remain for up to six months. The executive European Commission must then decide whether to propose "definitive" duties, which normally last five years. Definitive duties must be approved by EU governments to enter into force.

The move is the latest in a series of transatlantic trade spats dogging EU-U.S. relations, with Brussels and Washington at loggerheads over an EU ban on imports of U.S. chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef. The EU has expressed dissatisfaction with the inclusion of a so-called "Buy American" clause in a U.S. stimulus plan as the Group of 20 industrial and emerging economies pledged to avoid protectionist measures to deal with the global economic crisis.

Brussels began a probe into the imports last year following a complaint from EU producers of biodiesel -- by far the main biofuel produced in Europe -- who said they were being hammered by U.S. subsidies. Such subsidies distort the growing international trade in plant-based fuels, the EU producers said. "If ... these duties will be imposed, then this proves our complaint was well founded," Raffaello Garofalo, secretary general of the European Biodiesel Board, told Reuters. "This will re-establish a level playing field and put an end to unacceptable and artificial prices created by U.S. biodiesel producers."


Australia: Sharks protected but what about people?

The usual misanthropic Greenie priorities are denying Australians a treasured part of their lifestyle -- surfing

Duncan Low stood forlornly with his surfboard on Avalon Beach just after dawn yesterday looking out at the "sharky" grey waves that he dared not venture into alone. A tall, blond, 15-year-old Adonis with a peeling pink nose and a wetsuit, Low has surfed at Avalon every morning since he was nine years old. But after the weekend attack on another teenage surfer at the popular northern beach, few people are game to plunge in, at least while the surf remains poor and the sky cloudy . "I would be surfing but no one else is here," he said. "No one's coming out because of the sharks. It's pretty annoying . My dad said not to go out by myself. He's heaps worried."

Andrew Lindop, also 15, is recovering in hospital after being bitten on the leg by a two-metre great white shark at North Avalon on Sunday. It was the third Sydney shark attack in three weeks. A great white also attacked 33-year-old surfer Glenn Orgias at Bondi last month, and just the previous day a navy diver, Paul de Gelder, 31, was mauled at Woolloomooloo. Despite doctors' efforts Orgias has lost a hand and Gelder a hand and a leg. With the Sydney attacks added to another three around Australia within 24 hours in January, surfers and fisherman have begun to dispute official claims and declare a shark boom in our waters.

Yet instead of sensible discussions about how best to protect human life and limb, the debate over shark attacks has taken a surreal turn, in which Sydney's waterways are deemed to be the sole province of man-eating sharks and tough luck to humans. "Dirty, stinking humans . scum of the planet and hopefully sharks will be here for millions more years after we're extinct" was typical of one misanthropic comment on a surf website this week.

The Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, has been telling people since January the ocean and the harbour are the shark's "domain", not ours, And lately he has been instructing us not to swim at dawn and dusk, when sharks are active. Talk about blaming the victim - when do most Sydneysiders get a chance to surf but before or after work and school? Surfing or swimming in the ocean is intrinsic to the Australian way of life. Humans have as much right to be in there as sharks. We have been designed to swim and are at home in the water.

Low waded in for a dip at Avalon about 7am yesterday but the regular ocean swimmers confined themselves to the rockpool. "I'd normally be out there," said Simon Abbott, 38, "But it's not worth the worry. It takes the edge of your enjoyment." The sky yesterday, as it has been for days, was grey and cloudy, with a hint of red just after sunrise, meaning poor visibility in the water, and less likelihood of spotting a shark before it spots you.

Another local, Warren Burgess, 69, declared: "There's too much seaweed in there. Every time it brushed your leg you'd be s----ing yourself." Burgess never remembers seeing so many sharks.

Michael Brown, director of Surfwatch Australia, a private helicopter coastal patrol service, said yesterday the explosion in shark numbers this season has been "unbelievable". He estimates an increase of about 80 per cent since last summer. Three years ago, he saw one great white a season. Last summer, he spotted seven. This year he's seen 27. And the sharks are bigger than ever - 3.5 metres and 4 metres long off Long Reef and Palm Beach. He attributes the population explosion to cold ocean eddies of five years ago, which brought a surge of nutrients from the ocean floor to feed a bumper crop of phytoplankton, which in turn fed the tuna, bonito and other baitfish sharks eat. Nice for the sharks but risky for humans. And next summer, Brown says, will be even worse.

It is of no comfort to the victims that the great white shark has been officially declared an endangered species. Commercial fishermen are blaming government protection of sharks and bans on commercial fishing for the shark boom. Large NSW marine parks created in 2002 have led to a local explosion in shark numbers, they claim.

What's more, shark nets that have protected Sydney beachgoers for more than 70 years are under attack from environmentalists. The meshing program has been a successful protection measure in NSW and Queensland, especially when coupled with drumlines - hooks attached to a float with bait designed to catch sharks near popular beaches. Yet in NSW shark nets are now listed as a "key threatening process" by the Government's Fisheries Scientific Committee. So the committee will be looking to get rid of the nets, while environmental and animal welfare groups ratchet up the pressure on the Government. And despite claims that the nets are useless, the evidence says otherwise.

Before the nets were installed there were 28 shark attacks and 15 fatalities from 1922 to 1936 in Greater Sydney, Dr John Paxton of the Australian Museum told the 2006 Shark Protection Summit. "The introduction of shark meshing in 1937 resulted in ending the fatalities on surfing beaches," Paxton told the summit. "There was a corresponding fall in the numbers of total attacks per decade. The shark nets were exceptionally successful and their introduction certainly justified at that time." Of course, nets are not foolproof, as shown by the attack at Avalon. They were never designed to provide a barrier between sharks and humans, but to deter and catch "resident" sharks which feed near popular beaches.

No one disputes that sharks are a crucial part of the ecosystem and no one is advocating wholesale slaughter. But if it comes to a choice between a shark life and a human life there just should be no contest.



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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