Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Newsnight is facing a 15% budget cut and two BBC environment and science reporters will also lose their jobs as part of BBC News's latest round of job losses. BBC News insiders are said to be "horrified" by the proposals, which were put to the Newsnight and science and environment teams along with the rest of the division's staff earlier this week. Newsnight is expected to make a 15% budget reduction as part of the cuts.

The BBC2 programme's culture correspondents, Madeleine Holt and Steve Smith, will become general reporters. One general reporter will then be lost from the programme's pool of around seven in total.

The two science and environment jobs will disappear as part of a plan to cut 88.5 posts from BBC News by next April as part of the corporation's five-year saving plan announced in 2007 aiming to save £155m. BBC News's team of science and environment correspondents includes Roger Harrabin, David Shukman, Christine McGourty, Pallab Ghosh, Sarah Mukherjee and Jeremy Cooke, all of whom report for various news programmes across BBC TV and radio services.

"The science and environment beat is a massive growth area and the reporting team are pre-eminent so many there are puzzled to say the very least about it," said a BBC source. "It needs expertise for these stories, a lot of preparation needs to be put in, and to lose two reporters in one go is madness."

The source also pointed at the "huge irony" of the decision given the "importance the organisation places on climate change as part of the news agenda".



These predictions are pretty worthless but they do mean continued global cooling. The sunspot/cooling correlation has been known for over a century

The sun's new solar cycle, which is thought to have begun in December 2008, will be the weakest since 1928. That is the nearly unanimous prediction of a panel of international experts, some of whom maintain that the sun will be more active than normal. But even a mildly active sun could still generate its fair share of extreme storms that could knock out power grids and space satellites.

Solar activity waxes and wanes every 11 years. Cycles can vary widely in intensity, and there is no foolproof way to predict how the sun will behave in any given cycle. In 2007, an international panel of 12 experts split evenly over whether the coming cycle of activity, dubbed Cycle 24, would be stronger or weaker than average. The group did agree the sun would probably hit the lowest point in its activity in March 2008 before ramping up to a new cycle that would reach its maximum in late 2011 or mid-2012.

But the sun did not bear out those predictions. Instead, it entered an unexpectedly long lull in activity with few new sunspots. It is thought to have reached its minimum in December 2008, and now seems to be slowly waking up. One such sign is two new active regions captured this week by the ultraviolet camera on one of NASA's twin STEREO probes.

"There's a lot of indicators that Cycle 24 is ready to burst out," panel chair Doug Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, told reporters on Friday.

The panel now expects the sun's activity will peak about a year late, in May 2013, when it will boast an average of 90 sunspots per day. That is below average for solar cycles, making the coming peak the weakest since 1928, when an average of 78 sunspots was seen daily.

Sunspots are Earth-sized blotches that coincide with knotty magnetic fields. They are a common measure of solar activity - the higher the number of sunspots, the higher the probability of a major storm that could wreak havoc on Earth (see Space storm alert: 90 minutes from catastrophe).

A lower number of sunspots could mean space weather will be relatively mild in the coming years. But Beisecker cautions it may be too early to call. "As hard as it is to predict sunspot number, it's even harder to predict the actual level of solar activity that responds to those sunspots," he told reporters. If there are fewer storms, they could still be just as intense, he said.

But not everyone on the panel expects the coming cycle to be weaker than average. "The panel consensus is not my individual opinion," says panel member Mausumi Dikpati of the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado. Dikpati and her colleagues have developed a solar model that predicts a bumper crop of sunspots and a cycle that is 30% to 50% stronger than the previous cycle, Cycle 23. Because it is still early in the new cycle, it is too soon to say whether the sun will bear out this prediction, Dikpati says. "It's still in a quiet period," she told New Scientist. "As soon as it takes off it could be a completely different story."



You can get any result you like from a model

Two computer modelers from CMU have written a program to simulate the interaction of cosmic rays with Earth's atmosphere. Because the model failed to predict significant increases in cloud cover, global warming activists are claiming the theory linking cosmic rays to climate change has been discredited. Climate models have failed to accurately predict the current downward trend in temperatures and now we are asked to accept a model as proof of how the Universe works. In truth, the paper cited is nothing more than a study of a computer program, and has nothing to do with the physical reality of how Earth's climate functions.

Appearing in Science under the title, "Study Challenges Cosmic Ray-Climate Link," a review of the paper by Jeffrey Pierce and Peter Adams of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was used as an excuse to cast doubt on the theory that cosmic ray levels affect the creation of clouds in Earth's atmosphere. This theory was first proposed in 1997 by physicists Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen. They reported that Earth's cloud cover seemed to vary in step with galactic cosmic rays-high-energy charged particles from outer space-striking Earth's atmosphere. The more cosmic rays, the more cloud cover, the more cloud cover the fewer warming rays from the sun reaching Earth's surface to affect the climate.

One of the reasons that the cosmic ray theory is so intriguing is that, to a significant extent, the sun's activity regulates the volume of particles impacting Earth, thus providing a mechanism for variation in the sun to impact earthly climate in ways other than irradiance (direct solar radiation). If Svensmark and Friis-Christensen's theory is correct, changes in solar activity are responsible for a large portion of climate variation, greatly diminishing the importance of greenhouse gases like CO2. This assault on climate change orthodoxy, combined with the fact that Svensmark and Friis-Christensen are not members of the climate change fraternity, have singled them out for attack by global warming true believers.



Giant carbon tax plan to reduce global warming chills even some Democrats

Democratic dissenssion, Republican opposition and growing public skepticism may derail Congress' potentially economy-crippling carbon cap-and-trade bill, perhaps saving Americans billions of dollars. The bill's author, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, is opposed by centrist Democrats, who fear the Draconian regulations would severely harm their constituents. Congress members representing the steel industry and coal and nuclear power generators oppose the 648-page American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, authored by Rep. Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Meanwhile, Republicans cite studies showing the bill would increase a typical family's energy prices at least $3,100 a year, and over 20 years result in 7 million lost jobs and $7 trillion in reduced economic output. Republicans say the legislation is essentially a "tax bill," and plan alternative legislation to create incentives for "clean" coal and more nuclear energy.

President Barack Obama invited 36 House Democrats to the White House last week to urge passage of the legislation that would sell permits to companies, gradually diminishing allowable greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the prodding, negotiations remained stalled.

Growing skepticism over the approach - and even the need - to fight global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions isn't limited to Capitol Hill. An artificial market in government-mandated carbon credits would be "monstrously stupid to do right now," Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Charlie Munger told CNBC, adding that the move is "almost demented" considering other nations' intention to continue industrial development, emitting vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

Public sentiment is at a new low, too, says pollster Zogby International. Only 30 percent of Americans support cap-and-trade, and 57 percent oppose it. A Pew Research poll of voter priorities ranked global warming dead last behind the economy and 18 other areas. The Gallup Poll recently found a record 41 percent surveyed believe global warming claims are exaggerated, and at most 2 percent even cite the environment as their biggest concern.

In addition, a recent study by the National Center for Climate Research shows that if fully implemented, the Waxman-Markey bill would produce global temperature "savings" of only 0.05 degree centigrade over 50 years. Even James Hansen, the NASA scientist and perhaps most ardent proponent of manmade global warming as a threat, urges the bill's defeat, saying it would be ineffective in reducing greenhouse gases.

Even the premise for curbing greenhouse gases is flawed. There has been no cause-and-effect relationship convincingly established between rising carbon emissions and higher temperatures. Indeed, temperatures have leveled off or declined since 1998 while CO2 emissions have skyrocketed, the opposite of the global warming theory. Considering its questionable assumptions, economic costs and hardships, this bill promises a paltry return on investment. One might say it's "almost demented."



"Could food shortages bring down civilization?," asks environmental activist Lester Brown in the current issue of Scientific American. Not surprisingly, Brown's answer is an emphatic yes. He claims that for years he has "resisted the idea that food shortages could bring down not only individual governments but also our global civilization." Now, however, Brown says, "I can no longer ignore that risk." Balderdash. Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute, has been a prominent and perennial predictor of imminent global famine for more than 45 years. Why should we believe him now?

For instance, back in 1965, when Brown was a young bureaucrat in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he declared, "the food problem emerging in the less-developing regions may be one of the most nearly insoluble problems facing man over the next few decades." In 1974, Brown maintained that farmers "can no longer keep up with rising demand; thus the outlook is for chronic scarcities and rising prices." In 1981, Brown stated that "global food insecurity is increasing," and further claimed that "the slim excess of growth in food production over population is narrowing." In 1989, Brown contended that "population growth is exceeding the farmer's ability to keep up," concluding that, "our oldest enemy, hunger, is again at the door." In 1995, Brown starkly warned, "Humanity's greatest challenge may soon be just making it to the next harvest." In 1997, Brown again proclaimed, "Food scarcity will be the defining issue of the new era now unfolding."

But this time it's different, right? After all, Brown claims that "when the 2008 harvest began, world carryover stocks of grain (the amount in the bin when the new harvest begins) were at 62 days of consumption, a near record low." But Brown has played this game before with world grain stocks. As the folks at the pro-life Population Research Institute (PRI) report, Brown claimed in 1974 that there were only 26 days of grain reserves left, but later he upped that number to 61 days. In 1976, reserves were supposed to have fallen to just 31 days, but again Brown raised that number in 1988 to 79 days. In 1980, only a 40-day supply was allegedly on hand, but a few years later he changed that estimate to 71 days. The PRI analysts noted that Brown has repeatedly issued differing figures for 1974: 26 or 27 days (1974); 33 days (1975); 40 days (1981); 43 days (1987); and 61 days (1988). In 2004, Brown claimed that the world's grain reserves had fallen to only 59 days of consumption, the lowest level in 30 years.

In any case, Brown must know that the world's farmers produced a bumper crop last year. Stocks of wheat are at a six-year high and increases in other stocks of grains are not far off. This jump in reserves is not at all surprising considering the steep run-up in grain prices last year, which encouraged farmers around the world to plant more crops. By citing pre-2008 harvest reserves, Brown evidently hopes to frighten gullible Scientific American readers into thinking that the world's food situation is really desperate this time.



The operators of Britain's first "biofuel" power plants are considering burning palm oil, which is blamed for causing rainforest destruction in south-east Asia.

At least four new power stations are being planned around the UK to burn vegetable oils with the assurance that they will generate less pollution than burning climate-change-causing fossil fuels. Two that would power more than 50,000 homes, at Portland in Dorset and Newport in South Wales, are considering using palm oil.

W4B Energy, which has submitted a planning application to build the £30m Portland plant, says it would use only sustainable supplies certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Vogen Energy, behind the plant at Newport, says production of its palm oil would not harm the environment.


Australia: World Vision children's charity goes into the global warming business

Comments below by Andrew Bolt. I too was once a World Vision donor but stopped immediately when they started making anti-Israel statements. In 2006 I asked them could I sponsor a poor Jewish child in Israel. They said No. I still have the emails concerned. Maybe I should put them online -- JR

I’ve been a donor to World Vision for more than a decade. I’ve helped to publicise its work and urged you to support it, praising above all its commitment to giving the poor the direct help they need.

That’s now over. When my current sponsorships end, I will not renew. I will not donate a dollar more than I’ve already promised. An organisation I once admired for pragmatism has now fallen for the giddiest ideology of all. Under Tim Costello, so ignorant and alarmist that he blames global warming even for tsunamis, donors’ money is now being wasted on a great sham. A once-Christian organisation is now switching its focus from saving people to saving Nature, as it follows a neo-pagan gospel. The latest evidence? From World Vision’s jobs page:
Strategic Technical Advisor (Carbon and Poverty Reduction Facility - Asia Pacific)

This exciting and newly created role based in the Asia Pacific provides technical assistance in the design and implementation of carbon and poverty reduction projects and programmatic responses, helping position World Vision Australia as the pre-eminent development NGO in climate change.

Campaigns Leader - Climate Change

We are seeking an experienced Campaign Leader for our Policy & Programs Group to work on effecting change within our region.

Project Manager

This role has been created to provide multi-disciplinary support through business analysis, research, proposal development, project design and management, stakeholder engagement and communications, particularly around climate change related to Carbon and Poverty Reduction Projects.

Reader Daniel is furious:
World Vision through very expensive advertising campaigns educate and look after children in deprived circumstances in the third world. What are they doing joining the very crowded world of those preaching global warming?

That leaves me needing a new charity. I’m starting already to switch my support to Very Special Kids. Could anyone also recommend a charity that gives meaningful help to the poor overseas?


A number of readers say they’re cancelling their sponsorships immediately. That’s not something I’m doing. I’ve made implied promises to children that I intend to keep. The issue is what I do with my money once those sponsorships lapse. I hope no one makes children suffer for the ideological giddiness of Tim Costello.


4BC’s Michael Smith isn’t impressed, either.


Tim Costello has rung to make the following important points:

- None of the money given for World Vision’s sponsorships go to its global warming programs.

- By getting involved in global warming, World Vision actually makes money, getting donations from governments and international bodies.

- The money it gets for carbon offsets, for example, is used to benefit people though the planting of trees that are also a food source.

Tim has challenged me to consider what I would do in his place, if there was so much money I could use for the poor that was being offered by global warming campaigners.

My answer to him was and is: I would take it, indeed, but I would not preach as true that which is false. There are ways to help the poor that do not involve endorsing a new faith that is a threat to reason, development and even humanity itself. You, however, may consider his answer sufficiently pragmatic to continue to support World Vision.

SOURCE. See the original for links


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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