Thursday, September 24, 2009


An email from Ole Humlum, Professor of Physical Geography, Department of Physical Geography, Institute of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway. Website here

Please see here (PDF) a site with meteorological information updated to August 2009. All temperatures are shown in degrees Celsius. In the maps showing the geographical pattern of temperatures, the period 1998-2006 is used as reference period. The reason for comparing with this recent period instead of the official WMO 'normal' period 1961-1990, is that the latter period is affected by the relatively cold period 1945-1980. Almost any comparison with such a low average value will therefore appear as high or warm, and it will be difficult to decide if modern surface air temperatures are increasing or decreasing. Comparing with a more recent period overcomes this problem.

In the other diagrams the thin line represents the monthly global average value, and the thick line indicate a simple running average, in most cases a 37-month average. The year 1979 has been chosen as starting point in several of the diagrams, as this roughly corresponds to both the beginning of satellite observations and the onset of the late 20th century warming period. Surface air temperatures August 2009 was generally low at northern mid latitudes. Also southern Africa experienced relatively low temperatures this month. In contrast, equatorial Pacific Ocean, northern Argentina and Australia were relatively warm.

In the Arctic, most of the Arctic had temperatures near or below the 1998-2006 average. Only northern Canada and parts of Greenland were relatively warm. In the Antarctic, most of the eastern part of the continent was relatively cold in August 2009, while parts of the peninsula and the region around the Ross Sea and ajoining land areas were relatively warm.


An email from Alex Down [] to Benny Peiser

You'd be doing me (and I'd guess a huge number of others) a terrific service if your excellent newsletter could summarize the scientific reception of the Lindzen and Choi paper (which I'd assumed was already published in the Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union) that asserts that the climate sensitivity is about one sixth of the IPCC's best estimate of 3C.

There have been one or two comments since late August (when it was "soon to be published"), but I'd have expected that there would be an hysterical rebuttal of the whole article from the pro-AGW camp; instead, I've seen very little. Similarly, shouldn't the sceptics be triumphant? Again, not nearly as much reaction as I'd have expected. For such a significant paper from someone of the stature of Richard Lindzen, I'm very surprised not to have heard a lot more. This paper could destroy the whole AGW case.

I think that the simple answer to Alex Down's question is that Warmists pick and choose which data they like and they just didn't like the data used by Lindzen. Real science, of course, has to account for ALL the data -- JR


Companies sued for creating damage by contributing to global warming have a major defense available against such charges, according to an attorney at a legal session for policyholders. The remarks were made last week by Finley Harckham, a senior litigation shareholder in the New York office of Anderson Kill & Olick and president of Anderson Kill Insurance Services, LLC at the law firm's 12th Annual Policyholder Advisor Conference.

He explained that plaintiffs need to establish two levels of causation. They must prove that something has happened to the environment other than what would have happened naturally, and that the defendant is responsible for that action. "It's a huge hurdle," he said, noting that a lawsuit would have to distinguish why a given condition was caused by a single entity as opposed to greenhouse gases emitted by the population at large.

Still, the Anderson Kill panel noted that one case worth watching is Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil, et al., in which an Inuit village in Alaska has brought a nuisance suit in February 2008 against major oil companies. The plaintiffs are seeking joint and several liability for nuisance and civil conspiracy, claiming that the oil companies' contribution to global warming has caused melting ice which will lead to the eventual flooding of their village.

The case was brought in California. John Nevius, a shareholder in the New York office of Anderson Kill, said a motion to dismiss was filed in June 2008 in Virginia. He said the insurance company defending the suit has cited the pollution exclusion in its motion. States have also brought global warming lawsuits, and Mr. Nevius said this is similar to tobacco litigation, where states try to offset their losses by suing those they see as responsible for causing the conditions.

Two cases he cited are Connecticut v. American Electric Power-where eight states and New York City brought a nuisance suit against five electric utility companies; and California v. General Motors Corp.-where Calif. sued six major automakers seeking damages for global warming. California cited injuries including melting snow pack, a greater risk of flooding, loss of coastline and more days of extreme heat.


California targets big-screen TVs in climate battle

Shrink those big screens? Warmist politicians may be over-reaching here. They are really beginning to make a nuisance of themselves

California has identified a new foe in the long-running battle to curb climate change: energy guzzling, big-screen televisions. Californians buy 4m TVs every year and with most homes having multiple sets, the electricity they consume is rising. Along with digital video recorders, DVD players and cable boxes, TVs consume about 10 per cent of the power in each home.

Big screen TVs are particularly energy-hungry so the California Energy Commission has proposed tough efficiency standards for new sets being sold in 2011. The CEC said the new standard, which has drawn criticism from consumer electronics companies, would reduce consumption per set by an average of 33 per cent. More aggressive standards will be phased in by 2013.

The proposed standards could be approved as soon as November, to the anger of the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents about 2,000 companies. It said it was “disappointed” that the CEC had “rushed forward” with the proposed regulations “despite overwhelming opposition and concrete evidence of harm to California, should these regulations be adopted”. “Millions [of dollars] in tax revenue and thousands of jobs are at stake,” it added.

But the CEC defended the new standards. “California has been an energy pioneer for more than 30 years,” said Adam Gottlieb, a spokesman for the CEC. He pointed to energy standards that California introduced in the late 1970s for refrigerators, which were later adopted across the US. The new regulations would not affect picture quality and would save consumers money in their electricity bills, he added. “Californians want energy efficiency,” he said. “Not only are TVs on for longer but they are bigger and there are more of them. These regulations will save consumers money and reduce the need to build more power plants.”


The old "people are pollution" mantra of the '70s is back

To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us. Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions.

The activist group that sponsored the report says that birth control could be one of the world's best tools for fighting climate change. By preventing the creation of new polluters, the group says, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. It is an unorthodox -- and for now, unpopular -- way to approach the problem, which can seem so vast and close that it is driving many thinkers toward gizmos and oddball ideas.

"There is no possibility of drastically reducing total carbon emissions, while at the same time paying no attention whatever to the drastic increase in the number of carbon emitters," said Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, a British nonprofit that sponsored the report and whose goal is to rein in population growth in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. "For reasons of an irrational taboo on the subject, [family planning] has never made it onto the agenda, and this is extremely damaging to the planet."

It is nothing unusual, of course, to think that the Earth could really use fewer of us. In the 1700s, Thomas Malthus worried that population growth would outstrip the food supply. And a decade ago, writer Bill McKibben connected environmental concerns to his decision to have one child in a book called "Maybe One."

What is new, in the British study and a separate report from Oregon State University, are statistics that show exactly how much each life -- and especially each American life -- adds to the world's emissions. In the United States, each baby results in 1,644 tons of carbon dioxide, five times more than a baby in China, and 91 times more than an infant in Bangladesh, according to the Oregon State study. That is because Americans live relatively long, and live in a country whose long car commutes, coal-burning power plants and cathedral ceilings give it some of the highest per-capita emissions in the world.

Seen from that angle, the Oregon State researchers concluded that child-bearing was one of the most fateful environmental decisions in anyone's life. Recycle, shorten your commute, drive a hybrid vehicle, and buy energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances and windows -- all of that would cut out about one-fortieth of the emissions caused by bringing two children, and their children's children, into the world.

"People always consider the financial costs, and they consider the time cost," said Paul Murtaugh, one of the Oregon State researchers, who said that he does not have children but that he is open to the idea despite his research. "We're just attempting to put on the table the ballpark estimate of the environmental cost."

So what, exactly, is the world supposed to do with this information? The researchers behind both studies are emphatic that they do not want people to be forced not to have children. But Martin, whose group sponsored the British study, said governments could help stop unwanted pregnancies by offering contraception and in some rare cases, abortion.

The British study found that $220 billion, spent over the next 40 years, might prevent half a billion births and prevent 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The cost, measured in 2020, would be about $7 for each ton reduced, the report said -- far cheaper than solar power, at $51, or wind power, at $24.

But, for now, the world does not seem very interested. "I don't know how to say 'No comment' emphatically enough," said David Hamilton of the Sierra Club. "I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but the primary solutions to climate change have to deal with what we do with the people who are here," such as pushing for more renewable energy, and a limit on U.S. greenhouse gases.

The Obama administration declined to comment when asked about the family-planning idea. At the United Nations, which is overseeing global negotiations on reducing emissions, an official wrote in response to a query that "to bring the issue up ... would be an insult to developing countries," where per-capita emissions are still so low compared with those in the United States.


Some U.N. members are envious, arrogant beggars

Manhattan will be a dangerous place this week for President Obama, where the terminally envious of the world are waiting at the United Nations with envy, arrogance and outstretched begging bowls. The diplomats representing the envious countries, some of them little more than tribes with flags and an embassy in a rooming house on a side street in Washington, have cooked up an interesting week to blunt the skepticism of a growing number of scientists who are finding the courage to say what they believed all along, even as Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and others insist that time is running out to make the sun change its spots, the tides recede and the weather behave itself.

The London Guardian reports that the U.N. chief and global-warming negotiators "say that unless they can convert world leaders into committed advocates of radical action it will be hard ... to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change."

If true, that's good news for the rest of us, because "the most devastating consequences" would be enactment of Al Gore's nightmare vision, to give the bureaucrats of the world all the taxes they can spend while bankrupting the most productive countries of the West.

The ambassador of the European Union to the United States is in particular need of a shot of Midol and a nice lie down until he feels better. Sen. Harry Reid's disclosure that the U.S. Senate won't take up cap-and-trade legislation, the centerpiece of "controlling" the effects of global warming, until next year has thrown the Europeans into a royal pout. "Sometimes in this country," says EU Ambassador John Bruton, the greatest deliberative body in the world acts as though it is the only deliberative body in the world, and we should wait until it gets health care passed. The ... world cannot wait on the Senate's timetable."

Organizers of global-warming week at the U.N. are determined to "imbue leaders with a new sense of purpose," one of the organizers tells the Guardian. Instead of speeches, leaders of big countries and small countries - some we've never heard of - will spend the day communing with each other. Britain, for example, will be paired with Guyana, Tuvalu with the Netherlands, Mongolia with the European Union.

There will be no respite from global warming at dinner, which will be a good hot meal (no Wonder Bread and cold cuts). Leaders of big countries will be regaled with whines by the likes of Bangladesh, Kiribati and Costa Rica. Kiribati is said to be one of the "primary victims" of global warming. Who knew? (U.S. Marines will not so fondly remember Kiribati as Tarawa, one of the fiercest island battles of World War II.) "We need these leaders to go outside their comfort zones," explains one of the organizers. "Our sense is that leaders have got a little too cozy and comfortable. They really have to hear from countries that are vulnerable and suffering."

None of the delegates will hear any dissent from the mantra that the sky is falling, that only socking it to the taxpayers of the West can save us from being boiled in saltwater. But ghost stories told around the campfire, of melting ice caps and polar bears floating past Duluth, are losing their power to terrify. Slowly but inevitably, verifiable facts are dissolving the fondest fantasies of Al Gore's hired scientists.

A new book by an Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide, argues that scientific fact has overwhelmed the doomsday scenarios of sinking islands, rising temperatures and collapsing ice shelves. He argues that global warming, which has naturally occurred over the billions of years of the Earth's life, has often been a cycle of wealth and plenty. The Romans grew lemons, limes and oranges as far north as Hadrian's Wall.

This naturally causes heartburn in certain labs and faculty lounges. "They say I rape cows, eat babies and that I know nothing about anything," he says. But the professor is not susceptible to the usual smear that he is a right-wing religious nut. He's actually a member of the Humanist Society and wrote an earlier book attacking creationism, making him at one with the atheists, infidels and heretics who wear unbelief as scientific credentials.

American presidents always get grief abroad for looking out for American interests. Life was tough for Gulliver, too. But Lilliputians in every age are merely irritants, like ticks and mosquitos. President Obama should keep that in mind this week in New York.


Australian PM Rudd has a bet each way on climate change laws

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has undermined his own argument that his emissions trading legislation must be passed before Copenhagen, admitting its defeat has not hampered his role in international climate-change talks. The Government has previously insisted the legislation's early passage is needed to maximise its muscle for Copenhagen as well as to provide business certainty.

But Mr Rudd, in New York for United Nations climate talks, drew on his recent Senate defeat to refute suggestions US influence is weakened by the stalling of legislation in the US Senate. ''Let me give you a parallel,'' he told CNN. ''Australia is very active in climate change … We are into these negotiations big time. But you know something? Our domestic emissions trading scheme was also voted down by our Senate a very short time ago. That doesn't impede me from being active in these negotiations, and my observations of President Obama is that it doesn't impede him either.''

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Mr Rudd was ''telling Australians one thing at home and telling Americans another thing abroad''. Mr Rudd's statement to the Americans ''takes away his own argument for a [trading] system before the world comes to an agreement,'' he said. There should be global agreement first ''so as our action is not futile by merely acting alone''.

Mr Hunt said Mr Rudd's case for the legislation passing in November was also weakened by the shaky state of the international negotiations. ''Copenhagen is looking a little less certain. It is likely to be a process rather than an outcome on the day,'' Mr Hunt said. The US legislation was not likely to be passed until early next year, he said.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech at Monash University: ''The Government is determined to get its emissions trading legislation through.''

But acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said it would be ''madness'' for Australia to lock itself in before knowing what the rest of the world will do. Her strong wording comes despite Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's desire to cut a deal when the Government insists on a November vote - to head off a possible double dissolution.



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