Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama’s climate fantasies

President Barack Obama’s speech on global warming to the United Nations yesterday was based on fantasy. Here are some quotes from the speech followed by the reality.

Obama: ”...[T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”

Reality: Global mean temperatures increased slightly from 1977 to 2000. Temperatures have been flat since then.

Obama: “Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.”

Reality: Sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the 19th and 20th century average.

Obama: “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”

Reality: There is no upward global trend in storms or floods.

Obama: “More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”

Reality: There is no upward global trend in major droughts. Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.

Obama: “On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.”

Reality: Some Pacific islanders may want to emigrate to New Zealand or Australia and are claiming that their islands are disappearing as the reason, but shrinkage has been minimal in recent decades because sea level rise has been minimal.

President Obama’s policy prescriptions are energy rationing and energy poverty disguised as growth and prosperity. The emissions reductions that he promises the United States will make through cap-and-trade legislation are dead in the water in the U.S. Senate and would not survive a second vote in the U.S. House. If enacted, cap-and-trade would consign the economy to perpetual stagnation and make the U.S. into a second-rate economic power.

His policy prescription for poor countries is to promise them massive “financial and technical assistance”. The track record of paying off poor countries is that it has lined the pockets of corrupt leaders and bureaucracies with billions and tens of billions of dollars, but has done nothing to help those countries become prosperous. What these countries need is free markets and abolishing barriers to trade. The global warming policies advocated by the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress would raise trade barriers and foster energy poverty throughout the world. Energy rationing is not the way forward and is not a message of hope for the poorest people in the world, who lack access to electricity and modern transportation.



Over the past 70 years, hurricane frequency in the Atlantic basin is up, but the strength of the storms have remained relatively constant. Those are the conclusions of a new study conducted by Clemson University researchers. Clemson Professor of Mathematical Sciences Robert Lund participated in the study that looked at changes in the tropical cycle record in the North Atlanticbetween 1851 and 2008. Lund says he knows global warming is a hot button issue and many researchers have maintained that warming waters of the Atlantic are increasing the strengths of these storms. We do not see evidence for this at all, however we do find that the number of storms has recently increased.”

”We took a look at the record from 1851 to 2008 and we did find a lot of changes besides recent changes. For instance, we found that around 1935 the count radically increased and that was probably due to aircraft reconnaissance, being able to fly out into the ocean and see these storms.”

Also participating in the study were Michael Robbins and Colin Gallagher of Clemson along with Mississippi State University Mathematics professor Dr. QIQi Lu.

Lund says the increase in the frequency of hurricanes and some measurable increase in strength of the storms was first observed from data from the beginning of the 20th century. Lund attributes the observations from better and more sophisticated technological devices used to monitor the storms. “We saw them from about 1900 which makes sense because most of the data recorded before 1900 was guesstimated and not very consistent. We also found small changes in the strength of the storms around 1960 which coincides with the onset of satellites.”

Lund says in a number of studies involving the analysis of years and years of data, the study of probabilities is best conducted by mathematicians. ”We have to play by the rules of probability and the laws of random chance. As statisticians and probabilists, we are not allowed to distort the conclusion nor are we invested in any particular outcome or inference from the data. We’re just going to crunch the numbers as best we can with rigorous probability assessments and tell you what we find.”

Lund says the study he and his colleagues just concluded opens up avenues for more questions yet to answered. “Are the storms changing in terms of duration in terms of how long they last? Are they occurring in more northern latitudes? There are a lot of small issues that still need to be tied down, but we sort of felt that at least given the data that we’ve seen recently that this pretty much answers the question of are changes happening?”


Sydney's huge dust storm caused by global warming?

You knew that somebody would say it was, didn't you? They knew that they had scant grounds for saying so but some in the media did. Even the guy below -- who knows what really caused it -- can't quite resist the temptation. He also leaves out a lot: like the fact that Northern and Western Australia have had exceptionally good rains recently. And even the drier Southeast (where Melbourne is) that he talks about actually got rain during the Sydney dust storm! It is utter rubbish to claim that Australia as a whole is getting drier. The rains have tended to move North but have certainly not vanished. Quite to the contrary. Most dams in Queensland are full to overflowing. And the Southeast has suffered that way before. In 1901, the mighty Murray river was just a chain of waterholes. Pesky how awkward the whole truth is!

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world and dust storms are fairly common — but only occasionally does the dust reach the coast, and yesterday’s storm was probably the biggest to hit Sydney for 60 years. In fact, this year has been exceptionally violent, with freak weather disasters hitting at bewildering speed every month.

Most bizarrely, this winter (June, July and August) was the hottest on record, and followed desperately dry months, with the lowest rainfall on record in Melbourne. Much of the blame for this can be pinned on an El Niño brewing in the Pacific, as the tropical seas there grow unusually warm and bring heavy rains to South America but leave eastern Australia in drought.

It is no surprise that some of the biggest dust storms in Australia’s history have come in El Niño years — and more dust storms could hit this year.

The storms are an ecological disaster, ripping up valuable topsoil from farmland. But a far greater threat is that much of Australia has been in its worst drought for several years, which has crippled its most prosperous farmland in the Murray-Darling Basin, in the southeast of the country.

This severe drought is difficult to explain simply from natural fluctuations in climate. Instead, Australians are now facing the brutal truth that theirs is largely a hot, dry country that is turning even hotter and drier — and that this is most probably caused by unnatural changes in the climate.



How’s this for awkward timing? Even as President Obama tries to persuade other countries gathered at the U.N. climate confab and upcoming G-20 meeting that the U.S. will take action on climate change, senators from both parties are moving to limit what his administration can do to fight climate change.

At issue are two amendments to a huge government spending bill nearing a vote in the Senate that would pare the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate various industries’ greenhouse-gas emissions.

One amendment, drafted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and backed by ethanol companies, would limit how the EPA could measure the global-warming impact of growing corn and other crops for fuel. It would prohibit the agency from considering the emissions that are said to result when farmers overseas clear grasslands and cut down forests in response to higher food prices. What do those farmers’ decisions have to do with ethanol production in the U.S.? Well, according to some researchers, there are some nasty ripple effects when farmers in the U.S. convert their farmland to growing corn for fuel.

Still, why would the EPA want to go down this road, given the U.S. government’s traditional support for ethanol? Because a 2007 energy law says it has to! More about this debate here and here.

Another amendment, being circulated by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), would prohibit the EPA for one year from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, factories and small businesses. Sen. Murkowski says she’s worried about the economic toll of any regulations that EPA might set; environmental groups say her measure would render the EPA toothless and undermine U.S. efforts to convince other countries to reduce their emissions.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration is speaking out against Sen. Murkowski’s proposal. “We don’t think trying to legislate on an appropriations bill is a good idea,” Carol Browner, the President’s assistant on energy and climate change issues, tells WSJ’s Jonathan Weisman. So does that mean President Obama would veto the entire spending bill if Ms. Murkowski succeeds in attaching her amendment to the final bill? Ms. Browner said she’s not in a position to comment.

Our sources predict a close vote in the Senate, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon. Stay tuned …


Budget constraints bring some realism to British government Green dreams

The carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry has expressed grave concerns at reports the government is considering scaling back its £10bn plan to fund a series of CCS demonstration plants in the UK as part of its efforts to restore health to the public finances. The Guardian reported yesterday that Treasury officials have warned that the government plan to fund the development of up to four CCS plants could be cut as a result of renewed spending constraints.

Luke Warren, International Policy Executive at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, warned that any such cuts could jeopardise both the UK carbon emission targets and the health of the country's emerging CCS industry. "If these report are true they make for dismal reading," he said. "The UK government has been a leader on CCS but it is now in danger of falling behind the pack in the race to develop this crucial technology."

The government is officially committed to funding one plant entirely through its CCS competition – an award expected to be worth around £1bn. In addition, earlier this year climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the government would fund between one and three further CCS plants and that no coal power plant would be given the go-ahead in the UK without CCS attached.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change attempted to dopwnplay the reports insistig there had been no official change to the government's CCS funding plans. "The UK has set out bold proposals for coal and CCS – they are a world first – and our ambitions remain firm," she said. "We're determined to drive the development of CCS as part of the transition to a low carbon economy."

However, industry sources noted that the government had never officially committed to funding all four proposed plants and that as a result it could cut the number of demonstration plants back to two without technically reneging on its promises.


Climate change and the nanny state

Do we need the government to save us from ourselves?

If Jesus raised the dead tomorrow, our science czar probably would be too busy calculating the carbon footprint to find salvation. But who needs Christ when the flock is blessed with sound moral guidance from men and women whose lifework has been cajoling 50 percent plus one to push a button? From our extravagant health care choices to our risky financial behavior to our ill-conceived love of profit to, most tragically, our immoral penchant for air-conditioning our homes, we need help. I need help.

This week, prepping for the upcoming Copenhagen climate change talks, Dr. Steven Chu, our erstwhile energy secretary, crystallized the administration's underlining thinking by claiming that the "American public ... just like your teenage kids, aren't acting in a way that they should act. The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is." Did you know that Cabinet positions come equipped with a handbook detailing how Americans "should act"? If teenagers—irresponsible bunch of weasels that they usually are—are in need of moral supervision, an environmental train wreck like me needs an intervention.

After all, President Barack Obama warned me this week that a failure to address the problem of "carbon pollution" could create an "irreversible catastrophe." (Yeah, Oxygen, you're next.) Chu recently referred to Earth as "the great ship Titanic."

Chu will deploy bureaucrats to more than 6,000 public schools to, um, teach children about "climate change" and efficiency. They probably won't mention that the Energy Department was found to have wasted millions on inefficient use of energy by an independent auditor this year. (Listen, even our parents aren't perfect.)

Chu the adult likes to say that coal—which as we speak is likely powering your computer, your office, and your house and allows your kids to sit in their schoolhouse without freezing their little toes off in early fall—is his "worst nightmare." Coal. Not an energy that is running its course or one that the market will replace. This energy source accounts for more than half of electricity production in the entire nation.

Chu, a physicist and Nobel Prize winner—and, unlike me, a deadly serious person—believes that "all the world's roofs should be painted white as part of efforts to slow global warming." Guess what? Not one white roof in my community. What's the holdup? Do we have to pass a law? We do. Because you are hopeless, petulant, immoral, and clueless. Your nightmare starts with banning a plastic bag at the grocery and ends with a job-killing cap-and-trade scheme. It starts with a public service announcement from a third-tier celebrity and ends with you scouring the earth to find a light bulb that lights something.

For you, the immoral-inclined, there is hope. According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans believe that government is too intrusive. Gallup data show that 57 percent of Americans say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals. Forty-five percent say there is too much government regulation, and only 27 percent say the amount of regulation is about right.

There is one question we all have to answer: What's more important, negligibly reducing "carbon pollution" through coercive policies or protecting personal freedom and allowing real markets to work? That's the trade-off. Parenting won't change the question.

Remember when George W. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, claimed that the president saw the American people "as we think about a 10-year-old child"? His comment, understandably, caused much mockery and disdain. The problem, apparently, wasn't the paternalist sentiment; it was the parent offering it. What we needed was a brainy, grown-up administration to harangue and regulate us into submission.



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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