Friday, October 09, 2009

NASA assuming what it has to prove -- as usual

The speaker reported below not only assumes that the Antarctic ice will melt but engages in outright deception when he says "A remarkable change is happening on Earth". That is the opposite of the truth. Given that the temperature rise across the entire 20th C was only a fraction of one degree, we in fact live in a time of exceptional temperature stability. Amusing, though, that he says of the change: "It's not an easy thing to observe"

NASA next week begins the most extensive aerial survey of Earth's surface to chart the impact of global warming, with six years of flights over Antarctica to understand the frozen continent's glaciers and ice sheets. The US space agency said the massive aerial survey, part of a program dubbed Operation Ice Bridge, will get underway on October 15.

Data gathered during the mission will help scientists predict how changes to the massive Antarctic ice sheet will contribute to a rise in sea levels around the world. Researchers will work from NASA's DC-8, an airborne laboratory equipped with laser mapping instruments, ice-penetrating radar and gravity instruments.

"A remarkable change is happening on Earth, truly one of the biggest changes in environmental conditions since the end of the ice age," said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It's not an easy thing to observe, let alone predict what might happen next. Studies like Ice Bridge are key," he said.

Space officials said the plane, crew and scientists depart October 12 from NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California, and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, where they will be based through mid-November.

Some 50 scientists and support personnel are part of the mission, which will involve 17 flights over the southern polar region.



In reference to an email from a non-panic-stricken Warmist that I put up yesterday, S. Fred Singer [] has emailed as follows:

Tom Fuller sounds reasonable -- that is, until you look more closely at his claim that a warming between 1975 and 1998 is evidence for AGW. He does not mention the well-established effects of solar variability.

There is no question that 1998 is a good deal warmer than 1975; his error is to draw a straight line between those two points and assume it is a GH-gas-produced 'trend.'

Far from it: Around 1976-77, we see a sudden climate warming, identified with a shift in the PDO-index. In 1998, we see an exceptionally large El Nino warming. There is hardly any trend between 1979 and, say, 1996 --while CO2 keeps increasing. This is quite apparent from the MSU satellite data. And according to GH models, the surface trend should be even less.

There are, of course, some publications that suggest such a trend, but they usually involve improper smoothing of the raw data; see, e.g., fig 2 of Duffy, Santer, and Wigley, in Physics Today, Jan 2009.

Fuller doesn't even mention, let alone discuss, the post-1998 absence of a warming trend, shown in the same figure, but ignored by the smoothing procedure.

The conclusion I would draw from all this is of an extremely small Climate Sensitivity -- not zero, of course, but close to it. It confirms the NIPCC result based on the independent 'fingerprint' method, applied to IPCC (and official CCSP) data; see figs 6-10 in "Nature - Not Human Activity - Rules the Climate"

To sum up: I don't share the view that GW is a problem.

The sun caused global warming in the past

So why not in more recent times?

Rocky deposits in caves in central China record the changes over time in the Asian Monsoon through the oxygen isotopic composition of the minerals from which they are formed. These deposits can be precisely dated and provide an absolute time line for climate system changes. Cheng et al. (p. 248; see the Perspective by Severinghaus) present oxygen isotope data from speleothems collected from Sanbao Cave, China, for the three glacial terminations that occurred between 120,000 and 350,000 years ago. The data reveal variations in the amount of precipitation delivered by the Asian Monsoon over time. Comparison of the timing of these changes with corresponding changes in ice core and marine sedimentary records provides mechanistic insights into how variations in insolation affect ice sheets and ice age terminations.


Journal abstract follows:

Ice Age Terminations

Hai Cheng et al.

230Th-dated oxygen isotope records of stalagmites from Sanbao Cave, China, characterize Asian Monsoon (AM) precipitation through the ends of the third- and fourthmost recent ice ages. As a result, AM records for the past four glacial terminations can now be precisely correlated with those from ice cores and marine sediments, establishing the timing and sequence of major events. In all four cases, observations are consistent with a classic Northern Hemisphere summer insolation intensity trigger for an initial retreat of northern ice sheets. Meltwater and icebergs entering the North Atlantic alter oceanic and atmospheric circulation and associated fluxes of heat and carbon, causing increases in atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperatures that drive the termination in the Southern Hemisphere. Increasing CO2 and summer insolation drive recession of northern ice sheets, with probable positive feedbacks between sea level and CO2.

Science, 2009, Vol. 326, no. 5950, pp. 248 - 252.


Senior G77 members walked out of a meeting during climate talks in the Thai capital saying they would not discuss a future without the Kyoto Protocol climate pact, delegates said on Wednesday.

South Africa's lead negotiator, China and OPEC countries left the informal session late on Tuesday that was discussing the shape of new climate agreement that would bind all nations in the fight against climate change.

Tensions have been rising during marathon U.N. climate talks in Bangkok that end on Friday over accusations rich nations are trying to kill off Kyoto, which binds 37 industrialised nations to emissions targets during its 2008-12 first commitment period.

The question negotiators are wrestling with is whether to extend Kyoto into a second commitment period from 2013, amend the pact or create a new one, a step many developing nations resist.

"The G77 is extremely concerned with the notion that there is a clear intention being shown that developed countries, who are party to the Kyoto Protocol, of not agreeing to new targets for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol," said Alf Wills, spokesman and lead negotiator for South Africa in the G77 of developing nations.

"The G77 rejects the notion and proposal to collapse or 'cut and paste the good parts of the Kyoto Protocol' (one wonders what the bad parts are) into a new single legal instrument under the Convention," Wills said in an email to Reuters, referring to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Kyoto Protocol falls under the convention. The United States is not part of Kyoto, failing to ratify it because the pact does not bind big developing nations to emissions targets. The United States is a party to the convention.

Negotiators in Bangkok are trying to find a formula that will bring the United States and developing nations into a framework that commits all nations to curb their emissions to prevent dangerous climate change.

The U.N. has set a December deadline for nations to agree to a broader pact at a major climate meeting in Copenhagen.


Feeling green while the poor starve

Of all the insanities committed in the name of green politics, one of the most insane is the production of biofuels from food crops. In pursuit of increased proportion of energy from renewable sources, governments have realized that wind and solar power cannot make sufficiently large contributions. They have therefore turned to biofuels, a move that hugely delights their farming lobbies.

Left at that, this might not have done too much damage outside of a massive misallocation of resources, but in a move that compounds insanity with thoughtless wickedness, they have chosen to do so out of food crops, rather than push forward the development of fuels from biological waste products such as husks, stalks and other cellulose surplus.

Now Robin Pagnamenta reports in the Times that "Britain's self-sufficiency in wheat will end next year because a giant new biofuel refinery needs so much of the staple crop that home-grown supplies will be exhausted." Yes, we are now buying wheat on world markets to turn into fuel that is more expensive than that we can buy elsewhere or pump out of North Sea wells. That puts upward pressure on world prices, forcing up the price of foodstuffs. To affluent people this will be an inconvenience; to the poor it might mean starvation.

We have, in effect, reintroduced the Corn Laws which were abolished in 1846, ensuring that the poor have to pay more for their bread as landowners and farmers benefit from higher prices. Well-to-do ladies driving their children to school in 4x4s can feel good that they are driving on 'green' fuel, even as people in poorer countries go hungry. Already there have been pasta protests in Italy and tortilla riots in Mexico, as poor people protest as the higher prices.

Why in the name of sanity and decency did governments not do the obvious thing and offer huge prizes to rush forward the development of biofuels from waste products instead? It has been achieved on small scale, and all it needs are the incentives and investment to roll it out on a larger scale. Biofuels from food crops is a profligate waste of precious food to satisfy green consciences, and the next government should pledge itself to stop it.


Australia's Warmist laws guaranteed to swell bureaucracy

Just what the country needs: Another army of tax-eating paper shufflers who produce nothing

ALTHOUGH the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme will put serious pressure on jobs in industries such as mining and agriculture, it will prove to be a significant boon for the federal public service.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's decision to stake his future on securing concessions from the government over its climate change legislation will do nothing to avert this, regardless of what he can wring at thebargaining table to protect jobs in these industries.

The government is already well advanced in establishing a super bureaucracy to administer compliance with these laws even though its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is still awaiting its fate in parliament.

At the heart of this is the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority, which will be supported by a new division created within the Department of Climate Change.

Informed sources say that about 100 staff and officials will initially be involved in this operation, but this is likely to blow out dramatically when the full implications of what will effectively amount to a federal consumption tax on carbon emissions become clear.

This new regulatory agency will have sweeping powers to enforce the government's climate change regime. It will also issue and auction emissions permits and collect the revenue from these. The bill to provide for this agency went up to a Senate committee inquiry earlier this year but it received little attention as the focus was largely on the scope of the CPRS proposals.

In the May budget the government said this new agency would take over the existing functions of other regulators, limiting the risk of conflict, streamlining procedures and reducing the burden for business. Farmers in NSW won't be holding their breaths for this eventuality, having just found their rates have jumped by up to 120per cent after the state government created a new rural super bureaucracy.

Media advertisements for the head of a division of stakeholder support and engagement within the Department of Climate Change give some insight into how this new structure will operate. The division will be responsible for "building communications, outreach, audit and compliance capabilities for ACCRA". The job description goes on to state the division will develop and manage relationships with key stakeholders and devise and implement a range of communications, education and marketing strategies to build confidence in the regulator's administrative processes that will, in turn, support effective regulation and "foster voluntary compliance".

But the terms of employment for members of the regulatory agency and its support division inside the department show that businesses will be expected to make available highly sensitive commercial information about their operations.

In fact, legislation to establish the regulatory body says that given the potential scope and sensitivity of commercial information that will now be collected, penalties for its unauthorised use and disclosure are essential. As a result people working in this area will require a secret security clearance.

All this looks strikingly like the way the Australian Taxation Office operates. For example, the ATO works on a system of self-assessment supported by audit. And it is in this latter area that the requirement for significant staff numbers is generated.

And in setting out the qualities it is looking for in the head of its stakeholder support and engagement division, the department says this person will need to understand the importance of audit and compliance functions that will underpin the effectiveness of its CPRS regulatory framework.

So where does this leave business? Well, apart from meeting endless state-based compliance requirements and filing an annual tax return as well as quarterly business assessment statements, it will now also have to complete an annual energy or environmental tax return.

Tomorrow night Turnbull will address a key business function in Melbourne organised by the Liberal Party. The $1100-a-head dinner was primarily designed as a rallying call for business to get behind the beleaguered party. But Turnbull's response to Rudd's ETS has, instead, increased speculation about his leadership abilities and the possibility of a damaging split in the parliamentary party.

Rather than looking for a way to bring the government and the opposition together on an ETS to avoid the consequences of a double dissolution, Turnbull should be detailing an alternative to what is a clearly flawed policy. More to the point, he should be outlining his broad strategy for a fight back to the Treasury benches.

The reality is that his approach to the ETS issue is just confirming the fears of many Liberals that the party has lost its point of difference and become an mirror image of the ALP.



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