Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Al Gore, the scientist

Political scientist only, it would seem

Note Al Gore's recent rant about earth's core being several million degrees...SEVERAL MILLION DEGREES!?‏ See here where Al Gore tells O'Brien (at 40 seconds): "the earth's core is "several million degrees."

Not hardly, Al, you doofus. The core of the earth is "only" about 10,000 degrees F. (5700 K; 5400 C)

Besides, we've already been using geothermal energy for years in easily accessible places where it vents to the earth's surface; it's not new.

Regardless, Libs will forgive his pure ignorance because, after all, "he means well." Intelligent folks will further question his motivations (besides smarts) for pursuing CO2 so vigorously. (Income he gets from selling books, carbon credits and speeches on Catastrophic AGW, perhaps?)

Of course, we now we also understand his rants on supposed Manmade Global Warming/Climate Change; he really doesn't understand temperature differences.

Global warming traps icebreaker

It got stuck last year too -- in ice that was not supposed to be there

More than 100 penguin-loving tourists including dozens from Britain are trapped by ice off Antarctica aboard a Russian ice-breaker cruise ship, officials and the tour operator said on Monday. The Kapitan Khlebnikov is in a bay near Snow Hill island, located off the northeastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, and cannot leave as the bay is sealed off with ice, the Russian transportation ministry said.

"The wind has currently slowed down in the area and the massing of the ice has ended. Everything is calm aboard the ice-breaker, nothing is threatening the passengers and crew," the ministry said in a statement. "When the wind changes to a favourable direction, the ice-breaker will head into clear water and on to the port of Ushuaia," at the extreme southern end of Argentina, the ministry predicted.

There were 105 passengers aboard the vessel and the total delay in the ship's scheduled trip could be around two days, it added. The ship has been at its current location for four days, German Kuzin, an official with the Far Eastern Shipping Company, the ship's owner, said in televised remarks. "There's nothing to worry about there," Kuzin said. "To put it plainly, the ship got stuck between an island and an ice massif."

Many of the passengers are Britons who paid more than STG10,000 ($A17,901.9) for a tour whose highlight was seeing emperor penguins on Snow Hill island, according to Exodus, a British tour operator. Around 50 mostly British passengers booked their tours through Exodus and have been well cared-for while the ship has been stuck, Rob Dixon, a spokesman for Exodus, told AFP by telephone from London. "There's a lot of entertainment on board," Dixon said. He said the weather was improving and predicted the ship would reach Ushaia by the end of this week, two or three days behind schedule. "They've certainly seen the penguins they came to see," Dixon added, noting that passengers had been able to leave the ship by helicopter.

Others aboard the ship included a three-person BBC television crew filming a documentary called The Frozen Planet, a spokeswoman for the British television network said in London. "Everyone's fit and well, there's no cause for concern, and they're filming today," she said, noting that they were filming emperor penguins for Frozen Planet, a BBC nature documentary series due to be aired in 2011.

Amenities aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov include a swimming pool, a sauna and a bar operated by a professional bartender, according to the website of US-based tourism firm Quark Expeditions. The ship is "a polar-class icebreaker, combining power and technology with creature comforts", said Quark Expeditions, which leases the ship from Russia's Far Eastern Shipping Company.


Tipping points galore

Not again! Another 10-year climate 'tipping point' warning issued -- Despite fact that UN began 10-Year 'Climate Tipping Point' in 1989!

Once again, the world is being warned of a climate “tipping point.” The latest bout of stern warnings comes from the UK Met Office: 'World has only ten years to control global warming, warns Met Office - UK Telegraph – November 15, 2009

Excerpt: Pollution needs to be brought under control within ten years to stop runaway climate change, according to the latest Met Office predictions. [...] "To limit global mean temperature [increases] to below 2C, implied emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere at the end of the century fall close to zero in most cases."

Inconvenient History of Climate 'Tipping Point' Warnings:

As early as 1989, the UN was already trying to sell their “tipping point” rhetoric on the public. See: U.N. Warning of 10-Year 'Climate Tipping Point' Began in 1989 – Excerpt: According to July 5, 1989, article in the Miami Herald, the then-director of the New York office of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Noel Brown, warned of a “10-year window of opportunity to solve” global warming. According to the 1989 article, “A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of 'eco-refugees,' threatening political chaos.” (LINK) & (LINK)

NASA scientist James Hansen has been warning of a “tipping point” for years now. See: Earth's Climate Approaches Dangerous Tipping Point – June 1, 2007 – Excerpt: A stern warning that global warming is nearing an irreversible tipping point was issued today” by James Hansen.

Former Vice President Al Gore invented his own “tipping point” clock a few years ago. Excerpt: Former Vice-President Al Gore came to Washington on July 17, 2008, to deliver yet another speech warning of the “climate crisis.” “The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis,” Gore stated.

Prince Charles claimed a 96-month tipping point in July 2009. Excerpt: The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James's Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world. And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the "age of convenience" was over.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon further shortened the "tipping point" in August 2009, when he warned of 'incalculable' suffering without climate deal in December 2009!

Newsweek magazine waded into the tipping point claims as well. Newsweek wrote: "The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." But, Newsweek's "tipping point" quote appeared in a April 28, 1975 article about global cooling! Same rhetoric, different eco-scare.

UK Scientist Philip Stott ridiculed “tipping point” claims in 2007. Excerpt: In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning regularly for the last fifty or so years. We have been serially doomed. [...] Our post-modern period of climate change angst can probably be traced back to the late-1960s, if not earlier. By 1973, and the 'global cooling' scare, it was in full swing, with predictions of the imminent collapse of the world within ten to twenty years, exacerbated by the impacts of a nuclear winter. Environmentalists were warning that, by the year 2000, the population of the US would have fallen to only 22 million [the 2007 population estimate is 302,824,000]. [...] In 1987, the scare abruptly changed to 'global warming', and the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was established (1988), issuing its first assessment report in 1990, which served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

More HERE (See the original for links)

CERN looking at effect of cosmic rays on clouds and hence climate

While CERN's vast Large Hadron Collider accelerator gathers all the headlines - allowing humble hacks to become Hollywood blockbuster scriptwriters - an ancient piece of atom hardware is beginning experiments that may prove to be of significance.

CERN's much-anticipated CLOUD experiment has begun, the atom lab says. Using the 50-year-old Proton Synchrotron, the experiment simulates cosmic rays passing through the earth's atmosphere, and hopes to reveal the extent to which the constant background drizzle of charged particles plays a role in cloud formation. Earlier experiments have suggested that ionisation causes clouds to "seed" - and that ionisation is influenced by the type and quantity of cosmic rays that reach the earth.

Both the sun and the earth's magnetic fields act as umbrellas, protecting the surface from the high energy particles, although two particles still reach the surface per second. But small changes in the cosmic ray flux produce significant changes in cloud cover. When fewer cosmic rays reach earth, the planet's climate is warmer, when more reach earth, the climate cools.

"So marked is the response to relatively small variations in the total ionization, we suspect that a large fraction of Earth's clouds could be controlled by ionisation," noted Danish scientist Henrik Svesmark this summer. Svensmark has pioneered the research using smaller experiments, but has waited over a decade to see it tested on such a scale.

Much of the recent interest comes from climate watchers. Clouds are one of the biggest factors in determining global surface temperature, but the UN's IPCC admits the level of scientific understanding of them is poor.

The cosmic ray effect - a factor of the background CBR bombardment itself, and the relative strength of the earth and the Sun's magnetic shields - shows a strong correlation between temperature, CBR and is extraordinary. Here's the relationship over the short term - around 2,000 years.

And here's the correlation into deep time, with CO2 as a comparison.

In addition, "deep freezes" in the Earth's temperatures have coincided with short-lived but intense bursts of cosmic ray activity. Modulation is thought to reflect the Sun's passage through spiral arms of the Milky Way, and also the Sun's oscillation in relation to the plane of the galaxy. The Sun bobs up and down 2.7 times per orbit.

CERN became involved when a visiting lecture by former New Scientist editor Nigel Calder was attended by Jason Kirkby - CLOUD's project leader. It's taken 12 years to fire up the particles for this major test. CERN has an interview with Kirby here.


Does Britain's Green craziness ever stop?

Greenies used to LIKE trees once

Britain is set to plunder the lungs of the world to feed its growing hunger for wood to burn in power stations. A series of biomass-fired plants are being built in the UK that will trigger a 150 per cent surge in timber imports from 20 million tonnes today to 50 million tonnes by 2015, according to the Forestry Commission. British power plants are already shipping wood from Canada, Brazil, Scandinavia and South Korea.

Just one of the new biomass plants at Port Talbot, South Wales, will consume three million tonnes of wood per year — equivalent to 30 per cent of the UK’s domestic annual wood harvest of ten million tonnes. But the plant, which is due to open in 2012, will generate only 300 megawatt hours of electricity, or about 0.4 per cent of the UK's current power-generating capacity. At least four more 300-megawatt plants are planned, including three in Yorkshire that have been proposed by Drax, operator of Britain’s largest coal-fired power station. Another company, MGT, plans to build one on Teesside.

A spokesman for Prenergy, which is behind the Port Talbot plant, said 90 per cent of its wood supplies would be imported, although he insisted that all of it would be sourced from proven sustainable sources.

Nevertheless, environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the carbon emissions involved in shipping the wood such large distances, while to meet UK pest control laws the timber will need to be baked before it can be shipped to the UK.

Wood industry officials have warned that British families could face soaring prices for a range of wood-based products, including furniture, wood panels and even wallpaper because of its impact on low-grade timber and wood pulp prices. “It’s going to push timber prices through the roof,” said Gavin Adkins, chairman of the Wood Panel Industry Federation. He is concerned that large parts of the £1 billion industry that rely on wood as its main raw material will be forced offshore.

Although wood prices have moderated during the recession, rapid growth in demand had led to a 25 per cent rise since 2007, Mr Adkins said. “We operate in a low-margin industry and our ability to absorb such increases in raw material costs is limited. Inevitably these costs will have to be passed on to the consumer. Obviously, the timing could not be worse for the construction industry, which has been seriously hit in this recession.”

He said the number of jobs that may be lost was causing concerns for companies in the saw-milling, wood-panel and paper and pulp industries. The federation is lobbying for the biomass industry, which is supported by a government subsidy regime, to be given extra incentives to use waste wood instead of virgin timber for fuel. An estimated 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood are landfilled in the UK each year, according to government estimates.

A recent report from the Environment Agency stated that shipping timber from overseas could halve the potential carbon dioxide savings from biomass power.


Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing the Public on Climate Change

An amusing lament from Greenies Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger excerpted below. The one explanation for climate skepticism that they fail to consider is that the evidence for man-made global warming is just not there. A horse in blinkers would see more than they do

Last month, the Pew Research Center released its latest poll of public attitudes on global warming. On its face, the news was not good: Belief that global warming is occurring had declined from 71 percent in April of 2008 to 56 percent in October — an astonishing drop in just 18 months. The belief that global warming is human-caused declined from 47 percent to 36 percent.

While some pollsters questioned these numbers, the Pew statistics are consistent with the findings by Gallup in March that public concern about global warming had declined, that the number of Americans who believed that news about global warming was exaggerated had increased, and that the number of Americans who believed that the effects of global warming had already begun had declined.

The reasons offered for these declines are as varied as opinion about climate change itself. Skeptics say the gig is up: Americans have finally figured out that global warming is a hoax. Climate activists blame skeptics for sowing doubts about climate science. Pew’s Andrew Kohut, who conducted the survey, says it’s (mostly) the economy, stupid. And some folks have concluded that Americans, with our high levels of disbelief in evolution, are just too stupid or too anti-science to sort it all out.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated. It is simpler in the sense that most Americans just aren’t paying a whole lot of attention. Between being asked about things like whether they would provide CPR to save the life of a pet (most pet owners say yes) or whether they would allow their child to be given the swine flu vaccine (a third of parents say no), pollsters occasionally get around to asking Americans what they think about global warming. When they do, Americans find a variety of ways to tell us that they don’t think about it very much at all.

Three years after it seemed that “An Inconvenient Truth” had changed everything, it turns out that it didn’t. The current Pew survey is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that Al Gore probably had a good deal more effect upon elite opinion than public opinion.

Public opinion about global warming, it turns out, has been remarkably stable for the better part of two decades, despite the recent decline in expressed public confidence in climate science. Roughly two-thirds of Americans have consistently told pollsters that global warming is occurring. By about the same majority, most Americans agree that global warming is at least in part human-caused, with this majority roughly equally divided between those believing that warming is entirely caused by humans and those who believe it to be a combination of human and natural causes. And about the same two-thirds majority has consistently supported government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 1989.

This would be good news for action to address climate change if most Americans felt very strongly about the subject. Unfortunately, they don’t. Looking back over 20 years, only about 35 to 40 percent of the U.S. public worry about global warming “a great deal,” and only about one-third consider it a “serious personal threat.” Moreover, when asked in open-ended formats to name the most serious problems facing the country, virtually no Americans volunteer global warming. Even other environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, are often rated higher priorities by U.S. voters than global warming, which is less visible and is experienced less personally than many other problems.

What is arguably most remarkable about U.S. public opinion on global warming has been both its stability and its inelasticity in response to new developments, greater scientific understanding of the problem, and greater attention from both the media and politicians. Public opinion about global warming has remained largely unchanged through periods of intensive media attention and periods of neglect, good economic times and bad, the relatively activist Clinton years and the skeptical Bush years. And majorities of Americans have, at least in principle, consistently supported government action to do something about global warming even if they were not entirely sold that the science was settled, suggesting that public understanding and acceptance of climate science may not be a precondition for supporting action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The more complicated questions have to do with why. Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed? Why has two decades of education and advocacy about climate change had so little discernible impact on public opinion? And why, at the height of media coverage and publicity about global warming in the years after the release of Gore’s movie, did confidence in climate science actually appear to decline?

Political psychology can help us answer these questions. First, climate change seems tailor-made to be a low priority for most people. The threat is distant in both time and space. It is difficult to visualize. And it is difficult to identify a clearly defined enemy. Coal executives may deny that global warming exists, but at the end of the day they’re just in it for a buck, not hiding in caves in Pakistan plotting new and exotic ways to kill us.

Second, the dominant climate change solutions run up against established ideologies and identities. Consider the psychological concept of “system justification.” System justification theory builds upon earlier work on ego justification and group justification to suggest that many people have a psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order, whatever it may be. This need manifests itself, not surprisingly, in the strong tendency to perceive existing social relations as fair, legitimate, and desirable, even in contexts in which those relations substantively disadvantage the person involved.

Many observers have suggested that Gore’s leading role in the global warming debate has had much to do with the rising partisan polarization around the issue. And while this almost certainly has played a part, it is worth considering that there may be other significant psychological dynamics at play as well.

Dr. John Jost, a leading political psychologist at New York University, recently demonstrated that much of the partisan divide on global warming can be explained by system justification theory. Calls for economic sacrifice, major changes to our lifestyles, and the immorality of continuing “business as usual” — such as going on about the business of our daily lives in the face of looming ecological catastrophe — are almost tailor-made to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

Combine these two psychological phenomena — a low sense of imminent threat (what psychologists call low-threat salience) and system justification — and what you get is public opinion that is highly resistant to education or persuasion. Most Americans aren’t alarmed enough to pay much attention, and efforts to raise the volume simply trigger system-justifying responses. The lesson of recent years would appear to be that apocalyptic threats — when their impacts are relatively far off in the future, difficult to imagine or visualize, and emanate from everyday activities, not an external and hostile source — are not easily acknowledged and are unlikely to become priority concerns for most people. In fact, the louder and more alarmed climate advocates become in these efforts, the more they polarize the issue, driving away a conservative or moderate for every liberal they recruit to the cause.

These same efforts to increase salience through offering increasingly dire prognosis about the fate of the planet (and humanity) have also probably undermined public confidence in climate science. Rather than galvanizing public demand for difficult and far-reaching action, apocalyptic visions of global warming disaster have led many Americans to question the science. Having been told that climate science demands that we fundamentally change our way of life, many Americans have, not surprisingly, concluded that the problem is not with their lifestyles but with what they’ve been told about the science. And in this they are not entirely wrong, insofar as some prominent climate advocates, in their zeal to promote action, have made representations about the state of climate science that go well beyond any established scientific consensus on the subject, hyping the most dire scenarios and most extreme recent studies, which are often at odds with the consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

These factors predate but appear to have been exacerbated by recession. Pew’s pollster Kohut points to evidence indicating that the recession has led many Americans to prioritize economic over environmental concerns...

Perhaps we should give the American public a little more credit. They may not know climate science very well, but they are not going to be muscled into accepting apocalyptic visions about our planetary future — or embracing calls to radically transform “our way of life” — just because environmentalists or climate scientists tell them they must. They typically give less credit to expert opinion than do educated elites, and those of us who tend to pay more attention to these questions would do well to remember that expert opinion and indeed, expert consensus, has tended to have a less sterling track record than most of us might like to admit....



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