Wednesday, November 18, 2009


An email from George Lloyd [] below

Chapter 15 of the Working Group 2 report in the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4) deals with the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. It draws heavily upon the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report (2005) (ACIA, 2005) and, indeed, praises ACIA, 2005 in the following words: "[ACIA, 2005]... has substantially improved the understanding of the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, is a benchmark for regional impact assessments, and may become the basis for a sustainable management plan for the Arctic."

Whist the document has clearly been around for some time I have seen very few references to it and, notwithstanding the clear bias of ACIA 2005 in favour of AGW, I believe your readers will find parts of it fascinating. In particular, chapter 2 "Arctic Climate: Past and Present" and, specifically, Section 2.7 "Arctic climate variability prior to 100 years BP" (pages 46 to 54) which documents the climate changes in the region from 2 million years ago up to the recent past.

The information on the Arctic climate during the Holocene (the past approx. 11,000 years to the present), some of which is summarised below, provides an interesting contrast with the alarmist views of today:

* climatic conditions were significantly warmer than today,

* marine mammals were present far north of their present day range,

* over most of Russia forests advanced to or near the Arctic coastline between 9 and 7 thousand years ago, and retreated to their present position by between 4 and 3 thousand years ago,

* during the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperature along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5 to 7 deg C warmer than present,

* the period from 1550 to 1900 may have been the coldest period in the entire Holocene... The Little Ice Age (LIA), during which glaciers advanced on all continents, and

* Glaciers started to retreat around 1850 but between 1880 and 1890 there were glacier advances. In the early 20th century, glacier recession continued, with interruptions by some periods of advance. The most rapid glacial retreat took place between the 1920s and 1940s.

Those of your readers interested in exploring ACIA, 2005 in greater detail will find it HERE

In practice, wind power does NOT reduce carbon emissions

The introduction to a very long and thorough study below:

Integrating random, highly variable wind energy into an electricity system presents substantial problems that subvert wind technology’s ability to offset the use of fossil fuels–and avoid air emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Measuring this accurately is important because many believe that wind projects significantly reduce such emissions.

This analysis finds that natural gas used as wind back-up in place of baseload or intermediate gas (in the absence of wind) results in approximately the same gas burn and an increase in related emissions, including CO2. Extrapolating from this example to the whole, the working hypothesis is that intermittent wind (and solar) are not effective CO2 mitigation strategies because of inefficiencies introduced by fast-ramping (inefficient) operation of gas turbines for firming otherwise intermittent and thus non-usable power.


In the absence of extensive real-time load dispatch analyses at finely grained time intervals capable of accurately and sufficiently assessing all the variables affecting electricity system behavior as wind energy penetration increases, I propose a method – a calculator – that captures a wide range of considerations. I am unaware of any previous attempt that is as inclusive as what I present here and welcome reader comments for improvements on the present framework or alternative approaches.

This model, or calculator, provides a framework for the considerations involved and an interim assessment of their effects until sufficiently comprehensive studies can be performed in the areas indicated. It shows the impact on fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to typical claims by wind proponents and other bodies, including some government policy makers. As it is parameter driven, the calculator allows examination of the sensitivity of these considerations. The result is that the typical claims are not supported, except by ignoring most of the following considerations:

* The amount of wind mirroring/shadowing backup required.

* Inefficient operation imposed on the mirroring/shadowing backup, in terms of both the fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, treated separately.

* The need to make comparisons, with respect to gas plants, of:

o Case A – The more efficient Combined Cycle plants (CCGT) operating alone, in other words without the presence of wind, versus;

o Case B – The appropriate mix of gas plant type used to balance wind’s volatile output. This includes the need to introduce less efficient, but faster-reacting, Open Cycle Gas Turbine gas plants (OCGT) to mirror/shadow the wind production, especially as wind penetration increases.

* The effect of reduced wind capacity factor.

* The effect of wind output exceeding 1-2 percentage points of a total electricity system, on a country or regional basis.

The framework used is similar to that of Warren Katzenstein and Jay Apt (see citations below). It focuses on the wind/gas plant combination and has general applicability. Additional considerations involving wind’s impact on other electricity system elements particular to a specific jurisdiction, such as baseload capacity as analyzed by Campbell, will have to be assessed separately and could have implications that further offset wind’s claimed benefits.

Much more HERE

Greenie madness destroys California farms

For Fresno and California's entire Central Valley, it should be the best of times. With the dollar weak and the world hungry, the exceptionally fertile fields along the Golden State highway should be producing record yields of grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Instead framers are struggling to keep even a third of their potential acreage in use. Mile after mile of parched land greets the approach to the city of 500,000. And angry signs along the roadside condemn the federal government that has cut off the valley's water.

The delta smelt, a small fish that makes its home in the vast Sacramento Delta, has been declared endangered. Since late last year the water lifeline from the north to the south has been reduced to a trickle.

The pumps that power the water to the farms have been stilled for months at a time so as to avoid sucking in smelt. The smelt's numbers have been reduced by many causes, but the one the federal government has decided to target is the pumps.

When Washington, D.C., ordered the water shut off, jobs went down the drain. Tens of thousands of farm jobs have been lost, and unemployment in some farming towns has hit 40 percent.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., posture about their concern (Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., can't even be bothered to meet with local officials), and the region's Democratic congressmen like Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa pledge action, but the president, his senior officials and congressional allies have done nothing. A new, man-made dust bowl is taking shape, and the devastation is palpable.

Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry was a guest on my broadcast from the city's downtown last week and told the audience about a food distribution day that drew 15,000 people. Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church spoke about the growing desperation among many in his flock.

Third-generation farmers admitted on air that they couldn't imagine how they could hold on to their farms if the water wasn't turned back and with the assurance of stability so the annual cycle of preparation and planting that must begin now can proceed backed by financing that wouldn't be forthcoming unless the banks see the near certainty that the water will flow throughout 2010.

President Obama doesn't need a jobs summit or a second stimulus to create thousands of jobs overnight. All he has to do is order -- order -- his staff to insist that the Congress include relief in the appropriations bills headed his way.

Or President Obama could order -- order -- Secretary Salazar to conduct a rapid review by serious science of the deeply politicized findings that led to the water cutoff. There is much suspicion about the agency's deliberations here that a National Academy of Sciences review of the data has been promised by Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, but it will take months and months to complete. The president could demand his team work like their jobs were in as much jeopardy as those in the valley.

Alternatively, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger could order that the restrictions on water delivery imposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 15, 2008, be lifted until an environmental impact statement is prepared by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation that wholly and fairly assesses the consequences of the service's job-destroying diktat. The judge ruled just last week that farmers and water agencies were entitled to summary judgment on their claim that the feds had acted contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act.

The court has scheduled a hearing on potential remedies for Nov. 24, two days before Thanksgiving. If he orders the suspension of the draconian "biological opinion" that imposed the water cutoff and mandated the drought, it will be a festive Thanksgiving in the valley.

Christmas will be brighter for tens of thousands of workers and farmers and their families who have seen their livelihoods imperiled by radical environmentalists and bogus "science." (Details on the hearing are available at But if the judge doesn't act and President Obama continues to give speeches and hold "summits" instead of ordering relief, a grim 2009 will turn into a catastrophic 2010.


It was the Sun wot done it. Or was it?

Interesting to see the following article in "The Times" of London

Like it or not, it will soon be time to start placing bets for a white Christmas. If most climatologists are to be believed you are almost certainly throwing your money away.

The onward march of global warming is consigning such traditional Christmas card scenes to history. No more deep and crisp and even winters for Britain, replaced instead by damp and slush and stormy.

But, if a small group of maverick scientists are right, the chances of Yuletide snow may rise dramatically over the coming decades.

The difference of opinion hinges on what role — if any — the Sun plays in climate change. The vast majority of climate scientists maintain that the solar influence is limited or even negligible, and it is the unsustainable growth of industrialised nations that is driving the climate into chaos. The mavericks contend that the Sun’s activity dwarfs the human contribution, and that there is nothing we can do except wait for the Sun to change.

The public seems to agree with the mavericks. In a recent poll for The Times, only 41 per cent of UK voters thought the case for man-made global warning had been proved. Now, by a quirk of nature, the Sun has presented us with a golden opportunity to resolve this debate once and for all.

Satellite measurements for the past 30 years show that the Sun’s energy output has remained remarkably constant. What is changing is the level of solar activity. Solar activity governs the appearance of sunspots — dark blemishes on the solar surface. Sunspots form where magnetism reaches out from the Sun into space. In times of high solar activity, sunspots pockmark the solar surface for years and the Sun’s magnetic field balloons outwards to shield the Earth from deep space particles called cosmic rays.

According to the mavericks, cosmic rays induce clouds to form when they strike our atmosphere and low-level clouds are thought to reflect sunlight, cooling the Earth. So, when solar activity is high, the Earth is protected from cosmic rays and fewer clouds are formed. Thus, more sunlight reaches Earth’s surface and the planet heats up.

But how to prove this? During the 20th century, solar activity rose steadily, as did the amount of industrial gases being pumped into the atmosphere. With both quantities rising, it has been impossible to distinguish between them. Now, that has all changed.

In the past 12 months solar activity has fallen to levels unseen since the 1920s. Sunspots have become rare sights and for three quarters of this year the Sun has been spot-free. According to one study if the trend continues at its current rate, the Sun will lose its ability to produce sunspots by 2015. That would take it back to its condition in the latter 17th century, when hardly any sunspots appeared for 70 years — and Northern Europe underwent the worst years of the so-called Little Ice Age.

Winter scenes from this period were romanticised by artists such as Brueghel painting frost fairs and hunting scenes. But was the 17th century sunspot crash responsible for the Little Ice Age or a coincidence? Could we now find ourselves plunged into a similar freeze if the sunspots do not return?

The answer to the latter is, presumably, yes if the Sun is solely responsible for climate change; no if the mainstream is correct and solar influence is negligible. With this in mind, tonight in Bruges, I am chairing a public debate for the sixth annual European Space Weather Week between world authorities on solar variability who represent all sides of this discussion and have differing opinions about the Sun’s influence on climate. Topping the agenda is the sunspot crash and the opportunity that it presents. The plunging solar activity level will effectively remove the solar influence on climate change. If we are vigilant and honest about any slowdown in warming, its amount will tell us exactly how much the Sun was contributing.

The smart money is on the level of solar contribution being somewhere between the two extremes. In other words, both solar activity and industrial gases play a role. There is credible scientific work that ascribes up to a third of current warming to solar influence. Studies show that the Earth’s temperature mirrored solar activity until the 1980s. Then the number of sunspots stabilised but the temperature continued to rise. In other words, something overtook the Sun as the primary driver of the Earth’s temperature. That is generally thought to be industrial gases.

Now the test can be made. It is time for all sides to put away the rivalry and begin to work together. Observations must be made, experiments performed and all data must be published, not cherry-picked. This golden opportunity to reach consensus must not be squandered.

Above all, we must not let any downturn in temperatures be used as an excuse by reluctant nations to wriggle out of pollution controls. Just as certainly as the solar activity has gone away, so it will return. If we have done nothing in the interim to curb man-made global warming, we will be in worse trouble than ever.


Elevating environmentalism over ‘less worthy’ lifestyles

The legal ruling that a belief in climate change is similar to a religious conviction seriously damages science, philosophy and democracy

Some scientists are bemused that a British judge has decided that a strong belief in alarmist climate-change scenarios ought to be awarded the status of religious faith. Following a judge’s decision at a UK employment tribunal that Tim Nicholson, a sustainability officer who was sacked from a property firm, was entitled to legal protection for his ‘philosophical belief’ in climate change, scientists have been expressing their shock. ‘As a scientist who works on climate change, I find it deeply alarming’, said Myles Allen, who heads the Climate Dynamics group at the University of Oxford (1).

Allen’s concerns are entirely understandable. Since the rise of the modern era, science has prided itself on its capacity to explain the world on the basis of experimentation, research and, above all, hard evidence. Science emerged, self-consciously, as an alternative to worldviews based on faith, moral conviction and other forms of a priori thought. So it is natural that a genuine scientist would feel insulted by the judge Sir Michael Burton’s ruling that Nicholson’s concern with climate change qualified as a ‘philosophical belief’ under the Religion and Belief Regulations 2003.

One reason why Allen and some of his colleagues are concerned about this decision is that it actually serves to undermine the pre-eminent authority of science today. In the twenty-first century, science has a near monopoly on authorising claims about virtually every aspect of human experience. We are far more interested in what ‘science says’ than in what ‘God says’. Consequently, even those who are sceptical about science and the scientific method will nevertheless mobilise these things to support their arguments. Not long ago, in the 1970s and 80s, leading environmentalists insisted that science was undemocratic, that it was responsible for many of the problems facing the planet. Now, in public at least, their hostility towards science has given way to their embrace and endorsement of science. The global warming lobby depends on the legitimation provided by scientific evidence and expertise.

However, if science is recast by a legal ruling as simply a moral or religious worldview, then its pre-eminent authority is likely to be compromised. What is to distinguish science from quacks with strongly held principles?

The erosion of the line between science and moralising has not simply been brought about by one eccentric judge. In recent times more than a few scientists have found it difficult to resist the temptation to cross the line into domain of public moralising. Take the case of Professor David Nutt, the expert recently sacked from the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. As a scientist, he is entitled to point to evidence which unequivocally calls into question the government’s policy on drugs. But Nutt is not prepared to confine his role to that of a disinterested scientist; he also wants to be a moral crusader fighting against the scourge of alcohol.

‘I want parents to know alcohol will kill your kids, not ecstasy’, said Nutt last week, before insisting that the minimum drinking age should be increased to 21 (2). Nutt obviously has strong views on the subject of the minimum age of drinking, but these views are based on his personal moral attitude, not on science. The way in which Nutt can quite easily make a conceptual leap from scientific evidence to the domain of moral and political decision-making is symptomatic of a powerful trend today: the transformation of science into an ideology, if not a dogma.

Indeed, science often has the quality of a quasi-religious dogma these days, especially in the arena of climate-change alarmism. ‘The scientists have spoken’, says one British-based green campaign group, in an updated version of the religious phrase: ‘This is the Word of the Lord.’ ‘This is what the science says we must do’, many greens claim, before adding that the debate about global warming is ‘finished’.

As I have argued previously on spiked, campaigners against climate change frequently prefix the term science with the definite article, ‘the’. So Sir David Read, a former vice president of the prestigious scientific institution the Royal Society, stated: ‘The science very clearly points towards the need for us all – nations, businesses and individuals – to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.’ (3) Unlike ‘science’, this new term – ‘The Science’ – is a deeply moralised and politicised category. Today, those who claim to wield the authority of The Science are really demanding unquestioning submission. The legal ruling that someone’s belief in the behaviour modification demanded by climate-change activists should have the status of a religious conviction shows how much The Science now influences Britain’s legal culture.

Although some scientists feel insulted that their views on climate change have been equated with a religion, there are many green activists who are more than happy to recruit the support of God to their cause. One blogger says ‘thinking about environmentalism as if it were a religion is an interesting way to go’. Why? Because religion ‘looks a lot more successful at achieving its aim worldwide than the environmental movement’ (4). Tim Nicholson wants to have both God and Science on his team. After the judgement he noted that ‘my moral and ethical values are similar to those promoted by many of the world’s religions’. However, he also added that ‘the difference is mine are not faith-based or spiritual, but grounded in overwhelming scientific evidence’.

Whether this ‘philosophy’ presents itself as science with a bit of religion, or as a religion based on science, appears to be a matter of personal opinion amongst campaigners, all of whom seem to believe that their cause is far too important for them to worry about opportunistic inconsistencies in argumentation.

Giving philosophy a bad name

When the law was changed to protect people from discrimination at work on the basis of their beliefs, many humanist and secular commentators believed this was a positive step forward. And some argued that philosophical beliefs ought to be accorded the same rights as religious beliefs. Unfortunately, what many supporters of the change in the law did not grasp was that if secular views were also transformed into ‘weighty and substantial’ beliefs, they would in effect become a form of pseudo-religion. This development is particularly striking in the way in which philosophy has been recast as religion-lite.

From the standpoint of Mr Justice Burton, adherence to climate-change theory is a philosophical belief because it is a view that is genuinely and deeply held. But where is the philosophy in all this? It is possible to argue that climate-change theory is inspired by a distinct epistemology and teleology and influenced by ethical and moral concerns. But in and of itself the belief in recycling and reducing consumption is not a philosophy.

Philosophy raises fundamental questions about the meaning of human existence. It engages with fundamental issues that underpin the sciences and public debate. Strictly speaking, the term ‘philosophical belief’ makes little sense, because philosophy is principally devoted to the task of asking questions and speculating about things, rather than providing answers. Philosophy is devoted to the quest for the truth in its quest for wisdom. It is not a secular form of religion. It does not rely on religious revelation for guidance, nor does it thrive when its search for answers is compromised by an adherence to a priori beliefs.

Such beliefs may arise out of a philosophical inquiry, but these beliefs do not constitute a philosophy as such. The term that Mr Justice Burton is really looking for to describe the beliefs and behaviour of climate-change crusaders is not philosophy or religion, but lifestyle.

The sacralisation of lifestyle

The decision to provide environmentalist arguments with the protection of the law, in a manner akin to that afforded to religion, demonstrates that the legal and political elites have lost their way. But it is important not to take too seriously the arguments used to support this decision. Strongly held moral views about the conduct of life have never been the essence of religions alone. In previous times, such sentiments informed political ideals and cultural movements. Today, the beliefs and practices advocated by Nicholson are part of his lifestyle. Yes, we take our lifestyles very seriously: what we eat, how we look or travel and whom we sleep with define many people’s identities. But in a world where there are a multitude of lifestyles, all of which have assumed great significance, it is not possible to treat them all as quasi-religions.

To qualify for protection under the Equality and Employment (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, a philosophical belief must be ‘genuinely held’, be about a ‘weighty and substantial’ aspect of human experience, possess ‘seriousness, cohesion and importance’, and be ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’. This last point is most significant. Who decides which strongly held view is ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’? Certainly our legal and cultural elites have clear assumptions about which views are worthy of respect, and which are not. So last week we discovered that, under new proposals from the New Labour government, parents who are hostile to the provision of sex education in schools are not ‘worthy of respect’ despite the fact that their views are informed by genuine and deeply held convictions – their ability to withdraw their children from sex-education classes will be restricted.

Some forms of lifestyles are protected, or at least sacralised, by law, while others are stigmatised. So Christians who, in keeping with their beliefs, refuse to perform same-sex marriages are unlikely to gain legal protection, even though they express traditionally recognised religious convictions. However, those whose conscience does not allow them fly on Ryanair will now enjoy legal privileges and dispensation that are not accorded to their morally inferior colleagues. The sacralisation of elite-approved lifestyles creates a double standard that directly contradicts democratic norms.

Those who hold strongly held environmentalist views even have a semi-official mandate to break the law these days. Protesters against genetically modified (GM) food or nuclear power are often represented as idealist young people who are acting on ‘everyone’s behalf’. In truth, being part of the British political oligarchy, they have the kind of freedom to protest that is usually denied to ordinary mortals. That is why such protesters who break the law often face a sympathetic court hearing and win ‘not guilty’ verdicts (see State-sanctioned radicalism, by Brendan O’Neill).

So when Lord Melchett, the aristocratic former leader of Greenpeace, was arrested for criminal damage and theft after taking part in a protest against GM crops, he was genuinely shocked by his treatment. As far as he was concerned, his action was a ‘direct expression of “people’s power”’. Greenpeace, the self-appointed voice of the British people, described its action as an exercise in ‘active citizenship’ which ‘keeps democracy healthy and responsive’.

Melchett, like many other leading lobbyists, has an elitist notion of democracy, one driven by a conviction that, if they believe that something is wrong, then waiting for an unresponsive political system to do something about it is a luxury that society cannot afford. Professional environmental protesters assume that they have the moral authority to take matters into their own hands, since they are acting on behalf of The People. They believe that their unique philosophical insights entitle them to special dispensation. Now, Mr Justice Burton has effectively agreed with them, elevating environmentalism over other, inferior, less ‘worthy’ beliefs – and democracy is all the more impoverished for it.


The silly prophecies never stop coming

An absurd premise leads to an absurd conclusion again: Global warming threatens to rob Italy of durum wheat used to make pasta, says leaky Jonathan. They'd be better off importing cheaper Australian durum wheat anyway

Scientists will this week warn that Italy may be forced to import the basic ingredients for pasta, its national food, because climate change will make it impossible to grow durum wheat.

In a report to be released by the Met Office tomorrow, scientists predict that Italy’s durum yields will start to decline from 2020 and the crop will almost disappear from the country later this century.

The report will say: “Projected climate changes in this region, in particular rising temperature and decreasing rainfall, may seriously compromise wheat yields.”

The warning is the latest example of the impact climate change could have on lifestyles and diets across Europe. It has emerged from the five-year Ensembles project, an EU-sponsored study straddling 66 research centres in 20 countries across Europe.

The project has been led by the Met Office which will host a conference to unveil its findings this week.

The aim was to combine the power of various super-computers used to predict climate by different research groups across Europe. This would enable the researchers to generate climate projections for particular countries and regions.

One element involved predicting how rising temperatures and changing rainfall might affect food production. Italy was chosen as a case study because it is a leading food producer and its southerly position means it is especially vulnerable to temperature rises.

The same report will deliver similar warnings about potato and wheat growing in Poland, which supplies other parts of the European Union. The study contradicts earlier research which suggested rising levels of CO2 might boost crop yields.

Plants use CO2 as a raw material for building the proteins and carbohydrates needed to survive and grow. The Ensembles project found that this effect would be outweighed by the damaging impact of climate change.

Paul van der Linden, director of Ensembles, who is based at the Met Office, said: “We have looked at a small number of crops but many others could experience similar declines as Europe gets hotter and drier summers.”

It reinforces earlier research suggesting climate change may leave France unable to produce many of its leading wines, including champagne.

Similarly, Spain may also be unable to retain its position as a leading producer of fruit and vegetables because rising temperatures are predicted to turn much of the country into desert.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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