Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NOAA deletes an “inconvenient” kids science web page

Hadley CRU isn’t the only government agency that deletes web content related to climate. NOAA/NWS Southern Region Headquarters has gotten into the act. An interesting thing happened today. NOAA deleted an educational web page about an experiment you can do with CO2.

Ordinarily such a thing would go unnoticed, especially since it doesn’t impact anything particularly important like policy, or climate data. It’s just an experiment for kids in the classroom.
Fortunately, I still had the web page open in my browser. I had been looking at it yesterday, and I had been thinking I might try the experiment myself with a datalogging thermometer, just for fun. Here’s the web page as it was open in my browser:


click pic for full size image

And here is what the same URL looks like now:

click pic for full size image

You can try it out for yourself:

What could cause NOAA to pull a web page like this on a moment’s notice? Two things.

1 It was featured on Climate Depot yesterday.

2 It had this passage that must not have agreed with somebody higher up in the NOAA food chain:
It has been thought that an increase in carbon dioxide will lead to global warming. While carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing over the past 100 years, there is no evidence that it is causing an increase in global temperatures.

Or maybe it was this one:
The behavior of the atmosphere is extremely complex. Therefore, discovering the validity of global warming is complex as well. How much effect will the increase in carbon dioxide will have is unclear or even if we recognize the effects of any increase.

So rather than corrupt young minds with a simple science experiment with some inconvenient language attached to it, NOAA simply deleted it. Of course nothing is really deleted on the Internet anymore. NOAA looks pretty silly thinking it would go away with a simple delete. The Wayback machine has the missing web page for posterity:


Is Global Warmism Real? What politicians actually DO suggests that they secretly don't believe in it

This item asks not if global warming is real but if global warmism is real. That is, does anyone actually believe all the alarmist talk we've been hearing for upward of two decades now? We were prompted to ponder this by an article in "Der Spiegel", which suggests that next month's Copenhagen conference on "climate change" is likely to be a bust:
[Germany's Chancellor] Angela Merkel is blocking aid commitments for climate protection and risking the failure of a global deal in Copenhagen. The chancellor is squandering an opportunity to demonstrate European leadership and show Barack Obama what it really means to be a "citizen of the world."

She was once celebrated as the "Climate Chancellor" and seen as an important campaigner for the environment on the international political stage. Now it appears that it is Angela Merkel, of all people, who is dealing a death blow to international climate deals--by navigating a shortsighted course within the European Union.

Merkel, it seems has "enraged environmentalists" by opposing massive transfer payments from European Union nations to Third World countries for "environmental projects":
Such funds should help to cover the additional costs of setting up renewable energy forms, more efficient technologies and green infrastructures in developing countries. Only in that way can it be guaranteed that the most environmentally nondestructive technologies are implemented globally, to put a halt on catastrophic climate change, its advocates say. The talk is of €20 billion ($30 billion) starting immediately, then €50 billion from 2016 and €100 billion annually from 2020. This extra burden should be covered by the US, the EU and Japan.

Merkel's decision to block a concrete financial pledge will not exactly boost enthusiasm in other parts of the world--rather it will dampen it. When delays are created by the Europeans, who always pride themselves on being frontrunners in climate protection, then the US and China can get away with not making any progress.

Everyone always talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it! Politicians consistently act as if they don't take seriously the warnings about impending climate "catastrophe." It's possible that they do believe the warnings but are politically constrained from doing what it would supposedly take to avert it. But if they are so constrained, it is because voters act as if they don't take the warnings seriously.

Maybe it's all just a massive political failure, as a result of which we'll all roast to death in a few years. Stranger things have happened. Then again, maybe this is an emperor's-new-clothes situation in which people who aren't actually fooled by the underlying claim are convinced nonetheless that it's not respectable to let anyone know.


Weathering Congress, global warming

Weather changed. People died. They called it the “Little Ice-Age,” a period that spanned the mid-1600s. As global temperatures dropped, the number and frequency of wars rose. Worldwide mortality rates increased. Famines struck across Asia. The pattern of human misery seemed so significant that, about 300 years later, historian Eric Hobsbawm labeled it “the 17th century crisis.”

This summary is not meant as a cautionary tale about the grave dangers of climate change. Quite the opposite. It’s offered as a warning not to run lemminglike off a cliff as we grapple with global warming. What history actually teaches us is that trying to predict the long-term consequences of changes between humans and their environment is a march of folly. The 17th-century crisis is a good example. It was not a century of nonstop crisis. It was, in fact, a mixed bag.

Yes, the tempo of war increased. But the era also experienced an explosion of scientific and intellectual creativity. And it ushered in an economic expansion and increased political stability that produced future superpowers like Britain and France.

Furthermore, after studying “the century” for centuries, scholars are still not sure what caused what. The failure to construct a compelling explanation of the past has left many skeptical of any “social-scientific” explanation of history, let alone the ability of such theories to predict the future.

Jared Diamond’s highly regarded history, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” explains why predictions are folly. Diamond lists a daunting 12 factors that historically contributed to the collapse of a society. And, he can explain how they affected one another in each of his case studies only with the hindsight gained through hundreds of years of historical and archaeological research. “Collapse” illustrates the immense difficulty of mapping cause and effect in complex human-environment systems. Additionally, our ability to apply these “lessons” to the future is greatly complicated by the fact that both human institutions and the natural environment are continually changing and changing each other.

In short, it is virtually impossible to predict the long-term consequence of humans and climate change. That ought to give Congress pause when it hears arguments it must pass a cap-and-trade bill or bear the blame for sparking Armageddon.

The premise behind cap and trade is that the United States must impose a complex energy tax scheme to penalize businesses and other outfits (like, say, schools and nonprofit hospitals) that emit “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. Proponents argue that this highly expensive approach to reducing man-made carbon emissions is needed to avoid adverse climate changes.

Failure to do so, they claim, will leave us to the mercy of future natural disasters that will yield unprecedented humanitarian crises. These, in turn, will cause some nations to fail and lead others to engage in chronic combat over remaining resources.

The House passed a cap-and-trade bill earlier this year. But the measure has become increasingly controversial as the economic consequences of the legislation have become more apparent. A study by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis finds that the law would make the U.S. about $9.4 trillion poorer by 2035. Much of this decline would be from reduced economic productivity and job loss. Despite all the talk about “green jobs” galore, Heritage found the bill would actually retard net employment by 1.15 million jobs.

To distract Americans from the economic catastrophe the bill would cause, proponents have turned to arguing that passing the bill is an imperative for national security. The reality, however, is it is too difficult to predict over the long term how the interactions between humans and the environment will turn out.

But here is what we do know. In the short term, the negative economic effects of the bill will create a “21st century crisis.” A collapse in U.S. economic growth would result in even more draconian cuts to the defense budget, leaving America with a military much less prepared to deal with future threats. Indeed, if America’s military power declines, there would probably be more wars, not fewer.

Likewise, a steep drop in American economic growth would lengthen and deepen the global recession. That in turn will make other states poorer, undermining their ability to protect themselves and recover from natural disasters. Now that is something to worry about.



Last week it became clear that the Advertising Standards Authority had launched an inquiry into the Government's £6m TV advertising campaign aimed at climate change sceptics. Now it appears that the UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, will also investigate complaints that the advert is politically motivated and therefore breeches the ban on broadcasting political adverts. They would seem to have good reason for deciding to do so.

This is what the advert tells viewers about climate change:

So far, the ASA has received over 650 complaints and rising. That score ranks with the most complained about advert of 2008, which attracted 840 complaints. According to a letter that I received from the ASA this morning the following points will be investigated:

1. The ad was political in nature and should not be broadcast;

2. The theme and content of the ad, for example the dog drowning in the storybook and the depiction of the young girl to whom the story was being read, could be distressing for children who saw it;

3. The ad should not have been shown when children were likely to be watching television;

4. The ad was misleading because it presented human induced climate change as a fact, when there was a significant division amongst the scientific community on that point;

5. The claim "over 40% of the C02 was coming from ordinary everyday things" was misleading;

6. The representation of C02 as a rising cloud of black smog was misleading;

7. The claims about the possible advent of strange weather and flooding, and associated imagery in the ad, in the UK were exaggerated, distressing and misleading;

They also say that:

Points (1) and (4) in relation to the TV ad may be subject to Section 4 of the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code, which is administered by Ofcom. We will therefore be referring to Ofcom objections to the TV campaign raised in respect of 'political' objectives; Ofcom will in due course be publishing a Finding of its determination. When both bodies have concluded their investigations, we plan to notify complainants of both our and Ofcom's determinations.


Fish not bothered by variations in ocean acidity

Discussing: Melzner, F., Gobel, S., Langenbuch, M., Gutowska, M.A., Portner, H.-0. and Lucassen, M. 2009. Swimming performance in Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) following long-term (4-12 months) acclimation to elevated seawater PCO2. Aquatic Toxicology 92: 30-37.


With respect to earth's 30,000 species of teleost fish, which include virtually all of the world's important sport and commercial fishes, the authors write that several of them have previously been shown to be able to "fully compensate extra cellular fluid pH," as well as "maintain oxygen consumption rates and growth performance under ocean acidification conditions (e.g. Larsen et al., 1997; Foss et al., 2003; Fivelstad et al., 1998, 2003; Deigweiher et al., 2008)," but they note that there have been no studies of these phenomena that have lasted for more than a few days.

What was done

To rectify this situation, Melzner et al. maintained a group of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) for four months in a re-circulating aquaculture system of 15 cubic meters volume at an atmospheric CO2 partial pressure of 0.3 kPa (~3,000 ppm) and another group for twelve months at a CO2 partial pressure of 0.6 kPa (~6,000 ppm), after which the fishes' swimming metabolism was investigated in a swim-tunnel respirometer, and tissue samples of their gills were taken for various chemical analyses, including gill Na+/K+-ATPase capacity, which serves "as a general indicator for ion regulatory effort."

What was learned

The six German scientists report that "motor activity in adult Atlantic Cod is not compromised by long-term exposure to water PCO2 levels of 0.3-0.6 kPa," which are "scenarios exceeding the 0.2 kPa value predicted for surface ocean waters around the year 2300 (Calderia and Wickett, 2003)."

What it means

In light of what they learned from their study, Melzner et al. conclude that "adults of active fish species with a high ion regulatory capacity [which is employed to eliminate metabolic CO2] are well equipped to cope with prospected scenarios of global climate change," even those far beyond what could likely be produced by the burning of all fossil fuels in the crust of the earth.


Seeing through the hoax of the century

By national columnist, Janet Albrechtsen, writing from Australia

INCREASINGLY, the road to Copenhagen resembles a suburban street on Halloween with the number of climate change freak shows and stunts reaching a nadir in recent weeks. Nicholas Stern says we should turn vegetarian in order to combat climate change. If you must eat meat, eat kangaroos, says Ross Garnaut, because marsupials emit negligible amounts of methane. And that champagne you drank on Melbourne Cup day? Scientists scolded us with a report that a 750ml bottle of bubbly could produce 100 million bubbles, releasing five litres of carbon dioxide.

Yet far from rallying people to the cause of immediate action on climate change, every new cri de coeur may be turning people away. Could it be that those derided as the great unwashed are beginning to ask more questions than their smart political leaders or the bastions of intellectual curiosity in the media?

Late last month, activists gathered at Sydney Opera House to listen to Sydney mayor Clover Moore announce that “the time for talk is past”. “Already we know that this building, our Opera House, for decades a symbol of optimism and the human spirit, is under threat from global warming,” she says.

The Opera House under threat? That would be from rising sea levels, right? Just like the small island nation of Maldives where, last month, the president conducted a cabinet meeting underwater to remind the world that his country would be rendered uninhabitable by rising sea levels. Kitted out in full scuba-diving outfits, Mohamed Nasheed and his ministers sat at a table underwater off the coast of the capital of Male. As planned, the president’s stunt made headlines across the globe. Send us money - and lots of it - is his message. The media love stunts. They are so easy to report.

Sadly, the media is not inquisitive enough to report those who question the circus acts of climate change. A week after the Maldives underwater show, Nils-Axel Morner - a leading world authority on sea levels - wrote an open letter to the president telling him that his stunt was “not founded in observational facts and true scientific judgments”.

Morner is a former professor who headed the department of paleogeophysics and geodynamics at Stockholm University and past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research commission on sea level changes and coastal evolution. INQUA was founded in 1928 by scientists who aimed to improve the understanding of environmental change during the glacial ages through interdisciplinary research. In other words, the Swedish professor has gravitas when it comes to sea levels. Alas his letter did not make headlines. That is a shame. Morner says there is “no rational basis” for the hysterical claims that the people of Maldives - or the rest of the world - are threatened by rising sea levels. And he sets out some facts.

Fact number 1: During the past 2000 years, sea levels have fluctuated with 5 peaks reaching 0.6m to 1.2m above present sea level. Fact number 2: From 1790 to 1970 sea levels were about 20cm higher than today. Fact number 3: In the 1970s, the sea level fell by about 20cm to its present level. Fact number 4: Sea levels have remained constant for the past 30 years “implying that there are no traces of any alarming ongoing sea level rise”. Fact number 5 (and I am paraphrasing here): The notion presented by the President of the Maldives that his country will be flooded is bunkum.

Yet, last week a federal parliamentary report told Australians to make plans to evacuate if we live on the coast. Warning that the “time to act is now”, the bipartisan report said the 711,000 addresses within 3km of the Australian coast - and less than 6m above sea level - face threats from rising sea levels. The report called for an inquiry by the Productivity Commission to examine the need for bans on homes within these areas. Viewers of the 7pm News on ABC1 were told by a Richard Branson lookalike - complete with longish wavy grey hair, beard and crisp white shirt - that the township of Byron Bay would be completely flooded by rising sea levels. His expertise? He is a resident of Byron Bay.

Despite the headline grabbing rhetoric about climate change calamity, recent polls reveal that more and more people appear to be challenging the orthodoxy. The most recent Lowy Institute poll found that while 48 per cent of Australian believe that global warming is a serious and pressing problem, the numbers are down 12 points since 2008 and 20 points down since 2006. “This is also the first year that it has not had majority support,” said the Lowy Institute.

A poll by Ipso Reid in Canada in September found that global warming has dropped down the list of people’s concerns. Indeed, a full 41 per cent now say the threat has been overblown. In the US, Associated Press reported on a poll last month that found 57 per cent of people believe there is clear evidence that the world is heating up, down 20 points from three years ago. These are some trend lines worth watching.

Perhaps we are wising up to modern day millenarianism where end-of-the-world cults - those who have the most to gain from their fear mongering - preach calamity. Remember Y2K? The cult back then comprised computer experts. They predicted disaster. Planes would fall from the skies. People would be caught in halting elevators. Chaos would descend on anything that relied on a computer, from financial markets to utilities. Governments duly prepared for disaster with the BBC reporting that global preparations for the millennium bug were estimated to have cost more than $US300 billion. All for nought. Nothing happened. It was, as James Taranto wrote in The Wall Street Journal, the hoax of the century.

Maurice Newman, who was chairman of the federal government’s Y2K committee told The Australian last week that “in pressing the urgency for compliance, the committee members relied heavily on confirmatory bias. Most of this came from so-called experts who had much to gain from creating a sense of alarm. The consequence of widespread inaction was claimed to result in chaos and systemic failure. As there was no alternative authoritative voice, this became perceived wisdom and was certainly believed by the committee. As such the Y2K phenomenon took on a life of its own.”

Deja vu? Preparing for the deluge of rising sea levels, we were treated to footage last week from parliamentary question time starring Julia Gillard and her gumboots. Appropriately she was followed on ABC1 by Bananas in Pyjamas. Could man-made climate change turn out to be the greatest hoax of the present century? Certainly, ordinary people are beginning to ask questions.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At long last, after YEARS of studying climate science papers and recently delving into highly technical "Bicker Brigade" blogs on both sides of the Climate Wars I have come to a conclusion and summarized it in its totality in a single "tells a thousand words" image. Spread it far and wide if you find it convincing. The data is referenced and was simply plotted in Excel.