Saturday, January 23, 2010

The madness of James Hansen

Judge for yourself

Before we get too worried about NASA’s latest stamping-its-little-feet claims that the world is getting hotter it is it is it IS, let us first remind ourselves why we should trust their temperature records slightly less far than we can spit.

Then let’s have a closer look at the character and motives of the man in charge of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), Dr James Hansen. Last year, he was described by his former course supervisor at NASA, Dr John Theon, as an “activist” and an embarrassment.

Or as the Great Booker puts it:
If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Now reader Michael Potts has drawn my attention to yet further evidence of Dr Hansen’s radical, virulently anti-democratic instincts. He has lent his support to an eco-fascist book advising on ways to destroy western industrialisation through propaganda, guile and outright sabotage.

In a scary new book called Time’s Up – whose free online version titled A Matter Of Scale you can read here – author Keith Farnish claims:
The only way to prevent global ecological collapse and thus ensure the survival of humanity is to rid the world of Industrial Civilization.

Like so many deep greens, Farnish looks forward to the End Times with pornographic relish (masquerading as mild reasonableness):
I’m rarely afraid of stating the truth, but some truths are far harder to give than others; one of them is that people will die in huge numbers when civilization collapses. Step outside of civilization and you stand a pretty good chance of surviving the inevitable; stay inside and when the crash happens there may be nothing at all you can do to save yourself. The speed and intensity of the crash will depend an awful lot on the number of people who are caught up in it: greater numbers of people have more structural needs – such as food production, power generation and healthcare – which need to be provided by the collapsing civilization; greater numbers of people create more social tension and more opportunity for extremism and violence; greater numbers of people create more sewage, more waste, more bodies – all of which cause further illness and death.

He believes – as the Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt does – that mankind is a blot on the landscape and that breeding (or for that matter, existence) should be discouraged:
In short, the greatest immediate risk to the population living in the conditions created by Industrial Civilization is the population itself. Civilization has created the perfect conditions for a terrible tragedy on the kind of scale never seen before in the history of humanity. That is one reason for there to be fewer people, providing you are planning on staying within civilization – I really wouldn’t recommend it, though.

Among his proposed solutions to this problem are wanton destruction:
Unloading essentially means the removal of an existing burden: for instance, removing grazing domesticated animals, razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine. The process of ecological unloading is an accumulation of many of the things I have already explained in this chapter, along with an (almost certainly necessary) element of sabotage.

Needless to say, our friend Dr James Hansen thinks this book is the bees knees. Here is his puff on the Amazon website:
Keith Farnish has it right: time has practically run out, and the ’system’ is the problem. Governments are under the thumb of fossil fuel special interests – they will not look after our and the planet’s well-being until we force them to do so, and that is going to require enormous effort.

Puzzled by this advocation of so extreme a book by a supposedly neutral and authoritative public figure, Michael Potts posted a question on Yahoo. And who should pop up but Keith Farnish himself. He revealed that Hansen had not even been approached for the puff quote. He had volunteered it.
“”Hello.. It’s very interesting to be the subject of a question, and I don’t want to intrude on the discussion because there seems to be some interesting debate going on here – but just to put the quote into context, it was indeed spontaneous from James and surprised me a little at first. I now suspect, though, that he is only tolerated by the US government because he is such a good scientist; and believe me, some really good scientists have been ousted before – think of Bob Watson, who was thrown out of the IPCC by George Bush, under pressure from the oil industry, for being stark in his warnings..

James Hansen is certainly a radical in the climate science community, but stays within the system because that’s where he is most effective. Just like me using a computer – it’s the best way of getting information across in a globalised society; I genuinely wish it was just a local problem that could be dealt with by word of mouth and community action :-(

Feel free to take on, and challenge my ideas in as forceful a way as you wish; change can happen in the most surprising ways…”"

It’s an important thing to remember when we talk about AGW: many of the activist-scientists pushing it passionately want the earth to be getting hotter and it for it to be largely man’s fault. These watermelons certainly don’t want the opposite to be true, because then they wouldn’t have the excuse they so desperately need to destroy the capitalist system and take us all back to the agrarian age.


More crooked "science" uncovered

For much of the Northern Hemisphere, the cold is abating. As climate scientists long realized, a short period does not create a trend. Even global warming advocates, who insisted that the 1998 El Nino warming was a trend, are now claiming that the cold does not contradict their warming trend. Their time spans are evidently extremely adjustable.

The week ended with real heat: Climategate hit the United States. On Thursday night January 14, 2010, in an hour-long special broadcast on KUSI-TV San Diego, John Coleman revealed new research by computer expert E. Michael Smith and Certified Consulting Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo.

This new research demonstrates that the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has been as intensely involved in manipulating global surface data as has the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, which is now under investigation in Great Britain. NCDC is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The manipulated data is also used by the third organization reporting global surface temperatures – the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, a division of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA GISS). Thus, all three organizations reporting global surface temperatures may be using similar manipulated data.

D’Aleo and Smith report that in the period of the 1960’s to the 1980’s the number of stations used for calculating global surface temperatures was about 6,000. But it dropped rapidly to about 1,500 by 1990. Further, large gaps began appearing in some of the reported data.

This loss of stations and its possible consequences have been well established. For example, it is discussed in the 2008 NIPCC report Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate. The stations lost appeared to be mostly in colder climates – which, if the data set is not adjusted, would lead to a false indication of warming. (D’Aleo was a contributor to the NIPCC report.)

In December, as Climategate was developing, TWTW referred to a Russian report stating the CRU was ignoring data from colder regions of Russia, even though these stations were still reporting data. Thus, the data loss was not due to just the closing of stations as earlier thought, but due to decisions by the CRU to ignore them.

Now D’Aleo and Smith report similar activities by the NCDC. Stations have been dropped, particularly in colder climates (higher elevations or closer to the Polar Regions), and now temperatures are projected for these colder stations from other stations, usually in warmer climates.

The reports of the IPCC and governmental agencies such as the EPA are based, in a large part, on these data. If the data are wrong, then the reports are wrong. It is now clear that the global surface temperature data are unreliable and must be thoroughly investigated. If not, any government policies based upon these reports should be rigorously challenged.

Thanks to the diligent work of John Coleman, Joe D’Aleo, Michael Smith, as well as many others, the US mainstream media has no excuse for ignoring Climategate as merely a problem in Britain or a problem of no significance.

For John Coleman’s complete broadcast (five segments) please see here. For Joe D’Aleo’s preliminary report please see here

A brief comment: It is an impossible task to arrive at one precise number for a global surface temperature. But, one is often reported. Whatever is reported can only be approximate. However, if standard procedures are rigorously followed and stations are rigorously monitored, then trends can be established. Based on the new reports, such standard procedures were deliberately altered..

By removing stations in colder climates from the data set in recent years without doing so in past years, the CRU and NCDC exaggerate warming trends and, perhaps, even created one where there was none. A similar effect can be produced by underreporting high temperatures in early years. According to researchers such as Pat Michaels, this is apparently what NASA GISS is doing.


More history of the scare

By S. Fred Singer

IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report [IPCC-AR4, 2007]

In line with its policy of ‘ramping up’ its case for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and escalating climate fears, IPCC-AR4 concludes: "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations" [my emphasis]. They helpfully explain that “very likely” means “90 to 99% certain.” One wonders just how IPCC arrived at this rather precise estimate – since there is nothing in the report to back it up.

By now, the IPCC has mercifully abandoned some of the ‘evidence’ given in their earlier reports: They no longer feature the discredited ‘Hockeystick’ graph (that had done away with the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age). They recognize that melting glaciers cannot illuminate the cause of warming and that shifting and often reversing CO2-temperature correlation does not support AGW. Instead, the ‘evidence’ now advanced is essentially circumstantial. The logic which gets the IPCC to this conclusion (as pointed out in Scientific Alliance Newsletter 160) is as follows:

1. There has been a general rise in averaged measured surface temperatures over the past century.

2. At the same time, atmospheric concentrations of so-called 'greenhouse' gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have been rising. All the evidence points to the net increase being caused largely by burning fossil fuels.

3. Computer models of the climate (General Circulation Models) cannot account for the temperature changes on the basis of known natural variability in climate.

4. Therefore, the additional 'anthropogenic' carbon dioxide must be the primary driver of this change.

Yet as Scientific Alliance states: “On this unproven argument, a whole climate change industry has been built; academic researchers, civil servants, carbon traders, environmental and development NGOs, taxpayer-subsidised renewable energy companies and, of course, UN agencies beaver away in the shared assumption that this logic is compelling and demands concerted action.”

Can you spot the ‘hole’ in the IPCC ‘logic’? The key word is “known.” But they totally ignore the most important natural forcing: changing solar activity that modulates the intensity of galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) incident on the Earth. This fact seems known to everyone except the IPCC group dealing with the most important issue: the cause of climate change in the 20th century. See evidence in Fig 14 of NIPCC.

It gets worse: IPCC-AR4 claims they can simulate past century’s Global Mean Surface Temp (GMST) with ‘known’ natural and anthropogenic forcings (as displayed in Fig 5 of NIPCC). But the uncertainties shown there are huge, especially for the indirect effects of aerosols. Of course, the major forcings from solar activity-GCR are not even considered; nor the effects of clouds that likely produce negative feedbacks rather than reinforcing the warming of GH gases.

The upshot is that the IPCC’s claim of matching the GMST is nothing else but an exercise in curve-fitting, with several suitably chosen parameters. I would be impressed if IPCC could match mean zonal temp, not just GMST– or the atmospheric temp obtained from radiosondes and satellites – using the same chosen parameters.

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #3-2010 (Jan 16, 2010)

Why the BBC will always be wrong on Climate Change

Today I had another go at the BBC for its biased coverage of ‘Climate Change’, this time venturing into the belly of the beast itself for an interview on Radio 4’s Media Show. (God I hate doing programmes on the BBC. If you want to hear me on form, listen to me on US radio where my dangerously conservative views get so much more sympathetic a reception – here, say, from my old mate Greg Garrison).

Anyway, the BBC is clearly very het up about the notion that it’s in breach of its code of impartiality – as it most definitely is in its science coverage. But trying to explain to the BBC why its coverage is skewed in a painfully left-liberal, eco-fascist direction is bit like trying to tell Attila the Hun that he errs on the side of pillage and rape: for both Attila and the BBC it’s all just instinctively right and normal.

The BBC’s current policy (thanks Yaoxx) on its climate change coverage was discussed in a recent report (June 2007) by the BBC Trust – Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century:
“The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus. But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’, who ‘should not be given a platform’ by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space. ‘Bias by elimination’ is even more offensive today than it was in 1926. The BBC has many public purposes of both ambition and merit – but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them. The BBC’s best contribution is to increase public awareness of the issues and possible solutions through impartial and accurate programming. Acceptance of a basic scientific consensus only sharpens the need for hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution. It remains important that programme-makers relish the full range of debate that such a central and absorbing subject offers, scientifically, politically and ethically, and avoid being misrepresented as standard-bearers. The wagon wheel remains a model shape. But the trundle of the bandwagon is not a model sound.”

How, though, did it reach these conclusions? Tony Newberry at the Harmless Sky blog has been doing some digging and come up with some useful stuff about this “high-level” BBC Seminar. Despite Freedom of Information requests, the BBC refused to divulge which experts attended. But Newberry did find out this:
It was attended by ‘30 key BBC staff and 30 invited guests who are specialists in the area of climate change’. The event was called ‘Climate Change - the Challenge to Broadcasting’ and it was hosted by Jana Bennett (then Director of Television, now Director of Vision) and Helen Boaden (Director of News BBC). The ‘key speaker’ was Lord May of Oxford. Among the aims of the seminar were ‘to offer a summary of the state of knowledge on the issue’ and ‘to consider the BBC’s role in the public debate’. The chairman was Fergal Keane.

He goes on:
Further research on the internet revealed that the seminar was one of a number of similar events organised jointly by the BBC, The International Broadcasting Trust (the IBT, an environmental lobby group), and the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme (CMEP), a rather shadowy organisation of which the BBC’s Environment Analyst, Roger Harrabin, is a co-director. The other director is an academic and ‘environmental consultant’ called Dr Joe Smith.

Stranger still, the IBT’s website describes the invited guests at the 2006 climate seminar as ‘Policy Experts[1]’. It is difficult to know how policy experts could authoritatively (in the words of the BBC’s letter) ‘offer a summary of the state of knowledge on the issue’ of climate science to senior BBC staff who were present, or how they could also be described as ‘the best scientific experts’ in the BBC Trust’s report. In the context of the climate change debate, ‘policy experts’ usually means environmental activists, politicians or policy wonks from think tanks and the eNGOs.

The IBT describes its mission as ‘lobbying Government, regulators and broadcasters’[2] as well as ‘dialogue with the main public service broadcasters’. It has represented Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Tearfund,[3] all of which have played a high profile role in climate change activism.

It has been far more difficult to obtain information about CMEP. However this organisation has received funding from:

* Defra, the ministry responsible for promoting government policy on global warming.

* WWF, a leading environmental pressure group.

* The Tyndall Centre, a climate research institute based at the University of East Anglia.[4]

But the most damning observations were provided on a guest post at Harmless Sky by the (mildly sceptical) writer Richard D North (not to be confused with the Eureferendum blogspot Dr Richard North, who is much more strongly sceptical of AGW):
I did attend the BBC climate change seminar and my impression is that it was part of the ongoing efforts by Roger Harrabin (environment analyst at the BBC) to help the corporation wrestle with the problem of balance and impartiality and robust reporting of the climate change debate.

I think Roger Harrabin has not been a good reporter or analyst of climate change. He is not the worst by any means, but he has in my view missed many tricks. However, he has been serious if not very effective (actually often rather poor) in tackling the nature of the debate itself.

By the way, my own view is that the biggest media failure has been in discussing the policy response to the science of climate change. I mean that though the discussion of the science has been bad the discussion of the policy response has been mostly abysmal. The BBC is only the worst of the offenders on this score because (a) they are paid to be the best and (b) their efforts have fallen so far short of their stated ambitions in this area.

I found the seminar frankly shocking. The BBC crew (senior executives from every branch of the corporation) were matched by an equal number of specialists, almost all (and maybe all) of whom could be said to have come from the “we must support Kyoto” school of climate change activists.

So far as I can recall I was alone in being a climate change sceptic (nothing like a denier, by the way) on both the science and policy response.

I was frankly appalled by the level of ignorance of the issue which the BBC people showed. I mean that I heard nothing that made me think any of them read any broadsheet newspaper coverage of the topic (except maybe the Guardian and that lazily). Though they purported to be aware that this was an immensely important topic, it seemed to me that none of them had shown even a modicum of professional journalistic curiosity on the subject. I am not saying that I knew what they all knew or thought, but I can say that I spent the day discussing the issue and don’t recall anyone showing any sign of having read anything serious at all.


Climate change camp experiencing a cooling-off period

Excerpt from the L.A. Times

Climate change just isn't what it used to be. Case in point: The number of otherwise intelligent people who are saying that all the cold weather (in the East) and rain (here at home) are causing them to lose faith in the gospel of global warming.

To their way of thinking, it's fine and good to be bellyaching about rising sea levels when it's 100 degrees outside. It's easy to remember to carry around your reusable tote bag when drought begets parched hillsides, which beget wildfires, which beget air that smells like rotisserie chicken minus the chicken.

But guess what? It's been pouring all week. In Florida, the oranges are perishing under frost. The temperature bottomed out at minus 52 in North Dakota earlier this month, and Beijing recently had its biggest snowfall since 1951.

Remember back in 2006 and 2007? Everyone was talking about "An Inconvenient Truth," parading those eco-bags around and coveting hybrid cars. Laurie David, who'd previously been known chiefly as the wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, was suddenly a quasi-famous person, palling around with Sheryl Crow and ranting about CO2 emissions on the Huffington Post. In fact, back then, it seemed like the entire world was buddies with Sheryl Crow and blogging on the HuffPo.

We spent 2006 suspicious that Hurricane Katrina was a manifestation of global warming. In 2007, it was California wildfires. Then Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report concluded that humans were almost certainly responsible for rising temperatures. To top it off, Laurie David filed for divorce and made the pages of People. Those were the days!

Maybe the financial crisis has diverted our attention from the melting Arctic ice cap. Maybe Sarah Palin effectively redirected all liberal indignation straight in her direction. Maybe there were just too many eco-related marital conflicts. (A trend story in the New York Times recently reported that therapists are seeing an increase in couples who clash in their approaches to recycling and organic gardening. Did we learn nothing from the calamitous breakup of the Davids?)

Or maybe the conditions now are just too conducive to climate change skepticism. Not that anyone who's ever gazed out at a blizzard and thought, "This is global warming?" deserves to be labeled a denier. We all know (we do, don't we?) that weather is not the same as climate. It's not that we don't want to save the planet anymore; it's just that it somehow doesn't seem quite as urgent.


Australians to pay the price of Greenie dam-hatred

Water charges are set to spiral in desalination squeeze

HOUSEHOLDS will pay hundreds of dollars extra for water as state governments splash $9 billion of taxpayer funds on energy-guzzling desalination plants that will produce nearly a third of capital-city supplies within two years. The seawater purification "factories" - which can pump out enough drinking water each year to fill Sydney Harbour - will operate around the clock at taxpayer expense, even when high rainfall means their expensive output is not required.

Water utilities yesterday warned urban water prices would spiral in line with the rising cost of electricity needed to operate the massive plants in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

The Water Services Association of Australia, representing most of the urban water utilities nationally, estimated water providers would use up to four times as much electricity as they moved from dams to desalination. "The cost of building desalination plants will be reflected in water prices across Australia," executive director Ross Young told The Weekend Australian. "Electricity prices are only going to go upwards, so operational costs are probably going to climb steadily. "In places like Melbourne in the next four years (water) prices are going to double."

By 2012, water bills for Sydneysiders will rise $103 a year purely to pay for the cost of running the city's first desalination plant, costing $2.4bn, due to open at Kurnell within weeks. Household water bills will soar nearly a third - from $663 to $904 - in the Melbourne metropolis over the next three years, once a $3.5bn plant - the nation's biggest - comes online at the end of next year. In southeast Queensland, where a $1.2bn desalination plant opened on the Gold Coast last year, water bills are forecast to rise about $60 annually until 2013. In Adelaide, where a $1.83bn plant will open at the end of next year, water bills will increase $84 this year for an average household. In Perth, which will open its second plant next year, the average household water bill will rise 10 per cent over the next three years, costing high-use households as much as $164 a year more.

Mr Young said higher bills would give consumers an incentive to save water. "Any resource given away free is always exploited," he said. "If water is priced too low there's no incentive for conservation or to upgrade infrastructure. "We shouldn't underestimate the power of a price signal."

CSIRO urban water research division leader Alan Gregory said electricity made up a quarter of the total cost of building and running a desalination plant. "Just the energy component alone will drive up the cost of water," he said. "You haven't got to be Einstein to work out that prices will go up. It's unavoidable."

A CSIRO analysis for the Water Services Association has found that desalination plants use seven times more electricity than conventional water treatment plants. The research reveals that energy consumption by water utilities would rise 400 per cent if they switched entirely to desalination for city water supplies within 20 years. Energy use would soar by 260 per cent if utilities sourced 40 per cent of their water from the ocean.

The National Water Commission has calculated that the running costs of a typical desalination plant would jump 16 per cent if an emissions trading scheme is introduced that prices carbon at $50 a tonne.

Critics of the states' massive investment in desalination yesterday dismissed the technology as "financially risky". Stuart White, the director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, at the University of Technology, Sydney, said the desalination plants roped taxpayers and consumers into paying for water that might not always be necessary. "Once you build them, there's the imperative to operate them," Mr White said yesterday. "Sometimes (it's) a contractual imperative . . . flat-out." In Sydney, where dams are now half-empty, the new Kurnell plant will run at full capacity for at least two years, regardless of rainfall levels.

Operators of the desalination plants are trying to douse the debate over greenhouse gas emissions by buying "green power" from sources such as wind farms. But in Western Australia, the government pricing watchdog has vetoed the Water Corporation's plan to charge its consumers the extra cost of buying more expensive experimental green electricity to power Perth's desalination plants.

The West Australian Economic Regulation Authority's chairman, Lyndon Rowe, said yesterday the role of the Water Corporation was to "provide water to consumers at the least possible cost". "If a government itself wants to sponsor the research (into renewable energy) it's fine, but it shouldn't be a cost borne by water users," he said. Mr Rowe likened desalination plants to "water factories". "We can produce all the water you like but it can't be free," Mr Rowe said. "It should be paid for by the users, to encourage people to use water wisely."



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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