Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peak chocolate?

By Professor Helen Hughes

A rapidly developing palm oil shortage is sneaking up on chocolate eaters.

Neither China nor India, with their teeming billions, ate much chocolate in the past. Few people could afford it. In the tropics, and in the hot summers of northern China and India, there was no refrigeration to keep chocolate from melting.

Leading chocolate multinationals are now seizing on these potential markets by introducing small chocolate bars into China and India. They are greatly helped by growing numbers of refrigerators in small shops and cafes. Chinese and Indian masses are taking to chocolate just like Europeans, Americans and Australians have. Sales are through the roof. The producers cannot keep up with the demand. Research on chocolate with a high melting point is in train. Rising living standards are being translated into booming chocolate sales.

The key ingredients of chocolate are sugar, cocoa and fats. Thanks to lunatic sugar subsidies in Europe and the United States, there is no shortage of sugar, but it takes years for cocoa trees to bear, and increases in palm oil supply are seriously threatened. Although palm oil plantations have roughly the same carbon sink properties as forests, and although the trans-fat content of palm oil is far lower than of equivalent ghee, coconut and sesame oil it replaces, a new green ideology is dead set against increases in palm oil production. This is likely to become a critical bottleneck in the production of chocolate.

So enjoy the chocolate Easter egg displays coming into the shops. Prices are going to escalate. Within a few years, a chocolate Easter egg, let alone a box of Lindt Assorted Pralines, is likely to be an unaffordable luxury.

The above is part of a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated February 12. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Pesky finding

Past high temperatures NOT caused by high levels of CO2

Sea-level rises and falls as Earth's giant ice sheets shrink and grow. It has been thought that sea level around 81,000 years ago—well into the last glacial period—was 15 to 20 meters below that of today and, thus, that the ice sheets were more extensive. Dorale et al. (p. 860; see the Perspective by Edwards) now challenge this view. A speleothem that has been intermittently submerged in a cave on the island of Mallorca was dated to show that, historically, sea level was more than a meter above its present height. This data implies that temperatures were as high as or higher than now, even though the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was much lower.

SOURCE (Journal abstract follows)

Sea-Level Highstand 81,000 Years Ago in Mallorca

By Jeffrey A. Dorale et al.


Global sea level and Earth’s climate are closely linked. Using speleothem encrustations from coastal caves on the island of Mallorca, we determined that western Mediterranean relative sea level was ~1 meter above modern sea level ~81,000 years ago during marine isotope stage (MIS) 5a. Although our findings seemingly conflict with the eustatic sea-level curve of far-field sites, they corroborate an alternative view that MIS 5a was at least as ice-free as the present, and they challenge the prevailing view of MIS 5 sea-level history and certain facets of ice-age theory.


Tofu can harm the environment more than meat, finds WWF study

Becoming a vegetarian can do more harm to the environment than continuing to eat red meat, according to a study of the impacts of meat substitutes such as tofu. The findings undermine claims by vegetarians that giving up meat automatically results in lower emissions and that less land is needed to produce food.

The study by Cranfield University, commissioned by the environmental group WWF, found that many meat substitutes were produced from soy, chickpeas and lentils that were grown overseas and imported into Britain. It found that switching from beef and lamb reared in Britain to meat substitutes would result in more foreign land being cultivated and raise the risk of forests being destroyed to create farmland. Meat substitutes also tended to be highly processed and involved energy-intensive production methods.

Lord Stern of Brentford, one of the world’s leading climate change economists, caused uproar among Britain’s livestock farmers last October when he claimed that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet. He told The Times: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

However, the Cranfield study found that the environmental benefits of vegetarianism depended heavily on the type of food consumed as an alternative to meat. It concluded: “A switch from beef and milk to highly refined livestock product analogues such as tofu could actually increase the quantity of arable land needed to supply the UK.” A significant increase in vegetarianism in Britain could cause the collapse of the country’s livestock industry and result in production of meat shifting overseas to countries with few regulations to protect forests and other uncultivated land, it added.

Donal Murphy-Bokern, one of the study authors and the former farming and food science co-ordinator at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “For some people, tofu and other meat substitutes symbolise environmental friendliness but they are not necessarily the badge of merit people claim. Simply eating more bread, pasta and potatoes instead of meat is more environmentally friendly.”

Liz O’Neill, spokeswoman for the Vegetarian Society, said: “The figures used in the report are based on a number of questionable assumptions about how vegetarians balance their diet and how the food industry might respond to increased demand. “If you’re aiming to reduce your environmental impact by going vegetarian then it’s obviously not a good idea to rely on highly processed products, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that the livestock industry causes enormous damage and that moving towards a plant-based diet is good for animals, human health and the environment.”

The National Farmers’ Union said the study showed that general statements about the environmental benefits of vegetarianism were too simplistic. Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU’s chief adviser for climate change, said: “The message is that no single option offers a panacea. The report rightly demonstrates the many environment benefits to be had from grazing pasture land with little or no other productive use.”

The study also found that previous estimates of the total emissions of Britain’s food consumption had been flawed because they failed to take account of the impact of changes to the use of land overseas.



Relying on appeals to authority, in the usual Warmist way. Had they been alive in 1930s Germany, most Warmists would no doubt have been walking around giving Nazi salutes and shouting "Heil Hitler"

In light of the recent email scandal at the University of East Anglia, James Hoggan’s new book, Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, is an amusing read. In the exposé, Hoggan, president of a public relations firm, details the dishonesty and chicanery of global warming skeptics. Aside from accepting money from Exxon, he asserts, skeptics have coerced the mainstream media to portray global warming as controversial among scientists, paying “junk scientists” to appear on Fox and CNN and inflating the list of scientists skeptical of manmade global warming. Oh, and they take money from Exxon.

Hoggan’s greatest fault in Climate Cover-Up is his apparent disdain for evidence. It’s remarkable how many of his arguments turn on a simple appeal to expertise, credentials, or repute. Indeed, the book is liberally peppered with more “experts” and “peer-reviewed journals” than could possibly be claimed to exist. Climate change believers are invariably “leading scientists” with “impressive resumes” and “dozens of scientific papers.”

In a token gesture of fairness, Hoggan shows grudging admiration for Stephen McIntyre, the Canadian statistician who exposed flaws in Michael Mann’s now iconic 1999 “hockey-stick” graph, first published by the International Panel on Climate Change in 2001. Hoggan then inform readers that McIntyre is “not a professional scientist” but has instead shown “dogged professionalism.” Further, he can’t refrain from cheap shots: McIntyre’s work, he says, has corrected a few “very narrow points of climate science” and is published in Energy and Environment, “a less than prestigious journal.” Hoggan’s underlying motive seems to be damage control; his colleague’s research did, after all, find that Mann’s “flawed computer program can even pull out spurious hockey stick shapes from lists of trendless random numbers.” McIntyre aside, the skeptics are a pitiful bunch, Hoggan suggests, with only a handful of scientific papers to their names and nary a true climate scientist among them. Skeptics may be scientists, but they’re over the hill—they are more often weathermen and lobbyists than scientists at all.

Hoggan is keen on reporting bad behavior among the skeptics, but shows little interest in investigating their stories from alternative points of view. It’s true that Exxon pours money into think tanks that spread skepticism about global warming. But by whom are climate scientists funded? Hoggan doesn’t say, but seems to believe their work is done in an apolitical vacuum of pure scientific inquiry. That Exxon merely wants to protect fossil fuels is, to Hoggan, an obvious and sufficient explanation for climate change skepticism. Corporate interests may well drive greed and dishonesty, but do not a good number profit from green technologies as well? Hoggan doesn’t care to investigate. In opposition to hundreds of “peer-reviewed” scientific papers, Mann’s hockey stick graph smoothed out well-established warming and cooling periods from the past millennium. How was that massive revision of climate history accepted so quickly and without opposition? Hoggan is curiously incurious.

Even the most prominent voices in the global warming debate earn little attention from Hoggan. Richard Lindzen, the Albert Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, earns only passing mention. In his one lonely reference, Hoggan seems to forget Lindzen’s wholly relevant credentials. He is also silent about Lindzen’s long 1992 article revealing the pressures lobbyists exert to drive scientific “consensus.” For that side of the story, we must refer to Christopher Booker’s The Real Global Warming Disaster. A columnist for the Telegraph, Booker quotes this choice bit from Lindzen’s analysis: “these lobbying groups have budgets of several million dollars and employ about 50,000 people” and use “global warming” as a “major battle cry in their fundraising” while “the media unquestioningly accept the pronouncements of these groups.” Lindzen’s article was apparently rejected by Science after editors concluded it would not interest readers. Science readers were, however, interested in a rebuttal to Lindzen’s work published some time later.

Now that the East Anglia emails have given us a glance behind the curtain of the “peer review” process and allowed us to see a bit of the jitterbuggery that goes on among climate scientists, Hoggan’s credibility as an author is more than suspect. Sad that a book has become a relic in the year of its publication.

As it happens, Ian Plimer, another scientist not mentioned in Hoggan’s book, wrote a compelling analysis of the limitations of peer-review before the East Anglia emails were made public. A geologist at the University of Adelaide, Plimer is the author of Heaven and Earth: Global Warming—The Missing Science, the book that serves as the bible of global warming skepticism. Plimer presents the historical evidence for warming and cooling on earth prior to the use of fossil fuels, and notes that global warming and cooling occurs on other planets, where petroleum emissions are presumably not present. The culprit in the climate change trial, Plimer argues in great detail, is the sun. Small variations in solar activity can have major effects on earth’s climate, a piece of evidence largely ignored by IPCC models.

In the final chapter of his book, Plimer examines the sociology of climate science. While “the peer review process of scientific journals is probably the best process we have,” it is “highly flawed. Editors can influence acceptance or rejection by their choice of reviewers, and even impartial reviewers “normally do not ask for the primary data.” Good scientific work is often done outside the peer-review circle, especially when it breaks no new ground. As a case in point, a study from Flinders University in Australia, showing that Pacific Ocean levels are static, was denied publication after scientists concluded that “nothing happened” in the study.

Hoggan’s relentless appeal to expertise is hollow from start to finish. Skepticism about global warming has always been, at its core, skepticism about scientific hubris. If the overreaching claims of global warming inadvertently encourage a climate of skepticism, the movement will have done a service to science, putting a chip in scientism and the cult of the expert—two of modernity’s most cherished idols.


Biased British climate "inquiry" member resigns

A member of the panel set up to investigate claims that climate change scientists covered up flawed data was forced to resign last night, just hours after the inquiry began. Philip Campbell stood down after it was disclosed that he had given an interview in which he defended the conduct of researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), insisting that they had done nothing wrong.

He said in a statement that he was stepping down to ensure that the ability of the review team to carry out its investigation would not be called into question. The inquiry, led by Sir Muir Russell, was set up after stolen e-mails from the CRU scientists prompted accusations that they had been manipulating and concealing the data.

The panel members said in a statement yesterday morning that they did not have a “predetermined view on climate change and climate science”. However, it then emerged that Dr Campbell, the editor-in-chief of the journal Nature, had told Chinese state radio last year that he did not believe that the e-mails had shown any evidence of improper conduct. “The scientists have not hidden the data. If you look at the e-mails there are one or two bits of language that are jargon used between professionals that suggest something to outsiders that is wrong,” he told the station. “In fact, the only problem there has been is on some official restrictions on their ability to disseminate data. Otherwise they have behaved as researchers should.”

In his statement Dr Campbell said that he had made the remarks in good faith on the basis of media reports of the leaked e-mails. “As I have made clear subsequently, I support the need for a full review of the facts behind the leaked e-mails,” he said. “There must be nothing that calls into question the ability of the review to complete this task and, therefore, I have decided to withdraw from the team.”

Sir Muir said: “I have spoken to Philip Campbell and I understand why he has withdrawn. I regret the loss of his expertise but I respect his decision.”

The University of East Anglia announced yesterday a second inquiry that would investigate the validity of the CRU’s reports, which present evidence that man-made emissions are causing global warming.

The decision to hold a second inquiry is an admission that Sir Muir’s investigation will not be sufficient to restore trust in claims that the world is at grave risk from rising temperatures. The university is one of Britain’s leading research centres on climate change and helps to compile the global temperature record published by the Met Office. This record is used by the Government to justify its targets for heavy cuts in carbon emissions.

The Royal Society, a fellowship of leading scientists, has agreed to help the university to choose the team that will conduct the new inquiry. However, the university itself will have the final decision on who is selected. It pledged that the members would have “the requisite expertise, standing and independence”.


Climategate: the official cover-up continues

If there’s one thing that stinks even more than Climategate, it’s the attempts we’re seeing everywhere from the IPCC and Penn State University to the BBC to pretend that nothing seriously bad has happened, that “the science” is still “settled”, and that it’s perfectly OK for the authorities go on throwing loads more of our money at a problem that doesn’t exist.

The latest example of this noisome phenomenon is Sir Muir Russell’s official whitewash – sorry “independent inquiry” into the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) scandal. The inquiry has not even begun and already it has told its first blatant lie – seen here on its official website: "Do any of the Review team members have a predetermined view on climate change and climate science? No. Members of the research team come from a variety of scientific backgrounds. They were selected on the basis they have no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science and for the contribution they can make to the issues the Review is looking at."

By what bizarre logic, then, did Sir Muir think it a good idea to appoint to his panel the editor of Nature, Dr Philip Campbell? Dr Campbell is hardly neutral: his magazine has for years been arguing aggressively in favour of the AGW, and which published this editorial in the wake of Climategate:
The e-mail archives stolen last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, have been greeted by the climate-change-denialist fringe as a propaganda windfall (see page 551). To these denialists, the scientists’ scathing remarks about certain controversial palaeoclimate reconstructions qualify as the proverbial ’smoking gun’: proof that mainstream climate researchers have systematically conspired to suppress evidence contradicting their doctrine that humans are warming the globe.

This paranoid interpretation would be laughable were it not for the fact that obstructionist politicians in the US Senate will probably use it next year as an excuse to stiffen their opposition to the country’s much needed climate bill. Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.

Dr Campbell has since resigned his post – and rightly so, as the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear. But are we to feel any more confident about the alleged neutrality of another of Sir Muir’s appointments, Professor Geoffrey Boulton?

Bishop Hill certainly doesn’t think so. He notes that Professor Boulton….

* spent 18 years at the school of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia

* works in an office almost next door to a member of the Hockey Team

* says the argument over climate change is over

* tours the country lecturing on the dangers of climate change

* believes the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2050

* signed up to a statement supporting the consensus in the wake of Climategate, which spoke of scientists adhering to the highest standards of integrity

* could fairly be described as a global warming doommonger

* is quite happy to discuss “denial” in the context of the climate debate.

You wonder, if Sir Muir really is that determined to keep his inquiry totally unbiased, independent, above-board and scrupulously neutral why he just doesn’t go the whole hog and appoint Al Gore, James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri. I doubt the conclusions they’d reach would be any different.



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1 comment:

Term papers said...

I agree with your Point That Chinese and Indian masses are taking to chocolate just like Europeans, Americans and Australians have. Sales are through the roof. The producers cannot keep up with the demand.