Monday, March 22, 2010

Global warming can lead to increased violence in human beings

It might well do so, though the evidence is mixed. I myself wrote several research papers on the psychological effects of a warmer climate and in some datasets the hypothesis was supported and in others it was not. There are basically too many confounding factors to sort it all out conclusively. Tropical dwellers tend not to be identical to non-tropical dwellers, for instance, so any differences observed could be due to those other factors rather than the heat itself. On the whole, however, I am inclined to go along with the hypothesis.

But it is all theory in this instance. We don't know that the climate WILL warm and we don't know if any warming is the result of human influences. Additionally, we don't know how any adverse effect will be balanced by other effects. It is certainly my observation that people in warmer climates are more sociable, which is probably a good thing, so how do we balance that against a slight increase in violent incidents? It is all a matter of opinion.

The second assertion below, that warming will cut food production, is utter bunkum. A few degrees of warming would make large areas of Canada and Siberia arable, with a resultant huge INCREASE in potential food production. And greater warmth is good for crops in general. Lots of farmers would be glad to see the end of frost damage, for instance

A new research has shown that as the earth's average temperature rises, so does human "heat" in the form of violent tendencies, which links global warming with increased violence in human beings.

Using US government data on average yearly temperatures and the number of violent crimes between 1950 and 2008, the researchers estimate that if the annual average temperature in the US increases by 4.4 degree Celsius, the yearly murder and assault rate will increase by 34 per 100,000 people - or 100,000 more per year in a population of 305 million.

While the global warming science has recently come under fire, the main premise behind the Iowa State researchers' research paper is irrefutable. "It is very well researched and what I call the 'heat hypothesis'," Anderson said. "When people get hot, they behave more aggressively. There's nothing new there and we're all finding the same thing. But of the three ways that global warming is going to increase aggression and violence, that's probably the one that's going to have the most direct impact - even on developed, wealthy countries, because they have warm regions too," he added.

The ISU researchers analyzed existing research - including an update on a study Anderson authored in 1997 - on the effects of rising temperature on aggression and risk factors for delinquency and criminal behavior.

In addition to the "heat hypothesis," they report that rising global temperatures also increases known risk factors for the development of aggression in violence-prone individuals, such as increasing poverty, growing up amid scarce resources, malnutrition and food insecurity.

They contended that one of the most catastrophic effects of climate change will be food availability, producing more violence-prone individuals in the process. "While there is some link between temperature and aggression, really the effects (of climate change) are going to be more indirect if those temperature changes affect the amount of food we can produce, coupled with population growth," said Matt DeLisi, an associate professor of sociology and director of ISU's criminal justice program. "Then where the real damage will be done is malnutrition, because that sets in motion these other developments (risk factors) that then lead to crime," he added.

The researchers cited ecomigration, civil unrest, genocide and war as the third way global warming is going to increase violence. They report research finding that rapid climate change can lead to changes in the availability of food, water, shelter and other necessities of life. Such shortages can also lead to civil war and unrest, migration to adjacent regions and conflict with people who already live in that region, and even to genocide and war.


The week that was

By Fred Singer

Last week TWTW discussed part of the IPCC’s methodology as presented in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the 2007 Assessment Report (AR4). The IPCC conclusion that it is 90% probable that humans caused the warming in the last 50 years (precise dates not given) requires two key assumptions: 1) the surface datasets relied upon have been rigorously maintained, and 2) all the natural causes of warming are known and included in the models. As readers of TWTW realize, it is likely the datasets have been highly compromised, rendering the IPCC’s conclusions indefensible until the datasets are independently verified.

As to natural causes of temperature increases in the past 50 years, the SPM claims that: “The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing, and very likely that it is not due to known natural causes alone. {4.8, 5.2, 9.4, 9.5, 9.7}(SPM 1-30-07 p 10).

Put differently, it is only 5% probable that the surface temperature increases can be explained by changes within the earth and its internal climate system, and only 10% probable that they can be explained by all natural changes including changes in solar activity, etc.

This leads to one of nature’s delicious ironies. This winter when much of the inhabited part of the Northern Hemisphere was suffering from extreme cold and snow, as referenced in prior TWTW’s, satellite measurements show that the atmosphere was unusually warm due to a strong El Niño. Yet, the IPCC excludes natural influences for warming, specifically mentioning El Niños, which it considers too short to have an influence. It also excludes the established oscillations of the oceans such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation.

Adding to the irony, on March 6 the Houston Chronicle published an op-ed written by climate scientists, referenced in last week’s TWTW, titled “On global warming, the science is solid.” The scientists claim that the January high temperatures (now February as well) support the IPCC science. Others have made similar claims. Thus, to defend IPCC science some advocates are reduced to attacking IPCC’s scientific findings!


A heavy blow to the ocean acidification scare

Since, in even the IPCC assessment, sea-level rise is not going to be much of a problem of any foreseeable global warming, Warmists now often turn to the claim that warming will make the oceans more acidic and that that will dissolve all the carbonaceous carapaces of shellfish etc. No more yummy crabs or oysters, for instance. That claim always depended on scientific ignorance because the oceans are in fact very alkaline and any foreseeable acidification would simply make them less alkaline, not acidic. And alkalis don't dissolve shellfish.

Now however, the latest research really blows the nonsense away. The research below shows that shellfish flourished during periods of much higher atmospheric CO2 than we have today:
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years

By Paul N. Pearson et al.

Knowledge of the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations throughout the Earth's history is important for a reconstruction of the links between climate and radiative forcing of the Earth's surface temperatures. Although atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the early Cenozoic era (about 60Myr ago) are widely believed to have been higher than at present, there is disagreement regarding the exact carbon dioxide levels, the timing of the decline and the mechanisms that are most important for the control of CO2 concentrations over geological timescales. Here we use the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 60 million years, which can be used to reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We estimate CO2 concentrations of more than 2,000 p.p.m. for the late Palaeocene and earliest Eocene periods (from about 60 to 52 Myr ago), and find an erratic decline between 55 and 40 Myr ago that may have been caused by reduced CO2 outgassing from ocean ridges, volcanoes and metamorphic belts and increased carbon burial. Since the early Miocene (about 24Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.


End-phase of the Climate Wars?

History may see the interview of CRU's Professor Phil Jones by the BBC's Roger Harrabin on 12 February 2010 as the opening of the end-phase of the long-running "alarmists versus sceptics" debate.

The gap between these two schools has never yawned as widely as media reports often suggest. Both agree that climate is always changing, that we have recently been in a warming period (with tiny temperature changes), that "greenhouse theory" has some validity, and that human activities are capable of impacting climate. The core dispute lies in the detection and attribution of `anthropogenic global warming' (AGW), and is brought out in the following exchange:

Harrabin - How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

Jones - I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

Sceptics say any human causation was trivial. This dispute was addressed directly:

Harrabin - what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?

Jones - The fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.

"The warming from the 1950s" didn't actually commence until 1975, and the 1975-2009 warming is identified by Professor Jones as a trend-rate of temperature increase of 0.161C per decade. This decadal figure is significant, but only just. In the second interview question, Jones says a trend of "0.12C per decade is not significant at the 95% significance level".

The world has been experiencing a long-term gentle warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. Professor Jones has said elsewhere[i] that this natural variability has averaged 0.11C per decade. So, the "extraordinary" recent warming that calls for explanation is the balance of 0.051C per decade. This is the smoking gun. It is the sole evidence that a measurable but unexplained increase in global temperatures has coincided with the post-1950 increase in human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Jones says that this correlation is evidence of causation, because the IPCC has no other explanation.

The first rejoinder by sceptics is that this is an argument from ignorance. Humanity cops the blame solely because IPCC researchers know so little about all the vast natural forces and cycles influencing global temperatures that they can't pin it firmly on any one suspect. Cast in this way, the strength of the IPPC's case is inversely proportional to the depth of their climatic understanding. But why should homo sapiens be the default option?

Secondly, doubters say it is not surprising that IPCC models can't explain an infinitesimal heat anomaly of five-hundredths of a degree over a 10-year period. They have a track record of being wrong about much larger matters, including their prediction of 0.2C warming over the past decade. Phil Jones says there has been no significant warming since 1995.

Thirdly, a very important question arises as to the precision of the instrumental record, as well as all the statistical processing, that produces this key trend figure of 0.161C per decade. This seems an impossibly precise figure for all the world's temperatures, over lengthy periods, in all seasons, using diverse and changing instruments. What are the margins of error for the thermometers? What are the statistical confidence intervals for the homogenization of records? What of the spatial and temporal gaps?

Error bars narrow over time, but the IPCC accepts that even the most modern gridded readings contain errors of +/- 0.17. When this level is applied to Professor Jones' trend for 1975-2009 it overwhelms it. The anomaly which "we can't explain" is so small as to be swamped by the margins of error.

Doubts about the accuracy of data processing are heightened by the ongoing unavailability of worldwide raw data and metadata. CRU evaded Freedom of Information obligations and then confessed that computer data was lost. This pattern was mirrored by the actions of NIWA in New Zealand, and perhaps others. What of the `Climategate' accusations of manipulation, also mirrored in New Zealand? There are a great many known unknowns, and perhaps just as many unknown unknowns.

The fourth objection is that a trend of 0.161C per decade is NOT outside the boundaries of internal natural variability. This is where the BBC testimony of Professor Jones becomes invaluable in settling the argument:

Harrabin - Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

Jones - The 1860-1880 period is only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different.

It is common ground that the warmings commencing in 1860 and 1910 were not human-caused, so they must have resulted from oscillations or other cyclical or chaotic aspects of internal variability. An unexplained warming trend of 0.16C/decade, which has occurred three times in the last 150 years is, by definition, within the natural variability of the global climate system.

The first two IPCC reports accepted that the medieval warm period (MWP) was the warmest period of the millennium, but this was challenged in 2001 by the 'hockey sticks' produced by Mann, Briffa, and others. These projects, which focused on tree rings in North America and Siberia, were illuminated by the BBC interview:

Harrabin- There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global.

Jones - For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few paleoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

So the `hockey team' go under a bus, along with the IPCC's dogmatic claim that current temperatures are the warmest experienced for a thousand years. The MWP which was established by history records still stands - as yet unchallenged by proxy temperature records.

The fifth argument accepts that all three warmings since 1860 (and the MWP) could have exceeded the bounds of natural variability, if all were forced by the same external influence. Possibilities are legion and include solar flares, cosmic rays, orbital anomalies, undocumented cycles, aerosols, ocean currents and magnetic realignments. Nobody actually blames these warmings on volcanoes or solar irradiance, which are the only two influences considered by Phil Jones.

The sixth problem is that the correlation between the respective increases of GHGs and temperatures, which has always been poor, has become non-existent in the past 15years. Whilst CO2 emissions have rocketed since 1995, Phil Jones confirms there has been no detectable increase in global warming.

The real value of the Harrabin/Jones interview is the fact that straight questions received straight answers, for the first time in recent memory.

Professor Jones, as co-inventor of the modern climate change hypothesis, principal archivist of global temperature records, co-author of the IPCC's AR4, Nobel laureate, and former CRU director, is the most authoritative source imaginable. He received written notice of the questions from a long-sympathetic interviewer, and his responses were pre-vetted by his lawyers and by the University of East Anglia media office. There will be no retractions.

Even if humans have in fact been responsible for the "unexplained" warming of 0.051C per decade over 35 years, it is comforting to note that allowing this rate to continue will produce only 0.5C by the end of the century. As only about half of the human-caused warming is attributed to CO2, the valuation of any net benefit from abandoning fossil fuels is becoming very obscure indeed.

Five-hundredths of a degree Celsius per decade produces extra nocturnal warmth at about the same rate as we grow toenails. It is far too insignificant to be detected by human sensors or even by standard weather thermometers - which are usually rounded up to the closest whole degree. It is a statistical fiction, created by computer-splicing of incompatible datasets, derived from averages of averages of inconsistent instruments.

The controversy continues. But with the imprimatur of Phil Jones to the key fact that recent warming is not unusual, the debate will never be the same. The two sides are edging closer to a common set of facts; and it surely cannot be too much longer before common conclusions are drawn from those facts.


Environmentalists Are Killing Environmentalism

Aesop (620-564 BC) the Greek writer famous for his fables told of the boy who falsely cried wolf. Environmentalists have falsely cried wolf and effectively undermine environmentalism the need to live within the confines of a finite planet. They misled, exaggerated and made a multitude of false predictions to the detriment of the environment and people's willingness to be aware and concerned. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a major starting point that blamed DDT for many things including thinner eggshells none of which proved correct.

Indeed, as Paul Driessen identified in Eco-imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, banning DDT led to millions of unnecessary deaths from malaria that exceed deaths from AIDS in Africa.

A myriad of false stories made headlines over the last 40 years. All are conditional that is they're prefaced by words like, `could' and `maybe', but the public generally remembers the terse and unconditional headlines. Ultimately almost all the stories were subsequently proved incorrect, but that never makes the headlines. Remember such stories as sheep and rabbits going blind in Chile because of thinning ozone. Well, as scientists at Johns Hopkins showed, it was due to a local infection.

We heard of frogs born deformed and humans were blamed because of pollution. Biologist Stan Sessions showed it was due to a natural parasite. Each week some natural phenomenon is presented as unnatural and by implication due to human activity. A book is needed to list all the claims and threats made that have not occurred, have proved false or are unfounded.

Global warming, and latterly climate change, became the major plank of environmentalist's religious campaign. They used it to dictate and control how everyone else should live and behave, as a survey of the web pages of Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth show. The level of commitment is a real problem. It's exaggerated by the declining economy and people experience the economic impacts of their tactics and extremism.

Leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) disclosed what several scientists had suspected for a long time about the corruption of climate science. Subsequent exposure of the problems with the IPCC Reports led distinguished oceanographer Dr. Robert Stephenson of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and NASA to say, "Even when exposed, the IPCC leaders claimed it was their "right" to change scientific conclusions so that political leaders could better understand the report." "To the world's geophysical community, these unethical practices and total lack of integrity by the leadership of the IPCC have been enough to reveal that their collective claims were - and are - fraudulent." But Bruce Cox, the executive director of Greenpeace "blamed the hacked emails to being politically motivated."

John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, made the same argument, saying: "Mann and his colleagues were simply speaking in their own high-level code, and a number of things were taken out of context.

His remarks underscore lack of understanding of climate science, the serious limitations of the IPCC Reports and what the emails actually disclose. It is not surprising because on March 10 UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, "Let me be clear: the threat posed by climate change is real. Nothing that has been alleged or revealed in the media recently alters the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change. Nor does it diminish the unique importance of the IPCC's work."

Environmentalism was what academics call a paradigm shift. Thomas Kuhn defined them as "a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions." Some attribute the composite photo of the Earth, taken by astronauts in Apollo 8 as the symbolic start of the new paradigm of environmentalism.

Environmental groups grabbed the concept and quickly took the moral high ground preaching that only they cared about the Earth. They went to extremes putting any plant or animal ahead of any human activity or need. Extreme environmentalists profess an anti-humanity, and anti-evolution philosophy. Humans are an aberration according to Ron Arnold, Executive Vice-President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. "Environmentalism intends to transform government, economy, and society in order to liberate nature from human exploitation." David Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service claims Darwin's evolution theory doesn't apply to humans:

"Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line - at about a billion years ago - we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."

Climate scientists at the CRU used the IPCC, a political vehicle established by the UN, to provide the false scientific basis for all energy and environmental policies. They created what Essex and McKitrick called the Doctrine of Certainty in their book Taken by Storm. They define this as, "The basic not-to-be-questioned assertions of the Doctrine are:

1. The Earth is warming.

2. Warming has already been observed.

3. Humans are causing it.

4. All but a handful of scientists on the fringe believe it.

5. Warming is bad.

6. Action is required immediately.

7. Any action is better than none.

8. Claims of uncertainty only cover the ulterior motives of individuals aiming to stop needed action.

9. Those who defend uncertainty are bad people.

They conclude, "The Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to know it is false." Remember this was written before disclosure of the emails and the many IPCC errors.

But the most devastating proof of the scientific inadequacies of the IPCC Reports is the complete failure of every prediction they have made. They were as wrong on every issue as the Club of Rome Limits to Growth predictions. Ability to predict weather accurately is difficult in 24 hours and virtually impossible beyond 72 hours. AGW proponents claimed weather was different than climate and predictable with a degree of certainty.

This is false because climate is an average of the weather. If their claim was correct forecasts in the brief 20 years since their first Report in 1990 would be correct. Every one is wrong. They tried to avoid the problem by switching to a range of scenarios but even the lowest was wrong. These are facts Ban Ki Moon and environmental groups can understand. By ignoring them and crying wolf when the wolf is already in the flock undermines the logical and reasonable adoption of environmentalism.

Environmentalists took over environmentalism and preached to everyone how they knew best and only they cared. How dare they? We are all environmentalists. With blind faith they, deceived, misdirected, threatened, destroyed jobs, careers, opportunities and development. Now those who paid the price will be less willing to listen or support genuine environmental concerns.


French firm develops new nuclear reactors that 'destroy' atomic waste

A NEW type of nuclear reactor that could permanently "destroy" atomic waste is being developed by French scientists, according to chief executive of Areva, the world's largest nuclear energy company. Anne Lauvergeon told The Times that the French group was developing a technology to burn up actinides -- highly radioactive uranium isotopes that are the waste products of nuclear fission inside a reactor. The technology could be critical in winning greater global public support for nuclear energy and cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

"We have developed the highest safety level with (our existing reactors)," she said. "In terms of public acceptance, the remaining issue is the waste. In the future we will be able to destroy the actinides by making them disappear in a special reactor. We can do it already in a laboratory. With research and development, we will address this issue."

The project at Areva is similar to research being carried out at the University of Texas in Austin, where scientists have designed a system that would use fusion to eliminate virtually all the waste produced by civil nuclear reactors. Swadesh Mahajan, senior research scientist at Austin's Institute for Fusion Studies (IFS), believes that the invention could hugely reduce the need for geological repositories for waste. "We want to make nuclear energy as socially and environmentally acceptable as possible," he said. "Nuclear waste cannot be 100 per cent eliminated, but the volume, the toxicity and the biohazard could be reduced by 99 per cent."

The invention could mean, he said, that instead of the world needing to build 100 geological stores for nuclear waste, only one or two might be necessary to store decades of waste.

Mike Kotschenreuther, also of the IFS, said that the technology rested on the use of a spherical hybrid fusion-fission reactor. The waste would be held in a "blanket" around the reactor core and destroyed by firing streams of neutrons at it. He acknowledged that big technical challenges remained, not least that to work effectively the reactor would have to operate continuously, creating the problem of how to extract the destroyed waste.

About 440 nuclear plants are operating in 31 countries worldwide, with a collective generating capacity of 370 gigawatts of electrical power, or 15 per cent of the global total. But electricity produced from nuclear fission also produces 12,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste per year, including plutonium that can be used to manufacture weapons.

Ms Lauvergeon said that the volume of high-level nuclear waste produced by all of France's 58 reactors over the past 40 years could fit in one Olympic-size swimming pool. "Of course, it would be better to have nothing, but this is fully managed and we have to view this issue in a balanced way compared to other solutions." Nuclear power produces more than 80 per cent of French electricity.

The concept of a hybrid fission-fusion reactor was first developed in the 1950s, but little research was conducted for several decades.



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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