Friday, May 14, 2010

Green Movement Hits Yellow Light on Climate

If a climate scientist falls in the forest, does anybody hear? Not if the old media have anything to do with it. Thankfully, in 2010, their hold on the news has started to weaken. But it’s not like they didn’t try. For more than five months, from Nov. 20, 2009, to April 1, 2010, the broadcast networks did all they could to hide a crisis in the climate alarmist movement.

That first event, now called Climate Gate, has grown into a series of global warming scandals that have shaken faith in both the science we are fed on a regular basis and the scientists who do the feeding.

This week in Chicago, the Heartland Institute is bringing together the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, a meeting of hundreds of scientists and policy experts who dare to challenge so-called conventional wisdom on global warming.

Instead of having a meeting, they should be having a celebration.

Not that they’ve won. They haven’t. But for the first time in many years, there is a public understanding that our daily diet of climate propaganda might be somewhat or even entirely bogus. That’s due in a large part to the embarrassments that came out of the initial Climate Gate report where e-mails from University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were leaked to the world.

Those e-mails, and a separate document showing the shoddy data gathering done by those involved, included thousands of messages showing the potential manipulation of temperature data, a willingness to destroy information rather than release it under British Freedom of Information (FOI) law and the intimidation of publications willing to publish skeptical articles.

The most famous of the e-mails included this line for CRU Director Phil Jones to Penn State scientist Michael Mann. Climate geeks know Mann for his hockey stick graph of global warming, which has been key to climate alarmists and even cropped up in Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.”

Jones wrote Mann, saying: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

An e-mail from Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and lead author of three IPCC climate change reports, said this memorable comment: “The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.” Oops.

While Jones had to temporarily step down, the left continues to try and white wash the whole episode.

But skeptics and critics aren’t about to let that happen. A group called Minnesotans for Global Warming (M4GW) created a hilarious parody video mocking Mann called “Hide the Decline.” The video was based on the Tommy James and the Shondells song “Draggin the Line.” Mann screamed bloody murder about the parody and his lawyers claimed it “irreparably harms Dr. Mann’s personal and professional reputation.” The sequel appears on the group’s Web site along with an appeal for donations to a legal defense fund to fend off Mann’s legal attacks.

Mann and other global warming alarmists aren’t just facing video mockery on YouTube. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is “seeking documents related to the work of a former University of Virginia climate scientist, even as the university says it is preparing to comply with Cuccinelli's request,” according to The Washington Post. The former UVA climate scientist is, of course, Mann.

Lefty academics think it unfair that, after decades of suppressing climate skepticism, their own work can be held to some legal standard. Physics Today called the Cuccinelli move “blatantly political.” Science magazine published the complaints of 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences in a letter called “for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association.” According to the May 8 Virginia Pilot, the American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia have “asked U.Va. to fight Cuccinelli's demand.”

The left doesn’t get it. After decades of propaganda, we just don’t trust them anymore. Conservatives aren’t anti-science. They doubt the work of specific scientists who have destroyed data, manipulated their research, bullied those with an opposing view and included outright propaganda in UN reports on the issue.

Despite all this, Al Gore, the patron saint of green wrote on April 27 in the that “Global warming denialists have been re-discredited.” And that lunacy has taken form in Congress. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are unleashing their climate bill – the huge new tax of a “cap-and-trade” proposal.

Just as it was with Climate Gate, you can count on the media not telling us everything about this 1,000-page growth-of-government bill. No matter what they report, remember it’s a big green bill. And if it passes, every one of us will be sending big green to Washington.


Climate no longer G20 top priority

Canada brushed aside a direct public demand Wednesday by the visiting United Nations chief and reiterated that it will not make climate change a priority agenda item when it hosts the G20 summit next month. Prime Minister Stephen Harper stuck to his G20 plan to keep the summit's focus squarely on the global economic recovery after he met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his Parliament Hill office.

Ban said he wanted climate change front and centre on the agenda when Canada hosts the G20 summit next month in Toronto. Ban also exhorted the Conservatives to live up to the greenhouse-gas reduction targets Canada negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol.

"Canada has a special role and special responsibility to play. That is what I am going to emphasize here," Ban told about 500 diplomats, civil society leaders and academics in a packed hotel ballroom before meeting Harper. "I urge Canada to comply fully with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. You can strengthen your mitigation target for the future."

Harper has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated by the previous Liberal government and calls for a six per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 based on 1990 levels. The Conservatives have pledged a 17 per cent reduction by 2020, based on 2005 levels, which is in line with U.S. targets.

An advisory panel has told Harper to play down climate change at the G20, essentially telling him it is too ambitious a topic to tackle now. The prime minister is hosting the G20 in Toronto as well as a G8 leaders' summit in Muskoka, Ont., north of the city.

Harper's spokesman Dimitri Soudas said Ban had a cordial 45-minute conversation with his boss, but the secretary-general failed to convince the prime minister to push climate change to the top of the G20 agenda. Soudas said climate change would be discussed, but not as a priority item.

"Having a discussion of the issue on the margins of the G20 summit is important. But the primary focus of the G20, as per its mandate, is to discuss the economy and that is the government's number one priority," said Soudas.

Soudas said the government is focused on a post-2012 climate framework once Kyoto expires. He said the previous Liberal government "never had a plan to implement it."

Harper's political opponents piled on in the House of Commons, using Ban's comments to push for a greater profile for climate change during next month's talks. "He's right to say that climate change poses an existential threat to all of us," said NDP Leader Jack Layton.

After his own meeting with Ban, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Harper should make climate the lead issue at the G20 meeting. "There are talks ongoing among G20 and G8 members and I expect further discussion on that very important topic," said Harper.

Ignatieff said Ban told him Canada has a leadership role to play "especially in contributing to mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change on poorer countries." "This is a leadership issue. Will the prime minister step up and commit today in the House of Commons to lead on the issue of climate change?"

Harper said the G20 will focus on the global economy but climate change won't be ignored. "I anticipate that a range of subject matters will be talked about, including climate change. This government's position is clear. We support the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time includes all major emitters."

Ban said he asked Harper to press fellow G8 leaders to live up to their previous aid commitments to poor countries and to bring money to the table in Muskoka.

"I'm going to ask the Prime Minister Harper, as chair of the G8, that he must make sure that G8 leaders come . . . with their commitment delivered. I hope Prime Minister Harper will work on the phones before they come."


Window Dressing Cap and Trade Won’t Make the Costs Go Away

Last year Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) rolled out a companion cap and trade bill to the Waxman-Markey version that passed in the House of Representatives. Boxer-Kerry was essentially dead on arrival so Senator Kerry went back to work, this time with Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Although Senator Graham is urging his colleagues to slow down, Senators Kerry and Lieberman are trudging forward and have introduced the American Power Act – the latest big climate change bill. Subtitled, “A New Start for Clean American Power and a New Economy,” this bill fails when it comes to energy production and job creation. APA is a new climate bill that tells the same old story: corporate handouts that raise energy prices for years to come.

John Kerry made his sales pitch in The Hill today saying, “There’s a reason why people and American businesses that have always opposed and fought against previous legislation – quite successfully! – are standing behind this one.” It’s because they were offered a seat at the table leaving the rest of America to pick up the tab. Take the words of one major electricity CEO who said, “We don’t flinch from the charge that, yes, some of our motivation and enthusiasm comes from the fact that we should make money on it if it happens.” As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner stresses, the handouts will go to the businesses that won the lobbying battle while the costs will be passed onto the consumer. It’s no surprise “influence spending” is up 25 percent for the first quarter of 2010 compared to last year.

Other sections of the bill attempt to win support but are nothing more than gimmicks. Farmers, for example, are exempt from CO2 reductions requirement and have the potential to earn revenue through a domestic carbon offset program where farmers can use cleaner technology, use cleaner insecticides, or even not grow crops. In other words, farmers will be paid to reduce their emissions. But carbon offsets won’t compensate for the lost income farmers incur because of higher energy prices. Farmers use a lot of electricity, a lot of diesel fuel, and a lot of natural gas-derived chemicals and fertilizers to grow crops and maintain their farms. The result could be income losses in the billions. This is merely one section in a nearly 1000-page bill that grants the government more control over our economy and aims to protect certain groups at the expense of others.

For all the Americans who didn’t have a seat at the table, the story is not as glamorous. This is a significant tax on energy that will reduce Americans’ income and destroy jobs. Neither cap and trade nor any of its variations can protect consumers. The whole reason for a cap and trade system is to drive up energy prices high enough for people to use less. Despite claims that consumers will eventually save money and that the will be rebated back to the consumer, the net effect is that consumers still pay more for energy and income and savings will fall. In spite of the best attempts by households and businesses to adjust to CO2 caps, the ensuing higher energy costs impose extraordinary losses on the economy. Even a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office shows net job losses from carbon capping policies.

And what’s it all for? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger modeled the environmental benefits and found, “The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.”

This is not a jobs bill, nor is it an economic stimulus or a pollution reduction bill. Dress it up however you’d like. It’s still an energy tax that will inflict significant damage on the American economy.


Subsidized Green Jobs Still Destroy Jobs Elsewhere

Last month Politico reported that the alternative energy sector had upped its lobbying efforts from $2.4 million in 1998 to $30 million in 2009. So what is the renewable power industry getting for its investment? Studies like this one by Navigant Consulting, Inc. for the Renewable Electricity Standard-Alliance for Jobs. The RES Alliance study found that “that a 25% by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more renewable energy jobs over no-national RES policy.”

Which is great news if you own a renewable electricity business. But what if you’re not? What if you manufacture widgets and you need inexpensive power to stay in business? The RES Alliance study tells you nothing about what happens to those jobs. It never even tries.

The reality is that Renewable Electricity Standards will cause energy prices to go up and that those higher energy prices will lead to job losses throughout the economy. Just ho many jobs will RES destroy on net? The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis crunched the numbers and found that an RES would reduce employment by more than 1,000,000 jobs.

The idea that forcing Americans to pay artificially high energy prices thanks to renewable electricity standards is a classic example Frederic Bastiat broken window fallacy. In 1850 Bastiat wrote:
Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son happened to break a pane of glass? … Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade—that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs—I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.


Insiders Cash In, Consumers Pay Under New Energy Bill

The Energy Costs Al Gore Would Like You to Pay

Major players in Washington cheered the latest version of an energy bill, which tries to buy votes with “something for almost everyone.” But beleaguered consumers will get stuck with skyrocketing bills after others feast on new government benefits.

We can expect any new “green jobs” to be offset by a larger loss of existing jobs, possibly up to 3-million, depending on details of how the bill’s cap-and-trade system is implemented to tax carbon dioxide emissions.

“Climate Plan Aims to Provide Something for Everyone,” headlined Congress Daily about the re-worked legislation from Senators John Kerry (D, MA) and Joe Lieberman (D, CT). That same phrase was echoed by a multitude of media.

But the “something” for everyday Americans is higher utility bills—another hit for struggling families in a sour economy.

If the massive new bill stalls from its own complexity, Sen. Harry Reid says he’ll pursue a simpler-but-still-costly backup plan: Dictating that an ever-increasing portion of electric power must be generated from sources other than fossil fuels—a so-called RES “renewable energy standard” which by itself could cost a million jobs as well as higher electric bills averaging $2,400 a year for a typical family.

Just like the Kerry-Lieberman bill, the RES would force higher bills on unwilling and skeptical Americans.

According to Rasmussen Reports, only 18% of voters are willing to pay even $300 a year for cleaner energy or to fight global warming. And 56% of all voters say they aren’t willing to pay anything more at all in taxes and utility costs. (19% said they’d pay only $100 more a year.)

Consumers would pay as businesses passed along the new costs created by the bill. Many benefited groups gathered to attend and support the Kerry-Lieberman announcement, thanks to the potpourri of billions in federal subsidies, incentives and programs. The New York Times wrote, “The Kerry-Lieberman proposal . . . provid[es] something for every major energy interest — loan guarantees for nuclear plant operators, incentives for use of natural gas in transportation, exemptions from emissions caps for heavy industry, free pollution permits for utilities and modest carbon dioxide limits for oil refiners.” The Times identified the Edison Electric Institute, Nuclear Energy Institute, Duke Energy, and FPL Group as being there; stated that written statements of support were expected from oil giants British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell; and reported that the bill had bought silence from the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s public response was timid: “We thank Senators Kerry and Lieberman, as well as Senator Graham, for their work to constructively engage the business community on these issues. The Kerry-Lieberman bill is a work in progress. Few in Congress or the business community have had a chance to review the entire bill.”

For everyday Americans, the bill is nothing to cheer. Ben Lieberman, senior energy and environment policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told Talk Radio News Service that the APA amounts to nothing more than a giant energy tax. “The only way to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is to raise the cost of energy,” he said. “They have to raise costs high enough so that people are forced to use less, that’s how this works.”

But according to handouts from Kerry and Lieberman, “roughly two-thirds of the revenues generated by the new law would be passed back to consumers through energy bill discounts or direct rebates”. That sounds like a store that jacks up prices then offers a “discount” that still leaves a 33% price hike.

A major backer of the Tea Party movement, FreedomWorks, quickly condemned the measure as “the largest tax hike in history, and would hit the poor and middleclass, who spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials like electricity and fuel, the hardest.”

They added, “Cap and trade will bring sky high energy prices for consumers and a new government slush fund for Washington. A twenty-seven cent “Fuels’ Fee” on every gallon of gasoline included in the bill means not just higher prices at the pump, but higher prices on shipping and food production. Higher energy costs will put the cost of doing business through the roof and send American jobs overseas at a time of record unemployment.”

As President Obama personally predicted, his own plan will make our electricity rates “skyrocket” as higher costs are passed on to consumers.


Geoscientist says Australian science body should get money to prove that the Medieval Warm Period was global

The writer below is a professor of geoscience but makes his case for funding by omitting a lot of the evidence he should be aware of -- such as the borehole data I mentioned recently. He's got Buckley's chance anyway as skeptical science doesn't get official funding

THE deferral of Australia's emissions trading scheme for three years allows us time for additional scientific studies that may be critical in shaping future legislation.

A touchstone in the debate on causes of global warming is the record of global temperatures of past millennia. Most who follow this debate are familiar with the cooling from the 16th to 18th centuries known as the Little Ice Age; this is generally accepted as a global phenomenon.

Most are also aware of the Medieval Warm Period covering much of the 9th to 15th centuries. This has been the source of greater debate because, while it is clear in anecdotal descriptions from Europe, such as Vikings growing crops in Greenland, it is less clear whether it is a global phenomenon. The debate has high stakes because the rate of warming and temperatures attained in Europe during the MWP are of similar order to the warming of past decades. If the MWP were to be proven to be global, then the basis of present science stating that industrial-era carbon emissions are the dominant cause of today's warming would be significantly undermined.

One of the giants of global warming science, Wally Broecker of Columbia University in New York, wrote a discussion in 2001 of evidence for the MWP being a global phenomenon, concluding tentative support for its global nature. Three years later, Phil Jones, now director of the Climate Research Unit, East Anglia, co-authored a review that concluded the MWP was a regional phenomenon. The IPCC4 report of 2007 concluded similarly; curiously, Broecker's paper did not get a mention.

Proving the MWP or other historic and prehistoric European warm periods to be global is not easy because large-scale atmospheric-ocean interactions are capable of producing either or both of warming in one hemisphere matched by cooling in the other, and warming in high latitudes balanced by cooling in tropical latitudes.

A statistical analysis of all the available temperature records by Michael Mann and colleagues of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, published in Science last year, also concluded the MWP was regional. However, that study was dominated by northern hemisphere records, leaving open the question of whether more global data may give a more global conclusion.

The ongoing importance of debate over the MWP is underscored by comments by Jones in a recent BBC interview, where he said the MWP was best expressed in records from the northern hemisphere, adding: "If the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today [based on an equivalent coverage over the northern and southern hemispheres] then obviously the late-20th-century warmth would not be unprecedented."

Undoubtedly the truth is contained in temperature records written in terrestrial biological records, ice sheets and rocks. Thus far, however, the process of deciphering those records has been successful at only a couple of dozen sites, distributed unevenly across the globe.

There are climate records from the southern hemisphere, from Cold Air Cave stalagmites in northern South Africa, tree rings in Tasmania and New Zealand, and ice core records in Law Dome, Antarctica, all of which show an imprint of a medieval warming.

One of these localities, the Cold Air Cave stalagmites, has been studied for more than a decade by a team led by Karin Holmgren of Stockholm University, Sweden. A reduction in temperature of about a degree is evident for the Little Ice Age. Before that we see a 700-year stretch of time corresponding to the MWP, which contains perhaps eight approximately 100-year-long cycles, of which five show temperatures similar to or greater than those of the past century. The authors postulate these centennial cycles are driven by variations attributable to the sun. But results from a single site do not prove the warming and cooling to be global.

I am not aware of any comparable published studies in Australia; it would be most instructive if evidence for a MWP and centennial climate cycles were to emerge - or be proved absent - from studies across a range of latitudes on this continent. Indeed, if the centennial cycles noted in South Africa are sun-driven, we may well ask if we have similar cycling in our own climate; the great Federation drought (1895-1902) and the present drought of southeastern Australia might be seen as part of a cyclic continuum rather than the latter being attributed mainly to anthropogenic global warming.

Another tool for documenting climate change in past centuries was announced in March in the journal Nature. William Patterson, an isotope chemist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, led a team in a study of oxygen isotope data in clam shells recovered from a drill hole in a bay off the coast of Iceland. Unlike tree rings (which yield at best annual temperature variations) growth lines in the clam shells yield weekly or even daily temperature records. Patterson's work affirms evidence for the MWP in Iceland.

This high-resolution method may be applied to clam or other shells in coastal geological records the world over. It has the potential to answer quantitatively the key scientific question of whether the medieval warming was a global phenomenon. If the answer were to be yes, then warming during the past century should be seen as predominantly natural climate change rather than driven by man-made carbon emissions. A legislative response would be no less important but would focus on environmental management of the consequences of change.

There is a huge opportunity for CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology to extend their recent climate assessment, which was based on 1960-2010 data, to incorporate fossil-shell, cave-deposit and tree-ring records from tropical to Antarctic Australia and territories. This would cost a few per cent of the $652 million allocated on Tuesday to the new Renewable Energy Future Fund. It would make Australia a leader in addressing a great scientific challenge of our time.



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