Thursday, May 27, 2010
Paris, Berlin Join Climate Revolt Over Unilateral Climate Targets
France and Germany yesterday joined the growing ranks of European countries opposed to making further unilateral moves on climate change, as the European Commission today plans to make the case for raising the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction goal from -20% to -30% by 2020.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels on Tuesday (25 May), French industry minister Christian Estrosi and his German colleague Rainer Brüderle said other nations would have to make similar commitments before Europe makes the move.
"We have taken an ambitious commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020," Estrosi explained, adding that Paris and Berlin would back a move to -30% only if other nations made "comparable commitments".
"The conditional offer [to -30%] remains" but "we do not know the offers of other countries," he said, without citing China or the United States.
The common declaration by France and Germany signals a hardening of Europe’s policy on climate change, six months after the failure of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
It also deals a blow to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action Commissioner, who is expected to recommend today (26 May) that Europe raises its greenhouse gas reduction target from -20% to -30% by 2020.
Estrosi said industries would move their factories and jobs abroad if Europe made the move unilaterally. "The climate will lose out, industries will lose out and employment policies will lose out," he warned.
Ultimately, he stressed that such a decision would rest on EU heads of states and governments, not on the European Commission.
Climate Fears Turn To Doubts Among Britons
Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?
Nowhere has this shift in public opinion been more striking than in Britain, where climate change was until this year such a popular priority that in 2008 Parliament enshrined targets for emissions cuts as national law. But since then, the country has evolved into a home base for a thriving group of climate skeptics who have dominated news reports in recent months, apparently convincing many that the threat of warming is vastly exaggerated.
A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.
And London’s Science Museum recently announced that a permanent exhibit scheduled to open later this year would be called the Climate Science Gallery — not the Climate Change Gallery as had previously been planned.
“Before, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this climate change problem is just dreadful,’ ” said Jillian Leddra, 50, a musician who was shopping in London on a recent lunch hour. “But now I have my doubts, and I’m wondering if it’s been overhyped.”
Perhaps sensing that climate is now a political nonstarter, David Cameron, Britain’s new Conservative prime minister, was “strangely muted” on the issue in a recent pre-election debate, as The Daily Telegraph put it, though it had previously been one of his passions.
And a poll in January of the personal priorities of 141 Conservative Party candidates deemed capable of victory in the recent election found that “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” was the least important of the 19 issues presented to them.
Politicians and activists say such attitudes will make it harder to pass legislation like a fuel tax increase and to persuade people to make sacrifices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Legitimacy has shifted to the side of the climate skeptics, and that is a big, big problem,” Ben Stewart, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said at the meeting of environmentalists here. “This is happening in the context of overwhelming scientific agreement that climate change is real and a threat. But the poll figures are going through the floor.”
The lack of fervor about climate change is also true of the United States, where action on climate and emissions reduction is still very much a work in progress, and concern about global warming was never as strong as in Europe. A March Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans believed that the seriousness of global warming was “generally exaggerated,” up from 41 percent a year ago.
Here in Britain, the change has been driven by the news media’s intensive coverage of a series of climate science controversies unearthed and highlighted by skeptics since November. These include the unauthorized release of e-mail messages from prominent British climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that skeptics cited as evidence that researchers were overstating the evidence for global warming and the discovery of errors in a United Nations climate report.
Apollo Mission: a Giant Leap Discrediting Greenhouse Gas Theory
By John O'Sullivan
Climate sceptic scientists trash the greenhouse gas theory of Earth's climate by applying long-overlooked data collected during the Apollo Moon landings
The paper, ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon’ is a cogently-argued scientific refutation of the basic equations used by global warming theorists. Apparently, climate scientists may have falsely assumed Earth’s "average" temperature all along.
The study refutes the numeric bedrock of the greenhouse gas theory (GHG) by applying data collected by NASA decades ago. It seems during the Apollo Moon landings era NASA devised a whole new set of hitherto unreported equations, more reliable than those relied upon by supporters of the GHG theory, to get Neil Armstrong's carbon boot prints safely planted on that airless Sea of Tranquility.
The paper is co-authored by Martin Hertzberg, PhD, Consultant in Science and Technology, Alan Siddons, a former radiochemist and Hans Schreuder, a retired analytical chemist. The researchers had the bright idea of delving back into NASA’s archives to test the so-called Stefan-Boltzmann equations in fine detail. The three men stumbled on the embarrassing flaws during an online debate on the science behind global warming.
Published online on May 24, 2010, the study argues that the fatal flaw has always lain in Stefan-Boltzmann's equations. The long-trusted formula has been used by climatologists without question-until now. The researchers reveal that the guessed at numbers used in those equations are the“first assumption that climate science makes when predicting the Earth's temperature.”
NASA Abandoned Flawed Climate Calculations in 1960’s
Siddons, Hertzberg and Schreuder were astonished to find that “the principal method for predicting a planet's temperature is surprisingly arbitrary and simplistic.” That was, they believe, why NASA needed to scorn the blackbody equations when doing their own calculations for the Moon landings.
To climate sceptic scientists it seems self-evident that the Earth’s surface should not be treated like a flat, two-dimensional blackbody. It is more properly a complex spinning sphere with large variability in reflectivity and absorption of the Sun’s light and energy. But, despite the U.S. government knowing since the 1960's that the blackbody equations were of no use to real-world science, these facts don't appear to have been passed on to climatologists.
‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon’ is a fillip to global warming sceptics because it proves that super-power scientists can and do get their numbers right when it's a matter of life and death.
Lunar Temperatures Disprove Climate Theory
NASA had found that daytime temperatures on the lunar surface were lower than expected because planetary bodies also conduct heat to their inside rather than radiating it all into space -an embarrassing empirical fact for believers of the GHG theory. Their computer models erroneously predicted that such heat energy would be ‘blanketed’ above a planet's surface.
In fact, the Apollo data proves the Moon’s surface temperatures throughout its two-week night were higher than predicted by the blackbody equations because the moon "feeds on" the heat it had previously absorbed-contrary to the accepted GHG theory.
Thus the success of NASA’s moon landings becomes the proof of the unreliability of the Stefan- Boltzmann equations in real world science.
Stefan-Boltzmann Calculations Way Out
The paper tells us how far out Stefan-Boltzmann’s crude equations really are, “the surface of the real moon is roughly 20° cooler than predicted by day and 60° warmer by night, the net result being a surface that is 40° warmer than predicted.”
But it isn’t just Earth’s Moon that refuses to comply with the GHG theory. Other planets don’t conform either. As the paper tells us, “The atmosphere of every planet in our solar system is also 'warmer than predicted.’”
The three scientists pointedly ask GHG believers, “Is it any surprise, then, that even a relatively simple body like the moon would refuse to conform to such a method?”
Other scientists have also come out to refute the greenhouse gas theory. Some even go as far as to say the theory actually contravenes the established laws of physics.
The Earth is not “Unusually” Warm
The paper concludes that the Earth is not “unusually” warm. It is the application of the predictive blackbody equation that is faulty and overly simplistic and should not be applied in a real-world context. The proven ability of common substances (e.g. the Earth’s Moon) to store heat makes a mockery of all such blackbody estimates.
Along with the Climategate revelations these new findings will come as a blow to the beleaguered Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has placed enormous reliance on catastrophic predictions based on discredited research around greenhouse gas theory. Even some IPCC scientists have denounced the theory.
Are Climate Equations Mere Junk Science?
It appears so, if this analysis of NASA’s Apollo numbers is correct. The Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody equations failed to give NASA the crucial information it required on the Moon’s day and night temperatures. Thus, NASA scientists had to create their own blackbody sun-angle model to chart the lunar surface temperatures astronauts might encounter.
Pointedly, NASA no longer shows any supposed greenhouse gas "backradiation" in its relevant graphic representation of the energy budget of the Earth. In simple terms, GHG theory may have applied an “average temperature” method of no more use than a rule of thumb calculation on the back of a cigarette packet.
The moral of the story is: if guesstimates were not good enough for NASA concerned for the safefy of its astronauts, then why are they good enough for the IPCC or world governments proposing billion-dollar cap and trade taxes on western nations?
Skepticism at the EPA! Their analysis shows that cap 'n trade will have no effect on climate
But the eccentric Steven Chu disagrees, without saying why (but we can guess why, given his record of climate activism. He even wants the world to run on glucose rather than oil. Like a lot of things, it could theoretically be made to happen but the idea is way outside of ANY mainstream)
During a hearing today in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate. Moreover, when presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.
“I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels,” Administrator Jackson said.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) presented the chart to both Jackson and Secretary Chu, which shows that meaningful emissions reductions cannot occur without aggressive action by China, India, and other developing countries.
“I am encouraged that Administrator Jackson agrees that unilateral action by the U.S. will be all cost for no climate gain,” Sen. Inhofe said. “With China and India recently issuing statements of defiant opposition to mandatory emissions controls, acting alone through the job-killing Waxman-Markey bill would impose severe economic burdens on American consumers, businesses, and families, all without any impact on climate.”
Along with Administrator Jackson’s statement, Energy Secretary Chu responded with an unequivocal “no” when asked whether he agrees with the analysis depicted in the EPA chart. “No, I don’t’ agree with that [EPA] chart,” Chu asserted.
“I was somewhat surprised that Secretary Chu disagreed with EPA’s analysis of what would happen if the U.S. acts alone to address climate change, which cap-and-trade supporters claim is a global problem,” Sen. Inhofe said. “EPA’s analysis that global greenhouse gas emission levels can only be stabilized with meaningful, mandatory action by China and India is widely accepted. I extend an invitation to the Secretary to see whether he wants to clarify his remarks.”
Reasons Not To Be Fearful
Dominic Lawson reviews a book:
What can the publishers of this book have been thinking? Surely everyone knows that the surest path into the bestseller charts for popular-science writers has always been to prophesy imminent doom for humanity.
Fifty years ago bookshops couldn’t sell enough hysterical potboilers about how we would all starve as a result of overpopulation; then, in the 1970s, the fad was for tomes on how we would run out of energy resources; in the 1980s “acid rain” was the overhyped danger, complete with artists’ impressions of annihilated forests. In the last decade of the 20th century, the “millennium bug” was the publishers’ bogey du jour. Now global warming is the latest apparently existential threat to every man, woman and child on earth, born or unborn.
Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist, in glorious contrast, tells us what we really should want to hear: that the human species, through our unique ability to exchange ideas and thus innovate at the speed of thought, has overcome all the challenges that have ever confronted us, and will do so in future. Ridley’s particular contribution is to combine the insights of Adam Smith (how all benefit through trade and the specialisation of functions) with those of Darwin (how species evolve through breeding). Ridley calls this “ideas having sex” and the characteristic of the modern interconnected world is that ideas are having it away with each other with ever-increasing frequency: “The telephone had sex with the computer and spawned the internet.”
There are many important people who don’t want to hear the good news, who see globalisation and uncontrolled trade as a threat to everything they hold dear. They include our national Eeyore, Prince Charles, and his landowner chums of the Soil Association, who say that what they call “sustainability” can only be achieved through self-sufficiency and a rejection of agricultural science. As Ridley observes, based on a whirlwind tour of every sort of society at every point in history, self-sufficiency is just a posh word for poverty: the two are inseparable. It is, of course, those furthest from starvation who find this fact hardest to appreciate.
We must stop saying ‘The science demands...’
Top climate-change expert Mike Hulme (of the UEA!) tells spiked it is a scandal that scientific claims are increasingly usurping politics and morality. Hulme has long seemed uncomfortable about global warming and he here goes as near as he dares to dissing it. His job would be on the line if he rubbished it altogether
‘To say that the science demands a certain policy response to climate change is just a wrong reading of the relationship between science and policy.’
Mike Hulme, professor of climate change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, is a passionate advocate of science. Yet, as he tells spiked, when it comes to climate change, too many people expect too much of science. Physics and ethics seem to have become conflated in the climate change debate. We see politicians expecting science to determine policy; we see environmental campaigners, armed with peer-reviewed papers, expecting it to win all the arguments; and, in turn, we see so-called sceptics expecting their science to refute the green vision of society. But for Hulme, author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, science cannot, and should not, be expected to do these things. It is no substitute, he argues, for politics or for moral judgements.
‘The phraseology that I object to – because it’s inappropriate – is “the science demands this” and “the science demands that”, as though the making of climate policy, or policy in general in fact, is a simple process of translating scientific evidence or scientific knowledge claims directly into policy. In no area of policy is that the case – least of all in climate change, where the making of policy has to bring in a much wider range of pieces of evidence and also political and ethical considerations.’
So how should we grasp the relationship between science and policymaking? ‘I do think that scientific knowledge about climate change is very important’, says Hulme. ‘Science is a unique and very powerful way of bringing understanding to bear on how the physical world works. Scientists have been able to reveal the fact that humans are an influence on the climate system and are likely to continue to be so. And that evidence, that knowledge, should be brought into public and policy deliberations. But it then has to be interpreted alongside these other considerations – political, ethical, moral and so on.’
Hulme is keen to point out the limits to what climate science can tell us about the future: ‘Scientific knowledge around climate change can only speak with large uncertainty margins about what may or may not happen. Yes, climates will continue to change in the future because of human emissions. But putting exact numbers on changes, and therefore predicting what risks lie ahead, is extremely difficult for science to do. So it’s important for scientific knowledge to be adequately hedged in public debate and policy discussion with appropriate caveats and caution about uncertainty.
‘That is not the same as saying that this knowledge is not useful or that it should be ignored. Most scientific knowledge is uncertain. Most scientific insights are hedged with caution or uncertainty. But that’s exactly why judgement – political, ethical, moral judgement – has to be used for making policy.’
He goes further still: just as science cannot make decisions for us, he says, so the arguments about climate change today ought not to be grasped as being scientific in origin: ‘I certainly think politics and ethics explain why people have so many different positions on climate change. I think that deeper-seated issues [inform the arguments]: different cultural perspectives on the relationship between humanity and the natural world; different attitudes to, for example, the responsibilities that humans have as opposed to those of the divinities that people believe in – the role of religion becomes important here.
‘Even in a secular setting, people have very different attitudes that inform their relationship to climate change. For instance, some see nature, and therefore the planet, as something that is fragile and easily dislocated. Others see that nature is actually quite robust and resilient. And then there are different attitudes – secular or religious – to technology. People have very different views on the ability of technology to mitigate against risk and danger. Some people see technology as inherently loaded with further problems and complications and unintended side effects.’
Given evident disagreements about climate change, and climate change-driven policy, how should we understand the meaning of a scientific ‘consensus’? ‘In science’, Hulme says, ‘phrases such as “the scientific consensus” or “the IPCC consensus” are frequently used. I do think it’s important to understand what this process of consensus-making in science is all about. There are criticisms from both sides of the debate around this thing called scientific consensus. Some people criticise it by saying, “Well, science doesn’t work by consensus, science works by testing, by experimentation, by falsification. It’s not a democracy. Ninety-nine per cent of scientists can be wrong and one per cent might be right.” So actually, some people criticise the IPCC process because it’s using an inappropriate method for producing knowledge claims. Other people, meanwhile, actually interpret consensus as meaning certainty. I think it’s important to unpack what is meant by consensus in science.’
Ironically, he says, the search for a consensus on the science of climate change is evidence of deep divisions on this issue. ‘Consensus in science only makes sense if there is disagreement amongst experts’, he says. ‘If all the experts agreed, you wouldn’t need to go through this process of consensus-making. Hence we don’t need to go through a process of consensus-making around the laws of gravity. But a process of consensus-making around climate change is important because there is disagreement. So actually consensus assumes disagreement amongst scientists.
‘But what the process of forming a consensus does do is establish where the centre of opinion lies, given the spectrum of views and judgements. So it’s not just about consensus knowledge, it’s about the spectrum of beliefs. And those two things actually work together: there’s a wide spectrum of beliefs about aspects of climate change, but nevertheless this is where the centre of gravity lies. And that’s a slightly more subtle position than simply saying “the IPCC consensus is this or that”.’
Yet if consensus is predicated upon disagreement, why, politically, is there so much anxiety about anyone appearing to challenge the consensus, with people branded as ‘deniers’ and modern-day heretics if they dare to question what some greens mistakenly consider to be concrete agreement amongst leading experts? ‘One of the reasons for that’, says Hulme, ‘is because of this belief that there is a specific relationship between scientific knowledge and policy. As a result, it is argued that you have to have clear and certain scientific knowledge that will translate into clear and certain policy. And if the science is presented as being not clear and not certain, then the whole argument, or the whole policy, breaks down.
‘And that’s why so many of the battles, so many of the ideological battles, are fought through the proxies of science and scientists – because people think that if you win that battle, then you’ve won the policy battle. This again is an inappropriate understanding. Actually, the ideological battles, the policy battles, have to be held on the territory of politics, ethics, worldviews and beliefs. That’s where the legitimate battle should be held.’
Hulme cites the 2007 Stern Review as an example of the worrying effacement of political and ethical debate in favour of apparent scientific facts: ‘It offered a very powerful economic case for early and urgent action on climate change. But actually what didn’t get debated in the Stern Review – and it should have been – was the ethical dimension that underpinned the economic analysis. There was just so much focus on the numbers. But the argument should have been held around the ethical decisions that Lord Stern’s team made about discounting the future at very low discount rates or using inequality of risk parameters that seemed to give very little weight to the contemporary poor in favour of the unborn poor. Those are not matters of science, they are matters of ethical judgement. And you can get a radically different set of policy pronouncements depending on where you fall on that ethical spectrum.
‘So really, what the Stern Review should have catalysed is a major public debate on how we value the future, how we value the present, how we value the contemporary poor versus the unborn poor. And Stern took a very particular ethical line. And you can agree with it or you can disagree with it, but it should have been centre-stage. Instead, the final arguments were drawn from economics again, as though that provides the one single route for policy development.
‘The battle, the argument, the public debate’, Hulme argues, ‘should be around these matters – values, beliefs and ethics – rather than continually reverting back to the science to try to provide the certainty and the clarity. Because science, particularly in this area of complex systems, like the Earth system, is never going to provide that kind of certainty.’
All of which raises the question: why isn’t the battle, the argument and the public debate about the Good Life, about how we should organise society, being had in its own terms? Why is it being had through the prism of climate science?
‘This question opens up a much bigger set of issues which don’t just pertain to climate change’, he answers. ‘People have been thinking and writing about this in the much wider context of the political, cultural and ideological mood at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. It involves the erasure of ideological difference in political life and the accompanying trivialisation of politics. It involves the unwillingness of Western liberal democracies to engage in debates and arguments about fundamental questions of value, purpose and meaning, because, to an extent, we’ve all bought into the liberal capitalist model which delivers very comfortable lives for most of us.
‘So I think that it’s the wider cultural phenomenon in which climate change sits that helps to explain why we’d rather argue about whether this is good science or bad science or whether a scientist is being influenced by oil companies or by environmental alarmists. We’d rather have those sorts of arguments because they seem more comforting and less challenging than arguments about the scandal of global poverty in a world of affluence, or the question of whether we can really secure unfettered capitalist growth at three per cent of GDP per annum for the next 300 years. Those much more challenging and unsettling arguments we’d rather not have. And so the convenient arguments, the much more narrowly bounded ones about good and bad science, take their place.’
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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here
Posted by JR at 4:27 PM