Monday, May 03, 2010
The week that was
By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is launching a new web site, www.NIPCCreport.org. It is now going through its shakedown cruise. The objective will be to post the latest scientific literature that is of interest to the climate change community, particularly those who question IPCC claims.
This week, politics are tumultuous. Facing election, Prime Minister Rudd of Australia punted on “cap and tax” until 2013 showing that to him political survival is more important and the greatest moral imperative facing the world. New Zealand’s Environmental Trading Scheme (cap and tax) is facing opposition with the business community up in arms. Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is moving away from any binding international agreements on cap and tax.
The British government is in the middle of an election campaign and thus far the parties are all ignoring environmental schemes and their costs to the citizens. And at this moment, the Democrats in the US Senate are schizophrenic. Should they pass a sweeping immigration law giving citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants in hopes of picking up additional voters? Or should they address the cap and tax bill disguised under any other name? It appears that politicians are beginning to realize that the citizens, “the great unwashed,” are becoming aware that the science is shoddy and the schemes are extremely costly.
ClimateGate continues but the great deference shown to those involved by the investigating organizations may be over. Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has demanded that the University of Virginia produce a swath of documents relating to Michael Mann’s receipt of nearly half a million dollars in state grant-funded climate research conducted while Mann was at UVA between 1999 and 2005. To most, it may not be illegal to manipulate data thereby falsify science. However to receive Virginia taxpayer money by doing so may be a violation of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayer Act. The caterwauling by the academic community should be most interesting.
In the interim, the US EPA continues its relentless march to control the US economy by demanding control of carbon dioxide emissions. In the name of ocean acidification, EPA is insisting on regulations to further control the run-off of water from rain. The logic is incredible. According to EPA, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase carbon dioxide in the oceans – thus lower the pH. Yet, EPA claims that atmospheric carbon dioxide causes warming. As shown by the Vostok ice cores, warming results in increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, from ocean outgassing – warm water cannot hold as much dissolved gas as cold water. To EPA power and control take precedence over logical consistency.
A tour of the southwestern part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, once some of the most productive farmland in the world, reveals the triumph of Federal policy by such agencies. Last year the Federal government cut off 90 percent of the irrigation water to about 500,000 acres, about the size of Rhode Island. This killed tens of thousands of acres of crops and thousands of acres of orchards. Unemployment in thriving farming communities went up to 40%. For thousands of years, a hallmark of civilizations has been irrigating arid lands to make them bountiful. These agencies are engaged in a campaign against civilization and the American citizen.
The leaking oil well and the resulting oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico are terrible news for those who have been supporting offshore drilling. No doubt, extremists will seize upon this unfortunate event to try to prevent drilling everywhere.
Virginia Attorney General targets UVA papers in Climategate salvo
No one can accuse Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of shying from controversy. In his first four months in office, Cuccinelli directed public universities to remove sexual orientation from their anti-discrimination policies, attacked the Environmental Protection Agency, and filed a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform. Now, it appears, he may be preparing a legal assault on an embattled proponent of global warming theory who used to teach at the University of Virginia, Michael Mann.
In papers sent to UVA April 23, Cuccinelli’s office commands the university to produce a sweeping swath of documents relating to Mann’s receipt of nearly half a million dollars in state grant-funded climate research conducted while Mann— now director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State— was at UVA between 1999 and 2005.
If Cuccinelli succeeds in finding a smoking gun like the purloined emails that led to the international scandal dubbed Climategate, Cuccinelli could seek the return of all the research money, legal fees, and trebled damages.
“Since it’s public money, there’s enough controversy to look in to the possible manipulation of data,” says Dr. Charles Battig, president of the nonprofit Piedmont Chapter Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment, a group that doubts the underpinnings of climate change theory.
Mann is one of the lead authors of the controversial “hockey stick graph,” which contends that global temperatures have experienced a sudden and unprecedented upward spike (like the shape of a hockey stick).
UVA spokesperson Carol Wood says the school will fulfill its legal obligation, noting that the scope of the documents requested mean it could take some time. Mann had not returned a reporter’s calls at posting time, but Mann— whose research remains under investigation at Penn State— recently defended his work in a front page story in USA Today saying while there could be “minor” errors in his work there’s nothing that would amount to fraud or change his ultimate conclusions that the earth is warming as a result of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels.
“Mike is an outstanding and extremely reputable climate scientist,” says UVA climate faculty member Howie Epstein. “And I don’t really know what they’re looking for or expecting to find.”
Among the documents Cuccinelli demands are any and all emailed or written correspondence between or relating to Mann and more than 40 climate scientists, documents supporting any of five applications for the $484,875 in grants, and evidence of any documents that no longer exist along with proof of why, when, and how they were destroyed or disappeared...
The Attorney General has the right to make such demands for documents under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, a 2002 law designed to keep government workers honest.
Some Serious Questions about Nuclear Energy
By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
The White House has announced the termination of the Yucca Mountain project to provide a long-term and safe ‘engineered disposal site’ for spent nuclear reactor fuel (what many enviros refer to as a ‘nuclear waste dump’). Presumably, the WH action will help Senator Harry Reid (Dem–Nevada) as he seeks re-election in November 2010 (or am I just being cynical?).
A 1983 law calls for such disposal by the US government, so here are some questions for Secretary of Energy Dr Steven Chu:
1. Is Yucca now irrevocably dead? Y/N
2. If YES, do you see another 20-yr search shaping up to qualify another site? Y/N
3. If NO, does DOE just ignore the law; can nuclear utilities stop paying fees to DOE, and claim a refund (approaching $20 billion)?
4. Do you have any clue what this WH plans to do?
5. Do you see this EPA ever approving any kind of disposal of spent fuel (aside from the status quo of on-site storage) – in view of exaggerated fears of minute amounts of radioactivity?
6. Is this lack of a permanent disposal site likely to result in lawsuits that can stop nuclear energy --- or seriously delay it or drive up costs prohibitively?
7. In other words: Does cancelation of Yucca spell the end for a nuclear future for the US?
SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #14-2010 (May 1, 2010)
Phil Jones finally admits that The Medieval Warm Period in Greenland was warmer than today
Discussing: Vinther, B.M., Jones, P.D., Briffa, K.R., Clausen, H.B., Andersen, K.K., Dahl-Jensen, D. and Johnsen, S.J. 2010. "Climatic signals in multiple highly resolved stable isotope records from Greenland". Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 522-538.
The authors introduce the report of their new study by writing that "during the past 10 years studies of seasonal ice core δ18O records from the Greenland ice sheet have indicated, that in order to gain a firm understanding of the relationships between Greenland δ18O and climatic conditions in the North Atlantic region, it is important to have not only annually resolved, but seasonally resolved ice core δ18O data."
What was done
Working with 20 ice core records from 14 different sites, all of which stretched at least 200 years back in time, as well as near-surface air temperature data from 13 locations along the southern and western coasts of Greenland that covered approximately the same time interval (1784-2005), plus a similar temperature data set from northwest Iceland (said by the authors to be employed "in order to have some data indicative of climate east of the Greenland ice sheet"), Vinther et al. proceeded to demonstrate that winter δ18O was "the best proxy for Greenland temperatures." Then, based on that determination and working with three longer ice core δ18O records (DYE-3, Crete and GRIP), they developed a temperature history that extended more than 1400 years back in time.
What was learned
In the words of the seven scientists, "temperatures during the warmest intervals of the Medieval Warm Period," which they defined as occurring "some 900 to 1300 years ago, "were as warm as or slightly warmer than present day Greenland temperatures."
What it means
As for what this result implies, the researchers conditionally -- and rather amusingly -- state that further warming of present day Greenland climate "will result in temperature conditions that are warmer than anything seen in the past 1400 years."
But, of course, their work more directly and unconditionally implies that late 20th-century and early 21st-century weather has not yet been warm enough to confer "unprecedented" status upon Greenland air temperatures. What is more, Vinther et al. readily admit that the independent "GRIP borehole temperature inversion suggests that central Greenland temperatures are still somewhat below the high temperatures that existed during the Medieval Warm Period."
Young British eco warriors interrogate shoppers
Green heirs of the Hitler Youth and Stalin's Young Pioneers
SHOPPERS were bombarded with eco-friendly advice by green-minded school pupils. Eco warriors, from Grove Primary School, Consett, County Durham, quizzed customers at the town’s Co-operative food store and came to the conclusion they are doing a good job in combating climate change.
The majority of shoppers were found to show a strong commitment to green issues, and were given a ‘good’ overall rating. Shoppers who took part in the survey were rewarded with a fridge magnet featuring The Co-operative’s top tips for being a greener citizen.
The Eco Warriors project builds on climate change work studied by children at the school, and follows the installation of £20,000 solar panels in February 2008. It was backed by funding from The Co-operative’s £2m Green Energy for Schools programme.
The Grove is one of now more than 180 schools nationally to have benefited since the programme was launched in 2007, in partnership with the Government’s Low Carbon Building Programme.
Other schools have installed wind turbines, bio-mass boilers and ground source heat pumps.
Store manager Joan Nicholson said: "As a community retailer and one of the world’s leading businesses in the global fight against climate change, we’re delighted the people of Consett have shown such commitment to saving the planet.
"The ‘eco warriors’ from the Grove Primary School have done a fantastic job in challenging shoppers and inspiring them to keep up the good work."
One of the group involved in the quizzing of shoppers, nine-year-old Harry Stocker, said: "Everyone I spoke to said they recycle and use their bottle and recycling bins."
But fellow ‘eco warrior’ Alex Larkin, 8, said, although respondents told them what they try to do to save energy: "Some people need to try harder."
Australia: Greenies as colonialists
They see themselves as the new aristocracy who can tell blacks what to do. Cape York Peninsula is roughly the size of England but the Greenies want it untouched by any development -- thus shafting the blacks who live there and who would profit from development
Throughout our exploration of the Queensland government's Wild Rivers legislation, it has dawned on me that colonisation of indigenous lands is a current process, not just something from the history books.
Until this point of realisation, my commonsense understanding of history held that colonisation was a process completed in my great-grandfather's day.
I do know about the forced removal and demolition of the Mapoon community on northern Cape York in the 1960s, but I guess I took that as an aberration - the aberrant behaviour of a now-discredited government - that could not happen today. The shotguns and bulldozers of the Mapoon case don't occur today, but colonisation of a more pernicious kind is still a reality.
Today it's happening under the banner of land management law driven by a political constituency for environmental protection.
It's about creation without consent of an ever-expanding body of land management law that has as its overall effect reduction in the level of autonomy indigenous people are able to exercise when managing their land.
The overall effect of non-consensual reduction of autonomy is denial of the established cultural processes of indigenous land management, and devaluation of the property rights of those indigenous land holders who have had their land management autonomy stripped away.
Given the outcomes of legal cases such as Mabo and Wik, which confirmed in certain places the continuous existence, not gracious reinstatement by the court or a government of the day, of native title over indigenous lands, does not the imposition of new land management law that denies traditional land management processes and reduces the underlying value of title constitute a colonial act? I think it does, and in this day and age that strikes me as a shameful thing for our society to accept.
I mentioned earlier the existence of a powerful political constituency for legislation protecting the environmental values of indigenous lands.
The Queensland government has its political allies for the Wild Rivers laws.
During the course of our research on Wild Rivers, we met some of the environmental groups engaged on this issue.
The passion, commitment, erudition, knowledge and political skill of these groups are undeniably attractive.
It's easy to understand how members are attracted to the cause.
But when they deploy these enviable skills to the project of legislating away, without consent, the property rights of indigenous people, they are partners in a new wave of colonisation of the cape.
Indigenous property rights are subordinated to an environmental aesthetic that is supported by sophisticated political clout, and so is successful.
Where historically indigenous property was taken so the colonisers could put the land to economic use, now it is taken to save the planet; to make up for the harm done to the planet through urban industrialisation and agriculture.
Indigenous communities can pay the price for our environmental miscreance.
Again, it shames me to think we find this tolerable.
As a consequence of working these things through, I've come to thinking about indigenous land management sovereignty. I wonder what we could come up with if we tried, in partnership with indigenous landholders on the cape and their leaders, to truly give authority over land management matters back to those people.
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Posted by JR at 3:33 PM