Sunday, June 06, 2010

The National Academy Lays a $6-Million Egg

By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

The report of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences [Advancing the Science of Climate Change, May 2010] claims that the climate is warming and that the cause is human.

The first claim of this federally funded $6-million exercise is meaningless and trivial, the second claim is almost surely wrong. Their recommendation is that the United States should put a price on carbon to staunch emissions of CO2; it is pointless, counterproductive, and very costly.

The climate certainly has warmed considerably since 10,000 years ago (the end of the last Ice Age) -- and much less since 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age. No one disputes these facts. But the climate has not warmed during the past decade -- in spite of the steady rise in human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. According to a BBC interview of Dr Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU-UEA, of Climategate fame), there has been no warming trend since 1995.

The 2007 report of the UN-sponsored IPCC furnished no credible evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). None at all - see here the Summary of the NIPCC report . "Nature - Not Human Activity - Rules the Climate"

The NRC-NAS panel did not add any new relevant information - nor did it have the expertise to do so.

The IPCC panel was made up of many qualified atmospheric scientists, active in research. The NAS panel was politically chosen and listed among its `climate science experts' a sociology professor and a professor of 'sustainable development' - whatever that may mean. That certainly doesn't inspire much confidence in the NAS conclusions.

"This is our most comprehensive report ever on climate change," said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), at a briefing to discuss the effort, more than 2 years in the making and involving 90 scientists. It "analyzes the reality of climate change and how should the nation respond. ... It emphasizes why the United States should act now."

Ironically, this report comes at a time when the venerable and respected Royal Society (London) is having second thoughts about their past record of climate alarmism. In the words of outgoing RS president Lord Martin Rees (May 28, 2010): "Science is organized scepticism and the consensus must shift in light of the evidence."

Looking back, this may well have been a low point for the NAS, which will inevitably discredit all other NAS activities. But it will provide a useful lesson to other scientific organizations that have uncritically jumped on the AGW bandwagon

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #18-2010 (June 5, 2010)


By meteorologist Joe Bastardi

You folks have been reading about how this could be the warmest year on record, as James Hansen continues to push his "distorted" view of the temperature. How can I say that?

Here is an excerpt from an article that Dr. David Whitehouse recently put out:

"...Hansen claims that, according to his Gisstemp database, the year from April 2009 to April 2010 has a temperature anomaly of 0.65 deg C (based on a 1951 - 1980 average) making it the warmest year since modern records began. It is a fractionally warmer than 2005 he says, although an important point to be made is that statistically speaking, taking into account the error of measurement and the scatter of previous datapoints, it is not a significant increase..."

Here is the simple rebuttal to Hansen.

1) The satellite measurements he is using now did not start until 1978.. so he is comparing two different ways of measuring temperatures. You had no way of knowing what temperatures were like in the 1930s and 1940s like you do now, and have no way of knowing that your measurement techniques now with satellite would yield your reconstructed results that you are comparing them to. It's deception, pure and simple, when you don't reveal that.

2) The PDO was cold from 1951-1978... just what did you think was going to happen when the Pacific was cold? (The Atlantic turned cold in the '60s and '70s, so you had the planet grooved to be cold before the satellite era started.)

3) The PDO went warm in 1978, the AMO in the early 90s... therefore, these warm years are occurring when both oceans were warm in tandem... you couldn't ask for a better natural set up to to warm the Earth!!!! Warm the oceans next to the continents and what do you think happens to the continents? They warm. And what happens to the ice cap that is surrounded by the continents? It decreases. If we are warming so much, how do you explain the Southern Hemisphere on its way to a record high sea ice level this year?

4) The fact remains, the temperature is well under the IPCC forecast spread and the Hansen forecast. Warm or not, they are busting.

5) There has been no stratospheric cooling, nor hot spots over the tropics in the mid- and upper troposphere, quite the opposite. It may be warming in the stratopshere, which is a precursor to the cooling that I think is coming the next 20-30 years. Wet bulb temperatures over the tropics may have fallen over the past few years (lower specific humidity), which may be the reason that GLOBAL ACE indices are so low.

6) The global temperatures, and this is why they are so desperate to spread this stuff, are about to crash over the next 12 to 18 months. He has acknowledged that, but won't acknowledge the PDO switching could lead to the more permanent cool down, because it would destroy the whole agenda-driven ideas on CO2.

7) The OBJECTIVE SOLUTION... see what happens over the coming years with the change in PDO and then AMO. If you are so sure, what are you afraid of? The Earth is not going to blow up by NATURAL means over the next 30 years, and there is no tipping point.

8) Lastly, I am not afraid of the right answer. Obviously, they are as they continue to try to manipulate the data.


How shifty can a Warmist get?

The debate with Paleoclimatologist Dr Andrew Glikson about the evidence for Climate change has reached a telling point. There is a gaping hole.

Through four rounds of to and fro, I’ve been asking for evidence that the predicted (critical) “hot spot” was there above the equator, and we were drilling down to this point. It’s the weak link in the chain of evidence, and if the climate models are wrong on this element, you can kiss goodbye to the catastrophe. Everything else might be right, but there’s no major warming if there’s no strong amplifying (positive) feedback, and and there is no amplifying feedback from water vapor if there is no hot spot. Indeed, I quoted evidence from three peer reviewed studies that show that we’re headed for a half a measly degree of warming rather than a baking 3 – 6 degrees.

In Round 2 Glikson didn’t mention Lindzen, Spencer or Douglass (the three independent papers which suggest that predicted feedbacks are missing or negative). Instead he suggested “Sherwood 2008” found the hot-spot. I pointed out that Sherwood used wind-gauges instead of thermometers. To believe he is right we need to throw out thousands of thermometer readings and calculate the temperature indirectly from the wind-speed instead.

In Round 3, Glikson didn’t mention Sherwood. But he posted graphs showing the troposphere had warmed. I pointed out that his graphs demonstrated what I had been saying — the upper troposphere had warmed at the same rate as the surface. If the hot spot was there it would have warmed nearly twice as fast.

In Round 4 (in comments after round 3), Glikson didn’t mention the graph. But he pointed to Santer 2008. I replied that Santer didn’t find the hot spot, he just found fog in the data and fog in the models and stretched the error bars so wide that finally the models just overlapped with one set of observations. Santer had no new data. Nine years after the data came in, all he did was to increase the error bars and suggest that maybe our equipment wasn’t good enough to find the hot-spot. It’s rather devastating: if we can’t build weather balloons that get a useful temperature reading, how the heck can we create models that estimate the temperature from 10,000 m below based on dozens of factors that are even harder to measure? The hot-spot should have been at least 0.6°C and radiosondes are individually calibrated to 0.1°C. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that hundreds of radiosondes had missed it?

In round 5, Glikson didn’t mention Santer. It’s as if this devastating point didn’t exist. Andrew Glikson is genuinely trying to come up with other evidence, and he’s not just ducking out completely (as many would), but he is ducking the point that matters, the weak link in the AGW chain. Really, seriously, everything about the Tower of Global Warming was built on the foundation of an increasing column of water vapor. Does he realize that all the other circumstantial evidence is predicated on a guess that the Earth’s climate had net positive feedbacks, when almost all other long-lived natural systems have net negative feedbacks?

All of the other points I’ll briefly sum up here below. I’ve had helpful responses from Michael Hammer with some very original work, and also from William Kinninmonth. I will post these both soon (separately).

SOURCE (See the original for links)

UVA’s Defense of Michael Mann: Back Off, He’s a Scientist!

The University of Virginia doesn't want to comply with the VA AG's investigation of warmist Michael Mann. Their reasoning? Scientists aren't subject to the same laws as the rest of us

The University of Virginia has filed a petition to set aside civil investigative demands (CIDs) issued to it by the Commonwealth’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

CIDs are akin to grand jury subpoenas. Cuccinelli’s inquiry was prompted by public disclosure — via the ClimateGate leaks — of the highly questionable academic practices of former UVA assistant professor Michael Mann. The disclosure of Mann’s activities involved the apparent leaking of emails, computer code, and annotations to the code, all of which were subject to and being pursued under the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act.

Arguing against the request that they produce records related to Mann’s use of taxpayer-funded grant money, UVA reeled off a litany of rationales — mostly general and repetitive — regarding why they do not need to comply.

UVA’s reason #8 — out of nine, its placement inherently recognizing its weakness — headlines the opening rhetoric of its petition and is being used by the school as a public relations hook: "Enforcing the CIDs will interfere with recognized First Amendment principles and important public policies protecting the academic freedom of institutions of higher learning from government intrusion into research and scientific inquiry".

You know, like Stanford University was immune from inquiry into misusing taxpayer funds earmarked for scientific research during the most notorious pre-ClimateGate academic scandal.

Oddly, Time magazine’s coverage at the time was not concerned about “academic freedom” being imperiled: “Scandal in the Laboratories: Inquiries at Stanford turn a harsh light on how university research is funded.”

Gasp! “Inquiries”?

Stanford was no more exempt from laws, oversight, or conditions on how it spends taxpayer funds than are Mann or UVA. As a result, Stanford president and current Mann defender Donald Kennedy soon found himself out the door.

UVA’s current tack is simply to hope for public — and possibly judicial — sympathy to result from the escalating pressure campaign from what I call Big Science. Big Science is outraged that its constituents should be subject to laws applied to the little people and is desperate to expansively rewrite the concept of “academic freedom” as license to be free from compliance with those laws.

While Mann’s defenders were quick to unholster Hollywood-style shrieks of “McCarthyism,” the more appropriate analogy seems to be Tinseltown’s current victimization/canonization of Roman Polanski. He’s an artist! These laws you speak of, well, they exist, and surely have some merit, just… didn’t you see Chinatown?

The “I’m a scientist!” defense is the academy at its most cartoonish.

Doubling down on this unseemliness, the UVA then invokes Thomas Jefferson(!) while making the argument that laws are for others, and not preferred, protected classes of people. In its petition, UVA cites a 1950s Supreme Court opinion — Sweezy v. New Hampshire — for the following dicta: "To impose any strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of our Nation. … Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate …"

No, the ellipses do not suppress “… and to commit fraud, or otherwise disregard the laws of the land.” And no fancy Latin canon of construction — noscitur a sociis, ejusdem generis, in pari materia … take your pick, they all fail — informs a conclusion that the UVA argument is what the Sweezy Court intended.

But what of the two prongs of that risible “any strait jacket” business the school hangs its hat upon? Of two plausible readings of this, the less plausible is that “any” indicates the Supreme Court deemed academics, of “any” sort no less, to be beyond prosecution — so long as the perpetrator claims a research purpose (and with nothing less than the fate of the nation at risk were things otherwise! Sigh.)

Alternately, the university begs the question: where do standards applied to the rest of us end and a “strait jacket” begin? Or, where does protection of intellectual discourse — not actually at issue here, despite UVA hand-waving to the contrary — end and selective immunity from the laws of the land begin? These are now questions for the Virginia courts.

Sweezy is an Eisenhower-era opinion, written shortly before Ike’s farewell address. The address is famous for warning of a “military-industrial complex,” but also for warning: "Be alert to the equal and opposite danger ["opposite" of stifling academic freedom] that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Sadly, this has come to pass, with the University of Virginia among its most zealous defenders.

UVA’s invocation of the wholly inapplicable Sweezy illustrates the barrenness of its legal cupboard, and no distraction will change that the precedent it cites is wholly irrelevant to Mr. Cuccinelli’s inquiry into possible civil fraud. The university expends great effort to make the issue other than what it plainly is.

“Academic freedom” has of course never meant selective sanctioning of unlawful behavior. And the attorney general is not, as the university claims to the court, “engag[ing] in scientific debate.” That the university cannot or will not see this only further makes the case that it is not capable of self-investigation.

Which raises a final point. In its petition, UVA proves far too much. For example, it references two other inquiries into aspects of ClimateGate. Where, pray tell, was the outrage by Big Science or academia over these two?

The answer is that the pretense of self-policing by the University of East Anglia and by Mann’s current home, Penn State, were both exercises in wagon-circling. When they were announced, Big Science remained mum because this was transparently so, as evidenced by their stacking panels with sympathetic parties highly unlikely to conclude otherwise than they did.

About these, UVA rather disingenuously claims “the subsequent investigations have not found any fraudulent conduct.” Of course they didn’t — neither inquired into fraud! Instead, both narrowly tailored their reviews to less treacherous waters.

By this mischaracterization to the court, UVA stretches the truth while doing its credibility no good. Which nicely summarizes the entire Mann affair.


Murkowski Resolution Could Block EPA Power Grab

Next week, the Senate will determine whether it sides with “we the people” or if our elected “representatives” support a drastic expansion of government that will trample our liberties for no measurable environmental benefit.

On June 10, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Formally known as Resolution of Disapproval, Murkowski’s effort would negate EPA’s so-called “Endangerment Finding” that effectively gives the agency regulatory authority over manmade greenhouse gases in the name of combating global warming.

If Congress does not step in to block EPA, the agency can use the Clean Air Act as a blunt tool to widen its jurisdiction into almost every nook and cranny in our lives. Every sector of our economy -- transportation, power generation and manufacturing -- would be subjected to EPA’s bureaucratic reach.

Indeed, every business that uses fossil fuels to heat, cool, light or run its manufacturing operations or emits greenhouse gases would need permits from EPA to function.

Ironically, even EPA recognizes that the size and scope of this regulatory monstrosity is too much for it to handle. Accordingly, the agency was forced to issue a “Tailoring Rule” to initially exempt facilities that emit less than a threshold level of greenhouse gases for six years.

Unless the scope of the regulatory scheme is limited, EPA readily acknowledges that agencies involved in the permitting process would be overwhelmed with applications. For example, EPA says, “state permitting authorities would be paralyzed by permit applications in numbers that are orders of magnitude greater than their current administrative resources could accommodate.” EPA estimated it could cost over $15 billion to process just one type of permit nationwide.

Now we are being treated to the bizarre, and legally questionable, spectacle of EPA trying to limit its authority under the Clean Air Act, because it knows its own regulatory scheme is unmanageable.

From a Constitutional perspective, it’s the role of our elected representatives to impose such a far-reaching regulation legislatively, and not to allow a rogue executive branch agency such as EPA to do so administratively. Elected officials can be held accountable for their deeds; bureaucrats cannot. If lawmakers truly believe that global warming is worth wrecking the economy, then let them stand up and be counted.

Enter Lisa Murkowski. The Congressional Review Act – the law Murkowski is using to block EPA – was passed to address such an outrageous power grab. It gives Congress an opportunity to review and if necessary overrule a regulation by passing a joint resolution. To take effect the resolution would need to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and is then signed by the president.

A simple majority of 51 votes is needed to pass the Senate, and the vote is expected to be very close.

Given the troubled state of our economy and public concern over the growth and intrusion of government in our lives, one might think the politics favor strong support for passage of the resolution.

Yet blocking EPA is not a slam dunk. California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) is leading the charge to defeat Murkowski’s effort. Opposition from Boxer is not surprising especially since Obama and the other progressives want to use the threat of EPA regulation to force industry to the cap-and-trade bargaining table.

Given the choice of regulatory death by EPA or cap-and-trade, industry will take their chances with bargaining with legislation in the hopes of getting the better deal.

What is surprising, however, is that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R) has not yet expressed support of the resolution. Brown, whose election was propelled by Tea Party activists, should oppose EPA’s power grab that will significantly expand government power and burden our economy.

The late Senator Ted Kennedy, whose seat Brown won in January, was a big supporter of cap-and-trade. He liked his government as big as he could get it. Brown needs to show the world that change has truly come to Massachusetts.

Senator John Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) is from a coal-producing state but has yet to come out in support of the Murkowski Resolution. Instead, Rockefeller introduced a bill that would merely delay EPA’s regulatory onslaught for a couple of years. Some believe his bill only serves to provide political cover for himself and moderate Democrats who want to be on the record as being “opposed” to EPA but stopping well short of taking a stand for their constituents.

The upcoming vote on Murkowski’s resolution is fundamentally about our representative democracy: Which government body determines the fate America – elected representatives or unaccountable bureaucrats?

Tea Party members and other citizens who believe in limited government and are now actively engaged in the political process will be carefully watching the Senate vote and taking names.


Just what is it that greens like George Monbiot find so offensive about prosperity, abundance, happiness?

George “Grinch of the Guardian” Monbiot has launched a bitter assault on the most lively, uplifting and downright brilliant pop science masterpiece you are likely to read this year. Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (4th Estate).

Ridley argues a case so palpably true, so richly supported by so much evidence, that it ought not to need stating: life is getting better for almost all of us – and at an accelerating rate. The habit of exchange and specialisation, unique to the human species, has enabled us to evolve a kind of collective brain, a communal intelligence which allows us to make stupendous technological advances while other creatures – yes even those brilliant dolphins – remain stuck pretty much where they were 100,000 years ago.

The fact that Ridley’s argument sounds fresh and controversial rather than a statement of the bleeding obvious speaks volumes for the prevailing pessimism of our age. (And all ages actually. Every generation thinks things aren’t as good as they used to be…)

Entirely typical of this knee-jerk pessimism is Monbiot’s petulant attack on the man he describes as “a state-hating free marketeer”. He dwells lovingly on Ridley’s disastrous experiences as chairman of Northern Rock, before laying in to the vilely repellant optimism of this despicable Big-Government-hater’s loathsome thesis:

"…it’s the same old cornutopian nonsense we’ve heard one hundred times before (cornutopians are people who envisage a utopia of limitless abundance)"

Fine. But what Monbiot doesn’t manage to do in this frenzy of puritanical spleen and ad hom is in any way to demonstrate that Ridley is wrong.

Monbiot makes a number of accusations against Ridley, all of which Ridley very easily rebuts on his website. Ridley’s thesis stands.

The world IS getting better. One of the many excellent examples Ridley gives to prove this is when he compares the amount of time it has taken through the ages to be able to afford an hour’s reading light. In 1800 a tallow candle would have cost you six hours’ work. In 1880 a kerosene lamp would have cost you fifteen minutes work. In 1950 a conventional filament bulb would have cost you 8 seconds’ work. Today, it will cost you less than half a second of your working time.

Clearly, to scowling Lord-Whiteadder-style puritans like Monbiot this is anathema. Maybe that’s why they’re so keen to push up energy prices. And if Chris Huhne and Dave Cameron get anywhere with their massive “low carbon” energy programme, maybe they’ll succeed.

Why, who knows, with luck, Monbiot and his fellow Watermelons might even take us back to that glorious era in 1750 BC when they knew how to treat energy with the respect it deserves. Back then, an hour’s reading time for a sesame oil lamp would have cost you more than 50 hours’ work.



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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