Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A very strange Warmist wriggle

The fact that low solar activity has long been associated with colder weather in both Europe and the USA is finally getting a grudging admission from Warmists. But, as with their "explanation" of the Medieval warm period as being "local", they are now saying that solar effects are local too!

It's hard to believe but the paper below actually argues that a quiet sun makes it particularly cold in England only! Though some "leakage" to nearby Europe is apparently allowed. The fact that unusually cold weather in England is closely correlated with unusually cold weather across the entire Eurasian continent is blithely ignored.

But Mike Lockwood, leading author of the paper below, is an old Warmist from way back so neither logic nor honesty is to be expected of him. He once also claimed that variations in solar output drove earth's climate -- but only up to 20 years ago! See the first two sentences in "Recent oppositely directed trends in solar climate forcings and the global mean surface air temperature". Making bizarre exceptions to general rules seems to be his modus operandi -- JR
Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity?

By M Lockwood et al.

Solar activity during the current sunspot minimum has fallen to levels unknown since the start of the 20th century. The Maunder minimum (about 1650–1700) was a prolonged episode of low solar activity which coincided with more severe winters in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Motivated by recent relatively cold winters in the UK, we investigate the possible connection with solar activity. We identify regionally anomalous cold winters by detrending the Central England temperature (CET) record using reconstructions of the northern hemisphere mean temperature. We show that cold winter excursions from the hemispheric trend occur more commonly in the UK during low solar activity, consistent with the solar influence on the occurrence of persistent blocking events in the eastern Atlantic. We stress that this is a regional and seasonal effect relating to European winters and not a global effect. Average solar activity has declined rapidly since 1985 and cosmogenic isotopes suggest an 8% chance of a return to Maunder minimum conditions within the next 50 years (Lockwood 2010 Proc. R. Soc. A 466 303–29): the results presented here indicate that, despite hemispheric warming, the UK and Europe could experience more cold winters than during recent decades.

Environmental Research Letters Issue 2 (April-June 2010)

Woolly thinking about "Green" jobs

Comments from Left-leaning Australian economist Ross Gittins

Creating green jobs is all the rage. About a year ago Kevin Rudd promised to create 50,000 of them. Tony Abbott has plans for a standing army of 15,000 green workers who could be deployed across the country. And every environmental group or renewable energy lobby group wants to tell us how many "green-collar jobs" could be generated if only we'd do as they say.

It seems the notion of green jobs arose as a response to the claims of the opponents of climate policy that moving to a low-carbon economy would destroy lots of jobs. No it wouldn't, environmentalists cried, it would create lots of jobs. What's more, they would be green jobs.

But as the Australia Institute warns in a policy brief to be released today, there's a lot of woolly thinking about green jobs. It seems to be little more than a propaganda tool.

For a start, there has been little attempt to define what constitutes a green job. If, for instance, a job maintaining a wind turbine is a green job, what about a job in the business that makes the turbines?

And if it's green to manufacture steel turbines, what about the jobs of the people who mine the iron ore and coking coal needed to make the steel? But if it's not green to be a miner, would it be better for us to import all the turbines we need so the sin of being non-green was on someone else's head?

Should people who work in industries with a low environmental impact be regarded as having green jobs? If so, a significant proportion of all our existing jobs - particularly those in health, education and community services - are green.

But what about jobs in industries that have reduced their ecological footprint, even though it remains substantial? Are these jobs more green or less green than jobs in industries whose footprint has always been small?

As a general rule, industries that are capital-intensive are likely to have a bigger footprint than industries that are labour-intensive, such as service industries. Does this mean we could make the economy greener by abandoning our age-old quest to use machines to replace workers wherever possible?

Do workers whose job is to return a mine site to nature after it has been worked out qualify as green-collar workers? If so, what about workers who clean up after oil spills?

And what about jobs that make the natural environment more accessible to people? If, for instance, you employ some young people to improve the signs on a bush-walking track (for which I'm always grateful) are these green jobs? The advocates of such projects seem to think so.

Visiting the great outdoors may make people more environmentally conscious. But what if the greater accessibility attracts more people and thus adds to the degradation of the area? Would the green jobs then turn brown?

If I were to drive all around the state - or fly all around the world - educating people about the damage the use of fossil fuels does to the climate, would that make me a green-collar worker?

Give up? I reckon it's virtually impossible to come up with a watertight definition of green jobs. But I don't think that matters. As the Australia Institute's report argues, focusing on green jobs is at best a distraction and at worse a snare and a delusion. The object of the climate change exercise is to move to an economy where little of our energy needs are met by burning fossil fuels, thereby making us a "low-carbon economy" and greatly reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Focus on that and the jobs will look after themselves. What seems to be missing from the preoccupation with green jobs is an understanding that all economic activity creates jobs. Moving to a low-carbon economy may well involve reducing jobs in industries that produce fossil fuels, but it will also create them in renewable-energy industries. And even should producing a quantity of energy from solar, wind or whatever involve fewer jobs than producing the same quantity from coal, that's not a problem either. This greater productivity of labour would leave income to be spent elsewhere in the economy - probably the services sector - where it would create jobs.

Our businesses have been using "labour-saving equipment" to replace workers for 200 years and it hasn't cause mass unemployment yet. (It's true, however, that the workers displaced from fossil-fuel industries may not be well placed to take the jobs created in the renewable industries or elsewhere, but that problem - which does need to be dealt with - is common to all the changes in the structure of the economy that continuous technological advance has caused over the centuries.)

It's OK for governments to spend money for the dominant purpose of creating jobs when they're fighting to urgently reduce the impact of recession. Apart from that, however, the money they spend should be aimed at achieving its nominal purpose. The number of jobs this spending creates should be incidental.

If we continue our muddled thinking about green jobs, we risk having politicians trying to curry our favour by wasting money on schemes that will do little to combat climate change.


UN Report On Climate Change Was 'One-Sided'

The United Nations body that advises governments on climate change failed to make clear how its landmark report on the impact of global warming often presented a worst-case scenario, an investigation has concluded.

A summary report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on regional impacts focused on the negative consequences of climate change and failed to make clear that there would also be some benefits of rising temperatures. The report adopted a “one-sided” approach that risked being interpreted as an “alarmist view”.

The report, which underpinned the Copenhagen summit last December, wrongly suggested that climate change was the main reason why communities faced severe water shortages and neglected to make clear that population growth was a much bigger factor.

The inquiry into the IPCC was ordered by the Dutch Government after the UN body admitted that its 2007 report contained two important errors.

It is the first of two studies this week into the veracity of climate science. The second, focusing on e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, will be published tomorrow.

That study, led by Sir Muir Russell, is expected to dismiss claims that the unit’s scientists manipulated their findings but may say that they should have been more willing to share their raw data.

The IPCC’s report, used by governments around the world to develop emissions policies, falsely claimed that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Most glaciologists believe that they will take at least 300 years to melt.

The report also said that more than half the Netherlands was below sea level (the correct figure is 26 per cent).

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which published the results of its investigation yesterday, concluded that the IPCC’s main findings were justified and that climate change did indeed pose substantial risks to most parts of the world. But it said that the IPCC could strengthen its credibility by describing the full range of possible outcomes, rather than picking on the most alarming projections.


Obama Administration Prepares Legal Challenge to batty British taxes on air travel

The coalition government's plan to reform aviation taxes in order to better encourage airlines to cut carbon emissions could face a legal challenge after it emerged the US government has already begun lobbying against the move.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the US embassy in London has privately called on the coalition to water down its green tax plans over fears that it will increase the financial burden on transatlantic operators.

An unnamed minister told the paper that the government was sticking by its plans to replace the current Air Passenger Duty with a per plane levy that would encourage airlines to operate fuller aircraft.

"The US embassy has made representations siding with the airlines," the minister said. "But the Americans will not deter us from doing the right thing both for taxpayers and the environment."

The proposed reforms were included in both the Conservative and the Lib Dem’s election manifestos and are a key component of the coalitions programme for government. The changes are expected to be confirmed by the Treasury in the autumn and could come into effect as early as next year.

However, with ministers having signalled that they are keen to increase green taxes airlines are concerned that the changes could provide the cover for an increase in the tax burden imposed on the industry and US airlines are already considering legal action against the changes.

The US aviation industry is already in the throes of a legal challenge against the EU's move to extend its emissions trading scheme to cover flights to and from the EU. A coalition of US airlines have launched a legal action in the UK arguing that the EU does not have the jurisdiction to apply charges to flights to and from the US and that the move breaches the 1944 Chicago Convention covering international aviation.

The industry would be likely to use a similar argument to challenge any UK proposal that would increase levies for transatlantic flights.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury told that the final decision on the new tax would be made by Chancellor George Osborne, although she added that the coalition agreement "sets out very clearly the government position on new plane duty".

The US embassy told the Sunday Times that it would not comment on reports it has been lobbying against the per plane levy, but admitted it was concerned about the proposed tax reforms.


Healthy Scepticism Over Climate Change

An Editorial from "The Scotsman", once a regular Warmist organ (despite their rewrite of their history below)

ONCE it was an inconvenient truth, one which just about everyone accepted. Now it seems scepticism is creeping in over the issue of the moment: the supposedly indisputable scientific evidence of climate change.

As we reveal today, nearly a third of Scots have changed their minds on the subject, citing the recent very cold winter and the controversies over the validity of climate change science.

The poll tells us what ordinary people, not the scientific or political elite, think of the issue and shows that the evidence of their own experience, and the debate over whether climate change research is entirely sound, has had an impact.

As this newspaper has often argued, there are doubts over climate change, particularly over whether the temperature rises are significant over a long period of time.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland argues a large majority of people still recognise climate change is happening, is primarily caused by humans mandate and want governments to act on it.

This poll should be a warning to Mr McLaren and other "green" groups not to take the public for granted. The public is becoming more sceptical because it is beginning to challenge a modern-day orthordoxy. That can only be healthy for our democracy — and for the future of the planet.


Significant penitence from Warmist scientists now in evidence

Science has been changed forever by the so-called "climategate" saga, leading researchers have said ahead of publication of an inquiry into the affair – and mostly it has been changed for the better.

This Wednesday sees the publication of the Muir Russell report into the conduct of scientists from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), whose emailscaused a furore in November after they were hacked into and published online.

Critics say the emails reveal evasion of freedom of information law, secret deals done during the writing of reports for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), a cover-up of uncertainties in key researchfindings and the misuse of scientific peer review to silence critics.

But whatever Sir Muir Russell, the chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, concludes on these charges, senior climate scientists say their world has been dramatically changed by the affair.

"The release of the emails was a turning point, a game-changer," said Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia. "The community has been brought up short by the row over their science. Already there is a new tone. Researchers are more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties, for instance."

And there will be other changes, said Hulme. The emails made him reflect how "astonishing" it was that it had been left to individual researchers to police access to the archive of global temperature data collected over the past 160 years. "The primary data should have been properly curated as an archive open to all." He believes that will now happen.

Bob Watson, a former chair of the IPCC and now chief environment scientist for the British government, agreed. "It is clear that the scientific community will have to respond by being more open and transparent in allowing access to raw data in order that their scientific findings can be checked."

In addition, Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said: "Researchers have to accept that it won't just be their science that is judged but also their motives, professionalism, integrity and all those other qualities that are considered important in public life."

Researchers outside Britain say a row that began in Norwich now has important implications for the wider scientific community round the world.

"Trust has been damaged," said Hans von Storch of the KGSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany. "People now find it conceivable that scientists cheat and manipulate, and understand that scientists need societal supervision as any other societal institution."

The climate scientist most associated with efforts to reconciling warring factions, Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the idea of IPCC scientists as "self-appointed oracles, enhanced by the Nobel Prize, is now in tatters". The outside world now sees that "the science of climate is more complex and uncertain than they have been led to believe".

Some IPCC scientists are in denial on this issue, she said, arguing that they would like to see the CRU incident as "an irrelevant blip" and to blame their problems on "a monolithic denial machine", but that won't wash.

Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado agreed that "the climate science community, or at least its most visible and activist wing, appeared to want to go back to waging an all-out war on its perceived political opponents".

He added: "Such a strategy will simply exacerbate the pathological politicisation of the climate science community." In reality, he said, "There is no going back to the pre-November 2009 era."

Curry exempted from this criticism Phil Jones, CRU director and the man at the centre of the furore. Put through the fire, "Jones seems genuinely repentant, and has been completely open and honest about what has been done and why... speaking with humility about the uncertainty in the data sets," she said.

The affair "has pointed out the seamy side of peer review and consensus building in the IPCC assessment reports," she said. "A host of issues need to be addressed."

The veteran Oxford science philosopher Jerome Ravetz says the role of the blogosphere in revealing the important issues buried in the emails means it will assume an increasing role in scientific discourse. "The radical implications of the blogosphere need to be better understood." Curry too applauds the rise of the "citizen scientist" triggered by climategate, and urges scientists to embrace them.

But greater openness and engagement with their critics will not ensure that climate scientists have an easier time in future, warns Hulme. Back in the lab, a new generation of more sophisticated computer models is failing to reduce the uncertainties in predicting future climate, he says – rather, the reverse. "This is not what the public and politicians expect, so handling and explaining this will be difficult."



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