Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Week That Was (to July 24, 2010)

Excerpts from Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

In what appears to be a significant change of events, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he is dropping cap and tax for now because he does not have enough votes to pass the legislation. Even an editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal expressed relief that the nation has been spared of this destructive energy tax that would accomplish nothing for climate change. Is it that Senator Reid actually recognizes he does not have the votes? Is it that he is in a tight race to keep his Senate seat? Or is it something more devious?

Given the propensity of the leaders of the 111th Congress to develop thousands of pages of legislation behind closed doors and quickly dump it onto an unsuspecting public, one must be suspicious. Further, corporations and special interest groups have spent millions of dollars on mobilizing one of the greatest lobbing efforts ever. Some, such as Duke Energy and Exelon, have promised their shareholders that they would get Billions of US dollars in profits from this lobbing “investment.” The massive volumes of money that would change hands with cap and tax have attracted many organizations that demand special government “favors.” They will not be pleased.

As mentioned in TWTW last week, some commentators have suggested that after the election a lame duck Congress will pass some version of cap and tax. The Wall Street Journal suggests that it may be a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which would require utilities to obtain mandatory percentages of their total electricity from renewable generating sources such as solar and wind. Until practical electricity storage is commercially available at a reasonable cost, solar and wind generated electricity is sub-prime energy. Even with government subsidies, the sub-prime energy market will eventually implode as did the sub-prime mortgage market that was driven by government dictates. An implosion of the sub-prime energy market may have greater destructive economic consequences.


The peer reviewed paper which is part of the basis for Roy Spencer’s new book The Great Global Warming Blunder, reviewed in TWTW July 3 and 10, has been challenged. As all too typical today, the Journal of Climate did not bother informing Spencer so that he could review the challenge and respond. According to Spencer, had the Journal done so he could have corrected some errors and misrepresentations. Spencer points out the challenge offers some new insights, but the major “issues” were corrected in a later paper that is in press. (Please see “Can Climate Feedbacks be Diagnosed from Satellite Data?”)


Joe D’Aleo has discovered that NASA-GISS is playing games with historic data yet again – call it Creative Enhancement. (Please see his article under “Challenging the Orthodoxy.”) Also, Anthony Watts has discovered missing data in NOAA’s latest heat advisory. More stunning is the sudden cold snap that froze to death thousands of head of cattle in central Brazil. (Please see articles under “Heat Wave.”)


The BP Oil Spill has been capped, at least for now, but the true cost to the oil industry in general and the nation as a whole is yet to be determined. No doubt, many in the US government would like to use it as an excuse to stop all offshore drilling. The House Energy and Commerce Committee headed by Rep. Waxman passed legislation that will do exactly that. (Please see “Blowout Prevention Act”)

To their credit, four major oil companies are forming a disaster-response system to quickly shut-off deep water blow-outs in the Gulf of Mexico. It is unknown if this would be sufficient address the new Waxman anti-drilling bill. Given the anti-energy attitude in Washington (except for sub-prime energy), some may suggest that the Department of Justice investigates the disaster-response system as unlawful collusion under the Sherman Anti-trust Act.


BOOK OF THE WEEK: "Coming climate crisis?" By Claire L. Parkinson

Reviewed by S. Fred Singer

This is an unusual book. Parkinson is a distinguished climatologist with a specialty of polar sea ice and a strong interest in the history and philosophy of science. She clearly believes that humans are responsible for past warming and that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to further warming in the 21st century, yet she is one of the few AGW supporters who is respectful of contrary opinions. It is interesting that the Foreword, written by Lonnie Thompson, while praising her book, faults her for ascribing “nearly equivalent validity to the contributions of climate skeptics or contrarians.” But Parkinson is unapologetic and explains her position well throughout the book.

Her main theme is to argue effectively against the current craze for “geo-engineering.” I share her view that many of the schemes suggested lack proper evaluation and are likely to cause more harm than good. However, I also doubt the necessity for carrying out large-scale modifications of the global environment since I do not believe that the human emission of greenhouse gases is causing significant climate changes.

Full disclosure: About 40 years ago, I was quite intrigued by the idea of large-scale modifications of the earth’s environment and included it in discussions in a symposium which I organized for the AAAS, entitled “Global Effects of Environmental Pollution.” After publishing a book on this symposium, I worked with the National Research Council on producing a report on geo-engineering, which described the various schemes that were then under consideration. Since this was long before there was any widespread discussion of greenhouse warming, our report dealt with different topics.

The Parkinson book has some very attractive features. A well-written Introduction presents an overview of the Earth System and a descriptive outline of the book itself. Part I describes very well the history of climate change since the earth was created 4.6 billion years ago. There’s also a nice summary of abrupt climate changes.

After this discussion of natural changes, there’s a short history of past human impacts and a chapter on the future, with the intriguing title “Why Some People are So Concerned While Others Aren’t.” While I don’t agree with everything the author says, I do feel she has given adequate space to skeptics like Patrick Michaels and Roy Spencer. She also gives much space to Bjorn Lomborg, who seems to accept the scientific conclusions of the IPCC, but as an economist/statistician does not accept any of their recommendations for action. And on this point, I agree most emphatically.


Global warming does NOT cause more war

The 11 retired generals and admirals initially mentioned below seem to have retired brains too. They reported that global warming will lead to war -- but failed in their most basic duty as strategic planners – know your enemy. They accepted the speculation of the IPCC as definitive intelligence without bothering to test the assumptions. They apparently did not examine the history of warfare as articulated by historians: generally, in non-developed areas cooling leads to war (crops fail) and warming does not

Literally thousands of websites pound home the idea that global warming is a threat to our national security and that violent conflicts will result from disruptions caused by climate change. Many of the websites point to a study released several years ago by the CNA Corporation which is a nonprofit institution that conducts in-depth, independent research on complex public interest challenges. Their study entitled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” was prepared with 11 retired generals and admirals, and it is widely quoted by those insisting global warming will increase the threat of war.

The executive summary of the report states “Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America’s national security. The predicted effects of climate change over the coming decades include extreme weather events, drought, flooding, sea level rise, retreating glaciers, habitat shifts, and the increased spread of life-threatening diseases. These conditions have the potential to disrupt our way of life and to force changes in the way we keep ourselves safe and secure.”

The executive summary also states “Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world. Projected climate change will seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states.” And at home they claim “Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world. The U.S. and Europe may experience mounting pressure to accept large numbers of immigrant and refugee populations as drought increases and food production declines in Latin America and Africa.”

Before you enlist in the military or start shining up combat boots, there is a recent article in the journal Climatic Change that might change your mind about global warming and war. The research was conducted by Richard Tol and Sebastian Wagner from The Netherlands and Germany, respectively. The last sentence of their abstract caught our attention as they conclude “it appears that global warming would not lead to an increase in violent conflict” in mid-latitude locations such as China or Europe. We don’t see this study getting a lot of press coverage, so we decided to feature it on World Climate Report – just as we did an earlier study which contradicted the global warming=more war claims.

Tol and Wagner begin noting “In the gloomier scenarios of climate change, violent conflict plays a key part. War would break out over declining water resources, and millions of refugees would cause mayhem. The Nobel Peace Prize of 2007 was partly awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore for their contribution to slowing climate change and thus preventing war. Scenarios of climate-change-induced violence can be painted with abandon, because there is in fact very little research to either support or refute such claims.”

Are these two doubting Al Gore by suggesting there is little research to support any claim that global warming will exacerbate violent conflict? This could get interesting!

Furthermore, they reviewed a paper published a few years ago in Climatic Change in which a research team from China examined the “warmer equals more war” hypothesis. Regarding that study, Tol and Wagner state “They construct a dataset of climate and violent conflict for China for the last millennium, and show that the Chinese are more inclined to fight each other when it is cold.”

Tol and Wagner assembled the data for Figure 1 showing a time series of conflict in Europe back about 1,000 years. To compare with temperature and precipitation, they assembled reconstructed values for Europe available back to 1500 AD. These are gridded data that come from meteorological observations as well as proxy information found in Europe – the climate data had been quality checked for inconsistencies. They even assembled climate model simulation data from Europe based on solar and volcanic forcing as well as greenhouse gas concentrations.

The map below (Figure 2) tells us what we want to know – it shows the correlation coefficient between annual temperatures and the overall state of violent conflict in Europe, and all the blue indicates the coefficients are negative, indicating more war in cold periods, not hot ones. And if your eye has been attracted to the red regions where warmer weather seems to produce more conflict, be aware that Tol and Wagner warn “positive correlations are evident over the Balkans. These correlations should however not be overinterpreted, because the Balkans are largely excluded from the violent conflict data base.”

The two authors recognized some statistical issues dealing with the violent conflict time series, most notably the high level of autoregression in the data (the value of any year is highly related to the value the previous years). They addressed this unwanted property a variety of different ways, and in each case, they continued to find an overall negative association between temperature and conflict. With respect to the model generated climate data they report “Correlations between the simulated temperatures and European wars also show negative correlations, consistent with results obtained for reconstructions based on observational data and proxy data.”

Obviously, Europe changed over the 1500-1900 time period, and indeed, Tol and Wagner observed “that the correlations are stronger in the more distant past. This confirms the agricultural hypothesis. Agriculture became progressively less important over the period, because of economic development, and agriculture became less dependent on the weather, because of improved cultivation methods and better fertilizers.” Fair enough.

In their conclusions, the authors state “We present some evidence that periods with lower temperatures in the pre-industrial era are accompanied by violent conflicts”, consistent with what others had found in China. Furthermore, they note “If anything, lower temperatures imply violence, and this effect is much weaker in the modern world than it was in pre-industrial times. This implies that future global warming is not likely to lead to (civil) war between (within) European countries.”

Another popular claim about global warming is once again not supported by what has been observed for centuries – sound familiar?

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Global warming's unscientific attitude

Peddlers of phony scare stories are afraid to release data -- A scathing editorial from The Washington Times

What separates a scientific claim from mere opinion is its ability to be tested by experiment. No true scientist objects to having his theories verified; the charlatan is the one with something to hide. Not surprisingly, purveyors of global warming have proved anything but open.

In the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Law and Management, Australian researchers evaluated the community of so-called climate scientists and found them to be "antagonistic toward the disclosure of information." Professor John Abbot of Central Queensland University, a chemist and lawyer, and biologist Jennifer Marohasy studied the response of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU) and the Met Office - Britain's national weather service - to various information requests.

The most noteworthy of these was United Kingdom resident David Holland's demand for the raw data underlying the infamous "hockey stick" graph that was published in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. This chart was the centerpiece of the claim that the 20th century was the hottest in a thousand years. The stir that Mr. Holland's request triggered among the scientists who worked on the report was captured in the Climategate e-mails.

"If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone," CRU scientist Phil Jones wrote in a February 2005 e-mail. "We think we've found a way around this." So much for transparency.

Under the British Freedom of Information law, like the similar U.S. statute, information created at the public expense must - with limited exceptions - be made available to the public that paid for it. At first, the Met Office answered Mr. Holland's request for data regarding a relatively uncontroversial chapter in the IPCC report. When he asked them for similar details regarding the hockey stick, the Met Office got around the law by claiming the data were "personal information" generated in the free time of the scientists involved. When this dodge failed to hold up, the Met Office began claiming that the records had been deleted.

"Of concern is evidence of a predisposition towards uncooperativeness on the part of the Met Office, which also used spurious claims of deleted correspondence and personal information in attempts to block the release of information," Mr. Abbot and Ms. Marohasy wrote. The attitude isn't limited to Britain. The Washington Times asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality for its oldest pending FOIA requests. Among the top five was an August 26 letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeking documents related to its work on climate-change legislation and the Environmental Protection Agency's so-called greenhouse gas ruling.

None of these simple requests should have been denied or delayed. Many of those involved in purported climate science seem more preoccupied with advancing a leftist, anti-business legislative agenda than respecting the integrity of the scientific method. It's obvious why. Their cataclysmic scare stories are unable to withstand scrutiny. By deleting e-mails and using tricks to hide the inconvenient decline in global temperatures, the climate alarmists prove to be not men of science, but ordinary frauds.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

MSM silence some bad news for Warmists

The Warmist media crowed too soon and the facts are now stuck in their throat

Many times in this blog we have noted that the real news is the stuff not being published by the MSM. Now, on the "climate change" front, that has never been more true. The silence speaks volumes.

That particular silence is the one that attends the publication of the Booker column on 11 July, revealing to the world that the IPCC did after all have feet of clay in its claims on the Amazon, with the source of "Amazongate" finally traced to a Brazilian website.

When you get an "exclusive" like that – especially as the original Amazongate story was rather high profile – other newspapers and news agencies tend to pile in and lift the story. This time, though, with only very few exceptions, there has been silence.

One of those exceptions was Lawrence Solomon in The National Post, who saw in the revelations the first test of the IPCC in a new post-Climategate era of openness and accountability that many seemed to be talking about. This, however, was even then a forlorn hope. The retraction on 20 June by The Sunday Times of its Amazongate story had already been hailed as a major victory by the warmists, who were set on exploiting it.

Something of this can be seen from the WWF press release which had Keith Allott, head of climate change (there's glory for you) declaring that it " ... hopefully indicates that after a period of some hysteria, balance and consideration is being restored to the media's reporting of climate science."

In fact, there was more expectation than hope. Led by the WWF, the warmists embarked on a sharply focused campaign against many of the newspapers which had written about Amazongate, demanding that they followed The Sunday Times lead and retracted their own stories.

Under this pressure, not a few editors were beginning to wilt, especially as there were hints of further PCC references. Booker's story, therefore, could not have come at a worse time. Although no newspapers have yet followed suit, it was noted and, at the very least, stopped the rot. No other newspaper has retracted its story.

Quite how finely poised the pendulum is now can be seen by the continuing silence. At the beginning of this week, a major international newspaper was to have published a piece calling for the retraction of The Sunday Times retraction, but internal politics have kept it off the pages so far.

And, while The Guardian and others were quick to publish news of Simon Lewis's complaint to the PCC, which triggered the ST retraction, none of the papers which so prominently announced this development have announced the complaint to the PCC about the retraction, a complaint which has now been formally accepted and is being investigated.

Interestingly, the silence also comes at a time when not only has the IPCC case on the Amazon been trashed but also, on the eve of the publication of a new tranche of research papers which seriously undermine the doom-laden scenarios promulgated by the warmists.

Just one of those, in the coming edition of New Phytologist, puts loss of the forest at a mere six percent. This is a paper by Marina Hirota et al on "The climatic sensitivity of the forest, savanna and forest–savanna transition in tropical South America." With this, the re-evaluation of earlier papers and the emergence of some which have been little-cited, the warmists' case has never been weaker. This makes the silence even more deafening,


Dangerous nuclear hatred in Britain's coalition government

This has the hallmarks of the Liberals getting their way

If ever there was a necessary state intervention, it was the loan agreed by a dying Labour government to Forgemasters to finance the production of components for nuclear power stations – of which there is a worldwide shortage of capacity.

Yet, one of the first things the Clegerons did was cancel the loan – and on grounds that now look very dubious indeed, if The Guardian and the rest of the media have got the details right.

With accusations of sleaze in the air, we are looking at an administration which is on track to be just as vile and disreputable as its predecessor, only in a fraction of the time, especially with that sleazebag Huhne being accused of messing up the loan – possibly deliberately (8 minutes into the video).

The current row follows on from a report by KPMG which tells us that without more direct support from the government, it is still uneconomic for utility companies to invest billions of pounds in nuclear power.

The view is that it is unlikely that the new generation of nuclear plants will actually get built – something which has been evident for some time – simply though noting the lack of news or actual progress. As the timetable slides, and as we see the Forgemaster loan go down the tubes, there is only one conclusion – we are stuffed, stuffed, stuffed.

The Chinese, who recently reported commissioning their first fourth generation plant, and has unveiled plans to increase its 9.1 gigawatts of nuclear power to 40 gigawatts by 2020, must be lost in amazement at the willingness of British politicians to commit economic (and political) suicide.

Our expectations of the previous administration were always low, but there are some who actually expected more of the present incumbents. But it seems to be a general rule of thumb when assessing governments that, just when you think things have got as bad as it is possible for them to be ... they get worse.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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