Trust emptyhead Obama to pick a cloth-headed fool -- prone to drawing the most sweeping conclusions from the most superficial of knowledge. In a rational universe he would be a laughing stock
Turns out we have all been dead for over a decade. So what are we arguing about? Holdren wrote this in 1969:
"World food production must double in the period 1965-2000 to stay even; it must triple if nutrition is to be brought up to minimum requirements. That there is insufficient additional, good quality agricultural land available in the world to meet these needs is so well documented (Borgstrom, 1965) that we will not belabor the point here."
Then he went into a long diatribe about how we are going to run out of water, energy, food, land – and that the heat from nuclear power plants is going to destroy the climate.
A more easily evaluated problem is the tremendous quantity of waste heat generated at nuclear installations (to say nothing of the usable power output, which, as with power from whatever source, must also ultimately be dissipated as heat). Both have potentially disastrous effects on the local and world ecological and climatological balance.
This guy must be the life of the party. After a dozen pages of psychotic disaster prediction, he gets to the punch line. He wants to snip men’s private parts.
If we may safely rule out circumvention of the Second Law or the divorce of energy requirements from population size, this suggests that, whatever science and technology may accomplish, population growth must be stopped.
But it cannot be emphasized enough that if the population control measures are not initiated immediately and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come.’ Therefore, confronted as we are with limited resources of time and money, we must consider carefully what fraction of our effort should be applied to the cure of the disease itself instead of to the temporary relief of the symptoms.
We should ask, for example, how many vasectomies could be performed by a program funded with the 1.8 billion dollars required to build a single nuclear agro-industrial complex, and what the relative impact on the problem would be in both the short and long terms. The decision for population control will be opposed by growth-minded economists and businessmen, by nationalistic statesmen, by zealous religious leaders, and by the myopic and well-fed of every description.
It is therefore incumbent on all who sense the limitations of technology and the fragility of the environmental balance to make themselves heard above the hollow, optimistic chorus-to convince society and its leaders that there is no alternative but the cessation of our irresponsible, all-demanding, and all-consuming population growth.
In other words, he proposed forced sterilization based on his hair-brained theories. His reward for being dangerous, wrong and anti-democratic? Obama made him his science advisor.
Remember to vote next month.
A closer look at the "cooling" sun paper
Utter confusion based on the tiniest bit of data. But at least it shows that the science is not "settled"! It shows in fact that our understanding of the sun has a long way to go
Who was it that said that the good thing about science was that you get such a lot of speculation from such a small number of facts? The recent paper by Haigh at al concerning measurements of the solar spectrum is an excellent example.
This interesting paper and what it actually said has been lost amongst the comments made about it in an associated press release and interviews, about which more later. It’s obvious that many of those who reported on the papers findings have only read the press release.
The new paper by Joanna Haigh et al is based on two datapoints, or rather two spectra. They are 10-day averages centred around 21 April 2004 and 7 November 2007, when the solar cycle was in its declining phase from the 2000 peak. Haigh et al find that the sun’s spectrum was different on the two dates. There was a larger decline in Ultra Violet radiation than expected. Visible radiation increased almost compensating.
This leads one to wonder what the differences in the spectrum mean and where they came from and could they be related to changes occurring as part of the solar cycle or just as a result of shorter-term fluctuations? Two data points from such a variable sun is clearly inadequate to determine very much. What for example is the difference in solar spectra between an active sun and a lesser active sun during the same year? How does the spectrum vary at solar minimum, if at all? Also we know that the sun is currently behaving strangely these days.
When plugged into atmospheric models the researchers found that using the 2007 data when the Ultra-Violet had decreased there was an increase in visible radiation reaching the lower atmosphere. It caused a warming. One should note that the Hadcrut3 global data set shows that the Earth’s temperature was unchanged between 2004 and 2007. This means that, if we accept the researchers conclusions, some other cooling factor (or combination) must have compensated exactly for the sun’s warming influence resulting in no observable change in the Earth’s temperature!
Then the authors SPECULATE that the reverse MIGHT be true, that is that if the visible radiation decreases at solar maximum then the earth might cool. Based on this speculation, not in the Nature paper but elsewhere, the authors suggest that as solar activity increased throughout the 20th century the sun may have been a cooling influence.
Consider what was actually said in the Nature paper: “At present there is no evidence to ascertain whether this behaviour has occurred before, but if this were the case during previous multi-decadal periods of low solar activity it would be necessary to revisit assessments of the solar influence on climate and to revise the methods whereby these are represented in global models.”
In associated press release the lead author is quoted as saying, "We cannot jump to any conclusions based on what we have found during this comparatively short period and we need to carry out further studies to explore the sun's activity and the patterns that we have uncovered on longer timescales.”
One could paraphrase the situation by stating that one should be very cautious about these observations themselves and the fact that there are only two datapoints and because they are anomalous. So while they cannot “jump to any conclusions” that’s nonetheless exactly what they are going to do.
Here it all starts to unravel. In recent years many scientists have made set great store by what they claim is the fact that their climate models (which include solar influences) can completely explain what was going on in the climate up to about 1960 without mankind’s influence, but that after 1960 manmade global warming is necessary to explain the data. It was this line of argument that an initially skeptical David Attenborough said persuaded him of mankind’s influence.
Now if Haigh et al are right the solar factor in this climate modeling was incorrect even though it did an amazing job of reproducing natural variations in climate from the 19th century up to 1960! So, one wonders, which is wrong, the suggestions by Haigh et al, or the climate models that reproduced natural variability so well up to 1960 (suspiciously well, in my view).
I’m also wondering how this research fits in with the infamous Lockwood and Frolich Royal Society paper of 2007. That used sunspot data and GISS global temperature data to show that as the sun’s activity declined after the great solar grand maxima of the late 20th century the earth’s temperature continued to rise. They concluded that the sun’s increased activity wasn’t responsible for the world warming (had they used another global temperature dataset I think they might have got a different answer.) If Haigh et al are right then the decline in solar activity, estimated by Lockwood and Frolich to be in the 1950’s (it was also in the 80’s) actually coincides with the recent spell of warming! So one could now argue it was the sun that did it after all!
Then there are the Maunder and Dalton minima. These are periods of low solar activity that coincided with cool global temperatures. If Haigh et al are correct then the quiet sun, rather than cooling the planet, would have been warming it. The impression I get is that climate models struggle to explain these cooling episodes. The Maunder Minimum requires low solar activity and volcanic effects according to one explanation. If Haigh et al get their way then that explanation fails utterly.
The sun is making a comeback. Look at articles in the leading journals as well as press reports of 15 years ago and it was not uncommon to see scientists saying that the sun was an important influence in climate change. About a decade ago that changed, but in recent years it has been coming back in many ways.
And still the sun remains historically quiet, greenhouse gasses accumulate in the atmosphere, and the annual global temperature refuses to increase.
A modern-day witch hunt in Britain
Eureka, the science magazine from The Times, is in many ways a brilliant accomplishment. Advertising is following readers in an online migration - but James Harding, the editor, personally persuaded advertisers that a new magazine, in a newspaper, devoted to science would work. And here it is: giving the New Scientist a run for its money every month.
That's why it's such a shame that today's magazine opens on an anti-scientific piece denouncing those who disagree with the climate consensus. My former colleague Ben Webster, now the paper's environment correspondent, is an energetic and original journalist - so it's depressing to see his skills deployed in a game of hunt-the-heretic.
The magazine's list of 100 greatest scientists is preceded by a heretic list of five 'sceptics' who are denounced on the flimsiest of grounds. Bjorn Lomborg is no.1. "He appears to concede that man-made global warming is a serious problem," says Webster. Appears to? He has explicitly stated this, time and time again. His argument is that we must introduce proportion to the debate: ask what these expensive solutions actually achieve. And ask whether, if saving lives is the priority, money could be spent in better ways. Webster finds him guilty of "producing alarming statistics that suggest cutting carbon is too expensive". Strikingly Webster does not say that his figures are wrong, or exaggerated. To dismiss studies because the conclusion is wrong is not science, but spin.
Next, Nigel Lawson and his Global Warming Policy Foundation. "This 'think tank' of retired grandees gives sceptic arguments a veneer of authority," he complains. Might that be because the board's credentials are impeccable? That they include former Cabinet Secretaries with no skin in the climate change fight - other than dismay at the anti-intellectual way the debate is conducted?
Bafflingly, Sarah Palin is next. She is credited with "exploiting the University of East Anglia emails to undermine last December's Copenhagen summit". Can anyone remember the part in that summit where things were going swimmingly until Palin intervened? My recollection is of a summit buckling under the weight of its own contradictions. The idea of sourcing the doubt - even the emails - to Palin is certainly novel. Webster also claims that her influence "helps to explain" why Obama 'has shelved plans for legislation to cut back on US emissions".
Christopher Monckton, the sceptic peer, is next - like Palin, his intellectual influence is great. "He plays to full houses in the US and Australia". This is reminiscent of Naomi Klein's theory in No Logo: that free market economics have no force in their own right, but emanate from Bad People (Friedman was hers).
Steve McIntyre is perhaps my favourite. "Feared by climate scientists for his doggedness in hunting down flaws or inconsistencies," Webster says - and this is, apparently, enough to qualify him for the "infamous five" list. Proper science invites refutation. Denouncing people for pointing out "flaws" is not science.
Webster finishes off by saying that sceptics are over 60 "so few will be alive in 20 years' time to see the consequences of their efforts to resist global action on climate change". But this raises another point.
At the launch of Nigel Lawson's excellent think tank (which acknowledges that global warming is real and a problem - a point Webster didn't make, no doubt due to lack of space), I was approached by one of its directors - someone, again, with a distinguished record in public life. "Looking around, most of us are retirement age," he said. "That's because if you're young, and you raise the slightest objection, your career is over. You will be ostracised, and if you have any profile the press will destroy you. So its only my generation, with nothing to lose, who can make these arguments in this hysterical intellectual climate."
Webster's piece proves his point. Even journalists, whose job is normally to probe and question, have become cheerleaders for a cause. There is a mood of hysteria - and before CoffeeHousers go the other way and attack Webster, I'd like to say that he is not one of those journalists. His reporting in Copenhagen and afterwards fully reflected both sides of the debate - which is why it's so strange to see this piece from him today. And even stranger to see it commissioned by a science supplement - when scientific progress depends on the the type of refutation and questioning which Lomborg, Lawson and McIntyre have brought to the debate.
As for Palin and Monckton - Webster wasn't really serious. I hope.
Green Subsidies Will Have Disastrous Effect On UK Economy
Pandering to policy makers who see the future of UK energy defined by expensive "eco-bling" solutions will have disastrous effects for the government and for consumers.
That's the warning from the incoming president of Europe's largest engineering membership body. Dr. Nigel Burton, who formally assumes the presidency of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) this Thursday, will offer credence to the coalition government's position of reviewing the UK's energy framework.
In a call to action for the engineering policy community, Dr. Burton will suggest that there need be no gap in time before money-saving energy policy can be introduced. This could be achieved, he says, by reducing subsidies for some current high-cost, low-saving initiatives.
In his wide ranging inaugural speech, Dr Nigel Burton says some technologies "are a serious misallocation of resources if the principal objective is cost-effective emissions reduction. Early enthusiasm for domestic wind turbines has waned as it has become clear that in general these have no economic value and in some cases consume more electricity than they produce." The subsidies for solar photovoltaics risk repeating the expensive mistakes made in Germany.
Dr Burton argues that "Reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 will require a complete redesign of UK energy production and consumption." He goes on to say that these changes will require investment of an estimated £400 billion by 2050.
One of his key recommendations is to focus on the decarbonisation of electricity production. He also claims that widespread public "conversion to electronic vehicles should be given a high priority." He goes on to make the wider point that "most hopes of achieving the carbon reduction targets rest on increased electrification of the economy and decarbonisation of the power sector." However, that is no easy change as about 78% of electricity generation is currently from coal and gas.
Dr. Burton, makes his opening address at the IET's London headquarters, with a widely anticipated discourse on energy, entitled ''Keeping the lights on - an inconvenient truth'. The lecture will be attended by IET members, policymakers and the public.
Green Jobs Utopia Goes Up In Smoke
A whine from "The Guardian" below
Plans to build three new factories to make thousands of giant offshore wind turbines that would create an estimated 60,000 jobs are set to become the latest casualty of the spending review, it has emerged.
The previous government had pledged £60m to upgrade ports, mainly in the north-east, to enable them to handle the next generation of giant turbines for installation off the UK coast.
Siemens and General Electric have announced plans to invest £180m in two new manufacturing facilities in the UK, but say this is conditional on the necessary work on nearby ports. Mitsubishi is also interested in building a third factory.
But the Guardian has learned that the competition inviting ports to bid for the funds is likely to be scrapped. Officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is to provide half the £60m required, are still fighting for the funds. However, they have little support from the Department for Business, which would have to find the other half, or from the Treasury.
The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, is understood to be determined to set up a Green Investment Bank, which will have to take public funds for existing renewable and low-carbon schemes, such as the ports, to have sufficient capital.
The Guardian has also learned that the nuclear industry has successfully lobbied the government to safeguard the huge budget to decommission the UK's old reactors, handled by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This year, about 60% of the NDA's budget – £1.7bn – came from taxpayers via the DECC, making up about 40% of the ministry's entire spending.
In opposition, the Conservatives had wanted to cut about 25% of DECC's funding to the NDA. But after the election, industry executives outlined to ministers the urgency of the clean-up of Britain's nuclear sites, particularly Sellafield in Cumbria. One source said: "We succeeded in scaring David Cameron off." The NDA, which is cutting its own operating budget, could even secure a slightly higher funding settlement than this year.
MPs will debate the ports programme in the House of Commons on Tuesday, with the trade body RenewableUK warning that 60,000 jobs are at stake. No final decision has been made either on the £60m ports plan or the NDA's budget, with the funding settlement for DECC only expected to be formally agreed just before the Treasury's publication of the spending review on 20 October. It is thought that the most that would be available would be funds to upgrade one port.
But the scrapping of the ports competition will sit uneasily with Cameron's declaration that this "would be the greenest government ever". It will also raise questions about the government's commitment to help the economy grow out of recession, in particular by boosting hi-tech exporters. It has already axed an £80m government loan to the engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters.
Power failure in Canada
The Swedish retail giant IKEA announced Thursday it will invest $4.6-million to install 3,790 solar panels on three Toronto area stores, giving IKEA the electric-power-producing capacity of 960,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. According to IKEA, that's enough electricity to power 100 homes. Amazing development. Even more amazing is the economics of this project. Under the Ontario government's feed-intariff solar power scheme, IKEA will receive 71.3¢ for each kilowatt of power produced, which works out to about $6,800 a year for each of the 100 hypothetical homes. Since the average Toronto home currently pays about $1,200 for the same quantity of electricity, that implies that IKEA is being overpaid by $5,400 per home equivalent.
Welcome to the wonderful world of green economics and the magical business of carbon emission reduction. Each year, IKEA will receive $684,408 under Premier Dalton McGuinty's green energy monster--for power that today retails for about $115,000. At that rate, IKEA will recoup $4.6-million in less than seven years--not bad for an investment that can be amortized over 20.
No wonder solar power is such a hot industry. No wonder, too, that the province of Ontario is in a headlong rush into a likely economic crisis brought on skyrocketing electricity prices. To make up the money paid to IKEA to promote itself as a carbon-free zone, Ontario consumers and industries are on their way to experiencing the highest electricity rates in North America, if not most of the world.
The government's regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, has prepared secret forecasts of how much Ontario consumers are going to have to pay for electricity over the next five years. The government won't allow the report to be released. The next best estimate comes from Aegency Energy Advisors Inc., in a study it did for the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters group. Residential rates are expected to jump by 60% between 2010 and 2015. Industrial customers will be looking at a 55% increase. (See graphic.)
Going back to 2003, based on numbers dug up by consultant Tom Adams, the price of residential electricity in Ontario hovered around 8.5¢ a kWh in 2003 -- the first year of the McGuinty Liberal regime. By 2015, Aegency Energy estimates the price will be up to 21¢, an increase of 135%. Doubling the price of electricity in a decade is no way to spur growth and investment. In this age of global economic competition IKEA may end up with fewer sales of its Billy bookshelves in Toronto because its customers will be bogged down with soaring power bills and a sliding economy.
Almost all of these increases are due to green energy activism brought on by George Smitherman, the former Ontario energy minister now running for mayor of Toronto on the claim that his Green Energy Act is not responsible for rising prices.
There are probably some holes that can be picked in the Aegency Energy numbers in the graph, but they are not likely to make that much of a difference. If the OEB has better numbers that disprove the Aegency report, then let's see them. In the meantime, Aegency is all we have and their report was an eye-opener when it was released back in August -- for everybody except Premier McGuinty, his Energy Minister, green activists and Mr. Smitherman.
Mr. Smitherman is the godfather of the Ontario Green Energy Act and the feed-intariff scheme that will transfer billions of dollars out of consumer pockets and into the hands of subsidized solar and wind power producers and government corporations. He likes to blame rising electricity prices on the province's new HST and the failure of previous governments to maintain infrastructure. The numbers in the Aegency Energy report make it clear that Mr. Smitherman is running on a dead battery.
All those costs and spending (which total more than $21-billion between 2010 and 2015) will add little to Ontario's electricity inventory. Through that time period, total electricity demand in Ontario is expected to remain relatively flat. By 2015, in other words, Ontarians will likely be consuming the same amount of electricity as they are today but paying twice as much as they were in 2003.
There is even a prospect that Ontario will generate additional surplus electricity that will have to be exported to the United States, essentially subsidizing U.S. consumption. Tom Adams adds that the latest U.S. electricity forecasts suggest U. S prices will remain stable. Price are lower this year and are expected to increase next year by 2.4%. Ontario, meanwhile, is looking at average gains of 9.7%. "We're heading toward European prices," he said.
The supposed objective of all this is to reduce carbon emissions and offset the mandated closure of Ontario's coal plants. But the Green Energy Act reaches way beyond offsetting coal. It aims to reduce Ontario carbon emissions, although no targets have been set.
According to Aegency Energy's calculations, the cost of power produced by IKEA solar panels at 71.3¢ will reduce carbon emissions at a cost of $1,384 a tonne if there is a corresponding reduction in Ontario's need for gas-fired electricity production. That number compares with official national and international carbon tax ideas involving maybe $25 a tonne or, at the extreme, $200 a tonne.
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