Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mann concedes uncertainty about feedbacks

Yet feedbacks are the key factor in Warmism. Without the postulated feedbacks, the 21st century temperature rise would most plausibly be like the 20th century temperature rise -- with a trivial rise of less than one degree Celsius. So this is a critical backdown, for all the bluster he hides behind

If anyone thinks that climate scientist Michael Mann has been cowed by last year's controversy over stolen e-mails, known as Climategate ... or by last week's election, which could lead to congressional hearings that target Mann and his colleagues ... well, think again.

"They can threaten whatever they want," the Penn State professor told me on Sunday, after his talk at the New Horizons in Science meeting at Yale University. "I'm quite confident to fight those sorts of witch-hunt attempts."

Mann is already fighting an investigation by Virginia's attorney general, who has been pressing the University of Virginia to provide copies of Mann's e-mail correspondence from the years when he was a professor there. And at least some House Republicans have signaled that they want to mount their own investigation of climate scientists.

Although Mann didn't exactly say "Bring it on," he did note that "those on the other side of the aisle will see this as an opportunity." He doesn't think scientists will be pushed on the defensive by their congressional critics. "We should look at this as an opportunity for offense," he said.

What's all the fuss about?

Those House Republicans, as well as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, may be anxious to expose the "climate hoax." But the way Mann sees it, there's not much question that greenhouse-gas levels are going up, that global average temperatures are rising, and that industrial activity is playing a role in that rise. "You might not gather that from the nature of the discourse today," he admitted.

During Sunday's talk, he traced the chain of evidence once again, as he and fellow scientists did in research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mann's modeling of climate data shows what's known as a "hockey stick" of rapidly rising temperatures. That statistical jump has been hotly contested by climate skeptics, but Mann said the sharp rise shows up in at least a dozen other studies. "It's not a hockey stick -- it's a hockey league," he joked.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there have been uncertainties in the data, as well as missteps in the way those data have been presented.

For example, one study that became the focus of the Climategate e-mail debate used tree-ring measurements as a proxy for temperatures up to 1960, but switched to a different data set after that point. Mann said that the tree-ring data stopped reflecting true temperatures 50 years ago for reasons that are not yet fully known -- but he added that it was a mistake not to show the data anyway. "That was bad," he said. (A British inquiry into Climategate criticized the "misleading" portrayal of tree-ring data as one of the few scientific lapses in the scientists' conduct. One of the researchers said in an e-mail that he picked up the tree-ring "trick" from Mann.)

The uncertainties have more to do with exactly how hot things will get if current trends continue, rather than whether or not global temperatures will heat up. Mann said it's not known just how much of a positive feedback effect a warmer, moister atmosphere and the increased cloud cover might have -- which is why projections for the global temperature rise by 2100 vary by several degrees. Also, it remains to be seen how well scientists are modeling the effect of weather patterns such as El Nino and La Nina. If the models are off, "maybe we can't trust what they're predicting" when it comes to climate change on a region-by-region level.

But under any scenario, the models point to "an array of potentially deleterious effects" that will accompany rising global temperatures, ranging from stronger storms to the loss of polar ice sheets.

"The ice sheets are not Republican or Democrat," Mann said. "They don't have a political agenda as they disappear."

During his talk, Mann flashed a picture of his daughter and a polar bear at a zoo. "I can't imagine having to tell my daughter when she's grown up that polar bears became extinct ... because we didn't act soon enough to combat a problem that we knew was real, but we couldn't convince the public because we faced so much opposition from a very well-funded, very well-organized effort to distract the public," Mann said.

What is to be done?

Mann said scientists "can do our best to call out the disinformation where we see it." One example of this was how Mann reacted to a Climategate op-ed written by former GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin for The Washington Post. He persuaded the Post to publish his own op-ed, responding to Palin's claims.

Mann praised the American Geophysical Union for setting up a "rapid response task force" to parry efforts aimed at discrediting climate scientists. He said journalists also should exercise their traditional role as a "critical and independent arbiter" of the policy debate, particularly in the midst of "politically motivated inquiries that we haven't seen in this country since the 1950s."

It might sound as if Mann relishes the fight, but he acknowledged that life after Climategate has not been easy for him. His routine now includes dealing with veiled death threats as well as investigations such as the one in Virginia. (The University of Virginia has reportedly run up a legal tab totaling $350,000 to fend off the state attorney general.) Mann is doing less research, and more speaking and writing. (For example, he's one of the scientists behind the RealClimate blog.)


AGU running scared: Backing down on their willingness to debate

The backdown below. Will answer email questions from journalists only

An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times, and then picked up by media outlets far and wide, misrepresents the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a climate science project the AGU is about to relaunch. The project, called Climate Q&A Service, aims simply to provide accurate scientific answers to questions from journalists about climate science.

“In contrast to what has been reported in the LA Times and elsewhere, there is no campaign by AGU against climate skeptics or congressional conservatives,” says Christine McEntee, Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union. “AGU will continue to provide accurate scientific information on Earth and space topics to inform the general public and to support sound public policy development.”

AGU is the world's largest, not-for-profit, professional society of Earth and space scientists, with more than 58,000 members in over 135 countries.

“AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization,” says climate scientist and AGU President Michael J. McPhaden. “The organization is committed to promoting scientific discovery and to disseminating to the scientific community, policy makers, the media, and the public, peer-reviewed scientific findings across a broad range of Earth and space sciences.”

AGU initiated a climate science Q&A service for the first time in 2009 to provide accurate scientific information for journalists covering the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. AGU has been working over the past year on how to provide this service once again in association with the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

AGU's Climate Q&A service addresses scientific questions only. It does not involve any commentary on policy. Journalists are able to submit questions via email, and AGU member-volunteers with Ph.D.s in climate science-related fields provide answers via email.

The relaunch of the Climate Q&A service is pending. When AGU is ready to announce the service, we will notify journalists on our distribution list via a media advisory that the service is once again available for their use.

For additional information about the Q&A service please see a 2 March 2010 article [pdf] about the 2009 Q&A service that was published in AGU's weekly newspaper Eos, and a blog post about the service on AGU's science communication blog The Plainspoken Scientist.


Wind, Solar and Drilling: The Face of Energy Policy is About to Change

“As energy takes the stage, Republicans need to remember why they are in the majority,” says Americans for Limited Government’s President Bill Wilson. “It’s not because of their past energy agendas; it is so they can bring the right kind of energy policies to America that will limit government involvement in the sector — something they haven’t always done in the past.”

It is important to note that both Republicans and Democrats have been partial to government-funded subsidies for the energy sector. Though the Democrats prefer to subsidize renewable energies and the Republicans tend to support nuclear energy and natural gas production through similar tax credits and subsidies, it’s all the same, and it’s not good for America’s free market system.

Because Obama lost control of the government’s purse strings — the House — he might be more inclined to try to push making natural gas, oil and coal more expensive and more difficult to produce in America rather than a hefty cap-and-trade bill. The EPA has already had a big hand in this with its expanding regulations on dust; ozone; conductivity of water in Appalachia, which would essentially put a stop to coal mining in the U.S.; industrial boilers; and water-cooling intakes.

Though Republicans would do well to stand against all of this, including putting a stop to the EPA’s egregious actions, they haven’t always in the past.

The 2004 Republican platform largely supported President George W. Bush’s strong backing of using ethanol as fuel. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Republican’s changed their stance, touting that the government should end its ethanol mandate and let the free market work. Let’s hope this current Republican platform sticks for these next two years.

Another key component as to what Republicans will support or oppose in the ways of energy policies can be derived from looking at the encouraged policies of the possible Committee Chairmen for the House Committees on Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce.

The probable Chairman for the House Committee on Natural Resources is Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA). According to his website, Rep. Hastings supports an “All-Of-The-Above” Energy Plan, which consists of:

• Promotes alternative energy sources like wind and solar.

• Expands non-emitting nuclear power- and moves Yucca Mountain forward.

• Protects clean, renewable hydropower dams from those who are trying to tear them out.

• Drills offshore, in Alaska and on federal lands.

Tom Pyle, President of the Institute of Energy Research (IER), in post-election release expressed concern with an “All-Of-The-Above” approach to energy because, “With this new political landscape, President Obama will try to advance his energy agenda in piecemeal fashion. Some Republicans will be tempted to go along with the President to support misguided notions of their ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy. While ‘all-of-the-above’ makes for a good rhetorical device, it is deeply flawed as an actual policy since it seeks to increase federal involvement in all types of energy production.”

In his defense, Rep. Hastings has a strong record of encouraging energy production and exploration in America and even on its protected federal lands.

One contender of the Chairman for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is current ranking member Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). Though Rep. Barton faces the hurdle of term limits set by the GOP, he has asked for a waiver in order to serve as Chairman of the committee.

In his letter asking for support to become Chairman, he wrote, “Over the past four years, as Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, I have led the charge against radical cap-and-trade legislation, fought the new entitlements and mandates that are the rotten core of President Obama’s health care law, and consistently applied free market principles to legislative decisions.”

If Rep. Barton does not make the cut, the next favored Chairman of the committee is Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), states a committee press release. Rep. Upton is the current chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and also supports the “All-Of-The-Above” American Energy Act (H.R. 2846).

All of these ranking members, presumably soon to become Chairmen of these committees, know the nation’s energy problems and have some good ideas as to how to fix them.

The new House of Representatives is tasked with finding solutions and compromises to America’s energy needs while remaining true to its pledges to the American people. As proved Nov. 2, the American people’s patience is running thin.

The Republicans have the power to do things right and create a sustainable, cost-effective and efficient energy plan for America. If they don’t, their majority in the House might be short-lived.


No foreseeable energy shortage

Not even a hydrocarbon shortage

Venture capitalists who remain committed to so-called alternative energy sources, could lose out over the long-term as a result of key technological breakthroughs that have caught the attention of magazine publisher Steve Forbes. The relatively cheap, reliable energy sources that are most in use today could become more widely available over time thanks to new extraction techniques, he explains.

In his most recent “Fact and Comment” column, Forbes describes how “hydraulic fracturing” and “horizontal drilling” could help position the U.S. as a leading natural gas exporter. Oil production could increase dramatically over time, Forbes informs readers. Savvy investors with an eye toward the future should carefully weigh the opportunity costs of unreliable, intermittent wind and solar power against the development of new technology that accelerates access to oil and natural gas.

“With fracking, drillers inject water, sand and chemicals deep underground to crack gas-bearing rock,” Forbes writes. “The technology, which has been around a long time has advanced dramatically. Literally trillions of dollars’ worth of shale oil and gas can be economically extracted.”

Horizontal drilling also puts the U.S. in a position to extract oil and gas resources that were beyond reach just recently. The developments here could dramatically transform America’s energy portfolio.

“Environmentalists worry that fracking might poison our water, even though the drilling takes place thousands of feet below the water table,” Forbes observes. “Fortunately, the technology is there to get at these reserves in an extremely safe way. The Earth is awash in energy.”


The solar panel gold rush that threatens to ruin Britain's countryside...and make millions for the Germans and Chinese

Farmers are being offered up to £50,000 a year to fill fields with solar panels under a Government-backed green initiative that threatens to change the face of the British countryside.

More than 100 planning applications have been submitted and work on a large-scale installation in Wiltshire is due to begin later this month.

But with a 30-acre farm able to accommodate up to 18,000 of the 2ft-high panels, campaigners fear some rural areas could be submerged by a sea of black silicon slabs.

The ‘Feed-in Tariff’ scheme was launched in April as part of an attempt to meet European Union targets on renewable energy. But the financial incentives are so generous that farmers are being cold-called by developers keen to sign contracts before the ­payment structure is reviewed in 2012.

The influx is led by German and Chinese companies, but there is also interest from speculators who have seen profits slump since similar schemes were scaled down or abandoned in Spain, Italy and Germany to cut costs.

Dustin Benton, senior policy officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘There is a real push now by developers to make the most of the short time-window. Solar panels are a useful form of renewable energy but there are many places where they should not go.’

Farmers can deal directly with their power supplier or go into partnership with a renewable energy developer or a private investor who will set up a company to run the business. The company is paid by the power supplier for the electricity it generates and the farmer gets rent for the use of his land.

The average rental price for land in Cornwall, where the weather is judged to be most suitable for renewable energy, is £1,500 an acre, which means a farmer with 35 acres to spare could receive £52,500 a year.

At the other end of the spectrum, the owner of a one-acre field might be in line for £2,000 a year. But industry experts said this smaller area would be less attractive to developers because of the proportionately higher cost of ­installing the panels and cables.

A minimum tax-free return is guaranteed for 25 years. The farmer also receives a payment for any power transmitted from his land to the National Grid.

Energy regulator Ofgem, which runs the scheme on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, says it will promote small-scale, low-carbon power generation. But experts have estimated the cost to consumers, via higher energy bills, at £8.6 billion. They also claim the initiative will bring relatively few environmental benefits compared with those in hotter climates.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, the chief adviser on renewable energy for the National ­Farmers’ Union, said the scheme could help struggling parts of the agricultural sector. But he admitted opposition was inevitable due to the ‘industrial’ look of the panels. ‘

Lansdowne RE, a property agent in Mayfair, Central London, has been asked to find sites in England suited to solar developments by an Austrian company. Rupert Hoffen, of the Mayfair firm, said: ‘The 25-year tariffs are very appealing to overseas investors.’

Russell Hayman, who runs a farm near Honiton, Devon, was cold-called by a land agent who offered an annual £500 an acre in return for installing hundreds of solar panels in his fields. Mr Hayman, who turned down the proposal, said: ‘If the subsidy was abolished, that would leave me with no income and a load of wires lying across my land.’

South West England is at the centre of what has been called the ‘sun rush’ with up to 70 planning applications submitted to local authorities. Lucy Hunt of the Cornwall Development Company, which promotes investment in the county, said: ‘We are seeing the start of a solar gold rush.’ One of the world’s biggest makers of solar panels is Yingli Green Energy of China, which is now turning its attention from ­continental Europe to Britain.

Another leading manufacturer, SolarWorld of Germany, claims solar power will enable farmers ‘to expand their business’.

Work on Britain’s first full-scale solar farm is due to start this month near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Anthony Hibbard, who owns the site and is a director of solar-energy company Sunstroom, said: ‘This is a ­relatively small development which will produce enough electricity for 20 homes.’

Conservative MP and former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley said: ‘It is bizarre, in these cost-cutting times, to have a scheme which will cost 20 times as much as the benefits it will produce in terms of reduced CO2 emissions. Far from ­creating green jobs in Britain, it will create jobs in China.’

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: ‘Our Feed-in Tariff is designed to encourage people to generate their own energy and contribute to the security of our energy supplies. ‘Thanks to these incentives, farmers have an opportunity to embrace renewable energy.’


How many excuses does it take?

Foreword by Joanne Nova to "Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt?" by Dr. David Evans

The Western Climate Establishment has allowed egregious mistakes, major errors, and obvious biases to accumulate — each factor on its own might be hard to pin down, but the pattern is undeniable.

The Western Climate Establishment is cheating:

1. Official thermometers are overwhelmingly in warm localities such as near air conditioner exhaust vents, buildings, concrete, tarmac, or asphalt.

2. Officials hide the Argo data, which shows the world’s oceans are cooling.

3. They ignore hundreds of thousands of weather balloon results that show the climate models overestimate future warming by at least 300%.

4. Climate scientists frequently point to the last 130 years of global warming, but don’t mention the full story: the planet started warming before 1700, over a century before humans started pumping out meaningful amounts of CO2.

5. Leading authors publish a crucial graph with a deceptive colour scheme that imitates the results they wish they’d got. Why did a leading peer-reviewed climate journal publish such a naked and childish attempt at cheating?

6. The Russian, Chinese and Indian climate establishments, which are financially independent of the western climate establishment, are all skeptical. As are many scientists from other branches of science, and many retired climate scientists (who no longer have anything to lose by speaking their minds).

Only a fool would ignore the message in the pattern

Once one or two major news outlets start printing these photos of official thermometers near artificial heating sources, and point out the deception, the rush will be on for our elected representatives to abandon the Global Warming Crusade. No one wants to be seen to be taken in by half-truths and shameless deception. Who wants to look gullible because they didn’t ask the obvious burning questions?

Those who support conclusions based on corrupt behaviour will be seen as negligent for not having considered the serious evidence here.

Dr Evans is a scientist who was on the climate gravy train, and was horrified by what he saw. He first blew the whistle in a polite way in 2008. Too many of the world’s politicians have not yet woken up, so here he collects the worst examples of climate shenanigans and explains them powerfully in terms that any politician can understand.

These photos speak for themselves. The corruption of climate science has become so blatant, so obvious, that even non-scientists can no longer throw their hands in the air and say “I didn’t know”. You don’t need a PhD to know it is cheating to place thermometers near artificial heat sources and call it “global warming”.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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