Monday, November 08, 2010

The Week That Was (To November 6, 2010)

Excerpts from Ken Haapala

The US news this week was dominated by the elections during which the Republicans won convincing control of the House of Representatives. By the Constitution, the House controls the purse strings of the US government. To a large part, the election was driven by middle class voters who appear to feel disenfranchised by Washington. Because many of the supporters of the "tea party" are not committed to the Republican Party, the Republican hold may be temporary. Nonetheless, we can expect changes in Washington that may have a significant bearing on the scientific and environmental policies of the Federal government.

The general view is that cap-and-trade and energy taxes have no hope in the new Congress. However, there is concern that in spite of the significant losses of energy control politicians, the current Congress may pass a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The current Congress will reconvene on November 15 in what is called a "lame duck session" and the new Congress does not assume power until January 3, 2011.

Some members of the science establishment have resorted to denouncing many of the winners as "anti-science" because they do not accept the claim that man's emissions of carbon dioxide are causing unprecedented and dangerous global warming. The accusers often claim that these politicians are misguided by a cabal of deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry.

An example of an extreme article is "Professional climate change deniers' crusade" by Michael Mann, published in New Scientist, who declares any challenge to his work is an attack on science. Mr. Mann still does not admit that his "hockey stick" model fails a basic test for verification - it produces a "hockey stick" from white noise.

Another attack on human caused global warming skeptics is "A New Kind of Crime Against Humanity?" by Donald Brown, an Associate Professor of Climate Ethics at Penn State University. As with similar attacks, Brown is strongly ad hominem and weak on facts. That certain entities in the scientific establishment publish such unsubstantiated attacks does not serve the interest of science or the public.


California, where the environmental groups won, will continue to exemplify the consequences the energy schemes created by the environmental industry, and their political enablers. Voters defeated a proposal not to implement a massive cap-and-trade scheme until the California unemployment rate falls to 5.5%. The current unemployment rate in California is about 12.4%. During past recessions, California unemployment rate usually was well below the U.S. rate. But in this recession it is well above the US rate of 9.6% -- the highest US sustained rate since the Great Depression.

The American founding fathers believed that states would provide excellent laboratories to test what policies succeed and what do not. The environmental industry told the voters of California that the renewable energy industry ("clean energy") will lead the state out of its recession. It would be well for other states and the Federal government to wait to see if the experiment is successful.

In spite of the election, bureaucrats in New Mexico approved aggressive cap-and-trade regulations for New Mexico even though voters elected a new governor opposed to such measures. No doubt, there will be major issues when the new governor assumes office.


On a more positive note, according to a publication on its website, the American Physical Society (APS) is planning to form a new Topical Group on the physics of climate. This is largely in response to a petition, organized by APS Fellow Roger Cohen and a few others, and signed by 200 members. A poll of the membership drew some 800 members in support of such a group. At this time it appears that the organizing chair will be Nobel laureate Jerome Friedman of MIT, one of the signers of the Cohen petition. All are to be congratulated for opening up a forum to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the physics of global warming and climate change. See here


Litigation involving SEPP opposing the EPA Endangerment Finding that carbon dioxide endangers public health and welfare is proceeding with glacial speed. However, there are several other litigation issues of interest.

According to a Washington Post article, a Federal judge has set December 23 as a deadline for the Interior Department to explain why polar bears were listed as "threatened" and not "endangered." Of course, polar bear populations are increasing and there is no scientific reason to list them as either. But by obtaining a listing as "threatened" the environmental industry was able to claim that vast areas off the north coast of Alaska should be off limits to oil and natural gas exploration. As suggested in the article, a listing of "endangered" could be used as another means for the Federal government to control carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas is the only state that is not establishing regulations for greenhouse gases or allowing EPA to establish them, as EPA asserts it has the power to do under its Endangerment Finding. This may lead to a Texas showdown.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is following up its litigation against NASA for the failure of NASA to release information CEI demanded as early as 2007 under the Freedom Of Information Act. These requests include explanation of changes NASA made to the historic temperature record, work by NASA scientists for private blogs while working at NASA, and some 3500 emails relating to this work. The changing of the historic temperature record may have significant bearing on the EPA Endangerment Finding as well as claim that the NASA-GISS data set is not independent as EPA asserted. Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of NASA-GISS may reflect on NASA itself.


Roy Spencer has posted the latest University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) Globally Averaged Satellite Based Temperature Anomaly of the Lower Atmosphere for October: +0.42 deg. C - the lowest of 2010. Comparing 2010 with 1998, from January to October, 2010 is slightly below 1998 but not statistically significantly so. Sea surface temperatures continue to fall dramatically.


THE NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 20.1 GWe to 0 GWe. According to the World Nuclear Association (cited in TWTW last week), China added 20.1 GWe of hydroelectric generating capacity in 2008. According to the US Energy Information Administration the US added 0 GWe of hydroelectric generating capacity in 2008. [Please note: that due to heavy spring rains in the southeast, total generation in the US went up in 2008 compared to 2007, but there was no increase in actual capacity. The environmental industry long ago successfully shut down any major increase in US capacity.]

Renewable energy advocates fail to mention the giant steps China is making in the expansion of hydroelectric power, which expansion the US has stopped. Instead, the advocates mention only solar and wind. Yet in 2008, China expanded wind power capacity by only 4.7 GWe - less than one-quarter of its expansion of hydroelectric capacity. [Effective capacities of each type were not identified, but the dispatchable (reliable) capacity of wind is tiny compared to hydro.]

What is a supreme irony in environmental industry policies is that some of the increase in China's hydroelectric capacity is being financed by carbon credits from Europe that are imposed by green policies. According to the NYT's article "A Carbon Trading System ...", the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows companies in industrialized countries to sponsor a greenhouse gas (GHG) reducing project in developing countries. The sponsoring country picks up carbon credits and the developing country gets the cash. As of 2008, the total cash transferred was close to $7 Billion. No wonder China is closing old inefficient coal burning plants. It is getting cash from Europe for doing so and replacing these with hydro! (All the while opening up new coal fired plants at an amazing rate.)

According to a NYT article, the UN Environment Program's data base shows the executive board of CDM approved 1,668 hydroelectric power projects of which 1,060 are in China.


The French Academy Lays an Egg

S Fred Singer

The august French Academy has spoken. After a cursory examination of the climate issue, a day of selected testimonies, and some internal discussion among admitted non-experts, their Oct. 28 report to the French science minister concluded that global warming is "real and anthropogenic." Too bad; this report will remain as a stain on the Academy's reputation for years to come -- once the true scientific facts gain acceptance.

How could the Academy reach such a conclusion? Simply by ignoring any contrary evidence -- all published in peer-reviewed journals and readily available. So another interesting question is: Why did they ignore contrary evidence? For the answer, we would have to turn to psychologists or sociologists. On the other hand, the French Academy should be praised for organizing a debate on climate, however imperfect. I cannot imagine that the U.S. National Academy would even consider such an idea.

The global climate indeed warmed between 1910 and 1940, but due to natural causes, and at a time when the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases was relatively low. There is little dispute about the reality of this rise in temperature and about the subsequent cooling from 1940 to 1975, which was also seen in proxy records (such as ice cores, tree rings, etc.) independent of thermometers. The Academy, following the U.N.-supported IPCC, then reports a sudden climate jump around 1977-1978, followed by a steady increase in temperature until at least 1997. It is this steady increase that is in doubt; it cannot be seen in the proxy records.

Even more important, weather satellite data, which furnish the best global temperature data for the atmosphere, show essentially no warming between 1979 and 1997. According to well-established textbook theories of the atmosphere, the surface warming must be smaller than the atmospheric trend by roughly a factor of two. But one half of zero is still zero. It suggests that the surface warming reported by the IPCC, based on weather-station data that had been processed by the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University (CRU-EAU) may not exist.

How could this have come about? We will get the answer once we learn how the CRU selected particular weather stations (from some thousands worldwide) to use for their global product and how they then corrected the actual data (to remove urban influences and other effects). So far, none of the several investigations of "Climategate" has delved into these all-important details. Nor have they established the exact nature of the "trick" used by the CRU and fellow conspirators to "hide the decline" (of temperature) -- referred to in the leaked Climategate e-mails.

The disparity between surface trends and atmospheric data as measured by satellites (and independently also by radiosondes in weather balloons) has been known for more than a decade. Yet it has been steadfastly ignored by the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers and also by the French Academy. Evidently, it is not a subject they wish to discuss.

In my book, Hot Talk, Cold Science, published in 1997, I show a graph that clearly delineates the difference between surface and atmospheric trends in the tropical region. In 2000, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences even published a study called "Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change"; this work tried to account for the discrepancy between atmospheric and surface trends (between 1979 and 1997) and concluded that they could not. A federal report of 2006 by the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP-SAP-1.1) shows again the same disparity. Yet an obvious way to solve the puzzle is to conclude that the surface trends are vastly exaggerated and may even be close to zero.

Of course, it is also necessary to deal with sea surface temperatures, since oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface. An analysis of the available data shows again no appreciable warming trend after appropriate corrections have been made. As suggested in studies published in 2005, the reported warming trend of SST may be based on an artifact and is not real. So it becomes clear that the French Academy's conclusion (that global warming is "real and anthropogenic") does not accord with observed facts.

An obvious question is why these facts were not publicized earlier. I can say only that any such claim of "no global warming in the 1980s and 1990s" would have been shouted down and discounted by the scientific community and the public. However, "Climategate" and the subsequent discovery of many errors and shortcomings by the IPCC have changed the situation drastically. It is now OK to express what previously might have been considered heretical.


Not the Last You Will See of "Climate" Oversight

Last night the Competitive Enterprise Institute, through its outside counsel Gibson Dunn, filed its brief arguing against NASA's rather scattershot and contradictory effort to dismiss our lawsuit requesting certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)(press release available here).

Our suit, CEI vs. NASA (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), followed on the heels of ClimateGate, and a December 2009 Notice of Intent to Sue if NASA did not turn over certain records withheld since CEI sought them in August 2007 and January 2008 requests. That Notice was eleven months ago and, despite NASA offering some documents and admitting -- temporarily -- that certain others relating to the advocacy site used by NASA scientists, were "agency records", NASA then ceased its brief steps to comply with the transparency statute FOIA.

Despite NASA stonewalling CEI has already learned, for example, that NASA does not, contrary to widespread media and pressure group claims, have an independent temperature data set. Instead, as NASA told USA Today in an email, despite its serial, breathless press releases trumpeting some new temperature high, it actually is just a modeling office, which also (for unknown reasons, possibly extra attention and importance, or mere advocacy) cobbles together some US data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) with that of the Climatic Research Unit's temperature history. You may recall how CRU withdrew its claim to a temperature history data set after ClimateGate led to an admission it actually lost its data.

Specifically, CEI's FOIA suit seeks documents and emails relating to NASA's temperature record, which NASA was forced to correct in response to criticism from a leading climate watchdog, Steve McIntyre. Those corrections destroyed NASA's stance that U.S. temperatures have been steadily rising in recent years and returned 1934, not 1998, to being the warmest year on record. NASA refuses to give CEI the computer file they used to make these changes, whose title includes "Steve" and "alternate cleaning."

CEI also seeks emails from NASA scientists using Real on official time using official resources, often to advance what NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (its climate activist office) has decided is appropriate public advocacy.

In addition to uncovering the "Steve"/"cleaning" file, a few of the more interesting pieces of evidence expounded upon in CEI's brief include:

* After CEI filed the FOIA seeking RealClimate emails, administrators at Real Climate deleted all timestamps on all of their postings, making it impossible to show they were made during work hours. But we kept color copies of the original posts.

* NASA admits that it discovered 3,500 emails on Dr. Schmidt's NASA computer related to his work on RealClimate but won't produce them.

* NASA did not ask Dr. Schmidt to look for responsive records until 22 months after we sent them the FOIA and threatened to sue. It is highly likely relevant emails were destroyed during this period.

* NASA's delay in responding to CEI's FOIA requests was extraordinary, far outside its normal or even most egregious examples of delay or non-compliance. For instance:

o NASA took more than 900 days to produce documents pursuant to CEI's two 2007 requests. The agency took more than 700 days to produce records in response to CEI's 2008 request. NASA does not explain these delays. FOIA requires that an agency produce responsive records within 20 days. Although agencies rarely meet that deadline, even for "complex" FOIA requests, NASA's average processing time is under 100 days. In 2008, NASA processed complex requests in 82 days, on average. In 2009, it processed such requests in 89 days, on average.

o Prompted by congressional inquiries, the NASA Inspector General investigated the delay associated with these FOIA Requests. The Inspector General determined that the delays were caused by "inadequate direction" as to what documents were requested; "inadequate communication between NASA personnel; and "inadequate staffing" at the Goddard FOIA office. In reality, one of the primary reasons for the delay was that NASA did not inform GISS officials about one of the requests and inexplicably held documents for years instead of producing them on a rolling basis, as requested.

We should argue this within the month. CEI requests the court allow it to proceed to the discovery stage next, examining records and deposing relevant witnesses.


Diminishing Returns From Multi-Decadal Global Climate Model Simulations

I have posted that the NSF is funding grants which as part of (or all) of their focus is to provide multi-decadal global and regional climate model projections; i.e. see The National Science Foundation Funds Multi-Decadal Climate Predictions Without An Ability To Verify Their Skill.

The NSF is also perpetuating an erroneously narrow view of the climate system, as I posted in Comments On An NSF Webcast On "Will Clouds - The Wild Card of Climate Change - Speed Or Slow Warming?" By David A. Randall. These claims and projections are based on global climate models.

Judy Curry, on her weblog Climate Etc has very effectively summarized the diminishing scientific responses from the use of these models in her post Decision making under climate uncertainty: Part I where she wrote
“So it seems like we are gearing up for much more model development in terms of higher resolution and adding additional complexity. Yes, we will learn more about the climate models and possibly something new about how the climate system works. But it is not clear that any of this will provide useful information for decision makers on a time scale of less than 10 years to support decision making on stabilization targets, beyond the information presented in the AR4.”

I agree with this viewpoint. This culture of using models as the tool to communicate to policymakers is an inappropriate and misleading use of the scientific method. I also discussed this misuse of models in my post Comments On Numerical Modeling As The New Climate Science Paradigm where Dick Lindzen is quoted
"In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage."

Hopefully, the NSF (and other agencies) will soon realize that most of this funding is a waste of taxpayers money and could be better spent on other research uses in climate and elsewhere.


Warmists finally agree to debate the issue

But will they be game to debate heavyweight skeptics like Lord Monckton? Not likely but amusing if they try. So far it just sounds like plans for TV appearances in front of friendly interviewers

On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.

John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who last May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate-change skeptics, is also pulling together a "Climate Rapid Response Team," which includes scientists prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk-radio and television shows.

"This group feels strongly that science and politics can't be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists," said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

"We are taking the fight to them because we are . tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed."

During the recent campaigns, skepticism about climate change became a rallying cry for many Republican candidates. Of the more than 100 new GOP members of Congress, 50% are climate-change skeptics, according to an analysis of campaign statements by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Prominent Republican congressmen such as Darrell Issa of Vista, Joe L. Barton of Texas and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin have pledged to investigate the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. They say they also intend to probe the so-called Climategate scandal, in which thousands of e-mails of leading climate scientists were hacked and released to the public late last year.

Climate-change skeptics argued that the sniping in some e-mails showed that scientists suppressed research by skeptics and manipulated data. Five independent panels subsequently cleared the researchers involved and validated the science.

"People who ask for and accept taxpayer dollars shouldn't get bent out of shape when asked to account for the money," said James M. Taylor, a senior fellow and a specialist in global warming at the conservative Heartland Institute in Chicago. "The budget is spiraling out of control while government is handing out billions of dollars in grants to climate scientists, many of whom are unabashed activists."

Ongoing public interest in Climategate has prompted the scientists to act.

The American Geological Union plan has attracted a large number of scientists in a short time because they were eager to address what they see as climate misinformation, said Jeffrey Taylor, research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and manager of the project.

Still, the scope of the group's work is limited, reflecting the ongoing reluctance among many scientists to venture into politics.

The rapid-response team, however, is willing to delve into politics. In the week that Abraham and others have been marshaling the team, 39 scientists agreed to participate, including Richard Feely, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

"People who've already dug their heels in, we're not going to change their opinions," Mandia said. "We're trying to reach people who may not have an opinion or opinion based on limited information."


Greenies hate people

Comment from Australia by Dr. Oliver Marc Hartwich

MORE than 40 years ago, American biologist Paul Ehrlich sketched a doomsday scenario for planet Earth in his book The Population Bomb.

Adding more people to the planet would inevitably lead to mass starvation and ecological disaster.

Since the publication of the book, the global population has nearly doubled but most of its gloomy predictions have not come true. However, this has not stopped its author from campaigning against further population growth, this time in Australia.

As he prepared for a series of lectures to the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, Ehrlich warned that Australia was full.

As always in Ehrlich's predictions, a bigger population equals disaster. No doubt, he is striking a chord with many Australians who believe that there are enough of them. At least this is what an Australian National University poll suggests.

In the ANU survey, half the respondents said that families should consider having three or fewer children, in order to save the planet. A majority of 52 per cent claimed that Australia had enough people, and further population growth would harm the environment and place pressure on water resources.

It is remarkable that people now regularly put "nature" and "the environment" ahead of all other concerns. Historically, this is an oddity because not long ago taming nature and overcoming a hostile environment were humankind's priorities. In this sense, the ANU survey does not reveal an Australian eccentricity but it is very much a sign of our times. The new misanthropists are everywhere.

Across the globe, environmentalists are preaching that nature is always good and humanity always a problem. People are seen as some kind of pollution; a book that imagines "the world without us" has become an international bestseller.

This is a remarkable change in human attitudes towards nature. Life in the bad old days was nasty, brutish and short, to quote Thomas Hobbes. Nature was something to be dealt with, controlled or used. "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it," the Bible taught.

The only positive thing about this long-gone age is that at least people would not have been bored to death. They simply didn't have time to worry about their carbon footprint or overpopulation.

Our perception of nature has taken a U-turn since then. No longer do we aim to subdue the earth, but we happily surrender to the goddess of nature. The wealthier parts of the world are so well protected against the dangers of nature that we have almost forgotten that nature is more than cute polar bears, cuddly koalas, and clumsy penguins.

We can trace the origins of this thought to the Gaia theory of British scientist James Lovelock. He claims that the planet is just like one big organism. "Gaia", as he called it, fights back against humanity because she has simply had enough of us. From such a perspective, epidemics, starvation, and natural disasters may well be the planet's response to the human disease.

It looks like Lovelock's followers are no longer satisfied leaving it to the planet to seek revenge on humanity. Rather, they would take matters in their own hands. Having identified humanity as the cancer on the face of the earth, they are advocating more hands-on approaches to reduce humankind's footprint on the planet. Or maybe even reduce the world's population. This is what the ANU survey confirms.

Let's not be fooled by these new disciples of Gaia, though. What is disguised by nice, touchy-feely slogans about sustainability, nature and the environment is often just misanthropy by another name. It has no respect for people in developed countries and is completely oblivious to the needs of people in poorer places.

Just consider the case of urban density. In order to save land from development, city dwellers are advised to live at much higher densities.

Gone are nice front patios and green backyards, leafy suburbs and playing fields. For the planet's sake, let's live on top of one another in tiny boxes, ideally next to busy train and tram lines, they preach. It's a victory of nature over the quality of life in our cities.

Things get even more cynical when our subservience to the planet dictates what we allow poorer peoples to do. The thought that millions of Indians would want to drive their own little cars drives Western environmentalists crazy. They would never admit it, but deep down they wish these poor Indians would just remain poor; all for the sake of the planet, of course.

Worshipping their new goddess nature, the environmentalists have forgotten something. We human beings may not all be cute and cuddly, but we deserve at least as much love and attention as our distant relatives in the animal kingdom.



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


No comments: