Saturday, December 18, 2010

A new drought scare

As the authors below implicitly admit, a warmer ocean should in general create MORE rain, not less, but in good Greenie style they want us to have the worst of all possible worlds so they purport to show that we could have drought and warming too. Whether their claims about past drought are correct, however, depends on how good their proxies are -- and after the need to "hide the decline" shown in tree-ring proxies, we must be thoroughly skeptical about that

An unprecedented combination of heat plus decades of drought could be in store for the Southwest sometime this century, suggests new research from a University of Arizona-led team.

To come to this conclusion, the team reviewed previous studies that document the region's past temperatures and droughts. "Major 20th century droughts pale in comparison to droughts documented in paleoclimatic records over the past two millennia," the researchers wrote. During the Medieval period, elevated temperatures coincided with lengthy and widespread droughts.

By figuring out when and for how long drought and warm temperatures coincided in the past, the team identified plausible worst-case scenarios for the future. Such scenarios can help water and other resource managers plan for the future, the team wrote.

"We're not saying future droughts will be worse than what we see in the paleo record, but we are saying they could be as bad," said lead author Connie A. Woodhouse, a UA associate professor of geography and regional development. "However, the effects of such a worst-case drought, were it to recur in the future, would be greatly intensified by even warmer temperatures."

The team's paper is part of the special feature, "Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America," scheduled for publication Dec. 13 in the Early Online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper by Woodhouse and her colleagues is titled, "A 1,200‑year perspective of 21st century drought in the southwestern North America." Co‑authors are Glen M. MacDonald of the University of California, Los Angeles; Dave W. Stahle of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; and Edward R. Cook of Lamont‑Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y....

The most severe warm-climate drought in the Southwest within the last 1,200 years was 60 years long and occurred during the mid-12th century, according to research by Meko and others. That drought covered most of the western U.S. and northern Mexico.

For a 25-year period during that drought, Colorado River flow averaged 15 percent below normal, according to the tree-ring-based reconstruction of stream flow at Lees Ferry....

"Even without warming, if you had one of those medieval droughts now, the impact would be devastating," she said. "Our water systems are not built to sustain us through that length of drought."

In addition, other research predicts that changes in atmospheric circulation will reduce the amount of winter precipitation the Southwest receives in the future, she said. "The bottom line is, we could have a Medieval-style drought with even warmer temperatures," Woodhouse said.


The weather gods demand a sacrifice

Jared Olar

Well then, I would say that pretty much confirms it. For quite some time, I’ve harbored the suspicion that both the popular science and the political activity that create and sustain the belief in Global Warmingism are informed by a retrogressively pagan mindset.

It’s not just that the quasi-religious, pseudo-scientific “Gaia hypothesis” — the belief, taking its name from the pagan Greek goddess of the Earth, that the sum of the parts of the Earth’s ecosystems together make up a living thing — is popular in certain environmentalist circles.

No, the basis for my suspicion is, in large part, the irrational and superstitious way Global Warmingism proponents and adherents react to any kind of extreme weather as evidence that modern economic and scientific activity is making global temperatures unnaturally rise.

If it’s a drought, or a long spell of hot and dry weather, they think we must be doing something to nudge up the Earth’s thermostat. If it’s a nasty hurricane or a notably destructive line of tornados, it’s our fault for driving SUVs. If riverside communities get flooded, that’s also the result of global warming. And if we get an unusually harsh and lengthy winter, yes, that, too, is proof that the Earth is getting warmer.

The Global Warmingists have covered all their bases. No matter what the weather is like, it always turns out to be exactly the kind of weather we should expect if human activity were causing global temperatures to rise.

The natural sciences have terms for that kind of hypothesis. “Unfalsifiable” is one of them. “Unscientific” is another. An idea may be true, but if it is incapable of being “falsified” or proven wrong, then whatever else that idea is, it certainly isn’t science.

Another thing that feeds my suspicion that a pagan mindset informs Global Warmingism are the steady and consistent calls for sacrifice — even human sacrifice — to ward off the threatened catastrophes.

I’m not opposed to moderation and frugality, and we certainly should put aside our avaricious and materialistic ways. Sacrifice, too, is virtuous and meritorious, as long as it is voluntary and sincere.

But the Global Warmingists seem more intent on making others sacrifice than in making big, painful changes in their own lives (yes, Al Gore, I’m talking to you).

More to the point, I can’t help but suspect that these calls for sacrifice are, like the Gaia hypothesis, quasi-religious in nature, and at times plainly religious.

Like the pagans of old thought they could appease the angry gods or win their favor through sacrificing the things most dear to them — their livestock, and if that didn’t work, human beings, even their own children — so it appears that Global Warmingism demands that we sacrifice. And it’s not really sacrifice because it’s moral or sensible or good for us, but sacrifice to appease the offended ecosphere.

It’s the old, old thought process of: “Bad things are happening and we don’t know why. How can we stop these things? How do we control what we don’t understand? We must be to blame. We must do something, anything, to make amends.”

It doesn’t matter that our efforts don’t have any demonstrable connection to the problem, or that they don’t do a thing to improve our situation but instead cause even more harm. All that matters is that we do something, and the bigger and more painful it is the better.

And so it was that the United Nations, having figured out that it’s bad for propaganda to engage in handwringing over global warming during a Scandinavian behemoth of a blizzard (like they did last time), gathered this winter month in balmy Cancun, Mexico — and once again failed to reach a binding international agreement on which of us should sacrifice and how much.

They failed despite opening their meeting with (I kid you not) religious rites invoking the supernatural assistance of an ancient Mayan jaguar goddess. Yes, I would say that pretty much confirms it.


Embarrassment! In 1999 the Warmists said that Global warming caused WARM winters

These days they blame COLD winters on Global warming. Excerpt from a 1999 article below, featuring some of the usual climate fakers

A team of scientists from Columbia University has shown that warm winters in the northern hemisphere likely can be explained by the action of upper-atmosphere winds that are closely linked to global warming.

Global mean surface temperatures have increased in the range of 0.6 to 1.2°F since the late 19th century. But far more severe warming has taken place over wide regions of northern Eurasia, Canada and Alaska, with temperatures averaging 7 to 10°F warmer in the last 35 years, according to data previously compiled by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

The research, which appears in the June 3 issue of the British journal Nature, offers no predictions on what temperatures future winters will bring, but suggests a continuation of the current trend for three to four more decades.

If warming trends continue, said Drew Shindell, associate research scientist at Columbia's Center for Climate Systems Research and lead author of the report, northern regions of Europe and Asia and, to a lesser extent, North America, can expect winters that are both warmer and wetter, with increased rain and snow.

"Based on this research, it's quite likely that the warmer winters over the continents are indeed a result of the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Dr. Shindell said. "This research offers both a plausible physical mechanism for how this takes place, and reproduces the observed trends both qualitatively and even quantitatively."

Other authors of the Nature paper were Gavin A. Schmidt, associate research scientist at Columbia's Center for Climate Systems Research; Ron L. Miller, associate research scientist in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia, and Lionel Pandolfo, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Drs. Shindell, Schmidt and Miller also maintain an affiliation with the NASA Goddard Institute.

The Columbia team used several versions of the NASA Goddard Institute's general circulation model, a computer construct that predicts the Earth's climate when certain inputs are varied. Model simulations suggest that much of the increase in surface winds and in continental surface temperatures during the winter months is induced by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the model, increasing greenhouse gas emissions lead to a warmer surface and, at the same time, a colder stratosphere. The large wintertime continental temperature increases produced in the model correspond quite well with what scientists actually observe.


Newspapers should lead the country?

Joanne Nova

A REPLY to a critic of "The Australian's" coverage of the debate about climate change

DAVID McKnight's criticism of "The Australian" over climate change ("Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths", Inquirer, December 11) makes for a good case study of Australian universities' intellectual collapse.

Here's a University of NSW senior research fellow in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption for which he provides no evidence.

Most disturbingly - like a crack through the facade of Western intellectual vigour - he asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to "give leadership".

Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers "are our leaders". Last time I looked at our ballot papers, none of the people running to lead our nation had a name such as The Sydney Morning Herald. Didn't he notice we live in a country that chooses its leaders through elections? The role of a newspaper is to report all the substantiated arguments and filter out the poorly reasoned ones, so readers can make up their own minds.

The point of a free press is surely for the press to be free to ask the most searching questions on any topic. Yet here is an authority on journalism attacking The Australian for printing views of scientists who have degrees of doubt about global warming and/or any human component in it.

And these scientists that McKnight wants to silence are not just the odd rare heretic.

The swelling ranks of sceptical scientists is now the largest whistle-blowing cohort in science ever seen. It includes some of the brightest: two with Nobel prizes in physics, four NASA astronauts, 9000 PhDs in science, and another 20,000 science graduates to cap it off. A recent US Senate minority report contained 1000 names of eminent scientists who are sceptical, and the term professor pops up more than 500 times in that list. These, McKnight, an arts PhD, calls deniers.

Just because thousands of scientists support the sceptical view doesn't prove they're right, but it proves their opinions are nothing like the tobacco sceptics campaign that McKnight compares them with in a transparent attempt to smear commentators with whom he disagrees.

Ponder the irony that McKnight, the journalism lecturer, is demanding The Australian adopt the policy espoused by the dominant paradigm, the establishment, and censor the views of independent whistleblowers. He thinks repeating government PR is journalism; the rest of us know it as propaganda.

McKnight doesn't name any scientific paper that any sceptic denies. Instead, he seems to use a pre-emptive technique designed to stop people even discussing the evidence about the climate.

McKnight's research starts with the assumption that a UN committee, which was funded to find a crisis, has really found one, and that it is above question. His investigation appears to amount to comparing articles in Fairfax versus Murdoch papers, as if the key to radiative transfer and cumulative atmospheric feedbacks lies in counting op-ed pieces. If he had made the most basic inquiry, McKnight might also have found out that the entire case for the man-made threat to the climate rests on just the word of 60 scientists who reviewed chapter nine of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report.

He'd also know that the people he calls deniers, far from being recipients of thousands of regular Exxon cheques, are mostly self-funded - many are retirees - and that Exxon's paltry $US23 million for 1990-2007 was outdone by more than 3000 to one by the US government alone, which paid $US79 billion to the climate industry during 1989-2009.

So "sharp" is McKnight's analysis that he calls the independent unfunded scientists "a global PR campaign originating from coal and oil companies", but all while he is oblivious to the real billion-dollar PR campaign that is waged from government departments, a UN agency, financial houses such as Deutsche Bank, the renewable energy industry, the nuclear industry and multi-hundred-million-dollar corporations such as the WWF.

The job of a newspaper, he indicates, is to decide which scientist is right about atmospheric physics. Is Phil Jones from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit right, or is Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist, right? Add that to the duties for aspiring national editors. Tough job, eh?

McKnight's main error in his article - accepting an argument from authority - has been known in logic for 2000 years, and his entire synopsis is built around this fallacy.

Just suppose, hypothetically, that the government employed many scientists on one side of a theory and none from the other. McKnight's method of "knowing" who is right involves counting the institutions and authorities who support the grants - I mean, the theory. If science were exploited this way, McKnight would fall victim every time, blindly supporting the establishment.

That doesn't prove he's wrong but his analysis is confused at every level. He claims The Australian has zig-zagged from acceptance to denial but then later accuses The Australian's columnists of repeating "the dominant editorial line". But which editorial line would be dominant: the zig type or the zag?

In science, evidence is the only thing that counts, not opinion. McKnight, the follower of funded opinions, has the gall to question The Australian's standards of evidence but the only evidence he offers is a collection of opinions. McKnight paints himself as an authority on journalism yet fails to investigate his base assumption, research the targets of his scorn, or understand the role of the free press: he is his own best example of why argument from authority is a fallacy.

If our journalism lecturers are feeding students with ideas of leadership roles, how decrepit is the institution where students are not even taught that the highest aim of a journalist is to ask the most penetrating questions and leave no stone unturned, so the people they serve might have the best information?

Such is the modern delusion of the activist-journo: McKnight wants to be the leader, to dictate what the public can think and to direct where public spending goes, but he doesn't want to bother running for office or to expose his claim to open debate. He's nothing more than a totalitarian in disguise.


Climate Change now a Homeland Security Issue

If it were, Obama's bungling DHS are the last people we would want dealing with it

At an all-day White House conference on "environmental justice," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that her department is creating a new task force to battle the effects of climate change on domestic security operations.

Speaking at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice on Thursday, Napolitano discussed the initial findings of the department’s recently created "Climate Change and Adaptation Task Force." Napolitano explained that the task force was charged with “identifying and assessing the impact that climate change could have on the missions and operations of the Department of Homeland Security.”

According to the former Arizona governor, the task force would address specific questions, including:

“How will FEMA work with state and local partners to plan for increased flooding or wildfire or hurricane activity that is more serious than we’ve seen before? What assistance can the Coast Guard bring to bear to assist remote villages in, for example, Alaska which already have been negatively affected by changes up in the Arctic?”

The findings from the Homeland Security Department (DHS) also asked: “(H)ow can we focus on how climate change is going to affect our rural citizenry including those who live along our boarders both northern and southern?”

Napolitano did not elaborate on the new task force and the Department of Homeland Security has yet to respond to requests by for additional information on the task force.

The conference did not define “environmental justice,” and the only reference to the task force that can be found is on the DHS Web site. The June 2010 Department of Homeland Security Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan states “climate change has the potential to accelerate and intensify extreme weather events which threaten the nation’s sustainability and security.”

This plan also noted: “Many USCG [Coast Guard] and Customs and Border Protection facilities, by their mission, are located in the coastal zone which will be adversely impacted by sea level rise. Costs will increase for protecting existing facilities from the impacts of sea level rise and some facilities might have to be abandoned in the longer term.”

The all day White House Forum on Environmental Justice also included talks by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.


Insane British government energy policy

Preparing for warming while people freeze

I AM used to governments blaming Britain’s economic ills on sinister foreign influences: US mortgage-lenders, international commodity traders and Chinese savers. But ministers won’t get away for much longer trying to blame international factors for the steadily rising inflation rate – which hit 4.7 per cent on Tuesday – without admitting the contribution of its own energy policy.

The average UK household, according to Ofgem, now pays £1,245 a year in gas and electricity bills. Of this, £84 goes towards subsidising green energy schemes. We are each paying £24 a year towards the EU carbon trading scheme, £12 towards the Renewables Obligation, which forces electricity companies to buy some of their power from more expensive green energy sources, and £45 a year to subsidise domestic insulation schemes.

But that is nothing compared with what is to come. Energy secretary Chris Huhne admitted yesterday that the switch to greener power stations will add a further £160 a year to domestic energy bills by 2030 – the money going to subsidise wind farms and other forms of green energy as they replace decommissioned coal and gas power plants.

Others, however, believe the increase will be much greater. Price comparison website uSwitch predicts that bills will rise by £500 a year. The Government’s green energy programme would be an outrageous attack on lifestyles at any time but coming from an administration that has committed itself to Labour’s targets for reducing “fuel poverty” it represents a bizarre lack of joined-up thinking.

FAR from eliminating fuel poverty – which is defined as a household that spends more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel – the number of households fulfilling this definition has doubled since 2003 to more than 4.5 million.

With Britain in the grip of one of the coldest winters in decades this statistic isn’t just a technicality, it represents real hardship for millions struggling to keep warm and, especially for the elderly, to avoid a grim death from hypothermia. Insulation and green energy – or at least some forms of it – are a good thing.

It is beneficial in many ways if we can cut pollution and reduce our dependence on importing fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Hopefully one day, technology will mean that green energy becomes cheaper than that derived from fossil fuels but the speed and extent to which the Government is committing Britain to existing, untried and inefficient technologies is an irresponsible experiment that is impoverishing the population and undermining economic recovery.

It isn’t, of course, just households that use energy. While Chris Huhne keeps throwing about wild boasts of the numbers of jobs that his green energy drive will create, what he doesn’t say is that rising energy costs threaten to put our remaining manufacturing industry out of business.

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if other countries had committed to the same green energy drive – at least then our competitors would be in the same boat. But Britain has made commitments that way outstrip those made by other industrial nations. The Climate Change Bill 2008 legally bound us to reduce our carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

Other EU nations are bound only by a loose pledge to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 – if and only if developing countries make a similar pledge. Since the likelihood of the Third World following suit is virtually zero – it would after all condemn the poorest countries to a perpetual state of pre-industrial poverty – the pledge is pretty meaningless.

The science behind global warming has been looking increasingly shaky in recent months, following the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia and the obvious failure of the British weather to obey the patterns confidently predicted by scientists a few years ago. Yet even if global warming is happening it doesn’t follow that the best way to tackle it is by hampering the economy.

Rich countries can cope with natural disasters, be they anything to do with climate change or not; poor countries cannot. The biggest threat posed to Britain from climate change, as we are frequently reminded, is flooding from rising sea levels.

In fact, flooding is a constant threat even with the climate we already have. A large slice of the money being lavished on fighting climate change ought to be spent on river and coastal defence. Yet the Government has slashed the already low flood-defence budget.

This isn’t so much unjoined-up government as bumper car government – where different policies seem intent on knocking each other into oblivion. As things stand we will all shiver in our homes, our industry will be decimated – and we will suffer increased flood risk too. Energy and climate change policy is a national scandal to whose idiocies and contradictions Government ministers appear to be blind.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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


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