Saturday, July 31, 2010

The the basic assumptions of a terrestrial greenhouse effect dismissed as unrealistic

The following paper is available via Arxiv, which is a non-peer-reviewed source. Getting extreme skepticism into a peer-reviewed journal is close to impossible however. In the several sciences that I know well, the journals are very protective of the prevailing orthodoxies

On the meaning of feedback parameter, transient climate response, and the greenhouse effect: Basic considerations and the discussion of uncertainties

By Gerhard Kramm & Ralph Dlugi


In this paper we discuss the meaning of feedback parameter, greenhouse effect and transient climate response usually related to the globally averaged energy balance model of Schneider and Mass.

After scrutinizing this model and the corresponding planetary radiation balance we state that (a) the this globally averaged energy balance model is flawed by unsuitable physical considerations, (b) the planetary radiation balance for an Earth in the absence of an atmosphere is fraught by the inappropriate assumption of a uniform surface temperature, the so-called radiative equilibrium temperature of about 255 K, and (c) the effect of the radiative anthropogenic forcing, considered as a perturbation to the natural system, is much smaller than the uncertainty involved in the solution of the model of Schneider and Mass.

This uncertainty is mainly related to the empirical constants suggested by various authors and used for predicting the emission of infrared radiation by the Earth's skin. Furthermore, after inserting the absorption of solar radiation by atmospheric constituents and the exchange of sensible and latent heat between the Earth and the atmosphere into the model of Schneider and Mass the surface temperatures become appreciably lesser than the radiative equilibrium temperature.

Moreover, neither the model of Schneider and Mass nor the Dines-type two-layer energy balance model for the Earth-atmosphere system, both contain the planetary radiation balance for an Earth in the absence of an atmosphere as an asymptotic solution, do not provide evidence for the existence of the so-called atmospheric greenhouse effect if realistic empirical data are used.


The Death Of The Global Warming Movement

The Reid energy bill abandons cap-and-trade, dooming the cause

Future historians will pinpoint Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's energy legislation, released Tuesday, as the moment that the political movement of global warming entered an irreversible death spiral. It is kaput! Finito! Done!

This is not just my read of the situation; it is also that of Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate-turned-Democratic-apparatchik. In his latest column for The New York Times, Krugman laments that “all hope for action to limit climate change died” in 2010. Democrats had a brief window of opportunity before the politics of global warming changed forever in November to ram something through Congress. But the Reid bill chose not to do so for the excellent reason that Democrats want to avoid an even bigger beating than the one they already face at the polls.

Not only does the bill avoid all mention of an economy-wide emission cap through a cap-and-tax--oops, cap-and-trade--scheme, it even avoids capping emissions or imposing renewable electricity standards on utility companies, the minimum that enviros had hoped for. Beyond stricter regulations on off-shore drilling, it offers subsidies to both homeowners to encourage them to make their homes more energy efficient and the nation's fleet of trucks to use cleaner burning natural gas. This is not costless, but it is a bargain compared with the “comprehensive” action on energy and climate change that President Barack Obama had been threatening.

Krugman blames this outcome on--you'll never guess this!--greedy energy companies and cowardly Republicans who sold out. But the fault, Dear Paul, lies not in them, but in your own weakling theories.

The truth is that there never has been an environmental issue that has enjoyed greater corporate support. Early in the global warming crusade, a coalition of corporations called United States Climate Action Partnership was formed with the express purpose of lobbying Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It included major utilities (Duke Energy ( DUK - news - people )) and gas companies (BP ( BP - news - people )) that stood to gain by hobbling the coal industry through a cap-and-trade scheme. Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Institute, a highly respected liberal outfit whose mission is to rejuvenate the progressive movement in this country, points out that environmental groups spent at least $100 million over the past two years executing what was arguably the best mobilization campaign in history. Despite all of this, notes Breakthrough, there is little evidence to suggest that cap-and-trade would have mustered more than 43 votes in the Senate.

This means that lucre is not the only motivating force in politics. Indeed, lobbyists are effective generally when they represent causes that coincide with the will of constituents, which is far from the case here. Voters are reluctant to accept economic pain to address remote causes with an uncertain upside. Heck, they are dubious even when the cause is not so remote and has a demonstrable upside. Take Social Security and Medicare. It is a mathematical certainty that, without reform, these programs will go bankrupt, jeopardizing the health care and retirement benefits of tens of millions Americans. Even though the cost of action is far smaller compared with the cost of inaction, persuading voters to do something is an uphill battle.

Yet even in the heyday of the consensus on global warming there was never this kind of certainty. The ClimateGate scandal--in which prominent climatologists were caught manipulating data to exaggerate the observed warming--has significantly weakened this consensus. But even if it hadn't, climate change is too complex an issue to ever be established with anything approaching iron-clad certainty. Hence, it was inevitable that it would run into a political dead-end.

This is exactly what the Reid bill represents. Indeed, if Democrats backed-off from their grand designs to cut carbon emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 with sizable majorities in Congress and a “celestial healer” in the White House there is little chance that they will ever be able to accomplish anything better at a later date. And if America--the richest country in the world and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases--won't act, there is a snowball's chance in Mumbai that India or China will.

Of course, authoritarian countries have a little bit more leeway than democracies to push unpalatable remedies. But it is not within the power of even China's autocrats to shove an energy diet down the throat of their people on the theory that the pain from it will be short-lived because it will trigger a search for better and cleaner energy alternatives--the totality of the green pitch for action.

This doesn't mean that there aren't a few more whimpers left in the global warming movement before it finally passes. On the international front, the buzz is that the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change currently in the works will be even more alarmist than the previous one. However, thanks to ClimateGate, it will give greater play to alternative voices. “Going forward, the general perception won't be one of consensus,” notes Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jerry Taylor, an expert on energy issues, “but one of increasing appreciation of disagreement on the issue.”

Domestically, green groups will prod the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively. But this will be harder to do when Republicans inevitably make gains in Congress in November. Indeed, they will likely revive a Senate resolution floated by Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, banning the EPA from regulating emissions from stationary sources, which lost by just four votes last month. Global warming warriors are also talking about fighting the battle for emission cuts state-by-state. But they will lose on that front too. California, which embraced such cuts four years ago, is already facing a ballot initiative in November to scrap the law, as it loses business and jobs to other states. Indeed, the same collective action problems that prevent global action on climate change will inevitably bedevil state-level action too.

The global warming warriors will likely have to go through the five stages of grief before accepting that their moment has passed and the movement is dead. Thinkers more sophisticated than Krugman will no doubt point to many proximate causes for its demise beyond evil Republicans such as lack of engagement by President Obama, bad economic timing, filibuster rules, what have you.

The reality is, however, that the crusade was doomed from the start because of its own inherent weaknesses. RIP.


Monckton gets an audience in NYC

The following report is from a Greenie site but it still stands out that Monckton was the only one talking about the science. They had to go to Warmists not present at the debate to get critical comments -- comments that Monckton could easily have rebutted if asked. Heck! Even I could rebut them but it has all been said before on this blog

At the Bowery Hotel in New York on Tuesday, Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount Monckton of Benchley, debated Eric Bates, executive editor of Rolling Stone magazine, on the topic of climate change. Lord Monckton is an outspoken climate change skeptic, while Rolling Stone recently published a cover story maintaining that climate skeptics have enabled polluting industries to murder the climate.

Tracy Morgan – stand-up comedian, “Saturday Night Live” alumni and Emmy nominee for his role on the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” – moderated.

“Well, I think we should start with what we know,” Mr. Bates said in an opening statement. “We know that global warming is happening, it’s happening now, not in some distant future, it’s caused by us and it’s worse than we expected.”

Lord Monckton, as would be expected, vociferously disagreed. “I can quote you statistics on cold as often as he can quote you statistics for hot,” he said. “There is no global warming problem, there isn’t going to be a global warming problem. Sit back and enjoy the sunshine.”

The 30-minute debate was brisk, with questions posed by Mr. Morgan (he compared himself at one point to the actor Denzel Washington, who played a debate coach in “The Great Debaters”) and responses and rebuttals limited to a minute apiece.

Mr. Bates kept largely to the social and economic dimensions of climate change, railing against the political gridlock in Congress that has repeatedly stymied efforts to cap carbon emissions, and citing the well-documented support by polluting industries of efforts to discredit the notion that human actions were warming the planet.

Lord Monckton, on the other hand, started a full-throated assault on mainstream climate change science, citing numerous statistics and research findings to support his firm belief that humanity had nothing to fear from runaway carbon emissions.

Some scientists questioned the accuracy of several facts and figures, however. At one point, Lord Monckton belittled concerns that rising temperatures at the poles could harm species like penguins or polar bears. “There is no risk for the penguins,” he said. “Likewise for the polar bears. There are five times as many of them today as there were in 1940.”

This assertion – that the polar bear population has quintupled in the later half of the 20th century – has no basis in fact, according to veteran bear researchers.

“It’s not at all accurate, and this is one of the things the climate denier groups say over and over again,” said Steven C. Amstrup, senior polar bear scientist at the United States Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center. “There really isn’t any authenticated source for that information.”

Mr. Amstrup took exception, too, with Lord Monckton’s assertion that species across the globe were “perfectly capable” of coping with even extreme temperature rises. “Species are not, not, not at risk,” Lord Monckton said.

“That’s just simply not true,” Mr. Amstrup said, citing the steady decline of polar bear populations in Hudson Bay, linked directly to a sharp retreat of sea ice in the region.

Lord Monckton also delved into the climate record, asserting that climate reconstructions from distant eras proved that the warming being experienced now was hardly unique, and thus no cause for concern. “It is getting warmer, but it is not warmer than it was in the Middle Ages, or in the Roman period, or in the Minoan warm period, or in the Holocene warm period, 8,500 years ago,” he said.

But Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that knowledge of the world climate during these eras remains sketchy at best.

“There’s no global reconstruction that goes back to the Roman period. There’s no reconstruction that goes back to the Minoan warm period,” Mr. Schmidt said. “These things only exist in the fevered imaginings of the skeptics.” [They exist in history, actually]


The Carbon Bonanza. More government work for the UEA: not only CRU but LCIC too

Like the Royal Society of London, which has turned itself into little more than an agent of government, some parts of our universities seem to be going the same way on board the 'CO2 is bad' bandwagon.

Despite the inconvenient lack of a climate signal due to human-released CO2, the carbon campaign unleashed by the IPCC trundles on, with fabulous sums of money being assigned to it. One participant enjoying the bonanza is the University of East Anglia (UEA). We have all heard more than was edifying about CRU, but there is a newer kid on their block: the [British] Low Carbon Innovation Centre (LCIC).

The LCIC could easily be part of a government department under the previous administration, the major climate-related follies of which seem set to be continued by the new one. And like government departments involved in the CO2 madness, they have no hesitation in peddling their wares to schoolchildren, despite the law against political indoctrination in education.

The LCIC website has (at the time of this posting) a banner with a sequence of 8 pictures, at least 2 of which show government ministers from the previous Labour government of the UK: Benn, Clark, and Miliband (Ed). The picture of Benn could have been modelled on Soviet agitprop from the 1930s: his fist in the air, behind rows of happy children also with their arms in the air in gestures of solidarity. Truly the people are marching forward to the sunlit uplands under the guidance of their wise masters. (They will of course need all the sun they can get if renewable energy continues to divert resources from more sensible methods of mass energy production such as coal, gas, and nuclear.)

They describe three areas of activity:

(1) Cred

The CRed System is the perfect tool to engage large communities of residents and workforces to reduce their carbon emissions and is ideally suited to address the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, NI 185 and NI186 and other National Indicators as well as more informal community-based commitments. It therefore meets the low carbon intentions of both public and private sector organisations with over 70 carbon reduction pledges to assist behaviour change. Each pledge pathway addresses aspects of domestic and business emissions including transport, energy consumption, food, waste and water offering efficiency advice on giving accurate savings figures.

(2) Innovation Funds

East of England Low Carbon Venture Capital Fund

In June 2009, UEA, through the Low Carbon Innovation Centre (LCIC), was provisionally appointed as Fund Operator for an exciting new investment fund in the East of England. This appointment, which follows UEA’s success in running the Carbon Connections programme has now been formalised and since the summer, the UEA team, led by LCIC’s Chief Executive Dr Chris Harrison, has been working hard with EEDA to obtain government approval for the Fund. With approval in place, the next stage was to appoint a Fund Manager who will be responsible for raising private money for co-investment into innovative, regional SMEs alongside investments from the £8M pot from the European Regional Development Funds. The fund will have a broad low-carbon remit and be capable of supporting a wide range of new and established companies in their low carbon activities and products through equity investments.

Carbon Connections Fund

Designed specifically to stimulate and support the transfer of knowledge from the university research sector into public and private sector organisations, the Carbon Connections fund supports innovative projects involving technology or services development, proof-of-concept, prototyping or testing. From August 2009, projects will typically be supported up to a maximum of £50,000 subject to agreement of terms. The Carbon Connections fund is operated by LCIC in collaboration with Carbon Connections UK Limited.

[Carbon Connections UK Limited is a company registered in England, Company no.5906083 whose registered office is at The University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom. See here, where they assert 'Climate change affects us all and we need to act now to drastically reduce our carbon output.' - a banality followed by a non-sequitur. Dontcha just love higher education!]

(3) Carbon Consulting

Our services include; organisational and management reviews of carbon reduction potential; carbon footprinting for your organisation and its products; climate change mitigation and adaptation planning; long and short term staff and community engagement programmes designed to deliver and measure impact; evaluation for both technological and behavioural carbon reduction initiatives; and technology evaluation and options appraisal.

Here they are at work, doing some 'behavioural change' stuff for some local schools in Norfolk (Hat tip: thanks for this to reader Dave Ward):

Norfolk Evening News, 27 July 2010

Dave Ward adds:
"We have 2 local daily papers here in Norfolk - the Evening News, and the Eastern Daily Press (EDP). Both come under the Archant umbrella, and are edited in the same offices in the centre of the city. They are also printed in the same building on the outskirts ....

The interesting thing is the rather different editorial policies - the EDP has a much wider coverage and is traditionally Tory supporting, as is most of Norfolk/Suffolk/Cambridgeshire. The EEN as we call it (used to be the Eastern Evening News) is aimed primarily at the City and suburbs, which are largely Labour territory, although that changed at the last election.

If you only read the EEN you would know little of the UEA CRU "leak" ... The EDP, by contrast, has featured the saga in quite a bit more detail..."

I imagine the faithful run these outreach missions to schools, armed with their computer outputs showing terrible times ahead, and able to pick, like a Thought for the Day speaker, on some recent disaster such as a flood or a famine to drive home the relevance of their message.

The immediate result is that the youngsters go home wanting to monitor energy use, but the real impact involves their being told what to do, what to believe, and to take it for granted that energy consumption must be reduced. Despite our potential abundance of energy from many sources, energy which is not only important for our way of life, and our industrial competitiveness, but which also strengthens our ability to respond to whatever the climate may bring. Including, in particular, the possibility of appreciably cooler weather. This readiness is put at risk by fatuous talk of humans controlling the climate itself.


Australia: Seaweed smothering Great Barrier Reef?

This is an old, old claim about the destructive effects of nutrient runoff from those evil farms -- but the reef is still there

SEAWEED is choking the Great Barrier Reef and killing coral, new research has found. Scientists in one of the largest studies of water quality pollution on the reef yesterday revealed the shock impact on the $1 billion-a-year tourism drawcard.

Poor water quality on the reef due to run-off, nutrients and high turbidity was increasing the amount of seaweed and reducing biodiversity of corals, the study found.

Hot spots include the inshore reef north of the Burdekin River and the entire Wet Tropics zone from Townsville to Port Douglas.

"Seaweeds are a natural part of the reef," said Australian Institute of Marine Science coral reef ecologist Dr Katharina Fabricius. "But what we don't want is billions of algae smothering coral. "Choking is a loaded term but when seaweed abundance becomes too high there is no space left for coral to grow."

The study has just been published in the authoritative scientific journal Ecological Applications. It used data collated from 150 reefs and at more than 2000 water quality stations across the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park since 1992.

Principal investigator Dr Glenn Death said seaweed cover increased fivefold under poor water quality. "The diversity of corals was also affected, decreasing in poor water quality," he said. "Currently, the water on 22 per cent of reefs - about 647 reefs - on the Great Barrier Reef does not meet water quality guidelines."

The study predicts that if water quality was improved in these areas, seaweed would be reduced by more than one-third and the number of coral species would bounce back by 13 per cent.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park extends 2000km along the northeast Australian coast and covers 345,000sq km.


More simple-minded Green/Left nonsense exposed in Australia

Energy star ratings in disarray and the Gillard government has no reply

LABOR'S push to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the use of energy efficiency schemes was yesterday dealt another blow when building industry heavyweights discredited the star ratings being applied to hundreds of thousands of homes.

Investigations by the building industry have found that the mandatory star ratings scheme is inaccurate and fundamentally flawed.

The Housing Industry Association and Master Builders Australia yesterday joined scientists in calling for urgent action by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to resolve problems that are potentially having an impact on more than 100,000 houses built each year.

They said owners were not aware that mandatory software tools -- used to calculate whether a planned new house could achieve the minimum five-star energy efficiency rating necessary to obtain approval for construction -- gave vastly different results for the same house under identical conditions.

It is another setback for the government while it is still trying to quell criticism after the shelving of its emissions trading scheme, the disintegration of the home insulation program and green loans scheme, and the subsequent findings that both were fatally flawed, costing lives and taxpayers' money due to poor planning and execution.

It also comes after Labor's latest environmental announcements -- the 150-person citizens assembly to forge a national consensus on action on climate change and the cash-for-clunkers green car replacement scheme -- were widely criticised.

Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said last night that the government could not get its environmental programs right. "We saw that with pink batts, green loans and cancelled solar programs," Mr Hunt said. "They need to explain why home owners and builders face this confusing and potentially costly mess. "They should release all material on this to the public before the election."

Flaws in the star rating system emerged after industry bodies, private companies and scientists commissioned independent studies showing significant variations were being calculated by the three different software tools when tested on identical dwellings. The results show that the three software tools, including the original model designed by the CSIRO, were inherently unreliable.

The star ratings system was rolled out nationally several years ago and recently extended to older houses. The findings mean that in some cases houses that should be failing the energy efficiency test are being approved and built, while identical houses are going back to the drawing board for changes and costing their owners more time and money to get right.

It also means the stated objective of the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions in houses is in serious question.

Faulty software tools will have a greater impact from next year when the federal government's national energy strategy requires all homes being sold or leased to be star-rated and for the rating to be disclosed. Older dwellings, which will not achieve the five- or six-star minimum, may be punished financially by buyers and tenants.

The findings add weight to the concerns of energy efficiency experts that star ratings are a multi-billion-dollar debacle.

Peter Jones, chief economist of Master Builders Australia, said yesterday: "We have independent expert evidence showing us this is a real concern and it needs to be brought to light and addressed. "There are unacceptable differences between the star ratings produced by the software tools when assessing the same house. "We are drawing a line in the sand and saying, 'Look, the research is overwhelming now; something must be done', Mr Jones said.

The authorities need to come up with a solution so that consumers can be confident in the star ratings and the tools. "As builders, we do not really care (what the tool is) but we think it is bad policy when it is not working properly."

Housing Industry Association senior executive director Kristin Tomkins said the association's independent testing, which showed significant differences in energy ratings, including a variation of 3.2 stars for the same Brisbane house, were troubling and undermined the scheme's credibility. She said builders and home owners needed confidence in the mandatory energy efficiency programs that cost them time and money.

Industry sources called for an Australian Competition & Consumer Commission investigation and said some savvy energy assessors were "gaming" the star ratings and making a mockery of the scheme by switching software tools until one delivered the required result.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, which has recently joined the CSIRO in investigating problems with the gauges, has said it was "premature to say there is any significant impact on overall house ratings or compliance costs".

A department spokesman did not return The Weekend Australian's call yesterday to respond to the findings. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong declined to comment.



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


Friday, July 30, 2010

Don't laugh!

The long-anticipated Chevrolet Volt, General Motors' electric car, will cost $41,000, the company announced Tuesday, leaving consumers to decide whether its environmental appeal is worth a price far above that of similarly sized conventional autos.

Electric-car technology has been around for years, but the high cost to make the vehicles has prevented automakers from producing them for the mass market. The price announcements for the Volt and its electric rival, the Nissan Leaf, have been highly anticipated as a result. Nissan, the only other major manufacturer expected to bring such a vehicle to market this year, said the Leaf will cost $32,780.

Although the prices are high, enthusiasts say that electric cars can reach a large, untapped market for vehicles with little or no tailpipe emissions.

The Volt can travel 40 miles on its battery charge and an additional 340 miles on a gasoline-powered generator. The all-electric Leaf has a range of 100 miles.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama pledged to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015.

In developing the Volt, GM is seeking to fulfill its promise to Congress during the government bailout to move beyond gas-guzzlers. The company had been planning the Volt long before it neared bankruptcy last year, however, as an attempt to leapfrog Toyota in the quest for fuel-efficient vehicles.

The president has expressed optimism that automakers will be able to lower the price tag of electric-vehicle technology. Earlier this month, he suggested that major reductions in battery costs, one of the primary reasons electric cars are more expensive, are on the horizon.

Price is only one potential barrier to mass adoption, however. Consumers must also get accustomed to plugging the cars in at home. It takes hours to recharge the vehicles, and in the absence of a network of public recharging stations, drivers that run out of juice may need a tow truck.


New Scientist makes things up

How unsurprising

New Scientist has published a rather remarkable leader to go alongside its interview of Phil Jones:
For years, ruthless climate sceptics have harassed scientists, drowning them in freedom of information requests and subjecting them to vicious personal attacks. Climategate was merely the public face of this insurgent war. In that hostile climate, some scientists fired off personal emails that occasionally lacked decorum. The CRU accepts this. When will their opponents apologise for their own excesses?

It would be interesting to see whether the leader writer at New Scientist can explain from where they got the idea that CRU had drowned under FoI requests. This was not the finding of the inquiries. The Information Commissioner specifically told the Parliamentary Inquiry that the level of FoI requests was nothing out of the ordinary:

I am also bound to say that I think a figure of around 60 [requests] has been mentioned. That does not strike me as being an absolutely huge number...I do recall one example—I think it involved Birmingham City Council—where an individual made about 200 requests about a particular allotment site in Birmingham and how that was being developed.

I'd like to invite whoever it is that wrote this column to provide some backing for their claim - perhaps someone who is registered at the New Scientist website can pass the invitation on.


Obama’s Solar Energy Fantasy

In true postmodern fashion, objective facts have vanished in the mist of a progressive wish.

Obama has now committed $2 billion more of the taxpayers’ money to pursue his solar energy fantasy:

"Abound Solar is supposed to create 1,500 “permanent” jobs, while Abengoa Solar is promising just 85 “permanent” jobs, according to the Department of Energy fact sheet, at its plant in Arizona. Add another 3,600 construction jobs, which will disappear after the three plants are built, and the cost per job created still amounts to $386,000 — which is more than seven times the median household income in this country."

Forget for a moment the absurdly high cost of government-created jobs. Forget the boondoggle, the corruption of handing out huge sums to politically connected companies. There are more fundamental problems here.

This is more than a repeat of the 19th century’s error of subsidizing railroad construction. That effort had disastrous results, with huge sums and effort wasted. It led to massive corruption, as congressmen were bribed to continue the subsidies. The roads didn’t pay.

According to Prof. Burton Folsom of Hillsdale College, author of The Myth of the Robber Barons:

"The Union Pacific and Central Pacific were poorly built railroads, they went broke, and both cost the nation over $60,000,000 to build – a sum higher than the total national debt just a decade before they were built."

Here, though, the situation is even worse than simple crony capitalism, given its unique 21st century twist. The wrinkle is that at least in the 1860s it was possible to deploy a technology that could conceivably fulfill its purpose. Trains could potentially deliver freight and passengers from point A to B in a cost-effective way. No such claim can be made for large-scale solar power technology, at present.

It would be bad enough for the federal government to subsidize the construction of solar power projects if they worked. It would still be an inefficient use of resources; it would still exceed its constitutionally enumerated powers; it would still be an immoral redistribution of wealth to politically connected companies. But at least in that case American taxpayers — somewhere — might get a Hoover Dam out of the deal. In this instance, that’s simply impossible.

There is no known solar technology that can reliably deliver large-scale power in a cost-effective way. There is nothing even in the research stages that promises that result anytime soon, if we just throw enough R&D money at the right company. This is nothing less than a sheer waste of public funds to create a mere appearance, a chimera to satisfy the vanity of a powerful Green demagogue longing to appear visionary.

In true postmodern fashion, objective facts have vanished in the mist of a progressive wish.

The projects can’t actually improve the environment through the deployment of huge solar panels. Installing large panels takes large tracts of land in sunny areas, usually far from electricity consumers. That means building more roads, stringing longer cable, and handling more cadmium (a heavy metal needed to produce the panels). That’s before even considering liberal shibboleths like producing copious greenhouse gases and disrupting the habitat of native desert species.

No matter. In the manner of applying failed Keynesian economics to energy production, just build them ever bigger and what seems like a drawback magically becomes an advantage. Parallel to the economic error, such projects look only at the immediately visible effects, not the whole picture.

They can’t actually create power economically. Because of clouds and seasonal variations, all solar power plants require backup from other sources, such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants. That’s solving the problem twice, increasing the costs. And that doesn’t even count the still woefully low efficiency of current solar technology, technology no one yet knows how to radically improve.

No problem, according to the postmodernist. Just pretend. Pretend hard enough and circumstances will comply. No need to feel constrained any longer by objective reality; there’s no such thing. There are only different perspectives. Just wish upon a star and your dreams can come true.

Spot a contradiction in the plan? Just take a “wider perspective” and all contradictions vanish in the haze of “competing narratives.” Hegel’s philosophy has been Disneyfied by Dewey’s followers and the resultant over-made up hag is ravaging American energy policy.

But reality always has the last word and it’s never soft on self-deluded dreamers. Unfortunately for us, it’s even harder on those forced to go along for the ride and pay the fare besides, especially on a train going nowhere.


Sustainability: Not just for environmentalists

Busybodies, left and right, seem extraordinarily talented at coming up with buzzwords to justify imposing their visions of a better world at the cost of our freedom. Environmentalists are a good example.

The latest in environmental buzzwords is “sustainability.” Of every act we take with respect to the natural world we must ask: Is it “sustainable”? My university even has a position devoted to overseeing its environmental sustainability.

Conceptually, there’s nothing wrong with the idea of sustainability. Even though it is rarely defined rigorously by its supporters, it seems to mean something like: “making sure we leave enough for future generations.” That vagueness is a reason why it makes such a good buzzword: Who is against ensuring that we don’t exhaust resources and leave future generations with nothing?

Of course, libertarians have raised a number of objections to the means by which many environmentalists would try to ensure that we treat nature sustainably. It’s not at all clear that free markets are the enemy of the natural world — and even less clear that government is its friend.

What is interesting is that environmentalists who are hostile to markets are blind to how they embody concern with sustainability. In a Freeman article awhile back I made a similar point about how economists and environmentalists talk past each other about the idea of scarcity. Much of that argument applies to sustainability.

Many environmentalists apparently assume that owners of resources in a free market have an incentive to use them up as quickly as possible for short-run profit, with no reason to care about their long-term sustainability. What environmentalists miss is that in a competitive market the price system informs us if we are behaving in an unsustainable way and provides us with the incentive both to restrict our use of resources and to search for substitutes.

When the supply of a resource becomes more scarce relative to demand, its price rises. This signals to users that the good is more scarce and provides an incentive for them to reduce their quantity demanded, which “sustains” the resource in ways that would not happen without the price signal. The rising price also encourages entrepreneurs to look for substitutes, which will also make the original resource use pattern more sustainable.

Beyond that, the process of finding substitutes promotes “sustainability” by providing new ways of solving old problems. One of the problems with the standard environmentalist view of sustainability is that it is overly static and seems to assume that our goal should be to ensure that current patterns of resource use are sustainable into the indefinite future. The only way to achieve that goal would be to limit innovation and thereby dramatically reduce or reverse economic growth, impoverishing billions.

By contrast, the economist’s conception of sustainability is more dynamic and recognizes that the goal is not to sustain a specific pattern of input use, but to create an institutional environment in which human beings can respond to changes in the demand for and supply of resources in ways that ensure their wants can continue to be satisfied at progressively lower cost, leading to the enrichment of all. It is free markets that create exactly this institutional environment.

One last aspect of sustainability has to do with the role of government. Both Ludwig von Mises’s theory of interventionism and the Austrian theory of the business cycle have at their theoretical core the idea that government intervention in the market leads to patterns of activity that are not sustainable.

Intervention creates unintended consequences that tend to lead to more intervention, which itself creates more problems. Inflation creates a pattern of capital use — the boom of the business cycle — that will eventually collapse for lack of real resources. The current recession is the result of government-caused unsustainability.

The lesson for environmentalists is that they should see free markets as friends of sustainability and at least consider that, at both the microeconomic and macroeconomic levels, government intervention is sustainability’s enemy.


"New evidence" of global warming is just a new cherrypick

Compiled by old frauds. For a start, they left out of their dataset the most accurate climate record of all: The satellite data. You'll never guess why! Below is the DT report, with further comments at the foot of it

A new climate change report from the Met Office and its US equivalent has provided the "greatest evidence we have ever had" that the world is warming. It is the first time a report has brought together all the different ways of measuring changes in the climate

The report brings together the latest temperature readings from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean

Usually scientists rely on the temperature over land, taken from weather stations around the world for the last 150 years, to show global warming.

But climate change sceptics questioned the evidence, especially in the wake of recent scandals like "climategate".

Now for the first time, a report has brought together all the different ways of measuring changes in the climate. The ten indicators of climate change include measurements of sea level rise taken from ships, the temperature of the upper atmosphere taken from weather balloons and field surveys of melting glaciers.

New technology also means it is possible to measure the temperature of the oceans, which absorb 90 per cent of the world's heat.

The State of the Climate report shows “unequivocally that the world is warming and has been for more than three decades”.

And despite the cold winter in Europe and north east America, this year is set to be the hottest on record.

The annual report was compiled by the Met Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Both the NOAA and Nasa have stated that the first six months of this year were the hottest on record, while the Met Office believes it is the second hottest start to the year after 1998.

Dr Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office, said “variability” in different regions, such as the cold winter in Britain, does not mean the rest of the world is not warming.

And he said 'greenhouse gases are the glaringly obvious explanation' for 0.56C (1F) warming over the last 50 years.

“Despite the fact people say global warming has stopped, the new data, added onto existing data, gives us the greatest evidence we have ever had,” he said.

Sceptics claimed that emails stolen from the University of East Anglia show scientists were willing to manipulate the land surface temperatures to show global warming.

The scientists were cleared by an independent inquiry but the ‘climategate scandal’ as it became known cast a shadow over the case for man made global warming.

Dr Stott said the sceptics can no longer question the land surface temperature as other records also show global warming.

He pointed out that each indicator takes independent evidence from at least 3 different institutions in order to ensure the information is correct. Despite variations from year to year, each decade has been warmer than the last since the 1980s.

"Despite the variability caused by short term changes, the analysis conducted for this report illustrates why we are so confident the world is warming,” he said. “When we look at air temperature and other indicators of climate, we see highs and lows in the data from year to year because of natural variability. Understanding climate change requires looking at the longer-term record. When we follow decade-to-decade trends using different data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world.”


There are lots of problems with this report. First, none of these so-called indicators is globally accurate at the scale of interest, which is tenths of a degree. In fact no two agree in detail. Notice too that the satellite data is not shown, even though it is the best data we have, because it does not agree at all. What other contra indicators are missing?

Second, if it is warming a little we still do not have any reason to believe that humans have anything to do with it. These folks are confusing the political slogan that "warming" is a hoax, which merely expresses reasonable skepticism about human induced warming, with the narrow scientific claim that it is not warming, which nobody actually makes.

Note this howler from the MET page: "The report points out that people have spent thousands of years building society for one climate, and now a new one is being created ­ one that is warmer and more extreme."

Thousands of years of constant temperatures? Nonsense. What happened to natural climate variability? Crawling out of the Little Ice Age, which no one wants to return, is rather a different story than this nonsense sentence.

These people just don't know how to be other than stupidly green. Fortunately it shows and no one is fooled. Those days are over.

And for an absolute encyclopedia of criticisms of the report, just read the "Comments" section at the foot of the DT report. The the public is not fooled. There is the occasional "trust the experts" bleat but the comments are overwhelmingly hostile

Climate change hysteria and “fixes” cause harm

One common justification for the "climate change" hysteria, is that even if the climate change believers turn out to be wrong; either that there is climate change, or that it is caused by human activities, there is little harm in taking the prescribed corrective measures. Bunk!

Little harm? The "solution" for "anthropogenic global climate change", demanded by the collectivists who falsely call themselves "environmentalists", destroys the ability of regular people to earn a living. It puts the world's very worst polluters, governments, in charge of telling everyone else how to live, and punishing those who disobey. It does worse than sending humanity back to the stone age, since at least back then they had fire with which to cook food, light the dark, and heat themselves. It sets up a new caste system, where the politically powerful, rich, and/or connected get to maintain a modern lifestyle, while "the little people" are expected to sacrifice most of the advances of the past several hundred years for "the common good", while still being expected to not be as "messy" as our forebears. It also terrifies some people much like the "nuclear annihilation" threat of an earlier generation did. That is an awful lot of harm.

Modern society is remarkably clean. Only government deals and favoritism (corporatism) keep the big polluters (BP) from taking full individual responsibility, and making full restitution, for their mistakes and misdeeds. The modern individual leaves less mess behind than the primitive individual did. It is just that there are an awful lot of us humans now, and we are being artificially forced, by government fear and inertia, to stay in our planetary cradle instead of being allowed to naturally spread out from Earth.

The best way to do what you can for the environment hasn't changed: Don't soil your own nest, and take full, individual, responsibility for the mess you do make when it harms the property or lives of others.

In the interest of full disclosure, I would be happy to live in a cave under primitive conditions. Or in a tipi or a dugout. No electricity or running water (or, as I used to tell my first ex-wife "we'd have electricity during thunderstorms, and running water when it rains....") The thought doesn't bother me at all. However, I know most people don't feel that way. Many people depend on modern advances for their very lives. I have no business taking their non-coercive choices from them. Neither does anyone else.



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


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feynman: “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts”

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” is how the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman defined science in his article “What is Science?” Feynman emphasized this definition by repeating it in a stand-alone sentence in extra large typeface in his article. (Feynman’s essay is available online, but behind a subscription wall: The Physics Teacher (1969) volume 7, starting page 313.)

Immediately after his definition of science, Feynman wrote: “When someone says, ‘Science teaches such and such,’ he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you should ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’ It should not be ‘science has shown.’ And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but be patient and listen to all the evidence) to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

And I say, Amen. Notice that “you” is the average person. You have the right to hear the evidence, and you have the right to judge whether the evidence supports the conclusion. We now use the phrase “scientific consensus,” or “peer review,” rather than “science has shown.” By whatever name, the idea is balderdash. Feynman was absolutely correct.

When the attorney general of Virginia sued to force Michael Mann of “hockey stick” fame to provide the raw data he used, and the complete computer program used to analyze the data, so that “you” could decide, the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia (where Mann was a professor at the time he defended the hockey stick) declared this request — Feynman’s request — to be an outrage. You peons, the Faculty Senate decreed, must simply accept the conclusions of any “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards.”

Feynman’s — and the attorney general’s and my own and other scientists’ — request for the raw data, so we can “judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at,” would, according to the Faculty Senate, “send a chilling message to scientists … and indeed scholars in any discipline.”

According the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia, “science,” and indeed “scholarship” in general, is no longer an attempt to establish truth by replicable experiment, or by looking at evidence that can be checked by anyone. “Truth” is now to be established by the decree of powerful authority, by “peer review.” Wasn’t the whole point of the Enlightenment to avoid exactly this?

Appeal to authority establishes nothing. “Experts” who claim otherwise are thereby showing themselves to be non-experts. The University of Virginia faculty members who supported this anti-science resolution have shown themselves to be unworthy to teach at an American university. They have shown themselves to have no understanding of the meaning of the word “scholarship.”

There are all too many such professors at the leading American universities. Which is why Feynman defined science to be a belief in the ignorance of such people. They are ignorant. Feynman used the expression “cargo-cult science” to describe the “science” done by such people.

In the South Pacific during the Second World War, the locals noticed that cargo planes would fly into airports that had been established on their islands, and unload vast amounts of goodies. The natives wanted the wealth too, so they hacked runways out of the jungle, made “radar antennas” out of wood, and sat at “radio sets” they had also fashioned out of wood. To their eyes, it looked like the real thing, but alas, no planes arrived with cargo. The native “cargo-cult” airport had the superficial appearance of an airport, but not the reality. Many areas of “science” today have the superficial appearance of true science, but not the reality. Climate “science” is an example.

How does one distinguish between science and pseudoscience, between true science and cargo-cult science? Many believe that Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion provides it, but Popper’s criterion has numerous difficulties, which philosophers have pointed out. Feynman has provided a much better way to test for true science in his essay “Cargo-Cult Science”:

… there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. … It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Compare Feynman’s scientific integrity with the continual attempts by the leaders of climate “science” to prevent skeptics from checking their data. True scientists would be extremely pleased to provide all raw data, and they would make the data available to all on the Internet. A state attorney general would not have to file suit to make them disgorge.


More on the "For the children" scam

(1) 'Children born today will not be in a position of influence for 40 years, and by then it will be too late.'

The claimed lack of influence of children is belied by the efforts of Schools Low Carbon Day to make them into political and commercial actors, influencing their parents and others to change lifestyles, and purchase so-called 'green energy tariff' electricity from a particular company.

I have found several more such sites. They are intent on indoctrinating children to toe the 'party line' on the environment. Children old enough to be scared, old enough to be influenced, but too young to fight back against the propaganda.

Here is one EU-funded boondoggle explaining itself: 'The main idea is to enable the pupils to learn about the challenges of global climate change and sustainable energy use and, at the same time, acquire the competences necessary to develop and subsequently apply adequate solutions.'

by means of: 'The European project “Schools at University for Climate & Energy (SAUCE)” offers a series of one-week on-campus education programmes for pupils ages 10-13 on the topics of energy efficient behaviour, renewable energies and climate change.'
Source: (2).

They were at it in London in June, where they set out to: 'develop education in climate awareness, offer smart energy choices for 10 to 13 year olds'

Too young to answer back, old enough to hassle their parents. Does that explain this sinister choice of target group?
For more see: (3)

Here is a site which is quite blatantly majoring on fundraising via children: 'School children across the world have made an incredible difference to rainforest protection by fundraising for Cool Earth.'

and they note: 'Schools play a really important part in raising awareness about climate change'
Source: (4).

Here is another site not so convinced that 'children will not be in a position of influence for 40 years'. They ask: 'What do you think will happen if one million of us marched, each in our own home towns, to send a message to the “ruling generation” that is so powerful that it actually causes a real shift in our world? Sign up to be an organizer, leader or marcher!' Source: (5).

Here is the Pew Centre, a prosperous-looking lobbying organisation by Washington DC, getting in on the game: 'To help more kids better understand global warming, the Pew Center recently collaborated with Nickelodeon to research children's and parents' attitudes and behaviors toward the environment. Nickelodeon is using the information for an interactive campaign called The Big Green Help. There's a lot you can learn about global warming. To help, this page provides answers to six key questions about global warming, how it occurs, and how you can help to stop the process.'
Source: (6).

Or how about this anonymous site, probably in the UK, and aimed at 5 to 11 year olds: 'If your parents must use the car, ask them to avoid using it for very short journeys if possible, as this creates unnecessary pollution. Try to encourage them to share their journeys with other people, for example when they go to work or go shopping. Also encourage them to drive more slowly as this produces less pollution and less carbon dioxide.'
Source: (7).

What kind of results are such sites and initiatives getting? I only have some 'for-instances'. These folks are pleased: 'Because children are such strong catalysts for social change, the program has had wonderful results.'
This quote from a campaigning site aimed at children by a couple who were convinced by, of all things, 'An Inconvenient Truth'.
Source: (8).

And in the news this week from Boston: 'Totalitarians throughout history have understood the power of co-opting youth, and here is an organization advocating what can only be called the indoctrination of a generation of students in our country's public schools, beginning in kindergarten, into radical environmentalism and advocacy for "equitable social systems" -- at the expense of reading, writing and arithmetic! Similarly, the physics teacher quoted above states: "Our goal as educators is to help students understand how to get to a sustainable world." Isn't your goal as a physics teacher teaching physics? The disregard for the essential purpose of education -- -imparting knowledge -- is aggressively blatant.'
Source: (9).

Not so recent, but alarming all the same is the set of often illiterate letters from pupils organised by a teacher in a Californian school, to berate the Heartland Institute for not taking the correct line on climate. They include such gems as:

'In the past couple of months, we have read articles about Global Warming and we know facts about G.W. The 1st article is Diesel traffic makes asthma worse. The article explains that diesel traffic can worsen lung function in people with asthma. The 2nd article is Air pollution shrinks fetus size. This means that if mothers have higher exposure to air pollution, the child's fetus will shrink. The 3rd article is World Must Fix Climate in Less than 10 years. This means that if we don't fix the climate, everything will be destroyed and we won't be able to survive. Those are all the important articles we read.' The anonymised letters can be downloaded from: (10).

I leave the last word on this misuse of schools and exploitation of children, to an American journalist offended by some climate change ads using children for scaremongering. I'd extend his remark to include all those initiatives in and around schools on climate scaremongering: 'I don't know about you, but irrespective of my position on this issue, I find using children in this fashion to be indefensible and way over the line of decency.' Source: (11). .

(2) 'The inertia in the climate system ...'

The 'inertia of the climate system' is not defined, but it may refer to remarks by James Hansen in 2009.

From the climategate emails, we read a message from Trenberth, on 12th October 2009, cc'd to, amongst others, Hansen: 'The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.' Source: (12).

Hansen speaking about two weeks later in over-the-top demented alarmist terms well-suited for the Club of Rome, has found somewhere to hide the missing heat: in a pipeline, aka a timebomb. His talk was entitled 'Global Warming Time Bomb', and his slides included one with the device 'Climate Inertia -> Warming in Pipeline'. Source: (13).

A more temperate scientist, Roger Pielke Snr writes in January 2010: 'But unless observations document that significant heat is accumulating deeper in the ocean, there are no major amounts of unaccounted for Joules in the climate system. There is therefore no “unrealized heat” and, thus, no “heating in the pipeline”.' Source: (14).

I'm more convinced by the analysis of Pielke, than by the conjecture of Hansen. No pipeline, no timebomb, no scary headlines.

(3) '... means that without action from us, by the time they can change the world, catastrophic warming will almost certainly be factored into the system.'

Why would that be? The 'almost certainly', as we have seen in earlier posts in this series, ought to read 'almost certainly not' given the complete lack of evidence of any extraordinary cause for concern, in particular from CO2. Many scientists accept that CO2 alone could change average temperatures anywhere between a modest decrease to an increase of around 1C. No grounds for catastrophe there.

Any such changes would scarcely be detectable against the background variation which is part and parcel of our climate. So, it comes back to the computer models. The Club of Rome had such an impact with their now widely ridiculed modeling, that I can't help but feel the plotters behind the IPCC were keen to make the most of the climate modellers' arts. Especially those who invented a positive feedback mechanism that allowed the modest impact of CO2 to be converted into a dramatic effect due to water vapour.

They might well have hoped to rely on the same lack of critical review which the media gave to the Club of Rome, and if so they were surely right. No one expects high standards from the media, but once upon a time, we expected it from science. Scientists once revered as objective seekers after truth have been transformed into jobsworths seeking security of tenure and larger research grants, both of which were jeopardised by going against the received wisdom on climate.

But hope springs eternal: the recent rebellion by fellows of the Royal Society was one bright spark, and here is another from a journalist recognising failings in her profession:

'These are desperate days for global warming advocates, and they should be. The two groups we rely on the most to be skeptical and detail-oriented, scientists and reporters, have continued to badly fail us.' Source: (15).

In my more charitable moments, I suppose that the founders of 'Schools' Low Carbon Day' were merely badly failed by scientists and reporters. At other times, I wonder at their enthusiasm for scaring schoolkids in order to advance their 'green agenda'.

SOURCE (See the original for references)

More on the amusing "Warming => more illegals" paper

Note: The lead author of the "study" is an environmental activist -- he serves as a 'science advisor' to the pressure group Environmental Defense Fund

Reuters and dozens of other sources promote the craziness of the day, namely a bunch of statements by a Michael Oppenheimer of New Jersey and his pals, Shuaizhang Feng and Alan B. Krueger. The paper was edited by the late Stephen Schneider a month ago.

He and his friends essentially claim that global warming is going to be the main reason of the Mexican illegal immigration. Between 1.4 and 6.7 million Mexicans will arrive to the U.S. by 2080 because their agriculture will get worse, and so on. Of course, this statement is completely preposterous but the media make it even worse when they exclusively quote the upper "6.7 million" figure in the title.

The number of Mexicans who actually move because of the temperatures may be counted in thousands, not millions. If you check an encyclopedia, the daily temperatures in Mexico City go from 6 to 21 °C in January to 12 to 26 °C in May (the figures are average lows and average highs in the months). In average, there's no excessive heat over there. And the agriculture is not getting worse because of the climate change.

You may check that e.g. Sao Paolo in Brazil, the agricultural powerhouse of Latin America, has temperatures by about 6 °C higher than Mexico City. They're even higher in Rio de Janeiro. Warmth is surely not a problem.

I think that only insane people may have doubts that what drives the overwhelming portion of the immigrants is the economy. The Mexican GDP per capita is 5 times (nominal) or 3 times (PPP) lower than in the U.S. Well, such things make a difference.

The hypothesis that the desire for a cooler weather plays an important role in the Mexican immigration can be easily falsified by anyone who actually wants to know whether it's true or not. The simplest way to see that it is bogus is to notice that the Mexicans are satisfied as soon as they cross the borders and many of them stay in the Southern states of the U.S. Even though the climate can't change too much a few miles away, the new place is good enough for them.

I've heard amazing testimonies of several people who visited the U.S.-Mexican border along the Rio Grande river. The vast difference in wealth makes it look like two different worlds. The difference has clearly nothing to do with the climate.

It's not hard to see what is the driver behind similar "research": they want to attract some conservative people - people who are genuinely afraid of immigration, especially the illegal immigration (whether or not their fears are justified) - onto the global warming bandwagon by giving the global warming fears some new "anti-immigration flavor". I think that the descendants of J. Robert Oppenheimer should sue Michael Oppenheimer and prevent him from using and contaminating the name of their ancestor and their families - and the good name of physics.

SOURCE. See also Pielke Jr.

The Medieval warm period happened amid LOW levels of atmospheric CO2 -- suggesting that CO2 is, if anything, a minor factor in climate change

Discussing: Chen, F.-H., Chen, J.-H., Holmes, J., Boomer, I., Austin, P., Gates, J.B., Wang, N.-L., Brooks, S.J. and Zhang, J.-W. 2010. Moisture changes over the last millennium in arid central Asia: A review, synthesis and comparison with monsoon region. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 1055-1068.


The authors write that arid central Asia (ACA, an inland zone in central Asia from the Caspian Sea in the west to the southern Mongolian Plateau in the east) is "a unique dry-land area whose atmospheric circulation is dominated today by the westerlies," further stating that it is "one of the specific regions that are likely to be strongly impacted by global warming," which could greatly impact its hydrologic future.

What was done

In an attempt to obtain this important knowledge, Chen et al. evaluated "spatial and temporal patterns of effective moisture variations," using seventeen different proxy records in the ACA and synthesizing a decadal-resolution moisture curve for this region over the past millennium, employing five of the seventeen records based on their having "reliable chronologies and robust proxies."

What was learned

The nine researchers report that the effective moisture (precipitation) in the ACA has a generally inverse relationship with the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere, as portrayed by Moberg et al. (2005), China, as portrayed by Yang et al. (2002), and Central Asia, as portrayed by Esper et al. (2007). That is to say, as they describe it, the "wet (dry) climate in the ACA correlates with low (high) temperature." And stating it in yet another way, they indicate that the ACA "has been characterized by a relatively dry Medieval Warm Period (MWP; the period from ~1000 to 1350 AD), a wet little Ice Age (LIA; from ~1500-1850 AD)," and "a return to arid conditions after 1850 AD," which has been slightly muted -- but only "in some records" -- over the past 20 years by an increase in humidity.

What it means

Chen et al. "propose that the humid LIA in the ACA, possibly extending to the Mediterranean Sea and Western Europe, may have resulted from increased precipitation due to more frequent mid-latitude cyclone activities as a result of the strengthening and equator-ward shift of the westerly jet stream ... coupled with a decrease in evapotranspiration caused by the cooling at that time," which cooling was brought about by the gradual demise of the Medieval Warm Period, which in turn speaks volumes about the great significance of that centuries-long period of much-lower-than-present atmospheric CO2 concentration but of equivalent or even greater warmth than that of the Current Warm Period, which ultimately suggests that the 20th-century increase in the air's CO2 content may have had little, or maybe even nothing, to do with 20th-century global warming.


A BOOK REVIEW OF "The Hockey Stick Illusion - Climategate and the corruption of science"

Review from the magazine of the Geological Society

In 1998 a graph, which was to become famous as the ‘Hockey Stick’, made its debut in the pages of the prestigious journal Nature. The graph, constructed by climate scientist Michael Mann and colleagues, purported to show that late 20th Century temperatures were unprecedented in at least 1000 years. For many this was the smoking gun of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Before long the Hockey Stick became the icon of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and took (unacknowledged) centre-stage in Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. The scientific community immediately, and virtually unanimously, accepted the Hockey Stick at face value, even though it eliminated such familiar episodes of climatic history as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age; these were explained away as regional or diachronous phenomena.

Not everybody, though, was prepared to take this new climate history on trust. Foremost among these sceptics was a Canadian mining engineer, Steve McIntyre. Over several years, in the teeth of resistance from the paleoclimatological community, he laboriously collected the raw data (mainly tree ring measurements) from which the Hockey Stick was derived. McIntyre identified numerous shortcomings with the reconstruction. The charges included cherry picking of data, use of invalid proxies and poor statistical techniques, which together produced a picture of exceptional 20th Century warming that was not present in the underlying data.

The response of the ‘Hockey Team’ (as Mann and colleagues came to be known) was to circle the wagons. McIntyre was dismissed as a crank, or a flunkey of the oil companies. Attempts were made to prevent publication of his analyses in the scientific press. When these tactics failed to silence him, the Hockey Team claimed that many independent studies confirmed their results. McIntyre, though, was able to show that these ‘independent’ studies used the same flawed data sets and techniques as the Hockey Stick and inevitably reached the same erroneous conclusions. The debate eventually reached Washington where two congressional committees concluded that Mann’s statistics could not support the conclusions he drew from them. Nonetheless the Hockey Team, with the support of the IPCC, pressed ahead with their depiction of the Hockey Stick as ‘settled science’.

Andrew Montford tells this detective story in exhilarating style. He has assembled an impressive case that the consensus view on recent climate history started as poor science and was corrupted when climate scientists became embroiled in IPCC politics. His portrayal of the palaeoclimatology community is devastating; they are revealed as amateurish, secretive, evasive and belligerent. But the most serious charge is that they have simply failed to demonstrate any scientific integrity in confronting McIntyre. The University of East Anglia emails, which appeared just as Montford was completing his book, suggest that the Hockey Team were more interested in knobbling McIntyre than in addressing his arguments.

The wider scientific community does not escape criticism. No serious effort was made to subject the Hockey Stick to independent scrutiny, despite its profound implications for the future of the planet and its inhabitants. In response to external challenge the scientific establishment’s reflex action was to side with the paleoclimatologists without bothering to check the evidence. This approach, no better than that of any other vested interest group, should dismay everyone of genuine scientific spirit.

Montford’s book ends on what is perhaps an inevitable low note, because the Hockey Team has not conceded that its temperature reconstructions are seriously flawed. However, if The Hockey Stick Illusion provokes a truly independent review of the evidence it will have served its purpose.


The great wind power bait and switch

HOW MUCH are you willing to pay for green energy? Almost any ratepayer would say that if the electric utilities could obtain a significant amount of their power from a renewable source, and do so without raising rates, then that would be a good deal. It would certainly appear to be a good deal if they could obtain the power and at the same time reduce their rates.

For years Cape Wind Associates, which plans to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, told us that it could supply renewable energy to the New England market and save ratepayers $25 million a year. Considering the cost of installing and operating the system (about $2 billion in present-value terms), it was always unlikely that Cape Wind could deliver on this promise. Yet, it seemed possible that by adding significantly to power supplies, Cape Wind could bring about at least a temporary decrease in the price of power.

Now we learn, however, that ratepayers will pay more for their electricity if Cape Wind builds and goes online. Recently, National Grid entered into an agreement to buy power from Cape Wind for almost 21 cents per kilowatt hour. It costs National Grid about 9 cents per kWh to get the same power from conventional sources. Under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program, the electric companies charge ratepayers an additional 6 cents per kWh for that portion of their service (currently 5 percent) that the power companies are supposed to obtain from renewable sources. Hence, power that previously cost 15 cents will now cost 21 cents. National Grid’s biggest customers are protesting this price increase.

Under the agreement, National Grid, which supplies 40 percent of Massachusetts’ residential electric power, will buy half of Cape Wind’s output. The proposal to buy the power at the contracted rate (which allows for an annual increase of 3.5 percent) is now before the state’s Department of Public Utilities for its approval. If the National Grid deal goes through, it won’t be long before another electric utility finds itself under pressure to buy the other half of Cape Wind’s power.

If that happens, ratepayers are going to end up paying $82 million annually more than what they currently pay for the power to be supplied by Cape Wind. That is far cry from paying the $25 million less that Cape Wind originally promised. It’s a case of bait-and-switch: Promise something at a cost saving. Then reveal at the last minute that the cost will be greater, not less. It’s a practice that would have the authorities swooping down on any retailer that tried it.

The Cape Wind project was always a bad deal, in the larger sense that the subsidies needed to bring the project online were far greater than justified by such green-energy benefits as it would confer. And now we find out that the subsidy needed by Cape Wind in order to attract investors is more than twice what we could originally have expected.

It is no answer to say that the National Grid deal is good for ratepayers because fossil fuel prices might rise in the years to come. The Federal Energy Information Administration does not expect the real cost of electricity generation to rise for more than a decade. Yet fossil fuel prices would have to more than double to make the National Grid deal a bargain for ratepayers.

Nor is there a lack of cheaper sources of renewable energy. Currently, the state does not permit the electric utilities to apply hydro or wind power bought from Canadian suppliers to their Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement. By eliminating this rule, the state could get all the renewable energy it wants without compelling ratepayers to pay more than the 15 cents per kWh they currently pay. The only reason not to use Canadian power or some other source of cheap, renewable energy is to keep the Cape Wind project going. But Massachusetts ratepayers should not be expected to bear the burden of supporting this project when there are cheaper sources of renewable energy available. The regulators should tell National Grid to find another supplier.



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


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An environmental "disaster" -- not so much

For 86 days, oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's damaged well, dumping some 200 million gallons of crude into sensitive ecosystems. BP and the federal government have amassed an army to clean the oil up, but there's one problem -- they're having trouble finding it. At its peak last month, the oil slick was the size of Kansas, but it has been rapidly shrinking, now down to the size of New Hampshire.

Today, ABC News surveyed a marsh area and found none, and even on a flight out to the rig site Sunday with the Coast Guard, there was no oil to be seen. "That oil is somewhere. It didn't just disappear," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Salvador Cepriano is one of the men searching for crude. Cepriano, a shrimper, has been laying out boom with his boat, but he's found that there's no oil to catch. "I think it is underneath the water. It's in between the bottom and the top of the water," Cepriano said.

Even the federal government admits that locating the oil has become a problem. "It is becoming a very elusive bunch of oil for us to find," said National Incident Cmdr. Thad Allen. The numbers don't lie: two weeks ago, skimmers picked up about 25,000 barrels of oily water. Last Thursday, they gathered just 200 barrels.

Still, it doesn't mean that all the oil that gushed for weeks is gone. Thousands of small oil patches remain below the surface, but experts say an astonishing amount has disappeared, reabsorbed into the environment.

"[It's] mother nature doing her job," said Ed Overton, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University.

The light crude began to deteriorate the moment it escaped at high pressure, and then it was zapped with dispersants to speed the process along. The oil that did make it to the ocean's surface was broken up by 88-degree water, baked by 100-degree sun, eaten by microbes, and whipped apart by wind and waves.

Experts stress that even though there's less and less oil as time goes on, there's still plenty around the spill site. And in the long term, no one knows what the impact of those hundreds of millions of gallons will be, deep in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Another Warmist trying to abandon ship?


It looks like it is finally time to announce Judith Curry's departure for the dark side, prompted by her comments at RC [Real Climate]. I still think she has good intentions, at heart, but has been "captured by the septic narrative" or somesuch. In some respects this intervention is fairly typical of her previous stuff - which is to say, she mouths off without having done her homework, then tries to back off. But the direction she mouths off in is very revealing.

So, where to start. Curry commented at RC in defence of Montford and Gavin answered her. Presumably she thought at the time she was being sane. But then Romm (ht: H) made a post out of the comment / reply which really reads very badly for her, and Curry threw her toys out of the pram: OK, I officially give up over here. Here is something I just posted over at climateaudit...

She then appears to go on to argue that all the stuff she said before wasn't her, it was merely her parroting Montford: "These were not my personal arguments." I don't believe that, nor do I think that you can read that from her orignal RC comment. Nor, indeed, can I see why she would want to show up at RC merely to parrot Montford - he can do that himself if he wants to.

The bit of Curry's comments that I would pick out of RC are
The high level of confidence ascribed to the hockey stick inferences in the IPCC TAR, based upon two very recent papers (MBH) that, while provocative and innovative, used new methods and found results that were counter to the prevailing views. Plus the iconic status that the hockey stick achieved in the TAR and Al Gore's movie.

I've bolded the bit that is especially significant. This is so much a part of the septic worldview: that IPCC '90 fig 7.1.c was God's Glorious Revealed Truth in the Age of Gold and everything since then has been downhill as the evil climate so-called scientists manipulated their data to erase the MWP and LIA etc etc. Gavin points out why her view is wrong.

There is quite enough noise in the "climate debate" already. We don't need any more. Nor do we need people making hasty ill-thought out comments that they will later pretend not to have meant. Curry needs to back off and find time to write down a coherent position that she actually believes in.

Oops, and I missed Curry's other embarassing comment at CP. Speaking of Craig Loehle I ought to link to Eli before he does.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

The attention-seeking John Kerry is still making false claims

(Kerry suggests that because of CO2, plants no longer grow in a 100-mile swath of the US?! The man clearly knows nothing of science. CO2 FACILITATES plant growth! Plants lap it up)

Speaking at a town hall-style meeting promoting climate change legislation on Thursday, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) predicted there will be “an ice-free Arctic” in "five or 10 years."

“The arctic ice is disappearing faster than was predicted,” Kerry said. “And instead of waiting until 2030 or whenever it was to have an ice-free Arctic, we’re going to have one in five or 10 years.” ...

“Every single area of the science, where predictions have been made, is coming back faster – worse than was predicted,” Kerry said. “The levels of carbon dioxide that are going into the ocean is higher. The acidity is higher. It’s damaging the ecosystem of the oceans.”

“You know, all of our marine crustaceans that depend on the formation of their shells -- that acidity undoes that,” he said. “Coral reefs – the spawning grounds for fish. Run that one down and you’ll see the dangers.

Kerry further said: “Predictions of sea level rise are now 3 to 6 feet. They’re higher than were originally going to be predicted over the course of this century because nothing’s happening. But the causes and effects are cumulative.”

“The Audubon Society [not exactly, you know, an ideological entity on the right or the left or wherever in America] has reported that its members are reporting a hundred-mile swath in the United States of America where plants, shrubs, trees, flowers – things that used to grow -- don’t grow any more,” Kerry said.


Pesky! Where have all the hurricanes gone?

Will a hotter world lead to more intense storms [As Warmists regularly predict]?

2010 might be on track to be the warmest ever (according to GISS), but right now, we may be about to set a new record of tropical storms — in inactivity. Ryan Maue tracks the global accumulated activity and reports that by the end of July we might break the record low we set last year.

Ryan N. Maue’s 2010 Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Update: "July 15: If no additional ACE occurred in July, the 24-month global ACE total would be 1095 compared to last month at 1173. The previous 30-year low was 1091 set recently in September 2009. No lower values exist during the past 30-years.

Global and Northern Hemsiphere Tropical Cyclone Activity is near a record low

Looking at the National Hurricane Centre, it doesn’t seem like there is much activity on the way between now and the end of July.

Advisories issued for the North Atlantic, The East Pacific, The West Pacific, and the Indian Ocean are all the same: There is no tropical storm activity for this region.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Observed Climate Change and the Negligible Global Effect of Greenhouse-gas Emission Limits in the State of Texas

Summary for Policy Makers

Variations in climate from year to year and decade to decade play a greater role in the Texan climate than any long-term trends. Short-term variability will continue to dominate the climate in future. The Texas climate shows no statically significant long-term trend in mean annual temperature, rainfall, floods, droughts, heatwaves, tornadoes, or hurricanes – still less any trend that could reasonably be attributed to “global warming”.

Agricultural yields in Texas will continue to increase. Record crop yields will continue to be set every couple of years. The climate is not the driving reason for the improvement: but it has not prevented it in the past and will not prevent it in the future.

The climate has little impact on the health of Texas’ population. Public health measures aimed at combating the health impacts of heat waves and vector-borne diseases are more cost-effective than the many expensive and largely untested proposals for mitigating “global warming”

Overwhelmingly, observational scientific evidence demonstrates that “global warming” does not have and will not have any appreciable impact on the climate of Texas. A cessation of all of Texas’s CO2 emissions would result in a climatically-irrelevant global temperature reduction by the year 2100 of less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius. A complete cessation of all anthropogenic emissions from Texas will result in a global sea-level rise savings by the year 2100 of an estimated 0.32 cm, or just over one-tenth of an inch.

Again, this value is climatically irrelevant Even if the entire Western world were to close down its economies completely and revert to the Stone Age, without even the ability to light fires, the growth in emissions from China and India would replace our entire emissions in little more than a decade. In this context, any cuts in emissions from Texas would be extravagantly pointless.


The "Times" of London going green?

Their new "pay to view" regime could be making them desperate to get new classes of readers. But it might lose them readers too. I just read the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail these days and feel no loss at all

To the colourful Daily Telegraph blogger James Delingpole, it was winner of the coveted award for the "Biggest front page non-story in history of journalism". What he was referring to was a tale published a week ago under the by-line of The Times's enviromment correspondent Ben Webster which led the paper, covering virtually the entire front-page and with a whole further page inside, beneath the huge headline "Oil giant gives £1 million to fund climate sceptics."

Everything about this story was bizarre. Its essence, based on information which as Webster told us was had been supplied by Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change, was that Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, last year gave "almost £1 million" to four US think-tanks.

These hired lackeys had then shamefully gone on to describe the various official inquiries into the Climategate emails scandal as "whitewashes", apparently citing them as evidence that the dangers of global warming had been "grossly exaggerated".

The story concluded by suggesting that Exxon Mobil had clearly corrupted these four venal think tanks into giving "the oil company at least another year of freedom to reap the profits of its high-carbon strategy".

The most obvious puzzle was why this remarkably tenuous tale should have been put by The Times on its front page, presumably rating it as the most important news of the day. The evidence assembled by Mr Ward, who had apparently "been monitoring Exxon's links to sceptic groups," hardly seemed to stack up even in its own terms.

One think-tank had apparently received $50,000 last year, another had also received $50,000 - but how all this added up to "almost £1 million" in the past 12 months was far from clear. Furthermore, none of these think-tanks had really been anything but bit-players in the great ongoing row over Climategate.

Not one of the knowledgable sceptics who have torn those reports apart in detail, led by Steve McIntyre on Climate Audit, has ever received a cent of funding from "Big Oil". And what makes all this particularly laughable is that the penny-packets given to think-tanks which were almost wholly irrelevant to the debate are utterly dwarfed by the colossal sums poured into all the groups and organisations on the other side of the argument.

Even the big oil companies have long since been putting their real money into projects dedicated to showing how they are in favour of a "low carbon economy". In 2002 Exxon gave $100 million to Stanford University to fund research into energy sources needed to fight global warming. BP, which famously rebranded itself in 2004 as "Beyond Petroleum", gave $500 million to fund similar research.

In fact two things made The Times's grotesque overblowing of this story rather much more interesting than many Times readers might have guessed. The first was the fact that the origin of the story was Bob Ward, who has in recent years become familiar to followers of the climate debate as a tireless advocate in the media for warmist alarmism.

Looking raather like a night-club bouncer, though not so polite, Mr Ward seems to have set himself up as a professional attack dog for the cause, harrying anyone who dares publicly to promote scepticism by any means he can find.

He used to work in this capacity for the fanatically warmist Royal Society, in which role, in 2007, he organised a voluminous series of complaints to the regulatory body Ofcom, signed by "37 professors", against Channel 4's documentary The Global Warming Swindle. A year later, after wasting huge quantities of everyone's time, Ofcom failed to uphold any of Ward's complaints.

Since then Mr Ward has been employed in a similar capacity by the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at the LSE, where he acts as policy director alongside its chairman Lord Stern. Formerly Sir Nicholas Stern, this ex-Treasury official has, since his famous but much derided 700-page report in 2006, become one of the real high-priests of the warmist religion. And he has made a fortune from touring the world to advise mankind on how to reduce its "carbon footprint".

Since he joined the Grantham Institute, Mr Ward has not only written countless letters to the press and appeared frequently on TV, he has also launched a number of similarly time-wasting complaints to the Press Complaints Commission against articles by climate sceptics such as myself.

Mr Ward's employer, the Grantham Institute, is backed by significantly big money. It was set up in two parts, one under Lord Stern at the LSE, the other run by another committed warmist Sir Brian Hoskins at Imperial College, funded with £24 million from Jeremy Grantham, an investment fund billionaire. Its chief purpose is to advise governments, firms and investment funds on how to promote and invest in ways to "fight climate change" - which is now of course one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries in the world....

How The Times's front-page headline might rather more relevantly have been re-worded was "Governments, foundations, multi-national corporations including the owners of this newspaper and Big Oil give hundreds of billions of pounds to promote worldwide climate bonanza." But doubtless The Times's editors would have ruled that this was too long for their front page.



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