Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An optimal world temperature?

Have any of the AGW people ever said just what is the optimal average world temperature and why that temperature is optimal??

The AGWers don't have a specific optimum global average temperature, but they do have a sort of optimum temperature band. This forms the basis of the idea, widely used by (and specifically invented for) AGW promoting politicians, that the global average temperature must be limited to not increasing by more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperature levels. The 2 degree C figure usually appears in statements made by politicians at the various international climate change summits that seem to take place every year.

The story about where the 2 deg C figure comes from, which was invented by some German climate scientists back in the mid-1990s, is given in this link:
"The story of the two-degree target began in the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Administration politicians had asked the council for climate protection guidelines, and the scientists under Schellnhuber's leadership came up with a strikingly simple idea. "We looked at the history of the climate since the rise of homo sapiens," Schellnhuber recalls. "This showed us that average global temperatures in the last 130,000 years were no more than two degrees higher than before the beginning of the industrial revolution. To be on the safe side, we came up with a rule of thumb stating that it would be better not to depart from this field of experience in human evolution. Otherwise we would be treading on terra incognita.""

So from that the above it looks like pro-AGW climate scientists are assigning an optimum temperature band to what they think the homo sapiens species has already experienced in its history. The 2 deg C rise figure would go outside this optimum band. It's an application of the precautionary principle.

As far as I'm aware climate scientists don't think a 'catastrophe' would occur if the limit is exceeded (for example Schellnhuber, who invented the limit, doesn't think that) but Green-leaning politicians often treat it as though it is a catastrophic limit.

The Green lobby, it goes without saying, claim that an apocalypse would occur if the 2 deg C limit is exceeded. For example the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition in the UK (a coalition of about 100 Green-leaning NGOs) have this on their webpage:
"But with a rise of 2 degrees C or more, southern Europe will suffer serious drought every decade; billions of people will not have enough water; 550 million will go hungry; 3 million will die from malnutrition.

In the UK coastal flooding will impact up to 170 million people. And many plant, bird and butterfly species will be consigned to the history books."

The above extract also gives the biggest Greenie numerical howler I think I've ever seen. They're claiming 170 million people in the UK would be affected by coastal flooding when the current total population of the UK is something like 60 million.


Eco-terrorists: Ready to Kill for Their Cause?

A string of arson fires and material found during an arrest point to "animal rights" groups now being willing to kill for their goals.

According to STRATFOR, an open source intelligence firm, on July 22 special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI arrested Walter Bond in Denver. He was charged with setting an April 30 fire which destroyed the Sheepskin Factory, a Glendale, Colorado, business.

According to STRATFOR, Bond goes by the alias ALF Lone Wolf, and he apparently bragged to a confidential informant that he was also responsible for a June 5 fire at a leather factory in Salt Lake City and a July 3 fire at a restaurant in Sandy, Utah.

Bond is a member of an extremist group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). They are allied with a similar organization called the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).

These groups were somewhat in the news a few years ago, but faded off the radar when it became apparent that public sympathies were rather with the business owners whose livelihoods were destroyed and workers who were injured — not the radicals who saw no moral dilemma in spiking trees or torching housing developments.

So far, law enforcement has not focused heavily on organizations like the ALF or the ELF for a couple of reasons. First, because they’re hard to catch. They use an operational model called “leaderless resistance” in which small cells or individual operatives function underground without a command structure. They are in turn given some cover guidance by above-ground political organizations which are very careful not to do anything illegal. They also tend to get cover from a sympathetic media which, when they do report on it, will tend to decry the action and then proceed to talk about the horrors of animal testing.

The other reason these cases don’t get a lot of attention is that to date the terrorists have been very careful not to target people deliberately. There are some indications this may be changing.

As STRATFOR reports:
According to the ATF affidavit, a search of Bond’s backpack after his arrest revealed that he had a copy of an ALF publication titled “The Declaration of War: Killing People to Save the Animals and the Environment.” The book, which was first published by the ALF in 1991, contends that nonviolent methods such as those laid out by Gandhi and Jesus are not productive (especially when applied to animals) and explains that violence is justified to protect animals, who cannot protect themselves. The book’s author contends that people who seek to liberate animals (which the author refers to as “brothers” and “sisters”) from human oppression and abuse will “use any and every tactic necessary to win the freedom of our brothers and sisters. This means they cheat, steal, lie, plunder, disable, threaten, and physically harm others to achieve their objective.”

In other words, they figure it’s OK to kill people if it will save an animal.


Post-spill, it’s still “drill, baby, drill!”

Public support for tapping America's oil reserves got a tough test over the last few months with the Deepwater Horizon spill, but the verdict is in: It's "drill, baby, drill!"

A clear majority continued to support drilling in American waters even during the height of the spill, when oil was gushing uncontrollably and dying birds headlined network newscasts. Pollsters at Rasmussen reported on Aug. 4 that "since the oil-rig explosion that caused the massive oil leak, support for offshore drilling has ranged from 56 percent to 64 percent." That's fairly consistent with the percentages in April of this year, just before the spill, and not a huge drop-off from the 72 percent that supported it back in the summer of 2008, when pump prices topped $4 a gallon.

Now that the leak has been stopped, the number in favor should start creeping back up. Support was always strongest in Louisiana -- which bore the brunt of the environmental and economic damage -- where 79 percent of residents remained in favor of drilling in Rassmussen's numbers, the same as before the spill.

President Obama clearly overplayed his hand with Louisianians and other Gulf Coast residents when his administration tried to parlay the spill into a justification for a moratorium on offshore drilling and other job-killing measures, such as the cap-and-trade global-warming tax on energy. The bayou backlash against the moratorium -- including from Louisiana Democrats in Congress -- was deafening.

Looking forward, the biggest threat to the Gulf region's economy isn't the spill itself but Washington's reaction to it. According to a study by Louisiana State University economics Professor Joseph Mason, the moratorium will destroy 12,000 jobs in the near term and 36,000 if it lasts a year. As the Gulf region loses jobs, the rest of the nation is losing the energy that would have been produced.

Gulf Coast residents were right not to overreact. Despite Obama's best efforts to hype the spill, including a prime-time speech calling it "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," the damage has proved to be far from catastrophic.

The scariest claims turned out to be nonsense. Remember those "experts" who predicted that the oil would make its way around Florida and blacken the Atlantic Coast?

As cleanup activities and efforts to compensate those who've been harmed move forward, there is reason for cautious optimism about the long-term prospects for recovery. The Gulf shrimp is just as safe to eat -- and as tasty -- as before the spill.

The administration is still pushing the moratorium, but its gloomy rhetoric -- echoed by nearly every anti-fossil-fuel environmental group -- may undercut its own efforts. If the Deepwater Horizon spill really was the absolute worst that could happen, then the benefits of producing American oil sure seem worth the risks. Spills of this magnitude occur only once every few decades. We'll more likely see a return of gas at $4 a gallon -- or higher -- long before we see another spill this big.

Washington can and should find out what caused the spill and impose reasonable safeguards, but it shouldn't close the door on tapping the nation's oil resources. The American people have had it right all along: Drill, baby, drill!


Corny capitalism

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued another one of those announcements read exclusively by government bureaucrats and green policy wonks. The EPA decided to delay a decision to increase the concentration of ethanol legal in gasoline from 10% to 15%. So-called E15 fuel would have to wait for approval until November.

It was a little-read regulatory decision that barely made a splash in the media. But it was also a rock thrown at Washington's hornets' nest of food and agricultural lobbyists. "We are disappointed," warned food giant Archer Daniels Midland. "We find this further delay unacceptable" and a "dereliction of duty," harrumphed ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy.

By delaying the decision, the EPA punted on a crucial decision. The pressure brought to bear against the agency by the agriculture industry has been incredible. It's also been applied well; the EPA will most likely still approve E15 fuel in the fall.

That's bad news for any American who likes to drive. In a country powered by the automobile, E15 is an enormous question mark. Since the 1970s when ethanol was first regulated by the feds, concentrations of alcohol in fuel above 10% have been illegal. But the government, lost in a dream world where cars can run on corn, has tied itself in regulatory knots trying to force ethanol into the fuel supply.

The history of ethanol is a sad torrid affair of crony capitalism and green fantasies. By jumping in bed with the agriculture industry and blindly slapping on new regulations, the government artificially propped up an industry and put itself in a bind from which there may be no return.

From Suing Toyota to Subsidizing E15

Across America, pumps at gas stations are emblazoned with the words, "Contains 10% Ethanol." That's no free market innovation. Since the 1970s, the federal government has heavily subsidized the production of "gasohol"--a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol that reduces tailpipe emissions. For decades, progressive politicians and environmental groups have revered ethanol as a miracle additive that will help purify America's air. "No country has ever gone to war over ethanol," reads one sign on the Washington, D.C. Metro subway.

There's just one problem: Ethanol fuel is wildly inefficient. The amount of corn required to soak the fuel supply is massive. To shift America's car culture entirely from gasoline to gasohol would require 700,000 square miles of land growing corn exclusively for ethanol production. That would mean converting one-fifth of the United States into a sprawling corn farm.

Then again, the government never found a green boondoggle it didn't love. For five years now, Congress has been mandating that the fuel supply be diluted with ethanol. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol in the fuel supply by 2012. A Democratic Congress went a step further in 2007, mandating 9 billion gallons by 2008, 15.2 billion by 2012, and 36 billion by 2022.

Unfortunately, that whole Economics 101, supply-and-demand thing got in the way. The maximum amount of ethanol that can be produced to meet demand, called the "blend wall," is expected to level out at 15 billion. That will make it impossible to meet the government's mandates.

The agriculture industry, represented primarily by Archer Daniels Midland and Growth Energy, spied an opportunity. Why not increase the legal gasohol concentration from 10% ethanol to 12% or even 15%? That would immediately ignite ethanol production and allow the government to meet its mandate. More importantly, it would make Big Agriculture some serious money.

The EPA looked ready to raise the limit until science finally intervened. A study surfaced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory from 2008 that found E15 ethanol caused a raft of problems in cars, including a loss of fuel economy and spikes in exhaust temperatures. Meanwhile the higher concentration of ethanol did nothing to reduce tailpipe emissions. The study also found problems when E15 fuel was used in lawn trimmers.

The car industry exploded in outrage. Most car warranties only cover E10, which could leave customers stuck with hefty bills if their engines were damaged. A study done by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers found E15 "made engines run hot, compromised catalytic converters, and even damaged cylinder walls."

To its credit, the EPA ultimately delayed its decision in order to review the science. But in the meantime they'll have an army of powerful agricultural lobbyists leaning on them. Even supported by its scaffolding of government subsidies and mandates, the ethanol industry is collapsing. The recession shuttered several ethanol companies. Others were gobbled up by oil giants at bargain prices. Some estimates suggest ethanol producers are losing 10 cents on every gallon of gasoline. This is all despite the fact that 25% of corn grown in the United States goes towards ethanol production.

The agricultural industry needs E15. And if history is any indication, it'll probably get what it wants.


Greenies defeated by their own reverse turn

Their lack of any real principles other than mindless hostility to the world they live in shows up

Watching the colossal and implosive decline of the once mighty green movement to stop global warming has been an educational experience. It’s rare to see so many smart, idealistic and dedicated people look so clueless and fail so completely. From the anti-climax of the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held, the movement has gone from one catastrophic failure to the next.

A year ago giddy environmentalists were on top of the world. The greenest president in American history had the largest congressional majority of any president since Lyndon Johnson; the most powerful leaders in the world were elbowing each other for places on the agenda at the Copenhagen conference on climate.

It all came to naught. The continued stalemates and failures of the UN treaty process have fallen off the front pages; as the Kyoto Protocol sinks ineffectually into oblivion, no new global treaty will take its place. The most Democratic Congress in a generation will not pass significant climate legislation before the midterms pull Congress to the right, and there will be no US law on carbon caps or anything close in President Obama’s first term, and there is less public faith in or concern about climate change today than at any time in the last fifteen years.

Has any public pressure group ever spent so much direct mail and foundation money for such pathetic results?

The standard rap on the greens is that they failed because they were too environmentalist. Their pure and naive ideals were no match for the evil, ugly forces of real world politics. Beautiful losers, they dared to dream a dream too gossamer winged, too delicate for the harsh light of day. Bambi, meet Godzilla; the butterfly was broken on the wheel.

Even in defeat, the greens can’t get it right. The greens didn’t fail because they were too loyal to their ideals; they failed because lost touch with the core impetus and values of the environmental movement. Bambi wasn’t crushed by Godzilla; Bambi turned into Godzilla, and the same kind of public skepticism and populism that once fueled environmentalism have turned against it.

The greens have forgotten where they come from. Modern environmentalism was born in the reaction against Big Science, Big Government and Experts. The Army Corps of Engineers built dams that devastated wetlands and ruined ecosystems; environmentalists used to be people who fought the Corps because they understood the limits of science, engineering, and simple big interventions in complex ecosystems.

The case environmentalists used to make was that modern science was too crude and too incomplete to take into account the myriad features that could turn a giant hydroelectric dam from a blessing into a curse. Yes, the dam would generate power — for a while. But green critics would note that the dam had side effects: silt would back up in the reservoir, soil downstream would be impoverished, parasites and malaria bearing mosquitoes would flourish in the still waters and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the destruction of wetlands and river bottoms imposed enormous costs to wildlife diversity and the productivity of river systems. Salmon runs would disappear. Often, the development associated with hydroelectric dams led to deforestation, offsetting gains in flood control.

Environmentalists were skeptics of the One Big Fix. Science could never capture all the side effects and the unintended consequences. DDT looked like a magic bullet against malaria, but it threatened to wipe out important bird species. Books like Silent Spring, the environmental classic, attacked the engineers of big interventions as hopelessly out of touch crude thinkers, who tried to reduce complex social and biological issues and processes to simple science. Intellectually and culturally, environmentalists came out of the same movement as critics of crude urban development like Jane Jacob (The Death and Life of Great American Cities). They celebrated the diverse local, small-scale adaptations that reflected the knowledge of communities as opposed to the grandiose plans of the social engineers.

Essentially, the core environmentalist argument against big projects and big development is the same argument that libertarians use against economic regulations and state planning. The ‘economic ecology’ of a healthy free market system is so complex, libertarians argue, that bureaucratic interventions, however well intentioned and however thoroughly supported by peer reviewed science of various kinds, will produce unintended consequences — and in any case the interventions and regulations are too crude and too simple to provide an adequate substitute for the marvelously complex economic order that develops from free competition. Environmentalists turned this logic against Big Science projects like dams and more generally built a case that humanity should work to have a light footprint in the world. Natural systems are so complicated, so interlinked in non-obvious ways, that any human intervention in nature has unanticipated costs. The less we intervene, the better.

An increasingly skeptical public started to notice that ‘experts’ weren’t angels descending immaculately from heaven bearing infallible revelations from God. They were fallible human beings with mortgages to pay and funds to raise. They disagreed with one another and they colluded with their friends and supporters like everyone else. They often produced research that agreed with the views of those who funded their work (tobacco companies, builders of nuclear power plants, NGOs and foundations).

More, on issues the public follows closely, the scientific consensus keeps changing. Margarine was introduced as the healthy alternative to butter; now experts tell us that the transfats in many types of margarine are the worst things you can eat. Should you eat no fat or the right fat? All carbs, no carbs or good carbs? How much vitamin E should you take? How much sun should you get? How much fish oil should you swallow? How should you divide your time between aerobic and non-aerobic exercise? On these and many other subjects, expert opinion keeps changing. Perhaps the current consensus will last; quite possibly, it won’t — but the experts can’t tell you what will happen.

The rise of the environmental movement reflected the increasing independence of thought and judgment of a public that was becoming less and less impressed with credentials and degrees. The public wanted to take power back from experts and appointed government agencies and put up new obstacles in the way of technocratic engineers with big projects in mind.

But when it comes to global warming, the shoe is on the other foot. Now it is suddenly the environmentalists — who’ve often spent lifetimes raging against experts and scientists who debunk organic food and insist that GMOs and nuclear power plants are safe — who are the pious advocates of science and experts. Suddenly, it’s a sin to question the wisdom of the Scientific Consensus. Scientists are, after all, experts; their work is peer-reviewed and we uneducated rubes must sit back and shut up when the experts tell us what’s right.

More, environmentalists have found a big and simple fix for all that ails us: a global carbon cap. One big problem, one big fix. It is not just wrong to doubt that a fix is needed, it is wrong to doubt that the Chosen Fix will work. Never mind that the leading green political strategy (to stop global warming by a treaty that gains unanimous consent among 190 plus countries and is then ratified by 67 votes in a Senate that rejected Kyoto 95-0) is and always has been so cluelessly unrealistic as to be clinically insane. The experts decree; we rubes are not to think but to honor and obey.

The environmental movement has turned into the Army Corps of Engineers, even as public skepticism of experts has reached new heights. The financial experts and economists told us the new financial markets were perfectly safe. Then the Obama administration’s expert economists told us the stimulus would work and that unemployment wouldn’t get above 8%. They told him and he told us the recovery was underway. “Recovery summer,” anyone?


AAAH! That lovely global cooling

Coldest year on record for minimum temperatures in the capital of Western Australia

Perth is shivering through its coldest year for overnight temperatures, but at the same time bathing in the sunniest winter on record.

Meanwhile, farmers are battling the second driest year since records began, as the WA Bureau of Meteorology rewrites the history books for rain, sun and temperature extremes.

Perth's minimum temperature for winter this year is 1.9C colder than the average 8.2C, according to the bureau's climate information officer John Relf.

And the city has received just 402.6mm of rain compared to the January to August average of 648.3mm.

While daytime temperatures are on average at 18.8C, the number of sunlight hours are well above the 6.4 hour average with a 7.3 hour average recorded for August. ``We've literally had an extra hour of sunlight a day in August this year," Mr Relf said. ``Our weather has been dominated by high pressure and when you get high pressure for extended periods of time the lows just run underneath. ``We seem to be going on some sort of parallel with 2006 at the moment, which recorded the driest year on record and it's been going like that for a long time."

The dry conditions spell devastation for many wheat and cattle farmers across large parts of the state. WA Farmers Federation president Mike Norton said some farmers in the eastern Wheatbelt stand to lose entire crops this year because of drought. ``You don't have to go very far inland to be at half our normal rainfall," Mr Norton said. ``We desperately need a very, very wet September.

``When you start to talk about livestock, there is going to be some real problems across a very large area of the Wheatbelt. Pastures are doing worse than what the crops are."

Perth dams are also low. At 35.3 percent capacity, dams are down 52.38 gigalitres compared to this time last year - one gigalitre is the size of Subiaco oval filled to the brim.

Despite the dry spell, the Bureau of Meteorology says the outlook for spring holds some hope. The bureau is predicting a 65 per cent chance that the median rainfall will be exceeded from September to November in the South-West, while remaining average across the state in spring. ``The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is dominated by the recent warm conditions in the Indian Ocean as well as a cooling trend in the equatorial Pacific Ocean associated with a La Nina," it says.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Monday, August 30, 2010

Ice Sheet Loss Cut In Half by improved analysis

The article excerpted below is a bit on the technical side but has a couple of interesting features I would like to point out. It reports that there has been a loss of ice cover from Antarctica and Greenland overall, albeit at a lower level than is usually claimed. But both poles are VERY cold, way below the melting point of ice. So it is primarily variations in precipitation (snowfall) that explain variations in ice mass. Lower snowfalls will mean less ice. But lower precipitation is a sign of global COOLING -- as all water, including the oceans, evaporates off less as it gets cooler. So the small amount of ice loss over the period studied (From April 2002 to December 2008) actually indicates slight global cooling over that period -- which is in line with other data for that period

Note also that the effect was uneven: ice loss in coastal areas slightly outweighed ice gain in central areas. So nothing "global" there -- JR

Much concern has been raised by climate scientists regarding ice loss from the world's two remaining continental ice sheets. Rapid loss of ice-mass from the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica are cited as proof positive of global warming's onslaught. The latest measurements involve the use of satellite gravimetry, estimating the mass of terrain beneath by detecting slight changes in gravity as a satellite passes overhead. But gravity measurements of ice-mass loss are complicated by glacial isostatic adjustments-compensation for the rise or fall of the underlying crustal material. A new article in Nature Geoscience describes an innovative approach employed to derive ice-mass changes from GRACE data. The report suggests significantly smaller overall ice-mass losses than previous estimates.

The storage of water or ice on land-the presence of large bodies of water or glacial ice sheets-affect the Earth's gravitational field. This effect is detected by the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. Twin satellites were launched in March 2002, to make detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field. Since then, GRACE has been used to study tectonic features, estimate ground water volumes and calculate the amount of ice contained in the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. However, other factors can contribute to the GRACE measurements than just the volume of ice in an ice sheet. These factors include the response of Earth's crust (the lithosphere) to past changes in ice load.

As the weight of covering ice varies, the underlying surface rock can be pushed down or rise up, buoyed by the magma that the crust floats on. This would obviously impact efforts to measure the height of terrain, including glaciers. Compensating for the rise and fall of bedrock is termed glacial isostatic adjustment, and it can have a significant impact on estimated ice-mass losses. Changes in the spatial distribution of the atmospheric and oceanic masses can also enter into the picture. Correctly assessing these different factors is the key to accurately calculating ice-sheet mass balance. Xiaoping Wu and colleagues have proposed a new method for untangling these factors from GRACE measurements.

From April 2002 to December 2008, linear trends are derived from GRACE gravity data with empirically calibrated full covariance matrices, and from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's data-assimilating ocean bottom pressure (OBP) model. These are combined with three-dimensional surface velocities at 664 globally distributed sites. Although the durations of the surface geodetic time series are diverse, most of the data are collected by the global positioning system (GPS) technique during the 2000s and processed up to August 2007. Spherical harmonic coefficients of both PDMT and GIA signatures as well as other relevant parameters are then estimated from the data combination.

What is really interesting here is the resulting trend data for the change of bedrock height-the geoid height trend. The new method found that estimates used in the past were significantly in error. Antarctica was found to be rising, but not at as fast a rate as previously thought. Greenland, on the other hand, is actually sinking, particularly in the center of the ice sheet. Previous change estimates had Greenland rising everywhere.

In the figure a, shows rates estimated in the study, and b,those predicted by the ICE-5G/IJ05/VM2 model. While Wu et al. report that both Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice-mass, they are doing so at a much lower rate than previous estimates and that both are gaining ice in their interiors. "The mass loss in Greenland is concentrated along the coastal areas, and is particularly heavy in the west, and in the southeast with the large Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers," they state. "In contrast, the interior of Greenland shows significant positive mass balance."

So, when the more exact measurement separation methodology of Wu et al. is applied to the GRACE geoid data, ice sheet shrinkage, which has been systematically overestimated, is cut in half. "The differences between the work by Wu and colleagues and earlier studies may reflect errors in present deglaciation models with respect to the ice-load history and response of the Earth's mantle," conclude Bromwich and Nicolas. According to Wu et al. "significant revision" is required. The general result-the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets will be with us for a long time to come.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Is the Southern ocean warming or cooling?

Even Al Gore has got a bit perturbed by evidence of expanding sea ice in Antarctica so fell with gladness on a recent paper (by Liu and Curry) which claimed that the Southern ocean is in fact warming up. As others have noted, however, the paper concerned is a very rough job, and below are a few more comments on it.

The author below is more polite than I am so I will put it bluntly: What he found was a typical bit of Warmist fakery such as we have come to expect of Phil Jones & Co. He found that the authors used data up until 1999 only. Why? Because temperatures FELL after that. Excerpt only below

The Liu and Curry (2010) paper has been the subject of a number of posts at Watts Up With That over the past few days. This post should complement Willis Eschenbach’s post Dr. Curry Warms the Southern Ocean, by providing a more detailed glimpse at the availability of source data used by Hadley Centre and NCDC in their SST datasets and by illustrating SST anomalies for the periods used by Liu and Curry. I’ve also extended the data beyond the cutoff year used by Liu and Curry to show the significant drop in SST anomalies since 1999.

Preliminary Note: I understand that Liu and Curry illustrated the principal component from an analysis of the SST data south of 40S, but there are two primary objectives of this post as noted above: to show how sparse the source data is and to show that SST anomalies for the studied area have declined significantly since 1999.

Liu and Curry use two Sea Surface Temperature datasets, ERSST and HADISST. They clarify which of the NCDC ERSST datasets they used with their citation of Smith TM, Reynolds RW (2004) Improved Extended Reconstruction of SST (1854-1997). J. Clim. 17:2466-247. That’s the ERSST.v2 version. First question some readers might have: If ERSST.v2 was replaced by ERSST.v3b, why use the old version? Don’t know, so I’ll include both versions in the following graphs.

Liu and Curry examine the period of 1950 to 1999. Sea surface temperature data south of 40S is very sparse prior to the satellite era. The HADISST data began to include satellite-based SST readings in 1982. Considering the NCDC deleted satellite data from their ERSST.v3 data (making it ERSST.v3b) that dataset and their ERSST.v2 continue to rely on very sparse buoy- and ship-based observations. ICOADS is the ship- and buoy-based SST dataset that serves as the source for Hadley Centre and NCDC. Figure 1 shows typical monthly ICOADS SST observations for the Southern Hemisphere, south of 40S. The South Pole Stereographic maps are for Januarys in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000. Since I wanted to illustrate locations and not values, I set the contour levels so that they were out of the range of the data. I used Januarys because it is a Southern Hemisphere summer month and might get more ship traffic along shipping lanes.

As you can see, there is very little data as a starting point for Hadley Centre and NCDC, but they do manage to infill the SST data using statistical tools. Refer to Figure 2. It shows that the three SST datasets provided complete coverage in 1950 and 1999, which are the start and end years of the period examined by Liu and Curry. For more information on the ERSST and HADISST datasets refer to my post An Overview Of Sea Surface Temperature Datasets Used In Global Temperature Products.....

The title of Liu and Curry (2010) “Accelerated Warming of the Southern Ocean and Its Impacts on the Hydrological Cycle and Sea Ice” contradicts the SST anomalies of the latitudes used in the paper. The SST anomalies are not warming. They are cooling and have been for more than a decade.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Global cooling still hitting South America hard

Antarctic cold snap kills millions of aquatic animals in the Amazon

With high Andean peaks and a humid tropical forest, Bolivia is a country of ecological extremes. But during the Southern Hemisphere's recent winter, unusually low temperatures in part of the country's tropical region hit freshwater species hard, killing an estimated 6 million fish and thousands of alligators, turtles and river dolphins.

Scientists who have visited the affected rivers say the event is the biggest ecological disaster Bolivia has known, and, as an example of a sudden climatic change wreaking havoc on wildlife, it is unprecedented in recorded history.

"There's just a huge number of dead fish," says Michel Jégu, a researcher from the Institute for Developmental Research in Marseilles, France, who is currently working at the Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. "In the rivers near Santa Cruz there's about 1,000 dead fish for every 100 metres of river."

The extraordinary quantity of decomposing fish flesh has polluted the waters of the Grande, Pirai and Ichilo rivers to the extent that local authorities have had to provide alternative sources of drinking water for towns along the rivers' banks. Many fishermen have lost their main source of income, having been banned from removing any more fish from populations that will probably struggle to recover.

The blame lies, at least indirectly, with a mass of Antarctic air that settled over the Southern Cone of South America for most of July. The prolonged cold snap has also been linked to the deaths of at least 550 penguins along the coasts of Brazil and thousands of cattle in Paraguay and Brazil, as well as hundreds of people in the region. Water temperatures in Bolivian rivers that normally register about 15 ˚C during the day fell to as low as 4 ˚C.

Hugo Mamani, head of forecasting at Senamhi, Bolivia's national weather centre, confirms that the air temperature in the city of Santa Cruz fell to 4 ˚C this July, a low beaten only by a record of 2.5 ˚C in 1955.


Green Police Become a Reality in Cleveland

Remember Audi’s absurd “Green Police” Super Bowl commercial where green cops arrest citizens for using plastic bags, plastic water bottles and sort through the community’s trash cans to ensure they’re recycling? Well, the absurdity is about to hit the streets of Cleveland. Cleveland.com reports:
It would be a stretch to say that Big Brother will hang out in Clevelanders’ trash cans, but the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling—and fine them $100 if they don’t. The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.

The high-tech collection system is an expansion of a 15,000-resident pilot program that commenced in 2007. Proponents of the program argue that not only is the $2.5 million program good for the environment, but because the city will collect revenue from the fines and from recycled goods, the trash police will eventually raise revenue. The article mentions that the city pays $30 per ton to place garbage in a landfill but would receive $26 per ton for recycling goods. We know that the city will pass the costs onto the consumer, but the article makes no mention of whether residents will reap any savings benefits.

Much more problematic is the intrusion onto individual liberties. Like much of the “Green Police” commercial—and the environmentalist movement as a whole—the goal is to change human behavior. But a recent Rasmussen survey “shows that only 17% of adults believe most Americans would be willing to make major cutbacks in their lifestyle in order to help save the environment. Most (65%) say that’s not the case.”

Skeptics of catastrophic temperature increases compare belief in global warming to a religion, saying that alarmists base their views on faith much more than concrete science. This could have significant consequences if Congress enacts cap-and-trade legislation or other policies that aim to increase Americans’ energy bills. The goal, of course, is to force consumers to use less energy.

We should allow for choice and respect the choices of others. If someone chooses not to drink bottled water because they believe it is bad for the environment, so be it. (Interestingly, the environmentalist push that tap water is unsafe led to the rise of bottled water.) Those who choose to drink tap water should respect the preference of those who enjoy bottled. Conflicts will certainly arise among people with different preferences, but to advocate that one is morally right and one is morally wrong is objectionable.


The U.N. "Clean Development Mechanism" delivers the greatest green scam of all

Even the UN and the EU are wising up to the greenhouse gas scam, "the biggest environmental scandal in history", says Christopher Booker

It is now six months since I reported on what even environmentalists are calling "the biggest environmental scandal in history". Indeed this is a scam so glaringly bizarre that even the UN and the EU have belatedly announced that they are thinking of taking steps to stop it. The essence of the scam is that a handful of Chinese and Indian firms are deliberately producing large quantities of an incredibly powerful "greenhouse gas" which we in the West – including UK taxpayers – then pay them billions of dollars to destroy.

The key to this scam, designed to curb global warming, is a scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and administered by the UN. It enables firms and governments in the developed world to buy "credits" which allow them to continue emitting greenhouse gases. These are sold to them, through well-rewarded brokers, from firms in developing countries that can show they have nominally reduced their emissions.

Easily the largest and most lucrative component in the CDM market is a peculiar racket centred on the manufacture of CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, classified under Kyoto as greenhouse gases vastly more damaging than carbon dioxide. The way the racket works is that Chinese and Indian firms are permitted to carry on producing a refrigerant gas known as HCF-22 until 2030. But a by-product of this process is HCF-23, which is supposed to be 11,700 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. By destroying the HCF-23, the firms can claim Certified Emission Reduction credits worth billions of dollars when sold to the West (while much of the useful HCF-22 is sold onto the international black market).

Last year, destruction of CFCs accounted for more than half the CDM credits issued, in a market that will eventually, it is estimated, be worth $17 billion. Of the 1,390 CDM projects so far approved, less than 1 per cent accounts for 36 per cent of the total value.

Even greenies have become so outraged by this ridiculous racket that the Environmental Investigation Agency has described it as the "biggest environment scandal in history". Two weeks ago the UN announced that it is suspending payments to five Chinese firms pending an investigation, with a view to a major reform of the system. Last week the EU'c climate change supremo, Connie Hedegaard, said she would be asking her officials to prepare a proposal whereby these particular CFC payments might be halted after 2013.

The CDM system itself, however, will still be in place, and we will all contribute through its chief source of revenue, the EU's $100-billion-a-year Emissions Trade Scheme (which we pay for in various ways, not least through our electricity bills). We here in Britain also have the special privilege of knowing, as I reported in February, that we are now chipping in £60 million to buy additional CDM credits through our taxes – so that the politicians and civil servants in government offices can keep warm by continuing to pump out emissions much as before.


Australia now has a watermelon in its Federal lower house -- A Trotskyite, by the sound of it

GREENS MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt has defended comments he made on a Marxist student website 15 years ago, in which he denounced capitalism and labelled the Greens a "bourgeois" political party that could be used to push a socialist agenda.

The comments, made in a two-page memo written by Mr Bandt on March 4, 1995, while he was a student activist at Murdoch University, first surfaced on Victorian political blogger Andrew Landeryou's website VexNews.

As Mr Bandt and Greens leader Bob Brown continued discussions yesterday with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan about the formation of the next federal government, the memo raised questions about Mr Bandt's student politics and his views of the Labor Party, which he referred to in the 1995 memo as "almost as right-wing as the US Democrats".

In the 1995 memo, Mr Bandt said he was "towards an anti-capitalist, anti-social democratic, internationalist movement".

Identifying himself as a member of the Left Alliance, Mr Bandt said, "the parliamentary road to socialism is non-existent". He called the Greens a "bourgeois" party but said supporting them might be the most effective strategy.

"Communists can't fetishise alternative political parties, but should always make some kind of materially based assessment about the effectiveness of any given strategy come election time," he wrote in the 1995 memo.

The Greens leader said there was absolutely no need for Mr Bandt to publicly distance himself from his remarks in 1995.

Mr Bandt, a former industrial relations lawyer with Slater and Gordon, made history last weekend by becoming the first Greens candidate ever to be elected to the House of Representatives in a general election.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Week That Was (To August 28, 2010)

Excerpts from Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

What a difference 5 days can make:

For those concerned about the environmental impact of oil exploration and development, perhaps the biggest news are studies of the impact of the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico. On August 19, the New York Times reported that a new study by the venerable Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, being published in Science, indicates that the earlier NOAA studies of the disappearance of the oil plume were far too optimistic. According to the Woods Hole study, the oil plume was not breaking down quickly and effects will remain indefinitely. This confirmed suspicions by other groups.

On August 24, the New York Times reported a new study by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois, stated that the oil plume is being depleted quickly by a previously undiscovered microorganism that appears closely related to Oceanospirillales.

Readers may recall that TWTW previously reported that the Gulf of Mexico is home to a great number of microorganisms that thrive in cold water (about 5°C) at oil seeps and that these microbes depend upon chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. The newly discovered microbe appears to be one such creature. Very importantly, it appears that the microbe is anaerobic - it does not consume oxygen. The oxygen levels are remaining high (59% inside the plume as compared with 67% outside the plume). Thus the feared dead zone from oxygen depletion is not occurring.

It should be noted that the Energy Biosciences Institute was created by a $500 Million, 10 year grant from BP for which Stephen Chu, now Secretary of Energy, was a grateful recipient. If the research holds, then this is another example that in science, it is the quality of the work, not the funding, that is important.


In what appears to be alarming news to the environmental industry, acting US Solicitor General Neal Katyal, representing the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal agency, filed a brief with the US Supreme Court requesting it throws out a decision by the 2nd Court of Appeals permitting lawsuits brought by the State of Connecticut and other northeast states against utilities using coal to generate electricity. The entire situation is logically bizarre.

The Attorney General for Connecticut, backed by environmental groups and other northeastern states, is claiming that public utilities using coal to generate electricity are public nuisances. According to the article in the New York Times, the environmental industry thought it had a deal with the Obama administration to allow the lawsuits to proceed as a means of forcing Congress to accept some form of cap-and-trade. Now the environmental industry feels betrayed. Has a bit of logic and reason hit the administration?


The hot summer weather over Russia, and elsewhere, has broken. But the chorus of alarmists, particularly politicians, blaming the unusual weather events on global warming continues. Of course, some of the politicians, including Rep. Markey and Hillary Clinton, claim these events demonstrate "climate change" which government regulations such as cap-and-tax will be able to control.

By contrast, meteorologists such as Joe D'Aleo and others write that the events, though not normal (average), are not unique or particularly exceptional - once again confirming the adage that to those ignorant of history, every event is unprecedented.


The National Science Foundation announced "powerful new computer software" by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) called the Community Earth System Model (CESM) that others can use to make regional climate projections. If the models were well tested and validated to discern the difference between natural cause of climate change and human induced changes, then it would be a valuable addition to our understanding of climate change. However, based upon the announcements it appears that the software will do little more than intensify the errors of the past. Expanding the detail of models that have not been validated does not expand knowledge.


SEPP Corrections and Amplifications: The August 14 TWTW discussed the largest iceberg to break off a Greenland glacier since 1962. Alarmists immediately took this to be a sign of global warming that would cause sea levels to rise by up to 23 feet. Alert readers immediately picked up that TWTW committed a typo and misstated the metric equivalent to 23 feet is about 3 meters, rather then the correct 7 meters. Admitted - 23 feet is approximately equal to 7 meters!

Other readers pointed out that none of the articles they read on the event mentioned that the larger break in 1962 came more than two decades into a global cooling period that, later, some alarmists claimed was the start of a new ice age. There you have it - global warming causes huge icebergs from Greenland and global cooling causes huge icebergs from Greenland.


With only 1.1% of US Electrical Power Generation coming from petroleum, there is little logical basis those who claim the nation needs to subsidize electricity from wind and solar to reduce its dependence on "foreign oil." This revelation leads to:

The Book of the Week: Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce.

An accomplished journalist, Bryce addresses the important issues of power in a style that should be readily understood by journalists, politicians, policy makers, and the reading public. According to Bryce, the grand schemes created by politicians, and others, to replace coal fired electrical generating plants with wind and solar demonstrate an educational weakness among the proponents - innumeracy, numerical illiteracy. Simply put, they do not grasp the scope of what they are demanding and the inability of solar and wind to meet the demand. Unless there are drastic breakthroughs in affordable, commercial scale storage of electricity, alternative energy mandates from governments promise only a bleak economic future for younger generations.

Brice identifies what he terms the "Four Imperatives" to evaluate energy sources: power density, energy density, cost, and scale. Power density is the amount of power that can be harnessed per unit; and energy density is amount of energy that can be contained in a given volume or mass. Bryce states the key concept is power density which can be described as energy flow, the ability to do work. Energy in itself is of little value unless it can be turned into power. Herein is the crucial weakness of solar and wind. These sources are not dispatchable, that is, one cannot state, with high confidence, that the necessary power will be available in, say, New York City at 5 pm on August 26, 2010 - yet, without it the city stops.

Using easily understood graphs and charts, Bryce establishes that replacing coal, and oil will be a long, difficult process. The proposed sources of wind and solar simply fail due to the enormous cost and the scale of the projects to generate the necessary power, which remains unreliable. Few appreciate the enormous quantities of land that wind turbines require and that every where they have been tried, they increase the cost of electricity rather than reduce it. Unfortunately, many journalists reporting on solar and wind confuse nameplate capacity (ideal potential) with power density - what is actually delivered.

Bryce demonstrates that the US is an energy giant with enormous resources of coal and natural gas. Private ventures in hydraulic fracturing of shale rock containing natural gas and horizontal drilling have made the US an energy giant in natural gas. [Today, in the eastern US where coal is more expensive than in the west, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas is roughly comparable to that of coal.] Yet, the advances in natural gas production are virtually ignored by alternative energy proponents in Washington, who seem to be stuck in the mania of the 1970's when the Federal Government banned the use of natural gas for generation of electricity.

In the view of Bryce, absent of government edicts, the 21st Century will see a slow transition from coal to natural gas and finally to nuclear as the basic suppliers of power for the nation. To support his hypothesis, Bryce discusses the work of Nakicenovic, Grubler, Ausubel, Marchetti, and others who have identified a mega trend of several centuries of decarbonization of fuels shifting from fuels with high ratios of carbon to hydrogen (wood) to those with low ratios carbon to hydrogen (natural gas) as consumers demand denser and cleaner fuels.


Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception?

Authors veteran meteorologists Joe D’Aleo and Anthony Watts analyzed temperature records from all around the world for a major SPPI paper, Surface Temperature Records – Policy-driven Deception?

The startling conclusion that we cannot tell whether there was any significant “global warming” at all in the 20th century is based on numerous astonishing examples of manipulation and exaggeration of the true level and rate of “global warming”.

That is to say, leading meteorological institutions in the USA and around the world have so systematically tampered with instrumental temperature data that it cannot be safely said that there has been any significant net “global warming” in the 20th century

Executive summary

1. Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century.

2. All terrestrial surface-temperature databases exhibit signs of urban heat pollution and post measurement adjustments that render them unreliable for determining accurate long-term temperature trends.

3. All of the problems have skewed the data so as greatly to overstate observed warming both regionally and globally.

4. Global terrestrial temperature data are compromised because more than three-quarters of the 6,000 stations that once reported are no longer being used in data trend analyses.

5. There has been a significant increase in the number of missing months with 40% of the GHCN stations reporting at least one missing month. This requires infilling which adds to the uncertainty and possible error.

6. Contamination by urbanization, changes in land use, improper siting, and inadequately-calibrated instrument upgrades further increases uncertainty.

7. Numerous peer-reviewed papers in recent years have shown the overstatement of observed longer term warming is 30-50% from heat-island and land use change contamination.

8. An increase in the percentage of compromised stations with interpolation to vacant data grids may make the warming bias greater than 50% of 20th-century warming.

9. In the oceans, data are missing and uncertainties are substantial. Changes in data sets introduced a step warming in 2009.

More HERE (See the original PDF for links, graphics etc.)

Southwest Drought?

As we have covered in previous essays, global warming alarmists insist that the southwestern United States is getting drier and will get substantially drier in the future due to the buildup of greenhouse gases. They bolster their claims by results from a relatively large number of articles in the professional scientific literature and countless comments in various UN IPCC reports. Throw in pictures of declining water levels at Lake Mead, some fountains in Las Vegas and golf courses in Phoenix, and just like magic, a scary scenario is produced.

As with virtually every other element of the climate change issue, the literature produces some surprises, and the drought in the Southwest claim runs up against some interesting realities. The latest article on this subject appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research and once again, the results are at odds with the popular perception of increased drought in the Southwest.

This recent work was produced by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Delaware and had to survive the peer-review process for this respected journal of the American Geophysical Union. The final two sentences reveal where this is going as McCabe et al. conclude “El Niño events have been more frequent, and this has resulted in increased precipitation in the southwestern United States, particularly during the cool season. The increased precipitation is associated with a decrease in the number of dry days and a decrease in dry event length.”

What? More rain and fewer dry periods? We knew right away this would be featured in World Climate Report.

The authors focused on the Southwest “because (1) it has the highest consumptive use of water as a percentage of renewable supply in the United States and (2) dry event conditions in this region during the early 21st century have increased awareness of its vulnerability to water shortages.” There is no doubt that a lot of people have chosen to live in the Southwest and there is no doubt the desert climate of the region is prone to drought. In many respects, and depending on how one defines drought, the area is permanently in a state of drought (Phoenix has 7” of rain a year, Las Vegas averages about half of that amount).

McCabe et al. gathered data from 22 Weather Bureau-Army-Navy (WBAN) stations in the region “for water years (October through September) 1951 through 2006”. They explain that “During this period, 22 sites have nearly complete (99% complete) daily precipitation data. WBAN stations were selected because of the completeness of data record and the relative consistency of observational procedures.” They conducted their analysis for water years (October through September), cool seasons (October through March), and warm seasons (April through September).

They report that “trends in the fraction of dry days for water years, cool seasons, and warm seasons indicate that most trends are negative [i.e. towards more wet days, -eds.]. For water years, 18 sites exhibit negative trends in the fraction of dry days, and eight of these trends are statistically significant at a 95% confidence level. In contrast, only four sites indicate positive trends in the fraction of dry days for water years, and none of these trends is statistically significant at p = 0.05. For the cool season, 19 sites exhibit negative trends (12 are statistically significant at p = 0.05), and only 3 sites indicate positive trends (none are statistically significant).”

In this desert environment, cool season rain is far more important than rain in the summer. Rain falling in the hot summer season quickly evaporates and plays a relatively small role in water storage in the region. Nonetheless, the authors note that “For the warm season, 14 sites exhibit negative trends (seven are statistically significant), and 8 sites exhibit positive trends (six are statistically significant).” ...

Furthermore, they conclude “Since the mid-1970s, El Niño events have been more frequent, and this has resulted in increased precipitation in the southwestern United States, particularly during the cool season. The increased precipitation is associated with a decrease in the number of dry days and a decrease in dry event length.”

As with so many other articles we feature, had this group found general trends toward drier conditions, you would have heard about it already. They clearly did not, and their results are counter to the claims that the region should be trending to increased drought.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

My Holiday is Being Ruined by Global Cooling. Try Telling That to the 'Scientists'

From James Delingpole in Britain

I’m writing this in Salcombe, Devon on a rainy, miserable summer’s day which, I fear, may be all too symptomatic of the climatic rubbish we can all expect for the next 30 years as – thanks to changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation combined with a solar minimum – we enter a period of global cooling. Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?

Well, among those who seems to be hoping just that is an amiable fellow called Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel prize winning geneticist and president-to-be of the Royal Society, who came round to my house last week to film part of a BBC Horizon documentary on why it is that people are losing their faith in scientists.

I told him people aren’t losing their faith in “scientists”. Just the “scientists” who are behind the junk science being advanced in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s four increasingly tendentious and misleading assessment reports.

Over the next three hours, Sir Paul and I had a long, friendly, on-camera argument in which he tried to make a distinction between “skepticism” [good] and “denialism” [bad] – an entirely specious distinction, in my book – while I tried to focus on the details of the Climategate emails because it’s only on details that an arts graduate journalist is ever going to win a debate like this with a (feisty, bright, delightful but not a little combative) Nobel genetics laureate.

A trick I noticed Sir Paul trying to perform throughout our debate was to move away from specifics to the general. So, for example, he would keenly assert that “the majority” of the world’s scientists agreed with a thing called a “consensus” on man-made global warming, and whenever I got down to grimy and tedious detail suggestive of the contrary – eg Ben Santer’s outrageous rewriting of the Summary for Policy Makers in the Second Assessment Report, which seriously exaggerated the unanimity of scientific opinion on AGW – he’d either politely brush it off as if it were far too involved to be of much interest or he’d airily cite the three whitewash enquiries into Climategate as “proof” that the scientists had done nothing wrong.

Perhaps he was just playing devil’s advocate. The impression I got that Sir Paul is a thoroughly decent, very clever man who wants to be as open-minded as possible on the whole AGW debate. But the impression I also got is that, as you would entirely expect of a future president of the Royal Society (which for years has been one of the great cheerleaders for AGW theory, even to the point of writing an official letter to Exxon demanding that it cease funding “deniers”) is that Sir Paul’s view of what is reasonable and balanced has been heavily colored by that of the scientific Establishment. And, unfortunately, the scientific Establishment’s views on AGW are about as neutral and unbiased and reliable as, say, the BBC’s are about Israel. Or the European Union. Or, indeed, “Man Made Global Warming.”


Blowhard film director hearts ecoterrorism

James Cameron, king of the box office once more, is speaking out against critics of his film “Avatar.” It’s clear the director really should stay quiet.

The man behind “Aliens,” “Titanic” and now the blue-skinned creatures inhabiting his latest hit, tells Entertainment Weekly that he digs ecoterrorism. And no, that’s not taken out of context.

EW asked Cameron to respond to some of the criticisms aimed at “Avatar.” Check out how he responded to this one:

EW: “Avatar” is the perfect eco-terrorism recruiting tool.”

JC: Good, good. I like that one. I consider that a positive review. I believe in ecoterrorism.”

Is he joking (there’s no – laughs – insert included in the text)?

Would he like it if someone bombed a McDonald’s selling some of his “Avatar” goodies? Surely they’re clogging the planet’s ecosystem, right?Heck, some have accused the burger chain of treating its food source inhumanely, too.

Is a blue-skinned Na’vi toy biodegradable?

What if someone dies during an ecoterrorist attack? Or if people lose their jobs because of it?

Not all acts of eco-terrorism are created equal. Some are enhanced forms of civil disobedience. But surely someone as smart as Cameron knows not to endorse such tactics without a significant disclaimer.

So where is the follow up question? And has success turned Cameron’s mind to mush?


Australia: Vast area to be locked away from development in Queensland

The pretext is to protect farmland but there is no threat to farmland. It is just the usual Greenie hatred of development

MORE than 70,000sq km of Queensland could be subject to new legislation that would lock away areas from housing, mining and even forestry, according to business. Land from the NSW border to Cairns and west to central Queensland will be investigated under a plan aimed at identifying and protecting important cropping areas.

One industry source said the area under review was about as big as Ireland and "enough land to have its own flag and compete in the Olympics".

The State Government's draft policy includes restricting the controversial underground coal gasification on strategic cropping land, adding another hurdle for trials under way in Kingaroy and other food-producing parts of the state.

It would mean a paddock-by-paddock assessment that will delay resource development, cost millions and cause companies to question whether it is worthwhile, according to the Queensland Resources Council.

And the resources minister will be given "arbitrary" powers to grant approval to developments, even on important cropping land, raising concerns about the impact of vested interests.

Urban Development Institute Australia chief executive Brian Stewart said the policy could add to the cost of housing. "Uncertainty adds risk and risk adds to the cost," Mr Stewart said.

QRC chief executive Michael Roche said mining projects will need to be assessed to see whether they sit on the best of the best cropping land or not. "The maps put a question mark over projects, many of which have already spent tens of millions of dollars," he said.

A company at the centre of the issue, Ambre Energy, yesterday rejected suggestions its $3.5 billion coal-to-liquids project at Felton was not put in doubt by the new policy, but said an assessment would have to be made.

The Friends of Felton farming group said the policy was a step in the right direction. FOF president Rob McCreath said he hoped the policy meant the end to Ambre's scheme. "We can't see any way the development could possibly be allowed in the Felton Valley," he said.

He said the most crucial issue from the policy paper was that coal-seam gas mining would still be allowed on good cropping land and could potentially affect it by depleting water.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Illogical causal attribution

An email from a reader. He shows what happens when you are consistent and use ratio scales (i.e. scales with a meaningful rather than an arbitrary zero) to evaluate both temperature and CO2 levels

Roosters crowing causes the Sun to come up.

'Tis claimed that there being more CO2 in the atmosphere has 'caused' global warming.

'Cause and Effect' presumes some sort of direct association.

Since about 1870 CO2 has increased from 290ppm to about 390ppm, that is a 33% increase.

Since 1870 the world's average temperature(estimated) has increased from about 13 C to 14 C.

13 C = 286 K
14 C = 287 K.

1K is an increase of about 1/2 of 1%.

A 33% increase in CO2 causing a 1/2 of 1% increase in temperature seems a RATHER WEAK association to use to claim 'causality'!!

( Using degrees Kelvin gives one a total increase, using Celsius or Fahrenheit only gives the increase in above 0 degrees.)

Prophecies of environmental doom are perennial -- and perennially wrong

Optimism is out of favor. But then as Matt Ridley points out in The Rational Optimist, optimism has never been IN favor. Even in the fastest-growing booms in human history, "experts" were always sure that doom was imminent. We were going to run out of wood, then of coal, then of whale oil, then of petroleum, then of petroleum again, then of petroleum again. (We were never going to run out of uranium or thorium, but that was fixed by running out of the permits to build nuclear reactors.)

In the 1960s, the world was going to be destroyed by fossil fuels, by running out of fossil fuels, by acid rain, by overpopulation, by pesticides, by famine, and by Global Cooling. But what actually happened was that fuel production went up, population growth rates fell in every nation (except Kazakhstan, thanks a lot you idiot Borat), pesticide use dropped off with the invention of BT crops, food production went up until recently (we still produce more crops every year, but they are drained off to make ethanol and not to feed people), acid rain was overblown, and you know what happened to Global Cooling (it’s still a huge threat as far as anyone knows, one good asteroid or volcano and it’s Fimbulwinter for sure!

Some of the scares:


The example of overpopulation is fascinating. Every culture on the planet has cut its birth rate as soon as infant mortality went down and wealth went up. The extra population that was generated in the meantime has allowed an increase in economic specialization and an increase in per capita wage rates (except in the US and a few other banana republics, because our government burden has increased while the Indians, Chinese and Russians reduced theirs).

So the expert predictions of the 1960s were precisely wrong. More population caused more wealth, and more wealth reduced population growth rates. Even reducing infant mortality reduced population growth rates. So the experts changed their views, right? Well, they did change a little… they quit putting dates on their predictions of doom.

Running Out Of Resources

We have run out of many resources. Mammoths, passenger pigeons, bison, Lebanon cedars, guano, and many other "renewable" resources proved to be not so renewable after all. However, we have never run out of any non-renewable resource; we still have iron, coal, oil, gas, copper, silicon, uranium, etc.

Again, this contradicts expert predictions in the 1970s. The Limits To Growth claimed that we were running out of every "non-renewable," but instead we ran out of nothing. How could this happen?

Perhaps whether something is "renewable" or not, depends more on whether it is privately owned and produced than how much the starting quantity is. There were lots of passenger pigeons in 1800 and no uranium at all… Ridley doesn’t even get into the future prospects of He-3 energy and asteroid mining, but he gets the principle across: it’s all about markets and "the catallaxy" as he calls the productive sector of society.


Of course upper-crust "progressives" (like the Roosevelts, e.g.) are never racists, but it’s obvious to them that those bloody fuzzy-wuzzies will never get anywhere, eh what? Except that it turns out that Botswana is the world’s fastest-growing economy for the last thirty years (oddly enough, they have a strong tradition of individual property rights), and even in the foreign-aid hellholes elsewhere in Africa, capitalism and technology are spreading. Poor farmers are bootlegging true-breeding BT crops and freeing themselves from both bugs and pesticides.

Fishermen use cellphones to find market for their fish, entrepreneurs start informal businesses in spite of impossible regulation and permit systems. African incomes are going up. And with any luck, the collapse of the US economy will free them from the dead hand of aid. As Ridley points out with great insight, it is foreign aid that has strangled African economies.

Global Warming

If the planet actually warms, it will be great. First of all, it means we beat the Ice Ages. Second, it will mean that we kept burning fossil fuel for another century… which means the world will be unimaginably rich and technologically advanced. And third, a warmer world with more CO2 will be more agriculturally productive even in the poorer areas.

That said, Ridley isn’t really over-optimistic about Global Warming…as he points out, the Earth hasn’t actually been warming since 2000 or so.

Sustainability, aka The Dark Ages

The one threat that tempers Ridley’s optimism is "Green" anti-environmentalism. As he points out, the electricity production of the US can be produced by either:

Solar panels the size of Spain, plus a huge storage system, or

Wind farms the size of Kazakhstan, plus a huge storage system, or

Wood-chip burners fueled by forests the size of India and Pakistan, or

Dams with reservoirs 33% bigger than all the continents put together, or

… a few nuclear, gas, and coal power stations that leave the majority of the forest and plain available for wildlife and agriculture. If we phase out the coal burners and replace them with new nuclear plants, even the land that is now strip mined for coal can return to forest.

As he says, "sustainability" is unsustainable, but free markets are not.


Ice Core evidence — where is carbon’s “major effect”?

The ice cores are often lauded as evidence of the effects of carbon dioxide. Frank Lansner asks a pointed question and goes hunting to find any effects that can be attributed to carbon.

Where is the data that actually shows a strong and important warming effect of CO2? If CO2 has this strong warming effect, would not nature reflect this in data?

He has collected together the data from the last four warm spells (the nice interglacials between all the long ice ages) into one average “peak”. The common pattern of the rise and fall has already been recorded in many scientific papers. Orbital changes trigger the temperatures to rise first and about 800 years later (thanks to the oceans releasing CO2), carbon dioxide levels begin to climb. At the end of a patch of several thousand warm years, temperatures begin to fall, and thousands of years later the carbon dioxide levels slowly decline.

No one is really contesting this order of things any more. What is contested is that those who feel carbon is a major driver estimate that the carbon dioxide unleashed by the warming then causes major amplification or “feedback”, making things lots warmer than they would have been if there was no change in carbon. Since most skeptics (but not all) agree that there is probably some warming due to extra CO2, the real question is “how much”.

Lansner points out that counter to the amplification theory, temperatures return most of the way back to their starting level (ice age temperatures) even while CO2 levels are elevated. If the CO2 can’t prevent the temperatures falling, it’s effect is anything but major.

Estimates of climate sensitivity and support for the “feedbacks” comes from models which depend on water vapor increasing high over the tropics. The radiosondes show that the models are wrong.

Frank graphs the change in temperatures and CO2, and finds a slight positive trend which is predictable (we know oceans release CO2 as they warm, so there would be a correlation). But then he plots the changes in CO2 against changes in the rate of temperature change, and finds no correlation at all (if CO2 was a major forcing, it would force or accelerate temperature change, which would show as the rate of temperature change). The data is limited to 1500 year blocks, so the time-frame is less than ideal, but the best available in the Petit data.


You can’t buy the truth, but you can buy a committee interpretation of it

One year ago a group of eminent scientists wrote a letter to congress provocatively titled “You are being deceived.”

Now, in a similar vein, but with all the gory details, John McLean has put together a 66 page compilation of the modus operandi and history of said deception. It’s a story of how small committees of activists cite their own work, ignore contradictory information and dissenting reviewers, use the peer review system to lock out opponents, and blithely acknowledge crippling uncertainties (but only in tracts of text that few will read, and never in summation when it matters).

When your favourite prancing-horse-committee — the IPCC — is failing to impress the crowds, it’s time to distract them with dressage from another source. In this case, the IPCC is being reviewed by the brand new InterAcademy Council (IAC). Expect their somber pronouncement to discover some minor flaws of process, posit a few proceedural improvements, and then declare that above all, the science is sound, rigorous, and that carbon dioxide will surely kill millions if we don’t allow the guys at Goldman Sachs to save us all with complex derivative triple A packages of CDM’s. Amen.

There’s a cyclical nature to the lifecycle of committees. Long ago The International Science Union (ICSU) was pushing the greenhouse effect scare, they ran the conferences and subcommittees and programs that helped create the IPCC.
The hand of the ICSU can be seen in the entire lead-up to the establishment of the IPCC. It arranged most of the conferences and with its funding partners – usually the WMO and/or UNEP – it managed numerous meteorological or climatological research projects, many of which had Bert Bolin in a lead role.

The IAC and ICSU have a very similar role. Both seek to fit the square peg of science into the round hole of politics, to take a field where truth is not determined by consensus and twist it to fit a field where consensus is everything. Both have grandiose statements of intent – the IAC’s is “Mobilizing the world’s best science to advise decision-makers on issues of global concern” – and both work very closely with UN bodies such as the UNEP, a co-sponsor of the IPCC. … in fact the IAC seems almost a twin of the ICSU.

The AIC has 18 board members – three of which head national science bodies – all of which are members of the ICSU. One of the three is Kurt Lambeck, who recently declared his not-so-impartial interest in the matter by launching a document I wrote about a few days ago…where he announced that humans are affecting the climate, that the public were getting confused: that clouds could provide negative feedback, but somehow (defying all logic and reason) it wouldn’t change the outcome if they did. Can anyone imaging Lambeck digging hard for faults with the IPCC?

McLean covers the history of the development of the committees, their connections, and their aims.

I haven’t got time to do it justice, but suffice it to say, science needs competition: different researchers, different theories, and different institutions — all trying to one-up each other. When John McLean writes about the lack of transparency in the ICSU or the IPCC, and the overlapping names and aims, I see the dark shadow of monopoly science smothering the competition.
The ICSU (p 16 – 18)

In almost every country the national scientific authority (“scientific academy, research council, scientific institution or association of such institutions”) is a member of the ICSU and so too are many key international organizations for specific scientific fields. According to ICSU statute 8 of membership rules21 these members are required to “support the objectives of ICSU”, which gives the ICSU extraordinary authority across all scientific fields. Members of the ICSU include the Royal Society in the UK and the National Academy in the USA and that seriously undermines the standing of the statements of support for the IPCC that both bodies have released since IPCC 4AR in 2007.
There are many disquieting aspects to the ICSU:

(a) The ICSU’s 8-member executive board ultimately decides that a project will be undertaken. This means that it evaluates for each project the benefit to society, but the methods that it uses remain a mystery.

(b) It relies on “selling” an idea to “client organizations” and having them provide the research funding. If the project is of no interest to these clients then no funding might be forthcoming, and when governments and intergovernmental work is involved we can assume a political dimension to that interest.

(c) It seems likely that scientists can lobby the executive board into approving certain programs that are likely to find a research partner.

(d) The ICSU has an interest in ensuring that members of its member organizations are employed (i.e. funded).

(e) It produces no scientific papers that might be exposed to peer-review but provides policy advice in monograph (i.e. book) form. The output of research and the resultant policy advice receives no independent scrutiny, especially regards accuracy and the selective use of supporting material, and the ICSU is therefore in a position of being able to manipulate international and governmental policy. (Of course peer-review might be a waste of time if those reviewers were members of ICSU member organizations.)

(f) The ISCU is not transparent in its decision-making or its actions. It discloses little enough information about its in-house work on current projects and only reports generated by past projects. No listing of the membership past executive boards is available, nor is information about the development of past projects, which means that no information is available to the public about the formulation of ICSU projects, decisions made in relation to those projects, the manner in which they were conducted and the basis for any conclusions. In short it is impossible to identify the individuals responsible for the decisions to support each ICSU program and the integrity with which those projects were carried out.



The death toll from recent “extreme weather events” has been sharply declining since the 1920s, as my valued colleague Indur Goklany has valorously pointed out. Air conditioning, flood control, earthquake proofing and better weather forecasting have all helped. Despite vast media coverage, extreme weather now causes only a half-percent of global deaths. A large part of the gains came through crop production increases using fossil-fueled industrial fertilizers and irrigation pumps. This meant the world had fossil-fueled food to share with countries suddenly caught by devastating (but short- term) drought or flood.

But Indur neglected one aspect of extreme weather events—the “little ice ages.” They are the flip side of the 1500-year warming cycle. The last one began in 1300 AD and ended in 1850, recent enough that many of our great-grandparents had to cope. We don’t know when the next one will come, perhaps not for another 300 years—but when it does, “Look out!”

As an example, civilizations collapsed around the world, simultaneously, 4200 years ago—in southern Green, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and China. The nomads on the Asian steppes gave up their seasonal farming, put their huts on wheels, and simply followed their herds seeking ever-scarcer grass. This massive drought—driven by a “little ice age”— lasted 300 years!

Egypt had more food security through its early history than anyplace else, but it collapsed in famine and political chaos three times between 4200 and 1000 BC—all of them during “little ice ages.” The Nile floods were also far below normal during the cold Dark Ages (450-950 AD) and during our recent Little Ice Age.

How many people would starve if agriculture failed again, suddenly and simultaneously in Greece, Palestine, Egypt, India, and China—for 300 years? What future Huns would come knocking on the city gates? Would plague-infected rats again move in?

The “little ice age” climates are inherently less stable and more violent than the warming intervals. The Netherlands was hit by massive sea floods three times in 50 years as the Little Ice Age began. Each of these floods drowned more than 100,000 people. Will the Dutch levees hold in the next “little ice age”? What about New Orleans in a far less stable climate?

As we today enjoy the stable weather of a sunlit interglacial global warming, we had best not forget the massive disasters during the cold phases of the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle. In the last 160 years, we have not only become, used to the piddling “disasters” of a global warming phase, but smug that we have been able to rescue small countries with our technology. Fossil fuels have competently carried food aid to famine victims during small, short famines. But, in a future Little Ice Age, the summers will cloudy, cold, interrupted by early frosts and hailstorms—for several hundred years.

We invented high-yield farming at the end of the Little Ice Age, to reduce the death toll from the persistent crop failures. But the world’s population since 1850 has risen from perhaps 1 billion to 6.6 billion, and may rise by 2 billion more before it peaks about 2050. Where would we move the at-risk populations?

Global vegetation has sharply increased with today’s additional sunshine and favorable rain patterns—plus the added plant fertilization due to more CO2 in the atmosphere. What if the climate turns suddenly cold and unstable and the oceans suck more of the CO2 out of the atmosphere?

We should take full advantage of the favorable climate we have been granted to increase research on high-yield agriculture, biotechnology, water conservation and other advances now only dreamt of. We must make true improvements in energy technology (not erratic windmills and solar panels that will be even less effective in a cloudy little ice age than today).The greatest danger to the future population is to be unaware that the good period will not last.

For a million years, humans have been using the warming periods to advance civilization. We are comfortable, well fed, and not competing for caves because those who came before us advanced human society each time the climate provided a few hundred years of safety. Should we do any less for those who will come after us?


Britain's "Renewables Obligation"

On every gas and electricity bill that UK households receive, there is a hidden tax. A tax of more than 8%. It's called the Renewables Obligation. Energy companies are obligated – that is, they are forced by the government under pain of fines and imprisonment – to spend a chunk of their revenues developing and installing non-fossil energy production systems. That means they are forced to pay for things like wind factories, photo-electric technology and wave power, whether or not they think these generation methods have the slightest value, either to themselves or the nation.

Like all political efforts to make companies pay for things, the government's plan does not work. The energy companies do not pay for these generation technologies. The cost does not come out of their profits, or their shareholders' dividends. It comes from their customers, naturally. All of us who use energy in the home – and there may be one or two completely self-sufficient households in the UK, but the other 28 million or so do have to buy in gas or electricity – end up paying. We pay this premium on our bills so that our energy companies can subsidise wind farmers.

Or maybe we should call them subsidy farmers, because the fact is that these alternative energy sources are far from covering their own costs. None of those noisy, unsightly turbines that are marching across the country's most beautiful hill country (since that is where the wind is) would exist at all if it were not for the subsidy. Except perhaps the one on David Cameron's house.

Just think about it. In ordinary garden soil, there are trace elements that are actually quite valuable. You might even have a gram or two of gold lurking under your lawn. What good fortune: you could be sitting on a gold mine. Except that these things are not valuable at all, because the cost of extracting them would be enormous in relation to the tiny quantities that you could isolate. You could get the excavators in, and boil up all the soil in your garden to find them, sure enough. But it wouldn't be worth the effort. You could spend £250,000 on digging the holes and refining your soil, and maybe end up with just a few grams of precious metals worth maybe £100. It's a no-brainer, isn't it?

So why do we think it is any better to spend more on non-fossil generation than the value it brings to our energy network? Well, there may be a strategic benefit from having diversity, so we are not dependent on Russian oil and gas, for example. That's a plausible argument, though it still may not justify paying over the odds for that diversity. Then there's the argument that we want to develop new 'green' energy technology and be first in the field. No, we don't. We're better to buy technology from the world's best producers. We don't make phones for ourselves in the garage, we buy them from Apple. And in any event, the first people into any market aren't usually the people who make money from it. Usually it is the second entrants, who see the idea but improve the way it is designed and marketed. We'd be better and cheaper letting other countries develop green technologies, then capitalise on their efforts.

And what is true of energy is true of all the other things that governments subsidise. If it was your money, you would buy the cheapest. So why does government force us to pay for the most expensive?



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here