Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another boot in the butt for the fraudulent "97%"

The claim cannot be seen as anything other than deliberate deception. But truth is always a casualty to the needs of the Green/Left

Study claiming ’97% of climate scientists agree’ is flawed
Perhaps the most common argument used when urging action on climate change is the appeal to scientific authority. Previously this was accomplished by pointing at the IPCC, but since they have lost a significant portion of their credibility recently it has become more frequent to point out the scientists themselves. The most common claim that I encounter is a variation on this claim:
97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.

I recently heard this claim on my own threads. I looked at the source (the study Doran and Zimmerman 2009), found some problems, and then wrote back on my threads. However, I have seen this claim so many times that I believe it would be good to make a post about it. I also e-mailed several prominent climate scientists who would be considered 'skeptics' to get their opinions on the study. Their responses are displayed at the end of the post.

In this post I briefly comment on past responses to the study, then break my post into three sections. The first will focus on the flaw in the study (the second question), the second will look at the motives of the researcher, and the third will be posting responses from prominent 'skeptical' climate scientists.

First I'm going to address a common response to this study. In this post at The Hockey Schtick, it is pointed out that the 97% statistic is based on only 79 climatologists, and that those participating were self-selected. There are two concerns here. The first is sample size. While climate science isn't a massive field, 79 participants is fairly small. To claim definitely that 97% believe this or that you would need to poll significantly more people. The second concern is the fact that the scientists were self-selected by an online survey. This may not have led to a representative sample.

Other concerns with the study deal with numbers behind it, or other reasons to consider it a poor study. However, these aren't my primary concern. My concern is the actual questions asked in the study, which I will show in a moment.

The study on which these claims are based is available here. It is an paper by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman written in 2009, entitled "Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change". Here is the citation:
Doran, P. T., and M. Kendall Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3)

The questions

The study is fairly simple. It has a large database of earth scientists, and sends them an invitation to participate in their study. If they accept, then they take an online survey. The survey asks two primary questions:

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

The first question is largely irrelevant. I'm unaware of any scientists who don't believe the planet has gotten warmer when compared with pre-1800s levels. Not surprisingly, 76 of 79 climate scientists answered 'risen' to this question. I'm guessing that the other three didn't consider the increase significant enough to warrant 'risen' and picked 'constant'.

The major problem with this study is the second question. It is not phrased properly. In fact, the phrasing is so poor that I consider the entire study flawed because of it. There are multiple problems with the phrasing, so let me break them down.

1. The phrase "human activity"

Human activity comprises numerous actions which can affect the climate other than greenhouse gases. Agricultural changes and deforestation are two influences that come to mind. Now, any respondent who believes that ANY human activity can change the climate must answer yes to this question.

A better phrasing would be:

Do you think anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

2. The phrase "significant contributing factor"

The problem with this is obvious. What makes something significant? If 5% of recent temperature change is caused by mankind, is that significant? How about 10%? There is no context for answering the question. There is no way of knowing whether or not the respondents consider human activity the primary factor in temperature change.

A better phrasing would be:

Do you think that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the primary factor (50% or more) in changing mean global temperatures?

3. The phrase "changing mean global temperature"

This is the most problematic part of the question, because there is no indication of how much temperature change is considered worth answering 'yes'. For example, if a respondent believed that human activities had increased the temperature of the planet by 1/10th of a degree, the answer would still be yes. Even so for 1/100th. There is no useful context here. Many climate skeptics believe that human activities have increased the temperature of the planet, but not by any significant amount. The survey should specifically ask if the warming is a statistically significant amount. Also, the word "changing" should be changed to "increasing", because otherwise a respondent could consider human activities as cooling the planet and still answer yes.

Much more HERE (See the original for links)

Global Panic as Green Sector Collapses financially and Investors Face Ruin

John O'Sullivan

Governments, investors and even the World Bank are rushing for the exits in the Great Escape from the green energy bubble.

Solar energy appears to be the worst affected sector so far. Dow Jones reports on a startling U-turn by Britain’s ultra-green government has caught investors off guard and shock waves across the markets will likely precipitate the further rush from green energy projects to shale gas.

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change made the shock announcement as it revealed a comprehensive review of its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. Indications from data provider, Prequin are that over $1bn in earmarked funds may be lost as Britain now promises it will only hold tariffs until April 2012.

Green Investors Feeling Betrayed by European Governments

Britain’s decision is another nail in the coffin for Europe’s tottering green energy market. Last year the first of several crushing body blows was dealt to environmentalist dreams when the Spanish government retrospectively cut the value of its tariffs in its own U-turning energy review.

The devastated Spanish Solar Photovoltaic Industry Association, with mass bankruptcies on the cards, is accusing their government of utter betrayal is yet to carry out a threat to sue over the ruling....

World Bank Joins Rush Away from the Green White Elephant

Top line international bankers also appear to be abandoning 'big green' according to a report by climate scientist Roger Pielke Jr. who highlights two recent research papers published by influential thinkers inside the World Bank.

Economics papers by Robert Mendelsohn and Gokay Saher (here in PDF) and Medelsohn, Kerry Emanuel and Shun Chonabayashi (here in PDF) chop the legs from under the pro-green Stern Review (2007) and affirm that no human impact may be inferred on global climate.


Holland slashes carbon targets, shuns wind for nuclear

In a radical change of policy, the Netherlands is reducing its targets for renewable energy and slashing the subsidies for wind and solar power. It's also given the green light for the country's first new nuclear power plants for almost 40 years.

Why the change? Wind and solar subsidies are too expensive, the Financial Times Deutschland , reports.

Holland thus becomes the first country to abandon the EU-wide target of producing 20 per cent of its domestic power from renewables. This is a remarkable turnaround from a state that took the Kyoto Agreement seriously and chivvied other EU members into adopting renewable energy strategies. The FT reports that instead of the €4bn annual subsidy, it will be slashed to €1.5bn.

Holland's only nuclear reactor, the Borssele plant, opened in 1973, and was earmarked for closure by 2003. In 2006 the plant was allowed to operate until 2034, and the following year the government abandoned its opposition to new nuclear plants.

Critics of wind turbine expansion have found it difficult to get figures to judge whether the turbines are value for money. In January, Ofgem refused to disclose the output of each Feed-In Tariff (FiT) location.

The UK is expected to urge the installation of 10,000 new onshore turbines, even though some cost more in subsidies than than they produce, even at the generous Feed-In rates. Holland's policy U-turn means the EU renewable targets aren't set in stone - and there are more cost-effective ways of hitting the targets.


In good Warmist fashion, the BBC assumes what they have to prove

From the latest Radio Times, concerning a Radio 4 programme entitled "In Denial: Climate on the Couch", to be aired at 9pm this evening. I will listen, and I will set my radio recorder.

Radio Times blurb:
Jolyon Jenkins investigates the psychology of climate change efforts, asking why some people seem unconcerned even though scientists are forecasting terrible changes to the planet. He questions whether environmentalists and the Government have been putting out messages that are counterproductive, and whether trying to scare people into action might actually be causing them to consume more.

My suspicion is that what I and all others who listen to this programme will hear will be an explanation of the failure of the Greenists to convince that omits the crucial matter of the mere truth, and what is now sincerely believed to be the truth by more and more of the mere people. The phrase "In Denial" does strongly suggest this. And "On the Couch" suggests that they think that some people, presumably all who deny, are mad.

You know the kind of thing: People don't think there's anything they can do! - No wonder they're being crazy! - We have not communicated successfully! - We have not got our message across properly!

It probably was rather a bad idea to make it look like they want to blow up children who disagree with them. But what if, despite such communicational ineptness, they have got their message across, but people just think it's a pack of lies? If that is what people now think, then no amount of improved communicational expertise that doesn't deal with the mere truth of things will make much difference.

But, my suspicions may prove to be unjustified. As of now, I live in hope that the truth, both what it is and what it is now believed to be, will at least get a semi-respectful mention, in among all the psychologising.


This programme isn't about climate science so it's going to assume that the scientific consensus is true. And a moment later, someone described (it may have been Jolyon Jenkins) this consensus as "undeniable". Which was an odd word to use, given the title.

Well, at least it has just been admitted that people sometimes say that it's all being exaggerated, even if it is assumed that this is mistaken and evasive. That it might be an honest opinion is not up for discussion, because that would mean discussing climate science.

So, the early and pessimistic commenters here are right. It looks like being a long discussion of what a bunch of true-believers can do to save the world, given that a huge tranche of people has decided that the world doesn't need saving, but will have to be convinced in the true-believer stuff is to even make sense let alone accomplish anything.

The elephant in their room is that they have lost this argument, in the sense that they need unanimity in this, but are drifting further and further away from unanimity. They are ignoring this elephant. They are behaving like that economist, stuck on a desert island with various other sorts of experts, who is wondering how to contrive a tin-opener. "Let's assume we have a tin-opener." This won't work.

LATER: Thinking about this some more, I should perhaps stress that the people who sincerely disagree that CAGW is happening were not called mad, as I feared they might be. They were simply ignored. All were assumed to really believe in CAGW, but to be using some kind of psychological doublethink to evade what they knew they ought to be doing really. Like I say: let's assume we've won.


The unseen consequences of "green jobs"

Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?

In his State of the Union speech a couple of weeks ago, President Barack Obama planned to "win the future" by, among many other things, having the federal government "invest" in "clean energy technology-an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people." But will investing in clean energy actually produce countless new jobs?

A couple of weeks ago, the California think tank Next 10 asserted in its 2011 Many Shades of Green report that employment in the state's green core economy grew at 3 percent between 2008 and 2009. Employment in the rest of the economy, meanwhile, grew at just 1 percent. The report defines the "green core economy" as businesses that generate clean energy, conserve energy, or reduce and recycle wastes.

Specifically, the Next 10 report finds that the number of jobs in California's green core economy rose between 2008 and 2009 from 169,000 to 174,000-an additional 5,000 jobs. Green jobs account for just 0.9 percent of California's overall 18.8 million jobs. Note that California's unemployment rate is 12.5 percent, which means that 2,270,000 Californians are without work.

Unfortunately, when it comes to green jobs both the president and the Next 10 report are focusing on the seen while ignoring the unseen. In his brilliant essay, "What is Seen and What is Unseen," 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat pointed out that the favorable "seen" effects of any policy often produce many disastrous "unseen" later consequences. Bastiat urges us "not to judge things solely by what is seen, but rather by what is not seen."

So let's take a look. Many of the green core economy jobs created in California are the result of policies that restrict the production and use of conventional sources of energy. For example, electricity generators in California are required to produce 20 percent of their supplies using renewable sources by 2010, a requirement that will rise to 33 percent by 2020. In addition, California's Global Warming Solutions Act will impose steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning fossil fuels. Other green jobs are the result of regulations requiring energy conservation [PDF] in residential and commercial construction. Certainly, these activities provide some benefits, including pollution reduction and energy savings. But let's focus on the claim that on balance they provide more jobs than they kill.

A new report, "Defining, Measuring, and Predicting Green Jobs," by University of Texas economist Gurcan Gulen, issued by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, takes apart many studies predicting that policies mandating alternative energy production, energy efficiency, and conservation will create a boom in employment.

First, Gulen notes that many such studies fail to define clearly what they mean by green jobs. He points out that many pro-green jobs studies do not distinguish temporary construction jobs from more permanent operation jobs. Many studies also assume that green jobs will pay more than jobs in conventional energy production. But why would a construction job at a wind farm pay more than one at a conventional power plant?

Even more disturbingly, many green job studies have no analyses of job losses. Clean energy costs more than conventional energy, which means consumers and businesses will have less income with which to buy and invest. This reduces their consumption of other goods and services, resulting in job losses in those sectors-one of Bastiat's "unseen" effects. In addition, many studies simultaneously count on protectionist policies to exclude clean energy imports while assuming that domestic companies will be freely exporting to other countries.

As an example of how these pro-green jobs studies go wrong, Gulen analyzes the 2008 green jobs study [PDF] by the consultancy IHS Global Insight. That report found that the U.S. currently has 750,000 green jobs, of which 420,000 are in the engineering, legal, research, and consulting fields. Gulen observes, "Given that there are also categories for renewable generation, manufacturing, construction, and installation, it is likely that the majority of the jobs in the largest category are not directly associated with the generation of a single kWh (kilowatt-hour) of `green' power or a single Btu (British thermal unit) of `green' fuel." The Global Insight study also reports that government administration generates 72,000 of the current green jobs. Green policies often don't produce power, but do produce more regulators.

The Global lnsight study further asserts that pursuing green energy will increase economic productivity. "When compared to conventional technologies on unit of energy output, due to intermittency and low capacity factors, wind and solar are likely to be more labor intensive (hence less productive)," notes Gulen. In fact, Gulen adds that other studies are counting on the fact that green energy technologies are more labor intensive as a way to generate more jobs.

This strategy is reminiscent of the no doubt apocryphal story of the American economist visiting Mao's China taken on a tour of a construction site where 100 workers were using shovels to build an earthen dam. "Why don't you just use one man and a bulldozer to build the dam?" asked the economist. The guide responded, "If we did that, then we'd have 99 men out of work." To which the economist replied, "Oh, I thought you were building a dam. If your goal is to make jobs, why don't you take their shovels away and replace them with spoons?"

Gulen is not alone in his concerns about overblown claims for green jobs. A 2009 report [PDF], by Hillard Huntington, executive director of the Energy Modeling Forum at Stanford University, also found that promoting green energy is not a jobs generator. Huntington calculated the number of jobs per million dollars invested in various types of electricity generation. A million dollars invested in solar power produces three to five jobs; wind 1.6 to 6.5 jobs; biomass 1.8 to 6.5 jobs; coal 3.7 jobs; and natural gas two jobs. It looks like renewables are often winners at job creation until Huntington points out that on average an investment of a million dollars produces about 10 jobs.

"Electricity generation across all sources creates far fewer jobs than other activities in the economy; the estimates in the figure suggest that they range between 17-67 percent of the average job-creation in the economy," reports Huntington. "These net job losses mean that subsidies to either green or conventional sources will detract rather than expand the economy's job base, because they will shift investments from other sectors that will create more employment."

Another way to look at it is that in the worst cases, investing in solar power destroys seven jobs, wind eight jobs, biomass eight jobs, coal six jobs, and natural gas eight jobs, each compared to the 10 jobs generally created per million dollars of investment. All subsidies to the electric power sector divert money that would otherwise be invested in higher value wealth and job-creating activities.

Huntington concludes, "Policymakers and government agencies should look askance at the claimed additional job benefits from green energy." Gulen agrees, "Adding `net' jobs cannot be defended as another benefit of investing in these [green] technologies." In other words, President Obama and other proponents of green energy like Next 10 are seeing only what their policies produce, and ignoring what their policies destroy.


Compact Fluorescents Are Fire Hazard

There's yet another reason to resent the overpriced, flickering, dim, and toxic curlicue light bulbs our moonbat rulers are imposing on us as of next year on behalf of their crony capitalist bankrollers:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below … announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Units: 124,000

Importer: Eastern America Trio Products Inc. of Flushing, N.Y.

Hazard: Light bulb can overheat and catch fire.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received four reports of incidents, including two fires that resulted in minor property damage.

It is a known if underpublicized fact that using compact fluorescents in outdoor or enclosed fixtures can lead to fire, and that breaking one of them can lead to your home being declared a toxic waste site due to the mercury they contain. But as of next year, you'll have to use them anyway. It may not help the polar bears, but it will certainly help big corporations like GE, which won't have to worry about competition from small firms that can produce the simpler and cheaper incandescent light bulbs most people prefer.



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


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