Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warmists round on the media

Having a friendly media is not enough for them. They want a Soviet-style media that allows no dissent from the official line. Know the Warmists by the company they keep

As glaciers melt [Some are; some aren't] and island populations retreat from their coastlines to escape rising seas [which aren't rising], many scientists remain baffled as to why the global research consensus on human-induced climate change remains contentious in the U.S.

The frustration revealed itself during a handful of sessions at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, coming to a peak during a Friday session, "Science without Borders and Media Unbounded".

Near the forum’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association and the National Research Council, along with the national academies of more than two dozen countries.

"You haven't persuaded the public," replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, "No, you haven't." Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, "That's right. Kerry said it."

Such a tone of searching bewilderment typified a handful of sessions that dealt with the struggle to motivate Americans on the topic of climate change. Only 35 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious problem, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

It's a given that an organized and well-funded campaign has led efforts to confuse the public regarding the consensus around anthropogenic climate change.

And in the absence of such a campaign, as in South Korea, there is no doubt about the findings of climate science, said Sun-Jin Yun of Seoul National University. All three of the nation's major newspapers—representing conservative, progressive and business perspectives—accept climate change with little unjustified skepticism.

Still, it is hard to explain the intransigence of the U.S. public and policy-makers on the issue.

Explanations abound: Is it the media? Under-education? Denialism?
Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism pointed at the media, focusing on its overall contraction in the past two decades. Shrinking budgets have led to a proliferation of quick, cheap reporting, as well as discussion and commentary formats that rarely provide informative discussions of actual science results.

"What is shrinking is the reportorial component of our culture in which people go out and find things and verify things," he said. Truth has little chance to make itself known in the new narrow and shallow public square.....

Scientists must engage with the public and be vigilant against projecting stereotypes of their profession—such as the elitist, arrogant scientist, Schmidt said.

Rosenstiel echoed this advice and further urged scientists to bypass the media, who are no longer critical intermediaries for reaching the public given the growth of the blogosphere and the general fragmentation of the industry.


The latest Greenie propaganda from Hollywood

What Hollywood won't tell you follows the excerpt below

Carteret Islanders have been called the world's first climate refugees. Their homeland, a remote chain of six small islands in the South Pacific, is fast losing ground to rising sea levels. The 1,000 or so people whose families have lived there for dozens of generations have made an agonizing decision to relocate their entire community before it disappears beneath the rising waves.

In June of 2008, filmmakers Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger learned of the refugees' plight and headed to the Carteret Islands, video equipment in tow, hoping to share their story with the world. Their documentary, "Sun Come Up," was released last year. Sunday night, it’s up for an Academy Award in the best documentary short category.

Redfearn has a background in environment studies, a journalism degree from Columbia University, and had worked on several television series, but "Sun Come Up" is her debut film. She first heard about the Carteret Islanders from a forwarded humanitarian e-mail alert; after reading about them, she could focus on little else. Three months after receiving the e-mail, Redfearn and filmmaking partner Metzger landed in the South Pacific and started shooting. They weren't sure what to expect, but they had been encouraged to come by Ursula Rakova, the head of the Carteret relocation program.

They were well received, and the islanders were, according to Redfearn, "really generous with their time and sharing their stories." They were well aware of why their islands were shrinking and the global issues behind the local changes. "When they first started to witness changes, they didn't know why," Redfearn explains. "But Ursula was born on the Carteret Islands and has traveled abroad to get her education, so she has become aware of what's happening internationally. She taught the community about the science."

The filmmakers didn't find the islanders to be helpless or angry. "More than anything else," Redfearn says, "there's a great feeling of uncertainty." The island's elders would prefer to stay, despite the risks. They grew up there, spent their whole lives there, and "have no interest in moving and adapting to a new society or culture." But the younger generations are looking at things differently. "They're looking ahead at how to rebuild their community somewhere else."


Now for some facts:

The Carteret Islands are coral atolls that have been damaged by the indigenous fishing industry. Homemade Ammonium Nitrate bomblets, used to stun fish for easy "harvesting" (by lazy fishermen) had the unintended effect of breaking up the surrounding Coral beds, which are the foundation of the "islands."

Once blasted, the Coral is destroyed and can't recover. The underpinning of the remaining land is then impaired and "duh," the islands begin to sink. Some depletion of the fresh water aquifer may also contribute to the sinking. The region is also tectonically active and subsiding land is a real possibility.

Of course, the Sea-Level is being blamed, but a quick look at NASA's Jason satellite data shows that Sea-Level has outright FLATLINED since January 2004 to the present (Flatlined = ZERO rise) within a 20mm ± zone!!!

The whole movie is simply environmental "spin."

Hollywood sign could be covered in snow for first time in over 50 years - just in time for Sunday's Oscars

But will they notice? Given their absorption in fantasy, probably not

The A-list movie stars waltzing up the red carpet at the Oscars this weekend will need to wrap up warm as temperatures plummet in Los Angeles. And there is even a chance the iconic Hollywood sign which towers over Tinseltown could be covered in snow on Sunday.

The last time the southern California metropolis – with average February temperatures of nearly 60F – encountered snow was way back in 1954 when a third of an inch fell. Today temperatures were a mere 44F.

A NOAA weather chart shows snow covering northern Nevada and will push into southern California by Sunday. Midwest and northeast states will be worst hit

But forecasters are predicting up to seven inches could coat the 45-foot tall letters as the blizzard which started in Washington state and Oregon continues its assault on California.

Snow is already predicted for downtown San Francisco – itself a stranger to snow for 25 years – after the surrounding hills received a dusting over the weekend.


OU professor says stormy winter has nothing to do with global warming

Lucky for him, he's a professor of engineering. They might find him hard to replace -- particularly at OU

Nobody can do anything about it, but everybody has an opinion on it — this winter’s weather. Bill Deedler, weather historian at the National Weather Service’s White Lake Township office, said the weather has been impacted by two factors.

One is La Nina, an ocean effect that causes colder than normal temperatures in the Pacific, he said, and it’s acting in conjunction with an Arctic low dropping from Canada’s eastern half. “Between the two, we have a formula for a strong storm track with more snow and ice from the Southwest into the Great Lakes,” said Deedler. “Earlier this winter, it was in the South and up the East Coast. It has nothing to do with global warming.”

Chris Kobus, an Oakland University associate professor of engineering who has made a study of weather, also dismisses the winter as having anything to do with global warming. He noted that we experienced similar severe weather in the late 1970s.

“This is just climate variability,” said Kobus. “We haven’t experienced it in decades.” Kobus recalled how some scientists said warm winters in recent years were caused by global warming. “Now the same people are blaming global warming (for the more severe weather),” he said. “I don’t buy it. (Global warming) is a hoax.” He said studies indicated the planet has only warmed half a degree in centuries.

He recommends people research both sides of the climate question by visiting and for opposing viewpoints. “You have to look at both sides,” Kobus said.

He believes the debate boils down to funding. “(Advocates of global warming) are well-funded and have deep connections with the media,” he said. “So-called skeptics (of global warming) are neither well-funded nor organized via advocacy organizations. It is a one-way debate.”

There are many who disagree, saying the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests has dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.


Unscientific hype about the flooding risks from climate change will cost us all dear

The warmists have sound financial grounds for hyping the dangers of flooding posed by climate change, writes Christopher Booker

As the great global warming scare continues to crumble, attention focuses on all those groups that have a huge interest in keeping it alive. Governments look on it as an excuse to raise billions of pounds in taxes. Wind farm developers make fortunes from the hidden subsidies we pay through our electricity bills. A vast academic industry receives more billions for concocting the bogus science that underpins the scare. Carbon traders hope to make billions from corrupt schemes based on buying and selling the right to emit CO2. But no financial interest stands to make more from exaggerating the risks of climate change than the re-insurance industry, which charges retail insurers for “catastrophe cover”, paid for by all of us through our premiums.

An insight into this was given by a paper published by Nature on February 17, which claimed to show for the first time how man-made climate change greatly increases the risk of flood damage. Among the eight authors of the paper are two of the most influential scientists at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Prof Peter Stott of the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre and Dr Myles Allen, head of Oxford’s Climate Dynamics Group. Two of their co-authors are from Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a California-based firm which is the world leader in advising the insurance industry on climate change.

The study, based entirely on computer models, focused on the exceptional flooding that took place in England and Wales in the autumn of 2000. Its conclusion – that climate change could increase the chance of flooding by up to 90 per cent – was widely publicised, without questioning, by all the usual media cheerleaders for global warming, led by the BBC’s Richard Black (“Climate change increases flood risk, researchers say”).

When less partisan observers examined the paper, however, they were astonished. Although Nature has long been a leading propagandist for man-made climate change, this example seemed truly bizarre. Why had this strangely opaque study been based solely on the results of a series of computer models – mainly provided by the Hadley Centre and RMS – and not on any historical data about rainfall and river flows?

The Met Office’s own records show no upward trend in UK rainfall between 1961 and 2004. Certainly autumn 2000 showed an unusual rainfall maximum, but it was exceeded in 1930. The graph between then and 2010 shows no significant upward trend. While 2000 may have seen a lot of rain, 1768 and 1872 were even wetter. In the real world, the data show no evidence of an increase in UK rainfall at all. Any idea that there is one seemed to be entirely an artefact of the computer models.

On Friday came the fullest and most expert dissection of the Nature paper so far, published on the Watts Up With That website by Willis Eschenbach, a very experienced computer modeller. His findings are devastating. After detailed analysis of the study’s multiple flaws, he sums up by accusing Nature of “trying to pass off the end-result of a long daisy-chain of specifically selected, untested, unverified, un-investigated computer models as valid, falsifiable, peer-reviewed science”.

His conclusion is worth quoting at some length: “When your results represent the output of four computer models, fed into a fifth computer model, whose output goes to a sixth computer model, which is calibrated against a seventh computer model, and then your results are compared to a series of different results from the fifth computer model, but run with different parameters, in order to show that flood risks have increased from greenhouse gases…” you cannot pretend that this is “a valid representation of reality”, let alone “a sufficiently accurate representation of reality to guide our future actions”.

This is precisely why the Nature study is of such significance – because it will undoubtedly be used to guide future actions, which will in one way or another impact on all our lives.

For a start, consider the players in this drama. Prof Stott and Dr Allen have long been among the most influential scientists in the world in stoking up climate alarmism. A famous analysis by John McClean showed that they played a key part in compiling the single most important chapter in the IPCC’s last report, in 2007. The chapter, entitled “Understanding and attributing climate change”, cited many more papers by them than anyone else. They have now been appointed as lead authors of the relevant chapter in the next IPCC report, “Detection and attribution of climate change”, which will guide the actions of governments all over the world.

As for their two colleagues from Risk Management Solutions, this is not the first time that this leading adviser to the world’s re-insurance industry has been involved in a controversial bid to heighten alarm over the consequences of climate change.

In October 2005, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, RMS held a meeting in Bermuda with four hurricane specialists, all of the alarmist persuasion, to quiz them as to how they thought hurricane activity was likely to be affected between 2006 and 2010, thanks to climate change, and how this would impact on the southern United States, notably Florida. On the basis of this meeting, RMS advised the re-insurers that the risk of hurricane damage over the next four years was hugely increased. The companies found that their reserves were $82 billion short of what they might be expected to pay. Premiums, particularly in Florida, accordingly rocketed upwards.

Under the heading “The $82 billion prediction”, the details of this episode are chronicled on his blog by Dr Roger Pielke Jr, who in 2008 advised RMS that the methodology on which it relied was so biased that “a group of monkeys would have arrived at the exact same results”. Dr Pielke, an expert in environmental impacts, recently published a chart showing how, although the RMS prediction for hurricane damage between 2006 and 2010 was a third higher than the historical average, the actual cost proved to be well under half the average figure. But, thanks to RMS, the insurance industry had made billions from higher premiums.

In 2008, following the disastrous floods of summer 2007, that vociferous climate alarmist Bob Ward, now at the Grantham Institute but then a director of RMS, called for the British government to work more closely with the insurance industry “to devise mutually beneficial strategies for dealing with flood risks”. We understand how working with RMS might be beneficial to the insurance industry. But whether, in light of the Nature study, the Government would find it beneficial is another matter – never mind the rest of us, as we are asked to pay ever higher insurance premiums, based not least on the findings of those RMS computer models.


Britain's eco-towns: A parable of a wet and wimpy state

Eco-towns, we were told, would help to 'save the planet' and provide thousands of new homes. Tim Black investigates why they were never built

Eco-towns – remember them? For a while they was a flagship New Labour project. Then they became a flagging New Labour project. And now? ‘As it stands, it’s up to the local authorities whether they get built’, came the rather non-committal response (1) from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Not that this should have been a surprise. The Lib-Con government, Localism Bill or not, seems very keen to wash its hands of this particular New Labour initiative, as indicated by its July announcement that the £60million funding for the shortlisted sites was to be cut in half. So while it is still possible that three new towns-cum-villages will be built – at Bicester in Oxfordshire, St Austell in Cornwall and Elsenham in Essex – it is fair to say the project that was once to provide around 200,000 new homes, not to mention several new towns, is, to all intents and purposes, defunct.

How things have changed. The willingness with which the eco-towns scheme is being quietly abandoned is in marked contrast to the fanfare with which it was announced in the summer of 2007. Back then, Gordon Brown, all affected smiles in his new position as prime minister, saw fit to make eco-towns his first major policy announcement. It was meant to be big. It had to be green. And it was going to define Brown’s prime-ministerial vision. Speaking to the Labour Party conference that September, Brown declaimed: ‘For the first time in nearly half a century we will show the imagination to build new towns – eco-towns with low and zero carbon homes.’ So it was that in the summer of 2007 a mixture of local authorities, construction firms and developers were invited to come forward with their plans for these new, ecologically sound towns.

And come forward they did. By April 2008, a shortlist of 15 prospective eco-towns had been unveiled. Then housing minister Caroline Flint continued to hype up the importance of the scheme: ‘We have a housing shortage in this country, and that’s why we need to build more homes. But we also need to think about sustainable homes in sustainable communities.’ The following January, the shortlist had been whittled down to 12. Then, in July 2009, four eco-towns were given the go-ahead (Rackheath in Norfolk, Whitehill Bordon in East Hampshire, Bicester in Oxfordshire and the China Clay community scheme in St Austell), with the promise of more to come.

So what happened to the eco-towns project? After all, this was meant to be a massively important scheme. Not only was it to show off the government’s commitment to a low-carbon future, it was to demonstrate how best to address the UK’s chronic housing shortage, something Brown had acknowledged in 2007 with his pledge to build three million homes by 2020. As he stated in July 2009, ‘eco-towns will help to relieve the shortage of affordable homes to rent and buy and to minimise the effects of climate change on a major scale’. The original 2007 eco-towns prospectus even went so far as to draw parallels between the situation today and that faced by the ‘postwar generation 60 years ago’ - that is, when the original 11 ‘new towns’ were built. So why, given the much-trumpeted historic urgency of the task, has so little come to pass?

As James Stevens from the Home Builders Federation told spiked, ‘eco-towns were failing before the financial crisis’. The ostensible problem was that the private sector developers had little to gain from building eco-towns. Given that most of the funding for the eco-towns was meant to come from the private, not the public sector, this was a significant problem. What is more, it was a problem largely of the state’s own making.

When the scheme was first launched, the criteria for its ecological correctness were already quite strict. According to the initial 2007 prospectus, eco-towns were to be zero-carbon communities demonstrating excellence in one ‘particular aspect of environmental sustainability’, from drainage to technology. As for the actual houses, they were to be built to ‘at least’ code level 3 (out of 6) as laid out in the 2006 housing regulations. This meant that their carbon emissions would be 25 per cent lower than what was then the current standard.

All this was restrictive enough for prospective developers – not to mention for those, cycle in hands, who would have to live in these ‘exemplars of sustainability’. But the problem was that having made these new towns ‘eco’, it meant that critics quickly held the plans to account on the basis that they weren’t ‘eco’ enough. In February 2008, for instance, historian and commentator Tristram Hunt (now a Labour MP) called the eco-towns project a ‘smokescreeen’ for unscrupulous developers. ‘All too predictably’, he wrote, ‘Britain’s leading developers are using the eco-towns template to dust off long-rejected proposals and re-submit shoddy housing schemes’. In other words, if a project was being put forward by the private sector, it was automatically suspect on environmental grounds. Hunt’s was not a lone criticism; it was part of a ‘green-washing’ chorus. Eco-towns were not doing what they said on the tin, claimed an unholy trinity of planning experts, disgruntled locals and reluctant local authorities.

The government’s response was to play to the eco-elite gallery and make the eco-town requirements ever stricter. Developers now had to build the houses to code level 4 and, from 2016, to code level 6. As then housing minister Caroline Flint said in July 2008: ‘These would be the toughest standards ever set out for new development, and would demonstrate that there will be no compromise on quality when it comes to eco-towns.’ This may have been music to the ears of green-horned critics of the scheme, but as Stevens explained to me, it is ‘extremely difficult to build to a high code level, especially as regards energy efficiency and water, and still make a sufficiently attractive return on investment – something that is necessary to allow the development to go ahead.’ He added: ‘This is one of the reasons why the three survivors of the eco-towns programme are progressing so slowly.’

More off-putting still was the one thing that initially made eco-towns potentially attractive to the private sector – that is, the extent to which the existing, notoriously bureaucratic planning regulations would be relaxed. And in the 2007 prospectus, there is more than a hint that the government was prepared to circumvent the planning process. Given that even if you own the land you want to build on, planning permission can usually only be obtained after endless, not to mention costly, private and public consultations with local planning authorities, the chance to skip over this would certainly have been appealing to developers. So to hear the DCLG actually talk of ‘minimising delay’, of dealing with the proposals quickly and, more explicitly, of using ‘the powers in the New Towns Act 1981 [where] appropriate’, actually made it sound as if the government was serious about a large-scale development project.

This is certainly what planning consultant David Lock believed. And considering that Lock was not only the former head of the Town and Country Planning Association, but, in its early stages, an official adviser on the eco-towns project, he should know. ‘When the government first launched the scheme’, Lock tells me, ‘their initial documents implied that they were in a hurry and were willing to alter the planning procedures to let people get ahead’.

But once again, just as with the eco-town building regulations, the government caved in, this time under pressure from lobby groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and a few ‘sad middle-aged people holding up a “eco-towns will destroy my life” poster on a village green somewhere in the Midlands’. Very quickly, Lock tells me, the government’s ‘proactive, “we’ll bend the system” approach’ to planning permission was abandoned. Lock is in no doubt that this reversal, following ‘a bit of negative publicity’, put off prospective developers. ‘The government was making [eco-towns] an ordinary initiative that would have to go through existing processes, so why would anyone bother? A promoter can spend five years trying to push through other projects instead.’ And at considerably less cost, too.

In the ease with which the government tried to appease environmentalist critics, in the speed with which it went back on its promise to circumvent planning legislation with the New Towns Act, there is a parable of the contemporary state. ‘Wimpy and wet’, as Lock called the government, the state simply seems incapable of getting anything done. Even a scheme in which it invested so much political capital, such as the eco-towns project, quickly lost momentum. Lacking the popular support that comes through winning an argument, the government lacked the political will to realise its objectives. For new housing, read energy. For energy read transport. Before any large-scale infrastructural projects, the state proves cowardly and ultimately impotent.

But the main point still stands. Faced with a chronic housing shortage, the state, regardless of stripe of government, seems incapable of doing anything about it. As it stands, housebuilding rates are set to dip to their lowest level since the 1920s. Yet, too cowed by adverse publicity, too weak to actually justify a major undertaking such as housebuilding or a new generation of nuclear power stations, the government is content to look as if it is doing something while achieving nothing. While the state is happy to preoccupy itself with our behaviour, nannying then, nudging now, it seems unable to provide its citizens with the things we might actually want.



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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