Thursday, March 31, 2011

Warmists jittery about Berkeley project

They say that the Muller team findings will make "no difference" to the temperature record but are clearly critical nonetheless. They are so defensive that now they even say that thermometer readings are irrelevant! -- LOL!

An effort by a handful of UC Berkeley scientists to reexamine temperature data underlying global warming research has landed in the center of a national political debate over government regulation.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study is led by physicist Richard Muller, a longtime critic of the scientific consensus on climate change, who plans to testify on the effort Thursday before the House Science Committee in the latest of several congressional inquiries on climate science since the GOP majority was seated.

The Berkeley project's biggest private backer, with $150,000, is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch are the nation's most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs on fossil-fuel burning, the biggest contributor to planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Temperature data from tens of thousands of weather stations across the globe, many of which have incomplete records, are "very contentious," Muller said in an interview. "The skeptics are raising legitimate concerns."

Leading climate scientists, however, say the three most in-depth temperature studies agree on the overall severity and pace of global warming. They worry that the Berkeley effort, and the hearing Thursday, will add to public confusion on a topic that is as politically polarized as it is scientifically complex.

Muller said Koch and other contributors will have no influence over the results. "We have no prejudice, no preconception of what we are going to get," he said, adding that the Koch donation was less than the $188,587 contributed by the federal Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where Muller is a senior scientist.

"Global warming is a serious problem," Muller said in a lecture at UC Berkeley last week. "But people simply don't believe the story anymore because the story was exaggerated.... Not a single polar bear has died because of receding ice."

The Berkeley study comes as efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles are under attack in Congress. The Supreme Court in 2007 said the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but Republicans and coal-state Democrats, citing uncertainty over the science, are sponsoring legislation to thwart that effort.

Temperature data were the focus of the so-called 2009 Climategate controversy, in which opponents of greenhouse gas regulation alleged that leaked emails from a British climate laboratory showed manipulation of weather station records. Five U.S. and British government and university investigations have refuted the charges.

The Berkeley effort is hardly new. Over the last two decades, three independent scientific groups have analyzed international data from thousands of weather stations. Using different combinations of stations and varying statistical methods, all have come to nearly identical conclusions: The planet's surface, on average, has warmed about 0.75 degrees centigrade (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century.

Scientists involved in those studies said they would welcome new peer-reviewed research, but they contend that Muller is violating scientific protocol by publicizing his project, underway for months, before it produces any vetted scientific papers.

"I am highly skeptical of the hype and claims," said Kevin Trenberth, who heads the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a university consortium. "The team has some good people but not the expertise required in certain areas, and purely statistical approaches are naive. I suspect they have an agenda."

The Koch donation, to many, confirms those suspicions. "Why would a scientist accept funding from an organization with no interest in advancing the science?" asked Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Muller said his team would submit to peer-reviewed journals data that "measure the warming with more precision than in the past." He acknowledged that his study could find that issues raised by skeptics have only a "marginal effect" on temperature estimates. "Don't expect any huge surprises," he warned. "The surprises may be in the fine tuning."

Muller and many of those who question the temperature data are drawn to the "urban heat island" phenomenon, maintaining that gauges may be registering latent heat from asphalt, concrete and other urban features. Over time, some weather stations that once recorded temperatures in rural areas have been surrounded by cities and suburbs.

The Berkeley project is analyzing information from 39,000 stations —five times as many as the other groups, Muller said — and will address the fact that temperature data have been recorded at varying times of day.

The project also will put its calculations on the Internet in a "transparent" way, Muller said. Other scientists, he said, "put homogenized data online. They don't put up the [software] tools that get you from the raw data to the homogenized data. How do they pick the [weather station] sites? That involves human judgment."

Peter Thorne, a leading expert on temperature data at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said the three main data sets by the NOAA, NASA and Britain's Hadley Centre adjust for the heat island effect, as well as for measurements at different times of day. Muller's use of 39,000 weather stations, he said, "will make next to no difference" in the final result.

Thorne said the data and computer code for the NASA analysis have been publicly online for five years, while NOAA's data and code have been online for three years. Most of the British center's data are online, except for information shared on a confidential basis by commercial groups, and the code is available, he said.

Thorne said he was unsurprised by the Berkeley project's focus on temperature data. "For those who wish to discredit the science, this record is the holy grail," he said. "They figure if they can discredit this, then society would have significant doubts about all of climate science."

But temperature is only one indicator of global warming, Thorne said. "Even if the thermometer had never been invented, the evidence is there from deep ocean changes, from receding glaciers, from rising sea levels and receding sea ice and spring snow cover. All the physical indicators are consistent with a warming world. "There is no doubt the trend of temperature is upwards since the early 20th century. And that trend is accelerating."


Another Warmist retreat

Something else left out of the "models"

Some cheerful news on the climate change front today, as US government boffins report that ice breaking off the Antarctic shelves and melting in the sea causes carbon dioxide to be removed from the environment. This powerful, previously unknown "negative feedback" would seem likely to revise forecasts of future global warming significantly downwards.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) which funded the iceberg study, describes the results as having "global implications for climate research".

"These new findings... confirm that icebergs contribute yet another, previously unsuspected, dimension of physical and biological complexity to polar ecosystems," says Roberta Marinelli, director of the NSF's Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program.

A team of NSF-funded scientists examined the effects on an area of the Weddell Sea of a large (20 mile long) berg moving through, melting as it went and diluting the salty sea water - also adding key nutrients carried from the land. They found that after the iceberg had passed, levels of CO2 had plunged and much more chlorophyll was present. Chlorophyll is the substance in green plants which lets them suck in nasty CO2 and emit precious life-giving oxygen: in the Weddell Sea it was present in phytoplankton, tiny seagoing plantoids which are thought to account for half the carbon removed from the atmosphere globally.

The scientists say that more and more icebergs are set to be found in the seas around the Anatarctic as more ice breaks off the shelves attached to the peninsula which reaches up from the polar continent towards South America. This should mean more phytoplankton and thus less CO2.

The iceberg team consider that the increased number of bergs coming from the western Antarctic is the result of warming temperatures in the region, though recent research from British boffins has suggested that in fact other factors may be in play - at least in the case of the Pine Island Glacier, one of the major sources of sea ice in that area.

If the phytoplankton-boosting effect of the bergs is as big as the NSF appears to be suggesting, however, it would seem that any carbon-driven temperature rise could be at least partly self-correcting.

Increased iceberg shedding would seem likely to be seen mainly or only around the western peninsula: antarctic sea ice shelves elsewhere are actually growing, not shrinking, and at such a rate as to outweigh the peninsular losses. The past three decades have seen the south-polar ice sheets grow by 300,000 square kilometres overall.

The NSF study was originally published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part II (subscription required). It was flagged up more recently in Nature Geoscience's top picks (again, subscription link). The NSF also has a statement here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Scientist Predicts New Ice Age

On the heels of the pronouncement by one of the gurus of global warming that any decrease in the earth’s temperature could be a thousand years away, another scientist has stepped forward with the warning that a new Ice Age could be right around the corner.

Professor Tim Flannery, the head of Australia’s Climate Change Commission, sparked the latest scandal in the global warming community when he recently declared, "If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow, the average temperature of the planet's not going to drop for several hundred years, perhaps over 1000 years."

As reported previously for The New American, Prof. Flannery has endeavored to ameliorate the effects of his comment by claiming that temperatures would begin to drop by the end of the century, but his millenarian prognostications served to highlight the ineffectiveness — even insignificance — of the proposed draconian reductions in the world’s industrial activity.

However, if George Kukla is correct, the cooling which Flannery and his cohorts desire may be coming in spades. Kukla, a retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University, believes the Earth is no overdue for an Ice Age. An article by Terrence Aym (“Prepare for new Ice Age now says top paleoclimatologist”) at sets forth some of Kukla’s argument:
The "Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages dating back millions of years. Cold, glacial periods affecting the polar to mid-latitudes persist for about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials," Kukla says.

Co-author of an important section of the book "Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales," Kukla asserts all Ice Ages strat [sic] with a period of global warming. They are the the harbingers of new Ice Ages. Actually, he explains, warming is good. Ice Ages are deadly and may even kill millions.

Can Mankind stop it? No. Just as humanity cannot affect the long term climate of the planet, neither can it stop an Ice Age from happening. The climate is primarly [sic] driven by the sun.

Kukla has been warning of the possibility of new Ice Age for some time, and the cycle which he and other scientists believe may drive the process of climate change has been observed since at least the 1920s. Eleven years ago, Kukla gave a brief summary of his view on the cause of climate change for an article published by the Columbia University News:
In fact, the geologic record reveals that Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages dating back millions of years. Cold, glacial periods affecting the polar to mid-latitudes persist for about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials. The Holocene is just another interglacial that is more than half over, Kukla said.

It turns out that this ongoing cycle of glaciation closely matches cyclic variations in Earth's orbit around the sun, leading many researchers to conclude that orbit drives glaciation. This correspondence between orbit and climate is called the Milankovich cycle, after the scientist who analyzed and popularized it in the 1920s.

"I feel we're on pretty solid ground in interpreting orbit around the sun as the primary driving force behind ice-age glaciation. The relationship is just too clear and consistent to allow reasonable doubt," Kukla said. "It's either that, or climate drives orbit, and that just doesn't make sense."

Kukla claims that 116,000 years have passed since the last Ice Age; therefore, if the theory is correct, Earth would be overdue for global cooling.

Of course, Kukla is not the only advocate of a theory of a new Ice Age; the difference between him and some very prominent promoters of the theory is that his model does not recognize any connection between such an event and human activity. Obama’s science ‘czar,’ John Holdren, coauthored a book with Paul Ehrlich in 1971 predicting that “global over-population was heading the Earth to a new ice age unless the government mandated urgent measures to control population, including the possibility of involuntary birth control measures such as forced sterilization.” Now, the doom and gloom crowd have completely reversed their assessment of the disaster which they claim will soon befall the human race, but the “solution” remains the same: Devastate the human species.

As the global warming theory has withered under public scrutiny in the aftermath of the Climategate and Glaciergate scandals, the theory’s proponents have been dashing around looking for a way to push their agenda. Last year, Holdren tried to adjust the language of the climate change debate by promoting a new terminology of “global climate disruption.” The cultivated ambiguity of Holdren’s new phraseology permits virtually any anomalous weather activity to constitute “proof” of their theory—rendering the theory incapable of being falsified, which is usually a fine indicator of pseudoscience.

Thus, Kukla’s theory of a new Ice Age is utterly different from the Holdren/Ehrlich’s “new Ice Age” of the 1970s, or the “global warming” scare which has predominated in the circles of scientific apocalypticism in recent decades. If Kukla is right, the Ice Age will come according to its own schedule, and there’s nothing that the human race can do about it—except, of course, for enjoying the brief warming that precedes the big chill.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Tree ring data unreliable

The guys below are tree ring experts and even though they are Warmists, they have to admit how difficult it is to draw any firm conclusions from such data

Tree rings are a good place to start thinking about how climate researchers get information about past climates. In certain cases, trees can live for many hundreds of years and in an extraordinary case, like the bristlecone pine, thousands of years! Each year trees add growth rings, which can indicate what sort of growing season the tree experienced. Interestingly these rings are more than a temperature indicator, they also tell the researcher about moisture and cloudiness as well.

Dendrochronology is the study of climate change as recorded by tree growth rings. Each year, trees add a layer of growth between the older wood and the bark. This layer, or ring as seen in cross section, can be wide, recording a wet season, or narrow, recording a dry growing season. Because the rings are basically recording a good growing season or a bad growing season, they are indirectly recording more than just moisture. They also document temperature and cloud cover as they impact tree growth as well. This record of annual summer information is very important when you consider that certain types of trees grow slowly over hundreds and hundreds of years, and therefore contain a record of as many years of climate and climate change.

There are limitations to this research though. Trees in the temperate zone only record the growing season, so the winter season, no matter how dramatic, will not be seen in the ring record. Interestingly, trees in tropical regions grow year round and therefore show no real obvious annual growth rings. Therefore climate data from equatorial areas is difficult to piece out and use. The record is limited geographically in another way too. Trees do not grow in all places on Earth, therefore we don’t have a tree ring record of climate change for each region and ecologic niche globally. (No trees in polar regions, high in the mountains, in the ocean!!!)

In order to know more about climate over an even longer period of time, in some cases thousands of years, it is possible to look at dead trees of an unknown age that are still well preserved. One can correlate their rings to the rings of a living tree (whose age you know), and get a longer record of climate through time. An amazing example of this is the tree ring chronologies established by looking at bristlecone pines through time. Not only are bristlecone pines the longest lived trees on earth, they also live in a place where, even when they do die, they are well preserved over hundreds or thousands of years. We can therefore look at a living bristlecone, take its ring record , then look at a dead tree and see where the rings match up. In this way, scientists have established a ring record that records climate signals for over 9,000 years into the past.

Dendrochronology is currently still in its scientific infancy – there are many problems in the use of tree rings, particularly because the growth of tree rings can be impacted by many issues - not just rainfall amount, temperature, and cloud cover – but also by wind, soil properties, disease, or even pollution. These issues can certainly impact tree ring growth and cloud the scientific record. Fortunately, scientists are gaining new insight in the reading and use of tree rings, and hope that they can be used to help understand whether global warming has any precedent in the ring record of the past 1,000 years.


‘Ozone hole’ shenanigans were the warm-up act for ‘Global Warming’

Dr. Wil Happer of Princeton wrote
“The Montreal Protocol to ban freons was the warm-up exercise for the IPCC. Many current IPCC players gained fame then by stampeding the US Congress into supporting the Montreal Protocol. They learned to use dramatized, phony scientific claims like “ozone holes over Kennebunkport” (President Bush Sr’s seaside residence in New England). The ozone crusade also had business opportunities for firms like Dupont to market proprietary “ozone-friendly” refrigerants at much better prices than the conventional (and more easily used) freons that had long-since lost patent protection and were not a cheap commodity with little profit potential” (link).

Even James Lovelock agrees. James Lovelock formulated the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment. He later became concerned that global warming would upset the balance and leave only the arctic as habitable. He began to move off this position in 2007 suggesting that the Earth itself is in “no danger” because it would stabilize in a new state.

James Lovelock’s reaction to first reading about the leaked CRU emails in late 2009 was one of a true scientist.
“I was utterly disgusted. My second thought was that it was inevitable. It was bound to happen. Science, not so very long ago, pre-1960s, was largely vocational. Back when I was young, I didn’t want to do anything else other than be a scientist. They’re not like that nowadays. They don’t give a damn. They go to these massive, mass-produced universities and churn them out. They say: “Science is a good career. You can get a job for life doing government work.” That’s no way to do science.

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done.

Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science. I’m not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It’s the one thing you do not ever do. You’ve got to have standards.”

On a March 2010 Guardian interview, Lovelock opined
“The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing...We do need skepticism about the predictions about what will happen to the climate in 50 years, or whatever. It’s almost naive, scientifically speaking, to think we can give relatively accurate predictions for future climate. There are so many unknowns that it’s wrong to do it.”

Will Happer further elaborated
“The Montreal Protocol may not have been necessary to save the ozone, but it had limited economic damage. It has caused much more damage in the way it has corrupted science. It showed how quickly a scientist or activist can gain fame and fortune by purporting to save planet earth. We have the same situation with CO2 now, but CO2 is completely natural, unlike freons. Planet earth is quite happy to have lots more CO2 than current values, as the geological record clearly shows. If the jihad against CO2 succeeds, there will be enormous economic damage, and even worse consequences for human liberty at the hands of the successful jihadists.”


The ozone hole has not closed off after we banned CFCs. See this story in Nature about how the Consensus about the Ozone Hole and Man’s Role (with CFCs) May Be Falling Apart.

The size of the hole has hardly changed since 1990
“As the world marks 20 years since the introduction of the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, Nature has learned of experimental data that threaten to shatter established theories of ozone chemistry. If the data are right, scientists will have to rethink their understanding of how ozone holes are formed and how that relates to climate change. Markus Rex, an atmosphere scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, did a double-take when he saw new data for the break-down rate of a crucial molecule, dichlorine peroxide (Cl2O2). The rate of photolysis (light-activated splitting) of this molecule reported by chemists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California1, was extremely low in the wavelengths available in the stratosphere - almost an order of magnitude lower than the currently accepted rate.

“This must have far-reaching consequences,” Rex says. “If the measurements are correct we can basically no longer say we understand how ozone holes come into being.” What effect the results have on projections of the speed or extent of ozone depletion remains unclear.

Other groups have yet to confirm the new photolysis rate, but the conundrum is already causing much debate and uncertainty in the ozone research community. “Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really been blown apart,” says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. “Until recently everything looked like it fitted nicely,” agrees Neil Harris, an atmosphere scientist who heads the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. “Now suddenly it’s like a plank has been pulled out of a bridge.”


Yet like the cultists whose spacecraft didn’t arrive on the announced date, the government scientists find ways to postpone it and save their reputations (examples “Increasing greenhouse gases could delay, or even postpone indefinitely the recovery of stratospheric ozone in some regions of the Earth, a Johns Hopkins earth scientist suggests” here and “Scientists Find Antarctic Ozone Hole to Recover Later than Expected” here.
“The warmers are getting more and more like those traditional predictors of the end of the world who, when the event fails to happen on the due date, announce an error in their calculations and a new date.”

Dr. John Brignell, Emeritus Engineering Professor at the University of Southampton, on Number Watch (May 1) PDF

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Three articles below

How big an effect on world temperature will Australia's proposed carbon tax have?

Lord Monckton has been kind enough to give me the straight answer that Flannery et al will not - and his answer explains exactly Flannery's embarrassed silence:

Q. What is the central estimate of the anthropogenic global warming, in Celsius degrees, that would be forestalled by 2020 if a) Australia alone and b) the whole world cut carbon emissions stepwise until by 2020 they were 5% below today's emissions?

Answer a). Australia accounts for (at most) 1.5% of global carbon emissions. A stepwise 5% cut by 2020 is an average 2.5% cut from now till then. CO2 concentration by 2020, taking the IPCC's A2 scenario, will be 412 parts per million by volume, compared with 390 ppmv now. So Man will have added 22 ppmv by 2020, without any cuts in emissions. The CO2 concentration increase forestalled by almost a decade of cap-and-tax in Australia would thus be 2.5% of 1.5% of 22 ppmv, or 0.00825 ppmv. So in 2020 CO2 concentration would be 411.99175 ppmv instead of 412 ppmv.

So the proportionate change in CO2 concentration if the Commission and Ms. Gillard got their way would be 411.99175/412, or 0.99997998. The IPCC says warming or cooling, in Celsius degrees, is 3.7-5.7 times the logarithm of the proportionate change: central estimate 4.7. Also, it expects only 57% of manmade warming to occur by 2100: the rest would happen slowly and harmlessly over perhaps 1000 years (that's the real meaning of Flannery's 1000-year point, and it doesn't do him any favours).

So the warming forestalled by cutting Australia's emissions would be 57% of 4.7 times the logarithm of 0.99997998: that is - wait for it, wait for it - a dizzying 0.00005 Celsius, or around one-twenty-thousandth of a Celsius degree. Your estimate of a thousandth of a degree was a 20-fold exaggeration - not that Flannery was ever going to tell you that, of course.

Answer b) . Mutatis mutandis, we do the same calculation for the whole world, thus:

2.5% of 22 ppmv = 0.55 ppmv. Warming forestalled by 2020 = 0.57 x 4.7 ln[(412-0.55)/412] < 0.004 Celsius, or less than four one-thousandths of a Celsius degree, or around one-two-hundred-and-eightieth of a Celsius degree. And that at a cost of trillions. Whom the gods would destroy .

If you'd like chapter and verse from the IPCC's documents and from the peer-reviewed for every step of this calculation, which takes full account of and distils down the various complexities and probabilities Flannery flannelled about, you'll find it in this paper.

A cautionary note: the warming forestalled will only be this big if the IPCC's central estimate of the rate at which adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes warming is correct. However, it's at least a twofold exaggeration and probably more like fourfold. So divide both the above answers by, say, 3 to get what will still probably be an overestimate of the warming forestalled.


Greenie thinking converts an otherwise decent man into a Fascist

EVERY Australian family should be limited to just two children to curb the population explosion, controversial millionaire Dick Smith says. He called for a China-like quota on the number of kids, warning the growing burden on our resources was like "a plague of locusts".

Likening high-rise apartments to chicken coops, the former Australian of the Year thanked property developers at an Urban Taskforce population debate in Sydney for "not lynching" him after he attacked their drive for profits and called for an end to the growth addiction.

"It's either going to be forced on us or we are going to plan to stabilise," Mr Smith said. "I would like to see Australia stabilise at 24 to 25 million. I don't see it by force I see it by saying to parents, it's best to have two kids. I see us having an immigration intake of 70,000 per year."

Unaffordable land prices left generations of children stuck in apartments, he said. "We descended from hunter gatherers - not from termites," Mr Smith said. "We are putting our kids into high-rise because we are running out of land, because people want and need to live close to the city. We pay $50 million a year for free range eggs for our bloody chooks to be free range - what about our kids? I was a free range kid. I had a backyard. We are starting to lose that now, and it's only driven by the huge population increases."

Population growth had to slow to allow housing to become affordable again, he said, warning bad handling could lead to a recession.

Mr Smith called for an end to "stealing resources" from future generations. "We have to decide - are we like locusts that breed to huge numbers and then die off? Or are we like the majority of other magnificent natural creatures in this country which have lived in balance for millions of years?" he said.

" We have to decide we're going to live in balance or breed up and die off. There are people who say we will get to 9.1 billion and one enormous catastrophe will wipe out most of the people and if that's going to happen enjoy the advantages now. That might not happen."

Mr Smith said the economic system was built on "perpetual exponential growth". "We are completely addicted to growth. It's like the religion of capitalism but it is a false God," he said

MacroPlan economist Brian Haratsis called Mr Smith alarmist and "using scare tactics" He said population debate in Australia had been stolen by "anti-growth people with a Green sentiment". "We can triple the population of Australia if we want to and we wouldn't use much land. You only have to jump in a plane to Sydney and fly to Perth and what do you see? Not much."

Mr Haratsis said a population of 40 million was inevitable and that "the only choice is if we want a really big Australia of 40 million to 80 million".


Dam good invention the answer to our dry land's problem

I HAVE a brilliant idea for water management in Australia. What this dry continent needs is a way of storing and reticulating water to vast numbers of people in cities. I have come up with an invention that I call a "dam".

Let's build these "dams" outside each major city so that water might be stored and drawn down upon when needed. It's so simple and so cheap I cannot believe that no one in government or the bureaucracy has thought of it before. It sure would save a lot of money.

There are by my count six desalination plants either recently completed or under construction in Australia.

These things can cost in excess of $5 billion plus financing and operating costs. A "dam" on the other hand can store and deliver vastly more water at a cost of say $2bn. There, I've just saved the taxpayer $3bn and that's on a single project.

Of course, my idea for a "dam" is not new; I have nicked it from history. The last dam built to supply Sydney was the Tallowa completed in 1976 when the metropolitan population was 3.1 million.

Some 35 years later Sydney's population has expanded by 1.5 million, or 48 per cent, and there's no plan to add another dam for at least another decade, if ever.

This is extremely odd. I do not recall a conversation let alone a furious public debate about the management of Sydney's, or any other major Australian city's, water future.

At what point over the last three decades was a decision made that no new dams should be built and that future water supplies should be based on more expensive options such as desalination plants and/or pipelines?

Other cities are in much the same position: Melbourne has added 1.2 million since the completion of the Thomson Dam in 1984 and Brisbane has added 1 million since the Wivenhoe was completed also in 1984.

I have never understood the anti-dam lobby's argument that "why build a dam when it will never fill?" So, if this was the case and we had two dams both at 20 per cent capacity then doesn't this deliver twice the water security of one dam at 20 per cent?

I do understand that the construction of a dam will have a detrimental environmental impact. But environmental impact statements articulate the negatives. They never properly account for the positives associated with a dam.

And, yes, there are positives. More water for an urban population allows householders to develop gardens which attract birdlife and contribute more generally to what environmentalists call "the urban forest". I'm all for urban forests -- let's deliver the water these forests need to flourish and in so doing deliver quality of life to millions.

Do environmental impact statements incorporate the health costs of old people struggling with "bucket back" caused by watering restrictions? What about the psychological impact on those who fret about not having enough water for their gardens? No, not relevant?

Another dam has not been built in Brisbane's Lockyer Valley since the Wivenhoe which in turn was partially a flood mitigation device following the 1974 floods. How much water would have been retained by a second dam had it been built in say the late 1990s or early 2000s? What degree of calamity might have been averted by the existence of such a dam?

Surely flood mitigation is a positive impact of a dam. And what is the response of those whose influential water reports of the 1990s and the 2000s argued that we cannot rely on regular rainfall in the future to fill dams? Do these experts now concede that they got it wrong? If you got it wrong then why should we rely on your advice that we should not build dams in the future?

I might add that my argument in support of dams is not entirely in the interests of the property industry. Which do you think the property industry would prefer if it was purely self-interested: a desalination plant costing $5bn or a dam at $2bn?

The Australian people are indebted to the anti-dam lobby for forcing behavioural change with regard to water usage over the past 30 years: we have evolved a long way from water profligacy. But there comes a point in a city's growth when practical and hard-headed decisions need to be taken.

We haven't built a dam to service Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane for a generation. We've had a dam-building hiatus and we've moderated our water usage, now it's time to build cost-efficient dams.

Or at the very least let's have a conversation about the subject rather than allowing various levels of government to solely pursue less efficient and more expensive alternatives such as pipelines and desalination plants.

There may well be a place for these "insurances" against another decade-long drought in the future, but we also need to be considering dams as a way of delivering baseload water supplies for our biggest cities in the 21st century.



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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