Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Warmists lose; skeptic wins

James Delingpole

I wasn’t going to crow, really I wasn’t. But I’m afraid I can’t resist, especially since it’s my last blog post for a while and this is an event of some significance. I’m talking about the Press Complaints Commission’s ruling on a complaint brought against this blog by our old friends at the University of East Anglia. They lost. We won. (And I do mean we: I’m hugely grateful to my legal advisers, as well as to experts including Steve McIntyre, Andrew Montford, Richard North and Christopher Booker.)

Because I’m about to dash off to Devon for some vital surfing R & R, I’ve only time to sketch in why this matters so much. Basically the UEA were trying to use the PCC as a way of gagging this blog from speaking unpalatable truths about the shoddy goings-on in its notorious Climatic Research Unit.

To its enormous credit the PCC stuck up for fair comment and freedom of speech. This is a massive victory not just for me and Telegraph blogs, but for bloggers everywhere – especially those doughty souls around the world who are battling against Establishment lies, bullying and cover ups to try to reveal the truth about the corrupt, mendacious Climate Change industry.

If it sounds like I’m overdoing it, consider this: the PCC’s ruling must be among the first by any quasi-official body anywhere in the world to take the side of a Climate Change sceptic rather than that of the Warmist establishment. This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Now that ruling in full:
Commission’s decision in the case of
University of East Anglia v The Daily Telegraph

The complainants, acting on behalf of the University of East Anglia (UEA), complained that three blog posts by James Delingpole were inaccurate and misleading and contained distorted information in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code. In particular, the complainants were concerned that the blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”. They explained that Professor Phil Jones had been exonerated of any dishonesty or scientific malpractice by a series of reviews. They were concerned that a second blog post repeated accusations that had been demonstrated as untrue, concluding that the University’s scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and a third blog post referred to the scientists’ work as “shoddy” and “mendacious”.

The Commission emphasised that the articles in question were blog posts and were clearly identifiable as such to readers generally, as they were posited in the ‘Telegraph Blogs’ section of the website and written under the columnist’s prominent by-line. The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware that the comments therein represented the columnist’s own robust views of the matters in question. Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code permits the publication of such comment provided it is clearly distinguished from fact and does not contain significantly inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The Commission has previously ruled [North v The Guardian] that “In the realm of blogging (especially in cases touching upon controversial topics such as climate change), there is likely to be strong and fervent disagreement, with writers making use of emotive terms and strident rhetoric. This is a necessary consequence of free speech. The Commission felt that it should be slow to intervene in this, unless there is evidence of factual inaccuracy or misleading statement.”

Through its correspondence the newspaper had provided some evidence in support of the statements under dispute, and the columnist had included some of this evidence in the second blog post under discussion. In relation to the columnist’s description of Professor Jones as “FOI-breaching, email-deleting”, the newspaper had provided extracts from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written “If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”, and another email in which he had written “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?”. With respect to the columnist’s assertion that Professor Jones was “scientific method-abusing”, the newspaper had provided an extract from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline”. In view of this, the Commission considered that there were some grounds for the columnist’s opinion – which readers would recognise was subjective – on these points.

The complainants emphasised that Professor Phil Jones and the other scientists discussed in the blog post had been cleared by a number of independent reviews. The Commission noted that the columnist had referred to these reviews, and that readers would therefore have been aware that they had taken place. In the first blog post complained of the columnist had referred to “unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists”, and noted that one scientist, Mike Hulme, had “managed to emerge from the Climategate scandal smelling of violets”. He had also noted in the first blog post that Professor Jones had granted interviews “presenting himself as a man far more sinned against than sinning”. The columnist in the second blog post complained of had expanded on his comments and made clear that the scientists had “apparently… been ‘exonerated and cleared of all malpractice by a series of independent reviews’”, although he made clear that he did not consider these reviews to have been “independent”, citing a report by Andrew Montford which was critical of the reviews. While the complainants had expressed concern that the Montford report was “partisan”, the Commission considered that the columnist was entitled to agree with the report.

The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware of the context of the columnist’s robust views – clearly recognisable as his subjective opinion – that the scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and that their work was “shoddy” and “mendacious”. In the circumstances, it did not consider that there had been a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

The Commission noted that the newspaper had offered the complainants an opportunity to respond on the blog post. It considered that this would inform readers of the full context of the dispute and the complainants’ position. The Commission welcomed this offer, and hoped it would remain open to the complainants.


"Green" ideas not good for business

Leslie Dach, former senior aide to Al Gore, was the impetus behind Wal-Mart's failed shift to "green," upscale items that fit the progressive agenda for what Americans should be buying.

After suffering seven straight quarters of losses, today the merchandise giant Wal-Mart will announce that it is “going back to basics,” ending its era of high-end organic foods, going “green,” and the remainder of its appeal to the upscale market. Next month the company will launch an “It’s Back” campaign to woo the millions of customers who have fled the store. They will be bringing back “heritage” products, like inexpensive jeans and sweatpants.

Few may recognize it as such, but this episode should be seen as a cautionary tale about “progressives” and social engineering experiments on low-income Americans. This morning’s Wall Street Journal article is blunt:

That strategy failed, and the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant now is pursuing a back-to-basics strategy to reverse the company’s fortunes.

The failure, in large part, can be pinned to Leslie Dach: a well-known progressive and former senior aide to Vice President Al Gore. In July 2006, Dach was installed as the public relations chief for Wal-Mart. He drafted a number of other progressives into the company, seeking to change the company’s way of doing business: its culture, its politics, and most importantly its products.

Out went drab, inexpensive merchandise so dear to low-income Americans. In came upscale organic foods, “green” products, trendy jeans, and political correctness. In other words, Dach sought to expose poor working Americans to the “good life” of the wealthy, environmentally conscious Prius driver.

Dach’s failure should be a cautionary tale for President Obama: last week he scolded a blue collar man in Pennsylvania for driving an SUV, and he has previously admonished Americans to get out of their gas-guzzlers and into electric cars. Dach’s failure should also put Michelle Obama on notice; she has been pushing her White House organic vegetable garden as a model for working Americans.

Like other real-world experiments, the Wal-Mart story exposes the failure of progressivism in the marketplace, as the Dach strategy has been a fiasco: the merchandising turned off low-income (and largely Democratic-leaning) customers. Says former Wal-Mart executive Jimmy Wright: "The basic Wal-Mart customer didn’t leave Wal-Mart. What happened is that Wal-Mart left the customer."

Dach convinced the company to steer away from founder Sam Walton’s core values. At the core of Dach’s campaign was to prove that Wal-Mart was “going green.” He brought in Vice President Gore to speak about environmental issues: they actually screened his global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, at a quarterly meeting of Wal-Mart employees and invited environmental groups. Expensive organic foods were showcased in their produce section. Trendy and pricey environmentally safe products were put on the shelves.

Richard Edelman of Edelman Public Relations — who had once hired Dach — noted that Dach constantly pushed Democratic Party health care and environmental agendas inside the giant company. Writes the New Yorker: "Richard Edelman suggested that he is seeing Dach’s influence on the company. Edelman called Dach an “idealist” who has carried to Wal-Mart his fervor for such traditional Democratic causes as universal health care and environmentalism."

The Sierra Club’s Carl Pope seemed pleased that Dach was inside the enemy camp, confiding to the New Yorker: "One of the remarkable things about the environmental movement is how rarely people from our side end up on the other side, and Leslie is on the other side."

But Dach’s fervor only sunk the company. Andy Barron, a Wal-Mart executive vice president, told an investor meeting: "Clearly, we’ve lost some of our focus on what I would call the core customer. … You might say, in short, that we were trying to be something that maybe we’re not."

George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley — the nation’s largest organics cooperative — said to the WSJ: "Is the Wal-Mart customer ready to embrace a full set of organics products? The answer is no, not yet."

This is probably not what Michelle Obama wants to hear.

For leading the failed experiment, Dach was awarded three million dollars in stock and a hundred and sixty-eight thousand stock options, in addition to an undisclosed base salary.

Summing up the mess, mechanic Mike Craig told the WSJ: "Wal-Mart just went and broke it."


More EPA regulation? Voodoo is better

The agency’s push to stifle greenhouse gas emissions would cost more but do little else

One way or the other, the powers that be are determined to do something big, bold and dumb to try to stop supposedly catastrophic global warming, and here's my suggestion.: a nationwide voodoo dance.

It's true that tens of millions hopping crazily about in the streets would accomplish nothing, but neither will the far more mischievous plot in which the Environmental Protection Agency will do the hopping, going from source to source to stifle greenhouse gas emissions. Ask advocates, and they will argue that science validates the scheme. Ask J. Scott Armstrong, and he will tell you differently.

Armstrong is a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and someone alarmed about alarmists. With two other students of forecasting, he has observed that apocalypse predictors have been repeatedly wide of the mark, 23 times persuading the government to jump in with regulatory rigor to halt horrors that weren't horrors, doing no good in any of the cases and harm in 20.

In testimony before Congress, he said the global warming scare was the same vaporous worrying all over again. At the least, he said, any intervention should be preceded by evidence demonstrating a long-term, serious warming danger that the government could repel. No such evidence has been produced. Forecasts have been riddled with error. A United Nations warning flunked on 81 percent of the 89 procedures science demands for credibility, he said.

For the unconvinced, the EPA itself provides data showing its intrusiveness would be fruitless. Citing an EPA report, James M. Taylor of the Heartland Institute writes in a article that while carbon dioxide emissions have been declining in this country, China is more than taking up the slack.

He noted that China now produces some 24 percent of worldwide emissions (seven percent more than we do), and is adding to that total lickety-split. If the United States and Europe converted to hunter-gatherer societies next week, it wouldn't matter. In 10 years, China would be producing enough carbon dioxide to make up for our industrial absence.

Still, it might be argued, we should do our part, hoping that some day China and its carbon-contributing neighbor India might come on board. Know this: The cost would be huge. As a candidate in 2008, President Barack Obama himself said capping emission sources would "necessarily" make electricity rates "skyrocket," and Taylor looks to the Congressional Budget Office to assess the likely hit on the middle class. An emission reduction of 15 percent would cost an average family at least $1,400 a year, the congressional agency says.

That's hardly the end of the story. You think oil prices are high now? Wait until the EPA gets going. A Heritage Foundation analysis says in addition to gasoline and electricity, consumers can expect to pay more for diesel fuel and home heating oil. The writer adds that this more expensive energy will boost business costs that will be part of the higher prices consumers pay for just about everything.

Instead of wrecking the economy, how about waiting until we learn more about the atmosphere from studies still under way while also adapting to warming as needed, conserving reasonably, looking more to natural gas (which emits less carbon dioxide than coal and oil) and nuclear power (still a more reliable route despite the recent Japanese accident) and understanding that free-market technological rescues are in fact more than likely if some of the worst really should come to pass?

Sadly, Senate Democrats blocked a House bill that would have thwarted EPA's ambitions, but the House should try, try, try again, using its budgetary heft as necessary, and if it does succeed and there's no Obama veto, and if the warming alarmists are still unhappy, let's give them the voodoo dance, which should be cheap and do no harm.


NEW BOOK: Climate Coup: Global Warmings Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives

Despite convincing evidence that observed climate changes do not portend a calamitous future, global warming alarmism is invading nearly every aspect of our society. Children are flooded with apocalyptic visions and ideas in our schools. Poor countries shake down rich ones in the name of climate justice. Lawmakers try to impose tariffs and sanctions on nations that don't agree with their environmental preconceptions. Even the military uses climate change as an excuse to enlarge its budget.

Edited by leading climatologist Patrick Michaels, widely acknowledged by climate alarmists as today's most effective advocate of the non-apocalyptic view of climate change. Michaels has gathered a team of first-rate experts on health, education, religion, defense, development, law, trade, and academic publication to produce this comprehensive documentation of the pervasive influence of global warming alarmism on almost every aspect of society.


Cannabis use increases CO2 emissions

"equivalent to that of 3 million average American cars"

On occasion, previously unrecognized spheres of energy use come to light. Important examples include the pervasive air leakage from ductwork in homes, the bourgeoning energy intensity of computer datacenters, and the electricity “leaking” from millions of small power supplies and other equipment. Intensive periods of investigation, technology R&D, and policy development gradually ensue in the wake of these discoveries. The emergent industry of indoor Cannabis production appears to have joined the list.

This report presents a model of the modern-day production process—based on public sources and equipment vendor data—and provides national scoping estimates of the energy use, costs, and greenhouse-gas emissions associated with this activity in the United States.

Large-scale industrialized and highly energy-intensive indoor cultivation of Cannabis is a relatively new phenomenon, driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, and the desire for greater process control and yields. The practice occurs in every state, and the 415,000 indoor plants eradicated in 2009 5 represent only the tip of the iceberg. Aside from sporadic news reports, policymakers and consumers possess little information on the energy implications of this practice.

Substantially higher electricity demand growth is observed in areas reputed to have extensive indoor Cannabis cultivation. For example, following the legalization of cultivation for medical purposes in California in 1996, Humboldt County experienced a 50% rise in per-capita residential electricity use compared to other areas.

Cultivation is today legal in 17 states, albeit not federally sanctioned. In California, 400,000 individuals are authorized to grow Cannabis for personal medical use, or sale to 2,100 dispensaries. Official estimates of total U.S. production varied from 10,000 to 24,000 metric tons per year in 2001, making it the nation’s largest crop by value.

As of 2006, one third of national indoor production was estimated to occur in California. Based on a rising number of consumers (6.6% of U.S. population above the age of 12), national production in 2011 is estimated for the purposes of this study at 17,000 metric tons, one-third occurring indoors.

Driving the large energy requirements of indoor production facilities are lighting levels matching those found in hospital operating rooms (500-times greater than recommended for reading) and 30 hourly air changes (6-times the rate in high-tech laboratories, and 60- times the rate in a modern home).

Resulting electricity intensities are 200 watts per square foot, which is on a par with modern datacenters. Indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are often raised to four-times natural levels in order to boost plant growth. Specific energy uses include high-intensity lighting, dehumidification to remove water vapor, space heating during non-illuminated periods and drying, irrigation water preheating, generation of CO2 by burning fossil fuel, and ventilation and air-conditioning to remove waste heat. Substantial energy inefficiencies arise from air cleaning, noise and odor suppression, and inefficient electric generators used to avoid conspicuous utility bills.

Based on these operational factors, the energy requirements to operate a standard production module—a 4x4x8 foot chamber—are approximately 13,000 kWh/year of electricity and 1.5 x 10 6 BTU/year of fossil fuel. A single grow house can contain 10 or more such modules. Power use scales to about 20 TWh/year nationally (including off-grid production and power theft), equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes. This corresponds to 1% of national electricity consumption or 2% of that in households—or the output of 7 large electric power plants.

This energy, plus transportation fuel, is valued at $5 billion annually, with associated emissions of 17 million metric tons of CO2— equivalent to that of 3 million average American cars.

Much more HERE (See the original for references)

Rare fish saved from "anticipated" warming

One wishes the fish well and the new caution in that word "anticipated" is welcome too. I guess even the Brits have noticed that their winters are in fact colder than they were

The endangered vendace, that has been in Britain since the Ice Age, is in danger of dying out as lakes and rivers warm up because of man made global warming.

To ensure the species survival, the UK's environmental watchdog took eggs from Derwentwater in Cumbria, thought to be the only remaining site where the fish are found in England and Wales. They then took 25,000 young fish from the hatchery to a cooler lake higher up the mountains of the Lake District, Sprinkler Tarn, to establish a new 'refuge' population that is more likely to survive warming temperatures.

Because the route to the lake is so rocky and uneven, it was impossible to use conventional transport like a 4x4 motorbike or landrover. So, the fish were given a ride during part of the two-hour trek by sure-footed llamas from a local charity. The journey was finished by fisheries officers on foot to ensure none of the smarts were spilt.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said British species have to be protected from climate change. "In addition to the anticipated warming of lakes and rivers, we may also see an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

"All of these could have an impact on much of the native wildlife in England, especially aquatic species such as the rare and specialised vendace, so we are taking action now to conserve the existing populations."

Andy Gowans, fisheries technical specialist for the Environment Agency, said the fish are now safe from global warming. "By introducing these vendace into Sprinkling Tarn, where water temperatures will be lower, it will provide an additional element of safeguarding for this endangered species," he said. "The fish will be closely monitored, in the hope that a self-sustaining population will be established."


There is a more comprehensive article on the matter here in which bets are also hedged


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