By Steve Milloy
If you're thinking of becoming a GOP presidential candidate - and who isn't these days? - you can plan on being pressed on the climate issue.
In the wake of last week's new report from a panel of the National Research Council (NRC) reiterating its old talking points on climate, The Washington Post editorialized that all (read "Republican") candidates for political office should be quizzed about whether they agree with the "scientific consensus of America's premier scientific advisory group."
Though this threat is intended to intimidate Republicans who tend toward queasiness when confronted with environmental issues, the attack is easy to parry and then even to counterattack - that's why Al Gore and his enviros duck debating so-called climate skeptics.
First, let's dismiss a couple of the faulty premises of The Post's editorial.
While it is true that the NRC operates under the umbrella of the National Academy of Sciences, the NRC panel that authored the report has nothing to do with the prestigious individual scientists who comprise the National Academy of Sciences membership. NRC panels are highly politicized and often stacked, and no climate skeptics were included in the panel that wrote last week's report.
Next, science doesn't work on a consensus basis. We don't accept that the Earth revolves around the Sun because most scientists, or a group of scientists, have agreed to say so. Science is driven by data, not groupthink.
In actuality, the NRC report is more of an exercise in political rather than climate science.
Skeptics don't deny global warming or climate change. We think the atmosphere probably has warmed slightly and on an average basis over the past 200 years (for unknown reasons), and we recognize that climate is continually, albeit slowly, changing.
We don't agree, however, that manmade emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are having either detectable or predictable effects on climate - and we have at least two key means of establishing this point.
First, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by about 8 percent or so since the mid-1990s. According to climate alarmists, this should have caused measurable global warming. But none has been observed, a fact that was finally admitted by climate alarmists in the wake of the ClimateGate scandal.
Next, if it were true that global temperature was so sensitive and dependent upon atmospheric CO2 levels, then climate models (essentially elaborate scientific formulas) could be constructed so as to accurately predict the temperature effects from changing CO2 levels. But not only do existing models not predict the future temperature, they can't predict the past when historical data is put through them.
But shouldn't we err on the side of precaution and reduce emissions anyway? As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already demonstrated and admitted, we could shut down the U.S. in terms of CO2 emissions for 100 years, and we would make precious little difference in atmospheric CO2 level - possibly on the order of 5 percent.
Given that an 8 percent increase in CO2 over the past 15 years has amounted to zero global warming, candidates would be on firm ground wondering whether a 5 percent increase over 100 years is worth wrecking the economy over.
Candidates should not fall for bogus distractions like melting polar ice, threatened polar bears, bad weather and the like.
The Washington Post wants candidates to be quizzed on what they would do about "the rising seas, spreading deserts and intensifying storms that, absent a change in policy, loom on America's horizon."
But natural disasters, topographic changes and population booms and busts have always occurred and will continue to occur. Moreover, none of these phenomena can be scientifically tied to manmade emissions of CO2. So they are simply irrelevant sideshow issues.
Carbon dioxide should also not be referred to as a "pollutant." It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is an essential nutrient for plants and, therefore, humans. Alarmists call it "carbon pollution;" the rest of us call it "life."
One last science point is the ClimateGate scandal. Alarmists claim that numerous subsequent investigations of the matter by independent groups have failed to uncover wrongdoing or faulty science. But none of these whitewashes were truly independent or anything more than superficial. No input from skeptics, even those mentioned in the emails, was included.
None of this is difficult to learn and or articulate. Yet ask almost any Republican politician about any of this and the best you can hope for from them is an expression of concern about jobs and/or the fact that China and India aren't cutting their emissions.
While those are true and valid points, they too are sideshow distractions. The central point of the science debate is whether manmade CO2 emissions are causing harm. There is no evidence that they are.
People often ask, "What if you're wrong about the science?" or "Shouldn't we err on the side of better-safe-than-sorry?" But of course it's the alarmists who need to be second-guessing themselves. They've been repeatedly wrong and never right since they started forecasting climate doom almost 25 years ago. Give them no quarter.
Is the railway engineer backing down?
(I have yet to see any reasoning that explains why a railway engineer should be in charge of climate studies)
From Australia come some interesting quotes from Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, perhaps showing a new approach. First, on recent extreme events:
"Frankly, it is difficult to take a season or two and come up with any conclusions on those on a scientific basis," Dr Pachauri said.
"What we can say very clearly is the aggregate impact of climate change on all these events, which are taking place at much higher frequency and intensity all over the world.
"On that there is very little doubt; the scientific evidence is very, very strong. But what happens in Queensland or what happens in Russia or for that matter the floods in the Mississippi River right now, whether there is a link between those and climate change is very difficult to establish. So I don't think anyone can make a categorical statement on that."
When given a chance to opine on Austalia's climate politics, he took pass:
[W]hen it came to commenting on the state of Australian politics and climate change, Dr Pachauri played a straight bat literally.
Anticipating questions about whether Australia was doing enough, he said he had rehearsed his lines. "Australia is not doing enough in cricket. About climate change, I just can't say."
He said the IPCC was "doing what we can" in relation to concerns about its reputation. "We . . . are focused on producing the best possible reports that we can. It is really up to governments to take actions that are in their best interests and society at large."
Lord Turnbull: the IPCC is useless
Following yesterday's story about David Cameron's depressing plans to bomb the UK economy back to the dark ages and wipe out the British countryside, here's a wistful reminder of how things might have been if only we weren't run by imbeciles.
It's a briefing paper called The Really Inconvenient Truth - or It Ain't Necessarily So produced for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary and head of the Home Civil Service (2002 to 2005). His arguments against unilateral action by Britain to "combat Climate Change" are clear and powerful. In a nutshell, he says: "Don't let the deeply untrustworthy IPCC decide the fate of the UK economy."
Lord Turnbull doesn't mince his words:
The feed-in tariff mechanism is fast becoming a scandal. Those lucky enough to own buildings large enough on which to install solar panels or enough land for a wind farm have been receiving 30-40p per kwh, for electricity, which is retailed at only 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on businesses and households. It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich running to œbillions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don't have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough.
It is regrettable that the UK Parliament has proved so trusting and uncritical of the IPCC narrative, and so reluctant to question the economic costs being imposed in pursuit of decarbonisation. It verges on the unconstitutional that the payments being made under the renewables obligation and feed-in tariffs and the levies being raised to pay for them are routed invisibly through the accounts of the electricity industry rather than being voted in Estimates or the Finance Bill. I am also disappointed that so many of my former colleagues in the Civil Service seem so ready to go along unquestioningly with the consensus."
You can read the report in full here.
The graph, as explained in the Turnbull report:
How the IPCC's predictions are increasingly at odds with reality
The figure shows that the linear trend between 1880 and 2000 is a continuation of the recovery from the Little Ice Age (LIA) together with the superposed multi-decadal oscillation. It is assumed that the recovery from the LIA would continue to 2100, together with the superposed multi-decadal oscillation. This view could explain the halting of the warming after 2000. The observed temperature in 2008 is shown by a red dot with a green arrow. It also shows the temperature rise after 2000 predicted by the IPCC. It has been suggested by the IPCC that the thick red line portion was caused mostly by the greenhouse effect, so the IPCC's future prediction is a sort of extension of the red line. For detail, see Syun-Ichi Akasofu: On the recovery from the Little Ice Age. Natural Science, 2:11 (2010)
More lies from a frequent Warmist liar
Judith Eilperin again
As forecast, the misinformation from the Hillary-Nuuk meeting is starting to spill out:
There is rarely if ever any sea ice around Nuuk (red circle below) this time of year. Sea ice around Greenland is right at the 30 year median.
April, 2011 was the third coldest April on record in Nuuk. The cold has continued into May, and is forecast to continue for the rest of the month.
SOURCE (See the original for more links and graphics)
Wind power wannabe
Two recent stories about wind power went unremarked in the mainstream media, presumably because the stories don't fit the dominant Green narrative, aka the Green Dream.
The first is the report out of the UK that wind farms produce far less energy and cause far more problems with the grid than proponents have predicted or acknowledged.
The John Muir Trust - a "conservation charity," please note - commissioned an engineering study of wind power in the UK. The report is out, and it is revealing. While wind power farms are pitched to investors - really, lawmakers, since wind power only exists because of lavish subsidies from government - as generating, on average, 30% of their maximum output over time, in reality they average only 25%. So wind power delivers about one-sixth less electricity than promised. This is a very significant shortfall. Yet wind power averages less than 20% of capacity most of the time, and a risible 10% about a third of the time.
But there is a more severe problem. Because wind power is so erratic, it needs backup from fossil fuel power plants, and that backup has to be able to shut down quickly when the wind blows hard, or come online quickly when wind farms won't deliver even their measly 25% power. So wind power farms must be tied very tightly to fossil fuel plants, or the grid will face a shortfall.
Even worse: the times (such as the middle of the night) when power demands on the grid are slight are often the periods when the wind blows hardest. At such times, owners of wind generators - who have to sell power whenever it shows up, even at a low price - push power onto the grid, thereby forcing other providers off.
This is because the grid is just a distribution network of power lines and transformers with little capacity for storing power when it isn't being consumed. Yes, there is "pumped storage," which uses excess electricity to get water up hill, then during periods of high demand lets it flow back down, turning turbines as it goes, thus generating power. But pumped storage is inefficient and limited. Currently, the United States, the world leader in pumped storage, can store only about 2.5% of the average electric power sent across the grid at any given time.
A second damaging piece of news for wind power is the report that it may have lost its enchantment even for the Dutch.
Perhaps because of its historic use of windmills, the Netherlands has invested heavily in modern wind power. It is now third in the world in offshore wind power generation - of course heavily subsidized by the government. But the new center-right government has decided that continuing the massive subsidies, which include the transfer of 4.5 billion Euros of Dutch tax dollars to a German engineering company to build and run new wind farms, is not, shall we say, defensible.
The new Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, may have come up with the perfect epitaph for wind power. He reputedly said, "Windmills turn on subsidies." Soon fewer will be turning.
By the time they clear all this it'll be winter again! Washington highway buried under 75FEET of snow
Running just south of the U.S. border with Canada, you'd expect the North Cascade Highway to be subject to some wintry weather occasionally.
But this weekend drivers on State Route 20 - which passes from Port Townsend in west Washington State to Newport in the east - found that snow chains wouldn't be sufficient after an incredible 75 feet of snow covered a 40-mile stretch of the highway.
And the heavy snowfall could keep the road closed for another week, which would mark its latest spring reopening in 30 years.
Officials from the Washington Department of Transportation officials say snow is 75-feet deep this year. They usually try to clear the snow by Memorial Day weekend, but WSDOT says it likely won't be cleared by then.
`We're not too comfortable with making any kinds of predictions right now, just because of the unusual spring that it's been,' said Dustin Terpening, spokesman for the Department of Transportation. `We've gotten a lot of snow really late in the spring.'
The North Cascade Highway, which typically opens for scenic spring driving at some point between late March and May, has only remained closed past Memorial Day weekend once before - in 1974.
The ongoing delays after record snowfalls is likely to have a huge impact on businesses along the highway who are hoping for a spring boost to their takings.
`I normally by this time have about four people working at my shop, and now I'm here by myself,' Doug Mohre, owner of Sheri's Sweet Shoppe, was quoted by the Seattle Times as saying this week.
Crews are also working hard to clear the snow that has engulfed and closed the Chinook and Cayuse passes in the same area. The last time all three passes were opened so late into the spring season was in 1974 - a year, like 2011, that saw the La Nina storm bring heavy snows.
The North Cascade Highway is closed in the west from milepost 134, to the east of Diablo, and in the east from milepost 171, which sits around 14 miles west of Mazama.
Crews working to remove the snows from each end of the closed stretch, as well as rocks and other detritus, from the highway are reportedly six miles apart but their efforts have been hampered by new avalanches in previously cleared stretches of road, according to the Bellingham Herald.
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