Monday, May 09, 2011

Sea level rise is decelerating

Following a long delay and some controversial "adjustments," the University of Colorado sea level satellite data was recently released. A plot of the rate of sea level rise shows a stable rate between 2003 and 2007, and declining rates since 2007.

Rate of sea level rise in mm/year

Sea levels have been rising since the peak of the last ice age 22,000 years ago and have been decelerating over the past 8,000 years.

More HERE (See the original for links)

'Clean stoves' would save lives, cut pollution

By Hillary Clinton and Julia Roberts (!!!)

The article below by two unlikely authors is perfectly correct and sensible. Third world cookery is a nightmare in many ways. What the article overlooks is that the accursed ELECTRICITY is the way to spread non-polluting cookery far and wide. And Greenies HATE electricity and do their best to stop dam building, power station building and anything else that might provide electricity to the Third World. Greenies are the ENEMY of 'Clean stoves'

This Mother's Day weekend, most of us will enjoy a home-cooked meal — maybe even breakfast in bed. We'll probably take it for granted that the meal was prepared in a clean kitchen, where the air is safe to breathe. But for nearly half of the world's population, cooking at home is a deeply dangerous act. In fact, it poses one of the most serious health risks in the developing world, and it's a major threat to the environment.

The reason? Smoke from dirty stoves or open flames. Some 3 billion people live in homes where food is cooked on stoves orover fires burning fuels like wood, dung, charcoal, or agricultural waste. These fuels produce toxic fumes, and in poorly ventilated homes, the mix of chemicals can reach 200 times the level that the EPA considers safe to breathe. It can cause lung cancer, pneumonia, cataracts, low birth weight, even death. According to the World Health Organization, smoke from dirty stoves and fires kills almost 2 million people each year, most of them women and children. It kills more than twice as many people as malaria.

The impact goes beyond people's health. Burning these fuels produces carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon, which contribute to climate change. And cutting down trees for fuel causes natural habitats to dry up, forests to disappear, and soil to erode.

On average, women and girls in developing countries spend up to 20 hours a week searching for fuel — time they could spend going to school, running a business, or raising their families. And if they live in areas of conflict, leaving home to search for fuel puts them at great risk of assault or rape.

All of this presents a major challenge — but it can be solved. If we can get cleaner, more efficient cookstoves in wider use throughout the developing world, we can save lives, cut back on carbon emissions, and create new economic opportunities for millions of women.

Fortunately, the technology for clean cookstoves already exists. Several companies are already producing them, and countries like India, China, and Mexico have begun to introduce them in national programs. But the uptake has been slow, because there hasn't been a widescale effort to coordinate these efforts, or to make the stoves affordable in the developing world.


Obama's Weekly Address: "Hey, Why Not Take A Hybrid Bus!"

William Teach

After doing something good in authorizing the take down of Bin Laden, he's right back to his idea of clean green super duper expensive alternative energy while telling us we can't drill our way out of high gas prices. Then he jumps in his huge fossil fueled vehicle and drives to the golf course, followed by a large motorcade of gas sucking SUVs. Oh, sorry, I forgot, despite all the "I's" in his speeches, actually doing something is all about You
Weekly Address: Clean Energy Will Help Us Out-Compete and Out-Innovate the Rest of the World

That's not working so well for other countries which have tried that path. Perhaps in the future it will help us, and, as I keep repeating, I'm all for it. But, during the transition, we still need oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear at reasonable prices.
Hi. I’m speaking with you today from the Allison Transmissions plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. I came here because this is a place where American workers are doing some big and impressive things.

The hybrid technology they manufacture here already powers nearly 4,000 buses all over the world – buses that have already saved 15 million gallons of fuel. Soon, they’ll expand this new technology to trucks as well. That means more vehicles using less oil, and that means jobs – more than 200 new workers at this plant alone.

See? He wants us all, you folks who can't afford to slap down an extra $10,000 on a hybrid or electric car to take the bus. He's got Marine 1 to ferry him around to campaign events.
That’s important because even as the economy is growing after one of the worst recessions in our history; even as we’ve added more than 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months; I still meet and hear from Americans struggling to get out of their own personal recessions.

Did he just blame people for being in their "own personal recessions?" Like it's something of their own making, and the rest of the country doesn't feel the same way? Good thing only 31% feel that the countries best days are ahead of us, the lowest ever recorded.
A lot of folks are still looking for work. And many folks who do have jobs are finding that their paychecks aren’t keeping up with the rising costs for everything from tuition to groceries to gas. In fact, in alot of places across the country, like Indiana, gas is reaching all-time highs.

So, in order to counter that, he wants more "clean energy", which might possibly sorta kinda help in 20 years or so. Then he flies Air Force 1 across the country, along with the backup jumbo jet, for a campaign rally.
The clean energy jobs at this plant are the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well right here in America. And in the years ahead, it’s clean energy companies like this one that will keep our economy growing, create new jobs, and make sure America remains the most prosperous nation in the world.

Told ya. Of course, people are concerned with all those rising prices now.
But over the long term, the only way we can avoid being held hostage to the ups and downs of oil prices is if we reduce our dependence on oil. That means investing in clean, alternative sources of energy, like advanced biofuels and natural gas. And that means making cars and trucks and buses that use less oil. Other countries know this, and they’re going all in to invest in clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs. But I don’t want other countries to win the competition for these technologies and these jobs. I want America to win that competition. I want America to win the future.

When milk costs $5 a gallon, bread is $3 for a generic loaf, and gas is $6 a gallon, we'll all be saying "WTF" too, but, it will obviously have a different meaning. And Obama will say WTF on the first Wednesday in November 2012, wondering why the f... he lost.
Now, I know that in a difficult fiscal climate like the one we’re in, it’s tempting for some to try and cut back our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is by cutting the things we don’t and living within our means. But I refuse to cut investments like clean energy that will help us out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. I refuse to cut investments that are making it possible for plants like this one to grow and add jobs across America.

We can do this. I don’t just believe that because I see it happening in plants like this. I believe that because I believe in the Americans making it happen in places like this. I’m optimistic about our economic future, because for all the challenges we face, America is still home to the most entrepreneurial, most industrious, most determined people on Earth. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we set our minds to it. And that’s what we’ll keep doing as long as I have the privilege of being your President.

Notice the contrast between "I's" and "we's." What he's saying is that he (I) has political beliefs that he (I) is going to shove down your (we) neck, regardless of how much it hurts you (we) and ruins the country (we).

He also has a snappy cartoon like graphic on the video page showing how all this is going to work. Remember to view it while you are sitting at home, unable to afford to travel anywhere for a vacation, barely able to afford to get to work, and worried about layoffs because the company you work for can barely afford to operate with the high energy costs.


Joe Romm Lies


I do my best to ignore Joe Romm, but when he blatantly lies about me I sometimes feel compelled to respond. In today's installment Romm writes: "[The] false accusation that Gore was exaggerating came from none other than Roger Pielke, Jr."

He is referring to the time back in February, 2009 that I called Al Gore out for including a misleading slide in his famous climate change slide show. Far from being a "false accusation" it was one that Al Gore actually agreed with and responded to immediately -- Much to Gore's credit, he agreed that the slide was misleading and immediately pulled it from his presentation.

Here is what his spokesperson said at the time (full statement at link above): "We appreciate that you have pointed out the issues with the CRED database and will make the switch back to the data we used previously to ensure that there is no confusion either with regards to the data or attribution."

Al Gore showed some real integrity in trying to get the science more right, something I praised him for at the time.

It is long overdue for the environmental community to start pushing back on Romm as he continues to stain their entire enterprise. His lies and smear tactics, which are broadly embraced and condoned, are making enemies out of friends and opponents out of fellow travelers. Vigorous debate is welcome and healthy. Lies and character assassination not so much.

UPDATE 5/7: Joe Romm offers 3,300 wacky words in response to this short post. Crazy. Anyway, the simple response is, did Gore remove the slide I called him out on for using? Answer: Yes. Game, set, match.


Wasting money on climate change betrays sick

Jo Nova comments from Australia

LOST opportunities are invisible but deadly. On climate change, the call to buy insurance by pricing carbon is a cop-out. Where is the cost-benefit analysis?

We're thinking of axing Australian medical research yet we're supporting solar panel manufacturers in China. It doesn't have to be this way.

All the money spent employing green police, subsidising solar or researching how to pump carbon dioxide underground is money not spent on medical research.

Opportunity lost is a killer. The path not taken could be lined with happier, longer lives. Only the best evidence and real debate have a chance of helping us see through the fog to pick the better road.

While most scientists agree CO2 causes some warming, there is great debate about just how much. If CO2 has only a minor effect on temperature then spending, say, $1 billion on inefficient roof-top solar panels is not just wasted money, it's a choice that will kill people. We won't be able to say exactly who it will kill but we can virtually guarantee that some people will die in the future who could have been saved.

Why? Solar energy costs us more than five times what coal-powered energy does. So instead of spending $1bn on solar panels, we could have spent $200 million on cheap electricity and used the other $800m to double our medical research budget.

Right now, the government is planning to cut $133m from our $800m annual medical research budget. The Australian government has spent or will spend $3.8bn on initiatives to combat climate change across four years. (The US government was spending about $7bn a year at last count.) When Julia Gillard spends money on climate-related work instead of medical research, she is making a choice about the net benefits and it's supposedly based on science. It's true sooner or later medical research will get the answers right, but for someone who is sick with a deadly disease, sooner makes a life-and-death difference.

If our government-funded climate establishment makes the wrong guess about what humidity does in a warmer world, CO2 emissions become trivial and inconsequential. But the money diverted or delayed from better causes leaves a trail of destruction that cannot be repaired. Money can always be replaced, but lives lost are gone for good.

Julio Licinio, director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, put together a passionate, disturbing advertisement two weeks ago, a plea to stop cuts to medical research funding. His sister died aged four from a disease that is treatable today.

Which four-year-old in 2018 will die because Gillard introduced a carbon tax instead of increasing medical research funding? Which father will die in 2022 who would have lived if we had doubled our funding for medical research? It is for people such as four-year-old Fabiola that we should keep fighting for rational debate. Bad science makes for bad policy. Poor reasoning is deadly.

Medical research is blossoming at a phenomenal, historic pace.

The exponential curve in gene therapy, telomerase research, genomics and glycobiology is barely beginning. Four significant breakthroughs were made in medical research in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000.

These were the kinds of breakthroughs people had worked for decades to make, and some were not predicted even a few years beforehand. The human genome project was finished five years ahead of schedule and for a fraction of the expected price.

Right now, a year of medical research really does make a difference. These are the areas where we will be left behind and it will hurt. These are the industries where we need to stay at the head of the pack, not just to save lives but to save the economy as well.

Access Economics estimated in 2003 that every dollar invested in the Australian health research and development sector returned at least $5 in national economic development.

When government-funded Australian researchers discover treatments, we own vital intellectual property. We not only export products the world wants, we avoid being beholden to foreign patent holders. Some effective cancer drugs cost $2000 a week. Isn't that the kind of research we want to own?

If we lead the world in medicine, the world is our oyster. If it turns out clean carbon technology is useful, we can buy it with the spare change from the profits of medical research. We know we need a cure for cancer. We don't know if the rest of the world will want to pump CO2 underground 10 years from now.

When we lead the world in putting inefficient solar panels on roofs, we only help Chinese manufacturers and we win a race no one wants to win. You can't export second-hand solar panels or resell old pink batts.

Can we start looking at the cost benefits of all our policies instead of reasoning by fallacy? The precautionary principle is no principle of science: it's a blind tool that works for both sides of any debate.

To quote Licinio: "In 1964 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of childhood was 100 per cent fatal. Now the cure rate is over 80 per cent, thanks to medical research. When Fabiola died I was so upset that it took me decades to recover. From protracted mourning to survivor guilt, the impact of that death shaped my life. For someone like myself who suffered tremendously due to a disease [that] was incurable and whose cure has been subsequently achieved through medical research, the proposed cuts to the NHRMC [National Health and Medical Research Council] budget are unconscionable.

"On a very positive note, my mother, Aurea, lost her own mother early on. My grandmother died at age 47 due to malignant hypertension, which was out of control, and sky-high blood pressures. My mother suffered enormously because of that death; and she knew that she had the exact same disease. Later in life, my mother also developed breast cancer. However, medical research always caught up with her and her blood pressure was always well controlled. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer she had state-of-the-art treatment, guided by medical research. My mother died in 2007 neither from hypertension nor from breast cancer. Medical research gave my mother 40 years of active, happy and highly productive life."


The Greenies tremble before their demanding God: "Nature"

Ben Pile

The Guardian has a revealing editorial today, which makes the claim that:
Biodiversity: It’s the ecology, stupid

At every level, human civilisation is underwritten by the planet’s countless and still mostly unidentified wild things

As discussed in the previous post, the idea that civilisation is underwritten in this way is a secular revision of Divine Providence. Environmentalism’s politics is forged by this view of nature with an equally bleak conception of human nature — equally a contemporary, secular account of original sin. The logic of these conceptions of the natural world and humanity lead to environmentalism’s tendency to produce political ideas that resonate with the worst from the Dark Ages.

Says the Guardian:
The water we drink falls as rain, usually on higher ground, often designated as a catchment area. The terrain would ideally be covered in vegetation, because otherwise the runoff would be muddy, the reservoirs would silt up and the valleys would flood. But plants depend on billions of insects to pollinate them. Insects also devour foliage, so forests depend on birds by day and bats by night to keep insect populations under control. To prevent a population crash, there must also be raptors to keep the insectivores in order – and the taps running.

At every level, human civilisation is underwritten by the planet’s countless and still mostly unidentified wild things – the jargon word is biodiversity – that pollinate our crops, cleanse, conserve and recycle our water, maintain oxygen levels, and deliver all the things on which human comfort, health, and security depend. Economists and conservationists have tried to put a value on the services of nature: if we had to buy what biodiversity provides for nothing, how much cash would we need? The answer runs into trillions, but the question is nonsensical. Without healthy ecosystems, there would be no cotton and linen to make banknotes and no bread or clean water for sale.

The author seems a little slow in the head. He or she wants to claim that the question of how much we’d pay to do the job that ecosystems seem to do is nonsensical, because if there were no ecosystems there would be no stuff. This obviously forgets that doing the job the ecosystems do — i.e. what we’d pay for — would create the stuff. Who writes these editorials, anyway?

The idea that we depend on ‘biodiversity’ in this way is a curious one. I could get my water for ‘free’, rather than pay the £300 or so a year I currently pay to have it on tap. I could put buckets in my garden, and store them. But in what sense is this ‘free’? I would have to buy the buckets, but let’s assume I made them. I would also have to process the water somehow to make sure it is clean, and to maintain the buckets and make sure I have enough storage space for rainless periods: I need an even bigger bucket. If we also assume that I earn £10 an hour, in order to say that I get my water ‘for free’, we’d have to say that I would be better off collecting my own water than paying for it with what takes me just 30 hours to earn. Add to this the fact that now I’ve cut myself off from the rest of society, collecting water is now a matter of life and death.

I think I’m better off forking out the £300 a year. Moreover, this figure includes the cost of removing the water I no longer need.

The author of the editorial might protest that natural processes were still involved in the movement of the water onto higher-ground, where it found its way to aquifers and rivers, which supply our water infrastructure. But what if I live near the sea, and my water is supplied from a desalination plant, powered by nuclear energy? To what extent, then, am I dependent on ‘biodiversity’?

It seems obvious that our dependence on ‘biodiversity’ is greatly diminished by our self-dependence as a society. The time I would have spent collecting and processing water is reduced by my dependence on somebody else to do the job on a larger scale more efficiently, leaving me to spend my time and money on better things. This much is explained by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. The point the Guardian editorial misses is that we are made richer by our self-dependence, and we are accordingly less and less dependent on ‘biodiversity’. We don’t need to ‘buy’ ‘ecosystem services’, we make better alternatives.

The Guardian grumbles on…
Last week the European commission unveiled its 2020 biodiversity strategy, and introduced the notion of a “green infrastructure” from Orkney to the Black Sea. A continent-sized strategy is indeed necessary: swifts, swallows and swallowtail butterflies do not care about national boundaries. It focuses on the economic value of forest, grassland, heath, wetland, lake, river and farmland ecosystems. The auguries are not encouraging. One fourth of all Europe’s farmland birds flew away between 1990 and 2007; 40 or more of Europe’s 435 butterflies are now fluttering to extinction. Yes, extinctions are a normal part of evolutionary history, but not on such a scale and pace. And who knows which species an ecosystem can do without, and still function for human benefit?

But what scale, and what pace are ‘Europe’s 435 butterflies are now fluttering to extinction’? What is the scale and pace of butterfly extinction that we should expect? Why wouldn’t ‘One fourth of all Europe’s farmland birds’ fly ‘away between 1990 and 2007′? What would have kept them where they were, if we weren’t here? Should these numerical statements be take at face value?

And indeed, ‘who knows which species an ecosystem can do without’?

By definition, an ecosystem without a species is no longer the same ecosystem. The mistake the Guardian makes is to imagine that ecosystems are tangible, bounded entities, rather than fluid and dynamic.

The myth that haunts this misconception is the mystical notion of ‘balance’. Just as the eddies formed by a butterfly’s wings are imagined to be capable of producing a storm elsewhere in the world, the Guardian seem to have this idea of ecosystems in such a perilous equilibrium that just the slightest horizontal force — the disappearance of just one tiny species — can begin a cascade of tipping points to oblivion. It is as if the disappearance of just one butterfly would cause rain to cease falling on the hill, for the sun to stop shining on the field, for the earth to become infertile. It is this mystical idea of ‘balance’ which, it seems, is supposed to keep the populations of butterflies and farmland birds in check. It doesn’t matter what the scale and pace are, anything could bring doom upon us.

I don’t wish to appear callous. I’m not arguing for the senseless destruction of all things bright and beautiful. I just think the Guardian talks a lot of crap. It continues…
The EU in 2006 vowed to halt species loss by 2010, but in 2008 admitted frankly that targets would not be met. Around 18% of Europe’s land area is protected, but governments and environment agencies need to think very hard about not just protecting but restoring habitats in much of the remaining 82%. Inevitably, those critics who do not condemn Brussels for the failure of its biodiversity policies so far will vilify it for fretting about dragonflies, toads and liverworts while economies stagnate and industries collapse. Both responses are wrong. Europe may propose, but the member states must implement. And although the cost of conserving biodiversity will be considerable, the price of not doing so could be truly terrible.

Given that, in spite of a whopping 18% of Europes 4.4 million sqKm being ‘protected’ the EU has nonetheless failed to meet this goal of ‘halting species loss’, it must be worth wondering if extending the protective cover to the remaining 82% would merely amplify the failure. Nature isn’t behaving as EU diktats have instructed! Might this failure be a fact owed less to environmental degradation and insufficient legislation than to the shortcomings of self-serving bureaucracy and mystical ideas about the natural world? Might it be the case that ‘the science’ has been prematurely turned into policy?

Sod the cost, says the Guardian, it could be doomsday. Fetch the buckets!

And isn’t that what they always say? With such a comprehensive inability to bring a sense of proportion to their analyses, any trivial issue becomes a matter of life and death. It’s the precautionary principle, all over again. It allows the likes of disoriented Guardian editors to speculate about some superficially plausible way by which we might all die horribly, thus giving momentum to their absurd agenda. Nebulous concepts like ‘biodiveristy’ and ‘ecosystem’, and bogus notions of connectedness and balance allow rank moral cowardice and intellectual vacuity to be concealed.

If these claims about biodiversity were not hidden behind the precautionary principle — if real numbers took the place of vapid speculation — Guardian editors would have nothing to hide behind. As the steam runs out of the climate change scare, so we can expect other ecological issues to dominate the ecological narrative: sustainability, population, and biodiversity. The same language and logic turns up in each attempt to tell the same story, passed off as new science, or new data.



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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