Sunday, June 12, 2011

IPCC’s new, improved “world leading authority on climate change” speaks

I’ve never been an early riser (truth be told, if I ruled the world, mornings would be abolished), so I didn’t catch all of the early morning local CBC radio interview with imported (all the way from Switzerland, no less) “world leading authority on climate change”, Thomas Stocker.

Stocker is the Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Working Group I (WG1) for the forthcoming (sometime in 2013-14) 5th Assessment Report (AR5).

As I reported a few days ago, courtesy of the very well-endowed (to the tune of $94.5 million of British Columbia taxpayer funds) Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), Stocker gave a free lecture in Vancouver. [OK, OK ... in the interest of truth in posting, I had not mentioned the PICS endowment in my previous post]

Because of a prior (and higher priority) engagement, I wasn’t able to attend this lecture in person. But I did watch the webcast (which doesn’t seem to be available for those who might have missed it … so you’ll have to take my word for what I saw and heard!). To give credit where credit is due, though, Stocker in lecture-mode is smoother than either Michael Mann or IPCC Chair, Rajendra Pachauri. But that’s where the credits end.

During the course of his show (lots of graphs) and tell (much verbiage), Stocker informed his (very small from where I was sitting) audience that (inter alia): " Today’s greenhouse gases are the “highest in the past 800,000 years”; “tree-rings are a very good and widespread archive of the past”; “yes there is uncertainty, but there is agreement in sign and order of magnitude”; all attempts to dispute the “fact” that climate change is “unequivocal” have been “weathered”

But Stocker did acknowledge: “there is a problem: we cannot go back to 1900 and replicate … so we use [computer generated] models”

Never fear, though, dear reader, Stockwell has declared that: "statistical analysis “make us confident” [and that] there is “a hiearchy of validated climate models”; “uncertaintainties have been identified and estimated”; their knowledge “is subject to the scientific method”

I’m not sure what Stocker’s definition of “the scientific method” might be. But simulations generated by computers – in which Stocker appears to have such a high level of confidence – did not appear in any of the science textbooks I was required to read (sorry, science was not my fave) during the course of my pre-post-modern education.

And I won’t even mention that expertise in “statistical analysis” has been a highly conspicuous absence in the qualifications of those who have contributed to the IPCC Assessments. Oopps … I just did. Sorry about that.

But here’s the thing … Stocker was a very prominent (if not loud) voice in the IPCC’s “responses” and “task groups” who drafted the responses and/or “responded” to the early drafts in response to the InterAcademy Counci (IAC)’s review of the IPCC. (Yes I know that sounds terribly convoluted … but convolution is a hallmark of, well, just about any document that can be traced back to the United Nations (UN) and/or any of its acronymic offspring – of which the IPCC is but one of many)

In what seems to be an adherence to the “do as I say but not as I do” golden rule of the UN (and its offspring), Stocker’s claim that: "Today’s greenhouse gases are the “highest in the past 800,000 years” appears to be drawn from a paper published in 2008

YMMV, but I’m not sure how this particular proclamation from Stocker complies with the IPCC’s newly adopted “communication strategy guideline” to the effect that: "It is an essential quality of the IPCC that its reports are policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive. When speaking on behalf of the IPCC, individuals should take care to stay within this mandate – and not to express views beyond the scope of the IPCC reports, or to advocate specific policies. IPCC communications should be drawn from IPCC Reports [...]"

And in light of the above policy, that those who speak on behalf of the IPCC should restrict their proclamations to those which are “not policy-prescriptive”, I’d really be interested in knowing how Stocker can justify his [pre-lecture] prescription to the Vancouver Sun that: "the planet might be better off if [gas prices] soared to “three to four” times its current level."

Well, apart from Stocker’s stepping out of line (not to mention well beyond his area of experise), I’m sure that tripling or quadrupling gas prices would go a very long way towards eliminating poverty, disease and all the other scourges afflicting people on our planet.


A Fascist Swiss

Comment from Canada

Thomas Stocker is a climate modeler. He also, we are told, holds “one of the world’s most prestigious scientific jobs, co-chairing a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC).

In Switzerland, where he resides, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation refers to Stocker as “the guardian of our climate.” Based on comments he made this week to Canada’s Vancouver Sun newspaper he certainly can’t be regarded as a guardian of humanity.... he told a reporter that he thinks tripling – or even quadrupling – the price of gasoline could help save the planet. According to the newspaper, Stocker believes that:

"Much higher pump prices would help people realize there are “much smarter ways to go from point A to point B” than climbing into “three tonnes of steel and rubber” that spew greenhouse gases…"

Neither Stocker, nor the journalist who wrote the story, appears to be the least bit interested in what effect that sort of price increase might have on human beings.

So here’s a bit of a reality check. First, Switzerland is a T – I – N – Y nation. It’s population is less than 8 million and the entire country comprises less than 40,000 square kilometers.

You could fit 227 Switzerlands within Canada’s vast land mass. Moreover, Switzerland’s population density is 54 times higher than ours.

So Stocker, who gave a talk here, thinks he’s entitled to advise us Canadians that there are “smarter ways to go from point A to point B,” does he?

Perhaps before he returns home he’d care to spend some time on our prairies. Our province of Saskatchewan, for example, has two urban centers – Regina and Saskatoon. As Google maps will confirm, getting from one to the other involves a three-hour drive of some 260 kilometers (160 miles).

In comparison, from the University of Bern, where Stocker teaches, the same amount of driving will get you well inside France, Germany, or Italy.

Since the average human walking speed is 5 kilometers (3 miles) per hour and Stocker apparently prefers that mode of transportation I’m sure he’ll enjoy the 52-hour stroll between Regina and Saskatoon.

Perhaps we should warn him, though, that June is blackfly season in Canada. If he’d prefer to complete his stroll next month, that will be be mosquito season.

On the other hand, if he can’t fit us in until January, as an official government website warns immigrants, normal daytime temperatures are in the -5 to -15C range (23 to 5F). Overnight I’m sure the thermometer will drop to -25C (-13F) just to make Stocker feel welcome.

During his trek Stocker will no doubt encounter a few wheat farmers. Perhaps he can explain to these people – whose tractors are powered by gasoline – why quadrupling the price of that fuel is such a splendid idea.

No doubt he’ll also make the acquaintance of a few truck drivers. I’m sure they, too, are dying to hear the professor explain how their livelihoods will continue to be viable should the price of gasoline skyrocket.

When Stocker meets those who raise cattle, hogs, and bison for a living I’m confident he’ll have no trouble convincing them that a sharp increase in the price of everything that gets transported anywhere (including their livestock) is just what the planet needs.

We should never forget that a great deal of blood was spilled in the 20th century by people who were prepared to sacrifice their fellow human beings in the pursuit of a larger goal (let’s start with Mao and Stalin).

So what I want to know is this: how much harm is Stocker prepared to inflict on Canadians in pursuit of his larger goal – that of saving the planet?

Where does he draw the line? How many casualties are, in his view, acceptable? Really, I want to know. [Probably 6 million -- JR]


Nonsense in the New Yorker

A letter to the editor that is unlikely to be printed. From Dr. Martin Hertzberg, a former U. S. Naval meteorologist with a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Stanford and holder of a Fulbright Professorship

The anecdotal, fear mongering hysteria promulgated by Elizabeth Colbert in her "Storms Brewing" comment in the 7/13,20/11 issue is yet another example of her scientific illiteracy, the New Yorker's failure to exercise due diligence, or to your common willful blindness to real facts and data. The overwhelming evidence both scientific and historical (in the "climategate" e-mails) shows that the theory that human emission of CO2 is causing "global warming/climate change" is one of the greatest frauds in the history of science.

That the New Yorker is a vehicle for her regurgitation of the propaganda of environmental lobbyists as it ignores the real data and the opinions of real scientists, is tragic beyond belief. Your magazine is now an active participant in that fraud.

For the totality of the real data, as opposed to her anecdotal clap-trap, go to It shows nothing remarkable for the last several decades: just the normal variability in temperatures, ice cover and rate of sea level rise. Other sources show nothing remarkable in either hurricane or tornado intensity or their frequency of occurrence.

For a demolition of the fraudulent "greenhouse gas" warming theory go to "Slaying the Sky Dragon - Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory", coauthored by myself and seven others, and published this year by Stairway Press.

Colbert's recent article in the National Geographic that fear mongered about ocean acidification also gives her a well deserved F in basic Chemistry. In her ignorance or willful blindness she fails even to mention the word "buffer". The carbonate/bicarbonate system in the ocean serves as an effective buffer that maintains a constant pH that is insensitive to CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.


Green jobs success eludes Obama

Nearly three years into Obama's presidency, the White House can't point to much solid evidence that significant numbers of Americans are scoring the green jobs the president has been touting. Monthly Labor Department employment reports say nothing about the new clean energy workforce, while an effort to document how many Americans actually make a living in the "green collar" field may not be done by November 2012.

Obama's Council of Economic Advisers suggests 225,000 clean energy jobs were either created or preserved through the third quarter of 2010 thanks to more than $80 billion in the economic stimulus package. But those are estimates at best.

White House officials say asking about the connection between the 9.1 percent unemployment rate and the administration's concerted green jobs campaign is the wrong question. A better benchmark, they say, is the exponential growth in clean technology industries, from the new car battery manufacturers that have sprung up across the Midwest to renewable energy plants, including the world's largest solar facility that's slated to break ground Friday in the California desert.

The White House figures 825,000 Americans should be building electric car batteries, retrofitting homes or doing other green collar work by the end of 2012. But that too is an extrapolation.

"It's certainly a good thing if those numbers are believable," said Jerry Webman, chief economist at the Oppenheimer Funds. "But they're not a large enough number for the nation or Obama's job creation problem."

Obama's team also touts public investments it hopes will prompt private spending and lower costs for the clean energy industries of tomorrow. And all that may take a little time. "You know, it’s just like if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, it’s going to take a while for you to mend," Obama said earlier this month during a visit to a Chrysler auto plant in Toledo, Ohio. "And that’s what’s happened to our economy. It’s taking a while to mend."

While Obama may in fact end up creating millions of green jobs, it may be too late to save his. Polls show his GOP rivals have some of their best traction because of Obama's handling of the economy. A Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin administration almost certainly wouldn't give green jobs the same emphasis, if any, especially if they got elected with allies in more traditional brown collar fields like oil and gas.

Green job advocates have been making their pitch for more than a decade, offering the concept as a retort to the familiar industry warnings that environmental rules are economic killers. But the idea didn’t really take root in everyday political lexicon until the end of the George W. Bush administration as Democratic presidential candidates swarmed to the idea as an antidote to the economic collapse. Obama pledged in his 2008 campaign to create 5 million green collar workers within a decade. And he’s spent considerable time since entering the White House trying to make that happen.

But Obama is unlikely to stop talking about his commitment to the issue in the meantime. "I wouldn't be surprised if they use the green jobs story in the same way they're using the auto story, as a place where they can tell somewhat of a good story, even if they don't have the fact base to make it really compelling," said McDonald. "Here's the thing," he added. "There's not that many places where they can tell a good story about the economy, so the bar is very low for green jobs to be a centerpiece of his agenda."


Another sermon on the coming doom

Like most sermons, it assumes something in the future with no actual proof that it will happen. But this sermon assumes global warming, not hellfire -- a little cooler but equally unsubstantiated

By 2050, the coolest summers in the tropics and parts of the northern hemisphere will still be hotter than the most scorching summers since the mid-20th century if global warming continues apace, according to a new study.

Tropical regions in Africa, Asia and South America could see "the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat" even within the next decades, said the study, to be published later this month in the journal Climatic Change Letters.

Such dramatic changes in temperature would have a major impact on human health, food supplies and biodiversity, warn the researchers.

"Large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years," said lead author Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment.

Scientists have long predicted that climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions would cause more frequent heat waves, such as struck Europe in 2003, or the United States this week.
"That got us to thinking -- at what point can we expect the coolest seasonal temperatures to always be hotter than the historically highest temperatures for that season?" Diffenbaugh said in a statement.

To find out, he chose a basket of 50 climate models that accurately matched past increases and projected them into the future. The analysis assumed a scenario of a "moderate" increase in heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions as forecast by the UN's panel of climate scientists.

[Hellfire it is, then. Or is it castles in the air? Both, it seems]


Germany now embraces those evil fossil fuels

It's so hard to be Green

Faced with the dilemma of how to fill the energy gap left by its recent decision to move away from nuclear power, Germany is increasing fossil fuel power generation.

TESS VIGELAND: Today the German government unveiled a new vision for the country's energy needs. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week that nuclear power was no longer an option, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Germany is instead going back to the future, with plans to double the number of gas and coal-fired power stations to be built.

STEPHEN BEARD: Germany is bowing to the inevitable, claims Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University. He says if the Germans do abandon nuclear power, they will have to build more fossil fuel plants. Ironic, he says, that this follows pressure from German environmentalists.

DIETER HELM: What they have succeeded now in doing is pushing Germany to a fossil fuel-dominated system. And they've committed Germany to making a bigger contribution to increasing global warming.

German and other European environmentalists don't agree. Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth says the nuclear power can be replaced with cleaner alternatives.

MIKE CHILDS: There are numerous research bodies in Germany who point to the ability of Germany to do much more work on energy efficiency and also an ability to speed up its development of renewable power.

Many energy experts point out that renewables like solar and wind power are intermittent; they depend on whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. So you need much more renewable power production capacity. Mark Nicholls, editor of Environmental Finance Magazine, warns that it will be expensive.

MARK NICHOLLS: You have to ask what the appetite is for the German taxpayer to foot the bill for such an aggressive expansion of renewables and energy efficiency.

He says because of the cost -- financial and climatic -- few other countries will turn their backs on nuclear power.



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1 comment:

John A said...

"Many energy experts point out that renewables like solar and wind power are intermittent; they depend on whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. So you need much more renewable power production capacity."

More capacity? "It was a dark and stormy night..." So Solar not available and windmlls shut down so they will not destroy themselves. Many megawatts of capacity, nary a single watt actually produced.

Yes, it happens with other power sources. My own electic power is from a mix of coal, nuclear, gas - and hydroelectric imported from another country, which can supply more when one of the plants is in trouble. But if we replaced our plants with equal-capacity Solar and wind, we would need that hydro power quite often at levels (total replacement, rather than the current 3-15 percent when one plant shuts down) it cannot actually supply. Oops!