Friday, June 10, 2011

Warming skeptics are not 'deniers'

A good commentary from a MSM source

If you are not among the global warming alarmists scared to death about a plague of boils, frogs, lice and locusts, as well as tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather events, you are to them a "denier," which is different from being a skeptic.
The terminology was stolen from anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers refusing despite endless eye witnesses and tons of evidence to agree that, during World War II, the German government slaughtered some 6 million innocent people for the Nazi-identified offense of being Jewish.

The implication of using the word to describe doomsday skeptics is that they have some deep, dark evil motive -- probably money -- to overlook scientific data piled so high that no one of ordinary intelligence possibly could. It doesn't seem to bother them that most skeptics agree that the Earth has been getting a little warmer even if they harbor doubts about an apocalypse arriving tomorrow afternoon.

One of the latest of these Holocaust-trivializing, rhetorical misadventures issued from a Newsweek article in which the writer says, "Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year." She then speaks of the U.S. tornadoes, rainstorms, drought and heat waves, telling us about "extremes" reaching "biblical proportions," though I have to admit she does not specifically say we have been revisited by the Egyptian plague of frogs and more referred to in Exodus.

She also tells us that "climate change deniers" have argued warming was a hoax and there was no need to adapt, and yes, some skeptics do think it's a hoax, thanks to articles like this one.

An online article from Newsweek's competitor, Time Magazine, is more cautious. It observes that one noted climate scientist, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, says there has been "a downward trend" in tornadoes since recordkeeping started more than a half century ago. To connect any weather events with warming, the article argues, you need all kinds of information about weather during a long period of time in a particular location and, after seeing "an upward trend," exclude every other possible factor. It's a tough job, and not much has been done to make the case.

The Time writer also says, however, that we "already know" climate change is a fearful business that will afflict us mightily in countless ways if we do not "change the way we use energy, " and adds: "There shouldn't be any debate about that."

Bring on Leonard Solomon first, and then Freeman Dyson. Solomon wrote an ironically title book called "The Deniers" about more than two dozen internationally respected scientists who have no possible ulterior motives. He has noted that they all believe the Earth is warming, but that some doubt the warming is man-caused and that all doubt the consequence will be incredible destruction, mostly saying the warming over time will be slight.

According to Solomon, the idea of a "consensus" about catastrophic warming rests on the fact that 2,500 scientists participated in parts of a U.N. panel report that they were not asked to endorse as a whole. Curry, mentioned above, accuses the panel of "corruption," according to a Scientific American article. Solomon thinks the Kyoto anti-warming policies did enormous harm to Third World countries that bowed to new energy-production prescriptions, and has observed in another forum that some warming alarmists think we should dispense with many of our liberties to serve their cause.

Dyson, one of America's most respected physicists, once went to war in a New York Review of Books piece with scientists who dismissed other scientists skeptical of warming alarms as having nothing important to say. He noted that the majority of scientists have time and again been proven wrong in controversies, adds that warming is less about science than environmentalism as a secular religion, and says fine - the basic ethics add up. What doesn't add up, he says, is adopting "as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet."

To which I say amen.


Britain's government Ministers fall for climate folly, warns ex-Civil Service chief

Politicians and Whitehall mandarins are pandering to global warming ‘alarmists’ and consigning Britain to a future of inflated fuel bills and economic misery, the former head of the Civil Service warned last night.

Lord Turnbull – who served Tony Blair as Cabinet Secretary from 2002 to 2005 – accused MPs and civil servants of failing to challenge the ‘climate change consensus’. He suggested that by blindly following the green agenda, the Government had hit hard-working families with a range of costly policies.

Lord Turnbull also pointed out that ‘by and large humanity has prospered in the warmer periods’. ‘It is regrettable that the UK Parliament has proved so trusting and uncritical of the (global warming) narrative and so reluctant to question the economic costs being imposed in pursuit of decarbonisation,’ he said. ‘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.

'From our politicians we need open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity; and an end to alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children. ‘And we want them to pay more attention to the national interest and less to being global evangelists.’

Last month Energy Secretary Chris Huhne committed the UK to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and by cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, David Cameron’s climate advisers warn the move to a low carbon economy will cost one per cent of GDP – £13billion a year in economic growth. The targets are the toughest of any country in the world.

The Government is committed to meeting its carbon targets by boosting home energy efficiency, installing £7billion worth of smart electricity metres and creating 10,000 wind turbines over the next decade. The cost of the wind farms is being added to household bills.

Lord Turnbull’s unprecedented assault comes in a report The Really Inconvenient Truth for the sceptical think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. In it, he describes the Government’s expansion of wind power as folly and warns that Britain was rushing too quickly into a costly low carbon future.

He condemned Britain’s self-imposed legally binding climate change targets as ‘unilateralism’ at a time when other countries are doing very little. ‘The UK, producing only two to three per cent of world CO2 emissions can have only a minimal effect on the global warming outcome,’ he said.

He singles out the Conservative Party for its ‘uncritical adoption of the green agenda’ as a way to help them escape ‘the nasty party image’.

Much of his anger is reserved for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the influential UN body of scientists which argues man-made carbon dioxide is most likely cause of global warming.

Lord Turnbull accepts that global temperatures have been rising for the past 150 years and that some of that increase was caused by rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, he claims there is still ‘huge controversy’ about the role of the of the sun, cosmic rays, clouds and oceans in climate change.

Lord Turnbull, who began his career as an economist and is now a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation set up by Lord Lawson, said the IPCC made too many dramatic claims. ‘There has been a consistent pattern of cherry-picking, exaggeration, highlighting of extremes and failure to acknowledge beneficial effects,’ he said.

On the IPCC’s work on the impacts of climate change, he declared: ‘This is where their work is at its shabbiest; lots of dramatic claims about sea levels, melting glaciers, ice, crop yields, extinction of species eg polar bears.’ He denounced the senior scientists who have become ‘campaigners, trying to close down debate’.

Dr Bob Ward, a climate change policy expert at the London School of Economics, said Lord Turnbull’s paper was ‘riddled with basic scientific errors’. ‘He misunderstands the science and the nature of risk,’ he said. ‘No one denies that there is uncertainty in the future impacts of climate change. But because the impacts are potentially so huge and economically damaging, if we wait until we are sure it will be too late to do anything about it.’


Electric cars may not be so green after all, says British study

ELECTRIC cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy consumed in making their batteries, a study has found.

An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.

The Committee on Climate Change, the UK government watchdog, has called for the number of electric cars on Britain's roads to increase from a few hundred now to 1.7 million by 2020.

Britain's Department for Transport is spending $66 million over the next year giving up to 8,600 buyers of electric cars a grant of $7700 towards the purchase price. Ministers are considering extending the scheme.

The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry. It found that a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car. Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.

Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.

Greg Archer, director of Low CVP, said the industry should state the full lifecycle emissions of cars rather than just tailpipe emissions, to avoid misleading consumers. He said that drivers wanting to minimise emissions could be better off buying a small, efficient petrol or diesel car. “People have to match the technology to their particular needs,” he said.


EPA: Environmental Propaganda Activists—The myth of killer mercury

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued 946 pages of new rules, requiring that U.S. power plants sharply reduce (already low) emissions of mercury and 83 other air pollutants. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that, while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.

There is no factual basis for these assertions. To build its case, EPA systematically ignored evidence and ignored clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use.

Mercury (Hg) has always existed naturally in Earth’s environment. A 2009 study found numerous spikes (and drops) in mercury deposition in Antarctic ice over the past 650,000-years. Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and in trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants.

A further defense comes from selenium, which is found in fish and animals. Its strong attraction to mercury molecules protects fish and people against buildups of methylmercury, mercury’s biologically active and more toxic form. Thus, the 200,000,000 tons of mercury naturally present in seawater have never posed a danger to any living being, even though they could theoretically be converted into methylmercury.

Modern technologies enable us to detect infinitesimal amounts in air and water. However, quantities of mercury measured in lake waters are often no more than 0.00000001 gram of mercury per liter. Lab technicians typically wear special garments when measuring mercury levels, not to protect themselves — but to ensure accurate measurements, because even breathing on a sample can triple a reading!

How do America’s coal-burning power plants enter into the picture?

The latest government, university and independent studies reveal that those power plants emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury per year. However, U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tpy; Chinese power plants eject 400 tpy; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year!

All these emissions enter the global atmospheric system and become part of the U.S. air mass.

Thus, U.S. power plants account for less than 0.5 percent of all the mercury in the air Americans breathe. Even eliminating every milligram of this mercury will do nothing about the other 99.5 percent in America’s atmosphere.

And yet, in the face of these minuscule risks, EPA nevertheless demands that utility companies spend billions every year retrofitting coal-fired power plants that produce half of all U.S. electricity, and 70-98 percent of electricity in twelve states. Its regulators simultaneously ignore the positive results of medical studies that clearly show its new restrictions are not needed and will not improve people’s health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which actively monitors mercury exposure, blood mercury counts for U.S. women and children decreased steadily 1999-2008, placing today’s counts well below the already excessively “safe” level established by EPA.

A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children, by the Seychelles Children Development Study, found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects” in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do.

The World Health Organization and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry assessed these findings in setting mercury risk standards that are 2-3 times less restrictive than EPA’s. Under WHO and ATSDR guidelines, no American children are even remotely at risk from mercury.

EPA ignored these findings. Instead, the agency based its “safe” mercury criteria on a study of Faroe Islanders, whose diet is far removed from our own. They eat few fruits and vegetables, but do feast on pilot whale meat and blubber that is laced with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — but very low in selenium. The study has limited relevance to US populations.

Finally, EPA maintains that mercury deposition, its conversion to methylmercury, and MeHg accumulation in fish and humans is a simple process that can be controlled by curtailing emissions from US power plants. However, mercury emissions (from all sources) and raw mercury levels in fresh or ocean waters are only part of the story.

Complex, nonlinear interactions among at least 50 natural variables control the biological and chemical processes that govern elemental mercury conversion to methylmercury and MeHg accumulation in fish. Those variables, and selenium levels in fish tissue, are beyond anyone’s ability to control.

As a result, the EPA’s actions can be counted on to achieve only one thing — which is to further advance the Obama administration’s oft-stated goal of penalizing hydrocarbon use, making coal-based electricity prices “skyrocket,” and driving a transition to unreliable renewable energy.

The proposed standards will do nothing to reduce exaggerated threats from mercury and other air pollutants. Indeed, the rules will worsen, rather than improve America’s health — especially for young children and women of child-bearing age. Not only will they raise heating, air conditioning and food costs; they will scare people away from nutritious fish that should be in everyone’s diet.

America needs affordable, reliable electricity. It needs better health and nutrition. It needs an EPA that focuses on real risks, instead of wasting hard-earned taxpayer and consumer dollars fabricating dangers and evidence.


German Historian On Germany's Warmist "scientists": “We’re Dealing With Fanatics Here – Revolutionary Messianism”

Wolfgang Wippermann is a professor at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institute at the Free University of Berlin. Wippermann’s main area of research is ideology history

Online FOCUS magazine interviewed German historian Wolfgang Wippermann on the subject of the WBGU and Hans Schellnhuber’s “master plan” for transforming global society.

The WBGU acts as Angela Merkel’s science advisory board (believe it or not). Schellnhuber, its director, is also director of the Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research (PIK).

The Wippermann interview is the latest in a series of intense criticisms by German mainstream media aimed at the worrisome anti-democratic and authoritarian views expressed by factions of the German scientific community such as the PIK and WBGU and the German government lately, see here, here and here.

Wippermann, who is an expert on authoritarianism, fires extremely harsh words at the WBGU and its seemingly out-of-control Professor Schellnhuber, calling the authors of the WBGU social contract “fanatics” and the language “worrisome”. What follows are summarized excerpts of the FOCUS interview.

FOCUS: What does the language in the paper remind you of?

Wippermann: The language is scary and it makes me afraid. Those who speak like that behave the same way. It is a negative Utopia, a dystopia. When Utopian minds are at work, it is always dangerous.

FOCUS: What world view do you see in the text?

Wippermann: Here we are dealing with scientific fanatics who want to assert their ideas. It makes me wonder that we are discussing this for the first time, and how little it has been discussed in the public up to now.

FOCUS: What about the role of science in politics?

Wippermann: First off: the German government should have distanced itself from the WBGU long ago. It just cannot be. In short, you just cannot say that you demand some other democracy, a different state and a different world order. It is unacceptable.

FOCUS: How could scientists write such a paper?

Wippermann: I’m afraid this is not just thoughtlessness. It goes a lot further than how to make the world a better place. The authors are suggesting a climate dictatorship, the Climate State – and one that is truly extensive and far-reaching. For example, they want to abolish national states.

FOCUS: But this paper was written by leading scientists.

Wippermann: Also a science can become a religion. When they demand a transnational democracy - whatever that may be – it’ll be a dictatorship.

FOCUS: But they claim it’s for democracy

Wippermann: From history we know of enough people who wanted to make the world a better place after having prophesized the end of the world and bringing an undemocratic system that forces others to accept their views. And why is it that the Germans again have to save the planet, and not only prophesize its downfall? Does the world always have to be measured using a German yardstick? Who do the authors think they are? Such arrogance.

FOCUS: What spirit does the call to action radiate?

Wippermann: The paper disastrously follows the tradition of “Revolutionary Messianism“, which was analyzed by Norman Cohn. There’s a line of “Revolutionary Messianism“ from the Medieval Times to modern totalitarian movements.

FOCUS: Aren’t humanists more prone to all this than natural scientists?

Wippermann: Natural scientists deal directly with people. Think for a minute what emerged from “eugenics”. These scientists here can actually do politics.


I’ve brought it up before and I’m bringing it up again (and will bring it up in the future) – just a reminder for the WBGU and like-minded as to where this quality of dogmatism, arrogance and belief in having absolute knowledge can lead us.

This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some 4 million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe they have absolute knowledge with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.”


Global cooling hits me where I live

"Coldest day in 11 years" in Brisbane. And it sure was. I went out to dinner amid it last night and felt it -- JR

KEEP yourself rugged up if you're in Brisbane – the mercury plummeted below 7C in the CBD this morning and though it's warmed up, another chilly day lies ahead.

The southeast is freezing this morning following its coldest day in 11 years on Thursday – when the maximum daytime temperature struggled to warm up at 12.5C.

Weather Channel forecaster Tom Saunders said Brisbane’s outdoor temperature had plunged to 6.9C at 6am and was expected to go even lower until sunrise.

Mr Saunders said frost was likely in areas to the west of Brisbane, where the temperature got below 2C. "There is frost, even around Ipswich and there could be some frost in the far western parts of Brisbane, this morning, too,’’ he said.

"After such a cold day yesterday and with skies clearing overnight, any heat has escaped and that’s why it was such a cold night.’’

Mr Saunders said the predicted daytime top today was 16C, although there would be less cloud cover than yesterday. He said it was still an unusual daytime high for Brisbane and 6C below average. "It’s pretty unusual,’’ he said. "We don’t get many days that stay at 12.5C in June.’’



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