Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Irish view

New study confirms that warming increases marine fish biodiversity

In another blow to the biodiversity eco-scare movement, a paper published last week confirms that global warming results in a net increase in marine fish biodiversity, even in areas of "low connectivity" such as the Baltic Sea.
What is the effect of climate change on marine fish biodiversity in an area of low connectivity, the Baltic Sea?

By Jan Geert Hiddink, Chris Coleby


Aim:  Climate change could result in an increase in species richness because large-scale biogeography suggests that more species could be gained from equatorial regions than may be lost pole-ward. However, the colonization of newly available habitat may lag behind the rate dictated by climatic warming if there exists of a lack of connectivity between ‘donor’ and receiving areas. The objective of this study was to compare how regional warming affected the biodiversity of marine fish in areas that differed in their connectivity in the Baltic Sea.

Location:  North-east Atlantic, Kattegat and Baltic Sea.

Methods:  The total species richness and the mean species richness from scientific surveys were related to changes in temperature and salinity. Changes in the extent of the distribution of individual fish species were related to the latitudinal distribution, salinity tolerance, maximum body size and exploitation status to assess to what extent climate change and fishing impacts could explain changes in species richness in the Baltic.

Results:  Rising temperatures in the well-connected Kattegat correlated to an increase in the species richness of fish, due to an increase in low-latitude species. Unexpectedly, species richness in the poorly connected Baltic Sea also increased. However, the increase seems to be related to higher salinity rather than temperature and there was no influx of low-latitude species.

Main conclusions:  These results do not support the hypothesis that low-connectivity areas are less likely to see increases in species richness in response to warming. This indicates that the effect of climate change on biodiversity may be more difficult to predict in areas of low connectivity than in well-connected areas.


It wasn’t CO2: Global sea levels started rising before 1800

Fans of man-made global warming frequently tell us seas are rising, but somehow forget to mention the rise started 200 years ago, long before our coal-fired electricity plants cranked up, and long before anyone had an electric shaver, or a 6 cylinder fossil-fuel-spewing engine. Something else was driving that warming trend.

Here is the data from tide gauges going back 300 years from a paper by Jevrejeva et al 2008.

[Graphed by Joanne Nova based on data from Jevrejura et al located at this site PMSML]

This graph was calculated from 1023 tide gauge records [Jevrejeva et al., 2006] going back to 1850.The 2008 study extended the record further using three of the longest (though discontinuous) tide gauge records available: Amsterdam, since 1700 [Van Veen, 1945], Liverpool, since 1768 [Woodworth, 1999] and Stockholm, since 1774 [Ekman, 1988]. Obviously since there are only three old records, the error bars are a riot.

The Jevrejeva paper is also useful for portraying the 60 year rolling cycle. The regular ups and downs are obvious when the rate of change is plotted (see below).

Global Sea Level Rise Jevrejeva, 2008

Source: Jevrejeva 2008

But wait… there must be a tipping point?

While the graph itself seems like it was made for skeptics (how can anyone say that linear warming trend was started by CO2?) some back-seat critics will say that Jevrejeva et al claim that “it will be worse than the IPCC thinks” – which they do say. But that’s the name of the game isn’t it, to find “acceleration”. Are sea levels are rising faster because of CO2?

Here’s where Jevrejeva et al make the “it’s worse than we thought” statement. Look closely at the reasoning:

“We show that sea level rose by 28 cm during 1700 – 2000; simple extrapolation leads to a 34 cm rise between 1990 and 2090. The lowest temperature rise (1.8°C) IPCC [Meehl et al., 2007] use is for the B1 scenario, which is 3 times larger than the increase in temperature observed during the 20th century. The IPCC sea level projection for the B1 scenario is 0.18– 0.38 m. Our simple extrapolation gives 0.34 m. The mean sea level rise for B1, B2 and A1T is below our estimate. However, oceanic thermal inertia and rising Greenland melt rates imply that even if projected temperatures rise more slowly than the IPCC scenarios suggest, sea level will very likely rise faster than the IPCC projections [Meehl et al., 2007].”

Have I got this right, it appears they predict that:

a/ Based on the acceleration in the last 300 years, they expect seas to rise by 34 cm this century anyway (without man-made global warming).

b/ That the IPCC reckons it will all get much warmer (frying-hot) on top of that trend, thanks to CO2.

If so, this would be double counting, and they can’t have it both ways. The IPCC assumes that all the warming since 1780 is man-made and then extrapolates that wildly. These authors (between the lines) say the sea level rise (a proxy for warming) was natural, and then extrapolate that trend and add it to the IPCC extrapolation. Both extrapolations are based on the same trend — with opposing assumptions, and added together. No No No.

If the warming so far was natural, then CO2 has little effect, so there would be nothing much to add on top of their extrapolation.

Finding curves in short lines

Part of the problem with calculating acceleration with this data is the 60 year cycle of rises and falls. Basically, if we had a nice long record we could figure out the current cycle and see whether it was accelerating. But given that the cycle is 60 years long; we only have good records going back 160 years, and sparse records going back another 150, we really don’t have much at all to work with. Worse, it’s a multivariate system of which we don’t even know all the factors.

Hence I’ve drawn a straight line trend through the top graph. Jevrejura used a polynomial fit to calculate a small acceleration. When we have such short records, who can say which fit is the winner? Wait 100 years and find out.

Since sea levels rose 19cm in the last century and the trend is linear, so we don’t need an intergovernmental panel, $200,000 grant and 5 year study to project a rise for the 21st Century of… 19cm, more or less.


A Tale of Two Shale States

Pennsylvania's gain vs. New York's missed opportunity.

Politicians wringing their hands over how to create more jobs might study the shale boom along the New York and Pennsylvania border. It's a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development.

The Marcellus shale formation—65 million acres running through Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and southern New York—offers one of the biggest natural gas opportunities. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, recognized that potential and set up a regulatory framework to encourage and monitor natural gas drilling, a strategy continued by Republican Tom Corbett.

More than 2,000 wells have been drilled in the Keystone State since 2008, and gas production surged to 81 billion cubic feet in 2009 from five billion in 2007. A new Manhattan Institute report by University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine estimates that a typical Marcellus well generates some $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from natural gas company purchases; $1.2 million in indirect benefits from companies engaged along the supply chain; another $1.5 million from workers spending their wages, or landowners spending their royalty payments; plus $2 million in federal, state and local taxes. Oh, and 62 jobs.

Statistics from Pennsylvania bear this out. The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that Marcellus drilling has created 72,000 jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011. The average wage for jobs in core Marcellus shale industries is about $73,000, or some $27,000 more than the average for all industries.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says drillers have paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006—and the numbers are swelling. In 2011's first quarter, 857 oil and gas companies and affiliates paid $238 million in capital stock and foreign franchise taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes and employer withholding. This exceeds by some $20 million the total payments in 2010.

The revenue department also identified some $214 million in personal income taxes paid since 2006 that can be attributed to Marcellus shale lease payments to individuals, royalty income and asset sales. And all of this with no evidence of significant environmental harm.

Then there's New York. The state holds as much as 20% of the estimated Marcellus shale reserves, but green activists have raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium.

The Manhattan Institute study shows that a quick end to the moratorium would generate more than $11.4 billion in economic output from 2011 to 2020, 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in new state and local tax revenue. These are conservative estimates based on a limited area of drilling. If drilling were allowed in the New York City watershed—which Governor Andrew Cuomo is so far rejecting—as well as in the state's Utica shale formation, the economic gains would be five times larger.

Consider New York's Broome County, which borders Pennsylvania and from which you can spot nearby rigs. The county seat of Binghamton ought to be a hub for shale commerce, but instead its population is falling as its young people leave for jobs elsewhere.

A study commissioned by the county in 2009 found that Broome could support up to 4,000 wells, but drilling even half that number would create some $400 million in wages, salaries and benefits; $605 million in property income from rents, royalties and dividends, and some $43 million in state and local tax revenue.

The Broome analysis pointed to Texas, where Chesapeake Energy paid Dallas Fort Worth International Airport $180 million for drilling rights on 18,000 acres of airport property—$10,000 per acre. The airport receives a 25% royalty on the natural gas produced by airport wells—more than $28 million in fiscal 2008. The study also noted the boon that rising oil and gas property values have been to Texas landowners, tax authorities and school districts.

Governor Cuomo has said he wants to lift New York's moratorium, and the state's recently released draft rules are a step forward. But they must still undergo legal review and a public comment period that could bar New York drilling for the rest of this year, if not longer. New York will also still ban drilling in about 15% of the state's portion of the Marcellus and impose more onerous rules than other states on private property drilling. Such bows toward the obsessions of rich, big-city greens explain why parts of upstate New York are the new Appalachia.

As they look across their northern border, Pennsylvanians can be forgiven for thinking of New Yorkers the way Abba Eban once described the Palestinians: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.


Warmists not telling the whole truth about Margaret Thatcher either

Comment from Australia

COULD Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull please stop mischievously misquoting Margaret Thatcher?

Both Gillard and Turnbull like to refer to the views of the former British conservative prime minister to convince us that their views are the only worthy, moral views, that man-made global warming is real and that action must be taken. Perhaps they should read Thatcher's memoirs. The Labor Prime Minister has an army of staff to help her. And what about the Liberal MP? In fact, both know full well that Thatcher said much more about global warming than either of them reveal. Selectively quoting Thatcher does nothing to bolster Gillard or Turnbull's positions. On the contrary, the misleading way they use Thatcher's words suggests some shaky foundations of their own. Unfortunately, Gillard and Turnbull have revealed a willingness to engage in selectively quoting, the same ploy they ridicule their opponents for.

Apart from anything else, it is not good form to effectively verbal a former prime minister who is unable to respond. Thatcher, 85, has suffered a series of strokes and is too frail for public appearances. It's bad enough that political desperation is driving the Labor Prime Minister to misrepresent Thatcher's view on global warming by failing to mention Thatcher's rethinking of the issue years later. It's worse that the Liberal MP chooses to do the same, effectively legitimising Gillard's misleading efforts. Neither deserves to win arguments by selectively quoting Thatcher.

By all means, retell Thatcher's message about global warming. Not just the fact that in September 1988 the former British prime minister told the Royal Society that enormous changes to population, agricultural use and the burning of fossils fuels might have started a "massive experiment with the system of the planet". Not just that, in November 1989, Thatcher told the UN General Assembly that global climate change affected us all and "action will only be effective if it is taken at the international level". Or that Thatcher warned of the dangers of global warming at the second World Climate Conference in 1990. All of that is true.

But there is also much more to Thatcher's views about global warming. The reticence from Gillard and Turnbull to complete the Thatcher picture suggests an intellectual dishonesty from them that, ironically and hypocritically, they claim is missing from those on the other side of the debate.

In the first volume of her memoirs, The Downing Street Years, published in 1993, Thatcher records her belief that Britain was too beholden to coal and the then power of the coalminers unions. She lamented that more money had not been spent on nuclear power to provide cheaper electricity and to ensure more secure supplies. And she made the rational observation that nuclear power was a cleaner source of power than coal as it did not produce carbon dioxide.

In the second volume of her memoirs, Statecraft, published in 2002, Thatcher titles a chapter Hot Air and Global Warming, in which she talks about climate change as the "doomster's favourite subject" and records that she was "sceptical about the arguments about global warming" even though she said they should be taken seriously. In other words, Thatcher's mind was open to new developments in the science. And she said that the science was "much less certain" than many politicians and global warming alarmists such as Al Gore would have us believe. She records that at that time "there was, in fact, very little scientific advice available to political leaders from experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis".

What would Thatcher think now? You won't hear that question asked by those who selectively quote her. In fact, there are plenty of reputable scientists who reject the notion that man-made climate change is responsible for wrecking the environment.

For Gillard and Turnbull, the science is settled. Public debate is no longer required. At the inaugural Virginia Chadwick Memorial Foundation lecture last week, Turnbull rejected other views as "less reliable". By contrast, Thatcher embraced public debate. In The Downing Street Years, she wrote that economic progress, scientific advance and public debate "which occur in free societies themselves offered the means to overcome" the threats. She wrote that since her time in Downing Street, the science had moved on. "As is always the way with scientific advance, the picture looks more rather than less complex."

Turnbull said "if Margaret Thatcher took climate change seriously, then taking action and supporting and accepting the science can hardly be the mark of incipient Bolshevism". In fact, the former British prime minister also had plenty sensible to say about socialists too. She warned: "For the socialist, each new discovery revealed a 'problem' for which the repression of human activity by the state was the only 'solution'." She said global warming provided a "marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism". Have Gillard or Turnbull mentioned that?

Most importantly, Thatcher was willing to expose the anti-capitalism agenda of "campaigners against global warming". She wrote: "There is now, as always, nothing the liberal intelligentsia liked to believe more than 'we are guilty'. But are we?" she asked. "The facts are unclear," she concluded, citing the fact that less than 5 per cent of carbon moving through the atmosphere stemmed from human behaviour and the fact that we have seen periods of warming before, during the Dark Ages and the early medieval period.

If Gillard and Turnbull want to tell the Thatcher message, they would reveal she said: "The evidence [the world is facing a climate catastrophe] does not so far exist." They would tell us Thatcher said that "the world climate is always changing and man and nature are always, by one means or another, finding means to adapt to it".

When deriding those opposed to taking action to cut emissions, last week, Turnbull said "many [do so] because it does not suit their financial interests". Australians on an average wage aren't likely to be won over by that argument. But they may be interested to learn Thatcher refused to deride the economic concerns of countries, companies or individuals when she talked about finding solutions to environmental problems. She unashamedly believed economic growth and industry inventiveness were crucial to the equation.

Thatcher's early views about global warming were intrinsically linked to her rational pursuit of nuclear power to prevent the coalminers unions holding the nation to ransom.

And, as she acknowledges in her memoirs, when the facts about global warming became less certain, so did her own views. But you may not have heard that from Gillard or Turnbull either.


Signs the world is NOT running out of food

Introduction: A few days ago, this was published: “Twelve Signs the World is Running out of Food”.

Mama Liberty (Lady Susan, KNA) had this immediate reaction: “Such c***. Not a single indication of the real problems, just another indictment of the "greedy" capitalist pigs" of America. Meanwhile the picture they choose to make their point shows boxes of food supplied by Americans! Insane.

The picture painted is a bad one, but they are using a warped view of the world: warped by a mindset sometimes called “left-libertarian” which exhibits itself in a rabid and instinctive hatred of capitalism (of any kind, not just “crony capitalism” or “global capitalism”), Americans, and usually religions (predominantly Western religions) and with a strong streak of Luddism. This can be seen in the article, which is more an attack on concentration of wealth and the “unfair” life style of Americans and Europeans than a sound argument for world starvation.

For centuries, millennia, most people of the world lived FAR closer to starvation on a daily and annual basis than almost anyone in Africa or Asia does today. It is the United States, closely followed by the British Commonwealth, Europe, and some of South America, that in the last 200 years has ended that situation virtually worldwide. Thence, thirteen reasons, a Baker’s Dozen ™ that we are NOT running out of food in 2011 and 2012. I am not supplying references or citations for these; if someone wants to challenge me, I’ll be glad to look up the specific support for my thirteen rebuttals.

Supposedly, Americans are getting more obese by the second.

In Western countries, including the US, the most obese portion of the population consists of those who are the poorest and on welfare, such as food stamps (excuse me, SNAP). The same is true of the elite populations and their clients in Third World states.

Each year, Western governments pay billions of dollars to farmers and corporations NOT to grow certain crops which produce food.

Environmentalists in Western countries work each year to reduce the amount of land (both government and private) that can be used for crops or livestock, and millions of acres of land lie vacant as a result with the amount growing each year.

Other environmentalists spend millions each year fighting against genetic engineering and traditional breeding and hybrid programs that have, in the past 50 years, quadrupled the efficiency of crops and livestock in producing food, and could continue to do so.

Multiple governments have prohibited the use of horses for human consumption, consigning millions of pounds of meat to be buried or placed in landfills.

Liberals and other environmentalists advocate for the government purchase of land in rain forests and other climates to prevent its conversion into cropland by farmers.

Multiple governments promote the use of millions of TONS of food crops such as corn, soybeans, and sugar crops (cane, beets, etc.) for fuel production rather than food production.

For a century or more, governments have encouraged people to stop farming and instead move into cities to work or go on welfare, either directly or indirectly (through war, especially).

Many governments are encouraging or requiring that wetlands previously converted to use as cropland or grazing land be returned to wetlands and therefore to produce only a very tiny fraction of food compared to the past. At the same time, dams and levee projects and urbanization continue to destroy massive amounts of cropland.

More and more cities use codes that criminalize vegetable gardens, small animal production, bee keeping and so forth in their jurisdictions.

Criminalization of crops such as hemp that would provide a great deal of good food for both man and animal.

Bureaucratic rules criminalize selling substandard fruit and vegetables, and require them to be destroyed, while other bureaucratic rules make food packing and distribution either far more expensive than necessary, or impossible.

If we were so close to famine and starvation as the writers at “economic collapse blog” and other doom-and-gloom sites claim, surely the peoples of the world would rise up and do more than protest, vote, and write letters – all worthless occupations.

Isn’t it time we stopped predicting disaster and started taking responsibility for our own lives and fortunes?

Are we going to get used to no food?

About the same time as the article “Twelve Signs the World is Running out of Food” was published on Lew Rockwell (and the Economic Collapse Log), another article was published: “Getting Used to Life Without Food, Part 1, Wall Street, BP, Bio-Ethanol and the Death of Millions.”

In this article, greedy capitalists, free markets, and do-nothing governments are blamed for an upcoming food disaster which will hit the entire world. Whether this happens before or after we all drown from the rising oceans of global warming or freeze from the sudden global cooling of reduced sun activity, or before incandescent light bulbs or the destruction of water supplies or the deforestation of the world’s jungles occur, I’m not sure. But I think the article is a load of dingo’s kidneys.

First, isn’t it lovely how they accuse the free market, when the free market does not exist for all intents and purposes? What we have is just a sick government-run pretense, even here in the US.

I've done the calculations in the past, and still think that they are valid: converting corn or other food products to ethanol may be enough to affect the price, but does NOT reduce food production significantly. We have millions of acres of uncultivated land, mostly land which has been taken OUT of production over the past decades, that can be put back into production. If…

Food shortages are almost always related to governmental policies and failures. Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Haiti all come to mind. Of course, government policies and failures cause war, which in turn leads to all sorts of shortages, and thus hunger and starvation.

That really is what the article is talking about: all the government policies changing the way things were done and triggering cataclysmic changes in food supply and distribution, not just on a national, but on a global scale. Exactly the OPPOSITE of their rhetoric; their mental sickness helps them think that MORE government intervention can reverse the results of decades of government intervention.

I don't doubt that changing government policies and the endless rounds of GATT and WTO and the rest of the bogus "free-trade" stuff have impacted on food supplies, reserves, and the like. But these are NOT part of a free-market, just a perversion of the word to describe the current government -micromanaged economy that we are watching die. But this socialist website (and many more) seems to delight in confusing the two.

However, they can't get their data straight. Either global agribusiness is pricing the food out of the reach of billions or they are dropping the price of food so much that local farmers in various countries can't compete; they are either poisoning us all with genies or increasing food production or not.

The writer refused to make any reasonable correlations. Example: he claims that the various governments in North American and Europe have stopped their "wise" practice of having years (he claims seven years - funny, doesn't that number show up in Genesis with Joseph as Prime Minister?) of grain reserves, which he sees as a bad thing. He then laments that private business has not picked up the slack as expected.

But he fails to note that it would be insane from a business point of view to create and maintain such supplies, since as soon as demand rose due to crop failures or other problems and the companies tried to sell their stocks at a free market price, government would step in and either force price freezes, or just steal it. At the same time, government has trashed the value of "money" and so created an inflationary spiral, while politicians - to prove that they care - have destroyed the ag sector of nations around the world.

It appears that the bottom line is much simpler than they claim. In the last 50 years, as the world population more than doubled, the total number of people who have died of starvation (for whatever reason) has pretty steadily dropped, so as a percentage of total population, the death toll is going down even if inflation and other shenanigans are continuing.

It makes me suspect that if we could get government OUT of the food business, that we WOULD come pretty close to eliminating starvation, hunger, malnutrition and "food security" problems (except for those people who do it to themselves or whose parents do it to them), with the exception of war. And the more that we could get government out of our lives, the closer we'd come to eliminating war and tyranny as causes for hunger as well.

Going back again and reading both articles, virtually ALL of their issues are socialist-type economic issues and their statistics are slanted. Some have NO basis in any study that I can find, just a bald claim made in an obviously-biased website.

Among other things, a lot has to do with percentage of ownership of wealth and similar issues, or with inflation, and inflation - even in the world of Lew Rockwell - is a purely government-caused headache. These sound like Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb) sort of mad ravings; although given the current administration's sudden panic about "food security" and "food deserts" this may be part of a much wider effort to push massive socialist programs.

For example, they claim one death from starvation every 3.6 seconds, and the reference is to a web site which simply makes that statement (and that 3/4 of those are children) but NO reference at all. That amounts to 8,760,000 people per year, of which 6,570,000 are children. But a Wikipedia article on causes of death, which does provide SOME citations, claims that 58% of all deaths are related to hunger and malnutrition, and that about 6 million children die each year:

Jean Ziegler"The Right to Food: Report by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Ziegler, Submitted in Accordance with Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2000/10".United Nations, February 7, 2001, p. 5.

"On average, 62 million people die each year, of whom probably 36 million (58 per cent) directly or indirectly as a result of nutritional deficiencies, infections, epidemics or diseases which attack the body when its resistance and immunity have been weakened by undernourishment and hunger.".

Food and Agriculture Organization, Economic and Social Dept."The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2005: Eradicating World Hunger - Key to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals".Food and Agriculture Organizationof theUnited Nations, 2005, p. 18.
"Hunger and malnutrition are the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, killing nearly 6 million children each year – a figure that is roughly equivalent to the entire preschool population of Japan.

Relatively few of these children die of starvation. The vast majority are killed by neonatal disorders and a handful of treatable infectious diseases, including diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and measles. Most would not die if their bodies and immune systems had not been weakened by hunger and malnutrition moderately to severely underweight, the risk of death is five to eight times higher."

The numbers do not add up, and being weakened by malnutrition and succumbing to some disease is NOT STARVING to death, however bad it might be. Of course, other web sites are even MORE extreme: claims that 38.6 million people have died of starvation (not malnourishment and other diseases) SO FAR THIS YEAR: That amounts to nearly 70 million per year, or about 8 times what this LRC article claims.

Nor do the various articles identify the other circumstances that have an influence on hunger and malnutrition and starvation in these countries. No just wars and rebellions and raids by enemies, but government policies that both work to reduce food production and then steal it from those who produce it, along with other government policies which limit essentials: uncontested land ownership, water supplies, availability of equipment and materials (including fuels and fertilizers), and of course, the flooding of many countries with food aid which is proven, paradoxically, to reduce the supply of food available.

So these lists of “why we is all gonna starve” are essentially bogus.

But that is NOT the reason that horror-mongering stories like this are written. And we know it: it is to JUSTIFY more government power and theft, more control, more limits. Fear breeds acquiescence to rule by governments. And for that, and that alone, these stories are very successful. And Lew Rockwell, and Financial Sense, among other sites and organizations, should be ashamed of republishing them.



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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