Monday, July 25, 2011

'Record-breaking' US heat wave breaks records at less than 1% of stations during past week

The news media is saturated with headlines about the "record-breaking" US heat wave over the past week. However, the NOAA database of all-time Max Temperature for the entire US from over 6000 weather stations shows that there were no records broken on July 17, July 18, July 19, or July 20th. A total of 4 stations broke records on July 21, 20 on July 22, and 10 on July 23, 2011, for a grand total of less than 0.4% of stations breaking a temperature record sometime during the past week. More than 99.6% of stations failed to break records sometime over the past week.

More HERE (See the original for links & graphics)

The World Is Not Overpopulated

By Alex B. Berezow

An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times declared the world to be overpopulated and even compared humanity to a cancerous growth. This reasoning is not only disturbing, but is almost certainly incorrect, as well.

The world, indeed, has a lot of people. By the end of 2011, there will be nearly 7 billion people living on the planet. But population growth rates will not sustain at those levels. An analysis by The Economist describes how each subsequent billion will take longer and longer to achieve, until population growth eventually plateaus at around 9 billion people by 2050.

A 2003 assessment by the United Nations concurs. The UN projects, under its medium-growth scenario, that the human population will remain relatively stable at 9 billion until the year 2300.

The reason is that birth rates are naturally falling around the world. The current growth in world population exceeds the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, but there are good reasons to believe that growth will slow down in the future. As countries become more technologically and economically advanced, people naturally choose to have fewer children. Also, there is a link between increasing female education and a declining birth rate.

Europe is the poster child for this phenomenon, where the total fertility rate is below 2.1 in all 27 EU nations. The problem is so bad in Russia, which may shrink by 25 million people in the next 40 years, that demographers are referring to a population crisis. This will put an enormous strain on Russia's economy as the government struggles to care for its aging population.

The authors also contend that "reproductive freedom" benefits all of humanity. But does it? Research shows that families around the world, particularly in Asia, selectively abort female infants. This "gendercide" distorts natural male-female ratios in the population. In some provinces in China, the ratio is perversely skewed in favor of boys, with 130 male births for every 100 female births. Obviously, this will have dire consequences for society.

If population poses a problem, it is likely due to distribution, not to growth. After all, only so many people can fit on the coasts of China, India, and the United States. There are many wide-open spaces for the population to expand. The trick will be to figure out a way to incentivize responsible growth, not to discourage it entirely.

Finally, the authors claim that poverty results from overpopulation. While this might be partially correct, many other factors contribute to poverty. China, with a population of approximately 1.3 billion, has entered a period of skyrocketing economic growth. India, with a similarly sized populace, is also slowly working its way out of poverty.

Instead of focusing on controlling population growth, a better way to tackle poverty is to help solve humanity's basic problems. Infectious disease, corrupt governance, and lack of access to global markets are Africa's biggest problems. When these devastating issues are corrected, African countries could experience rapid economic growth in the same way as did the Asian Tigers.

When the world becomes a more prosperous place, the "problem" of population growth will largely take care of itself.


Why we should give the cold shoulder to a BBC Trust Review that argues the broadcaster should ignore global-warming 'deniers'

Whether the staff of the BBC, facing budget cuts and the loss of 3,000 jobs, will consider last week’s BBC Trust Review of the corporation’s science coverage as money well spent is doubtful: according to a spokeswoman, it cost £140,000. Unfortunate as this is, the Review’s wider impact is rather more pernicious.

On a superficial reading, the Review, by the London University biologist Steve Jones, looks dull and bureaucratic. But beneath the surface it is an attempt to shut down debate and impose ideological conformity on a highly controversial issue – the extent and likely consequences of man-made global warming.

Why Professor Jones was thought a suitable person to conduct the Review at all is not a trivial question. Having long toiled in obscurity on the genetic makeup of snails, Jones owes his sudden metamorphosis into a ‘media tart’ (to use his own phrase) entirely to the BBC, which chose him to deliver the Reith Lectures in 1991.

Numerous further radio and TV appearances followed, and with them book sales of which he could not previously have dreamt.

It is also worth asking why the Trust decided to blow its money (a little under half of which went on Jones’s fee) on examining its science reporting: there are surely other areas of public policy significance – immigration, for example – where a casual viewer might conclude that BBC coverage can be self-censoringly selective.

Such subjects are uncomfortable, and for that very reason, an objective analysis of the way the corporation handles them is arguably overdue.

But the real problem with the Jones Review is its bewilderingly misleading content. Jones writes that his own knowledge is ‘remarkably broad, but fantastically shallow’.

Presumably he meant this as a joke and yesterday the BBC Trust spokeswoman insisted it is ‘a major piece of work, involving extensive research, consultation and content analysis’. If that is what the Trust believes, it has been fooled.

For its first 65 pages, the Review attains a tedium so intense it might be self-parody, and is mainly focused on the Byzantine BBC hierarchy. Then, under the heading ‘Man-made global warming: a microcosm of false balance?’ the document wakes up, and Jones’s previously anodyne prose is suddenly flooded with passion.

Interviewed last week when the Review was published, this was the subject on which Jones dwelt, and it seems clear he sees this as the main point of the exercise.

The report contains a startling statistic: 46 per cent of all BBC science news stories deal with global warming, although, as Jones writes, this massively over-represents the tiny number of researchers who work on it compared to the thousands working in other fields.

But this grotesque skewing of emphasis is not Jones’s beef. His problem is that the BBC gives far too much space ‘to the views of a determined but deluded minority’ – those he terms climate change ‘deniers’, whose views, he writes, should be seen as on a par with the conspiracy theories that claim 9/11 was a ‘US government plot’.

Such individuals Jones sees as victims of a psychological ‘syndrome’. Unfortunately, he goes on, awareness of the anathema such heresy represents has not yet ‘percolated’ throughout the BBC.

With disgust, he cites a Panorama broadcast in one of last year’s bitter freezes, which had the temerity to ask whether the science that predicted an imminent warm Armageddon was any longer valid.

In Jones’s view, this is ‘an exhausted subject’, where only ‘the pretence of debate’ remains.

The Beeb must now accept that ‘the real discussion has moved on to what should be done to mitigate climate change’ – by which, one presumes, he means vastly expensive energy taxes and investment in ‘renewables’ such as wind-farms.

Not the least surprising aspect of this thesis is the rarity with which BBC news correspondents do challenge warmist orthodoxy. Panorama may have subjected the science to scrutiny but I recall a TV news piece shown in the same cold snap by David Shukman.

Filmed in the snow at Kew Gardens, he solemnly informed viewers that however cold they were feeling, this was merely ‘weather’.

Climate, he warned, was quite different, and was still warming inexorably. There was no real news story – merely the reinforcement of a familiar BBC message: that without drastic measures, future generations will fry.

Meanwhile, Jones is highly selective with the data he cites to support his position. Yes, as he says, the past decade has been the warmest globally in recent history (though the early Middle Ages and the Roman era may have been as warm).

It is also true CO2 levels have risen since the start of the industrial revolution, a phenomenon that has probably caused warming by half a degree.

But the problem for the warming catastrophists, which despite a recent spate of peer-reviewed papers Jones totally ignores, is that the world temperature trend since 1995 has been flat, with no evidence of warming at all.

The computer models in which he evidently places his faith did not predict this, and cannot account for it.

According to Jones, the ‘pessimists’ who believe the world will warm by up to five degrees this century – ten times as much as in the past 200 years – are ‘in the ascendant’, something the BBC should reflect.

But who is the ‘denier’ here? Finally Jones resorts to an argument that is truly laughable: ‘To bring matters up to date, 2011 saw the warmest April in Central England for 350 years.’

Maybe it did. But January and December 2010 were exceptionally cold and July 2011 has been pretty chilly too. To draw a conclusion from one month’s weather in a single place is, as he must know, simply dishonest.

But this is not the only dishonesty in his Review. The only ‘deniers’ he names are Lord Lawson and his colleagues from the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

To be sure, Lawson and his colleagues are sceptics – they do not accept doom is round the corner if we don’t enact self-impoverishing emission cuts. But they make their arguments with reference to peer-reviewed literature – something notably absent from Jones’s Review.

And they are in no sense ‘deniers’, as their writings make clear. ‘It’s scandalous to claim we deny that there has been global warming due to man-made carbon dioxide,’ says Foundation director Benny Peiser. ‘What is this really about? Is it simply an attempt to get us off the air?’

A few weeks ago, I listened to an eloquent speech by the Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who spent much of his life under the ideological yoke of communist repression.

Now he saw old patterns re-emerging: ‘The arrogance with which global warming activists and their media allies express themselves is something I know well from the past.’

The attempt to insist on an iron ‘consensus’ was undermining democracy and free debate.

Running through the Jones Review is a bizarre and anti-scientific assumption: that there is an orthodox scientific truth which the BBC should strive to reflect, and which – at least in the case of global warming – is no longer subject to revision.

As a scientist of four decades’ standing, Jones surely knows this to be false. Science is a process, not revealed dogma, and indeed, Jones’s Review even describes the way in which almost 100 years ago the laws of Newtonian physics were suddenly swept aside by Einstein, relativity and quantum mechanics.

Yet when it comes to climate, he seems to want BBC coverage to be subject to the kind of quasi-Stalinist thought-policing to which Klaus so strongly objects. To let that come to pass would be to confirm the Czech president’s worst misgivings.


UK Minister: Denying Climate (Hoax) Deal Like Denying Hitler

William Teach

We could probably term this as a jumping the shark moment, yet, the anthropogenic global warming movement/cult jumped the shark about a decade or so. Unfortunately, the show hasn't yet been cancelled
LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - World leaders who oppose a global agreement to tackle climate change are making a similar mistake to the one made by politicians who tried to appease Adolf Hitler before World War Two, a British government minister said on Thursday.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne said governments must redouble efforts to find a successor to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on emissions, although it was unlikely that a breakthrough would be made at a conference later this year in Durban in South Africa.

Holding the conference in yet another sunny vacation spot? How much CO2 and methane will be generated from all those private jets, limo's, and running air conditioners (they are wisely holding it in a place that is supposed to be hot this year.)
In a speech urging countries to keep pressing for a climate deal, Huhne evoked the memory of British wartime leader Winston Churchill and the fight against Nazi Germany led by Hitler.

"Climate change is getting less political attention now than it did two years ago. There is a vacuum, and the forces of low ambition are looking to fill it," he said. "Giving in to the forces of low ambition would be an act of climate appeasement.

"This is our Munich moment," he added, referring to the Munich Agreement, a 1938 pact that gave Hitler land in the former Czechoslovakia as part of a failed attempt to persuade him to abandon further territorial expansion.

First, if you have to call it climate change because you want to blame mankind for everything that happens, then your science has already lost. Second, if you refuse to practice what you preach, you shouldn't be surprised that your pet cult is dying a painful death. Third, if you have to evoke the memory of a liberal giving Hitler what he wanted to prop up your failed cult, you should probably have a good lie down, because I have an unused slap in my pocket with your name on it. (a few British sayings I get from Simon Green books) Fourth, if you have to use fear, rather than rational, well thought out, well researched, scientific facts, you might just be part of a cult.

And there's still nothing but supposition that mankind, as opposed to 4 billion years of empirical evidence from nature, has caused the warming which started in 1850.


Tea Party Republicans Who Challenge Green Policies Rile the New York Times

Republican Lawmakers are standing up to green pressure groups at the state level and The New York Times is getting nervous. The action in Maine, Florida and North Carolina has attracted media scrutiny because it demonstrates that Tea Party activists are exerting influence in an area that was previously dominated by leftists. Property owners and business owners who have been back on their heels fighting environmentalists have allies in government for the first time in recent memory.

The headline on the front page reads “Push in States to Deregulate Environment.” This is not meant to be complimentary. In fact, it suggests that Republicans elected with Tea Party support in 2010 have struck a raw nerve by rolling back anti-business practices.

In Maine, Tea Party-backed Republican governor Paul LePage is rolling back environmental regulations with support from new Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature. He faces a “green iron triangle” that is deeply entrenched, lavishly funded and closely aligned with state and federal government agencies.

In an interview, Ron Arnold, the executive director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, had this to say: “The Big Green disaster that’s destroying Maine has been gnawing away at every state for years. The influence and reach of green pressure groups has gone unchecked and unchallenged far too long, crushing private citizens and business owners nationwide. The Iron Triangle, as I describe it in Maine, shows rank collusion between the Maine Audubon Society and the DEP [Dept. of Environmental Protection], jointly concocting false ‘science’ to justify catastrophic regulations.”

Gov. Page and incoming lawmakers need to show some guts and throttle these cabals so they can never hurt anyone again. There is no reason to let fictitious ‘ecological concerns’ continue to overwhelm the state’s economy. It’s time to strip Maine of its anti-business regulations and regulators, restructuring the bureaucracy to promote economic development and force environmental protection to help growth, not demolish it.”

LePage has a 63-point plan to cut environmental regulations and open up 3 million acres of the state’s North Woods to development. But the governor has a long road to travel. Erich Vehyl, a local free market activist and landowner, notes that environmental groups have collaborated with state officials for decades in framing laws and in staffing agencies devoted to regulating land use and prohibiting natural resource development. An umbrella organization known as the Northern Forest Alliance, which operates throughout New England, coordinates many government takeover efforts, Vehyl said. Other key players include the Maine Audubon Society, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT).

There’s a long road ahead for free market activists, but at least the battle has been joined.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, another Tea Party favorite, has proposed cutting millions of dollars for various environmental projects that he views as being too costly to business. Meanwhile, Republicans who won control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time in 140 years are aiming their arrow against Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They intend to cut the agency’s funds by 22 percent, according to the NYT.

The report laments: “The strategies have been similar across the affected states: cut budgets and personnel at regulatory agencies, prevent the issuing of new regulations, roll back land conservation and, if possible, eliminate planning boards that monitor, restrict or permit building development.”

Robin Edwards, a co-founder of the Louisiana Tea Party Federation and president of the Baton Rouge Tea Party, has watched in frustration as environmentalists in the Gulf Coast have held their conferences and organized their coalitions. There is a certain logic to having Tea Party activists go local where they can burrow in and push against special interests that are out to impose costly restrictions on business and private citizens, she said.

“Budgets are on everyone’s minds these days,” Edwards noted. “The Tea Party has become a growing force and there is no reason for us to play defense.”


Greenie versus Greenie in Australia

FOR most of architect Robert Marshall's working life he has prided himself on doing his bit for the environment by designing and building mudbrick homes. Sometimes humble and sometimes sprawling, the dwellings have served their owners well over many years.

The handmade mudbrick -- natural subsoil mixed with straw and water, and dried by the sun -- symbolises Earth's sustainability, green values and a low carbon footprint. From hippies putting up bush huts, to the well-off building impressive mansions, most agree on the insulation quality and energy efficiency of mudbrick.

"It's a beautiful way to live and nowadays everyone has to be thinking about the environment," says Julie McKellar, who will move into her new mudbrick home in December.

But her architect, Marshall, whose creations had previously achieved compliance with Australian building codes, and many others in the earth building industry, are now at their wits' end. Some are on the verge of admitting defeat to federal and state bureaucracies, which do not recognise the environmental value of the mudbrick.

Over the past eight years the rollout of increasingly stringent and mandatory energy-efficiency ratings for new homes has made it significantly harder for "muddies", some of Australia's most passionate environmentalists, to get building approval.

But since the adoption two months ago of the even tougher six-star rating, designed to limit carbon emissions by reducing the amount of heating and cooling required by homes, the earth building industry says it may be doomed. Marshall said the McKellar home could not be built under the new six-star regime. New rammed-earth houses are similarly affected.

Builder Stephen Dobson, of the Earth Building Association, told The Australian that the previous ratings made compliance difficult but that the new six-star rating was "decimating the industry".

"The star ratings have been a disaster for earth building and it is getting worse," he said. "Earth builders say now that the regulations make it too hard. The energy ratings are biased and based on models that do not assume real life -- they don't reflect the actual behaviour of people in these homes. As a result, the earth building industry is in serious decline."

The difficulty is ironic. According to independent studies, "muddies", and those who build with rammed earth, are often people with "eco-centric attitudes, values and behaviours". They use less power and have correspondingly lower carbon footprints.

While mudbricks have been a sustainable building material for thousands of years, they cannot readily satisfy energy-efficiency standards. Part of the problem is that the solid mudbrick wall, which is 25cm thick, does not rely on additional insulation, so it scores poorly when measured by official energy rating tools.

By contrast, the ratings tools give the green light to most new houses built with modern materials which have a much higher carbon footprint, having required large amounts of energy during manufacture.

"It is utterly frustrating because we know how environmentally friendly mudbrick homes are," Marshall said. "The carbon issue does not make sense -- making a mudbrick requires very little energy, unlike the manufacture of conventional building materials like a kiln-fired house brick, which require a huge amount of energy.

"In my view the bureaucrats have this all back-to-front. Their energy ratings do not consider the lifestyles and attitudes of mudbrick people, who are low-carbon emitters. Most mudbrick people are very concerned about the environment. They are as gobsmacked as we are that with the new six-star rating it is almost impossible to build their home unless we make significant design changes."

Sigmund Jurgensen, who lives in a mudbrick home built in the 1930s by his father, a founder of the iconic artists' community of Montsalvat, near Eltham, in Melbourne, described the situation as "absurd".

"We know that quite often the people who choose to live in mudbrick homes are much more anxious and aware of the environmental problems the world faces than people living in conventional homes in the cities," Jurgensen said. "I think it goes with the territory -- you want to build a mudbrick home because you care. I'm always concerned when the bureaucrats want easy and simple answers to difficult questions.

"To say that mudbricks do not achieve proper energy ratings is nonsense. What about the tiny amount of energy used to build mudbrick homes compared with the energy used in making house bricks and other materials?"

The Australian has previously revealed evidence of major flaws in the energy ratings system. The Housing Industry Association, Master Builders Australia, scientists and builders have raised concerns that the system is fundamentally flawed, potentially wasting billions of dollars to achieve compliance with no evidence of carbon reduction. The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, which has publicly rejected much of the criticism, acknowledged to industry figures earlier this year that the system might need an overhaul.

The department is now commissioning a study to determine if its star ratings have ever been effective in reducing energy use. Its tender document states that the key objective of the study "will be a report that ascertains the actual benefits and costs resulting from the introduction" of the star energy-efficiency ratings. Intrinsic to the operation of star ratings as a measure of a house's performance is a belief that human factors -- primarily, how people use their heating and cooling -- can be standardised.

Terry Williamson, a thermal energy expert at the University of Adelaide, says the federal government's star ratings do not work while driving up the costs of more than 100,000 new houses a year.

"People who live in mudbrick houses use a lot less energy because they are more enviro-centric, but the building regulation looks at the physics of the building material, not the behaviours of the occupants," Williamson said. "The policy reflects a narrow concern about reaching objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it means the mudbrick house, which is environmentally friendly, will be all but impossible to build."

Eltham resident Jenni Mitchell and her husband, Mervyn Hannon, believe it is ridiculous that their 26-year-old north-facing mudbrick house would not be compliant if built today.

"The notion that mudbricks are not good enough in terms of energy efficiency is a farce; it is bureaucracy gone mad," she said.

Richard Provan, who makes mudbricks near Kinglake in Victoria, hopes Australia's peak scientific body, the CSIRO, will retest mudbricks for their thermal qualities in a bid to achieve a higher rating. His business has "dwindled to the point of extinction" as a result of the regulations. "All the trades associated with it are being hurt because the interest is not there any more. Mudbricks are a good insulating product with a very small carbon footprint."


Play board games to prevent global warming??

AUSTRALIANS are being urged to play board games and snuggle up under a rug with a pet or their families to help cut power bills. On its LivingGreener website, the federal government urges switching off the TV and heater and finding old-fashioned ways of keeping snug and occupied.

"There are heaps of ways to have fun 'unplugged' - go retro and break out the board games or visit your local library and share the heating and computers with your community," the site says.

"To reduce the energy you use while watching TV, take another tip from grandma and share the warmth. Snuggle up under a rug, snuggle with your family or cuddle your favourite pet. You could avoid the TV and snuggle up in bed with a good book (or with someone who's read one lately)."

A spokesman for the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, defended the advice, saying many households were seeking tips on how to save energy. "Improving energy efficiency is a way households can help lower carbon pollution while saving money," he said.

However, the opposition climate change spokesman, Greg Hunt, branded the government's advice farcical.



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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