Friday, September 02, 2011

Sea level DROPS

Global sea level dropped six millimeters in 2010 and has continued to drop in 2011, NASA satellite instruments report. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports “the rise of the global ocean has been remarkably steady” since satellite instruments began measuring sea level in 1993, which counters alarmist assertions of an acceleration in sea-level rise. While the 2010–2011 decline in global sea level is most likely temporary, it may force a downward revision of the long-term pace of sea-level rise.

Note: 6 millimeters is twice the rate at which the sea level had been rising. Amusing how NASA "spins" its own data. They describe their finding as a "Pothole on Road to Higher Seas". How do they know its a "pothole"? They don't. They're just desperate to preach their theory. Objective, they're not.


Greenpeace man struck dumb

No such luck, apparently. He just SAYS he was speechless. Just a few notes why the changes observed, if genuine, have no large implications: Arctic temperatures are very uneven, partly due to varying winds and ocean currents. During recent Arctic warming episodes, the Antarctic was gaining ice-mass, thus demonstrating that there is no global change going on -- just local processes. And glacier calving is more likely if the glacier is GROWING

New photographs taken of a vast glacier in northern Greenland have revealed the astonishing rate of its breakup, with one scientist saying he was rendered "speechless."

In August 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier about four times the size of Manhattan island broke off , prompting a hearing in Congress.

Researcher Alun Hubbard, of the Centre for Glaciology at Aberystwyth University, U.K. [and Greenpeace], told by phone that another section, about twice the size of Manhattan, appeared close to breaking off.

In 2009, scientists installed GPS masts on the glacier to track its movement. But when they returned in July this year, they found the ice had been melting so quickly — at an unexpected 16-and-a-half feet in two years — that some of the masts stuck into the glacier were no longer in position.

Hubbard, who has been working with Jason Box, of Ohio State University, and others, said in a statement issued by the Byrd Polar Research Center that scientists were still trying to work out how fast the glacier was moving and the effect on the ice sheet feeding the glacier.

But he said he was taken aback by the difference between 2009 and 2011 when he visited the glacier in late July. "Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the break-up, which rendered me speechless," he said in the statement.


The IAC Report One Year Later

A year ago today I blogged about a historic report. In late August last year a committee established by the InterAcademy Council delivered 100+ pages of findings regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

IPCC officials and supporters have long advanced an outrageously misleading marketing message. We’ve been told this UN body is in a class of its own with respect to its thoroughness and transparency – that there is no “parallel on the planet.”

We’ve been told it is “one of the most rigorous scientific review bodies in existence.” Words like authoritative, gold-standard, and eminent are routinely uttered by those describing the IPCC (see a hyperlinked list of quotes here).

But the first time a group of outsiders took a close look at how the IPCC actually behaves it identified “significant shortcomings in each major step of the IPCC’s assessment process” (see the first paragraph here – the entire report is available here).

The first time anyone bothered to look past the highfalutin rhetoric at IPCC reality they noticed that the IPCC claims to have high confidence in “statements for which there is little evidence” (see p. 4 here). They also concluded that “procedures are not always followed” (see p. 5 here).

In the UK, the media characterized this report as damning (see here and here). A year later, therefore, a few questions are worth asking: How much progress has been made? In there any evidence the IPCC has turned over a new leaf?

Ever-so-diplomatically, the committee said the IPCC’s chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, should go. Rather than enumerating his many faults (see here, here, here, here, and here), the committee instead presented this 71-year-old with a face-saving exit.

“A 12-year appointment (two terms),” said the committee, “is too long for a field as dynamic and contested as climate change.” The IPCC would, it said, benefit from “a greater variety of perspectives and approaches” at its most senior level.

Yet not only did Pachauri – who is well into his second term – not take the hint, the IPCC’s major funders (currently the German, Japanese, Swiss, and US governments) failed to insist on his departure.

A year later, therefore, the IPCC continues to be headed by a person whom it is impossible to trust or respect. That’s strike one.

Strikes two and three unfolded quietly a few months back, in the total absence of any media coverage. Among the IAC committee’s explicit recommendations was one that said (see the coloured box on p. 5 here):
The IPCC should strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature…ensuring [that such literature] is appropriately flagged in the report.

(By way of background, despite Pachauri’s frequent claims that IPCC reports rely solely on peer-reviewed literature this is not the case. Moreover, the IPCC has long had a policy that said non-peer-reviewed material should be clearly identified as such when listed by the IPCC in its references. But that rule was ignored 99.9 percent of the time.)

In April Canadian blogger Hilary Ostrov noticed that an internal IPCC document was suggesting that the flagging rule be abandoned altogether since the IPCC’s clerical and technical employees felt it “would not be practical” to identify grey literature in reference lists.

A month later a new policy for dealing with grey literature was adopted at an IPCC meeting. All mention of flagging non-peer-reviewed literature has now vanished. The desires of IPCC bureaucrats – not the clear recommendation of the committee – prevailed.

Then there was Steve McIntyre’s discovery in June. Another report recommendation involved the establishment of an IPCC Executive Committee. This new body should, in the words of the report, include “three independent members who include individuals from outside of the climate community” (see p. 2 here).

So what did the IPCC do? It set up this new committee all right, but in lieu of three independent members it appointed four IPCC staff members instead. Really.

So let’s repeat those crucial questions: How much progress has been made? In there any evidence the IPCC has turned over a new leaf?

The damaged-goods chairman remains. The flagging rule, rather than being strengthened, has been ‘disappeared.’ A committee with new powers that was supposed to include outsiders has instead been stacked with consummate insiders.

It’s now quite clear that IPCC movers and shakers have no intention of complying with either the spirit or the letter of the IAC committee’s recommendations. That this is a thoroughly unaccountable organization could not be any plainer.


Solar Company Goes Belly Up - Despite $535 Million From Feds

Solyndra, a major manufacturer of solar technology in Fremont, has shut its doors, according to employees at the campus. "I was told by a security guard to get my [stuff] and leave," one employee said. The company employs a little more than 1,000 employees worldwide, according to its website.

Shortly after it opened a massive $700 million facility, it canceled plans for a public stock offering earlier this year and warned it would be in significant trouble if federal loan guarantees did not go through.

The company has said it will make a statement at 9am California time, though it's not clear what that statement will be. An NBC Bay Area photographer on the scene reports security guards are not letting visitors on campus. He says "people are standing around in disbelief." The employees have been given yellow envelopes with instructions on how to get their last checks.

Solyndra was touted by the Obama administration as a prime example of how green technology could deliver jobs. The President visited the facility in May of last year and said "it is just a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world. And you guys all represent that. "

The federal government offered $535 million in low cost loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. NBC Bay Area has contacted the White House asking for a statement.

Some Republicans have been very critical of the loans. "I am concerned that the DOE is providing loans and loan guarantees to firms that aren't capable of competing in the global market, even with government subsidies" Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns told the New York Times.


A huge waste of the people's money

The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) can’t figure out what benefits taxpayers are getting from the many billions of dollars spent each year on policies that are purportedly aimed at addressing climate change.

A May 20 report noted that while annual federal funding for such activities has been increasing substantially, there is a lack of shared understanding of strategic priorities among the various responsible agency officials. This assessment agrees with the conclusions of a 2008 Congressional Research Service analysis which found no “overarching policy goal for climate change that guides the programs funded or the priorities among programs.”

According to the GAO, annual federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010, amounting to $106.7 billion over that period. The money was spent in four general categories: technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, science to understand climate changes, international assistance for developing countries, and wildlife adaptation to respond to actual or expected changes. Technology spending, the largest category, grew from $2.56 billion to $5.5 billion over this period, increasingly advancing over others in total share. Data compiled by Joanne Nova at the Science and Policy Institute indicates that the U.S. Government spent more than $32.5 billion on climate studies between 1989 and 2009. This doesn’t count about $79 billion more spent for climate change technology research, foreign aid and tax breaks for “green energy.”

OMB pointed out that their previously noted agency budget compilations didn’t include revenues lost for the special deductions and tax credits intended to encourage greenhouse gas emission reductions. They attributed to those subsidies a cost of $7.2 billion in federal revenue losses during 2010 alone, ($16.1 billion since 1993), bringing the total since 2003 to $122.8 billion. Then there’s still another $26.1 billion earmarked for climate change programs and related activities within the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or “Stimulus Bill”).

Climate change spending won’t slow any time soon…not so long as current Obama policies prevail. A proposed $1,328 million FY 2012 budget for its Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) aimed at helping developing countries address man-made global warming problems that we’ve allegedly caused represents a 557% increase since FY 2008 (then $202 million). Implemented through programs sponsored by the Department of State, Treasury, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it is funded by the administration’s executive budget. As stated, “The President’s FY2012 budget request follows on the December 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, which formulated a package of ‘nationally appropriate’ measures toward the goal of avoiding dangerous climate change.” This is part of “…a commitment to near-term and long-term climate financing for the least developed countries amounting to near $30 billion for the period 2010-2012, and $100 billion annually by 2020.”

Then there’s the matter of those escalating climate-premised EPA regulation costs that are killing businesses and jobs under cover of the Clean Air Act. These rampant overreaches are being justified by the agency’s Endangerment Finding proclaiming CO2 to be a pollutant. The finding ignored a contrary conclusion in EPA’s own “Internal Study on Climate” that: “Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based upon a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.”

The Small Business Administration estimates that compliance with such regulations costs the U.S. economy more than $1.75 trillion per year — about 12%-14% of GDP, and half of the $3.456 trillion Washington is currently spending. The Competitive Enterprise Institute believes the annual cost is closer to $1.8 trillion when an estimated $55.4 billion regulatory administration and policing budget is included. CEI further observes that those regulation costs exceed 2008 corporate pretax profits of $1.436 trillion; tower over estimated individual income taxes of $936 billion by 87%; and reveal a federal government whose share of the entire economy reaches 35.5% when combined with federal 2010 spending outlays.

A U.S. Energy Information Administration economic forecasting model indicates that a proposed 70% cut in CO2 emissions will cause gasoline prices to rise 77% over baseline projections, kill more than 3 million jobs, and reduce average household income by more than $4,000 each year.


What's wrong with "urban sprawl"?

The fact that people choose free-standing houses just arouses Greenie contempt. They want us all back in tenements. Comment from Australia below

Recently, self-appointed planning "experts" have criticised the performance of planning systems that have shaped suburbs and cities, denigrating governments that delivered the homes of millions of Australians.

The critics say such communities and suburban development are unsustainable and have called for government, in the name of sustainability, to choose high-density development over greenfield development, often labelled "sprawl". To them, density is good and suburban development is bad.

But the simple fact is we need to meet dwelling demand, achieve housing affordability and provide much-needed community services and infrastructure.

Across the country, notwithstanding the growing trend to inner-city living and more infill development, demand continues to be for detached houses in greenfield locations, and the strongest population growth continues to be in outer suburbs.

Bear in mind those suburbs will become tomorrow's middle or inner-ring suburbs of emerging cities - Logan, Ipswich and the new cities of Ripley, Yarrabilba and Caloundra South.

While dwellings produced through options such as infill and redevelopment do meet a need for housing in particular urban locations, such consolidation will not, in reality, preclude the need for continuing greenfield development to meet the overwhelming bulk of dwelling demand. Detached housing, typical of greenfield developments, remains the preferred housing type across households and age demographics.

Infill development is popular for many because of reduced travel times and better access to public transport and employment.

However, in southeast Queensland, many master-planned communities, particularly on Brisbane's northern and western outskirts and on the Gold Coast, are also achieving high employment generation targets.

Elsewhere, there are other examples of employment self-sufficiency in outer-urban master-planned developments.

This strategy overcomes the primary complaint of heavy vehicle usage and travel times.

Well-planned suburban and master-planned communities are also designed to be rich in social capital, with high levels of engagement by residents in their local community and with significant participation in local sporting, cultural and social activities and events, often using local parks and recreational facilities.

Typically, in suburban locations there is a net density of eight dwellings per hectare.

Recently, many major developers have achieved between 11 and 13 dwellings per hectare on a net basis in master-planned communities such as Forest Lake, Springfield and North Lakes.

Densities in these locations can only increase incrementally over time, with smaller lots becoming increasingly popular due to affordability.

The next generation of major greenfield development is looking to achieve a net density of at least 15 dwellings per hectare, with a diversity of housing products to meet a wide range of target markets, including more affordable housing options. These would represent twice the density of previous years.

As such, there is a compelling argument that it is sound planning to build communities to these incrementally higher densities at the urban fringe, as well as commit to redevelopment and urban renewal. This is because of two primary factors.

First, upgrading and augmentation of infrastructure in existing areas can be expensive and disruptive and is not an acceptable stand alone solution. Major road works and sewerage and storm water upgrades on busy suburban roads are the bane of economic efficiency and sustainability as they become "crawling car parks".

Second, the creation of cities in growth areas not only provides new sustainable communities, it also creates urban hubs for existing fringe suburbs, adding to life quality.

The answer then is to be inclusive, not exclusive. To provide adequate supplies of both greenfield and infill development under a realistic planning framework based on sustainability performance, infrastructure planning, social preference and market demand realities.



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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