Thursday, November 03, 2011

Autumn Snow Cover Has Increased Almost 50% Over The Last 15 Years

It's hard to get away from that global cooling

The graph below shows Rutgers Northern Hemisphere week 43 snow cover since 1986, right before CO2 hit 350 ppm.


Coke burnishes its "Green' credentials

It's common for big business to go along with the accepted wisdom. Truth is a secondary concern

For years Coca-Cola has given millions of dollars to eco-extreme group World Wildlife Fund, whose alarmism and perpetration of falsehoods are unmatched among its cohorts in climate activism.

Now Coke has initiated a new campaign with WWF that features its iconic advertising species in an effort to drive more funding to the international nonprofit group to “protect the polar bears’ Arctic home.”

The promotion will include new packaging for Coke over the holiday season, changing its familiar red cans to white, and featuring an image of a mother polar bear and her cubs on the side. Coke says it will donate $2 million over five years to WWF for “polar bear conservation efforts,” and will also match donations made at Last year Coke gave WWF $1.64 million for its various activities globally.

“The planet is changing very quickly, and nowhere more quickly than in the Arctic,” says Gerald Butts, president of WWF-Canada.

“It’s really important that we all understand that they need our help,” he added. “Climate change is changing livelihoods, it’s changing migration patterns for species, and we want to plan ahead. We want a future for the Arctic where the communities of people who live there are vibrant and sustainable, and the iconic species – in particular the polar bear – has a long-term future on the planet.”

Butts speaks so little truth. First with the easy part: more human beings die in cold weather than in heat. As for the Arctic, temperatures in the 1930s increased at a rate of .5 degrees per year, so the idea that any possible current warming is unprecedented is silly. And a recent Canadian study found evidence that an Arctic ice shelf fractured 1,400 years ago, “long before industrialization had any impact on the planet.” Meanwhile Arctic ice is growing at a record rate, and more than 30 percent of the missing ice area in the western Arctic has recovered since 2007. Arctic climate patterns, which have shown warming in recent years, are attributable to solar changes and ocean currents, not increases in human-produced carbon dioxide.

And then there are the precious polar bears. Their estimated numbers – according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – have increased by somewhere between double and quintuple (that is, growing from between 5,000 and 10,000 to 20,000-25,000) from the 1950s until now. They are also known to be tremendously resilient, and in some areas where they have declined, the reason has been attributed to too much ice. As far as healthy populations, according to officials in the extreme northern territory of Nunavut in Canada, polar bears “have not declined.”

“Based on hunter observations, polar bears are presently still healthy and abundant across Nunavut,” said territorial Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk, “and for that reason, not a species of special concern.”

Meanwhile a study often cited as proof of the dangers of global warming to polar bears was “filled with baseless assumptions.” The report, by biologist Charles Monnett, discussed the discovery of four bear carcasses in the sea, and implied that the deaths were attributed to loss of ice. Monnett was placed on administrative leave and he and a collaborator are being investigated for scientific misconduct.

As for advocacy-oriented WWF and the “sound science” of proven global warming, it is a fantasy. Alarmists have long held up the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the authoritative attestation by scholarly researchers that the planet is warming because of human-produced emissions through the burning of fossil fuels for energy. But thanks to revelations from the Climategate scandal and other discoveries (like the debunked Hockey Stick chart), the IPCC reports were sourced in many parts with non-peer reviewed literature like boot-cleaning guides, student dissertations, climbing magazines, and even (drum roll please)…WWF pamphlets!

Such is the shaky foundation upon which the catastrophic global warming edifice has been constructed, and now WWF (net assets as of Fiscal Year 2009: $238 million) hopes its ongoing relationship with Coca-Cola will continue to provide millions of dollars for its anti-fossil fuels campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, WWF – a truly international organization – spent $1.6 million on lobbying in 2009, just in the United States. Its stated agenda items for lobbying purposes included:

* Development of climate legislation including mitigation, adaptation, reduced tropical deforestation

* Energy efficiency provisions in stimulus, budget and energy legislation (Crony capitalistic slush funding for illusionary “Green jobs”)

* International financing for clean technology transfer and cooperation (like funding for overseas “Solyndras”)

Meanwhile WWF officials, like so many climate crusaders, fail to abide by the practices they admonish others to follow. The organization wants limits placed upon aviation because of its significant contribution to carbon dioxide emissions, but WWF president Carter Roberts (total 2009 compensation: $455,147) fails to lead by example, and routinely flies to remote locales as though it helps call attention to the planet’s plight. According to its tax returns WWF spent $5.1 million in 2009 on travel, which included a flight by Roberts as “one of several passengers on a roundtrip charter flight from Winnipeg to Churchill, (Manitoba).” Claiming there were no commercial flights available, WWF reported, “this trip was part of a field visit by staff and donors to see WWF’s work in the Arctic and the impacts of climate change.”

As for political inclinations, WWF’s managing director of climate change, Lou Leonard, was environmental policy analyst and field organizer for President Obama’s presidential campaign. His bio on the WWF Web site states, “As an environmental lawyer and climate policy expert, you can imagine the list of ‘to-do’s’ he has for the new administration.”

So each purchase of a white Coca-Cola can supports: false testimony on global warming; perpetration of the myth about endangered polar bears; ongoing distortion of the UN IPCC process; activism to fight the development of affordable coal, oil and natural gas; hypocrites who won’t follow their own recommendations; and expansion of already excessive environmental regulations.

Doesn’t it make your heart all fizzy?


Solyndra Redux: Another DOE Loan Recipient Files for Bankruptcy – 14 (Failed) Jobs for $43 Million

Well add another loser to the Obama Administration’s green energy portfolio.
Beacon Power Corp filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, just a year after the energy storage company received a $43 million loan guarantee from a controversial Department of Energy program.

The bankruptcy comes about two months after Solyndra — a solar panel maker with a $535 million loan guarantee — also filed for Chapter 11, creating a political embarrassment for the administration of President Barack Obama, which has championed the loans as a way to create “green energy” jobs.

Oh lighten up Reuters. The Administration created 14 jobs with that $43 million. At $3 million and change per job, it’s a wonder they lasted almost 2 years.

Yes, another “embarrassment” for the remarkably scandal-free Obama Administration. Well at least in this case there doesn’t seem to be any indication that cronyism played in role in the awarding of these funds. Oh wait (from 2009):
Beacon is using the money to develop a 20 MW regulation plant at a site in Stephenton, NY. The site will use several 1 MW flywheels to store energy as well as electrical and technological equipment.

Company spokesman Gene Hunt said Beacon didn’t have financial advisors per se, just its outside law firm of Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge. “We also used our in-house expertise and we have good relationships with our congressional members.”

I bet they do. For the record, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (Democrat, pictured second from right) and former congressman Scott Murphy (D) from New York were both on hand when Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the loan award.

It looks like the Administration will also have some questions to answer about their evaluation of Beacon’s credit-worthiness. Because just weeks before before the DOE granted final approval of the loan, they were on the verge of being de-listed.
In mid-September [2009], Beacon received word from NASDAQ that it was out of compliance with the exchange’s minimum trading-price of $1 per share. Beacon Power closed at 72 cents a share the day NASDAQ sent its notice. Beacon said it believes it meets applicable standards, other than the minimum bid price requirement.

Something tells me there will be more to this story. Exit question: will Steven Chu or Eric Holder be the first to go?

Surprise, surprise. Walter Reed, the managing partner of the law firm representing Beacon Power in the acquisition of this loan, was an Obama donor in 2008, and also donated $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2010.


Warmist insurer gets it wrong

Their assertions disproved from their own data

by Roger Pielke, Jr

A New Study on Insured Losses and Climate Change
The global reinsurer Munich Re has received a lot of attention for its press releases on climate change, such as this statement issued one year ago: "A month before the start of the world climate summit, Munich Re is drawing attention to the strong probability that there is a connection between the large number of weather extremes and climate change. The reinsurer has built up the world’s most comprehensive natural catastrophe database, which shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events. For instance, globally, loss-related floods have more than tripled since 1980, and windstorm natural catastrophes more than doubled, with particularly heavy losses from Atlantic hurricanes. This rise cannot be explained without global warming."

Munich Re also said via press release: "[I]t would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change."

A new paper is forthcoming in the journal Climatic Change in 2012 helps to shed some additional light on such claims. The new paper -- titled "A Trend Analysis of Normalized Insured Damage from Natural Disasters" by Fabian Barthel and Eric Neumayer of the London School of Economics -- is a follow on to their earlier work which was published last November (and if you read that one, the new study won't be surprising).

Here is what the new paper concludes based on its examination of weather-related losses from the Munich Re global dataset from 1980 to 2008:
[At a global scale] no significant trend is discernible. Similarly, we do not find a significant trend if we constrain our analysis to non-geophysical disasters in developed countries . . .

Convective events, i.e. flash floods, hail storms, tempest storms, tornados, and lightning, deserve closer attention since these are likely to be particularly affected by future global warming (Trapp et al. 2007, 2009; Botzen et al. 2009) and there is some evidence that past climatic changes already affected severe thunderstorm activity in some regions (Dessens 1995; Kunz et al. 2009). Figure 7a shows that there is no significant trend in global insured losses for these peril types. Similarly, there is no significant trend in insured losses for storm events (Figure 7b), tropical cyclones (Figure 7c) or precipitation-related events (Figure 7d).

They do find a positive trend in insured losses in the US since 1973, and for specific phenomena such as hurricanes and floods, for which longer-term data sets show no upwards trends for either phenomena (and which Barthel and Neumayer acknowledge). Interestingly, they also claim to find a positive trend in insured losses from convective events in the US (including tornadoes), which is in sharp disagreement with our recent work on normalized tornado losses, which finds a dramatic reduction in both economic losses and strong tornadoes since 1950 (in fact, even the non-normalized economic losses show a downward trend). They also find upward trends in storm losses in the western part of Germany. The acknowledge that both regional trends might be associated with simple variability or how they adjust for insurance penetration -- it will be interesting to reconcile our tornado work with theirs (ours focuses on total damage).

Based on their analysis they conclude:
Climate change neither is nor should be the main concern for the insurance industry. The accumulation of wealth in disaster-prone areas is and will always remain by far the most important driver of future economic disaster damage. . .

What the results tell us is that, based on the very limited time-series data we have for most countries, there is no evidence so far for a statistically significant upward trend in normalized insured loss from extreme events outside the US and West Germany. . .

[W]e warn against taking the findings for the US and Germany as conclusive evidence that climate change has already caused more frequent and/or more intensive natural disasters affecting this country. To start with, one needs to be careful in attributing such a trend to anthropogenic climate change, i.e. climate change caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Our findings reported in this article could be down to natural climate variability that has nothing to do with anthropogenic climate change. Such natural climate variability may well explain our finding of a significant upward trend in insured loss from hurricanes in the US, for example. . .

They offer several other methodological cautions about the interpretation of the few trends that they found, and quite appropriately.

But the most interesting part of their study is not their conclusions, which are both a valuable contribution to this area of research and perfectly consistent with the growing literature on this topic, but rather, what is found in the acknowledgments:
The authors acknowledge support from the Munich Re Programme “Evaluating the Economics of Climate Risks & Opportunities in the Insurance Sector” at LSE.

My favorite press spokesman at LSE, Bob Ward, also gets an acknowledgment.

So the next time that Munich Re wants to attribute the growing toll of disaster losses to climate change, or you see someone citing Munich Re saying as much, they might be reminded of the Munich Re funded (and peer-reviewed) research which tells quite a different story than that found in press releases.


Toxic emissions from the EPA

It is time for Lisa P. Jackson to resign. Last Friday at Howard University, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) railed against the coal industry, saying, “In [the coal industry's] entire history – 50, 60, 70 years or even 30 – they never found the time or the reason to clean up their act. They’re literally on life support. And the people keeping them on life support are all of us.”

This is patently false, of course, as emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are quite heavily regulated. Those emissions controls are the reason U.S. air is clean and safe and why, say, the air in regulation-free China is not.

As West Virginia’s Republican Rep. David B. McKinley pointed out, to the extent that the coal industry is “on life support,” it is Ms. Jackson’s EPA and the rest of the Obama administration that has put it there with a slew of proposed and finalized anti-coal regulations.

A week before, Ms. Jackson appeared on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” where she said, “We’re actually at the point in many areas of this country where, on a hot summer day, the best advice we can give you is don’t go outside. Don’t breathe the air, it might kill you.”

But there is no scientific or medical evidence to support this statement — not now or even when the EPA was organized and the Clean Air Act was amended to its current form in 1970.

Akin to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, her inflammatory rhetoric actually serves to undermine all the efforts put forth and money spent by government and industry to clean the air the past 40 years.

In an Oct. 21 Los Angeles Times op-ed, Ms. Jackson essentially accused congressional Republicans of attempting to kill Americans.

“Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws. … How we respond to this assault on our environmental and public health protections will mean the difference between sickness and health – in some cases, life and death — for hundreds of thousands of citizens.”

But the bills the House GOP has passed would do nothing more than delay a few proposed and recently issued EPA regulations pending a cost-benefit analysis, including input from other federal agencies. Long-standing, pre-Obama administration emissions standards would remain in effect without any changes.

An Oct. 16 USA Today op-ed co-signed with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “There shouldn’t be a single neighborhood where parents have to worry about letting their kids play outside for fear they might get sick. Yet today, one in every 12 Americans — and one in 10 children — suffers from asthma, which is worsened by air pollution.”

The good news is that there aren’t such neighborhoods. In fact, there is no American adult or child whose health is compromised by ambient air quality. Yet reality doesn’t temper Ms. Jackson’s vitriol.

At a September House hearing, Ms. Jackson told Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, “[Airborne] particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”

And how many people does Ms. Jackson claim suffer avoidable deaths from particulate matter? She told Mr. Markey, “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels, it would have the same impact as finding a cure for cancer in our country.”

But last year, about 570,000 people died from cancer amid a death toll of about 2.2 million. So Ms. Jackson is misleading Congress into thinking that 25 percent of deaths in America are caused by air pollution. The real toll from ambient air, however, is zero – and there is no scientific or medical evidence to the contrary.

All this shrillness is a sign that Ms. Jackson is feeling tremendous political pressure from her efforts to use junk science to shut down the American economy.

She has overreacted by borrowing from the playbook of Clinton EPA administrator and former Obama environment and energy czar Carol M. Browner, who ran roughshod not only over congressional Republicans but also over Al Gore in ramming through costly air-pollution regulations in 1997.

Whatever the reason, however, Ms. Jackson’s nonsensical Earth First!-like scaremongering is hardly befitting of a responsible senior government official who is in charge of a supposedly independent agency that regulates much of the nation’s economy.

Ms. Jackson wants to be unaccountable for her actions and is trying to intimidate her critics into silence and resignation with flagrant falsehoods.

An EPA administrator whose rhetoric is as apocalyptic as that of the most strident environmental extremists – and whose agenda matches – isn’t serving the public. At a time when it is more important than ever to avoid damaging the economy, Ms. Jackson’s actions prove she isn’t fit to serve.


Loss of crop diversity a myth, study says

“The conventional wisdom that says the 20th century was a disaster for crop diversity is nothing more than a myth, according to a forthcoming study by a University of Illinois expert in intellectual property law…” The University of Illinois media release continues:
Law professor Paul Heald says overall varietal diversity of the $20 billion market for vegetable crops and apples in the U.S. actually has increased over the past 100 years, a finding that should change the highly politicized debate over intellectual property policy.

“The conventional wisdom, as illustrated in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic, holds that the last century was a disaster for crop diversity,” he said. “In the mainstream media, this position is so entrenched that it no longer merits a citation.”

To support their conclusions, Heald and co-author Susannah Chapman, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Georgia, studied thousands of commercially available varieties of 42 vegetable crops from 1903 to 2004, as well as varieties of apples from 1900 to 2000.

“When we began this study, we started with the assumption that every year we advanced in the 20th century there would be fewer and fewer varieties offered for sale commercially,” Heald said.

But when the researchers went to Washington to study varieties available in historical commercial seed and nursery catalogs, they were surprised by what they found as they worked through the years 1900 to 1930.

“There was no evident sign of decline, so we decided to step back and take a snapshot of 1903 and 2004, two years where others had collected full data on all important vegetable crops,” Heald said. “We came to this with the exact same preconceptions as everyone else, but we couldn’t ignore facts that were smacking us in the face.”

According to Heald, the reason no one questioned the conventional wisdom of a crop diversity crisis earlier is that the narrative “resonates so completely with assumptions made in all the socio-biological fields.”

“Humans generally cause significant environmental damage, so this false notion of waning crop diversity fits an accepted narrative,” Heald said. “It reconfirms what people already believe, and that belief is certainly bolstered by people’s casual observations about lack of diversity in the supermarket.”

Heald says the lack of choice in the fruit and vegetable section of grocery stores creates the impression that there’s a diversity crisis.

“Since we don’t see the diversity, it must not be there,” he said. “It fits in with a narrative of bad environmental news. There’s no doubt the 20th century was a bad century for the environment, so it must also have been a bad century for crop diversity. But it turns out this is one area in the last century that was pretty good. So all these factors bundled together led to a consensus that was never questioned and never really explored systematically until now.”

According to the study, 40 percent of the diversity gains the researchers found were from imports, but only 3 percent of gains could be traced to patents and less than 1 percent from biotechnological innovation.

“The influx of immigrants from South America and Asia have really brought a lot of new germ plasm into the U.S.,” Heald said. “Seeds stored in suitcases and purses can move around the world without anyone knowing or the government playing any significant role. On the other hand, government stimulus, like patent law, plays a role in only 3 percent of diversity gains, with biotech innovation constituting less than 1 percent.”

In the debate between economists who believe that patent law is essential to increasing plant diversity through innovation, and anthropologists and ethno-botanists who believe that patents destroyed plant diversity in the 20th century, Heald says the study demonstrates that both sides are wrong.

“The story of vegetables and apples in the 20th century is a story of markets working without government intervention, so it’s really a confluence of liberal and conservative dogma,” he said. “You see immigrants, off-the-grid seed savers, small farmers and local gardeners preserving and innovating. They create what appears to be a very efficient market for diversity in the absence of significant legal regulation.”

The study also includes the caveat that corn may be the exception to the influence of the patent system, as federal property rights play a more prevalent role in the ubiquitous crop, as well as with soybeans and cotton.

“The interesting question is, ‘Why do firms patent these new strains of corn?’ ” Heald said. “Some agricultural economists would say that patents allow a firm to capture a certain segment of the market, but people who study varieties of patented corn say that it’s more of a phenomenon of defensive patenting, where you patent something because you don’t want to be sued by someone else when they try to patent the exact same thing. Since patent suits can be expensive, it’s easier and safer to patent what you produce.”

But to become a player in the corn market, you may need as big of a patent portfolio as the competition, Heald says.

“There’s also the sense – and this has been borne out in other industries, such as computer technology – that you want to create this huge arsenal of patents that you can wield as a big club in the market,” he said. “If that’s true, then, ironically, it may be inefficient to have patent protection, if the public gets too much of this sort of game-playing and legal jockeying.

“So the interesting question is, do you really need patent protection to stimulate new kinds of corn? That, of course, is going to turn on how expensive it is to create a new strain, and how easy to appropriate the technology.”

Heald’s study will be published in the University of Illinois Law Review.



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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