Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forgive me while I laugh

Read the UPI "news" report below and then read the academic article it is based on. I will then have some comments on both

A U.S. study shows day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall around the planet.

Princeton University researchers say extremely sunny or cloudy days are more common than in the early 1980s, and swings from thunderstorms to dry days rose considerably since the late 1990s.

These swings could have consequences for industries such as agriculture and solar-energy production, which are vulnerable to inconsistent and extreme weather, the researchers said in a release issued by the Ivy League school in New Jersey Tuesday.

Existing climate-change models have historically been based on monthly averages, an approach that hides variability, David Medvigy, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, said.

"Monthly averages reflect a misty world that is a little rainy and cloudy every day. That is very different from the weather of our actual world, where some days are very sunny and dry," Medvigy said.

"Nobody has looked for these daily changes on a global scale. We usually think of climate change as an increase in mean global temperature and potentially more extreme conditions -- there's practically no discussion of day-to-day variability."

Analysis of erratic daily conditions such as frequent thunderstorms may be crucial to understanding factors shaping the climate and affecting the atmosphere, the researchers said.

Journal of Climate 2011 ; e-View
doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI4115.1

Trends in daily solar radiation and precipitation coefficients of variation since 1984

David Medvigya and Claudie Beaulieu


This study investigates the possibility of changes in daily-scale solar radiation and precipitation variability. Coefficients of variation (CV) were computed for the daily downward surface solar radiation product from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project and the daily precipitation product from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project. Regression analysis was used to identify trends in CV. Statistically significant changes in solar radiation variability were found for 35% of the globe, and particularly large increases were found for tropical Africa and the Maritime Continent. These increases in solar radiation variability were correlated with increases in precipitation variability and increases in deep convective cloud amount. The changes in high-frequency climate variability identified here have consequences for any process depending nonlinearly on climate, including solar energy production and terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis. In order to assess these consequences, additional work is needed to understand how high-frequency climate variability will change in the coming decades.

The first thing to note here is that we are NOT dealing with a global phenomenon. Changes in cloud cover were observed for only one third of the globe. We are looking at local effects. And what did changes in cloud cover affect? Hold on to your hat for the amazing news: RAIN!

No mention of clouds affecting temperature. And that is the dog that did not bark. Cloud changes SHOULD have affected temperature. Why is the effect not reported? That the effect was COOLING, not the warming assumed by Warmists is the obvious conjecture. What a crock!

Ideology and climate change

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken

A good friend of mine is a meteorologist and professor who can be called a Left-Statist. That is, his ideological inclinations are NOT toward free markets and limited government. But he separates his ideology from his scientific judgment, and he remains unconvinced that human industry has had any more than a negligible influence on any supposed changes in the climate. He has also mentioned colleagues, subsidized by grant money, who felt pressure to remove "inconvenient truths" from their studies that conflict with the pre-determined conclusion of man-made climate change.

My friend has also discussed changes in universities, where "sustainability" as a political goal has replaced "geography" as an academic subject.

I don't know enough about weather and climate to hold an informed opinion on man-made "climate change." But there are good reasons to be skeptical, even if I ignored the judgment of my scientist friend.

For example: In a recent lecture, scientist and journalist Matt Ridley made the following observations regarding the theory of man-made "climate change" (Hat Tip: Ronald Bailey at Hit and Run):
I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm....

Meanwhile, I see confirmation bias everywhere in the climate debate. Hurricane Katrina, Mount Kilimanjaro, the extinction of golden toads – all cited wrongly as evidence of climate change. A snowy December, the BBC lectures us, is ‘just weather’; a flood in Pakistan or a drought in Texas is ‘the sort of weather we can expect more of’. A theory so flexible it can rationalize any outcome is a pseudoscientific theory.

Ridley goes on to say that "you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable" and that "we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed."

Is skepticism toward climate change "anti-science" or "anti-intellectual?" Or are the scientists promoting the theory doing so because they are ideologically Statist themselves, and come to their conclusions using research money funded by politicians? If so, three doubts about their work come to mind:

* It is the latest hobgoblin to frighten us into sacrificing our economic and personal freedom.

* People who have most loudly promoted climate change have ALSO been vociferously anti-market, anti-freedom over the years, and "climate change" is just their latest excuse.

* Scientists who are employed by public univeristies (that is, on The State's payroll), or whose research is funded by the State, will be naturally under pressure to come to conclusions that encourage MORE State control, not less.

The climate change/global warming scare has been used to further the cause of Statism. In that sense, it is similar to WMD's in Iraq and terror "threats" on American soil. When the State funds the people who produce the "evidence," that is its own proof that the evidence should be doubted.


Sea Level Continues To Plummet

New data is available, and Envisat continues to show sea level declining at a rate of more than 5mm/year since the beginning of 2010. This is due to the record melting in Greenland over the last two years that we keep hearing about – which is filling up the oceans with anti-water.


No more nonsense from Russia

Russia's chief climate negotiator said the country will "never" sign up to extend the Kyoto Protocol for a second implementation period, casting further doubt on chances of a deal at the international climate conference in South Africa at the end of this month.

"We will never sign Kyoto 2 because it would not cover every country," Oleg Shamanov, director of international cooperation on the environment at the Foreign Ministry, said late last week.

The comments came the same week that the International Energy Agency declared that the world has just five years to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avert "irreversible" climate change, putting pressure on governments to come up with a deal at the summit in Durban, which takes place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9.

Refusal by Russia, Japan and Canada to renew Kyoto for a second period dashed hopes of an agreement at the Cancun climate talks last year.

An alliance of Pacific island states recently accused the three of trying to "stall" agreement of a new climate treaty until 2020. But Shamanov insists that the Russian position is one of practicality.

"Any question about our participation is a question about everyone's participation," he said. Essentially, Russia does not see any benefits in a legally binding consensus unless "everybody signs."

That is "not going to happen," David Burwell, head of the energy and climate program at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, said at the meeting in Moscow attended by Shamanov on Thursday evening. "Quite frankly, the best way to be a leader is not to push for a legally binding consensus," he said in remarks apparently designed to defend the U.S. position.

When the United States refused to sign up, Russia's ratification in 2005 was instrumental in getting the original Kyoto Protocol — which created a mechanism for countries that slash carbon emissions to benefit financially — into force.

It is also the only one of the BRIC emerging economies to be party to annex No. 1 of the treaty, obligating it to reduce its carbon emissions.

At the time, it made financial common sense. Russia is one of few countries to have slashed its carbon emissions compared with 1990s levels — largely as a result of the collapse of industrial output after 1991.

That gave it a vast surplus of "carbon credits" — the currency of the Kyoto trading system — to sell to other countries.

And the country has managed to hang on to that lead even as growth returned. Between 1998 and 2008, Russian GDP nearly doubled in real terms, while carbon emissions increased only 12 percent.

In public, Russian officials insist that they are still a climate protection leader — citing the remarkable emissions reductions and President Dmitry Medvedev's ambitious 2008 energy efficiency decree, which set a target of slashing Russia's energy consumption by 40 percent by 2020.

But there is no doubt that the country could do more.

Would-be carbon traders say Russia has been slow to wake up to the financial opportunity, though interest has started to rise after an intervention from Medvedev, who in June said Russia should do more to take advantage of the UN's offsetting mechanism.

The IEA said last week that Russia could save enough energy to meet the annual energy needs of the entire United Kingdom.

Diplomats and politicians will try to hammer out the basis of a replacement international climate negotiation plan in Durban at the end of this month.

Russia is still key — both because of its diplomatic clout, and its status as the fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China, the United States and India.

But the main element in climate talks is "directing giant cash flows from rich countries to developing nations," said Alexei Kokorin, director of the climate change and energy program at WWF Russia. "Russia is neither a recipient nor a great contributor, it is not as important as some other countries," he added.

As such, Kokorin concedes that the chances of renewing Kyoto are effectively nil, but was not deeply critical of the Russian position — singling out instead India, China and the oil-producing Middle Eastern countries as the main obstacles to a deal.

Instead, he hopes that the summit will produce resolutions to create an international fund to finance adaptation and mitigation projects; a technology exchange deal; and a mechanism for the sensitive topic of reporting and verification of carbon emissions.

The first two points are much closer to being realized than the one about reporting.

Russia's priority is simply that "everyone signs" and that the resulting treaty is "balanced," Shamanov said.

But he insisted that officials and environmentalists are fundamentally on the same side.

"About 20 years ago, there was a time when environmental NGOs were the forces of light battling the dark legions of bureaucrats. We are not the dark side anymore," he told the meeting.


Britain backing off

A new and broader climate deal is out of reach for now and instead nations need to focus on how to replace the ailing Kyoto Protocol before 2020, Britain's minister of state for energy and climate change said on Monday.

The view is recognition that agreement on a pact that commits all major greenhouse gas polluters to curbing the growth in planet-warming emissions is slipping further away, in part because of sluggish economic growth and a mounting debt crisis.

Negotiators from nearly 200 nations meet from Nov 28 to Dec 9 in Durban, South Africa, for an annual summit on climate change. Previous talks have failed to secure a successor to Kyoto -- the main global accord on tackling climate change.

Expectations for Durban are low, even as global greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, increasing the likelihood the world will miss a chance to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency says.

"The reality is, we're not going to be able to agree a global, binding treaty at Durban," Gregory Barker told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Mumbai. "The reality is, it's unlikely we will be able to do that next year either, and probably not the year after that."

"But what we should do is start agreeing that is where we need to get to, and put in place a framework that allows us to get there in a realistic timetable," he added. "We need a global treaty before the end of the decade."

The International Energy Agency said last week mankind's greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, as well as deforestation, hit a record last year.

It said the world might not be able to limit global temperature rise to safe levels if new international climate action is not taken by 2017, given the large number of fossil fuel power plants and factories being built.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. It subjects 37 richer countries, known as "Annex 1" countries, to legally binding targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions during its 2008-12 first commitment period.

The United States has not ratified the treaty, which aims to reduce the risk of greater extremes of weather, rising sea levels and crop failures.

Developing countries have since become major emitters, with China overtaking the United States to become the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. India is now number three.

Yet poorer nations still want the Kyoto Protocol to be extended into a second period with new targets for rich nations. But wealthier nations say a broader pact is needed to include all the big polluters. The opposing views have virtually deadlocked the talks.

Russia, Japan and Canada have said they will not sign up for a second commitment period unless the biggest emitters do, too.

"We are certainly open to the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol. But if we are going to have a (second period), we will need to see movement toward a larger solution," said Barker. "We won't get a global treaty unless all of the key players are engaged," he said.


Obscene Green Gold Rush Embarasses even the New York Times

Advocates of industrial policy have been pointing to ‘smart subsidies’ for green technology as proof that government can function as an effective venture capitalist, directing subsidies effectively toward ‘sunrise’ industries.

We will probably be hearing less of those claims now as the public digests the massive excess, failure and fraud that have turned the Obama administration’s green subsidy program into a symbol of good intentions gone awry. It turns out public policy is hard, and not every green minded NGO apparatchik is very good at hard things.

Decrying what it calls a “gold rush” mentality that primarily benefited companies like Goldman Sachs and others in need of no special help, a recent article in the New York Times surveyed a range of projects where taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies have taken all risk from the private sector and all but guaranteed large profits “for years to come.” Even some of the companies involved in the porkfest acknowledge that things got a little out of hand; some projects that have been heavily subsidized “would have been built anyway,” they say. The drunken sailor on shore leave style economic stimulus spending gets special attention as wasteful, misguided and lavished on corporate welfare for energy giants.

GOP operatives looking for killer attack ads for 2012 will find useful leads in the story; unless they are careful Democrats are going to have Goldman Sachs hanging around their necks in the upcoming election campaign.

Hint to green wastrels in the Energy Department and elsewhere: when even the New York Times thinks the green madness has gone too far, it has.

Putting green lipstick on a pig doesn’t turn that pig into Ralph Nader. A full generation after the movement kicked off, too many greens are still clueless babes in the woods, regularly taken to the cleaners by cunning and clever corporate interests who know how to say all the right words. Like ethanol, solar and subsidy.

There may be a dumber mass movement in the country than the fuzzy minded sentimentalists of the great green herd, but it isn’t easy to figure out which mass movement that would be.



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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