Saturday, April 30, 2011

Skeptics are demons to be exorcised: akin to racists, sexists, and homophobes

Abuse is all that the Green/Left are good at. MSNBC Panel calls Global Warming skeptics conspiracists but cites not one fact in support of its own belief in Warmism. It's part of a long Leftist tradition of "psychologizing" conservatives -- putting up psychological theories which routinely fail any attempt at rigorous testing. See e.g. here

NOTE: Skeptics DON'T believe in conspiracy theories. They would hardly be skeptics if they did. But they do believe in something much more powerful and influential than any conspiracy: Intellectual fashions

President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate on Wednesday, but not even that could put the birther myth to bed for The Nation magazine's Washington editor Chris Hayes.

Guest hosting the April 28 edition of "Last Word," Hayes seized the moment to equate those who believe the president was not born in America with those who exercise healthy skepticism about anthropogenic global warming.

"The issue of the president's origins is one thing," began Hayes. "The reality is global warming quite another. There seem to be the same dynamics at play in both."

Hayes brought two guests to flesh out his opening salvo: Chris Mooney, described as a "science and political journalist" for Mother Jones magazine, a left-wing publication, and Jonathan Kay, managing editor of Canada's National Post newspaper, who wrote a book about conspiracy theorists.

Responding to Hayes's attempt to compare birthers to global warming skeptics, Kay explained, "Well, ultimately, conspiracy theories are a way to reconcile people's ideology with reality. It's a bridge between the world they want to be and the world that exists."

Throughout the segment, Hayes probed Kay and Mooney about how the minds of conspiracy theorists operate, not-so-subtly suggesting global warming skeptics have some sort of neurological disorder.

"Are conspiracy theories a difference in kind or a difference in degree from regular belief formation?" asked Hayes, who cited the UN's Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report as an example of such belief formation. "Is there something that delineates conspiracist belief formulations from sort of normal belief formation?"

Kay was eager to give Hayes the answer he was looking for: "It's a pathological way of thinking, which is utterly different from rational thought."

For his part, Mooney turned a discussion about ostensibly fact-driven scientific research into a partisan screed against Republicans that was devoid of fact and research.

"I think there's a reality gap between the parties," asserted Mooney. "Republicans and Democrats believe different things about a lot of issues and it turns out Republicans are more likely to wrong."

Wrapping up the lengthy segment, Hayes pressed Mooney and Kay to explain how to "combat" the "conspiracists" who don't blindly subscribe to global warming theories:

Because that strikes me, in the case of global warming particularly, which is a very, very high-stakes conspiracy theory, that a majority of Republicans out there share – John, what did you learn about how you break – you sort of break this kind of vicious cycle that conspiracists are under?

Kay went a step further than Hayes, not only likening birthers to global warming skeptics, but also conflating global warming skeptics with racists, sexists, and homophobes.

"We have taught ourselves to get around racism, for the most part," argued Kay. "We've taught ourselves to get around homophobia and sexism in some cases. We have to teach people that conspiracism is a way of thinking that is pathological, and you have to exercise your mental self discipline to try to get around it."


Little lady who believes in an "indisputable scientific consensus" thinks conservatives have a psychological problem!

She certainly puts her ignorance of science on display! Indisputable consensuses belong in religion only. Science is about CHANGING the existing understanding of anything. And she shows her faith in clauses like: "As documented by Greenpeace". Getting your information from political extremists is about as far away from science as one can imagine.

And her reference to a study in Sociological Quarterly is amusing. All that the study concerned actually showed is that Leftists tend to accept Global Warming while conservatives reject it -- which is hardly news

More disturbingly, she seems to imply that the Sociological Quarterly article supports her little rant about cognitive dissonance. It does not. The word "dissonance" is not even mentioned in it. So once again we see that the lady is no scholar, to put it politely

Just an excerpt from her little sermon below

On April 6, all but one of the Republican members of the US House of Representatives rejected a Democratic amendment that would have put the chamber on record backing the widely held scientific view that global warming is occurring and humans are a major cause. The following day the GOP-led House voted 255 to 172 to strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. It is remarkable that in 2011, a majority of Republicans in Congress reject the indisputable, scientific consensus that human activity is altering the climate.

Thus, the question remains: Why is the reality of climate change such a threat to the right? A new study published in the Spring 2011 issue of Sociological Quarterly delves into this very topic. The study finds that conservatives’ refusal to acknowledge the very real threat of climate change, has more to do with its implications rather than skepticism of scientific facts. It’s a classic case of cognitive dissonance!

Stanford University social psychologist Leon Festinger coined the theory of cognitive dissonance, based on a famous case study from the 1950s. Festinger and his colleagues infiltrated a cult that was awaiting what they believed would be the imminent end of the world on December 21, 1954. When the prediction failed, rather than recognize the error of their beliefs, the cult members’ faith grew stronger, so strong that they began to proselytize. People will go to great lengths to rationalize their deeply held beliefs, even more so when exposed to evidence that challenges their worldview.

Climate change poses a profound threat to many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. Conservatives tend to champion individual freedom, private property rights, small government, free markets, and above all else, unfettered industrial capitalism. Industrial capitalism is an economic system predicated on the accelerating extraction and consumption of fossil fuels for energy, which is driving the climate change we face today. To accept this basic premise, one is compelled to question the wisdom of capitalism itself, which is a terrifying notion for conservatives. And it doesn’t take long to recognize that conservative values are inherently antithetical to the desperately needed actions to tackle global climate change.

When we recognize the role of cognitive dissonance, it becomes clear that conservatives and Republicans are more likely to dispute or deny the scientific consensus and the claims of the environmental community, in order to defend the industrial capitalist system. It is far more simple to deny science, than to accept that one’s worldview is wrong.


Australia: Abuse in lieu of reason again -- from a Watermelon, of course

"Scepticism is bastardry", says head of ACF

THE president of the Australian Conservation Foundation has attacked the "scientific bastardry" of climate change sceptics amid weakening public consensus that humans are to blame.

Ian Lowe, who is also professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, lamented the narrowing of the carbon tax debate.

He said it was "naive" to believe putting a price on carbon was the solution to the problem, arguing the carbon price would have to rise to "politically unrealistic" levels if it was to drive the transition away from coal-fired power.

He said other complementary measures would be needed to encourage renewable energy.

Addressing a conference in Melbourne organised by the academics' union, the National Tertiary Education Union, Professor Lowe called on scientists to become more active in promoting the scientific evidence of human-induced climate change.

"As a profession who are paid from the public purse, it is a fundamental part of our responsibility to the community to be engaged in the public debate about these issues," he said.

He said the evidence for human-induced climate change was backed by virtually all scientists. He described the views of climate change sceptics as "illegitimate arguments that you could call scientific bastardry".


Hottest Year Ever Brought Below Normal Tornadoes?

Hansen says that 2010 was the hottest year ever. The tornado count was just below the mean.

Black line is 2010; Green line is the average (mean)

Temperatures have plummeted since last spring, and we are having a very active tornado season.

Romm adds 2+2 and comes up with zero.


Germany between a rock and a hard place

The climate-policy goals of the German government are no longer attainable after the decision last month to phase out nuclear power plants, according to Prof. Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Ifo Institute for Economic research at the University of Munich.

We wrote last week that fresh from a victory in forcing the German government to abandon its nuclear policy, NIMBYs (people afflicted with the Not In My Back Yard syndrome) are bracing to battle against the massive new power lines and wind turbines that are being built across the country as part of the green energy program.

Dealing with objections to the inconveniences of green energy is one big challenge and according to Prof. Sinn electrical power from the sun and wind can indeed replace the electricity that comes from nuclear power plants in Germany - - on paper at least - - since atomic energy only provides 4.6% of Germany’s final electricity supply, whereas electricity from wind and solar power amounts to 1.8%. He says the phase-out option is indeed in the realm of possibility, if one disregards the irregularity of the supply but the original hope that nuclear power would displace fossil fuels in order to curb global warming cannot be fulfilled with wind and solar power. Energy from fossil sources accounts for 84.7% of German final energy consumption.

Prof. Sinn says replacing nuclear electricity will be hard enough; replacing the electricity generated by fossil fuels on top of that is well nigh impossible. If the electricity supply in Germany, which amounts to 20.3% of final energy consumption, were to come from wind power, using present technology, a surface area the size of North-Rhine Westphalia would be needed, with turbines packed as closely together as technically feasible.

He says it is downright utopian to think that considerable portions of transportation, which consumes 26.1% of final energy, could also be driven by electrical motors fed with energy from the wind and sun. Should Germany yield to French pressure to increasingly electrify European transportation, the German strategy based on wind and solar power would not stand a chance against French nuclear power.

With bioenergy, which accounts for a good two-thirds of renewable energy, the energy calculation is more favourable. Here, however, there is the basic problem of competing with food crops. If bioenergy is restricted to biowaste, its potential would be correspondingly limited.

Since Germany is in the process of relinquishing the nuclear option for a gradual substitution of fossil energy sources, it will not be able to prevent persistently high CO2 emissions. The climate-policy goals of Chancellor Merkel will not be attainable.

Prof. Sinn says Germany can hope that its continued reliance on fossil energy sources will force the other European countries, via increasing prices in the European emissions trading system, to achieve the planned reductions in CO2 emissions themselves. But Germany cannot prevent other countries from attaining these savings by way of a further expansion of atomic energy.


ICE Core CO2 Records - Ancient Atmospheres Or Geophysical Artifacts?

It has always seemed quite mad to me to claim that air bubbles trapped in glaciers remain unchanged for tens of thousands of years. The article below lists many influences that could change their composition. Air bubble science is just as much a work of faith as is Warmism generally

Ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica are sacred pillars of evidence, establishing benchmarks of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s prehistoric atmospheres. But can ice actually preserve atmospheric air (free of contamination or chemical alteration) for thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years?

A fossil is a remnant or impression of something that existed in past geological ages – an ancient form preserved in its original appearance. An artifact is a product with an artificial character due to extraneous agency – an object that is left over from a sequence of creative events.

The question is: Do ice cores contain the fossils of Earth’s prehistoric atmospheres, or do ice cores contain artifacts of geophysical processes that continuously remix gases in glacial ice?

Jaworowski’s Objections

In 1992, a group of three otherwise respectable scientists answered this question with a 57-page article that went against the mainstream view [1]. These three dissenters (led by Zbigniew Jaworowski) subsequently endured professional contempt [2], career endangerment [3], and harsh criticism [4]. Between 1992 and 2007, Jaworowski produced three more notorious articles condemning ice core science [5], [6], [7].

Mainstream scientists argue convincingly against Jaworowski, and they continue to reject him today. A notable exception is Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, Joel M. Kauffman, who uses Jaworowski’s case to help reexamine the highly controversial issue of human-caused climate change [8].

Jaworowski and his followers insist that ice cores are invalid media for determining CO2 concentrations in Earth’s prehistoric atmospheres, because:

* Ice sheets are NOT closed systems that trap gases mechanically and preserve them indefinitely. Instead, liquid saline water can exist in ice at temperatures below –70° C, within a permeable ice sheet where a capillary liquid network acts as a sieve to redistribute elements, isotopes and micro-particles.

* Air recovered from old ice is contaminated during field and laboratory operations.

* The widely accepted pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 level of 290 ppm rests on biased rejections of high CO2 readings in ice cores. Early studies on ice cores consistently showed a range of CO2 readings that were higher than later studies – in one case, a study by the same researcher on the same ice core showed different numbers in different years.

Raynaud’s Response

D. Raynaud and coauthors [9] admit that “several processes could cause the gas record measured in ice samples to be different from the original atmospheric composition.” They list the following processes:

* absorption of gases on the surface of snow and ice crystals,

* separation by gravity and molecular diffusion of the gases in the ice column,

* alteration of gas composition by formation of air hydrates at great depths in the ice sheet or by presence of drilling-induced fractures or thermal cracks in ice samples,

* alteration by chemical interaction between gases and ice on long time scales.

Raynaud assures us that researchers can test and calculate the effects of these interfering physical processes, citing papers by Ethridge and Neftel – two of the authors whom Jaworowski contests.

Critique Of Raynaud

In key sentences, Raynaud’s language is obscure and lacking in convincing detail – he appears to elevate strong statements of confidence above decisive descriptions of procedures that eliminate uncertainties in ice-core gas measurements. Raynaud easily dismisses ice-core CO2 testing methods before the 1980’s, claiming that these methods were inappropriate and that reliable results came only later. This argument (if true) overcomes Jaworoski’s objection of suspiciously higher CO2 measurements in ice cores prior to the 1980’s. A similar argument (used by Harro A. J. Meijer against Ernst-Georg Beck rules out much of the 19th century air measurements of CO2. Lack of knowledge, lack of skill, and lack of proper methodology all are mainstream arguments that reject CO2 measurements higher than 290 ppm before the year 1958.

Regarding the soundness of ice core science, Raynaud and coauthors conclude: “It is now firmly established that after selecting appropriate sampling sites, the ice core record of greenhouse gases provides the most direct evidence for past atmospheric change.”

Expanding on Raynaud’s confidence, Christopher Readinger [10] writes: “All of the modern analytical techniques used to extract these proxy records have been developed and honed over time, and with the assistance of better technology and new ideas, more accurate methods of ice core analyses are being developed.”

Looking at Readinger’s end list of limitations, however, a person could easily embrace the doubt that Jaworowski advises.

Digging through the literature, I stumbled upon a paper from year 2000 by Bernhard Stauffer and Jurg Tschumi [11] laying out problems that can vex ice core analysis. These authors acknowledge the reality of artifacts, even though they do not state outright that these artifacts disable reliable ice core analysis. Their presentation is terse and non-opinionated, yet their sentences speak clearly.

For example, in one sentence, they report, “Despite the relatively good agreement between the GRIP, the Dye 3 and the Camp Century record for the glacial part, it became obvious that the results do not represent a reliable record of the atmospheric CO2 concentrations.”

Later, they clarify: “We performed very detailed measurements along short sections of the GRIP core and observed large variations over distances of a few centimeters in sections which show high CO2 concentrations. … As mentioned above, such short-term variations cannot reflect variations of the atmospheric CO2 concentration, it has to be an artifact. Delmas [1993] suggested that the surplus CO2 is produced by an acid carbonate reaction in the ice. Another possibility to produce CO2 would be the oxidation of organic material in the ice.”

These authors do not convey the same confidence as Raynaud and Readinger, but by their association with the colloquium on ice core science in which their paper appeared, I can only assume that they support ice core science. To give a fuller flavor of their tone, I present Stauffer’s and Ischumi’s conclusions, exactly as written:

* CO2 can be produced and probably also depleted by chemical reactions occurring between impurities in glacier ice. For the production of CO2 oxidation reactions are as important as acid carbonate reactions.

* Antarctic ice core records compared to those from Greenland are generally less affected by such chemical reactions, due to the lower impurity concentrations in Antarctic ice.

* The most reliable results concerning reconstruction of ancient atmospheric CO2 concentrations are obtained with ice samples containing a low concentration of carbonates and H20 2.

* Measurements can be considered reliable only if a detailed high resolution record along a few annual layers shows that the scattering of the results is of the order as the analytical uncertainty.

* Measurements on ice where air is enclosed in clathrates show additional difficulties due to a fractionation of air components. This holds especially for the zone in which both air bubbles and clathrates coexist.

* It is very important to develop dry extraction methods, which allow for the extraction of gases with an efficiency close to 100 %. The sublimation technique is at present the one which IS most promising.”

The Real Picture

From this review so far, a more realistic picture of ice core science begins to emerge – a picture that might be more tolerant of Jaworowski, whose jobs have placed him in the trust of others as a contamination expert.

Jaworowski argues that mainstream researchers are dreaming if they think that they can extract reliable information from the conundrum of possible contamination problems in ice cores.

Mainstream researchers, on the other hand, claim that they know about these problems and have them under control. Brooks Hurd [12], an expert in purity of gases in the semiconductor and other industries, echoes Jaworowski’s doubt, when he writes, “concerns about loss and contamination of atmospheric components from sampling handling prior to analysis should be a major issue in deep ice core CO2 analyses.”

A Young Science

Analyzing ice cores is a relatively young science, compared to other established sciences [13] [14], but even in 1993, a researcher named Robert J. Delmas [15] cautiously discussed the presence of excess CO2 in Greenland ice samples. In a seemingly reluctant tone, he pointed out interactions between acid and alkaline impurities that could lead to this excess CO2. He admitted that the excess CO2 might form either in the ice sheet itself or during ice-core storage. Although he avoided questioning low published CO2 values (180 – 200ppm), he concluded: “The consequence of this carbonate decomposition is that rapid CO2 fluctuations associated with climate change could well NOT be an atmospheric reality, at least not as they are now reconstructed from Greenland ice core measurements.”

He was careful to emphasize, however, that his findings cast little doubt on Antarctic ice cores or on data about ice ages in both Polar Regions.

Gases In Ices

Ices of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, thus, remain the premier records of Earth’s ancient atmospheres. Gases trapped in these gigantic glaciers continue to stand as trust worthy fossils of prehistoric air.

Air fossils are certainly an intriguing idea, but how can air remain undisturbed for millennia, in a medium that melts and refreezes easily, flows and reforms plastically, and appears and disappears cyclically? To help assess this question, let us look briefly, at how gases interact with glacial ices.

In ice sheets, ice transforms through different stages, from snow on the surface to dense ice at great depths. New snow compresses steadily under the accumulating weight of more falling snow. Old snow compresses into granular ice called “firn”. Grains that make up firn squeeze together even tighter to form successively denser layers of ice. This process continues until it produces the densest glacial ice. Throughout the transformation from snow to firn to glacial ice, atmospheric air intermingles with the ice sheet in a progression of its own [16]:

Michael Bender [17] says, “Measured concentrations of gasses in ice cores and firn air need to be corrected for effects of gravitational fractionizaton and thermal fractionization.” He also points out, “there are substantial uncertainties associated with age [of ice and air] limiting our ability to interpret some records.” His discussion makes clear that researchers have to deconvolute air measurements according to ice flow models limited by basic unknowns and basic assumptions whose sanctity few people question.

Werner F. Kuhs [18] admits, “in several respects, a deeper understanding of the chemico-physical behavior of air in contact with ice is not yet obtained.”

Much more here


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Friday, April 29, 2011

NOAA Scientist Rejects Global Warming Link to Tornadoes

A top official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rejected claims by environmental activists that the outbreak of tornadoes ravaging the American South is related to climate change brought on by global warming.

Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said warming trends do create more of the fuel that tornadoes require, such as moisture, but that they also deprive tornadoes of another essential ingredient: wind shear.

“We know we have a warming going on,” Carbin told Fox News in an interview Thursday, but added: “There really is no scientific consensus or connection [between global warming and tornadic activity]….Jumping from a large-scale event like global warming to relatively small-scale events like tornadoes is a huge leap across a variety of scales.”

Asked if climate change should be “acquitted” in a jury trial where it stood charged with responsibility for tornadoes, Carbin replied: “I would say that is the right verdict, yes.” Because there is no direct connection as yet established between the two? “That’s correct,” Carbin replied.

Formerly the lead forecaster for NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, Carbin is a member of numerous relevant professional societies, including the National Weather Association, the American Meteorological Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the International Association of Emergency Managers. He has also served on the peer review committee for the evaluation of scientific papers submitted to publications like National Weather Digest and Weather and Forecasting.

This evaluation by a top NOAA official contradicted pronouncements by some leading global warming activists, who were swift to link this season’s carnage to man-made climate change.

“The earth is warming. Carbon emissions are increasing,” said Sarene Marshall, Managing Director for The Nature Conservancy's Global Climate Change Team. “And they both are connected to the increased intensity and severity of storms that we both are witnessing today, and are going to see more of in the coming decades.”

Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an activist and author who believes industrialized societies expend too much money and energy combating global warming, instead of focusing on more immediate, and easily rectifiable, problems, doubted the tornadoes have any link to warming trends.

“We've seen a declining level of the severe tornadoes over the last half century in the U.S.,” Lomborg told Fox News.“So we need to be very careful not just to jump to the conclusion and say, ‘Oh, then it's because of global warming.’”

In fact, NOAA statistics show that the last 60 years have seen a dramatic increase in the reporting of weak tornadoes, but no change in the number of severe to violent ones.

For many, the high casualties of 2011 recalled the so-called “Super Outbreak" of April 1974, which killed more than 300 people. “You have to go back to 1974 to even see a tornado outbreak that approaches what we saw yesterday,” W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told Fox News.

Asked earlier, during a conference call with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley about the possibility that climate change is playing a role in the tornado outbreak, Fugate shot back: "Actually, what we're seeing is springtime. Unfortunately, many people think of the Oklahoma tornado alley and forget that the Southeast U.S. actually has a history of longer and more powerful tornadoes that stay on the ground longer -- and we are seeing that, obviously, in the last week and yesterday.”

SOURCE. See also here

Weather is Not Climate Unless People Die

Peter Gleick is only the most recent climate scientist to try to exploit extreme weather for political gain, writing at The Huffington Post:
Violent tornadoes throughout the southeastern U.S. must be a front-page reminder that no matter how successful climate deniers are in confusing the public or delaying action on climate change in Congress or globally, the science is clear: Our climate is worsening. . .

In the climate community, we call this "loading the dice." Rolling loaded dice weighted toward more extreme and energetic weather means more death and destruction.
You can see in the graph above that there is no upwards trend in US tornado deaths, 1940-2010 (PDF).  This year's very active season and tragic loss of life won't alter that conclusion.  Actually there is a sharp downwards trend during a period when US population grew a great deal (consider this graph from Harold Brooks for a longer term perspective).  There is obviously no evidence of "more death and destruction."  On the lack of trends in destruction see this paper.

On the significance of yesterday's tragic tornado outbreak, consider this perspective from NOAA:
What's the risk of another super-outbreak like April 3-4, 1974? It's rare; but we don't know how rare, because an outbreak like that has only happened once since tornado records have been kept. There is no way to know if the odds are one in every 50 years, 10 years or 1,000 years, since we just do not have the long climatology of reasonably accurate tornado numbers to use. So the bigger the outbreaks, the less we can reliably judge their potential to recur.
Gleick's column is all the more ironic for this statement:
Climate deniers who have stymied action in Congress and confused the public -- like the tobacco industry did before them -- need to be held accountable for their systematic misrepresentation of the science, their misuse and falsification of data, and their trickery.
Obviously, it is not just climate deniers who are engaged in misrepresentation and trickery. Here is what Gleick wrote just a few months ago:
While the public may not fully understand the difference between climate and weather, or understand how the world could be warming while it's cold outside, most well-known climate deniers fully understand these distinctions -- they just choose to ignore them in order to make false arguments to and score points with the public and gullible policymakers. Cherry-picking selected data that supports a particular point (i.e., it's cold today), while hiding or ignoring more data that points in exactly the opposite direction (i.e., global average temperatures are rising), is bad science and it leads to bad policy. Just last week Glenn Beck pointed to a snowstorm in Minneapolis as proof that global warming isn't happening. He knows better, but his audience may not.
Well said Peter.


EPA Blatantly Lying To Children

Ocean temperatures are below normal. Mountains have record snow. The 1880s-1910s had much worse forest fires. The US was hotter in the 1930s. There is no evidence that rain and snow patterns are outside of normal variability. There is no evidence that plant life cycles are outside the normal range of variability. Sea level has been rising for 18,000 years, and is currently rising very slowly around the US, if at all. Glaciers have been melting for 18,000 years. The worst hurricanes and tornadoes occurred more than 70 years ago. Severe tornadoes are on the decline. It has been almost 1,000 days since any hurricane hit the US. ………………………….


New study: IPCC predictions may be wrong

Pesky ocean current

The Agulhas Current which runs along the east coast of Africa may not be as well known as its counterpart in the Atlantic, the Gulf Stream. But now researchers are taking a closer look at this current and its "leakage" from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean--and what that may mean for climate change

In results of a study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science Oceanographer Lisa Beal, suggests that Agulhas leakage could be a significant player in global climate variability.

The Agulhas Current transports warm and salty waters from the tropical Indian Ocean to the southern tip of Africa. There most of the water loops around to remain in the Indian Ocean (the Agulhas Retroflection), while some water leaks into the fresher Atlantic Ocean via giant Agulhas rings.

Once in the Atlantic, the salty Agulhas leakage waters eventually flow into the Northern Hemisphere and act to strengthen the Atlantic overturning circulation by enhancing deep-water formation.

Atlantic overturning circulation is technically known as Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC); it carries warm shallow water into northern latitudes and returns cold deep water southward across the equator.

Recent research points to an increase in Agulhas leakage over the last few decades, caused primarily by human-induced climate change.

The finding is profound, oceanographers say, because it suggests that increased Agulhas leakage could trigger a strengthening in Atlantic overturning circulation--at a time when warming and accelerated meltwater input in the North Atlantic has been predicted to weaken it.

"This could mean that current IPCC model predictions for the next century are wrong, and there will be no cooling in the North Atlantic to partially offset the effects of global climate change over North America and Europe," said Beal.

"Instead, increasing Agulhas leakage could stabilize the oceanic heat transport carried by the Atlantic overturning circulation."

There are also paleoceanographic data to suggest that dramatic peaks in Agulhas leakage over the past 500,000 years may have triggered the end of glacial cycles.

These data are further evidence that the Agulhas system and its leakage play an important role in the planet's climate, Beal and others say.

"This study shows that local changes in atmospheric and oceanic conditions in the Southern Hemisphere can affect the strength of the ocean circulation in unexpected ways," said Eric Itsweire, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s physical oceanography program, which funded the research.

"Under a warming climate," said Itsweire, "the Agulhas Current system near the tip of South Africa could bring more warm salty water from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean and counteract opposing effects from the Arctic Ocean."

The study establishes the need for additional research in the region that focuses on Agulhas rings, as well as on the leakage, believes Beal.

Climate modeling experiments are critical, she said, and need to be supported by paleoceanographic data and sustained observations to firmly establish the role of the Agulhas system in a warming climate.

"Our goal now is to get more of the scientific community involved in research on the Agulhas system and its global effects," said Beal. "The emphasis has been too long in the North Atlantic."

The Agulhas Current Time-Series Experiment, or ACT, was launched in April 2010 to measure the variability of the Agulhas Current using a combination of current meter moorings and satellite data.

Beal, who serves as chief scientist, spent one month aboard the research vessel Knorr in the southwest Indian Ocean deploying oceanographic instruments.

The data gathered in situ, when combined with along-track satellite information, will help increase our understanding of how the Agulhas system is changing in a warming climate, Beal said.


The Big Warming Is Now 40 Years Away

How often have we been told catastrophe was only 10 years away?

The effect of additional CO2 decreases logarithmically, so we can expect an exponential increase in temperature after 2050.
You may be yearning for warmer days after what is shaping up to be one of the coldest Aprils in Western Washington’s history.

University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass told the Ross and Burbank Show the warming is coming. Global Warming, that is.

“The fact that we haven’t warmed up much doesn’t mean anything. The warming is coming, but it’s not going to be really significant until the second half of the century,” Mass said.

The professor said the warming trend is “sort of exponential; it starts slowly and then revs up at the end.”


Expert warns carbon tax is 'crazy'

Professor Bob Carter, speaking in Mackay, Australia, would rather see the government spend money on ‘climate reality’

QUEENSLAND’S resources sector and every day families would suffer for nothing if the Federal Government introduced a carbon tax, a Mackay forum heard last night.

Climate scientist Professor Bob Carter and Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) executive director John Roskam told the forum that a carbon tax would disproportionately impact Australia’s north and have a very negligible effect on reducing emissions.

Meanwhile, Mackay businesses reliant on the resources sector expressed concern that a carbon tax would eventually lead to mining companies looking overseas for exploration, resulting in a large downturn in the economy and local job losses.

Yesterday, Professor Bob Carter told the Daily Mercury that a carbon tax would cost Australia trillions of dollars and it would be better if the Federal Government spent money on dealing with “climate reality” by building cyclone and bushfire centres.

Prof Carter, who has studied ancient climate change, said there was no doubt human activity impacted global temperatures.

However, he said this was insignificant in the context of natural climate change and policy makers needed to abandon the “illusionary goal of preventing global warming by reducing carbon emissions”.

“Climate change always occurs.

"It is certain that humans have an affect on climate locally,” he said. “No scientist on the planet doubts that humans have an effect on temperature locally. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse and there is more in the atmosphere the extra amount of warming is so tiny we can’t measure it – so what’s the problem?”

Mr Roskin told the 120-odd people at last night’s forum that a carbon tax would have no real environmental benefit, but would hurt northern Australia’s “great economic potential”.

He said there was the real threat that mining companies would take investment elsewhere, resulting in widespread job losses.

The Federal Government plans to introduce a carbon price from July 1, 2012.

Yesterday, Treasurer Wayne Swan said setting a carbon price was a necessary move to low pollution economy and defended union claims it could wipe out industrial jobs. “For anyone to say that this transition doesn’t have to happen or should be put in the too-hard basket or should be delayed - what they are really saying is they have given up on jobs,” Mr Swan said.

However, the government has conceded that a carbon tax would impact on living costs. A treasury analysis has showed households may pay $863 a year more for food, petrol, gas and power.

Prof Carter said the cost of a carbon tax was “absolutely enormous” and described it as “crazy”.

He said the Federal Government would be better off focusing a policy which dealt with the reality of climate change and invest in disaster centres and more disaster equipment, such as firefighting helicopters.



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


Thursday, April 28, 2011

More proof of global cooling

Warmists and their disciples have long told us that the population of Antactic krill has DECREASED drastically in recent decades due to global warming (See e.g. here, here, here and here). So what conclusions do we draw from the recent report excerpted below?

With the "flexibility" that Warmists are renowned for, the authors below now say that an INCREASE in Krill proves global warming. We are apparently supposed to forget that they said the opposite for many years. Conclusion: We are listening to psychopaths, not scientists

Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region.

The Duke University-led team tracked the super-aggregation of krill and whales during a six-week expedition to Wilhelmina Bay and surrounding waters in May 2009. They published their findings today (April 27) in the online science journal PLoS ONE.

"Such an incredibly dense aggregation of whales and krill has never been seen before in this area at this time of year," says Duke marine biologist Douglas Nowacek.

Antarctic krill are shrimp-like creatures that feed primarily on phytoplankton and live in large swarms in the Southern Ocean. Penguins, seals, seabirds and many whale species rely on the protein-rich, pinky-sized crustaceans as a source of food. Commercial fisheries are allowed to harvest up to 3 ½ tons of the krill a year as food for farm-raised salmon and for oil, rich in omega-3 acids, which is used in human dietary supplements.


A truly remarkable gaffe from Warmist Joe Romm

Romm has posted the following combination of temperature history and guesswork. Note that it clearly shows a DECLINING temperature since the Medieval Warm Period. And the top temperature of the year 2000 is in fact LOWER than the year 1000.

The guesswork can of course be disregarded -- not only because it is guesswork but also because it is unlike anything else in the temperature record. And the flattening out of global temperatures since the year 2000 is well-known anyway.

Is Romm trying to leave the Dark Side? Or is he just stupid?


New paper shows how natural ocean oscillations control climate

According to climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., "A very important new paper has been accepted for publication in Climate Dynamics," titled Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation And Northern Hemisphere’s Climate Variability. The paper shows how the climate of the Northern Hemisphere can be explained by a combination of the natural ocean cycles called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), without incorporating greenhouse gases. The graph below, from a poster associated with the paper, shows how the Northern Hemisphere (NH) surface temperature "can be nearly perfectly represented as a weighted sum of the AMO and PDO" natural ocean oscillations. IPCC models do not incorporate ocean oscillations and are purposely programmed to instead attempt to "prove" CO2 controls climate rather than natural factors such as ocean oscillations and solar variability.

NHT (blue line) is Northern Hemisphere Temperature and tracks "nearly perfectly" a weighted sum of the AMO and PDO ocean oscillations (red dashed line)

Poster associated with the paper, click for pdf file
Related: more on the natural ~ 60 year climate cycle


The environmentalists need to stop crying wolf

A study released this week concludes that government “green-job” programs aren’t the yellow-brick road to happiness in Europe. “Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every job created,” write Kenneth P. Green and Ben Eisen in their paper for the Winnipeg-based think-tank, Frontier Centre, “while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create five new jobs in the general economy.”

Pity the Greens, here and around the globe. Things haven’t been going their way in the last couple of years, ever since those pesky e-mails surfaced in Britain — the ones showing that Green-tinged scientists at the climatic-research unit of the University of East Anglia got carried away with the nobility of their global-warming mantras. All in a good cause, of course, but still, “it’s no use pretending this isn’t a major blow,” as George Monbiot wrote in Britain’s The Guardian in the fall of 2009.

Actually, 2009 may have been the first year of serious reversal for the Green movement that has gone from triumph to triumph for the past 50 years. The astrologers and alchemists of ecology have been merrily reading tea leaves and crying wolf for almost half a century.

Like many millennial movements, the Greens started out as a mixed bag. They included concerned citizens, calculating statists and hysterical sentimentalists. Some were sober and practical enough, trying to identify genuine problems; others had a variety of issues and agendas, espousing or pretending to espouse the Earth’s cause with religious fervour. Masquerading as scientists, spouting scientific jargon and aping scientific methods, they caught the fancy of the zeitgeist, gradually advancing from the partisans of the Earth to its administrators and police.

In Europe, Greens became a direct political force, while in North America they piggybacked their politics, policies and rhetoric on the traditional political parties. Their influence extended across the spectrum. All parties mouthed their shibboleths, with the parties on the left — in Canada, the NDP — making the loudest noises.

The Frontier Centre’s paper quotes U.S. President Barack Obama still singing the praises of the greening of Spain in 2009 — “particularly around key issues like renewable energy and transportation, where Spain has been a worldwide leader” — just before a group of researchers headed by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos released their findings about the actual cost of each “green job” created by Obama’s “worldwide leader.” It was a staggering three-quarters of a million dollars ($791,597, to be precise), indicating that the Middle East isn’t the only region where America’s Commander-in-Chief is sorely in need of a reality check.

Alvarez and his researchers also found that each “green” megawatt installed “destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy.” This week Green-Eisen conclude that “far from generating a new source of economic growth, job creation and government revenue, Spain has found its foray into renewable energy to be unsustainable.”

Italy and Germany, if anything, fare worse. “As with Spain, corruption runs rampant through the renewable-energy sector,” write Green-Eisen. “In Italy, however, rather than having numerous individuals defrauding the government, the Mafia is involved.” As for Germany, utilities are required by law to purchase solar energy at 59 cents per kWh. Conventional electricity costs range from a high of 10 cents to a low of three. Federal subsidies for electricity have risen 300%, and household costs on average by 7.5%. That’s in a country where the Greens are political heavyweights. In the United Kingdom, “for every job created in renewable energy, 3.7 jobs are lost.”

What price “green” energy? That price, and worse, assuming Green and other researchers are right, as I suspect they are. And what are we paying this price for? We’re not boiling the globe like a lobster, as they led us believe we were, so what are we paying it for? What are we paying it for if we’re not running out of fossil fuels, and our nuclear reactors aren’t melting us down all the way to China as we were told they might in the 1970s?

Are we paying for the paranoia, self-righteousness and dictatorial ambitions of a quasi-religious, pseudo-Luddite, bio-worshipping ideology? It seems like that and maybe it is — but I wonder. The Earth can sustain more than Al Gore, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Alberta Federation of Labor and their little green friends claim it can, but it can’t sustain everything. It may, for instance, not be able to sustain American levels of energy consumption by seven billion people.

The wolf isn’t at the door — but there is a wolf. There’s a whole pack of them out there. They’re hungry and they’ve big teeth.

The boy in the fable who cries wolf doesn’t do much damage when he sounds his false alarm. He’s just a nuisance — maybe a bloody nuisance, but that’s all. The damage comes when his alarm is real but nobody listens. I suspect this may yet become the story of the Green lobby.


Will A Lizard Stop West Texas Oil?

Species: After the harm done by the spotted owl and delta smelt, the listing of a tiny reptile as endangered may be the latest salvo in the war on domestic energy.

As Yogi Berra would say, it's deja vu all over again. If the dunes sagebrush lizard is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species, another key part of the American economy will fall prey to the eco-extremist mantra that every little critter's well-being trumps that of the American people and economy.

Last December, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the lizard, a three-inch-long reptile native to the American Southwest, "faces immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicide treatments" and initiated the process to get it listed under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to have the lizard, originally considered a subspecies of the common sagebrush lizard, listed as endangered. The Bush administration delayed consideration for six years. Last year, the Obama administration put it back on the fast track.

And why not? This is an administration that has ignored a judge's order to remove restrictions on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and designated vast areas in and off Alaska as protected habitat for the caribou and the polar bears, species whose only problem is one of overpopulation.

As director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Steven Chu, Obama's secretary of energy, expressed a fondness for high European gas prices as a means of reducing consumption of fossil fuels. In a September 2008 newspaper interview, he said: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Gas prices in Europe then averaged about $8 a gallon.

As gas prices here soar toward $5 a gallon, Chu's friends at the Interior Department may help him and President Obama get the rest of the way toward their goal. If the dunes sagebrush lizard, now considered a separate species, is granted endangered status, oil and gas production in the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas may have to be shut down.

When Obama recently addressed the current energy crisis, he told Americans not to worry: "We've been down this road before." But we should worry — and for that very reason. We've seen the spotted owl kill logging and create ghost towns in the Northwest. The ESA's listing of the delta smelt created 40% unemployment in California's San Joaquin Valley and turned America's food basket into a dust bowl.

The Department of Energy says the Permian Basin has a quarter of the nation's proven reserves and 20% of the nation's daily production comes from there. It has a quarter of the nation's active oil and gas wells and is home to 21% of the rigs actively drilling in the U.S.

Gulf oil production is expected to be down 20% in 2011, meaning the loss of 375,000 jobs. But that's a drop in the barrel compared with the loss of production and jobs if America's biggest oilfield is shut down to make a lizard's life more comfortable.

So the day when you pump Secretary Chu's expensive gas, it won't be the fault of those big bad oil companies charged by President Obama with conspiring to boost oil prices by restricting supply. It'll be the administration restricting supply as part of its plan to make domestic energy prices "necessarily skyrocket" so that green energy looks more attractive and necessary.


Dodgy figures, wrong questions plague Australia's carbon debate

Gary Johns

AUSTRALIA has had two chances to make a dignified exit from the foolhardy proposition of carbon abatement.

The first was Tony Abbott's proposal to then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull to pass then prime minister Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme, with the proviso that it not be invoked until there was an international scheme in place. An international scheme is a chimera. Second was Prime Minister Julia Gillard's promise to wait until Australians had achieved a consensus on pricing carbon: in other words, to talk it out until after yet another election. For the foreseeable future, these two options have been closed.

Having cost the political lives of one prime minister (Kevin Rudd) and two opposition leaders (Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull), Australia is now in the end game for pricing carbon. Pricing seemed like a good idea 10 years ago: it is now looking very sick.

Ask an economist the most cost-effective way to abate carbon and they will tell you market pricing. Right answer, wrong question. Ask an economist the most cost-effective way to prepare for the risk of climate change and you will get answers about priorities and adaptation. You hear about research and development, and spending money on things to make people (especially in developing countries) more able to cope with change: health infrastructure, skills, cheap energy.

Instead, the Gillard government walks headlong to its political death with its Climate Change Minister Greg Combet spruiking nonsense. For example, Combet is softening up the electorate for Labor's carbon tax by arguing China puts a higher price on carbon than Australia.

Combet, on ABC's Lateline this year, cited the Chinese and Australian implicit price for carbon from the 2010 Vivid Economics report for The Climate Institute: $8 per tonne for China and $2 per tonne for Australia. The idea is to tell Australians they are not pulling their weight. The Chinese must think Gillard a fool. Vivid Economics has been colourful with its analysis. They wildly overstate China's and wildly understate Australia's implicit carbon price. For a start, Chinese energy policies have not been developed with the aim of promoting greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The primary effort is to harness energy to create jobs and deliver improved living standards. The majority of renewable energy being built in China is large-scale hydro. Chinese power companies are interested in harnessing energy. Greenhouse gas abatement rarely rates a mention. Moreover, the Chinese subsidise coal fuel. As most new generation in China is coal, this implies that at the margin, China has a negative carbon price. Combet, the Climate Institute, and the Climate Change Department are knowingly feeding the electorate complete bunkum.

Australia's average carbon price is assessed by Vivid across a variety of programs, including feed-in tariffs, Renewable Energy Target (the old scheme), the Qld Gas scheme and the NSW GGAS scheme.

There is no assessment of the state government policies opposing coal-fired power stations that make gas the fuel of choice for non-renewable generators. At the margin this imposes a significant carbon price particularly in NSW and Queensland. Even in Victoria it implies a marginal cost of carbon in excess of $10 per tonne. Vivid ignores these policies. The current marginal cost of carbon in the generation sector would be well above $10 per tonne and for some parts of the sector (in particular RET) more than $40 per tonne.

Typically socialist, the development of small plant generation until very recently was largely promoted by Chinese government policies to dispatch all plants equally, that is, regardless of efficiency. Australia's efforts, which Vivid and Combet criticise, have always promoted efficient merit-order based dispatch. Australia has chased the best technology such that no small coal plant was installed here in the last two decades (with the possible exception of Western Australia).

That China is just now scheduling plants in merit order (from lowest cost to highest cost), which means that more competitive plants are built over conventional plants is simply the way it happens anyway in market-based economies in order to minimise the cost of production and maximise welfare. In essence, 94 per cent of the implied carbon price estimated for China is based on removing a mandate to dispatch plants inefficiently and then promote action to shutdown plants that would probably not have been built in the first place on efficiency grounds.

The Productivity Commission has been asked to report on the price of carbon production in other countries. Already, chairman Gary Banks has warned about the difficulties of comparison, and that proper comparison will not deliver the government the picture it wants.

The electorate is becoming less enamoured with the climate change cause. Once they sniff brumby figures, Gillard will be the fourth political life lost to carbon abatement.



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


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Based on Mr Puckerclust’s “physics-trumps-right-wing-ideology”:
“Global warming deniers know as much about climate science as they do about brain surgery. Would you let them tell your doctor what to do about that tumor? Why do I – a professional physicist and lifetime member of the American Physical Society – accept the reality of human-caused global warming? Because I accept the following top-ten list of physics facts, which have never been disputed in the scientific literature. This is also why the American Physical Society of 47,000 physicists says “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring”.”

Before we set the record straight about those ten supposed physics facts, let’s also set the record straight on some preliminary information that Mr Puckerclust would like us to believe.

(a) The APS statement on climate change was not drafted or confirmed by "47,000 physicists" of the APS, but by the APS council.

(b) Many members of the APS have criticized the statement, incl. Harold Lewis who resigned in protest. Lewis' analysis of the motivations behind the APS council position on climate change is better than anything we could come up with.

(c) Even APS editor Jeffrey Marque had to make the public admission ”There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

(d) Furthermore, even if there was "consensus" on AGW by APS or any other institution this wouldn't make the theory valid - unless Puckerclust is also willing to accept that the Sun had revolved around the Earth prior to 1543.

(e) The snide title of Puckerclust's essay implies that those on the political left could not possibly dispute his opinions. That alone is far from the truth.

(f) By the way, nobody is denying that global warming occurred during the last decade of the last century, it’s just that the emissions of carbon dioxide have nothing to do with it.

Now for our point by point response, not just one, but all ten.

PHYSICS FACT #1: The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased rapidly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, after being nearly constant for thousands of years.

FACT: If the "beginning of the industrial revolution" is defined as mid-18th century, this is NOT true. There are published measurements of aerial concentration of CO2 above 400 ppmv in the 1800s. A further illustration of the variability of atmospheric carbon dioxide can be learnt from Ernst-Georg Beck’s accurate chemical analysis covering 180 years. A temperature spike is followed by a CO2 increase as ocean temperatures rise and the solubility of CO2 decreases.

See: Climate Change: Incorrect information on pre-industrial CO2; March 19, 2004; Statement of Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski, Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw, Poland.

PHYSICS FACT #2: The surplus carbon dioxide has an isotope composition that can only come from fossil fuels. The increase in concentration is not natural; it comes from human activities. Now suddenly the reported increase is a “surplus”?

FACT: The whole idea of a definitive human isotope signal is based on one paper only, the Prentice Study, which was entirely an inside UN IPCC job, not peer-reviewed and containing a fatal error: Prentice wrongly assumed that human emissions of CO2 from burning hydrocarbon fuels are responsible for the claimed isotope depletion.

In fact, all plant carbon is similarly isotope depleted through natural decay, thus adding greatly to the total. As such the purported "human signature" is based upon a false premise and Prentice vastly exaggerated the contribution from humans.

As an aside, all C3-type plant carbon is equally C13-depleted as carbon from fossil fuels and C3-type plants make for 95% of all existing green plants; CO2 from plant decay is a magnitude greater than all human emissions. The "signature" of human emissions is completely lost in the noise of natural CO2 emissions. For further details see Carbon cycle modelling by Tom Segalstad.

As a corollary to the isotope change, the relatively low amount of C13-depleted carbon in the air points to a rather fast natural turnover rate, a residence time in the neighborhood of only 5 years, not the hundreds of years that is commonly supposed. This low-ball estimate of an anthropogenic impact is roughly consistent with IPCC/DOE figures which show a yearly human CO2 contribution of only about 3%, with Nature providing the other 97%.

Combustion alone cannot explain the (reported) 105 ppm increase of CO2 since 1850. The isotope record says different. Further information available upon request.

Much more HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The paranoid Style in Climate Politics

"The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter was written in the 60s as a rather imaginative denunciation of the American far-Right. It was misleading when written but now seem amazingly prophetic -- about Warmists. It would seem that Hofstadter was "projecting", as Leftists often do -- seeing his own thinking and motivations in others

A colleague reminds me of this 1964 essay in Harper's by historian Richard Hofstadter, which I recall having encountered in grad school. The essay was recently invoked by The Weekly Standard and according to Wikipedia, is frequently used in contemporary debates. Perhaps too frequently.

Even so, this excerpt reminded me of a style of argumentation that has become disturbingly prominent in contemporary climate debates:
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse. (“Time is running out,” said Welch in 1951. “Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.”)

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced. The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will. Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he has unlimited funds . . .


Record snowfall at North American resorts will keep the lifts open -- until Fourth of July!‏

Record snowfall at many North American resorts will keep a number hills operational past their usual shutdown dates. Last chair spinning for the 2010-2011 season could be Mammoth Mountain, where Fourth of July fireworks will mark closing day.

"We love people to ride as long as possible," says Mammoth spokesperson Daniel Hansen. "It varies every year, but we have the longest lift-served ski season in the U.S. The exception is Timberline [Ski Area in Oregon]."

Timberline's Palmer Glacier snowfield brings in skiers and riders throughout the summer, and is a traditional site of ski race and ski and snowboard freestyle camps. But at Mammoth, extending the season means prolonging the spring break atmosphere.


Michael Mann may have something to hide

Over the weekend on “The Score” radio show, we followed-up on the story of how Chris Horner, working with the American Tradition Institute, had filed a freedom of information request with the University of Virginia for emails and materials former UVA Prof. Michael Mann generated during his time at the school. What we learned from our interview with Horner is jaw-dropping.

When what Horner termed “a gaggle of pressure groups” got wind of people lurking around Mann’s emails, they descended on UVA stating, in effect “don’t you dare co-operate with law enforcement to release the records the taxpayer paid for in a fraud pre-investigation under a statute that passed unanimously [in the Virginia General Assembly],” that nowhere provides an exemption for academics.

Horner says that once these groups made their displeasure known, UVA “reversed course” and decided to fight, spending “$500,000 with [former U.S. Senator] John Warner’s law firm in Washington, D.C. to keep the taxpayer from seeing the records.”

He recounts how he discovered UVA had a FOIA compliance officer – the same office that was eager to turn over the emails of former university climate scientist Pat Michaels to Greenpeace (once the group paid the appropriate fee) – and decided to file his own FOIA request for Mann’s emails.

But we know all this. UVA and the interest groups have been in Mann’s corner, fighting Ken Cuccinelli’s request for documents for months. But it was that Greenpeace request of UVA for Pat Michaels’ work product that has legs. The environmental group filed similar requests with other institutions seeking the records of climate skeptics, and in a couple of cases, mounted campaigns to have those skeptics fired from their positions. Where were the voices of academic freedom of expression during those campaigns? Sitting on their hands.

Now, though, they have sprung into action because Michael Mann, who shares their climate change beliefs, is under what they deem to be attack. Horner says these groups are “a little bit late to the party,” because, as noted above, UVA has already said it’s willing to release an academic’s emails, “so long as he’s a climate skeptic.”

Horner noted that the first of several installments of Mann’s records were supposed to be delivered by now. But he is concerned that this latest intervention by Mann’s supporters will convince UVA’s leadership to decline to provide them. He views this as a disturbing possibility.

So why are they fighting so hard? Horner said, referring to UVA’s legal bill. “they’ve given us half a million reasons to believe there’s something [in Mann’s emails] to hide.” Horner has been told that Mann’s own lawyer has contacted UVA asking whether the school intended to release the records, indicating that he is worried about what they may reveal if they are made public.

We may know soon enough.


BMW North America CEO: Electric vehicles "won't work for most people"

Starting this fall, German automaker BMW will lease approximately 700 of its 1 Series-based ActiveE electric coupes for $499 a month. The lease is for 24 months, with $2,250 due at signing, and will be available in six markets in the U.S.: the New York metropolitan area, Boston, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles. Reservations for the battery-powered Bimmer kick off this summer.

Despite that, BMW North America chairman and chief executive officer, Jim O'Donnell, told the Detroit News that he's "far more optimistic" about diesel vehicles boosting the automaker's U.S. market share than electric vehicles (EVs) and added that the U.S. government should cancel its $7,500 tax credit for electrified autos:
I believe in a free economy. I think we should abolish all tax credits. What they are doing is putting a bet on technology, which is not appropriate. As a taxpayer, I am not sure this is the right way to go.
But that's not all that O'Donnell had to say. The CEO continued on, reportedly telling the Detroit News that:
[EVs] won't work for most people. For at least 90 percent and maybe more of the population, [an EV] won't work [at the current battery range].
Ouch. Harsh words for sure. Does this mean that the i3, BMW's upcoming electric vehicle, is being set up to fail?


Australia: Carbon tax 'will clean out workers' wallets'

LABOR'S carbon tax will not clean up the environment but it will clean out workers' wallets, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

Speaking from Whyalla in South Australia, Mr Abbott said 4000 local jobs dependent on the steel industry would be at risk under a carbon price. "It's very important that workers right around Australian understand that this carbon tax won't clean up the environment but it will clean out their wallets and it will wipe out jobs big time," the Liberal leader told the ABC.

Today is the first anniversary of former prime minister Kevin Rudd's decision to shelve his carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Abbott said that course of action was backed by current Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was now saying a carbon tax was needed to save the world. "Kevin Rudd couldn't trust her then and the public can't trust her now," he said. "Australia should not try to save the world on its own."

But Mr Abbott went on to claim "all of us want to do the right thing by the environment". "The coalition has a strong and effective policy to reduce emissions by planting more trees, getting better soil and using smarter technology."



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


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

EPA Shuts Down Drilling in Alaska

Shell announced today, for now, it must end a project to drill for oil off the coast of Northern Alaska, because of a decision made by an EPA appeals board to deny permits to acknowledge that Shell will meet air quality requirements. This is not part of ANWR.

Companies that drill for oil must go through extensive permitting processes and invest billions of dollars as payments for leasing the land, exploring for possible oil fields, equipment, etc. This is all done with the understanding that assuming they follow the letter of the law, there is a chance that this investment won’t be flushed down the toilet at the end of the tunnel. It appears that in this case Shell has followed procedure and that emissions will be below any standards required by the EPA:

The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.

“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case. Earthjustice was joined by Center for Biological Diversity and the Alaska Wilderness League in challenging the air permits.

Talk about moving the goalposts. They must have been really desperate to cancel this project given that this was the best straight-faced excuse they could muster. Not only do you have to be below the legally required emission limits but you must also not even be “close” to the limits, as defined by unelected officials, one of whom is a former attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Events like this are a prime example of why many in Congress want to strip authority from the EPA. Shell had reportedly invested over $4 billion in this project. When companies make investment decisions, consideration is given to whether or not bureaucrats can make arbitrary decisions to shut the project down halfway through a multi-year process. There are many other countries with natural resource reserves who do not subject economic activity to such unpredictable insanity, and in the eye of a corporation, after an event like this these locations begin to look preferable to dealing with the United States.


Birds versus windmills again: Birds win one

Long live the whooping crane and the piping plover!

A couple of major players in wind energy are tangling over the cancellation of a big project in North Dakota. Xcel Energy is pulling out of the wind farm, a step its partner, enXco said it will challenge.

The $400 million, 150-megawatt Merricourt Wind Project is supposed to be built this year in southeast North Dakota, but construction is in doubt now, after Xcel Energy announced that it's rescinded its agreement to be part of the project.

Xcel's only comments have been a prepared statement and a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the SEC filing, it said a major factor in the decision to pullout was the "adverse impact this project could have on endangered or threatened species." Jeff Towner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said there are two species in question -- "[t]he endangered whooping crane and the threatened piping plover."

Towner recommended in the summer of 2009 that the wind farm address the threat posed to the two bird species. Towner says he told the onsite developer, enXco, to request a federal permit for the project. If the permit were granted, it would allow a certain level of bird kill or injury of the rare species at the Merricourt Wind Project. "I was hopeful that they would follow through," said Towner.

The federal regulatory process can take months, sometimes more than a year. But Towner didn't see anything until last week. That's when enXco filed a draft plan on how the company would lessen the threat to birds at the wind farm. Towner says the company has indicated it is also working on the permit request, but so far nothing has been filed.

enXco said in a news release that it is still working on the bird questions, but refused MPR's request for an interview.

For its part, Xcel Energy hinted that it's not happy with its partner's handling of the federal bird issue. In the SEC filing, the company says there exists "uncertainty in the cost and timing in mitigating" the wind farm's impact on the two rare species. That impact could be expensive.

Towner said the owners of the wind farm could face up to a year in jail or a $200,000 fine if either the whooping crane or plover were injured or killed at the wind farm without federal approvals in place. "Any company needs to be diligent that that does not occur as part of their project construction or operations," said Towner.

The troubled project has provoked a lot of reaction. The American Bird Conservancy praised Xcel Energy's pullout. The group cited government estimates that almost half a million birds die each year through collisions with wind towers.

In North Dakota, though, wind energy supporters are unhappy. A member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission says he's going to ask enXco and Xcel Energy to explain what's going on.


What happens when the great fantasies, like wind power or European Union, collide with reality?

It might seem strange to link global warming and the futility of wind farms with the ongoing collapse of the euro. But in several directions at the moment we can see the unfolding of one of the hidden patterns shaping human affairs, which years ago I called “the fantasy cycle”. It is a pattern that recurs in personal lives, in politics, in history – and in storytelling.

When we embark on a course of action which is unconsciously driven by wishful thinking, all may seem to go well for a time, in what may be called the “dream stage”. But because this make-believe can never be reconciled with reality, it leads to a “frustration stage” as things start to go wrong, prompting a more determined effort to keep the fantasy in being. As reality presses in, it leads to a “nightmare stage” as everything goes wrong, culminating in an “explosion into reality”, when the fantasy finally falls apart.

Recent events show us two huge examples of this cycle moving to its final stages. One is the belief, which took hold 20 years ago, that the world was in the grip of runaway global warming, caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases. The planet could only be saved by abandoning fossil fuels and drawing our energy from wind and sun. For a while (the dream stage), all seemed to go according to the theory. As CO2 levels rose and the Earth continued to warm, our politicians started to propose every kind of drastic measure to reduce our emissions, such as building thousands of wind turbines. But in all sorts of ways, in the past few years, this dream and the theory behind it have begun colliding with reality.

Carbon dioxide levels continued to rise, but global temperatures failed to follow. Three times in the past 13 years – in 1998, 2006 and 2010 – they spiked upwards, thanks to periodic shifts in a major Pacific ocean current – the phenomenon known as “El Niño” – which brings warm water to the surface and boosts temperatures across the world. Each time it was trumpeted as “the hottest year ever”. But each time, as the ocean current reversed into “La Niña”, the spike was followed by an equally sharp cooling.

In 2007, temperatures fell by 0.75C, more than the entire net rise recorded through the whole of the 20th century. After they rose again to a new El Niño peak in 2010, we were told, only three months ago, by the compilers of the two chief surface-temperature records – the UK Met Office, in association with Phil Jones of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, and James Hansen of NASA – that 2010 was the “equal warmest” or “second warmest” year ever.

Last week, however, with a new La Niña, it was reported that global temperatures, as measured by satellites, had fallen by 0.65C since March 2010, making the world cooler now than its mean over the past 30 years. Yet again the computer models, predicting that, thanks to rising CO2, the world should have warmed in the past decade by 0.3C, have proved hopelessly wrong.

If it hasn’t looked too hot for the theory on which our politicians base their plans to change the world, then last week it looked equally dodgy for what has been one of the most grandiose of their responses to this supposed crisis. Two sets of figures exposed more than ever the degree of delusion which surrounds the wish of our governments, in Brussels and in Westminster, that the centrepiece of our energy policy must now be to build even more windmills.

The report that drew most media attention was that from a Scottish environmental charity which focused on the fact that last year, despite our building yet more turbines, the lack of wind meant that they operated, on average, at only 21 per cent of their capacity – the lowest percentage ever. Several times, when demand was at record levels, the contribution of wind to our electricity supply was virtually zero.

Less attention was given, however, to figures put out by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, showing that the 3,168 turbines we have built, at a cost of billions of pounds, contributed on average, if very irregularly, only 1,141 megawatts to the national grid last year – less than the output of a single large coal-fired power station. From the DECC figures it is possible to work out that, for this derisory contribution, we paid through our electricity bills a subsidy of nearly £1.2 billion, on top of the price of the electricity itself.

Thus, in return for less than 3 per cent of our electricity, nearly 7 per cent of our billls were made up of hidden subsidies to the wind developers, a percentage due to treble and quadruple in coming years as the Government strives to meet EU “renewables” target by building up to 10,000 more turbines, at a cost of £100 billion. The dream of using the wind to keep our lights on is being shown by reality to be one of the most absurd fantasies of our time.


The sustainable development hoax

Sustainable Development” (SD) is basically a slogan without a specific meaning. Linked to Earth Day (April 22), it masquerades as a call for clean air, green energy, and suggests a pristine bucolic existence for us and our progeny—forever. But in reality, it has become immensely useful to many groups who use the slogan to advance their own special agenda, whatever they may be.

The term itself was invented by Gro Harlem Bruntlandt, a Norwegian socialist politician and former prime minister. After her term there, she landed in Paris and, together with Club of Rome veteran Alexander King, began publicizing SD. Indeed, the concept is a successor to the neo-Malthusian theme of the Club of Rome, which began to take hold around 1970 and led to the notorious book Limits to Growth. In turn, the “Limits to Growth” concept was developed a few years earlier by U.S. geologists like Preston Cloud and King Hubbert. In a report published by a panel of the National Academy, they promoted the view that the world was running out of resources: food, fuels, and minerals. According to their views, and those of the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth, most important metals should have become unavailable before the end of the 20th century.

(King Hubbert, of course, is best known for the concept of “Peak Oil” which achieved wide-spread popularity in the past few years. Princeton geologist Kenneth Deffeyes gained fleeting fame for his book “Hubbert’s Peak,” which predicted that world oil production would peak in 2008. Of course, it must peak sometime, but the date will be set by economic and technological factors that are difficult to predict.)

In turn, these neo-Malthusian concerns were opposed by the so called “Cornucopians.” Their leading apostle was certainly the late Julian Simon, who went somewhat overboard in the other direction. Many will remember Julian Simon's famous bet with Paul Ehrlich, the noted Stanford University doomsday prophet, concerning the unavailability of minerals by 1990. Simon won the bet but he was certainly off-base in predicting that there would be no end to crude oil on this planet. Fossil fuels, of course, are essentially non-renewable. No matter how slowly they are used up, once used up, they are gone and not replenished over any reasonable time periods.

But in a certain sense this does not matter. Oil may become depleted—at least low-cost oil—but its essential function is to produce energy. And there we have a variety of ways to create energy for many millennia or even longer —based on nuclear fission.

The debate between neo-Malthusians and Cornucopians came to a head in a 1969 symposium of the AAAS, published as a book titled “Is there an optimal level of population?” Both sides recognized that population levels and growth rates are equally important in discussing the possible depletion of resources. Those proposing larger populations, like Julian Simon, seemed oblivious also to the environmental costs that would rise rapidly as the natural ability of the environment to absorb waste is exceeded.

But all this is history. SD lives on because it is useful in selling various policies. Some examples are:

1) Restrictions on the use of fossil fuels, under the guise of “saving the climate”

2) Transfers of resources to less developed nations—now justified for climate reasons (but of course, quite contrary to resource conservation)

3) Striving for world government and UN sovereignty—all for “sustainability”

4) Promoting a green energy future, using a solar and wind

5) Advocating negative population growth, etc.

Among the worst policies being pushed with the help of SD is a scheme called Contraction and Convergence (C & C). The idea is that every human is entitled to emit the same amount of CO2. This of course translates into every being on earth using the same amount of energy—and, by inference, having the same income. In other words, C & C is basically a policy for a giant global income redistribution.

Since the SD concept has been popularized, it has become a fashionable topic for research papers, especially in the social sciences. We may yet live to see the day when trendy universities establish programs to teach SD—and eventually even departments of SD and endowed academic chairs. Never underestimate the drive for expansion in the academic world.

For Earth Day 2011, the National Association of Scholars (NAS), composed mostly of conservative-leaning academics, released a Statement that critiques the campus sustainability movement. NAS president Peter Wood said:

“Sustainability sounds like a call for recycling and clean drinking water. But its proponents are much more ambitious. For them, a sustainable society is one that replaces the market economy with top-down regulation. They present students a frightening story in which the earth is on the brink of disaster and immediate action is needed. This is a tactic aimed at silencing critics, shutting down debate, and mobilizing students who never get the opportunity to hear opposing views.”

Here are some excerpts from the Statement itself:

“Sustainability” is one of the key words of our time. We are six years along in the United Nations’ “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.” In the United States, 677 colleges and universities presidents have committed themselves to a sustainability-themed “Climate Commitment.” Sustainability is, by a large measure, the most popular social movement today in American higher education. It is, of course, not just a campus movement, but also a ubiquitous presence in the K-12 curriculum, and a staple of community groups, political platforms, appeals to consumers, and corporate policy.

The sustainability movement arrived on campuses mainly at the invitation of college presidents and administrative staff in areas such as student activities and residence life. That means that it largely escaped the scrutiny of faculty members and that it continues to enjoy a position of unearned authority. In many instances, the movement advances by administrative fiat, backed up by outside advocacy groups and students recruited for their zeal in promoting the cause.

Agenda-driven organizations-such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) —have taken advantage of academic sensibilities to turn sustainability into what is in many cases, a campus fetish. Sustainability also gets promoted by resort to pledges, games, competitions, and a whole variety of psychological gimmicks that bypass serious intellectual inquiry.

Some results are relatively trivial. For example, at certain institutions, cafeteria trays have been banned to save food, water, and energy, leaving students and staff to juggle dishes, cups, and utensils as they move between counters and tables. Many campuses have also banned the sale of disposable to reduce plastic waste. Yet however laughable, such petty annoyances have a sinister penumbra. They advertise a willingness to bully that creates a more generalized climate of intimidation, spilling over into other domains.

In practice, this means that sustainability is used as a means of promoting to students a view that capitalism and individualism are “unsustainable,” morally unworthy, and a present danger to the future of the planet.

Fascination with decline and ruin are nothing new in Western thought. The sustainability movement combines a bureaucratic and regulatory impulse with an updated version of the Romantics’ preoccupation with the end of civilization, and with hints of the Christian apocalyptic tradition.

These are the “end times” in the view of some sustainability advocates—or potentially so in the eyes of many others. The movement has its own versions of sin and redemption, and in many other respects has a quasi-religious character. For some of the adherents, the earth itself is treated as a sentient deity; others content themselves with the search for the transcendent in Nature.

As a creed among creeds, sustainability constitutes an upping of the ideological ante. Feminism, Afro-centrism, gay-liberation, and various other recent fads and doctrines, whatever else they were, were secular, speaking merely to politics and culture. The sustainability movement reaches beyond that, having nothing less than the preservation of life on earth at its heart.

The religious creeds of faculty members and students are their own business, but we have reason for concern when dogmatic beliefs are smuggled into the curriculum and made a basis for campus programs as though they were mere extensions of scientific facts.

The sustainability movement is, in a word, unsustainable. It runs too contrary to the abiding purposes of higher education; it is too rife with internal contradictions; and it is too contrary to the environmental, economic, and social facts to endure indefinitely.


Voodoo economics? How about voodoo climate science?

When will our greener friends at the UN learn that it's just not a good idea to make definite predictions about certain disasters?

This time they have been called out on their 2005 prediction that by now there would be 50 million "climate refugees" — people choosing to emigrate because of bad weather. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) even came up with a global map showing precisely where people would migrate from.

Pretty much every forecast about climate change or its effects should be viewed as a hypothesis rather than a fact. After all, as Firesign Theater once noted, "the future's not here yet". But the UN named a specific year (2010) which allows for an actual test of their prediction.

Census takers around the world have inadvertently adjudicated the UN's forecast. It was dead wrong. Pretty much every recent census reveals that populations are growing rapidly precisely where everyone was supposed to be migrating from. (And where is the story that global warming causes babies?).

Folks were supposed to be streaming away from low-lying tropical islands because of worse and more frequent hurricanes. The population of the Bahamas, which catches about as many tropical cyclones as any place on earth, is up 14% since 2000. The Solomons, up 20%. Sychelles: 9%.

Did I mention that global hurricane activity has recently sunk to its all time measured low, despite the UN's strident statements about more frequent and terrible storms? (Note that the hurricane data is only reliable for the last fifty years or so, hence the word "measured".)

Is this exaggeration of an affect of climate change by the UN an isolated incident? Hardly. Recent history reveals the UN to be a systematic engine of climate disinformation.

In 2007, the UN famously stated that, if warming continued at present rates (whatever that means — there hasn't been any since the mid-late 1990s), the massive Himalayan glaciers would disappear 23 years from now. While the source, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proclaims itself the consensus of climate science, there's no credentialed climatologist on earth who believes that this ice cap, which is hundreds of feet thick, could possibly disappear so soon.

When the government of India, which knows something about the Himalayan glaciers that feed the great Ganges River, challenged the UN's forecast, the head of the IPCC, Rajenda Pachauri, labeled it "voodoo science".

It turns out that the UN was the voodoo practitioner. Dr. Murari Lal, who authored the statement, eventually admitted that it was in the UN climate report to spur the governments of India and China into reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, and that it was not based on anything in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

In the same report, the IPCC claimed that even a slight variation in tropical rainfall would cause a disastrous loss of the verdant rainforest — despite incoming satellite data that showed a remarkable resilience to an ongoing sharp drought.

Then it made the absurd claims that 55% of the Netherlands was below sea level, and that there has been no change in ice coverage in the southern hemisphere, where polar ice is indeed growing significantly.

The IPCC also stated that a mere nine years from now, tropical crop yields would be cut in half by a massive decline in annual rainfall. Even computer models that assume large scale drought reduce yields by about half of this.

Is all of this due to chance?

Scientists, as humans, make judgemental errors. But what is odd about the UN is that its gaffes are all in one direction. All are exaggeration of the effects of climate change. In each case, the IPCC was relying upon scientific literature that was not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense. No one has found analogous errors in the other direction (which would be an underestimation of climate change based upon the "grey" literature), and you can bet that people have been looking very hard in an effort to exonerate the UN.

In an unbiased world there should be an equal chance of either underestimating or overestimating the climate change and its effects, which allows us to test whether this string of errors is simply scientists behaving normally or being naughty.

What's the chance of throwing a coin six times and getting all heads (or tails)? It's .015. Most scientists consider the .050 level sufficient to warrant retention of a hypothesis, which in this case, is that the UN's climate science is biased.


Green Technology Needs Capitalism

Earth to Washington: The free market offers practical solutions for “going green.” Private entrepreneurs will literally fly to the moon to solve the U.S. technology crisis while government initiatives to support green technology fall flat.

The set of 17 rare elements known as “rare-earths” is integral to normal technology like iPads, fiber–optic cables and military equipment as well as “clean” technology like wind turbines, solar panels and electric batteries.

The U.S. used to lead the world in mining rare-earths through a California mine called Molycorp. However, environmental regulations sent this mine into extinction and the U.S. lost her competitive technology advantage. Today, years later, Molycorp is slowly re-building after meeting stricter U.S. environmental standards.

Since the U.S. stopped mining her own resources, China now calls the shots on rare-earths. The Chinese government and organized crime circles within China run pollution-hissing mines that churn out roughly 97 percent of the global rare-earth supply. High demand for rare-earths within the Chinese marketplace, environmental issues and political leverage are factors leading China to cut back on exports. Consequently, rare-earth prices are skyrocketing.

As hall of fame quarterback and former Minnesota Viking Fran Tarkenton told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Nov. 24, 2010, “In my life, when I tried to have a quick fix to something, it turned out worse than it was before.” Unfortunately, many U.S. politicians see government intervention in clean tech as the quick fix to energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment.

Government clean tech programs for solar panels, wind turbines and electric batteries ironically support China’s dirty rare-earth mining at unsustainable costs. A single “utility-scale” wind turbine requires 661 lb. of the element neodymium, GM’s Chevy Volt needs 7 lb. of magnets made from rare-earths and the price of the iPod-essential rare-earth called dysprosium has jumped from $6.50 to $130 per lb., according to TIME Magazine.

The New York Times reports that mining rare-earths is complicated by the fact that most elements are only produced as byproducts of mining something else, such as copper. Furthermore, extracting rare-earth elements releases significant amounts of low-level radioactive waste into the environment.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that wind and solar energy accounted for less than one percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2009. Caithness Wind Farm Information Forum reports that wind turbines have killed wildlife, including protected species, and have been responsible for 35 fatalities in the U.S. from 1970 to 2010.

Despite these costs and risks, the Obama Administration wants to push clean tech to produce before its time by throwing out arbitrary and costly goals like “1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” Minnesotans are being asked to be guinea pigs for a proposed tax on mileage. This tax would ask Americans who commute long distances in traditional cars to sacrifice twice by paying for elites to drive roller skates on rare-earth batteries.

With impeccable timing, a day before the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Administration announced that it had rushed through approval for the controversial and environmentally-intrusive Cape Wind Project. With 130 wind turbines in the project, I estimate it will take 85,930 lb. of the rare-earth neodymium to supply electricity to just 400,000 homes off Nantucket Sound.

Good thing China is only charging us an arm and a leg for this clean tech experiment that provides a sliver of the population with electricity while disrupting birds and the aquatic ecosystem.

I think we can solve the technology crisis and conserve the earth by implementing practical, free market ideas.

For example, the Empire State Building recently completed a $13 million dollar energy-saving retrofit that will reduce annual energy consumption by 38 percent. The retrofit implemented common sense techniques like recaulking limestone slabs and spraying foam insulation in walls. Project manager, Paul Rode, told TIME Magazine: “I can’t tell you how many people say, ‘Why not install solar cells or put a little windmill on the roof?’ Because it doesn’t make business sense. It makes much more sense to lower energy use.”

As I write this column, entrepreneurs at the private venture California company MoonEx are developing plans for robotic rovers to uncover a “gold mine” of rare elements and metals on the moon’s surface. My hope for the future is emboldened by free enterprise, not big government. The government got us into this mess by regulating California’s Molycorp mine out of business years ago. Free enterprise and innovation - not government-approved green programs - will dig us out.



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