Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

So asks JOHN COOK, writing on a site of Australia's ABC. He has the amusing assertion that those who reject Warmism consider only the evidence that suits them. Talk about the pot calling the kettle Afro-American!

Cook does link to a large number of Warmist assertions by others but is critical of none of them. He just lists them as gospel and does not at all consider whether the phenomena mentioned are caused by human action.

As can be seen on the header of this blog, skeptics generally accept that there has been SOME warming but dispute both its likely future magnitude and its origin.

Mr. Cook quite ignores the fact that he is peddling prophecies. And they rely purely on supposition, not evidence. And as far as I can find, Greenie prophecies have a record of complete falsity so far. Prophecy really is a mug's game.

Since he is so keen on taking into account ALL the evidence, it would be amusing to get his response to the fact that the tidal gauge data do not show an acceleration of Sea Level rise; that the NOAA -NODC data do not show a significant rise in Ocean Heat Content between 1979 and 1997; that the warming of the last 150 years has been a perfectly comfortable total of less than one degree Celsius -- etc.

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

When trying to understand what's happening to our climate, do you consider the full body of evidence? Or do you find the denial instinct kicking in when confronted with inconvenient evidence?

For example, let's look at the question of whether global warming is happening. Do you acknowledge sea level rise, a key indicator of a warming planet, tripling over the last century? Do you factor in the warming oceans, which since 1970 have been building up heat at a rate of two-and-a-half Hiroshima bombs every second? Glaciers are retreating all over the world, threatening the water supply of hundreds of millions of people. Ice sheets from Greenland in the north to Antarctica in the south are losing hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice every year. Seasons are shifting, flowers are opening earlier each year and animals are migrating towards the poles. The very structure of our atmosphere is changing.

We have tens of thousands of lines of evidence that global warming is happening. A genuine skeptic surveys the full body of evidence coming in from all over our planet and concludes that global warming is unequivocal. A climate denier, on the other hand, reacts to this array of evidence in several possible ways.

The most extreme form of climate denier won't even go near the evidence. They avoid the issue altogether by indulging in conspiracy theories. They'll pull a quote out of context from a stolen 'Climategate' email as proof that climate change is just a huge hoax. I have yet to hear how the ice sheets, glaciers and thousands of migrating animal species are in on the conspiracy, but I'm sure there's a creative explanation floating around on the Internet.

The hardcore denier, firmly entrenched in the "it's not happening" camp, denies each piece of evidence. When confronted by retreating glaciers, their thoughts flick to the handful of growing glaciers while blocking out the vast majority of glaciers that are retreating at an accelerating rate.

They ignore sea level rise by focusing on short periods where sea levels briefly drop before inevitably resuming the long-term upward trend. The key to this form of denial is cherry picking. If you stare long and hard enough at a tiny piece of the puzzle that gives you the answer you want, you find the rest of the picture conveniently fades from view.

Some climate deniers have found it impossible to ignore the overwhelming array of evidence that the planet is warming (cognitive bias does have its limits) and moved onto the next stage of denial: "it's happening but it's not us". After all, climate has changed throughout Earth's history. How can we tell it's us this time?

The answer, as always, is by surveying the full body of evidence. Warming from our carbon dioxide emissions should yield many tell tale patterns. We don't need to rely on guess work or theory to tell us humans are causing warming. We can measure it.

If carbon dioxide is causing warming, we should measure less heat escaping to space. Satellites have observed this, with heat being trapped at those very wavelengths that carbon dioxide absorb radiation. If less heat is escaping, we should see more heat returning to the Earth's surface. This has been measured. Greenhouse warming should cause the lower atmosphere to warm but simultaneously, the upper atmosphere to cool. That's indeed what we observe is happening.

As far back as the 1800s, scientists predicted greenhouse warming should cause nights to warm faster than days and winters to warm faster than summers. Both predictions have come true. Everything we expect to see from greenhouse warming, we do see.

So which camp do you fall in?

Do you look at the full body of evidence, considering the whole picture as you build your understanding of climate? Or do you gravitate towards those select pieces of data that, out of context, give a contrarian impression, while denying the rest of the evidence?

More HERE (See the original for links)

Don't follow Germany's rejection of nuclear power, eminent British Warmist says

A new but predictable outburst of irrationality from Germany. They have already shut some reactors. So where are they getting replacement power? From France. And where do the French get it? From nuclear reactors! The French love their nukes.

This latest folly is very German, however. The Germans were Greenies at least a century before anybody else. It seems to be inbred in them. Even Hitler was a Greenie and the Nazi dream of a return to an imaginary bucolic past was simply a widespread German dream which Hitler co-opted -- and which is now a worldwide Greenie dream.

Nazism was in most ways very German. Hitler's socialism was, for instance, just a follow-on from the welfare state invented in the 19th century by Bismarck, Prussia's "Iron Chancellor". And nationalism was so pervasive in Germany that even Friedrich Engels (co-author with Karl Marx of "Das Kapital") was a fierce German nationalist

THE world must follow Britain's lead on nuclear power if it wants to curb greenhouse gases, not that of Germany, which is to scrap all its nuclear plants by 2022, a former government chief scientist said. Germany's plan to close all its 17 nuclear power stations is an overreaction to the earthquake disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan, Professor Sir David King said.

The International Energy Agency said that its latest estimates of carbon emissions would make it almost impossible to stop a global temperature rise of more than 2C (3.6F). Fatih Birol, its chief economist, said: "This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2C."

Sir David, who as Chief Scientist described climate change as a bigger threat than terrorism, told The Times that it would be difficult to reverse this trend if more countries followed Germany in rejecting nuclear power as a low-carbon source of energy.

"It is worrying," he said. "I think it would be a big surprise if Germany can achieve the same targets as Britain for decarbonising its energy supply without nuclear."

Germany plans to disconnect eight of its oldest reactors almost immediately, of which seven had been shut for three months of safety tests after Fukushima. Six more will shut by the end of 2021 and the three most modern will shut the following year.

Sir David said that Britain had acted more sensibly than Germany by commissioning a technical report from Mike Weightman, the nuclear chief inspector, which concluded that the Fukushima incident had little relevance to plans to build a new generation of nuclear plants.

"The British Government's decision is based on a technical analysis of risk and a thorough examination of the lessons learnt from Fukushima, which has rightly not deflected it from its plans," Sir David said. "If other countries wish to follow an example, they should look at Britain's response rather than Germany's."

The IEA figures, Sir David said, were no surprise, because carbon emissions' link to economic growth was well established. "Global GDP is still heavily powered by fossil fuels, so the recovery after the global recession, which has been stronger in developing countries, was expected to bring carbon emissions back up."

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, hopes the nuclear plan will steal some of the Greens' electoral territory, and possibly make them potential coalition partners in a future federal Government.

But the plan, which means the country must find 22 per cent of its electricity from other sources, has been questioned by German industrialists. Dieter Zetschke, head of Daimler, said: "Turning our backs on an affordable energy source is clearly a risk. I see certain risks ahead for Germany as a place to do business."


Even Revkin of the NYT slaps down silly little Sharon Begley

Sharon is best known for writing a "science" column for Newsweak

A @DailyBeast story By Sharon Begley, besides claiming a link between this epic tornado season and global warming, also includes this unsupported line: “From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone.”

Separate from the tornado non-issue, anyone positing that we’re entering a new period of uniquely freaky climate conditions after an equable Holocene Epoch hasn’t looked at any lake beds. A couple examples:

- Sub-Saharan Africa’s multi-millennium pattern of mega-super-uber-droughts beyond anything experienced in recent centuries.

- The northeastern United States’ lake-bed record of unbelievably astounding super-deluges, which make the epic flooding events of recent history look mild by comparison. In other words, the “flood of record” for Vermont, in November 1927 (amazing video), appears to be 10 times less powerful than truly epic gullywashers occurring with some regularity in recent millenniums.

The last 200 years have been pretty comfy, but the last few thousand - let alone 12,000 - hardly!

The overstatements are unfortunate because the story makes some important points about the lack of focus on building resilience to climate extremes — a no-brainer already and particularly important as building greenhouse gases jog the system (and as human numbers crest).

Global warming will surely tip the odds toward some unpleasant surprises, but recent human history has barely tasted what nature can serve up.


Archaeologists rediscover the Medieval Warm Period

The end of the Norse settlements on Greenland likely will remain shrouded in mystery. While there is scant written evidence of the colony’s demise in the 14th and early 15th centuries, archaeological remains can fill some of the blanks, but not all.

What climate scientists have been able to ascertain is that an extended cold snap, called the Little Ice Age, gripped Greenland beginning in the 1400s. This has been cited as a major cause of the Norse’s disappearance. Now researchers led by Brown University show the climate turned colder in an earlier span of several decades, setting in motion the end of the Greenland Norse. Their findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Brown scientists’ finding comes from the first reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from two lakes in Kangerlussuaq, near the Norse “Western Settlement.” Unlike ice cores taken from the Greenland ice sheet hundreds of miles inland, the new lake core measurements reflect air temperatures where the Vikings lived, as well as those experienced by the Saqqaq and the Dorset, Stone Age cultures that preceded them.

“This is the first quantitative temperature record from the area they were living in,” said William D’Andrea, the paper’s first author, who earned his doctorate in geological sciences at Brown and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. “So we can say there is a definite cooling trend in the region right before the Norse disappear.”

“The record shows how quickly temperature changed in the region and by how much,” said co-author Yongsong Huang, professor of geological sciences at Brown, principal investigator of the NSF-funded project, and D’Andrea’s Ph.D. adviser. “It is interesting to consider how rapid climate change may have impacted past societies, particularly in light of the rapid changes taking place today.”

D’Andrea points out that climate is not the only factor in the demise of the Norse Western Settlement. The Vikings’ sedentary lifestyle, reliance on agriculture and livestock for food, dependence on trade with Scandinavia and combative relations with the neighboring Inuit, are believed to be contributing factors.

Still, it appears that climate played a significant role. The Vikings arrived in Greenland in the 980s, establishing a string of small communities along Greenland’s west coast. (Another grouping of communities, called the “Eastern Settlement” also was located on the west coast but farther south on the island.) The arrival coincided with a time of relatively mild weather, similar to that in Greenland today. However, beginning around 1100, the climate began an 80-year period in which temperatures dropped 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit), the Brown scientists concluded from the lake readings. While that may not be considered precipitous, especially in the summer, the change could have ushered in a number of hazards, including shorter crop-growing seasons, less available food for livestock and more sea ice that may have blocked trade.

“You have an interval when the summers are long and balmy and you build up the size of your farm, and then suddenly year after year, you go into this cooling trend, and the summers are getting shorter and colder and you can’t make as much hay. You can imagine how that particular lifestyle may not be able to make it,” D’Andrea said.

Archaeological and written records show the Western Settlement persisted until sometime around the mid-1300s. The Eastern Settlement is believed to have vanished in the first two decades of the 1400s.

The researchers also examined how climate affected the Saqqaq and Dorset peoples. The Saqqaq arrived in Greenland around 2500 B.C. While there were warm and cold swings in temperature for centuries after their arrival, the climate took a turn for the bitter beginning roughly 850 B.C., the scientists found. “There is a major climate shift at this time,” D’Andrea said. “It seems that it’s not as much the speed of the cooling as the amplitude of the cooling. It gets much colder.”

The Saqqaq exit coincides with the arrival of the Dorset people, who were more accustomed to hunting from the sea ice that would have accumulated with the colder climate at the time. Yet by around 50 B.C., the Dorset culture was waning in western Greenland, despite its affinity for cold weather. “It is possible that it got so cold they left, but there has to be more to it than that,” D’Andrea said.


Wind farms: Britain is 'running out of wind'

Despite the freak gales that battered parts of the country last week, climate experts are warning that many of Britain’s wind farms may soon run out of puff.

According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal - while 2010 was the “stillest” year of the past decade.

Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation’s growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed.

The Coalition has drawn up plans to open more wind farms in an effort to meet Britain’s European Union target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.More than 3,600 turbines are expected to be installed in offshore wind farms over the next nine years.

But statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. Last year, wind speeds over the UK averaged 7.8 knots (8.9mph), a fall of 20 per cent on 2008, and well below the mean for this century, which stands at 9.1 knots (10.5mph).

Usually Britain has warm, wet and windy winters, thanks to Caribbean air carried here by the Atlantic jet stream, a fast-flowing current of air.

But the last two winters have featured exceptionally low temperatures and were remarkably still when they should have been the windiest seasons of all, as high pressure diverted the jet stream from its normal position.

Meteorologists have found that the position of the jet stream has been influenced by the lower levels of activity on the Sun. This decline in sun-spot activity is expected to continue for the next 40 years, with potentially serious consequences for the viability of wind farms.

Professor Mike Lockwood, from Reading University, said: “Changes in the jet stream will change the pattern of winds that we get in the UK. That, of course, is a problem for wind power.

“You have to site your wind farms in the right place and if you site your wind farm in the wrong place then that will be a problem.”

Dr David Brayshaw, also from Reading’s Department of Meteorology, added: “If wind speed lowers, we can expect to generate less electricity from turbines - that's a no-brainer.”

The gales that swept Scotland last week, with gusts of over 80mph, were the worst in the month of May for almost 50 years. The power to almost 30,000 homes was temporarily cut and two people died.

Prof Lockwood said the recent spell of exceptionally dry weather in the south and wet conditions in the northern half of the UK was influenced by the position of the jet stream.

“The jet stream is sitting over the north of England so we are getting very dry weather to the south of the jet stream,” he said.

The Atlantic jet stream brings warm, wet weather to the UK and Europe from the south-west. If it is “blocked” as a result of changes in solar activity, cold air flows across Britain from the east.

One such period of prolonged blocking of the jet stream is thought to have occurred between 1645 and 1715, when Britain experienced a mini ice age, yet also spells of hot, dry summer weather.

Prof Lockwood said solar activity was especially low during this period, adding that current levels of sun-spot activity were continuing to decline. “We reached a high point of solar activity in 1985,” he said.

“Since then, it has been declining. We are now halfway back to the levels seen during the Maunder Minimum. The probability is that that decline will continue for the next 40 years.”


Elitism doesn't sell

Even Australian Leftist journalist David Penberthy (below) sees that. NOTE: Because Australia has few blacks, inner city areas are prestigious in Australia, not dangerous ghettoes

The decision of actors Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton to front advertisements supporting the Federal Government’s climate change policies has been denounced as a shocking act of impertinence by a pair of cashed-up lefties who have no right to enter the debate.

These advertisements are 100 per cent privately-funded and in a democracy such as ours people have every right to spend their money as they wish to make their point. That said, there’s a separate issue as to whether the advertisements are tactically smart. It’s more likely that rather than galvanising support for a carbon tax, they will have the opposite effect of alienating mainstream voters who simply want details about how much the carbon tax will cost them, and what type of compensation they will get in return.

The left of politics in Australia seems to be permanently afflicted by what could be described as the Don’s Party syndrome, whereby affluent and educated people think you can win debates by telling people what’s good for them.

Advertising executive Adam Ferrier wrote a good piece on The Australian yesterday fleshing out the point.

“One of the risks of any green campaign is that it appears like lefty, progressive, idealistic and elitist, detached from the struggles of everyday people,” Ferrier wrote. “At worst, Cate is at risk of making the cause elitist. For the millions this (ad campaign) cost, there are so many other ways to change behaviour than having an elitist talking head spruik a carbon tax as easily as spruiking x, y or z.”

The best example of this was the republican campaign, which culminated with a tragi-comic cocktail reception for the failed yes vote on the night of the ballot where Rachel Ward sobbed on husband Bryan Brown’s shoulder as Malcolm Turnbull declared that John Howard had “broken the nation’s heart”. What had really happened was that the republicans had completely stuffed their campaign by leaving much of the talking to celebrities while overlooking their first responsibility – to explain how a republic would work, why we needed one, and how life would change for the better under the new constitutional model.

The same mistakes are being made now by progressive people who believe in climate change. And the same mistakes are being made, spectacularly, by the Gillard Government. The PM looks like she is dancing to the tune of the Greens purely because of the disastrous quirk of democracy at last year’s election, where no-one actually won, and she decided to break her own promise of not introducing a carbon tax in order to form government. We are now moving headlong towards putting a price on carbon – ie, introducing a tax – and the Government is trying to win a debate when it is yet to provide people with any detail.

It’s a ludicrous manoeuvre, asking people to take you on trust when you have already breached their trust by changed the position you adopted in the election campaign. Until such a time as the Government releases details of how it will actually work, how much it will cost, how much compensation families will receive, they are sitting ducks.

The pro climate change lobby and actors such as Blanchett and Caton can say and do what it likes in an attempt to bolster its cause, and spend as much money as they wish in the process.

There is a separate issue though as to whether it will actually bolster the cause. In the absence of policy detail, and with the voters still smarting from being misled by the PM, you would have to say they’ve probably done their dough.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Monday, May 30, 2011

Now it's bugs!

Bacteria often leave their hosts feeling under the weather. And even when the hosts are high-altitude parcels of air, microbes can be a source of inclement conditions, a Montana research team finds. Cloudborne bacteria might even pose climate threats by boosting the production of a greenhouse gas, another team proposes.

Both groups reported their findings May 24 at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in New Orleans.

These data add to a growing body of evidence that biological organisms are affecting clouds, notes Anthony Prenni of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, an atmospheric scientist who did not participate in the new studies. Right now, he cautions, “We still don’t know on a global scale how important these processes are.” But research into microbial impacts on weather and climate is really heating up, he adds, so “within a few years, I think we’re going to have a much better handle on it.”

Alexander Michaud’s new research was triggered by a June storm that pummeled Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman last year with golf ball–sized and larger hailstones. The microbial ecologist normally studies subglacial aquatic environments in Antarctica. But after saving 27 of the hailstones, he says, “I suddenly realized, no one had really ever thought about studying hailstones — in a layered sense — for biology.”

So his team dissected the icy balls, along with hundreds of smaller ones collected during a July hail storm south of campus. Michaud now reports finding germs throughout, with the highest concentrations by far — some 1,000 cells per milliliter of meltwater — in the hailstones’ cores.
Since at least the 1980s, scientists have argued that some share of clouds, and their precipitation, likely traces to microbes. Their reasoning: Strong winds can loft germs many kilometers into the sky. And since the 1970s, agricultural scientists have recognized that certain compounds made by microbes serve as efficient water magnets around which ice crystals can form at relatively high temperatures (occasionally leading to frost devastation of crops).

In 2008, Brent Christner of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his colleagues reported isolating ice-nucleating bacteria from rain and snow. A year later, Prenni’s group found microbes associated with at least a third of the cloud ice crystals they sampled at an altitude of 8 kilometers.
“But finding ice-nucleating bacteria in snow or hail is very different from saying they were responsible for the ice,” says Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I say that,” he admits, “even though as a microbiologist, I’d love to believe that bacteria control weather.”
Pure water molecules won’t freeze in air at temperatures above about –40° Celsius, Christner notes. Add tiny motes of mineral dust or clay, and water droplets may coalesce around them — or nucleate — at perhaps –15°. But certain bacteria can catalyze ice nucleation at even –2°, he reported at the meeting in New Orleans.

Through chemical techniques, Michaud’s group determined that the ice nucleation in their hail occurred around –11.5° for the June hailstones and at roughly –8.5° for the July stones.
Michaud’s data on the role of microbes in precipitation “is pretty strong evidence,” Prenni says.
Also at the meeting, Pierre Amato of Clermont University in Clermont-Ferrand, France, reported biological activity in materials sampled from a cloud at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The air hosted many organic pollutants, including formaldehyde, acetate and oxalate. Sunlight can break these down to carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, something Amato’s group confirmed in the lab. But sunlight didn’t fully degrade some organics unless microbes were also present.

Moreover, certain cloudborne bacteria — the French team identified at least 17 types — degraded organic pollutants to carbon dioxide at least as efficiently as the sun did. Amato’s team reported these findings online February 9 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

This microbial transformation of pollutants to carbon dioxide occurs even in darkness. Amato has calculated the total nighttime microbial production of carbon dioxide in clouds and pegs it “on the order of 1 million tons per year.” Though not a huge sum (equal to the carbon dioxide from perhaps 180,000 cars per year), he cautions that this amount could increase based on airborne pollutant levels, temperatures and microbial populations.


Greenie superfascism

The true successors of Mussolini, Lenin and Pol Pot leave their predecessors in the shade: "Climate change demands we re-engineer the world economy now"

As an alarm call, the surge in emissions revealed by the International Energy Association is deafening. After the banking crisis of 2008, the cooling of the global economy had appeared to have given our wheezing, warming world pause for breath.

As GDP went into reverse, so did energy use and the pumping of planet-heating gases into the atmosphere. Attempts to agree global action went into reverse at the same time, despite the 120 heads of state who burned the midnight oil in Copenhagen in 2009.

But while the global economy has roared back to life, the UN's negotiations remain on life support, and with little hope of recovery.

Two truths emerge from this mismatch. First, the link between economic growth and carbon dioxide must be broken. The world's economy runs on energy, and while most of that power continues to comes from coal, oil and gas, global GDP and carbon emissions will be bound together in lockstep. The latest data show a near perfect correlation, and that shows how little impact, in a worldwide context, renewable and nuclear power is making.

Second, the rich industrialised world and the poor developing world must align their hopes and fears: they inhabit the same planet. All nations are united in understanding that unchecked climate change poses a grave threat in every part of the world.

Citizens in London, New York and Tokyo have grown rich from a century or more of fossil-fuelled industrialisation. They have the most wealth to lose and are, with notable exceptions, the keenest to cut carbon fast. But for those in Delhi, Rio and Beijing, where economic growth surges onwards, the improvement of living standards, from electricity to education, is even more pressing than reducing emissions.

Blah, blah, blah


Cut and pasted - IPCC errors

From the cut and paste section in today's Australian newspaper...

A sturdy declaration on p19 of the climate commission magnum opus, The Critical Decade: "The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]'s Fourth Assessment Report has been intensively and exhaustively scrutinised and is virtually error-free."

ABC News Watch blog on Thursday: "HERE are links to the IPCC's own list of errors in the AR4 report, it runs to about 3200 words. When we cut and pasted them all into MSword we ended up with 31 pages."

For more errors and lies from the Climate commission... see Lies of the climate commission PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5

None of these reported by Australia's state owned media corporation.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Pesky food reality

At least since Malthus through Paul Ehrlich, doomsters have been predicting mass starvation. They never learn

A new study published in the Science magazine says that global warming has contributed to a drop in the yield of crops in Russia, China and India:
Crop yields hit by global warming

Global warming is hurting world food production, says new study
A drop in the yield of some crops around the world was not caused by changes in rainfall but was because higher temperatures can cause dehydration, prevent pollination and lead to slowed photosynthesis, the new study says. Wheat and corn yields were down in Russia, China and India, due in part to rising temperatures, according to the study published in the journal Science. The new research adds to other studies which have tried to distinguish between climate change and natural variations in weather and other factors.

And here is the the latest news just in from India:
India faces problem of plentiful food

There is a bumper wheat and rice crop. In Andhra Pradesh, India's rice bowl, production is up 30%. Millers are offering only Rs 8 for a kilo of paddy though the MSP is Rs 10.30. Angry farmers last week threw paddy into the Krishna river. The state government has borrowed Rs 550 crore from RBI for procurement. The FCI can do little. After buying 50 million tonne wheat and rice this season, added to 44 million tonnes left from last year, it is exhausted.

The oilseed crop is 20% larger. Import of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia is down for the sixth straight month till April, a three-year low. Sugar output is up 28%. Even exports can't prod the bulls into action.

Production of pulses rose by a fifth to cross 17 million tonne. The Planning Commission pegs this year's demand at 19 million tonne. As the gap narrows, premiums are evaporating.

Cotton prices hit a 140-year high in March on the back of the world market and then crashed by Rs 20,000 per candy within two months. Textile mills can't absorb the record harvest. In crop after crop, output is higher. In West Bengal, farmers have put 60% of their potato in cold storage, hoping prices will improve. And a 15% jump in onion harvest has pushed wholesale prices in Maharashtra back to Rs 5 per kilo. In January, we paid Rs 70.

Surely Dr. Wolfram Schlenker and the other members of New York´s Columbia University´s research team must be pleased to learn, that global warming evidently has stopped, at least in India - or alternatively it has contributed to a record harvest!

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

Is this a new extreme of climatological overconfidence? Just 15 years of data is enough to generate long term predictions?

The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research plans to study the waves around New Zealand, which it says are some of the biggest and wildest on the planet.

NIWA says extensive modelling will help provide a picture of how damaging waves and storm surges will be in future. It wants to establish how the size of the waves is changing, so councils know the areas where it is unwise to build.

The longest set of records goes back only 15 years, so the agency will do some modelling for the years before that.

NIWA says it will simulate wave development up to the end of the century and will take climate change into account.


Australia: Global cooling hits Sydney

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicts up to 20mm of rain will fall in Sydney today, with warnings of dangerous surf conditions. The State Emergency Service has warned of storms and flash flooding on the northern beaches today.

There is also a strong wind warning for waters between Port Macquarie and Port Hacking, in Sydney's south, with a swell of up to three metres predicted. Since 9am yesterday, 30.6mm fell at Observatory Hill and 15.4mm at Sydney Airport.....

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said it could be the coldest May in Sydney in more than 40 years. "A cloudy and wet end to the month will ensure this will be Sydney's coldest May since 1970," Mr Dutschke said.

According to Weatherzone, minimum overnight temperatures averaged less than 10.8 degrees, nearly 1 degree below the long-term average. The temperature dropped below 10 degrees on 11 nights, when usually there are only eight nights so cold in May.

A cold front dropped snow in Orange on May 12, a rare event so early in the year, Mr Dutschke said.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Sunday, May 29, 2011

An old propaganda lurk resurfaces in Australia

The Leftist Australian government recently released a "report" designed to prop up its proposed carbon tax. Neither the report nor the tax has gained much traction, however.

To explain that lack of traction, the piece from the Left-run "Sydney Morning Herald" below claims that climate skeptics are psychological cripples, unable to face the evidence.

Demonizing your enemy is classical wartime propaganda and Leftists do it even in peacetime. The first big attempt at it in peacetime erupted in 1950. It is amusing that a 1954 revision of that attack is revived below: The old two-dimensional account of ideology. That account never worked then and it is equally shallow today.

Believe it or not, the author below claims that skeptics are "hierachical/authoritarian" yet it is skeptics who reject authority and Warmists who embrace it! I think it is clear who the mental cripple is! The poor soul writing below has totally lost touch with reality. Would a diagnosis of schizophrenia be too extreme?

And, needless to say, there is not one fact cited below in support of the author's assertions about either climatology or psychology. It is all just bald assertion

I've been thinking a bit about the sea hare this week while observing the fallout from the Climate Commission's report, The Critical Decade. Wondering, too, about primitive human biology, about what factors interfere with our survival instinct - fear, fun, greed, legacy, even good old distracting lust.

The report is a powerful enunciation of what science now knows about climate change and the risks it poses. That the atmosphere and the oceans are warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps, sea levels are rising and the biological world is changing. "We know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary causes."

In the nuanced language of science, it doesn't get much stronger. As the American scientist Naomi Oreskes [Calling Oreskes a scientist is a condemnation of science] has observed, "History shows us clearly that science does not provide certainty. It does not provide proof.

It only provides the consensus of experts, based on the organised accumulation and scrutiny of evidence." And here we have it.

So how do you respond to such confronting news? Do you weigh the credentials of the speakers, study the evidence? Or do you switch it off, turn the page, scream and shout? According to psychological research by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University, your reaction either way will have little to do with the strength of the arguments or the calibre of the science. It will have everything to do with whether it gels with, or offends, your deep-seated views about morality and how the world ought to work.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan's "cultural cognition of risk" theory attempts to explain public disagreement about the significance of empirical evidence by plotting individuals on two scales of cultural belief: individualists versus communitarians, based on the importance people attach to the public good when balanced against individual rights; and hierarchists versus egalitarians, based on their views of the stratification of society. Simply explaining the science to these audiences, he finds, will only serve to wedge the two sides.

The sliding scales are not unfamiliar. Think Tony Abbott as the archetypal suit-and-tie individual hierarchical - values clustered around free-market enterprise, personal achievement, industry, regard for authority (though not, it seems, scientific authority), traditional family, personal freedom; and Bob Brown is out there as your sandal-wearing communitarian egalitarian, protesting that pretty much everything Abbott cherishes damages all he holds dear.

Put a scientist in front of an audience of individual hierarchicals saying that global warming is high risk, and only 23 per cent of the audience will buy the speaker as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Same message, same scientist, and 88 per cent of egalitarian communitarians nod their heads.

Have the same author change tack to argue that warming is no great drama, and the Abbotts now lap it up (86 per cent), and the Browns wander off (46 per cent). The well-oiled machinery of manufactured denial knows how to push all these buttons.

Yale's audience testing finds the only factor likely to interfere with our psychological gatekeeping is if someone within our "camp" - someone we perceive as sharing our world view - says something unexpected. (Hence the reverberations in industry and markets when BHP chief Marius Kloppers last year urged rapid action to put a price on carbon emissions.) In short, evidence from someone you identify with will sway your view; science - facts - won't.

Same as it ever was, maybe. But new media helps us contrive a self-affirming information bubble, an echo chamber in which only our own beliefs are broadcast back to us. Debate in the US on the Yale findings prompted the reflection that our instincts in this regard mean - as one political scientist observed - "we are not well-adapted to our information age".

The findings also confirm that for all our modernity, tribal leaders remain critical. Leaders of all persuasions - political, religious, industrial, social - have immense power in influencing responses to the most diabolical of problems.

In the foreword to a new book debunking scepticism of science - Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand - Oreskes argues that fear is the major driver of denial. "Fear that our current way of life is unsustainable. Fear that addressing the issue will limit economic growth. Fear that if we accept government interventions in the market place . it will lead to a loss of personal freedom. Or maybe just plain old fear of change."

As economist John Kenneth Galbraith observed, all great leaders share one common characteristic - "the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time".


Kyoto deal loses four big nations

France: Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty, European diplomats have said.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol has become central to efforts to negotiate reductions of carbon emissions under the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, whose annual meeting will take place in Durban, South Africa, from November 28 to December 9.

Developed countries signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. They agreed to legally binding commitments on curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Those pledges expire at the end of next year. Developing countries say a second round is essential to secure global agreements.

But the leaders of Russian, Japan and Canada confirmed they would not join a new Kyoto agreement, the diplomats said.

They argued that the Kyoto format did not require developing countries, including China, the world's No. 1 carbon emitter, to make targeted emission cuts.

At last Thursday's G8 dinner the US President, Barack Obama, confirmed Washington would not join an updated Kyoto Protocol, the diplomats said.

The US, the second-largest carbon emitter, signed the protocol in 1997 but in 2001 the then president, George W. Bush, said he would not put it to the Senate for ratification.


A warmer world would have more even temperatures -- with life flourishing even in what are now polar areas

One of the reasons we’ve never been troubled by the prospect of a less-cold world – a broader tropical belt with temperate zones to the poles just isn’t that frightening a prospect.

New research published in Science points to the significant role of oceans in ancient global cooling

Research led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientist finds evidence that early antarctic circumpolar current development impacted global climate

Troy, N.Y. – Thirty-eight million years ago, tropical jungles thrived in what are now the cornfields of the American Midwest and furry marsupials wandered temperate forests in what is now the frozen Antarctic. The temperature differences of that era, known as the late Eocene, between the equator and Antarctica were only half of what they are today. A debate has long been raging in the scientific community on what changes in our global climate system led to such a major shift from the more tropical, greenhouse climate of the Eocene to the modern and much cooler climates of today. (EurekAlert)


Global Warming Promoters’ Unsustainable Accusation Tactic


One of the main priorities for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) promoters is to steer the general public away from hearing the skeptics’ side of the story. They’ve been amazingly successful so far, aided by legions of environmentalist bloggers. But these efforts require constant maintenance. When people notice contradictory elements and other details that don’t square up, tough questions start getting asked. Evasive answers or dead silence to those only speeds the erosion of credibility for the issue. If nobody can legitimately explain why skeptic scientists should be ignored, then the whole idea begins to erode uncontrollably.

Allow me to explain what led to my tough questioning. In the early ’70s when I was around nine years old, I saw a Greenland map and asked, “Why is it called Greenland? It’s all snowy.” I don’t recall who responded, but they knew of my Norwegian heritage and said, “Your Viking ancestor Eric the Red discovered it, but was a con man and lied about it being green.” It sounded plausible to me at the time.

In the mid ’70s during a school discussion of the then-current global cooling crisis, a classmate asked if I was concerned about advancing ice sheets. I replied, “No, I’m sure I can outrun a glacier.”

In the late ’80s, Al Gore declared we must fight global warming. “What happened to global cooling?!”, was my reaction. “No worry,” one of my relatives cautioned, “He’s wrong, there’s an article saying only one set of computer models shows the planet heating.”

On March 14, 2001, when the PBS NewsHour reported President Bush’s decision not to push CO2 regulation, I immediately wrote a congratulatory letter to him, while also suggesting his staff should find a 2000 copy of a PBS Nova/Frontline “What’s Up with the Weather?” program where global warming was significantly questioned (Speaking of missing sides of the story, it seems odd that the main PBS page for the program does not currently contain the above transcript link, or a complete video of the broadcast).

After watching that program’s reasonably balanced assessments of AGW, I became concerned about the PBS NewsHour‘s lack of skeptic scientists as guests counterbalancing AGW claims. When they aired a program on 8/15/05 about Seattle Mayor Nickels and other mayors agreeing on a need to take the initiative in reducing CO2 emissions, I promptly emailed Nickels’ office to ask why his Northwest climate ‘warming’ observations contradicted an apparent ‘cooling’ of the desert Southwest I was seeing, and then I asked why his assertions on current unprecedented global temperatures were contradicted by conclusions about the Medieval Warm Period being warmer.

The reply from his Office of Sustainability and Environment completely failed to address the contradictions.

I began asking various other politicians, policymakers, and internet forum posters what justified their pro-AGW positions, and invariably received the same answers: ‘the science was settled, don’t listen to skeptics, they’re paid by fossil fuel industries to confuse the public’. They never said how skeptics’ science assessments were wrong. I ignored the corruption accusations, wondering why they resorted to such a weak defense tactic.

In late October of 2009, while debating Society of Environmental Journalists board member Robert McClure at his blog, I was prompted to look deeper into the accusations. He said, “The first person to document widespread payments by industry to “skeptic” scientists, as far as I know, was journalist Ross Gelbspan in his book, circa 1997, “The Heat is On.” But it’s been documented since then, too.” Rather than simply take his word, I attempted to prove it myself.

I couldn’t find independent corroboration of the accusation. Instead, many journalists justified a lack of skeptic scientists interviews by saying there was no need to ‘apply equal balance to a settled issue’ – without ever saying how it was settled. More unnerving were multiple assertions that such interviews would constitute “laziness committed in the name of journalistic balance” that erodes media credibility and slows efforts to solve the AGW crisis.

These particular assertions invariably traced back to……………. Ross Gelbspan. (Including a rather strange recent twist on this, as I detailed at my May 9 American Thinker article, “Warmist Mantra Wearing Out“)

Only days after my debate with McClure, I saw how viral a specific accusation phrase was against skeptic scientists, best summarized by Al Gore in his 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth” movie’s companion book: “One of the internal memos prepared by this group to guide the employees they hired to run their disinformation campaign was discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan. Here was the group’s stated objective: to ‘reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact.’” In the movie itself, the “reposition global warming” phrase is shown full screen in capitalized red letters, receiving one of the two biggest applause responses in Gore’s presentation when the next screen compared it to old tobacco industry campaign attempts to portray science studies about smoking as inconclusive.

However, my initial November 2009 searches of that phrase immediately revealed contradictions to widespread assertions of Gelbspan as the first to expose it. More than sixteen months later, I’m finding a sea of red flags associated with the accusation, my most recent article at ClimateDepot describes a very troubling contradiction within Gore’s own assertion about Gelbspan finding the memos. In a nutshell, Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer, he didn’t discover the memos, they prove nothing when read in their full context…… and it turns out Gore received the memos long before Gelbspan.

New York Times writer David Brooks said on the 7/23/2010 NewsHour, “I guess the one thing that sort of frustrates me is that we have had a lot of information about global warming from Al Gore and many others. And, yet, while that has happened… support for a response to global warming has gone down.” Sorry, Mr Brooks, it was not ‘a lot’ of information, it was only one side of it.

So, here we are. No climate bills have any hope of passing in Congress, centrist pundits wonder why Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and President Obama are such ineffective environmental leaders, environmentalist bloggers strategize how to educate an ‘ignorant public’, and far-left zealots have nightmares about a burning planet while shivering through nasty cold snaps.

And here I am, yelling, “Stop! Are you insane? Nobody ever told how skeptic scientists’ criticisms were wrong, or proved their conclusions were outright fabrications created in coal and oil industry executive conference rooms!!”

Please join me. It should be a wild ride on a roller-coaster of imminent collapse, and despite all I’ve heard about the loyalty of the mainstream media to the cause, all these problems must smell like blood in the water to some of them………..


Fireworks now under Greenie attack

Fireworks shows are among thousands of events in San Diego each year that need environmental review under a Superior Court ruling on Friday.

What started as a battle over fireworks shows led to a sweeping legal victory Friday for environmentalists that could stymie a wide range of events needing city permits, from the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon to birthday parties held at parks.

“According to the strictest interpretation of this, jumpy-jumps and everything else would be subject to environmental review if this ruling stands,” said lawyer Robert Howard, who represented the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation in the case. “It’s a breathtaking ruling.”

Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn said La Jolla’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show requires evaluation under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

The case, filed by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation in Encinitas, targeted San Diego’s approval of the La Jolla event but eventually drew in a broad swath of city permits. San Diego officials said they issue about 400 special-events permits annually, along with up to 20,000 park-use permits for smaller-scale gatherings — most of which would now need environmental assessment.

“San Diego issues thousands of these simple park-use permits over the counter with the only consideration being space, just as other cities do across the state,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “Existing law has never been interpreted to require a CEQA review for this. ... This decision opens the door to absurd results. This is the reason appellate courts exist and we plan to ask for their help.”

Even before the judge’s ruling was finalized, Chula Vista officials on Thursday pulled the plug on their July Fourth show in the face of funding shortfalls and environmental challenges.

The future of La Jolla’s event was fuzzy Friday. Organizers likely can’t complete the time-intensive and costly CEQA analysis by July 4, but Howard said he would ask the court to allow this year’s event while the case is appealed.

City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, whose district includes La Jolla, said she hoped to find a solution. “We have to strike a balance that protects the environment but also allows our finest traditions to continue,” she said.

On Tuesday, the City Council ratified a long-standing city policy of exempting fireworks shows from special-events permits unless food or alcohol is sold. It was an attempt to shield pyrotechnics from environmental challenges, but Friday’s decision means CEQA still applies.

Environmental impact reports can take a year and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“Does that mean every event has to get a full environmental impact report? No, but it means that the city has to undertake the burden and applicants have to undertake the cost” of a lower-level CEQA analysis, Howard said.

He said some “events” such as temporary Christmas tree stands have existing exemptions under the law, but many others don’t.

Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, framed the suit as part of a “bizarre crusade to stop fireworks.”

“What’s next, a lawsuit against swimmers for polluting the ocean with their suntan lotion?” Roth said.


Leftist Australian politicians in rush to defend coal seam gas from Greenie attacks

POLITICIANS have rushed to defend the coal seam gas industry despite more controversy surrounding it this week.

In a show of support for an industry whose image was dented by another gas leak near Dalby on Monday, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, travelled to Gladstone yesterday to launch construction on Santos's Curtis Island LNG processing plant.

The $16 billion project is due to deliver its first gas in 2015. Ms Bligh said the environmental approvals had been the "most rigorous" in Australian history.

Environmental groups have complained that approvals for coal seam gas projects - most of which are in Queensland and NSW - have been progressing too quickly, and a moratorium should be placed on further approvals until more is known about the controversial fracking technique.

Fracking involves the pumping of high pressure water and chemicals underground to release gas stores.

As the Gladstone launch was under way, the Queensland Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, was also selling the case for the coal seam gas sector. "This isn't something that's happened in the last one or two years. This is not some wild experiment," Mr Fraser said.

Farming groups have expressed outrage that energy companies have the right to enter private property to explore for coal seam gas, but Mr Fraser said not all farmers were opposed.

"There's plenty of farmers who are quite happy they've got a second string to their income," he said.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Laughable Warmist

Auden Schendler thinks he has found a "foolproof" way to preach Warmism but it is only fools that he would convince. Perhaps that is the only sort of audience he talks to

After years of thinking about this, talking about it, and getting alternately annihilated or accepted by audiences, here’s one way fool-proof way to approach the climate science conversation. Here goes:

Let’s all agree on some things. First: we know the planet is warming [By how much? It's only tenths of a degree -- which in fact amounts to climate stability]. Nobody is doubting that, anywhere at all. Second, we know that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are warming agents; [Are they? Then how come temperatures in the last 12 years have been stable while CO2 levels have risen markedly?] again, that’s not being debated in any circles and is two hundred year old science. Third, we know that warming of 2-4 degrees C is much more likely to be catastrophic than good for the world. (It’s very easy to debunk the argument that warming will be bad some places but good other places, the idea that Greenland will be nice and we’ll move there. All that methane filled permafrost melting, plus all the sea level rise easily negates the argument. Not to mention floods, droughts, fires, etc. ) [A solid array of unproven assumptions there] Fourth, we know that humans have the ability to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that doing so will prevent catastrophic warming. [Another assumption] So it makes sense to do so, especially since the consquences of inaction will be much more costly. [Prove that!]


Global Food Production May Be Hurt as Climate Shifts, UN Lamebrain Says

But by his name (Omar) he is a Muslim so we can't expect much of him. A Muslim U.N. official: That sounds like two strikes and you are out to me. Just five of many things he leaves out of his "calculations":

1). Since China has switched from a command economy to a market economy, it has moved from being a food importer to a major food EXPORTER -- showing that economic systems are the real key to food production.

2). The recent rise in CO2 levels is a huge fertilizer that has increased food output per acre and expanded arable areas.

3). Warmer oceans would give off more evaporation and hence INCREASE rainfall overall. Maybe someone should tell Omar that crops like that.

4). Crop failure in some areas is a normal result of the weather cycle but tends to be fairly local. Where some areas are having poor crops others tend to do well. Some areas of Australia, for instance, are at the moment expecting bumper wheat harvests. Australia is a significant wheat exporter.

5). Food prices have risen lately but that is largely due to a large part of the huge U.S. corn crop being diverted into the production of "biofool". The high prices are a result of Congressional stupidity, not the climate. It's true that Congressional stupidity is about as hard to budge as the climate but we can hope.

And what he DOES base his calculations on -- More extreme weather -- is a pure myth. There was just as much extreme weather a century ago. See the post below

Global food output may be hurt as climate change brings more extreme weather over the next decade, with China likely set for harsher droughts and North America getting heavier rain, said the World Meteorological Organization.

“Extreme events will become more intense in the future, especially the heat waves and extreme precipitations,” Omar Baddour, a division chief at the United Nations’ agency, said in a phone interview from Geneva. “That, combined with less rainfall in some regions like the Mediterranean region and China, will affect crop production and agriculture.”

The more extreme weather -- including in the U.S., the world’s largest agricultural exporter -- may disrupt harvests, possibly cutting production of grains, livestock and cooking oils and boosting prices. Global food costs reached a record in February, stoking inflation and pushing millions into poverty.

“We foresee with high confidence in climate projections that intense precipitation in some parts of the world will be more intense, and drought will be more intense,” said Baddour, who’s tracked the subject for more than two decades. Extreme heat waves “will also be more intense and more frequent.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Food Price Index, which tracks 55 food-commodity items, rose nine times in the past 10 months, with the gauge peaking at 237.24 in February. The index climbed to 232.07 last month.


No Long-term Trend in Atlantic Hurricane Numbers

Long-debated has been whether or not there is a long-term trend in the number of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.

The answer to this seemingly straightforward question turns out to be complicated because there have been changes in the observing practices over time—including changes in the spatial coverage of observing systems as well as the technologies employed. Therefore, teasing out the real climate signal from the noise induced by the changing nature of the observations has proved challenging and lends itself to a variety of methodologies producing a variety of results.

Of top of this less than perfect solution is the desire (for some at least) to want to try to involve anthropogenic global warming, hoping to find that anthropogenic climate change is leading to more tropical storms and hurricanes. But thus far, the evidence for this is scant, to say the least.

And now, it just got scanter. (We know the word is “scantier” but the one we concocted rhymes with our pugilistic friend in climate hyperbole, Ben Santer).

A just-published paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research authored by a team of leading hurricane researchers has once again examined the historical record of tropical storm observations from the Atlantic Ocean this time focusing on the number of tropical storms whose entire lifetime was less than two days. The authors termed these very minor storms “shorties.” The identification of shorties is one element of the tropical cyclone record that could be very impacted by changing observational methodologies and technologies. Short-duration storms are presently identified much more readily than they were, say, prior to the satellite era.

If the Atlantic tropical cyclone history is divided up into “shorties” and, we guess, “longies,” something very interesting pops out. Over the entire record, there is a big upward trend in the number of “shorties” but there is no trend in the annual number of “longies”

Obviously, lumping the two together would produce an apparent upward trend in the total annual number of tropical storms and hurricanes—and give fuel for the fire which burns for those trying to develop a link to anthropogenic global warming.

This situation is akin to the observed record of tornadoes in the U.S.—the number of weak tornadoes has increased markedly in the last half century, while the number of strong tornadoes shows no such behavior. For tornadoes, this is because better observing technologies (and a lot more people looking) have increasingly identified small storms which were previously overlooked. But the big storms cause such damage that they can’t go unnoticed. The positive trend in total annual number of tornadoes is driven not by climate change (as some would have you believe), but instead by changing observational methods.

The authors of the current study, Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel Vecchi, Thomas Knutson, and James Smith, wanted to more closely examine the record of shorties to see if they could determine the reasons behind the large upward trend in the number of shorties.

They did this through combining statistical methods together with their understanding of the physical processes involved in tropical storm formation in the Atlantic basin (a topic that the authors are well versed in).

What they found was a lack of evidence for a detectable climate change signal in the century-long record of shorties. Instead, they concluded that non-climatic signals (i.e. data quality issues) were contaminating the record and making it impossible to isolate a climate signal from the raw data, if such a signal even existed at all (a possibility which the authors think is unlikely, at least as far as there being a significant positive trend over the 20th century).

What’s more, the authors warn that all approaches to identifying a secular trend in Atlantic tropical cyclone counts which do not explicitly account for the non-climatic influences of shorties are likely to be in error, as are statistical models of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity that include shorties in their datasets. We add that there are quite a few published studies that do just what Villarini et al. have warned against.


GOP presidential hopefuls shift on global warming

One thing that Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have in common: These GOP presidential contenders all are running away from their past positions on global warming, driven by their party's loud doubters who question the science and disdain government solutions.

All four have stepped back from previous stances on the issue, either apologizing outright or softening what they said earlier. And those who haven't fully recanted are under pressure to do so.

The latest sign of that pressure came Thursday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was pulling his state out of a regional agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, saying it won't work. While Christie, a rising GOP star, has said he's not running for president, some in the party continue to recruit him.

It's an indicator of a shift on the issue among conservative Republicans, who have an outsized influence in the party's presidential primary elections. Over the last few years, Gallup polling has shown a decline in the share of Americans saying that global warming's effects have already begun — from a high of 61 percent in 2008 to 49 percent in March. The change is driven almost entirely by conservatives.

In 2008, 50 percent of conservatives said they believed global warming already is having effects; that figure dropped to 30 percent this year. By contrast, among liberals and moderates there's been relatively little movement, and broad majorities say warming is having an impact now.

Not all Republicans are happy with the trajectory the party is on when it comes to global warming. Former New York Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a 27-year veteran of Congress who was known as a staunch protector of the environment, said he has "never been so disappointed all my life in the pretenders to the throne from my party."

"Not one of them is being forthright in dealing with climate science," he said in an interview. "They are either trying to finesse it, or change previous positions to accommodate the far right. They are denying something that is as plain as the nose on your face."

But for some, opposing mandated solutions to climate change has become party orthodoxy. "Republican presidential hopefuls can believe in man-made global warming as long as they never talk about it, and oppose all the so-called solutions," said Marc Morano, a former aide to Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, one of the most vocal climate skeptics in Congress.

Morano now runs a website called Climate Depot where he attacks anyone who buys into the scientific consensus on climate change. Enemy No. 1 for Morano these days is Gingrich, the former House speaker who in 2008 shared a couch with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad backed by climate change guru Al Gore.

In it Gingrich says, "We do agree that our country must take action on climate change."

Since that appearance, Gingrich, who once ran an environmental studies program at a Georgia college, has called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. He's also spoken out against a Democratic bill that passed the House in 2009 that would have limited emissions of greenhouse gases and created a market for pollution permits to be bought and sold.

But that hasn't been enough to satisfy conservative critics. Gingrich went further in a recent interview when he said he doubted there was a connection between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels. "The planet used to be dramatically warmer when we had dinosaurs and no people," Gingrich told The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph last week. "To the best of my knowledge the dinosaurs weren't driving cars."

Where Gingrich has waffled, other GOP contenders have conceded on the issue of climate. Romney, Pawlenty and Huntsman potentially come into the race with even more climate baggage, since each of them as governor supported a regional "cap-and-trade" program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, like the one Christie bailed out of this week. All have since abandoned that stance.

It's a marked turnaround for a party that just three years ago gave its presidential nomination to Sen. John McCain, who long has supported cap and trade to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and who campaigned on the issue even though it put him on the same side as his opponent, Barack Obama.

In fact, the whole idea of a market to trade pollution credits came from the Republican Party. It emerged in the late 1980s under the administration of President George H.W. Bush as a free-market solution to the power plant pollution that was causing acid rain. It passed Congress nearly unanimously in 1990 as a way to control emissions of sulfur dioxide.

But now it has become synonymous with partisanship and political risk. Legislation to use the pollution credits approach to curb global warming passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2009, with the support of Obama. It died in the Senate after Republicans labeled it a "cap-and-tax" plan that would raise energy prices and after House Democrats who voted for it were attacked at town hall meetings back home. Many of those Democrats lost their seats in last November's elections and with the House now under Republican control, Obama has said he no longer would pursue it.

The current field of Republican presidential hopefuls is working to shed what McCain's former environmental adviser calls the "toxic political veneer" of that policy.

The biggest reversal has come from Pawlenty, who a year after signing a law in Minnesota to cut greenhouse gas emissions was featured in a radio ad for the Environmental Defense Action Fund. Joined by then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, now a member of Obama's Cabinet, Pawlenty called on Congress to limit the pollution blamed for global warming. "If we act now," he said in the spot, "we can create thousands of new jobs in clean energy industries before our overseas competitors beat us to it."

Two years later, he wrote Congress opposing the Democratic bill, saying it was "overly bureaucratic, misguided and would be very burdensome on our economy." In a South Carolina debate earlier this month, he apologized altogether for his climate past, calling it a clunker in his record. "I don't duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away," he said. "I'm just telling you, I made a mistake."

Huntsman doesn't go as far. Obama's former ambassador to China, the country that releases more greenhouse gas pollution than any other, tells Time magazine in an interview to be published this week that it's the timing that's off. As governor of Utah, he appeared in a 2007 ad for an environmental advocacy group in which he said, "Now it's time for Congress to act by capping greenhouse gas pollution." He also signed an agreement with seven other Western states and four Canadian provinces to reduce greenhouse gases. Since then, other states have pulled their support.

"Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn't the moment," he says now. When asked whether he believes the climate is changing, he acknowledges the scientific consensus. "All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring," he says. "If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer, we'd listen to them."

Romney changed his mind less recently. As Massachusetts governor in 2005, he initially supported a regional pollution-reduction market, saying it would spur jobs and the economy. Weeks later, he refused to sign the pact when the other states would not agree to cap the price for pollution permits.

If anyone has a clean record on climate change in the potential GOP field, it's former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. While Palin set up a sub-Cabinet office to map out the state's response to global warming as governor, and sought federal dollars to help coastal communities threatened by erosion, she has been steadfast in saying human beings are not responsible for climate change and that proposals to limit pollution threaten the economy.


57% Of Americans Think Electric Cars Suck

By William Teach

Apparently, Big Oil and Big Coal and Big Industry and other Big's got to Americans with their "disinformation campaigns," poisoning their minds with anti-Gaia propaganda or something
Nearly six of 10 Americans — 57% — say they won't buy an all-electric car no matter the price of gas, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

That's a stiff headwind just as automakers are developing electrics to help meet tighter federal rules that could require their fleets to average as high as 62 miles per gallon in 2025. And President Obama has set a goal of a million electric vehicles in use in the U.S. by 2015.

The anti-electric sentiment unmasked by the poll shows that pure electrics — defined in the poll question as "an electric car that you could only drive for a limited number of miles at one time" — could have trouble getting a foothold in the U.S.

Sheesh, what do these people have against electric vehicles, which will be apparently be powered by unicorn farts
Such cars "are very much niche vehicles. They find acceptance among a core group of passionistas, but too many questions remain for mainstream consumers," says Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl. He says consumers worry about range per charge, recharge time and battery replacement cost. Electrics also are priced thousands of dollars more than similar gasoline cars.

"It's not for every consumer," says Maurice Durand, spokesman for Mitsubishi, which is to start selling a small four-passenger electric called the "i" in the U.S. in November. The "i" can go about 80 miles on a charge, and at $27,990 plus shipping, could be the lowest-priced electric.

Oh. That's what they have against electric cars. Spend almost $30,000, and you'd be lucky if you can get to work and back. You certainly can't take any sort of trip with the family. What happens if you get stuck in traffic and the battery depletes? You can't just throw a couple gallons in, eh?

And where is all this electricity going to come from? Anyhow, one day, in the future, they will surely be the way forward. I think that would be great. But, like most "green" tech, they aren't yet ready for prime time, but the Government is still trying to force them on consumers.

Oh, BTW, all you anthropogenic global warming Believers should do away with your fossil fuel burning vehicles, and run out and get one of the electric cars. What's that? You can't afford them and they would hamper your lifestyle? Hmph.



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Friday, May 27, 2011

The world's most famous climatologist (with a degree in political science, not climatology) Blames the Past 12 Months of Weather on Global Warming

In Gore’s commencement speech at Hamilton College:

“Similarly today, we have a debate in our nation about whether our climate crisis is real,” Gore said. “Mother Nature has weighed in if you will think about the events in the last 12 months.”

He said in the last year, Pakistan and Australia have seen massive flooding, Texas and Russia have endured wide-scale drought and fires, and the Mississippi River is facing the largest floods in recorded history.

“These events have been just in the past 12 months, and the scientists are now in a shift in their rhetoric saying that if you ask the question, ‘Would these events happened in the absence of man-made global warming?’, the answer is almost certainly no.”

Really? BBC on the Pakistan floods in 2010 — global warming or bad river management?

Climate change may not be the only cause of Pakistan’s woes. There is also a sense that the current floods have been exacerbated by the way the Indus has been managed.

In the UK, flood risk is reduced by building levees (embankments) along vulnerable part of rivers. These barriers prevent them from bursting their banks in extreme floods. It is a system that has served well for generations.

But Pakistan’s rivers are different.

UK rivers carry very little sand and mud. In contrast, the Indus is choked with sediment eroding off the Himalayas. Building levees causes the river channel to silt up.

This has the unexpected effect of making Pakistan’s rivers prone to even bigger floods when the levees eventually break.

“What we’ve done is apply a system from the West that just doesn’t work [in South Asia],” said Professor Sinha.

Christian Science Monitor on Australia’s floods — global warming or nature or we’re not really sure?

What’s the primary cause of the Australia flooding, which now covers an area the size of France and Germany combined and has caused an estimated $6 billion in economic damage? The La Niña ocean-atmosphere phenomenon in the Pacific....

Both El Niño and La Niña are naturally occurring events that represent extremes in weather and occasionally wreak havoc on human population centers. Australia and Indonesia often see drought during El Niño, while La Niña typically causes higher rainfall there.

“In a general climatological sense, La Niña is always associated with very active rainfall conditions,” Dr. Kolli, chief of the World Climate Applications and Services Division, says in a telephone interview from Geneva. “But it won’t tell you exactly at what time of the season there will be very heavy rainfall. It helps people at being prepared, but you cannot use that information to take specific action in terms of a specific flood event.”

Moreover, he says, La Niña is only one of the many contributors to the heavy rain now hitting eastern Australia.

“The severity of the impact can be different,” he says. “La Niña is not the only factor that causes the active rainfall conditions. We need to investigate with more detailed data on exactly what happened [in Australia].”

Physorg.com on the Texas wildfires — global warming or too much rain last year?

Dylan Schwilk, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, researches plants and fire. He’s studied the effects of wildfires in places such as the California, South Africa, Australia and Texas.

The current fire problem in West Texas is being fed by dormant, warm-season perennial grasses throughout the high and rolling plains area he said. Last year’s El Niño event helped these grasses grow thick. After going dormant for the winter, and because of this year’s La Niña drought, it’s left plentiful fuel lying on the ground.

“Here in West Texas, we get these powerful, low-humidity winds,” he said. “It’s amazing what fire will carry through out here. Even in heavily grazed areas, the winds lay fires flat. It’s very likely the relatively good rain we received last year contributed to higher fuel loads.”

Though recent fires make the landscape look devastated, almost all parts of the plants will survive the fires because grasses are still dormant and have very little living tissue above ground at this time of year, Schwilk said.

Most native woody plants, such as oaks, mesquite and other shrubs, will build new shoots from below-ground tissues even if partially or wholly burned. Also, some oaks have protective bark that shield the plant from fire.

Since the late-Miocene Period about 8 million years ago, fires have actually helped the spread of warm-season grasslands in Texas, such as those in the Southern High Plains. The grassfires burn hot, move very quickly, but they mainly burn upward. Grasses resprout because temperatures at the soil level don’t get hot enough to kill the root system.

The AFP on Russia — global warming or stupid Soviets?

This month, forest fires are already raging in Siberia, the Urals, and far eastern Russia, while peat bogs are smouldering in central Russia, Yaroshenko said.

“In a week’s time, the situation risks escalating in a catastrophic manner… and we will have a repeat of last year’s situation,” he said.

The noxious smoke could veil Moscow a month earlier than last year, in July, he warned.

Peat bogs were drained in Soviet times to extract fuel for experimental power stations. Once alight, the fires are particularly hard to put out because they continue to burn underground.

Peat fires are easier to extinguish at an early stage, but the emergency situations ministry “prefers to hide rather than react to warnings,” said Grigory Kuksin, head of Greenpeace Russia’s firefighting programme.

And finally, ABC News on the Mississippi floods — global warming or bad river management and incorrect estimates from the Army Corps of Engineers?

“If the rainfall increased in a forest the forest is going to suck up 90 percent of that rainfall. But if it happens in a urban area the pavement and roofs aren’t going to suck up anything,” Bosworth told ABC News.

The affect is multiplied on the mighty Mississippi because rivers in 31 states drain into it or its tributaries.

“The rivers need some room and we are getting that message explained very clearly to us year after year. It’s time we smelled the coffee,” said Robert Criss, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. “There is a lot of evidence that floods are not only getting deeper and more severe, but also more frequent.”

Criss attributes the rise in devastating floods to the continued constriction of the waterways and increased building in vulnerable areas. He says that as levees continue to be built higher it creates water that has enough power to tear through a landscape like a tsunami if the levee is breached, destroying everything in its path.

“What we need instead is a more thoughtful system where we have gates within levees and when we require flood water storage these gates are opened,” said Criss. “This will save levees, save farms and rejuvenate soil.”

Criss says that when water is released at a massive rate like in Cairo, Ill., when the Corps blasted the levees to flood farm land and save homes, it is a destructive process and the land is often not salvageable.

Both Criss and Bosworth agree that part of the problem is inaccurate assessments by the Corps.

Here some advice for the graduates of 2011: Don’t believe what comes out of Al Gore’s mouth.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Lighting Specialists Stockpiling Incandescent Bulbs

Via The New York Times

Unsurprisingly, the article takes a holier-than-thou tone towards those Americans who (*GASP*) won’t just roll over and let Washington bureaucrats tell us what’s best, and those who don’t feel that it is the government’s business to tell them what kind of lighting they can use in their home.

However, this attack on us mere commoners who actually appreciate consumer freedom runs into a problem: many hotshot interior decorators and lighting specialists also like the incandescent bulbs, thus the stockpiling. It’s an interesting contrast — it is okay for experts who appreciate light to stockpile incandescent bulbs but everyone else is overreacting, possibly succumbing to the right-wing media machine:
It should be noted that, like most decorators, Ms. Williams is extremely precise about light. The other day, she reported, she spent six hours fine-tuning the lighting plan of a project, tweaking the mix of ambient, directional and overhead light she had designed, and returning to the house after dusk to add wattage and switch out lamps like a chef adjusting the flavors in a complicated bouillabaisse.

She is aware that there is legislation that is going to affect the manufacture of incandescent bulbs, but she’s not clear on the details, and she wants to make sure she has what she needs when she needs it.

So does John Warner, a restaurateur in Washington whose new bistro, Le Zinc, will open next month on Wisconsin Avenue. He has signed a 15-year lease on the place, which is layered in warm woods, with lots of art and photographs and 50 light fixtures, 16 of them designed to hold a 40-watt soft-white G.E. incandescent bulb. By estimating that his lights will be on for 15 hours a day, and factoring in the package’s promise of a 2,000-hour life span per bulb, Mr. Warner has calculated that he will need 600 of these bulbs to last through his lease.

“I have a light-enough carbon footprint in the other aspects of the design,” he said, “so I can allow myself a lighting splurge.”

Compare that to this:
Nonetheless, as the deadline for the first phase of the legislation looms, light bulb confusion — even profound light bulb anxiety — is roiling the minds of many. The other day, Ken Henderlong, a sales associate at Oriental Lamp Shade Company on Lexington Avenue, said that his customers “say they want to stockpile incandescent bulbs, but they are not sure when to start. No one knows when the rules go into effect or what the rules are.”

Probably this is because articles about light bulb legislation are incredibly boring, and articles about the end of the light bulb as we know it are less so. Certainly they stick in the mind longer.

For years, Glenn Beck, among other conservative pundits and personalities, has proclaimed the death of the incandescent light bulb as a casualty of the “nanny state” (never mind that the light bulb legislation is a Bush-era act), and he has been exhorting his listeners to hoard 100-watt light bulbs (along with gold and canned food). This year, conservative politicians took a leaf from his playbook, introducing bills like the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, courtesy of Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, that would repeal the 2007 legislation.

Dear New York Times: Conservatives are capable of passing legislation that angers other conservatives. Similar phenomena occurs on the left. Please note for future articles.

The article also pushes the misleading claim that incandescent bulbs aren’t being banned. They are being forced to meet efficiency requirements which traditional bulbs cannot meet: thus, the bulb that American’s know will be banned. Halogen incandescents (which are still extremely costly) will be able to be purchased. Thus, people understandably get anxious when they see that they might need to purchase $50 LED bulbs:
Last week, for example, in the middle of Lightfair, an annual trade show for the lighting industry, Philips unveiled a winged LED bulb with a promised life span of 25,000 hours and a price tag of $40 to $50. The Associated Press reported its cost as $50, and Fox News ran the story with the headline “As Government Bans Regular Light Bulbs, LED Replacements Will Cost $50 Each.” Mr. Beck, Rush Limbaugh and conservative bloggers around the country gleefully pounced on the story, once again urging the stockpiling of light bulbs.

I previously wrote about the $50 light bulb here (a gleeful pounce indeed, though I haven’t urged anyone to stockpile the light bulbs). Fear not America, the New York Times has spoken, and they’ve asked you to sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride.



A GLOBAL scheme to reward poorer rain-forested countries for halting deforestation has led to plans for more commercial logging, a blind eye being turned to illegal logging and the displacement of forest people – all helped by McKinsey consultants funded by British and Norwegian taxpayers.

The Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme aims to allow richer countries to buy “avoided deforestation” as part of carbon trading. This depends on calculating how much forest would have been chopped down and then preventing some of it (at as little cost to the economy as possible).

Not surprisingly, countries have already been accused of overestimating the amount of logging that might have happened without REDD… so when the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) environment minister announced in January that the country was to lift its moratorium on new logging concessions, this could still somehow be spun as a reduction in deforestation.

There’s funding available from the World Bank to help countries draw up REDD plans, as well as assistance from some enthusiastic European nations. Most of this REDD-readiness money is ending up in the pockets of international consulting firms – and McKinsey has established itself as the market leader.

For instance, the UK’s Department for International Development paid McKinsey £313,000 for work on REDD in Guyana, while Norway and the UK paid the firm for its work in DRC. McKinsey’s advice to Guyana even included weakening environmental laws, as a “more permissive regulatory regime” would ultimately allow them to make more money from REDD.

‘Blame the poor’

In an editorial last month, ahead of an upcoming meeting in Oslo of scientists, REDD-funders and international organisations, Nature magazine called on these funders to “finalize standards and safeguards” governing human rights before handing out more cash.

McKinsey became first pick for REDD work after developing a methodology it calls the “greenhouse gas abatement cost-curve” to estimate potential emissions reductions. A new study by charity the Forest People’s Programme (FPP) looked at the plans devised so far and concluded: “Abatement cost-curves, which aim to determine the least-cost option for the greatest emissions reduction potential, will almost always result in blaming the rural poor for deforestation, as implementing measures to halt small-scale and subsistence agriculture carries an economically lower price than halting industrial logging or even addressing illegal logging.”

Curve balls

The consultancy itself even admitted last month, in a statement responding to various international campaign groups, that: “The abatement costs shown in the cost curve across a range of emissions reductions initiatives do not necessarily reflect the full costs of implementing those initiatives.” For instance, it says, halting subsistence agriculture “could be significantly more expensive than suggested by the cost curve” when attempting to work with millions of farmers across a large country.

But while McKinsey boasts that its cost-curves have been used by more than 25 countries to “inform” decision making, it washes its hands of any ill-effects, adding that the cost-curve is not meant to “determine or generate” policy. Not that developing countries will have any funding left to pay for other policy work once they’ve bought their McKinsey report.

Documents revealed by a Papua New Guinean blog last year showed McKinsey asking for $2.2m (“50% below our usual fees”) to prepare a national REDD plan in 2009. The documents also suggested that they seek to cover the budget for the process “from external sources... eg. Australia, Japan, Germany, UK”.


Is NOAA Smarter Than Fifth Graders? Think-Tank Says, "Don't Bet on It"

Fifth Graders Challenge NOAA's Hurricane Prediction with One of Their Own

The same organization that challenged NOAA to bragging rights for the best hurricane forecast last year using a trained chimp armed only with a pair of dice and a craps table is challenging the agency again: This time by putting two fifth graders up against the multi-billion dollar federal agency.

"NOAA may have beaten our trained chimp, Dr. Hansimian, last year," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "But he was really only our second banana. Let's see how NOAA can do against opponents with opposable thumbs."

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, released its annual May forecast of Atlantic hurricanes. NOAA forecast 6-10 hurricanes for 2011, a range suggesting anywhere from a "normal" hurricane season to an "above normal" one.

"NOAA's forecast was on target last year, but it was only the second time in seven years the agency got it right. This may help explain why its forecasts the past two years have had such enormous ranges," said Ridenour. "Is NOAA smarter than two fifth graders? Given its less than 29% success rate the past seven years, we sincerely doubt it.

To find out for sure, we've commissioned two fifth graders to calculate the number of Atlantic hurricanes using a methodology that 5th graders use to resolve most of life's most vexing challenges."

Filmmakers Steven Crowder and Jordan Crowder co-produced a video of the fifth graders, Kate and Chris, demonstrating their methodology. The three-minute video can be found here It was co-written by David Ridenour and Steven Crowder.

The video isn't being released to question the professionalism or dedication of NOAA experts, but to remind Americans that forecasts based on science that is still evolving is unreliable and shouldn't be used to determine public policy.

"Forecasts are just that: forecasts. All that matters is what actually happens," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "We should keep this in mind as we consider whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Past forecasts of rising temperatures, sea levels, and droughts and other extreme weather events due to rising concentrations of carbon haven't proven any more reliable that NOAA's annual hurricane forecast. Until their reliability improves, it would be irresponsible to base policy on them."

Along with the fifth graders' forecast, the National Center for Public Policy Research is issuing a challenge to NOAA. "If at the end of the hurricane season, Kate's and Chris's forecast turns out to be more accurate than NOAA's, we challenge the agency to send a representative to their class to acknowledge their superior hurricane prognostication skills and to provide a presentation about NOAA's hurricane research," said David Ridenour. "In return, should NOAA prove more accurate, Kate and Chris will be more than happy to visit NOAA, acknowledge NOAA's superior hurricane forecasting skills, and provide a briefing on what their class is doing."

June 1 is the official start of the 2011 hurricane season.


Putting humanity in a kangaroo court

When Nobel laureates staged a mock eco-trial in Stockholm last week, they were really demanding to rule the world

You may not have noticed, but last week you were a co-defendant in a court case. In Stockholm, the Third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability met at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The event website proclaimed that ‘hjumanity [sic] will be on trial as the Third Nobel Laureate Symposium brings together almost 20 Nobel Laureates, a number of leading policy makers and some of the world’s most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability.’

The charge against us, humanity, was that ‘our vast imprint on the planet’s environment has shifted the Earth into a new geological period labelled the “Anthropocene” – the Age of Man’. But this was a showtrial. The guilty verdict had been written before the court had even assembled. ‘The prosecution will therefore maintain that humanity must work towards global stewardship around the planet’s intrinsic boundaries, a scientifically defined space within which we can continue to develop’, claimed Professor Will Steffen, showtrial ‘prosecutor’ and executive director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University. The website and literature accompanying the symposium made no mention of the defence’s argument. Indeed, why would a Symposium on Global Sustainability invite a defence that challenged the premises it intended to promote?

The ‘trial’ was merely a stunt, of course, designed to make a stuffy, pompous and self-serving enterprise such as this more appealing to the media and the hoi polloi it sought to prosecute. It was one of a number of sessions at the event, each intended to qualify the sustainability agenda with the expertise of its participants. But this circle-jerk, show-trial symposium revealed far more about its members and the hollowness of the sustainability agenda than it revealed about humanity.

A trial implies a question mark over the guilt of the accused. A showtrial on the other hand, is a performance designed to serve some agenda or purpose, to make political capital from the trumped-up crimes of the defendant, whose ‘guilt’ has already been established. And so it is with the litany of charges served against humanity: we are ‘influencing critical Earth system processes’, ‘pushing the planet out of the 10,000-year Holocene environment’, causing ‘irreversible and abrupt changes’. These are our transgressions. They were recited in the courtroom melodrama, not to encourage scrutiny of ourselves, of society, or even really our relationship with nature, but to elevate the judges and their agenda. After all, without criminals, there can be no judges.

There is a strange irony to the spectacle of the world’s best thinkers putting humanity on trial. At the same time as they sit in judgement of humanity, those who seemingly best represent its virtues distance themselves from it. This act reflects a disconnect between the world’s elite – the establishment, in other words – and the rest of humanity. It is a practical demonstration of the extent to which contempt for humanity has been absorbed into establishment thinking.

Environmentalists often find it hard to understand why their arguments and actions are taken as a reflection of deep anti-humanism. But the symposium epitomises the degradation of the concept of humanity. It’s not merely the symbolic act of the Great and Good sitting above the rest of us and passing judgement; anti-humanism runs through their discussion. The showtrial diminishes the defendant – humanity – by making the plaintiff the Earth. There are only two ways this can be made sensible: either the Earth has characteristics that qualify it as a ‘person’ deserving of legal status, or humanity does not have characteristics that make it exceptional, distinct from nature. Sure enough, across the bottom of the symposium’s brochure in large print are the words ‘The world is facing a tangle of entwined challenges. It is time to recognize that we are part of nature.’

More depth on this central message of the symposium is given in the outline of its themes: ‘A central challenge for the twenty-first century is to respect the dynamic environmental boundaries that define a safe planetary operating space for humanity and to guide the human enterprise onto trajectories that develop within these boundaries. Collective action, flexible institutions and active stewardship of our globally interconnected social-ecological system is required to ensure a prosperous future for humanity.’ The themes also declare: ‘It is time to fully realize that our societies and economies are integrated parts of the biosphere, and start accounting for and governing natural capital.’

The attack on humanity would not leave such a bad taste in the mouth, were it not so nebulous. What does it mean to ‘respect dynamic environmental boundaries’, let alone identify them? Sustainability advocates claim ground for their argument in science, but the imperative that we ‘respect’ environmental boundaries precedes any real understanding of what these boundaries are, or whether they even exist. ‘Dynamic boundaries’ are in fact goalposts that can shift according to the needs of the sustainability agenda and its advocates, not a fact about the material world. Anything, including a caveman lifestyle, could be deemed ‘unsustainable’. But most importantly, what is forgotten by the symposium’s concatenation of incoherent and pseudo-scientific eco-concepts is the dynamism of humanity.

Instead of seeing humans as creative, and able to respond to ‘a changing world’ without their guidance, the laureates presuppose that we exist within a tightly ‘entwined’ relationship with nature. Our unguided movement within this relationship unsettles the mythological balance that nature’s providence rests on; nature is dynamic, but we are not. Thus we bring disequilibrium into the world at our own peril, like Adam and Eve thrust out of Eden for bringing sin to paradise. Humanity has brought chaos into creation, and we are now burdened with the consequences. And it is from this idea of a perilous relationship with nature that the members of the symposium hope to create a basis for reorganising society, with themselves as its stewards.

The sentence handed to us by our judges is a series of emergency and longer-term measures that humanity must observe if we are to survive. Many of these demands are familiar noises about ‘avoiding dangerous climate change’, meeting Millennium Development Goals, and increasing the efficiency of productive activity. But more telling is the demand for the ‘strengthening of Earth system governance’, which calls for a range of institutions to be created or given greater power to ‘integrate the climate, biodiversity and development agendas’ and ‘address the legitimate interests of future generations’. There’s also the call to enact a ‘new contract between science and society’, which will launch a ‘research initiative on the Earth system and global sustainability’, and ‘increase scientific literacy’.

At face value, the symposium and the sustainability agenda are about saving the planet. However, the desire for a ‘sustainable’ relationship between society and nature looks much more like nervousness about the establishment’s relationship with the rest of society. The institutional apparatus and power sought by the Nobel laureates through the sustainability agenda is about a search for authority and legitimacy: to overcome the gap that exists between the establishment and the rest of humanity without actually closing it.

We don’t have to stretch our imaginations to get a glimpse of what these new institutions and powers – the object of the sustainability agenda’s ambition – will look like and what they are really about. The mock trial of humanity allowed the laureates to play out their fantasy in which humanity’s guilt is turned into political power. In this intertwined relationship, there is no need of democracy; political power is simply justified on the basis of humanity’s guilt and the inevitability of catastrophe. The laureates imagine themselves in a state administrated by Plato’s philosopher kings. Us mere plebs are deemed incapable of determining things for ourselves. They appoint themselves, in case our base ambitions, desires and needs get the better of us and we send the world into ruin.

It is no more meaningful to try humanity for crimes against nature than it is to try nature for crimes against humanity – disease, flood, famine and so on. In the Middle Ages, all kinds of animals were summoned to courts to be tried. The Enlightenment saw the formulation of a more sophisticated understanding of nature and humanity: we created our own future, and our own history; the antithesis to the idea that we are mystically ‘entwined’ with gods, monsters, and other personalities representing ‘nature’. Those ideas in which humanity was understood as exceptional and apart from nature are now being abandoned by the very group of people who ought to be carrying the legacy of the Enlightenment and the humanism that developed within it.

The idea of a closely intertwined, inflexible relationship with nature that the Laureates prefer creates a prison in which no expression of humanity can be seen as a worthwhile end in itself. Everything must be judged by the imperatives of sustainability and its institutions. ‘Our predicament can only be redressed by reconnecting human development and global sustainability, moving away from the false dichotomy that places them in opposition. [...] In an interconnected and constrained world, in which we have a symbiotic relationship with the planet, environmental sustainability is a precondition for poverty eradication, economic development, and social justice.’

Such is the extent of the anti-humanism of the sustainability agenda that meeting the most basic of human needs is not a ‘good’ unless it has been assessed for its environmental impact. It is not humanity in general, but these sustainability advocates that deserve to be in the dock.



Four articles below

The electronic Dick gets carried away

Dick Smith is rightly one of Australia's most popular people and I agree with his view that Australia should aim for a stable population rather than an expanding one. But he seems to have fallen under the influence of Greenie myths. The idea that a major food exporter like Australia could run out of food is absurd. To gain perspective, consider the case of another major food exporter -- post-Communist China

PLANS to massively boost Australia's population are a bad idea and must be stopped, entrepreneur Dick Smith says.

'The Federal Government favours a "big Australia" and wants to increase the country's headcount from 22 million to 35 million by 2050, largely by immigration.

But Mr Smith said this was ridiculous. "We need to do something about this incredible increase," he said at an Australian of the Year dinner in Parliament House today. "No one is allowed to talk about it ... I am."

Mr Smith said Australia did not have enough water or food to support millions more people. It was crazy that seawater was being desalinated for drinking water to supply a booming population. "I believe in 100 years time people in Australia will be starving to death."

The intake of skilled migrants should be slashed and women should be discouraged from having more than two babies, Mr Smith said. He believes nine out of 10 Australians do not want a population boom.

Mr Smith is working on a documentary on the issue.

The Government wants to increase the population because it means more young taxpayers to pay the rising health and pension costs of the ageing population.

But a recent poll showed most people did not like that plan and some green groups have voiced concerns about the environmental costs.


"Climate change" hits South Australia

ADELAIDE shivered through its longest May cold spell in 24 years, weatherzone.com.au says.

The city's temperature failed to reach 15C from Monday to Wednesday - the longest consecutive run since 1987 - before reaching a maximum of 15.5C yesterday.

This was still more than three degrees below the long-term average.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said southerly winds and low cloud had persisted since last weekend, with cold air lingering much longer than usual.

Mr Dutschke said while the remainder of the week would remain cold, temperatures would warm to near 20C next Tuesday or Wednesday in a brief spell of northerly winds.


Threat of carbon tax blackouts

THE security of electricity supplies would be at risk and power prices would be likely to rise under a carbon price if assistance measures failed to prevent the financial collapse of coal-fired generators, a report has warned.

A tax on carbon emissions could undermine investments in new low-emissions generation, if the viability of generators was undermined, according to a confidential report by investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The report warns that energy retailers could face higher costs and increased financial risks.

It found it was possible that the introduction of a carbon price - given that it was a radical change in the cost structure of the entire generation sector - could result in some unpredictable shifts in electricity prices, as it could alter the behaviour of electricity generators bidding into the national electricity market.

The Morgan Stanley review, which was conducted in 2009 as the government developed its compensation package for Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme, has never before been released because electricity generators threw open their books to the investment bank for the analysis.

A summary of the report, prepared by the Department of Climate Change and obtained by The Australian, was circulated to generators this week for the first time.

The generators had demanded the information as they continued their talks on an adjustment package for Julia Gillard's carbon pricing plan, which is being negotiated with the Greens and the rural independents.

The report is relevant to the current negotiations because the government has made clear the CPRS is being used as the foundation for the new negotiations.

The report will intensify calls from coal-fired power stations, particularly the brown coal-fired Victorian generators, for financial assistance. It underlines the difficulties facing the multi-party climate change committee as it negotiates the final details of the carbon package. The government will need a concession from the Greens, who have opposed providing financial assistance to coal-fired power stations, if it is to be able to offer a package to the coal-fired power stations.

The Morgan Stanley summary emerged as business groups continued to eye a campaign against the carbon tax.

The Australian Coal Association has been sounding out advertising agencies as it examines a potential advertising campaign against the carbon tax.

The Australian understands other business groups are also considering the move.

Electricity generators are due to meet the government again today before the Prime Minister's multi-party climate change committee's weekend of negotiations on the details of the package.

The Morgan Stanley report - which modelled the impact of a carbon price on the Victorian plants of Hazelwood, Yallourn, Loy Yang A, Loy Yang B, South Australia's Flinders and Millmerran in Queensland - identified three primary risks to the operation of energy markets under a carbon pricing regime.

It warned of "physical threats to system security", weakened investor confidence and disruptions to normal operations in energy-contracting markets.

On the threats to the electricity supply, the Morgan Stanley report said "physical supply reliability could be affected by unco-ordinated plans across the market for the withdrawal of large amounts of generation capacity potentially in advance of when new generation capacity might be available".

It said there was potential for a steady decline in reliability if financially distressed power stations reduced maintenance, either because they were in the hands of their lenders or faced with investment difficulties for assets with uncertain economic lives.

The report also warned that significant reductions in asset values in a concentrated sector of the generation market "may make investors less willing and able to invest in new low-emissions generation and dissuade other investors (particularly foreign investors) from providing capital to provide such new investments".

"Such an outcome could jeopardise Australia's medium- to long-term energy security by delaying critical investments," Morgan Stanley found.

The ability of power stations to pass on the carbon cost would depend on whether there was unutilised capacity in the market.

"If this spare capacity is able to be ramped up, then higher-emissions generators would have difficulty passing their full carbon costs through as lower-emissions generators will be able to profitably increase their output," Morgan Stanley found.

Generators might also be unable to pass on carbon costs if demand for power fell because of the higher electricity prices.

More rapid deployment of low-emissions technology would also lead to a lower carbon price pass-through.

And the closure of existing power plants could force up prices, the report said.

"As existing capacity is retired, the balance of supply and demand will tighten, which may lead to higher market prices and higher pass-through factors for the remaining plant for a period of time," it said.

The report said higher gas prices would require higher levels of carbon price to ensure the long-run marginal cost of new gas-fired generation was competitive with the short-run marginal cost of existing coal-fired generation.


Bid to stifle climate debate clouds history of scientific errors

The Climate Change Commission has released its long-awaited report saying the "jury is in" on the science behind man-made climate change. The verdict? "Humans are the problem."

So strong is the consensus, argues the climate ambassador Tim Flannery, that it is time for news media to cease giving space for debate over the science in view of the magnitude of the threat and the inability of non-experts to understand the issues.

With respect, that argument is not going to blow air into my balloon. Our system of government relies on non-experts making judgments. Our cabinet ministers are chosen from the ranks of elected members of Parliament, rather than external experts. Each year the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, has to decide how much the federal government spends on 50 different vaccines to combat the risk of a pandemic. Roxon is not an epidemiologist. Wayne Swan has never had a cent of his own money at risk in a business he was running, yet he makes the judgments as the Treasurer on monetary policy, securities regulation, tax rates and foreign investment. We know that relying on non-experts involves risk but we regard it as the least-worst system, in part because we know how often the experts have made catastrophic errors.

In Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841), Charles Mackay chronicled the human tendency to be swept up in herd behaviour completely at odds with our goal of dispassionate, individual thought. Mackay looks at the great Tulip Bubble, sharemarket frenzies, the burning of witches and failed doomsday prophesies.

The scientific community is not immune. Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) showed it behaving like any other group - with a dominant clique-building and defending their empires , while bullying and ostracising dissenters. Kuhn showed that in case after case, the orthodoxy defends the status quo long after the data shows its underlying thesis must be wrong.

We have seen how that bullying, data manipulation and discrediting of dissenters scandalised East Anglia's climate research unit, which put together the historical temperature data on which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based its warming scenarios. The most damning revelation was why the manipulation was necessary: because the earth is refusing to warm at the rates the models required.

Flannery trousers $180,000 a year from the Prime Minister to heighten community angst, and her re-election depends on his success. Panasonic, the producer of energy-intensive, carbon-rich electronic goods, sponsors his chair at Macquarie University. While that money does not go to him directly, he has boasted of "carrying the flag for Panasonic in everything . . . I do" before clarifying that "I have not advocated Panasonic as a company in my public engagements as chief commissioner, nor have I done so in my books or TV work." Clear as mud.

The criticism that "money talks" in policy debates about energy-intensive industries ought also to be directed at the academic and scientific establishment. If we were to remove all the scientists whose teaching and research programs derive taxpayer funds to pursue the anthropogenic thesis, I suspect the "consensus" would be weaker. It doesn't mean the thesis is wrong, but the transparency being practised by the scientists falls woefully short of that expected of journalists, politicians and company directors.

An eminent cereal biologist and board member of the then Co-operative Research Centre for Grain Food Products recently told me how he was called to Canberra in the 1970s to join a secret conclave of senior figures in the departments of agriculture and defence from the US, Australia and Britain. Their task was to consider how to ration food in the coming ice age. (In fact, the Earth has had no polar ice for 75 per cent of its 4.5 billion-year history and we are still in an ice age.)

The risks of making predictions about complex systems on the basis of computer models was graphically illustrated by the Club of Rome's famously discredited 1972 work The Limits of Growth, which argued that linear growth in food resources and exponential growth in population would lead to Malthusian famine and war. The model completely failed to account for the subsequent 400 per cent increase in agricultural productivity.

Remember Y2K? In 1999 governments spent millions enriching computer scientists for advice on how to manage the threats to our national security from the millennium bug.

When making decisions about our country's future, we ought not to be dismissive of the wisdom of the traveller on the Bondi tram. While public support for the man-made warming thesis is falling, it will not serve the cause of science to behave like a shock jock with a microphone for himself and a mute button for his callers.



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