Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parts of Britain suffer coldest summer for nearly two decades

Global cooling!

Much of Britain suffered the coldest summer for almost two decades, Met Office statistics show.

As Britons return to work today after a soggy Bank Holiday weekend, official weather data reveals that average temperatures were significantly down on recent years.

The UK’s average temperature from June 1 to August 15 was only 57F (13.9C) – the lowest for 13 years.

For central England the average was 59F (15C), making it the coolest summer since 1993.

Helen Waite, a Met Office forecaster, said: “The average temperature for central England this summer has been just 15C – this sort of temperature is normally typical of September. “Generally speaking, you would expect to see temperatures of at least 17C for this time of year.”


Global Warming Hysteria over Hurricane Irene

It’s a parody. It must be. A normal hurricane, not huge as these things go and the first to hit the USA in three years, takes an unusual–but certainly not unprecedented–path up the East Coast’s most populated areas, and the hysterics start screaming about global warming. From hysteria central, aka, the New York Times:
The scale of Hurricane Irene, which could cause more extensive damage along the Eastern Seaboard than any storm in decades, is reviving an old question: are hurricanesgetting worse because of human-induced climate change? The short answer from scientists is that they are still trying to figure it out. But many of them do believe that hurricanes will get more intense as the planet warms, and they see large hurricanes like Irene as a harbinger.

Harbinger? Ludicrous. The gist of the story is that there is disagreement among the climate modelers, who don’t have a good record of accuracy in any event. And no one can say Irene was “caused” by global warming. But why let a good storm go to waste?

Please. The reason I even exist, or better stated, the event that set the wheels in motion for my eventual birth, was the big hurricane of 1938–much larger than Irene at a Category 3– that did far more damage than this Category 1.

My mother and her family lived in Rhode Island. The storm so freaked them, they decided to see what California was like. So, they visited, liked what they saw, and moved. That’s when my mother met my father, after he took a temporary job where she worked while on leave from the army. And the rest, as they say, eventually became my history.

Back to Irene and global warming, is it any wonder people increasingly roll their eyes as every weather event is turned into GWH?


Salon Says Global Warming Is The Culprit

FEMA disaster declarations set a record in 2011. The right cries socialism, but global warming is the real culprit.
We can leave it to residents of Vermont to decide whether the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene qualifies as “routine” or not, but there’s also another explanation: 2011 has been a banner year for disasters, period. By mid-year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011 was already one of the most extreme — and costly — years on record. And that was before Hurricane Irene.

The first rule of being a leftist reporter is to never do any actual research. Andrew Leonard has no idea what he is talking about.


How Washington pays Big Green to sue the government

Two insistent senators have found that even the Government Accountability Office can't get at all of the millions of federal tax dollars that Big Green lawyers are paid to sue the American government.

Multiple federal laws allow individual citizens to sue certain agencies for failing to enforce the law. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not only a favorite target of such suits, it has practically become a partner with Big Green in "sweetheart" deals prearranged to expand agency power by settling legal challenges brought by the outside groups -- allegations of inadequate air pollution controls, for example -- that courts wouldn't likely approve, but then become case law in closed-door settlements that are never made public.

Outraged at the endless stonewalling by EPA officials that they had grilled in hearing after hearing, the top Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee -- Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., -- requested that the GAO audit all the money flowing from the U.S. Treasury into the pockets of environmental lawyers during the last 15 years, 1995 to 2010.

The Washington Examiner obtained a copy of the resulting GAO report, "Environmental Litigation: Cases against EPA and Associated Costs over Time," which the senators will release today. The most significant thing about the 55-page report is what it doesn't tell us.

The report devotes more than a dozen busy pages to tables of payments. But it doesn't highlight the fact that just one plaintiff, Earthjustice (with 2010 assets of $39.2 million, according to its latest available Internal Revenue Service Form 990), received 32 percent of all attorneys' fees paid to EPA litigants. That's $4.6 million for one group's legal fees.

Nor does it highlight that the Natural Resources Defense Council (2010 assets of $232.3 million) and the Sierra Club (2010 assets of $67 million) combined to take 41 percent of all the attorneys' fees in EPA lawsuits.

Throw in the 43 other Big Green plaintiffs -- including such multimillion-dollar operations as the Center for Biological Diversity and National Wildlife Federation -- and they gobbled up 82 percent of the payoff pie, leaving 7 percent awarded to industries such as Western Fuels Association, and 5 percent for state agencies.

These percentages are not in the GAO report, which is long on tables and short on analysis. Inhofe and Vitter assigned their staffs to dig out these connections.

Even though this GAO study is the first time the federal government has released such information, the report is disturbingly short on data, covering the defect with detail. The GAO is careful to explain that when the EPA becomes a defendant in a lawsuit, the Department of Justice provides EPA's legal defense.

There are, according to the report, an average of about 155 such cases each year, or a total of about 2,500 cases between 1995 and 2010.

But in the very next sentence, the GAO tells us that the Justice Department spent at least $43 million, or $3.3 million annually, to defend EPA in court during 1998 through 2010. Nobody asked about 1998.

It gets worse: "Treasury paid about $14.2 million from 2003 through 2010 -- about $1.8 million per year to plaintiffs in environmental cases, paid from the Department of the Treasury's Judgment Fund."

Eager lawyers won't notice that 2003 time shrinkage because they will focus on "the Treasury's Judgment Fund" -- a permanent indefinite appropriation available to pay judgments against the government, as well as settlements resulting from lawsuits.

That phrase is so riveting because it contains records of critical Big Green money secrets, and the U.S. Treasury Department does not publish its Judgment Fund payment data. The revelations here are significant, even if truncated.

Then GAO drops its bomb: "EPA paid approximately $1.4 million from 2006 through 2010 from its own appropriations -- about $280,000 per year." That's only four years of records.

The GAO is telling Inhofe and Vitter that they spent the last year -- since June 2010 -- failing to find three years of Justice Department legal payouts, eight years of Treasury Department Judgment Fund payouts and 11 years of EPA appropriation payouts.

They simply can't find it. Why this lack of transparency and accountability? Aside from poor record keeping and the usual uncooperative bureaucratic turf jealousies, the agency databanks are incomplete, decentralized, aging and incompatibly formatted. That's the real message of this audit.

Still, the flawed but indispensable GAO Environmental Litigation report is a warning. It shows that our nation is seriously deficient in keeping track of the money it spends on Big Green, which resonates with our larger budget crisis.

The Environmental Litigation report covers only the EPA, not federal lands, energy, fisheries, or anything else. There is a whole vast federal bureaucracy yet to deal with.

Sens. Inhofe and Vitter have shown the way. Let the audits begin.


Climate Science and Corruption

Russell Cook

IPCC Censorship: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Vice-Chair (Vice President) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, objected to Fred Singer participating in a seminar on global warming / climate change that was to be held at SEII Foundation Universitaire in Brussels. A google translation of part of the letter van Ypersele sent follows:

You should know that Mr. Fred Singer is a person whose scientific integrity leaves much to be desired. Its (sic) activities are financed disinformation by the lobbies of fossil fuels..... , and it is scandalous that such a person may be associated, directly or indirectly, to SEII and the University Foundation.

Having never heard of IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele before, but having written several online articles here and elsewhere on the apparently unsupported accusations that skeptic scientists are corrupted by fossil fuel industry funding, I decided to see what other connections were to be found between Mr. van Ypersele and the people surrounding what I call the '96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists. It seems every time I look into this, I find anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan and his associates at the enviro-advocacy group Ozone Action, which later merged into Greenpeace USA in 2000.

My first guess is that Mr. van Ypersele might be a recent addition to the IPCC, so I simply plugged his name into an internet search along with one of the two names from my June A.T. article, which was about people associated with the long-term smear accusation who also turned out to be recent IPCC report reviewers. Sure enough, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is on the same list of 2007 Reviewers of the IPCC WGIII Fourth Assessment Report as the two in my article. That probably doesn't mean much, it is a rather huge list.

Perhaps not helping matters in Mr. van Ypersele's favor is that the same two people are on the list of participants at the Bonn, Germany 1999 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP5). In the UNFCCC meeting the following year in The Hague, no less than eleven people from Ozone Action, including Ross Gelbspan, were participants.

The plot thickens considerably when we first read the line in the official IPCC bio for Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, which says he "...was a Lead Author for the WGII contribution to the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC and was elected in 2002 Vice-Chair of its Working Group II." You'd think he would want to minimize any ties with enviro-activist groups at that point, but then we read in this Greenpeace paper, "Report commissioned by Greenpeace and written by Jean-Pascal van Ypersele and Philippe Marbaix, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. July 2004.

On the 2nd page - let me repeat the above points for emphasis - IPCC Lead Author Jean-Pascal van Ypersele's Greenpeace-commissioned paper starts with a fictional account of an out-of-control global warming disaster 40 years into the future, and then states:

"I have long dreamed of drafting an inventory on the potential impacts of climate change in Belgium, as has been done for Europe or for several of our neighbours. Greenpeace's request has given me the chance to make a start on this....We assume full scientific responsibility for the result and would like to thank Greenpeace for not having interfered at all in the content of our paper....

I hope that this report will be food for thought. This is our only planet - we do not have a spare."

Could anyone dare imagine a more breathtaking example of hypocrisy? An IPCC Lead Author commissioned to write a paper for an enviro-activist group while claiming no influence from them is now a top ranking IPCC leader repeating an old unproven accusation insinuating that mere association with fossil fuel industry funding renders skeptic scientists completely untrustworthy, and he demands such skeptics should be silenced.

Add this to Al Gore latest efforts to try equating skeptics with Civil Rights-era racists, and the ever-growing appearance of an impending implosion for the entire global warming crisis is much harder to miss now. In the parlance of current internet talk, this is fast becoming an "Epic Fail."


Krugman Fails Climate Science 101

Economist Paul Krugman took to the pages of The New York Times on Sunday in order to regurgitate Sierra Club talking points regarding global warming and to castigate the Republican Party for being “anti-science.” As Roger Simon noted, like just about everybody else writing about the issue, Krugman doesn’t bother to explain or understand the science or the nature of the robust scientific debate that has been going on for some time. Instead, he relies on the Left’s preferred method for analyzing scientific issues: a moistened finger held up to the wind.

Krugman’s central thesis is that theory that mankind is causing catastrophic climate change has to be true, because “97 to 98 per cent of scientists” agree that it’s true. You’ll see the “97 to 98 per cent” number appearing quite often now. It’s become a key talking point of the alarmist crowd, as they struggle to regain relevance in a world that has a harder and harder time taking them seriously. But where does that amazing number come from? It arises from a 2009 survey that two University of Illinois researchers conducted. 10,257 Earth scientists responded and, much to the U of I professors’ chagrin, the results were far from satisfying to the alarmist crowd.

Many of the respondents indicated that they believe that natural forces are much more important than mankind's paltry contributions to climate trends. Some questioned the validity of the models that have been used to predict massive forcing attributable to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. All in all, it wasn’t the kind of response that the researchers were looking for when they were trying to prove consensus.

So, the professors decided that 10,180 of the scientists who responded weren’t qualified to comment on the issue because they were merely solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists, astronomers and the like. Of the remaining 77 scientists whose votes were counted, 75 agreed with the proposition that mankind was causing catastrophic changes in the climate. And, since 75 is 97.4% of 77, “overwhelming consensus” was demonstrated once again. See Laurence Solomon’s marvelous analysis of the survey for more details.

This attempt to silence dissent across scientific disciplines is a sad and troubling feature of the global warming alarmist movement. As a scientist and a skeptic, I often hear alarmists tell me that I’m not qualified to opine on global warming because I’m merely a chemist. I’m not a climatologist, so my vote should not count.

Now, having specialized in air quality work for the past thirty years, having run many dispersion models (related to, but not the same as, climate models) and knowing a fair bit about thermodynamics, I’ll flatter myself to think that I know a whole lot more about the issue than 99% of the people writing about it in the mainstream media.

And yet, people like Krugman feel no shame when they speak authoritatively about an issue they don’t understand in the slightest. I’ll make Mr. Krugman a deal: I won’t write about exchange rate instability if he will take a pass on atmospheric science.

There is no question that carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” play a role in the complex climate system that is planet earth. No scientist denies that. But the stupefyingly oversimplification that leftists like Krugman cling to – that global warming is wholly and directly caused by our use of fossil fuels – is about as idiotic as saying that unemployment rates in Arkansas determine growth in national GDP. The global warming question is, in fact, five distinct questions:

1. Is the planet’s climate changing?

2. If so, is the rate of change cause for concern?

3. If so, can human activities contribute to the rate of change?

4. If so, is the degree to which human activities contribute to the rate of change significant compared to other forces?

5. If so, is it wiser to attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that it is to adapt to the changing climate?
Only if one answers all five questions in the affirmative can one justify further reductions in fossil fuel use. When one considers how scientists answer those questions, we find that the number who would answer every one with an unqualified “yes” hardly represents any sort of consensus at all.


Another dodgy assertion: Global plant die-off

A study on plant productivity that said drought and global warming were killing off plants worldwide is now being questioned by scientists, according to research published Thursday.

In the study published in the journal Science last year, researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana used NASA satellite data to show that productivity declined slightly from 2000-2009.

Those findings contradicted previous studies from the 1980s and 1990s that showed warmer temperatures in some parts of the world were driving longer growing seasons and greater plant growth around the globe.

Having more plants on Earth would be good news because it would help offset greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing more carbon dioxide.

While Running noted at the time that the findings came as "a bit of a surprise," the study raised concerns about global food security, biofuels and our understanding of the carbon cycle.

The new questions about the study, published in Science on Thursday, are posed by scientists at Boston University in the United States and the Universities of Vicosa and Campinas in Brazil.

A press release distributed to reporters by Boston University said their study is "refuting earlier alarmist claims that drought has induced a decline in global plant productivity."

Statements included by the researchers describe Zhao and Running's model as "erratic," "poorly formulated," and showing no "trends that are statistically significant."

However, scientists who were not involved in either paper said this was an excellent example of the scientific process at work, and should not be cast otherwise.

"The Boston University press release - using the term 'alarmist' - speaks of a university trolling for media as distinct from a university seeking to communicate excellence," Andy Pitman, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said in an email to AFP.

"Those involved in this exchange of views are all well respected and excellent scientists. What is going on here is the scientific method. Zhao and Running publish a paper. Others attack it. Others defend it. Over time we determine who is right. Perfectly legitimate science."

Pitman, who has seen the study but was not involved in it, said the new analysis points to a smaller trend of plant loss but still shows declines over large swaths of territory in southeast Asia and China.

"This does not mean that there has been no decline, or that Zhao and Running's results were wrong, rather it highlights how strong research groups can reach different conclusions when using different assumptions," Pitman said. "That opens up a rich vein of future research."

One of the key issues raised by critics was how the Zhao and Running study found a 0.34 percent reduction in the southern hemisphere's plant productivity, offset slightly by a 0.24 percent increase in the northern hemisphere, for a net decline of 0.1 percent over a 10-year period.

"This is the proverbial needle in a haystack," Simone Vieira, co-author and researcher at the State University of Campinas, Brazil, said in a statement. "There is no model accurate enough to predict such minute changes over such short time intervals, even at hemispheric scales."

Lead author Arindam Samanta, a graduate of Boston University who is now at Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, said the initial study's model was based on data from a decade when temperatures were on the rise. "Their model has been tuned to predict lower productivity even for very small increases in temperature. Not surprisingly, their results were preordained," said Samanta.

According to NASA scientist Compton Tucker, who also reviewed the data, key questions to be resolved are whether the first study was accurate and whether its findings could be replicated over a longer period. "It's just like studying the stock market for a few years versus 30 years," Tucker told AFP.

"Most people think you need a record of about 30 years of whatever data you are using in order to indicate a trend." He said the publication of questions on the initial research should help advance knowledge in the area. "This is science, where you take one step forward and two steps back," he said.



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Al Gore and the silencing of debate

Yesterday I posted a link to a story about Al Gore claiming that any expression of skepticism about global warming is to him no different than racism. Here again is what Gore said,
“There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won. We have to win the conversation on climate.”

More than at any other time, Gore here has very successfully illustrated the differences between how climate skeptics debate the scientific questions of climate change versus how global warming advocates do it.

When climate skeptics such as I talk about climate change, we do it by bringing up and discussing recent scientific discoveries that raise questions about global warming. For example, in the past week alone I have noted two different scientific papers that illustrate how earlier climate predictions by global warming scientists have proven to be either weak or simply unsuccessful. (See “Another IPCC prediction fails” and “Another Al Gore doomsday prediction bites the dust.”)

I was not expressing my opinion in noting these results. I was relating actual research that, from my interpretation, raised serious questions about the conclusions of people like Al Gore and other global warming scientists.

At the same time I have always been willing to admit that my interpretation of this data might be wrong, that the data itself is incomplete, and that it might even be proven wrong when new data is obtained. I as well as most climate skeptics by our very skepticism recognize the present limitations of the science and are gladly willing to see new data, even if it doesn’t correspond to our own conclusions.

This one of the primary reasons I gladly allow critical and sometimes blistering criticisms of my writing to be posted as comments on my website. I could be wrong. I want the science to win, not my opinions.

What is Al Gore’s approach? He believes that anyone who expresses any skepticism of his conclusions to be no different than a racist and should shut up, or be shut up by everybody else. He doesn’t bother to refer to any science to back up his position, nor does he expend any effort to explain or counter the recent science that raises serious questions about man-made global warming.

Nor is Al Gore alone in this kind of behavior. The entire climategate scandal centered on how global warming scientists in positions of power, such as Phil Jones, head of the government-funded Climate Research Unit, and Michael Mann, inventor of the hockey stick graph that claimed that the Earth’s climate only began warming in the last hundred years, did everything they could to prevent skeptics from getting published in any scientific journal.

Rather than debate the actual science, these pseudo-scientists wanted only to silence those who disagreed with them. Or as Andrew Klavin has noted, their detailed answer to any Doubting Thomas was to say, “Shut up!”

Al Gore and the climategate scientists had come to a conclusion. They are not interested in any new data. Any new data to them was the equivalent of being a racist or a denier of reality. In fact, global warming activists repeatedly use that term, denier, when they want to attack global warming skeptics. They don’t debate the facts, they simply try to destroy the skeptics by name-calling.

There is only one good thing about this mean-spirited and Stalinesque approach to open debate: It finally illustrates for all to see that guys like Al Gore and those who agree with him haven’t the faintest idea of what science is all about.

The fact is that science is skepticism. Good science questions data at all times. You have to let the bulk of the data eventually convince you of the right conclusion. And you must always recognize that additional data could easily change that conclusion again, and again.

In order for science to function properly, skepticism and questioning of all kinds must always be permitted. For Al Gore to say that the science of climate change will somehow be helped by demanding we silence the skeptics is so foolish and counterproductive I am almost at a loss for words. Above all, it certainly discredits what Al Gore and his supporters in the scientific community have to say about this important scientific debate.

As I’ve noted repeatedly, the science of climate change is still in its infancy. Our good climate data only goes back a few decades, beginning with the space age. Moreover, we really don’t understand everything that is going on in the Earth’s very complex climate. There are enormous gaps in our knowledge, and to say that anything is settled on this subject is downright foolishness.

As a nice example of what I mean, watch this hour long lecture by Jasper Kirkby, the chief scientist behind the CERN experiment that suggests very strongly that the long-term fluctuation of interstellar cosmic rays that hit the upper atmosphere — a fluctuation caused by the solar sunspot cycle — might have a significant influence on past climate change. Before Kirkby describes his experiment, he spends about 30 minutes outlining the copious data that exists suggesting the Sun might have a much greater influence on climate change than carbon dioxide.

To Al Gore, Kirkby is therefore a racist and should be silenced. To me, his lecture contains valuable knowledge about climate science and is worth watching until the end.

On which side do you fall? Our freedom, and the fate of western civilization, actually hangs on that choice.


Warmists say that the CERN work did NOT demonstrate cloud formation. That is true. It did however demonstrate particle formation, particles of the kind that form the nuclei of clouds.

And that is all that needed to be demonstrated. There is a long-known correlation between sunspots and weather and the CERN work demonstrates a mechanism for that. The facts were known. All that was needed was an explanation. That has now been provided -- JR

ClimateGate Is Not Over?

Penn State had no issue with research by Michael Mann and, with qualifications about his 'statistical analysis techniques', the National Science Foundation cleared him as well, so why hasn't this ClimateGate thing gone away?

The University of Virginia is providing ammunition for skeptics by citing 'proprietary nature' of some material requested under a Freedom of Information Act request, forcing a court order to get it.

Mann does himself - much less the University of Virginia or his lawyers - no good by delving into law interpretation with the rigor of his statistical analysis techniques, telling Science magazine
"U.Va has not turned over emails related to discussions of research, unpublished manuscripts, private discussions between scientists about science, etc.,--i.e., any of the materials that are exempt from release by state law...U.Va has simply turned over the non-exempt emails, and many of these were turned over to ATI months ago."

He seems to be bragging that UVA has stonewalled skeptics the way the University of East Anglia did, and which got them into trouble. What law says 'private discussions between scientists about science' are exempt from a Freedom of Information Act request? None.

Mann will be cleared of literal wrongdoing again, just like the NSF did, and he should be - but he needs to shut up and stick to research. He does more harm than good for climate science by being clever with Frankenstein graphs and now playing shade tree lawyer.

If he wants to have his emails exempt, he simply has to stop taking public money. Progressives in science who cheered Greenpeace efforts to condemn and harass skeptics using FOIA requests but cheer stonewalling now are hypocrites of the highest order.

Look for resolution, or at least some progress in the fight, next month. If there is nothing to hide, UVA might be better off just handing over the emails. If they are making a conservative stand about intrusion of big government into their affairs, that is darn ironic.


Climate change/Global warming blamed for crumbling stages

Whenever something bad happens, writers get their stories published if they blame it on climate change/global warming. Now it´s about music festival stages, which have begun crumbling:
For the fourth time this summer, a stage has crumbled during an outdoor show. This time it was at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. The most recent official tally seems to be three people killed and 60 injured, with 11 of those injuries serious, though reports keep varying. Earlier this month, five people were killed when the stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair, where country group Sugarland was performing.

The Smith Westerns were on stage when it went down. They tweeted, “Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our shit is broke” and “Praying no one got hurt. Wtf.” In addition to Pukkelpop and the Indiana State Fair, a Flaming Lips stage fell apart during a storm in Oklahoma, damaging about $800,000 worth of equipment, and Cheap Trick narrowly avoided disaster when their stage collapsed during the Ottawa Blues Festival.

Like all the other collapses this summer, Pukkelpop happened when a massive storm blew into the area. It seems like climate change, shoddy construction, or some combination of the two has made outdoor festivals downright scary and dangerous....

Is it all part of Thomas Friedman “Global Weirding” phenomenon of unusually intense weather as a byproduct of climate change?

It is, of course, sad if badly built festival stages crumble, but it has nothing to do with climate change/global warming. There have always been storms and floods, and any temporary outdoor constructions have to be sturdy enough to be able to withhold them - or, alternatively, the event has to be cancelled. It´s just as simple as that.


British government minister attacks 'short-termist' plan for pylons

Greenie versus Greenie

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has said that the Government’s energy policy is “short-termist” and will blight areas of natural beauty with huge and expensive pylons.

Dr Fox is opposing plans for pylons to be built across his North Somerset constituency as part of a new transmission line from the Hinkley power station to Avonmouth.

Campaigners say that the 150-ft pylons will unnecessarily damage some of the country’s most attractive areas.

Similar transmission lines also are planned in Suffolk, Kent, Cumbria, north Wales and the Scottish Highlands, to transmit power from the new generation of nuclear power stations and new wind farms.

Dr Fox has written to Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, arguing that it would be cheaper to bury the power lines under ground, or to re-route the line under the sea.

The National Grid has said that the initial costs of burying power lines would be prohibitively expensive, but Dr Fox is arguing that in the long term, it is pylons that are more costly.

Buried lines require less maintenance than overhead lines, Dr Fox told his colleague, in a letter sent in June.

He cited calculations from independent engineers suggesting that over 40 years, the Somerset pylons would cost £1.1 billion, while a buried power line could cost half that.

“If we are to have credible green credentials then the decision needs to be taken on more than short-term economics ignoring the environmental impact in the longer term,” Dr Fox wrote.

Mr Huhne’s Department for Energy and Climate Change declined to comment. A National Grid report on the costs of alternatives to pylons is due out later this year.

Dr Fox is not the first Cabinet minister to oppose a major infrastructure project for constituency reasons.

Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh secretary, has hinted she is prepared to quit over the Government’s planned high-speed rail link, which would pass through her Chesham and Amersham seat in Buckinghamshire.


California Now Wants to Ban Your Styrofoam Containers

You can put your left overs in it. Keep your take out hot in it. Hold your drink in it. Pack your shipments in it. Put your lunch on it. You can even insulate your roof with it. But if California has its way, you will soon have nothing to do with it.

The “it,” if you haven’t guessed: Styrofoam. But only your Styrofoam containers are up for the ban at this point.

The bill, by Democratic state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, would prohibit restaurants, grocery stores and other vendors from dispensing food in expanded polystyrene containers, commonly known as Styrofoam, beginning in 2016. If signed into law, the measure would make California the first to institute a statewide ban on such containers. More than 50 California cities and counties already have similar bans.

The bill would exempt school districts and city and county jurisdictions if they implemented programs that recycled more than 60 percent of their foam waste.

Lowenthal said litter from the foam containers is one of the most abundant forms of debris found in city streets, sewers and beaches. “It’s not biodegradable, it’s not compostable, and if it’s in the water for a long time, it breaks up into small beads and lasts for thousands of years. It costs millions to clean up beaches,” he said

Opponents of the bill, however, say the move could cost business owners a lot of money, and it also doesn’t really address littering.

The Associated Press reports business owner Gary Honeycutt as saying the proposed ban would cost him thousands of dollars. And the biodegradable stuff? Doesn’t cut the mustard — or in his case cheese. “We put cheese on those omelets. And when we put the cheese on, it’s really hot and bubbly and it goes right through the biodegradable stuff,” he said.

Others say the bill fails to address the root cause of litter — the litterers themselves. Litterbugs will toss out the containers whether they’re made of polystyrene or biodegradable cardboard, said Michael Westerfield, corporate director of recycling for Dart Container. “At the end of the day, people that litter don‘t care what type of product they’re littering,” he said.

The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled the measure as one of its “job-killer bills,” saying it threatens manufacturing jobs while increasing costs for restaurants that will have to spend more on alternative containers.

And while Styrene, a chemical used to make the foam containers, was listed as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ June report on carcinogens,John Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program, a division of the federal agency, disagrees: “The risks, in my estimation, from polystyrene are not very great. It’s not worth being concerned about.”

Tim Shestek, senior director of state affairs at the American Chemistry Council, agreed and said concern about negative health effects “is not supported by scientific information.” The group, based in Washington, D.C., is lobbying against the bill.

As Gawker points out, California has been on the ban-happy bandwagon these days, attempting to ban use of plastic bags, circumcision and successfully banning McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.


Health "co-benefits"

By Matt Ridley

Some years ago, presumably for having written books on genetics, I was elected a fellow of Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS). This was a great honour and I was even more pleased to be invited to speak at one of their annual dinners.

Then, towards the end of 2010, there dropped through my letter box a newsletter from the AMS which included an item on the academy having signed up to an “international statement” on the “health benefits of policies to tackle climate change” together with other medical science academies around the world. The newsletter said that the health “co-benefits” of tackling climate change “show that climate change mitigation strategies need not be socially and economically demanding”. Since everything I was reading at the time about rising food and fuel prices driven partly by climate change mitigation policies was pointing to the opposite conclusion – namely that malnutrition and hypothermia were being increased by such policies, outweighing any health advantages – I went online to read the statement, to find out what I had been signed up to as a fellow.

I found a four-page document, devoted to expounding the good health side-effects of fighting climate change by cutting emissions. For example:
Results for the cities of London and Delhi show that a combination of substantially increased active travel, such as cycling and walking, and lower-emission motor vehicles could lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of chronic diseases.

Most of the statements in the paper referred to a special issue of the Lancet, which had appeared just before the Copenhagen climate summit and which I knew had drawn a heavily critical and very persuasive reply from the independent scholar Indur Goklany. Goklany’s point was that while of course there are health benefits to climate change mitigation, there are health risks too and that any reasonable discussion must come to the conclusion that today and through the foreseeable future, many other health risks outrank global warming in terms of death and disease, and are also more easily addressed.

The IAMP statement not only ignored Goklany’s argument but failed even to acknowledge that risks might outweigh benefits. It had only a three-sentence mention of the issue of health risks that did not even address the issue of relative weight:
However, some climate change mitigation strategies have the potential to damage health. For example, if biofuels are grown on land which could support food crops they could reduce food availability and increase food prices.28 Therefore all climate change mitigation strategies should be subject to health impact assessment.

I did not think this was good enough, so I wrote to the president of the AMS, Sir John Bell, a former university friend and colleague, as follows:
I recently received through the post the Interacademy Medical Panel (IAMP) report on the health co-benefits of policies to tackle climate change. I gather this has already been signed on our behalf.

I have to say I found the document very disappointing and not up to the standards of a scientific academy like AMS.

What it lacks is balance. There is no attempt to cite evidence of the harm that may be done by rushed mitigation of fossil fuel emissions, even though these are extremely well known. There is no attempt to balance the catalogue of harmsthat can come from warming with the catalogue of harms that come from othercauses, whose mitigation might be prevented by efforts to prevent warming.

For example, the report says that `Rising temperatures may increase heat related deaths and heat stress, particularly in urban centres as a result of the urban heat island effect'. Yet there is ample evidence that cold-related deaths exceed heat-related deaths - by about five to one in most of Europe. Even the excess death toll from the 2003 European summer heatwave was dwarfed by the excess death toll from cold in most winters. Last year there were over 25,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales alone (see and the death toll is disproportionately high among the aged who face acute problems from fuel poverty caused in part by carbon mitigation policies such as wind power subsidies, which have increased energy prices. It follows that if the world warms by 2 degrees, and that warming is greater in the far north, in winter and at night - all of which are predicted by the GCM models - then the death toll from cold stress will undoubtedly fall. It is wrong of the report not to mention these points.

As for the health cost of carbon mitigation policies, we have a perfect example of this in recent years in the effect of biofuel policies on the price and availability of food. There is now no doubt that biofuel policies, motivated substantially by concern about climate change, have caused real increases in hunger in 2008 and again this year (not to mention destruction of rain forest). You can debate how important this is relative to the threat posed by climate change, but to ignore these arguments is negligent.

Consider the case of an African family at risk from hunger, dirty water, indoor air pollution (caused by cooking over wood or charcoal fires), and malaria. These four factors are among the greatest causes of ill health in the world, killing respectively about seven, three, three and two people per minute, far more than can be attributed to global warming. What this family needs is fertilizer, clean water, kerosene and bed-nets, not policies to slow a rise in global temperatures. Indeed, you can argue that getting kerosene cooking fuel to such families is the best way to reduce deforestation and hence carbon dioxide emissions.

Keeping climate at 1990 levels, assuming it could be done, would leave more than 98 per cent of human mortality causes untouched, and would consume resources that could be far more effectively spent on combating ill health now. You will be aware that malaria has been eradicated from large parts of the world not by cooling the world down but by combating it directly. You will be aware that death rates from natural disasters are down by 98% since the 1920s not because of policies to change the climate but because of improvements in transport, medicine, communication and technology.

I append some comments on the report from Indur Goklany, a highly respected scholar who has contributed to these debates in the peer-reviewed literature. His analysis confirms my suspicions that the paper is unbalanced and misleading.

I received a courteous but non-committal reply from Sir John saying that he would pass on my comments to his colleague Dr Robert Souhami and that he welcomed by engagement with the issue.

More HERE.

All they did was duck and weave, of course. They answered none of Ridley's points and complied with none of his requests. I would be astounded by such scientific dishonesty if I had not seen much the same at work in other politically-relevant writing by academics -- JR


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Monday, August 29, 2011

Childish NYT links big storm to global warming

Dr. Martin Hertzberg wrote the following in reply

As expected, the scientific illiteracy of the N. Y. Times journalists was again displayed for all to see in the 8/28/11 article by Justin Gillis trying to link Hurricane Irene to "human-induced (global) climate change" caused by "greenhouse gases trapping extra heat".

Nowhere in the article is the real cause even mentioned: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (la Nina / El Nino cycles). Our current la Nina phase concentrates warmer surface waters in the western regions of oceans increasing the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and typhoons. For that phenomenon, human CO2 emission is about as significant as a few farts in a hurricane.

Gases do not "trap heat" and the "greenhouse effect" is devoid of physical reality: one of the greatest frauds in the history of science. The greenhouse belongs in the outhouse: it is a load of crap!

Too bad that your reporter didn't bother to contact the half dozen or so real hurricane experts in the world. The hurricane of 1938, which I experienced personally while walking home from 3rd grade at P. S. 109 in Brooklyn, was far more powerful than Irene at a time during the Great Depression when human CO2 emission was an order of magnitude lower than it is today. So much for the kind of anecdotal dribble that your journalists are so fond of citing.

Received by email from the author

A Weather Newsgasm

By Alan Caruba

What major weather events and especially earthquakes tell us is that we live on planet Earth on its terms, not ours. Put another way, we don't "control" the weather or climate and, despite decades of global warming lies, compared to the sun and oceans, we don't even influence it.

The best definition of the weather is "chaos." It will do whatever it wants to do.

By Friday on Fox News and other television news outlets, it was non-stop coverage of Hurricane Irene even though it was barely beginning to touch the North Carolina coast. If there is one thing the news media loves it is a really big potential disaster.

By Saturday afternoon as Irene passed over North Carolina, Anthony Watts, a veteran meteorologist and commentator on, was reporting, "What we have here at this point appears to be a tropical storm. By the time it reaches New York, it may very well just be a tropical depression on par with a Nor'easter in intensity." But not a hurricane.

At one point late Saturday, I clicked the remote on every local channel and on every cable news channel. Every single one was reporting on the hurricane. According to my blogger pal, Texas Fred, that's a "newsgasm".

By Sunday morning, the drenching rain, but no high winds, was already moving north out of New York City and northern New Jersey where I live.

The incessant "news" coverage reflects the way television (and print) news professionals tend to regard viewers as too stupid to make decisions as basic as preparing for the hurricane or evacuating before its arrival, nor do they just report the news, i.e., the facts. So far as Irene was concerned, they engaged in massive speculation and endless predictions.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) became an acronym for incompetence. Presumably lessons have been learned and the agency will perform more effectively if needed.

Americans have been taught that the federal government will always come to their rescue and it rarely does with any efficiency and usually with a great waste of money and resources. Local first responders are usually the best and most reliable.

In a society that is utterly and completely dependent on electricity to function, it is always a sobering experience for many to discover how useless every single appliance in their home or apartment becomes without it.

I am sure I am boring people to death by repeatedly pointing to the way government at the federal and state level, along with many environmental organizations are deliberately making it difficult, if not impossible, to build coal-burning or nuclear utilities. As for transportation, the same forces are allied against any oil exploration and extraction. There hasn't been a single new oil refinery built since the 1970s. That's insane.

Now they are gearing up to deter natural gas extraction using "fracking" even though this technology has been in safe use for fifty years. The discovery of vast new reserves of natural gas should be greeted as welcome news by everyone. Only the luddites want us to return to mythical "simpler" times that never existed. It is still easier and a whole lot faster to take the train from New York to Washington, D.C. than to ride a horse.

If a foreign invader had imposed the same limits on our ability to access and use our own vast national reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, we would be in the streets with metaphorical pitchforks.

Returning to the theme of hurricanes, does anyone remember how Al Gore and other global warming liars were predicting that global warming would cause more hurricanes? Well, the East Coast has been through a period of some five years without one making landfall. Since there never was any dramatic global warming, there never was a connection between the two.

It's worth remembering the previous decades since the late 1980s that were filled with reports from the full panoply of the print and broadcast media. They assured us that global warming was going to transform all life on earth unless we stopped producing carbon dioxide emissions, i.e., "greenhouse gas" emissions. It was a scam to sell bogus "carbon credits."

This is the same bull we keep hearing about "renewable" energy, wind and solar power, along with ethanol and biofuels. The latter wastes food-corn-and the former wastes open space along with taxpayer's and consumer's hard earned money.

We are constantly assailed with extremely dubious, if not outright lies that involve something "scientific", but science has been corrupted with too much environmental claptrap, political correctness, and devious chicanery. There are good sources of information, but the government and the media are not among them.

Trust your common sense. It is usually a good guide.


Deadliest US hurricanes occurred when CO2 levels were "safe"

All but one of the ten deadliest US hurricanes occurred with "safe" CO2 levels below 350 ppm:


The Worst Hurricanes In Terms of Loss of Life In the United States

1. The Great Galveston Hurricane
Galveston, Texas
September 8, 1900
This unnamed hurricane caused the greatest loss of life of any Hurricane in recorded US history. First tracked in Cuba as a tropical storm on Sept. 3, it hit Galveston as a Category 4 Hurricane. An estimated 6,000 - 12,000 people died as storm tides of eight to 15 feet washed over the barrier island. The tragedy was documented in the recent book, Isaac's Storm.

2. San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane
September 16 - 17, 1928
The fourth strongest Hurricane to hit the US mainland caused a lake surge on the inland Lake Okeechobee in Florida that rose as high as nine feet, flooding nearby towns. A total of 1,836 people died in Florida; another 312 died in Puerto RIco, and 18 in the Bahamas.

3. Hurricane Katrina
Louisiana, Mississippi
August 25 - 29, 2005
Making landfall as a Category 4, Hurricane Katrina caused immense flooding in New Orleans. More than 800 deaths currently are being blamed on Katrina.

4. The Long Island Express
North Carolina to New York
September 20 - 22, 1938
The Long Island Express roared past North Carolina on September 20, and hit Long Island on September 22 as a Category 3. Storm surges of 12 - 16 feet killed at least 600.

5. The Great Labor Day Storm
September 2, 1935
One of just three Category 5 Hurricanes to make landfall in the US, the Great Labor Day Storm was responsible for 423 deaths in Florida. Most of those occurred when a train carrying World War I veterans was overturned. The Hurricane also was notable for providing the setting for the Humphrey Bogart - Lauren Bacall movie, Key Largo.

6. Hurricane Audrey
Texas and Louisiana
June 26, 1957
Audrey was a Category 4 that caused eight to 12 foot storm surges that moved inland as far as 25 miles through low-lying areas of Louisiana. The storm is blamed for 390 deaths.

7. The Great Miami Hurricane
September 18, 1926
The Great Miami Hurricane struck Miami directly with little warning. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge from the hurricane. Hundreds of people in Moore Haven alone were killed by this surge, which left behind floodwaters in the town for weeks afterward. The Red Cross lists the death toll at 373, although the total may be higher because much of the population at the time was either new, or transient, with no one to account for them.

8. The Grand Isle Hurricane
September 20, 1909
This Category 4 storm struck the mainland between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It is blamed for at least 350 deaths.

9. The Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane
Florida, Texas
September 10 - 14, 1919
This hurricane struck the Keys as a Category 4, and Texas as a Category 3. US mainland losses are recorded as 287, but more than 500 more people apparently were lost at sea as the storm destroyed ten ships.

10. Unnamed Storm
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 30, 1915
In a frightening precursor to 2005's Hurricane Katrina, this unnamed Category 4 Storm flooded Lake Pontchartrain, causing it to overflow its banks and killing 275 people.

11. Unnamed Storm
Galveston, Texas
August 5, 1915
In spite of a seawall built following the devastating 1900 storm, this Category 4 hurricane once again devastated the city of Galveston, Texas. It killed 275.


Spreading 'Big Oil' Subsidy Disinformation

Every American manufacturing company gets tax deductions that help it create jobs and strengthen our economy - whether it produces newspapers, furniture, cars or fuel. Eliminating those deductions would increase unemployment and further slow our nation's desperately needed economic recovery.

Yet that is precisely what President Obama wants to do when oil companies want to use the deductions. It is one of many ways the Obama administration is undermining the oil industry and 9.2 million Americans whose jobs it supports. It is part of the administration's strategy for replacing fossil fuels with heavily subsidized "alternatives" that taxpayers cannot afford, and consumers will not purchase on their own.

Newspapers that benefit from the same genre of tax deductions as oil companies nevertheless sometimes join attacking the oil industry, and the jobs and benefits it creates. This is rank hypocrisy.

"If Republicans are truly determined to slash the budget and end government waste," the New York Times editorialized, "they will start [by] ending the web of tax breaks enjoyed by the rolling-in-dough oil industry and terminating the ethanol subsidy. Together these cuts would save up to $100 billion over 10 years."

The Times is right about ending ethanol subsidies. But it and other "progressives" are wrong on every other argument they present to justify their job-killing, economy-crippling energy agenda.

1) Oil industry tax deductions cover costs incurred in exploration, drilling, production, transportation and refining. They aren't subsidies or special tax breaks. They are essentially the same deductions claimed by all manufacturers, in conducting their business under our complex tax code. They ensure that businesses recover their costs and get taxed only on net income, in the process of making essential products.

Refineries and petrochemical manufacturers play an especially vital role in the oil industry - transforming crude oil and natural gas into fuels and raw materials used to make fabrics, plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, carpets, paints, roofing, siding, and myriad other products that improve and safeguard our lives. Solar panels and resins for fiberglass wind turbine blades are also petroleum-based.

The NY Times itself enjoys similar tax breaks, and hasn't offered to give one of them up, to help end government waste. Nor have other newspapers, some of which have even sought to benefit under the "failing newspaper act," which would let them operate as "educational nonprofits," and pay no taxes. Others have sought exemptions from antitrust laws, so that they can set online subscription prices.

In truth, in this internet and online media age, we could live without newspapers. But as an American Express advertising executive might say, Oil: You can't leave home without it. Nor can you have modern civilization or improved health and living standards without it.

2) Most petroleum companies aren't "Big Oil." They're small independents. And the entire industry operates under government policies and regulations that keep many of America's best oil and gas prospects off limits and make leasing, exploration and drilling needlessly expensive and time-consuming. Between 1981 and 2008, the largest consolidated oil companies ("Big Oil") alone paid $1.95 trillion in severance, property, excise, sales and corporate income taxes, the Tax Foundation reports.

Eliminate the tax deductions amid the current regulatory and political climate, and fewer wells will be drilled, fewer deposits will be profitable enough to develop, fields will be abandoned prematurely, royalty revenues will decline, refineries will close or move overseas, workers will lose their jobs, their income tax payments will morph into welfare checks, and we will import still more oil and refined products.

3) A primary reason oil and gasoline prices are so high, unemployment is stuck at 9% and our economic growth is anemic is that government has made most of our western states, Alaskan and Outer Continental Shelf energy prospects off limits. It raises unfounded concerns about hydraulic fracturing, and drags its feet on permits for lands that supposedly are "available" for leasing and drilling. In short, it chokes off supplies. Meanwhile, politicians stoke demand - with legislation like the NAT GAS Act. That bill would obligate US taxpayers to pony up some $14 billion annually in subsidies (aka, tax credits and rebates), to encourage motorists to buy natural gas-fueled cars and trucks, and service stations to install natural gas fueling stations.

Eliminate oil company tax deductions: "save" $4 billion. Subsidize car and truck purchases: spend $14 billion. It's unsustainable. It's insane.

4) Real subsidies take money taken from society's productive sectors, and transfer it to legislators and bureaucrats, who give it to companies that "deserve" funding, because they provide politically favored products or could not remain in business without perpetual infusions of Other People's Money. You support our reelection, our "catastrophic manmade global warming" thesis and our commitment to a renewable energy future, and you'll continue receiving taxpayer cash - until the OPM runs out.

Evergreen Solar received $486 million in federal and state subsidies - but still closed its doors and fired 850 workers, when the subsidy well ran dry. The same thing happened to five of six solar companies in Germany. The jobs went to China and Malaysia, which have lower costs and fewer regulations.

5) Even with subsidies, wind and solar still can't compete, unless they are also exempted from endangered species and other environmental laws. If you shoot an eagle, or birds die in an uncovered oil company waste pit, fines and possibly prison terms are meted out. But wind farms slaughter bald and golden eagles, falcons, hawks, curlews, bats and other threatened, endangered and just plain majestic sky dwellers with no consequences. They even get fast-tracked through the environmental review process by the same Interior Department and EPA that routinely delay or deny oil and gas applications.

6) Then there's ethanol. Producing 13.2 billion gallons of it in 2010 required one-quarter of all the corn grown in the United States - monopolizing 23 million acres (Grade A cropland the size of Indiana) and consuming 1.2 trillion gallons of water, along with prodigious amounts of petroleum in the form of fertilizer and tractor, truck and distillery fuel. While corn growers get rich, higher corn prices mean pork and chicken producers pay more for feed, meat producers are driven out of business, manufacturers pay more for corn syrup, consumers pay more for food, and more jobs disappear.

America could produce far more gasoline from a mere 2,000 acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (1/20 of Washington, DC), if anti-oil zealots would end their opposition to drilling in the frozen tundra.

And still ethanol enjoys fuel pump mandates, $6 billion in annual subsidies, and tariffs against foreign competition - so that consumers can "choose" a fuel that gets a third fewer miles per gallon than gasoline.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is doing a theirs-not-to-reason-why Light Brigade charge into the jaws of biofuel R&D - and extolling the virtues of camellia-based jet fuel that costs $67 a gallon, versus $5 per gallon for aviation gas that could also come from ANWR, the OCS and other off-limits US lands.

The bottom line is simple. The worst thing we can do is what President Obama is intent on doing: use the mythical revenues he expects from eliminating oil company "subsidies and tax breaks" to increase federal wind, solar and ethanol subsidies by another 50% (to $18 billion a year) - so as to "foster the clean energy economy of the future and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change."

As should be abundantly clear by now, these energy sources are not so clean or eco-friendly. They can't exist without perpetual subsidies. They are simply not sustainable. To provide reliable, affordable, ecological, sustainable energy . put people back to work . rejuvenate our economy . and generate trillions in new government revenue - we need to do three things.

Open America's public lands for responsible hydrocarbon development. Take the boot off the neck of American businesses. And get rid of all the subsidies, bailouts, targeted tax breaks, selective tariffs, mandates to purchase ethanol and other products, and other corporate welfare gimmicks that make tax lawyers and lobbyists more important than researchers, trained workers and top-flight CEOs.


Africa's Mosquito Population Declining, Malaria Cases Falling - Opposite of IPCC's "Experts" Prediction

The UN's IPCC and world health experts predicted that global warming would grow the mosquito population and cause an increase in malaria incidence. There was no prediction by these "experts" that the mosquito population in portions of Africa would actually plummet and new malaria case numbers would shrivel. In fact, that is what has happened in Tanzania say scientists.

Researchers have found that the number of mosquitoes per insect trap has fallen from 5,000 to 14 over a 10-year period. This took place in villages with no DDT or bed nets. Some researchers think the decline is due climate change but there is no convincing evidence that would confirm that.
"But the lead author of the study...says that he is not convinced that it is just the changing climate..."It could be partly due to this chaotic rainfall, but personally I don't think it can explain such a dramatic decline in mosquitoes, to the extent we can say that the malaria mosquitoes are almost eradicated in these communities..."What we should consider is that there may be a disease among the mosquitoes, a fungi or a virus, or they're may have been some environmental changes in the communities that have resulted in a drop in the number of mosquitoes"...The research team also found anecdotal evidence that their discovery was not an isolated case..."Other scientists are saying they can't test their drugs because there are no children left with malaria.""


New paper finds CO2 GOOD for corals and molluscs

When transplanted to CO2 vents, they calcify and grow faster than normal. Warmists have long claimed that rising CO2 will kill them all off

A paper published in the September 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change finds that corals and molluscs transplanted to 'acidified' areas along CO2 vents in the Mediterranean were surprisingly "able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high CO2 levels projected for the next 300 years."

To add the requisite alarmist spin for publication in Nature, however, the scientists returned to the laboratory where they cranked up the 'acidification' along with heat to find they could then decrease calcification slightly.
Coral and mollusc resistance to ocean acidification adversely affected by warming

By Rodolfo-Metalpa R. et al.


Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are expectedto decrease surface ocean pH by 0.3–0.5 units by 2100, lowering the carbonate ion concentration of surfacewaters. This rapid acidification is predicted to dramatically decrease calcification in many marine organisms. Reduced skeletal growth under increased CO2 levels has already been shown for corals, molluscs and many other marine organisms. The impact of acidification on the ability of individual species to calcify has remained elusive, however, as measuring net calcification fails to disentangle the relative contributions of gross calcification and dissolution rates on growth.

Here, we show that corals and molluscs transplanted along gradients of carbonate saturation state at Mediterranean CO2 vents are able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high CO2 levels projected for the next 300 years. Calcifiers remain at risk, however, owing to the dissolution of exposed shells and skeletons that occurs as pH levels fall.

Our results show that tissues and external organic layers play a major role in protecting shells and skeletons from corrosive sea water, limiting dissolution and allowing organisms to calcify. Our combined field and laboratory results demonstrate that the adverse effects of global warming are exacerbated when high temperatures coincide with acidification.

SOURCE of abstract



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Sunday, August 28, 2011

IPCC Censorship

When I read the sort of thing below I am always reminded of the old Quaker paraphrase of John 3: 19-20: "The children of the light love the light, and walk in the light, but the children of darkness walk in darkness, and hate the light" -- JR

By Prof. Claes Johnson

Here is a fresh example how IPCC suppresses science which does not support the CO2 alarmism IPCC presents to the world and its leaders:

I was invited to participate in discussions on climate science in Brussels Sept 1-2 with the following letter of August 20:
SEII (Société Européenne des Ingénieurs et Industriels, Prof Henri Masson) organizes a conference for Fred Singer and Claes Johnson at the Fondation Universitaire in Brussels on September 1, at 18 h00. Official invitation from SEII follows by E-mail.

The next day 2 September there will be a workshop with some of our Think Tank . Our preliminary programme looks as follows:

18h15 S. Fred Singer : What is new in climate change?

19 h 00 Claes Johnson : Blackbody radiation and Climate Thermodynamics

19 h45 to 20 H30 : Questions and Answers

We are very happy to have this opportunity to bring together scientists and some politicians (we hope) and get some useful and interesting discussions.

No official invitation by SEII followed. Instead the following letter [Google translation] was sent on August 22 by Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of IPCC, Membre de l'Académie royale de Belgique, on mission in the US, to Fondation Universitaire:
Subject: SEII and scientific integrity


The SEII it implicitly supports the denial climate on the eve of World Congress of Engineers in Geneva dedicated to the energy (when I have the honor of giving a "keynote lecture")?

The use of the stationery of SEII by your administrator Mr Masson for the attached invitation suggests. Unfortunately, despite a phrase to indicate that the hypocrite SEII no "sponsors" not the event.

You should know that Mr. Fred Singer is a person whose scientific integrity leaves much to be desired. Its activities are financed disinformation by the lobbies of fossil fuels (see XXXXXXXXXXXXXX), and it is scandalous that such a person may be associated, directly or indirectly, to SEII and the University Foundation.

Eminent colleagues have written that Mr. Johnson was no better. One of his "textbook" recently, where he spoke at random through climate change, published by the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, Sweden) had to be retracted by him so it contained errors.

Thank you very quickly to tell me what measures SEII take to distance themselves from this "event"? I would be happy also to know what is the mandate of this "think tank" of SEII on climate change that Mr. Masson chairs (although his resume is not available at the University of Antwerp, and I've never heard of his skills in climate).

Sincerely, Prof.. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele

The effect of the letter was that the SEII/Fondation Universitaire seminar was cancelled, stopped, censored. IPCC managed to suppress questioning of the science presented by IPCC, by a forceful intervention by one of its vice-presidents.

What to say about this? Well, I am not surprised. I read that the burning of my mathematics book by KTH supported by media and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (documented as KTH-gate), is now used to motivate to also mute my voice.

But why these hysteric reactions from IPCC? There must be something in what I am saying (and/or Fred Singer), which is very dangerous to IPPC.

What is it? Van Ypersele knows. But will van Ypersele succeed in preventing IPCC from collapse under scientific scrutiny?

To burn books because they contain some incorrectnesses would be an overwhelming task: All books contain something which is incorrect. The only real reason to burn a book or suppress an oral presentation is that what is presented is correct, but unpleasant to some.

For a summary of my criticism of IPCC climate science, see my presentation at the annual meeting of Stockholm Initiative.

PS Here is a reaction from Fred Singer:
Why am I not surprised by this disreputable action of this IPCC officer.After all, we know from Climategate emails that these people will go to any length to suppress scientific dissent. Even to libel and to use bald-faced lies.

Of course, I am not supported by fossil-fuel industry. That is complete nonsense and invention. My Europe visit is paid by the Ettore Majorana Foundation -- to give an invited talk at a climate conference in Erice. I am using the occasion to accept additional invitations to speak (without lecture fees) at the Univ of Hamburg, Imperial College, Univ of Paris - Jussieu, and of course at the KNMI in De Bilt. By happenstance I was also invited to address 100+ engineers in Zurich.

Our IPCC colleague van Yp also questions my honesty. Well now -- the IPCC has been using me as a scientific reviewer, I publish regularly in peer-reviewed journals and am an elected Fellow of several scientific societies. So there must be some who disagree with van Yp.


UVA goes all in on Climate Gate FOIA coverup

The University of Virginia has joined a list of institutions claiming that there has been an actual inquiry into, and even 'exoneration' of, scientists exposed by the November 2009 "ClimateGate" leak, while simultaneously through its actions making a mockery of the idea.

UVa's August 23 release under court order of 3,800 pages of emails - records that UVa previously denied existed - was its second since the American Tradition Institute (ATI) sought judicial assistance in bringing the school into compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA).

The school has spent approximately $500,000 to date keeping these records from the taxpayer, who paid for their production to begin with.

The university again labored to avoid releasing correspondence directly addressing the now discredited “Hockey Stick” graph produced while former assistant research professor Michael Mann worked there.

At least 126 of those emails were sent to or from Mann at UVa and were central to ClimateGate, which exposed a purported, now disavowed temperature record, as well as the Hockey Stick and related activities by scientists to keep dissenting work from publication. The emails showed scientists circling the wagons to protect their claims, funding and careers.

Each of these 126 UVa ClimateGate emails, as with other related Mann correspondence with third parties of which we are aware, is covered by our VFOI request. Not one of them made it into UVa's releases.

UVa acknowledges withholding between 3,500 and 4,000 more pages. This likely represents around ten times the original number of UVa emails revealed in “ClimateGate.”

Even before ATI was able to review these emails, Mann described the release to Science Magazine, indicating a collaborative effort with the university in what amounts to hiding from the taxpayer efforts to derail exposure of the “Hockey Stick.”

We certainly appreciate that he is worried. But no argument exists that these records belong to Mann. Further, the VFOIA protects the taxpayers' interests and, secondarily, the university's. Not former faculty whose actions, once revealed, created a dense cloud of suspicion over their work.

These records are inarguably the property of the University of Virginia and therefore, barring a legitimate exemption under VFOI, the Virginia taxpayer.

A useful example of complying with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is George Mason University's prompt release to the media of correspondence from Professor Edward Wegman.

In one of life's coincidences, these involved Wegman's work exposing the dubious methods involved in creating the “Hockey Stick.”

ClimateGate emails sent or received by Mann's UVa email address include certain now-notorious, often nasty missives, many highly questionable from a legal or ethics perspective and most reflecting wagon-circling by alarmists discussing how to defeat substantive challenge and even requests for transparency involving an already published paper.

It is reasonable to surmise that these are among the 9,000 pages UVa finally identified as responsive to ATI. If so, each of them is being withheld on the remarkable claim that they are "Data, records or information of a proprietary nature produced or collected by or for faculty ... in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on medical, scientific, technical or scholarly issues." Really.

Excerpts of apparently scholarly research of commercial intent and value presumably include the ClimateGate gems "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!", and one gleefully noting the death of a skeptic who had dared correspond with them.

This is the sort of Top Secret “proprietary” emails UVa will risk fortune, reputation and sanction to keep from producing. A UVa official informed us on no less than three occasions that the school was, in effect, ignoring the law's mandate to interpret exemptions narrowly.

Clearly he wasn't kidding. But will the court will find this funny?

The university's legal argument remains hazy but, if it is indeed grounded in the such correspondence being somehow “proprietary,” this latest act in UVa's deeply troubling history on this matter threatens to permanently tar a name built over many years, if by the achievements of others who surely weep in their graves over the ongoing spectacle.

This is a school that prides itself on its honor code. Yet instead of acting forthrightly like its fellow ward of the taxpayer, George Mason University, UVa exacerbates the scandal and the increasingly warranted public distrust of Big Science, particularly “climate” science, an edifice built upon hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually and dedicated to keeping that gravy train rolling.

Why does this matter, outside of basic principles embedded in the law such as the taxpayers' right to know how their resources are being used, particularly when so much question exists about certain, well-funded activities?

Consider the UK High Court opinion about -- per the judge -- the global warming movement's "alarmist" claims, as featured in the film "An Inconvenient Truth:"

“[Claimant attorney] has established his case that the views in the film are political by submitting that Mr. Gore promotes an apocalyptic vision, which would be used to influence a vast array of political policies, which he illustrates in paragraph 30 of his skeleton argument:

“(i) Fiscal policy and the way that a whole variety of activities are taxed, including fuel consumption, travel and manufacturing … (ii) Investment policy and the way that governments encourage directly and indirectly various forms of activity. (iii) Energy policy and the fuels (in particular nuclear) employed for the future. (iv) Foreign policy and the relationship held with nations that consume and/or produce carbon-based fuels.”

This cannot be attended by such trifling by a public institution with its transparency obligations under the law. That the University of Virginia has chosen to persist in a campaign diminishing its stature and credibility changes nothing under that law. The taxpayers have rights, and we are exercising them.

Christopher C. Horner is director of litigation for the American Tradition Institute's Environmental Law Center, which is suing the University of Virginia.


Warmist backs off over Irene

Hurricane Irene hadn’t even made landfall in the United States before some people figured out what to blame it on.

“Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming,” environmental activist Bill McKibben wrote Thursday night in The Daily Beast. He argued that this year’s hot Atlantic Ocean temperatures and active spree of hurricanes — coupled with droughts, floods and melting sea ice elsewhere on the globe — are “what climate change looks like in its early stages.”

Besides, “what’s a ‘tropical’ storm doing heading for the snow belt?” asked McKibben. He also said the storm represented bad timing for the Obama administration’s favorable environmental impact statement on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which environmentalists label a danger to the Earth’s climate.

But not so fast, hurricane scientists say: Not only is it impossible to tie any single hurricane to global warming, but researchers are also still fiercely debating whether the changing climate is making — or will make — tropical cyclones either stronger or more frequent.

It’s also not even clear that hurricane seasons are getting worse over time, some researchers say. After all, New York City and Long Island have been hit by nine previous hurricanes from 1858 to 1991, according to NOAA records, including the disastrous 1938 storm known as the Long Island Express. And the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history struck 111 years ago — the 1900 storm that killed an estimated 8,000 people in Galveston, Texas.

“I think the state of the science is such that you cannot link any singular event to global warming,” said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center near Miami.

Besides, Blake added, “there’s nothing new about a hurricane hitting the Northeast” — even if it's rarer than a storm that whacks Florida or the Gulf Coast.

On the other hand, some climate researchers say they do see signs of rising global temperatures behind the Atlantic basin’s increase in especially destructive hurricanes since the mid-1990s.

“I think the evidence is fairly compelling that we’re seeing a climate change signal in the Atlantic,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Citing other recent trends of extreme weather, including hailstorms and catastrophic tornadoes, “one begins to wonder, if you add all those up, maybe you are seeing a global warming effect.”

Still, Emanuel said, “I would be reluctant myself to say anything about global warming and Irene.” For one thing, he said, Irene hasn’t been an especially unusual hurricane.


Fewer Americans See Climate Change a Threat, Caused by Humans

Though climate change hasn't received quite the same attention it had back in 2006 and 2007, it's not too surprising that the vast majority of Americans still know at least something about it. But what they know exactly is changing, and national politics certainly seems to be playing a part.

According to a Gallup poll released Friday, 96 percent of Americans in 2010 said they know a great deal or something about climate change. And while that's down 1 percentage point from 2007 to 2008, it's not a significant change, especially considering how media attention to the issue has dropped off quite significantly since around 2007, when coverage was at its peak. [Read: Do Americans care about climate change anymore?]

However, what Americans who know about climate change think about it has changed quite a bit—namely, they see it as less of a problem—and that change has happened much more rapidly than in the four other top greenhouse gas emitting countries, China, Russia, Japan, and India. In 2010, according to the poll, only 55 percent of Americans believed climate change was a threat to them and their families. That's down 9 percentage points from 64 percent in 2007 and 2008. Also, the percentage of people who believe climate change results all or in part from human causes is down a full 11 percentage points. While 61 percent of Americans in 2007 and 2008 believed that humans were at least partially responsible for climate change, only half believed so in 2010.

In Japan, where a higher percentage of people say they know about climate change, the same decline in threat perception and belief in human causes happened too, though less significantly. In Russia, people's perception of threat went up from 2007 and 2008, but there was no change in the belief in human causes. Then, by contrast, in India, more people in 2010 (an increase of 16 percentage points, from 58 percent to 74 percent) believe that climate change is caused by humans. That same increase happened in China, though it was not as significant. [Read more from the Energy Intelligence blog.]

What's interesting about these results is that climate change has been a predominantly international issue, with the United Nations and its International Panel on Climate Change taking the lead on many initiatives and scientific reports. But, it's clear that rather than listen to the multilateral body—which continues to publicize both the threat and human causes of climate change—people, especially in the United States, are much more tuned in to the politics and the news of their own country.

In America, at least, the strong push from many climate change skeptics, which are now represented by many Republicans in Congress, appear to be making a difference in public views, particularly on the issue of whether humans are the cause. The more conservatives make noise denying the problem of climate change, perhaps, the more people, especially their base, catch on to that view. The decrease in media coverage may also play a role in the public's perception of threat, as climate change has been put on the backburner in favor of energy security and green jobs. [Read about whether global warming will matter in the 2012 elections.]

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast this weekend, expect a round of commentary from groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council calling attention to the effects of climate change. But, with the trend shifting away from believing in such warnings, it's unlikely that many Americans will even take notice.


Germany Shelves Climate Change Bill

The German Federal Government will not introduce a Climate Change Bill in parliament, contrary to its own plans, according to a report by "Frankfurter Rundschau", citing information by the opposition.

The Social Democrats (SPD) had asked if the promised climate change bill would be introduced in this legislative period. The government’s response: No, it won’t.

Thus the plans for the reduction of CO2 emissions have been permanently relegated to non-binding letters of intent. Originally, according to international obligations, greenhouse gas emissions should have been reduced by 80 percent by 2050, compared to 1990. Whether the expansion targets for renewable energy are also abandoned remains unclear.

Federal Environment Minister Röttgen had wanted to examine the feasibility of the Climate Change Act. But he failed to do so because of resistance from his own ranks.

In light of its so-called energy transformation, the Federal Government already had to present one or the other decision as plausible, even if plausibility seemed to be missing often.

So the Government reinvented the red-green nuclear phase-out, and in turn, slowed the expansion of renewable energy by cutting their subsidies. It also looks as if coal-fired power plants and offshore wind power are favoured for electricity generation, although this would create enormous difficulties.

On the one hand, the willingness to invest in coal-fired power plants is decreasing. The reason: if the centre right collation (of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats) were to be voted out of office, a drastic change of course in energy policy could happen - for example by a red-green government that would favour decentralized power generation.

On the other hand, offshore power generation brings with it enormous costs - for example, in network expansion. And even if there appears to be currently a new gold rush for wind farms on the high seas, if the grid is not expanded, the windmills would turn often idle in the future.

Meanwhile, the Bundeslaender have made themselves independent in terms of energy policy - with their own investment programmes, for example. This has led regional utilities to start making use of their chance at independence.

These developments are a direct consequence of the Federal Government’s gradual withdrawal from energy policy. The retreat, however, appears to be mostly reflexive - by misguided compromises or simply by constitutional problems, such as the nuclear phase-out. The bill for this mess is still pending.

SOURCE. (Transl. Philipp Mueller)

At Last: UK Government Goes Anti-Green

A long-awaited government report on green aviation policy has failed to endorse independent proposals for limiting the sector's rapidly growing emissions, to the dismay of green groups.

The government yesterday published its response to an analysis presented by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in December 2009, which warned that air travel could not increase more than 60 per cent on 2005 levels by 2050 if the UK was to meet legally binding targets to reduce emissions 80 per cent by mid-century.

Yesterday's formal response from the Department for Transport (DfT) acknowledged the CCC was right to warn that aviation emissions would result in the breaching of the UK's legal emissions limits "without further action".

It said aviation emissions were likely to reach 49 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year by 2050, just above the CCC's projections, although it added they could reach as high as 59 million tonnes by the same date.

But yesterday's report gave little indication as to how the government will stop emissions rising to this level when it publishes its Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation document early next year.

Instead, the response concentrates on encouraging further responses to its March scoping document on sustainable aviation, the consultation deadline for which has been extended to 20 October.

The document also underlined the government's reluctance to limit airport capacity, suggesting that displacing air traffic to other countries would not only damage the UK economy, but lead to "less-efficient routing of passengers and cargo, with a consequential increase in global demand for aviation and hence CO2 emissions".

Airlines are fiercely opposed to measures designed to reduce demand and instead have agreed voluntary technical and efficiency improvements they say will begin to help curb emissions, while also increasing investment in emerging biofuel technologies.

In a foreword to the response, transport secretary Philip Hammond made clear that cutting emissions from the sector should not compromise growth.

"I believe that to present the challenge we face as one of deciding between economic growth and reducing carbon emissions is a false choice," he wrote. "This government is anti-carbon, not anti-aviation, and our goal is to find ways to meet our carbon reduction targets while supporting economic recovery."

However, green groups said the government should prioritise demand reduction policies such as making the most of available capacity, introducing carbon caps, shifting more people to trains for domestic and short-haul flights and promoting greater use of videoconferencing.

They add that jet biofuels should only come into play once these measures have been taken.

Jean Leston, acting head of transport policy at WWF-UK, said the government was showing "a worrying lack of commitment" to including aviation emissions in the Climate Change Act or setting a national reduction target.



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