Monday, October 31, 2011

New Satellite Data Contradicts Carbon Dioxide Climate Theory

John O'Sullivan

Industrialized nations emit far less carbon dioxide than the Third World, according to latest evidence from Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Global warming alarmism is turned on its head and the supposed role of carbon dioxide in climate change may be wrong, if the latest evidence from Japan's scientists is to be believed.

Japanese national broadcaster, NHK World, broke the astonishing story on their main Sunday evening news bulletin (October 30, 2011). Television viewers learned that the country's groundbreaking IBUKU satellite, launched in June 2009, appears to have scorched an indelible hole in conventional global warming theory.

Standing in front of a telling array of colorful graphs, sober-suited Yasuhiro Sasano, Director of Japan's National Institute for Environmental Studies told viewers, "The [IBUKU satellite] map is to help us discover how much each region needs to reduce CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions."

Indeed, the map at which JAXA spokesman Sasano was pointing (see photo above) had been expected by most experts to show that western nations are to blame for substantial increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, causing global warming. But to an officious looking TV interviewer Sasano turned greenhouse gas theory on it's head.

According to UN science the greenhouse gas theory says more CO2 entering the atmosphere will warm the planet, while less CO2 is associated with cooling.

Gesturing to an indelible deep green hue streaked across the United States and Europe viewers were told, "in the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere emissions were less than absorption levels."

Sasano proceeded to explain the color-coding system of the iconic maps showing where regions were either absorbing or emitting the trace atmospheric gas. Regions were alternately colored red (for high CO2 emission), white (low or neutral CO2 emissions) and green (no emissions: CO2 absorbers).

Bizarrely, the IBUKU maps prove exactly the opposite of all conventional expectations revealing that the least industrialized regions are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet.

Yes, you read that correctly: the U.S. and western European nations are areas where CO2 levels are lowest. This new evidence defies the consensus view promoted by mainstream newspapers, such as the New York Times.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had long claimed that, "there is a consensus among scientists that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide (CO2), are harming global climate."

The Japanese satellite map shows regions colored the deepest leaf green (net absorbers of CO2) being predominantly those developed nations of Europe and North America; thus indicating built up environments absorbed more CO2 than they emitted into the atmosphere.

By contrast the bulk of the regions colored red (so-called 'carbon polluters') were in undeveloped, densely-forested equatorial regions of Africa and South America.


Judith Curry blows the whistle

Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague

It was hailed as the scientific study that ended the global warming debate once and for all – the research that, in the words of its director, ‘proved you should not be a sceptic, at least not any longer’.

Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually.

Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilisation as we know it.

It was cited uncritically by, among others, reporters and commentators from the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Economist and numerous media outlets in America.

The Washington Post said the BEST study had ‘settled the climate change debate’ and showed that anyone who remained a sceptic was committing a ‘cynical fraud’.

But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis.

Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago.

Like the scientists exposed then by leaked emails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, her colleagues from the BEST project seem to be trying to ‘hide the decline’ in rates of global warming.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

However, Prof Muller denied warming was at a standstill. ‘We see no evidence of it [global warming] having slowed down,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. There was, he added, ‘no levelling off’.

A graph issued by the BEST project also suggests a continuing steep increase.

The graph that fooled the world

But a report to be published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation includes a graph of world average temperatures over the past ten years, drawn from the BEST project’s data and revealed on its website.

This graph shows that the trend of the last decade is absolutely flat, with no increase at all – though the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have carried on rising relentlessly.

‘This is nowhere near what the climate models were predicting,’ Prof Curry said. ‘Whatever it is that’s going on here, it doesn’t look like it’s being dominated by CO2.’

Prof Muller also wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal. It was here, under the headline ‘The case against global warming scepticism’, that he proclaimed ‘there were good reasons for doubt until now’.

This, too, went around the world, with The Economist, among many others, stating there was now ‘little room for doubt’.

Such claims left Prof Curry horrified. ‘Of course this isn’t the end of scepticism,’ she said. ‘To say that is the biggest mistake he [Prof Muller] has made. When I saw he was saying that I just thought, “Oh my God”.’

In fact, she added, in the wake of the unexpected global warming standstill, many climate scientists who had previously rejected sceptics’ arguments were now taking them much more seriously.

They were finally addressing questions such as the influence of clouds, natural temperature cycles and solar radiation – as they should have done, she said, a long time ago.

Yesterday Prof Muller insisted that neither his claims that there has not been a standstill, nor the graph, were misleading because the project had made its raw data available on its website, enabling others to draw their own graphs.

However, he admitted it was true that the BEST data suggested that world temperatures have not risen for about 13 years. But in his view, this might not be ‘statistically significant’, although, he added, it was equally possible that it was – a statement which left other scientists mystified. ‘I am baffled as to what he’s trying to do,’ Prof Curry said.

Prof Ross McKittrick, a climate statistics expert from Guelph University in Ontario, added: ‘You don’t look for statistically significant evidence of a standstill. ‘You look for statistically significant evidence of change.’

The BEST project, which has been lavishly funded, brings together experts from different fields from top American universities.

It was set up 18 months ago in an effort to devise a new and more accurate way of computing changes in world temperatures by using readings from some 39,000 weather stations on land, instead of adding sea temperatures as well.

Some scientists, Prof Muller included, believe that this should provide a more accurate indication of how the world is responding to carbon dioxide. The oceans, they argue, warm more slowly and this is why earlier global measurements which also cover the sea – such as those from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University – have found no evidence of warming since the Nineties.

The usual way a high-profile project such as BEST would publish its results would be in a scientific journal, following a rigorous ‘peer review’ by other experts in the field.

The more eminent journals that publish climate research, such as Nature And Science, insist there must be no leaks to the media until this review is complete and if such leaks occur, they will automatically reject the research.

Earlier this year, the project completed four research papers.

As well as trends in world temperatures, they looked at the extent to which temperature readings can be distorted by urban ‘heat islands’ and the influence of long-term temperature cycles in the oceans. The papers were submitted to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

But although Prof Curry is the second named author of all four papers, Prof Muller failed to consult her before deciding to put them on the internet earlier this month, when the peer review process had barely started, and to issue a detailed press release at the same time.

He also briefed selected journalists individually. ‘It is not how I would have played it,’ Prof Curry said. ‘I was informed only when I got a group email. I think they have made errors and I distance myself from what they did.

‘It would have been smart to consult me.’ She said it was unfortunate that although the Journal of Geophysical Research had allowed Prof Muller to issue the papers, the reviewers were, under the journal’s policy, forbidden from public comment.

Prof McKittrick added: ‘The fact is that many of the people who are in a position to provide informed criticism of this work are currently bound by confidentiality agreements.

‘For the Berkeley team to have chosen this particular moment to launch a major international publicity blitz is a highly unethical sabotage of the peer review process.’

In Prof Curry’s view, two of the papers were not ready to be published, in part because they did not properly address the arguments of climate sceptics.

As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline. ‘To say this is the end of scepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused. It is also misleading to say, as he has, that the issue of heat islands has been settled.’

Prof Muller defended his behaviour yesterday, saying that all he was doing was ‘returning to traditional peer review’, issuing draft papers to give the whole ‘climate community’ a chance to comment.

As for the press release, he claimed he was ‘not seeking publicity’, adding: ‘This is simply a way of getting the media to report this more accurately.’ He said his decision to publish was completely unrelated to the forthcoming United Nations climate conference. This, he said, was ‘irrelevant’, insisting that nothing could have been further from his mind than trying to influence it.


Lying, cheating climate scientists caught lying, cheating again

By James Delingpole

Oh dear. I really didn't want my first blog post in a week to be yet another one about global bloody warming. Problem is, if those lying, cheating climate scientists will insist on going on lying and cheating what else can I do other than expose their lying and cheating?

The story so far: ten days ago a self-proclaimed "sceptical" climate scientist named Professor Richard Muller of Berkeley University, California, managed to grab himself some space in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) claiming that the case for global warming scepticism was over. Thanks to research from his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) project, Professor Muller stated confidently, we now know that the planet has warmed by almost one degree centigrade since 1950. What's more, he told the BBC's Today programme, there is no sign that this global warming has slowed down.

Cue mass jubilation from a number of media outlets which, perhaps, ought to have known better – among them, the Independent, the Guardian, The Economist and Forbes magazine. To give you an idea of their self-righteous indignation at the supposed ignorance of climate change deniers, here is the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson in full spate:
We know that the rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and very large. We know it is consistent with models developed by other climate researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions — the burning of fossil fuels by humans — as the cause. And now we know, thanks to Muller, that those other scientists have been both careful and honorable in their work.

Nobody’s fudging the numbers. Nobody’s manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a “naturally occurring” warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real.

Problem is, Eugene, almost every word of those two paragraphs is plain wrong, and your smugness embarrassingly misplaced.

As you know, I had my doubts about Muller's findings from the start. I thought it was at best disingenuous of him to pose as a "sceptic" when there is little evidence of him ever having been one. As for his argument that the BEST project confounds sceptics by proving global warming exists – this was never more than a straw man.

Now, though, it seems that BEST is even worse than I thought. Here is what Muller claimed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of [global warming] having slowed down.

But this simply isn't true. Heaven forfend that a distinguished professor from Berkeley University should actually have been caught out telling a lie direct. No, clearly what has happened here is that Professor Muller has made the kind of mistake any self-respecting climate scientist could make: gone to press with some extravagant claims without having a smidgen of evidence to support them.

Here, to help the good professor out, is a chart produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation's David Whitehouse. It was plotted from BEST's own figures. Note how the 10 year trend from 2001 to 2010 – in flat contradiction of Muller's claims – shows no warming whatsoever.

What's odd that BEST appears to have gone to great trouble – shades of "hide the decline", anyone? – to disguise this inconvenient truth. Here is a graph released by BEST:

The GWPF's David Whitehouse is not impressed:
Indeed Best seems to have worked hard to obscure it. They present data covering more almost 200 years is presented with a short x-axis and a stretched y-axis to accentuate the increase. The data is then smoothed using a ten year average which is ideally suited to removing the past five years of the past decade and mix the earlier standstill years with years when there was an increase. This is an ideal formula for suppressing the past decade’s data.

Muller's colleague Professor Judith Curry – who besides being a BEST co-author chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology – is even less impressed.
There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’


Brrr…the Troposphere Is Ignoring Your SUV

For those tracking the daily global temperature updates at the Discover website, you might have noticed the continuing drop this month in global temperatures. The mid-tropospheric AMSU channels are showing even cooler temperatures than we had at this date with the last (2008) La Nina. The following screen shot is for AMSU channel 6.

A check of the lower stratospheric channels (9, 10) suggests this is not a stratospheric effect bleeding over into the tropospheric channels.

With the current (and forecast to continue) stormy pattern over the U.S., I have to wonder whether the atmosphere is currently in a destabilized state. I doubt that surface temperatures anomalies are as anomalously low as the mid-troposphere temperatures are running, which in combination with anomalously cold mid- and upper-tropospheric temperatures means there is extra energy available for storms. (Since AMSR-E failed in early October, our sea surface temperature plot is no longer showing current data, so I have no easy way to check surface temperatures.)

Of course, this too shall pass. I just thought it was an interesting curiosity during a time when some pundits are claiming global warming is “accelerating”. Apparently, they are still stuck in the last millennium.


Shale gas in Britain

Beneath swathes of the UK lie billions of pounds worth of shale gas. And now we can get to it. David Rose reports on how the recession (and wind turbines) may soon be just a bad memory
Locked within the fissures inside that rock is an immense quantity of natural gas

Locked within the fissures inside that rock is an immense quantity of natural gas - virtually pure, unadulterated methane, of a quality so high it could be pumped direct to domestic and industrial users

Here are two visions of the future.

The first one lies at the end of a muddy track in the village of Banks, a 20-minute drive from Preston, Lancashire. It consists of a derrick about 60ft high, a few temporary buildings, a generator and some specialist machinery in a fenced square compound.

Powering the derrick and the drill at its centre is an eerily quiet electric motor. Today, on the first Friday of October, the bit it turns at the end of the drill pipe lies about a mile beneath our feet, boring steadily downwards at a rate of up to 500ft a day, depending on the hardness of the strata. It’s heading for a thick deposit of carboniferous shale, a rock made from the compressed mud which lay on a prehistoric seabed more than 300 million years ago, its upper edge some 7,500ft below the dark green fields of ripening cauliflower that surround the compound.

Locked within the fissures inside that rock is an immense quantity of natural gas – virtually pure, unadulterated methane, of a quality so high it could be pumped direct to domestic and industrial users, and to electricity generating stations.

Once the drill reaches the shale, the gas is released by a process known as ‘fracking’ – hydraulic fracturing, the pumping of a mixture of water and sand to widen the fissures and keep them open. Normally, you only have to frack an area once: after that, the gas tap stays open.

‘The installation you see here is only temporary,’ says Eric Vaughan, a veteran of drilling for gas from shale in America and the chief operating officer at Cuadrilla, the firm that runs the site.

‘If we go into production, we’d have up to ten wells radiating horizontally for distances of up to six miles from the bottom of this hole – what we call a pad. The derrick would be gone. All that would be left would be a bunch of tanks and a small building at the wellhead. There’d be miles between each pad. If you were standing here, you’d be lucky to spot another one.’
Drilling through more than 8,000ft of rock at a test-drilling site in Lancashire

Drilling through more than 8,000ft of rock at a test-drilling site in Lancashire. It is no exaggeration to state that shale gas could transform the prospects for the entire British economy

Cuadrilla, an independent British company formed in 2007 whose backers include the former BP chairman Lord Browne, was awarded gas-exploration rights to a rectangular 750-square-mile licence area, running east from Fleetwood on Morecambe Bay to the Forest of Bowland, and down to a line near Southport.

According to Peter Turner, Cuadrilla’s geologist, this one shale ‘sub-basin’ contains about 200 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Even if only ten per cent turns out to be commercially recoverable this would still be enough to meet Britain’s gas supply needs for around 15 years. In time it may be enough to offset the rapid decline in gas from the North Sea, and to remove any need for imports.

Cuadrilla’s forecast, based on analysis at two test sites and results from earlier ‘dry’ holes made by firms which were looking for conventional oil and gas, is scientific and credible, says Nigel Smith of the British Geological Survey. But it is also only the beginning.

‘The Lancashire licence area is just one part of a shale formation of a similar type that stretches across the Pennines to Lincolnshire, north through to Yorkshire, then up to Teesside and Northumbria. It’s also found in the Scottish Midlands valley,’ says Smith.

Still more lies beneath South Wales, near Bristol, and in Somerset.

‘There’s a huge amount more, at least four times as much, offshore,’ he adds.

It is no exaggeration to state that shale gas could transform the prospects for the entire British economy – turning the country into a major energy exporter for many decades, reducing costs to consumers, and attracting new industry through abundant cheap power.

‘We don’t want any subsidies. This is a sustainable business’, says Vaughan.

Shale gas production could create thousands of jobs directly, and provide many billions in tax revenue – as it is already doing in Texas, Pennsylvania and several other states in America.

It could also fill the looming black hole in Britain’s electricity generating capacity, the result of old coal and nuclear power stations being decommissioned: burnt in modern ‘combined cycle’ plants, shale gas plants would emit only 37 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced by their coal- or oil-fired predecessors.
The drill as seen from the surrounding cauliflower field

The drill as seen from the surrounding cauliflower field. Shale gas production could create thousands of jobs directly, and provide many billions in tax revenue

One such plant is currently being built at a cost of £500 million at Hoo St Werburgh in Kent. It will produce 1,000MW, enough to power a quarter of the homes in London.

The second vision is taking shape at the end of the Thames Estuary, where the foundations are being laid for the 217 turbines of the London Array, the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

Covering 90 square miles, this too will have the capacity to generate 1GW (one billion watts). The turbines’ construction has been priced at £2 billion, four times as much as the Kentish gas plant, although this does not include the cost – perhaps a further £500 million – of connecting them to the National Grid, via 300 miles of undersea high-voltage cables.

Without the labyrinthine system of ‘green’ taxes and Government subsidies known as the Renewables Obligation, which is already adding an estimated £100 to the cost of every British household’s electricity bill, and an average 20 per cent to the charges paid by businesses, the wind farm could never be built, because it would be hopelessly uneconomic.

As well as being more expensive, the turbines will not last nearly as long: about 20 years, half the time of the gas-fired power station.

A gas plant, moreover, will produce electricity 24 hours day; the turbines won’t. British windmills can be expected to generate power only 27 per cent of the time. That figure falls to just ten per cent in the calm conditions of a bitter Arctic high, such as that which covered the entire UK, causing record low temperatures, for several weeks last December.

However, this is the vision supported by many environmentalists and the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne. And there is a large and vociferous body of opinion that wants Lancashire’s gas to stay in the ground – forever.

So who’s right?

For an answer we need to look at what has happened in the United States. In the past five years shale gas production there has risen from one per cent to 20 per cent, while prices have fallen dramatically. Shale gas fields, among them the booming Marcellus field under Pennsylvania and New York states have brought employment, tax income and wealth, as well as reducing the need for energy imports.

Overall, the effect of the discovery of an estimated 3,000 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale is transforming the U.S. energy economy, a development with important geopolitical consequences.

The Congressional Research Service recently estimated that America now has the biggest fossil fuel reserves in the world – more than Saudi Arabia, Iraq or China. The wholesale price of gas has roughly halved, to about $6 per thousand cubic feet – against $10.5 in Britain. As recently as 2003, America was building port facilities to cope with gas imports. They may now be used to send gas from shale abroad. And the same could happen here.

A few highly publicised incidents have caused concern among some environmental groups in the U.S., though.

‘Every method of producing energy carries risks,’ comments Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

Coal mines trap and kill workers; oil rigs blow up; nuclear plants succumb to tsunamis.

In Norway, wind farm blades have wiped out whole colonies of Europe’s largest bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle, and the giant offshore farms now planned – some of which will be 600ft high – may be still more devastating to avian life. Set against this, how do the risks of shale fracking compare?

One of the most controversial issues has been the use of chemicals in the ‘fracking fluid’, the water used to open the fissures in the shale, about a third of which will eventually flow back up the well to the surface.

Some U.S. firms have been reluctant to disclose the substances used, inviting the charge that underground aquifers and rivers may become polluted. In one notorious incident in the town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Marcellus field, fracking fluid leaked into several households’ private wells.

‘But that was because the company wasn’t using proper pipe lining,’ says Chris Carney, who has lived in Dimock for most of his life and until last year represented the town and surrounding district as a Democratic member of the U.S Congress.

‘There was a row of houses along one of the local roads which had their wells polluted, so I guess they’re having to get water from somewhere else. But if it’s done right, fracking has little impact.’

In contrast to the leaky well in Dimock, Cuadrilla’s holes in Lancashire come with a thick, multiple-layer cement lining.

‘In engineering terms, you could say that’s overkill,’ says Cuadrilla’s Eric Vaughan.

A recent study by Duke University shows that in wells built to a similar standard, no leaks of water or gas have taken place.

As for the additive to the fracking fluid, Vaughan says, ‘We use only one chemical – 0.4 gallons per 1,000 gallons of water of polyacrylamide, a substance which makes water less sticky’.

Classed officially as a ‘non-hazardous chemical’, this is also used in drinking-water treatment plants and soft contact lenses. But in Lancashire, he insists, the fluid will not leak. The local drinking water aquifers lie more than 7,000ft above the level where fracking would take place.


Obama, Liberals, And Destructive Energy “Policies”

“Energy independence.” Doesn’t that sound like a great idea? Unfortunately, in the era of Barack Obama the goal of enabling the United States to meet its own energy needs has been subverted by some very destructive politics.

First, the term “energy independence” has been confused with the term “green energy.” While some people use the two expressions synonymously, the Obama Administration has gradually phased-out references to “energy independence” and moved towards “green energy” references exclusively.

This language shift from the Obama Administration raises some important questions: are we no longer seeking to become “energy independent?” And if we are still seeking “energy independence,” what is it, exactly, that we are trying to become independent from?

Since the days of the Nixon presidency most Americans have recognized the many problems associated with being dependent on foreign oil suppliers. And it was nearly six years ago when George W. Bush became the first U.S. President to proclaim that “America is addicted to oil.”

But now President Barack Obama seems to have determined that our problem isn’t so much “foreign oil,” but oil itself. His Administration has sought to force the nation away from consuming all types of oil – both foreign and domestic –and to move us in the direction of his environmentally preferred “green” energy sources.

Unfortunately, the President has approached energy policy just as he approaches most everything else – with the naïve assumption that as long as lots of government programs and mandates are established, the agenda will be accomplished and all will go well. Thus billions of our tax dollars have been handed-out in “loans” and “grants” to everything from solar panel manufacturers to electric car makers in Europe, while nearly all of the recipients have been “personal friends” of the President and people who are working for his re-election.

Further complicating things is the fact that since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has insisted on co-mingling our nation’s need for new energy resources, with our nation’s more immediate need to expand the employment sector of the economy. Thus we have become accustomed to President Obama’s concept of “green jobs” - which is a politically driven attempt to collapse two important and separate policy agendas in to one.

But just because Barack Obama says “let there be green energy jobs,” doesn’t mean that jobs will be created (and what exactly constitutes a “green job,” anyway?). Again the President’s undying confidence in the his power to create new realities has been obliterated by the fact that technological breakthroughs take time, involve “trial and error,” and require lots of “research and development” – none of which necessarily expedites job creation.

As if all this isn’t confounding enough, liberal activist groups across the U.S. have for the past year been taking direct aim at a private sector effort to reduce America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East, and other global regions. The Kearl Oil Sands project is a North American oil drilling effort in the Canadian Province of Alberta, and promises job creation for both Canada and the U.S. – but American liberals seem intent on destroying the project.

In the works since 1997, the project kicked-in to high gear twelve months ago with both the Conoco Phillips and Exxon-Mobil corporations delivering oil drilling equipment to Lewiston, a tiny inland port in northern Idaho that is accessible to small vessels from the Pacific Ocean. From there the drilling equipment gets trucked eastward into Montana, then north in to Alberta, where it is set up in preparation for what promises to be a robust new oil resource right here on our own continent.

The project has already created economic opportunity in the Mountain West states. Yet liberal activists have sought to hinder the plan at every turn.

For over a year, radical environmentalists have been filing law suits in both Montana and Idaho courts to try to prevent the big rig trucks from hauling the oil drilling equipment, and In some cases they have gathered on the highways to block the traffic - literally, physically, standing on the roads and at times laying-down on the roads - to prevent the trucks from rolling.

It does not matter that real "everyday" American men and women -moms and dads, sons and daughters, husband and wives - provide themselves and their dependents with food, healthcare, and housing by operating trucks and truck stops. The trucks are “aiding and abetting” the evil oil industry, so far as the liberal activists are concerned, so they have sought to do everything imaginable to deter the effort.

Fortunately the Kearl Oil Sands project has been moving forward, but not without costly delays, expensive legal fees, and near-constant opposition, as the companies are forced to fight in court just to keep the trucks rolling on Montana and Idaho interstates.

As the U.S. remains dependent and vulnerable to foreign oil barons, liberal Americans seem intent on holding us hostage to the status quo. Real “independence” will begin when we vote ourselves a “regime change” in 2012.



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, October 30, 2011

Increased illness due to warming?

I do a terrible, wicked thing when I read press reports about scientific findings that surprise me. I look up the original journal article that the report is based on! Doing so very often gives me a chuckle. In the present case, I was surpised to hear how very ill I and my family must have been as we grew up in the very warm weather of the tropics. And, true to expectation the journal abstract behind the report below is amusing. It reveals something you would never guess from the article.

Excerpt: "A total of 211,697 inpatient BSIs were reported during 9,423 hospital-months. Adjusting for long-term trends, BSIs caused by each Gram-negative organism examined were more frequent in summer months compared with winter months, with increases ranging from 12.2% for E. coli (95% CI 9.2–15.4) to 51.8% for Acinetobacter (95% CI 41.1–63.2). Summer season was associated with 8.7% fewer Enterococcus BSIs (95% CI 11.0–5.8) and no significant change in S. aureus BSI frequency relative to winter."

In other words, some types of infection rose but other types FELL during summer. So conclusions about a systematic effect of warming are unjustified

What makes hospital-acquired infections so intractable? There’s no question that some of the organisms that cause them are tricky: MRSA hangs out on the skin and and in the nostrils, and E. coli resides in the gut, making it easy for them to be carried into hospitals undetected. Hospital workers’ poor performance on hand-washing is well-documented. And recently, researchers have begun to wonder whether hospitals have missed an opportunity by not emphasizing environmental cleaning —- of rooms, computers and equipment, for instance -— given how persistently some bacteria can linger.

A new paper in PLoS One, though, says there’s another factor contributing to the problem, one that has missed consideration until now: weather. An 8-year study of infection data from 132 hospitals finds that as outside temperatures rise, in-hospital infections with some of the most problematic pathogens rise also.

The analysis is a warning to healthcare institutions to be additionally on guard when it is warm outside. But the authors say it’s also a warning to the rest of us: If global climate change raises ambient temperatures, it could increase the likelihood of deadly hospital infections as well.

The study — by researchers from the University of Iowa, University of Maryland, Princeton University and the nonprofit Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy — used a privately maintained national database of almost 212,000 clinical bloodstream cultures taken between Jan. 1999 and Sept. 2006. It plotted the infections’ incidence against data on mean temperature and dew point and total precipitation from the US National Climate Data Center. It accounted for the potentially confounding effect of seasonal variation in hospital admissions.

And it found: From winter to summer, Gram-negative bacteria, the most problematic hospital pathogens, rose anywhere from slightly to dramatically. E. coli infections rose 12.2 percent; Pseudomonas infections rose 28.1 percent; Klebsiella infections rose 28.6 percent; and Acinetobacter infections rose 51.8 percent.

Moreover, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit rise in mean temperature, there was a rise in infections with those same Gram-negatives. The increase varied from 3.5 percent for E. coli to 10.8 percent for Acinetobacter, independent of any changes in the season, the humidity or amounts of precipitation. Changes in temperature also affected S. aureus and MRSA, but much less: Those infections rose 2.2 percent for every 10-degree change.


Global warming strikes again!

Early snow storm wreaks havoc on US East coast

SNOW and icy rain has pelted the US east coast, with forecasters warning the "historic early season'' storm could dump up to a foot (30cm) of snow in some areas.

The rare October snowstorm was wreaking havoc on air and road traffic from Washington to Boston, with the National Weather Service warning that travel at night would be "extremely hazardous.''

Air travellers were seeing an average delay of six hours on flights to and from Newark International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Similar problems were affecting New York's Kennedy international airport.

Forecasters issued a winter storm warning for large parts of the northeast, predicting heavy snow, freezing temperatures and strong winds with gusts up to 60 miles per hour (100 km/ph).

Up to a foot of snow was expected in parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, the weather service said. In Manhattan, forecasters said up to 10 inches (25cm) could fall.

Trees that have yet to shed their leaves toppled from the weight of the snow and knocked out power to thousands of homes, the National Weather Service said.

Unseasonably cold air was pouring into the northeast, and deep tropical moisture was set to surge northward along the east coast and "fuel an expanding area of heavy rain and snow''.

Much of the region was socked in August by Hurricane Irene, whose heavy rains and wind left millions without power, destroyed homes and caused record flooding. More than 40 people died.


Consensus? What consensus?

There is a consensus that global warming is not happening but no consensus about why

There is a news release by Paul Voosen on Greenwire titled

Provoked scientists try to explain lag in global warming (Tuesday, October 25, 2011)

There are some interesting quotes from climate scientists in this article that highlight a large degree of uncertainty with respect to the climate system, and the human role in it, even among scientists closely involved with the IPCC reports. The long article focuses on the question

‘Why, despite steadily accumulating greenhouse gases, did the rise of the planet’s temperature stall for the past decade?”

Interesting quotes and text {rearranged to order the persons’ quoted; I highly recommend reading the entire article include [highlight added]:

From John Barnes [Barnes's specialty is measuring stratospheric aerosols].

If you look at the last decade of global temperature, it’s not increasing,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot of scatter to it. But the [climate] models go up. And that has to be explained. Why didn’t we warm up?”

Barnes has kept a lonely watch for 20 years [at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii]. Driving the winding, pothole-strewn road to this government-run lab, he has spent evening after evening waiting for the big one. His specialty is measuring stratospheric aerosols, reflective particles caused by volcanoes that are known to temporarily cool the planet. Only the most violent volcanic eruptions are able to loft emissions above the clouds, scientists thought, and so Barnes, after building the laser, waited for his time.

To this day, there hasn’t been a major volcanic eruption since 1991, when Mount Pinatubo scorched the Philippines, causing the Earth to cool by about a half degree for several years. But Barnes diligently monitored this radio silence, identifying the background level of particles in the stratosphere. And then, sitting in his prefab lab four years ago, not far from where Charles Keeling first made his historic measure of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, Barnes saw something odd in his aerosol records.

Barnes laments the boggling complexity of separating all the small forcings on the climate. It makes Charles Keeling’s careful work identifying rising CO2 levels seem downright simple.

“It’s really subtle,” he said. “It’s hard to track how much is going into the oceans, because the oceans are soaking up some of the heat. And in a lot of places the measurements just aren’t accurate enough. We do have satellites that can measure the energy budget, but there’s still assumptions there. There’s assumptions about the oceans, because we don’t have a whole lot of measurements in the ocean.”

From Jean-Paul Vernier

Five years ago, a balloon released over Saharan sands changed Jean-Paul Vernier’s life.

Climbing above the baked sand of Niger, the balloon, rigged to catch aerosols, the melange of natural and man-made particles suspended in the atmosphere, soared above the clouds and into the stratosphere. There, Vernier expected to find clear skies; after all, there had been no eruption like Pinatubo for more than a decade. But he was wrong. Twelve miles up, the balloon discovered a lode of aerosols.

Vernier had found one slice of the trend identified by Barnes at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It was astonishing. Where could these heat-reflecting aerosols be originating? Vernier was unsure, but Barnes and his team hazarded a guess when announcing their finding. It was, they suggested, a rapidly increasing activity in China that has drawn plenty of alarm.

A French scientist who moved to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia to study aerosols, Vernier, like Barnes, turned toward a laser to understand these rogue sulfates. But rather than using a laser lashed to the ground, he used a laser in space.

The same year as the Niger balloon campaign, NASA had launched a laser-equipped satellite aimed at observing aerosols among the clouds. Vernier and his peers suspected, with enough algorithmic ingenuity, that they could get the laser, CALIPSO, to speak clearly about the stratosphere. The avalanche of data streaming out of the satellite was chaotic — too noisy for Barnes’ taste, when he took a look — but several years on, Vernier had gotten a hold of it. He had found an answer.

Mostly, the aerosols didn’t seem to be China’s fault.

From Kevin Trenberth

The hiatus [in warming] was not unexpected. Variability in the climate can suppress rising temperatures temporarily, though before this decade scientists were uncertain how long such pauses could last. In any case, one decade is not long enough to say anything about human effects on climate; as one forthcoming paper lays out, 17 years is required.

For some scientists, chalking the hiatus up to the planet’s natural variability was enough. Temperatures would soon rise again, driven up inexorably by the ever-thickening blanket thrown on the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. People would forget about it.

But for others, this simple answer was a failure. If scientists were going to attribute the stall to natural variability, they faced a burden to explain, in a precise way, how this variation worked. Without evidence, their statements were no better than the unsubstantiated theories circulated by climate skeptics on the Internet.

“It has always bothered me,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Natural variability is not a cause. One has to say what aspect of natural variability.”

Until 2003, scientists had a reasonable understanding where the sun’s trapped heat was going; it was reflected in rising sea levels and temperatures. Since then, however, heat in the upper ocean has barely increased and the rate of sea level rise slowed, while data from a satellite monitoring incoming and outgoing heat — the Earth’s energy budget — found that an ever increasing amount of energy should be trapped on the planet. (Some scientists question relying on this satellite data too heavily, since the observed energy must be drastically revised downward, guided by climate models.) Given this budget ostensibly included the solar cycle and aerosols, something was missing.

Where was the heat going? Trenberth repeated the question time and again.

Recently, working with Gerald Meehl and others, Trenberth proposed one answer. In a paper published last month, they put forward a climate model showing that decade-long pauses in temperature rise, and its attendant missing energy, could arise by the heat sinking into the deep, frigid ocean waters, more than 2,000 feet down. The team used a new model, one prepared for the next U.N. climate assessment; unlike past models, it handles the Pacific’s variability well, which ”seems to be important,” Trenberth said.

“In La Niña, the colder sea surface temperatures in the Pacific mean there is less convective action there — fewer tropical storms, etc., and less clouds, but thus more sun,” he said. “The heat goes into the ocean but gets moved around by the ocean currents. So ironically colder conditions lead to more heat being sequestered.”

It is a compelling illustration of how natural variability, at least in this model, could overcome the influence of increasing greenhouse gases for a decade or more, several scientists said. However, according to one prominent researcher — NASA’s Hansen — it’s a search for an answer that doesn’t need to be solved.

That is because, according to Hansen, there is no missing energy.

Trenberth questions whether the Argo measurements are mature enough to tell as definite a story as Hansen lays out. He has seen many discrepancies among analyses of the data, and there are still “issues of missing and erroneous data and calibration,” he said. The Argo floats are valuable, he added, but “they’re not there yet.”

From Susan Solomon

“What’s really been exciting to me about this last 10-year period is that it has made people think about decadal variability much more carefully than they probably have before,” said Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist and former lead author of the United Nations’ climate change report, during a recent visit to MIT. “And that’s all good. There is no silver bullet. In this case, it’s four pieces or five pieces of silver buckshot.”

Already Solomon had shown that between 2000 and 2009, the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere declined by about 10 percent. This decline, caused either by natural variability — perhaps related to El Niño — or as a feedback to climate change, likely countered 25 percent of the warming that would have been caused by rising greenhouse gases. (Some scientists have found that estimate to be high.) Now, another dynamic seemed to be playing out above the clouds.

In a paper published this summer, Solomon, Vernier and others brought these discrete facts to their conclusion, estimating that these aerosols caused a cooling trend of 0.07 degrees Celsius over the past decade. Like the water vapor, it was not a single answer, but it was a small player. These are the type of low-grade influences that future climate models will have to incorporate, Livermore’s Santer said.

Solomon was surprised to see Vernier’s work. She remembered the Soufrière eruption, thinking “that one’s never going to make it into the stratosphere.” The received wisdom then quickly changed. ”You can actually see that all these little eruptions, which we thought didn’t matter, were mattering,” she said.

From Jim Hansen

These revelations are prompting the science’s biggest names to change their views.

Indeed, the most important outcome from the energy hunt may be that researchers are chronically underestimating air pollution’s reflective effect, said NASA’s James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Recent data has forced him to revise his views on how much of the sun’s energy is stored in the oceans, committing the planet to warming. Instead, he says, air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.

It was in no “way affected by the nonsensical statements of contrarians,” Hansen said. “These are fundamental matters that the science has always been focused on. The problem has been the absence of [scientific] observations.”

NASA’s Hansen disputes that worry about skeptics drove climate scientists to ignore the sun’s climate influence. His team, he said, has “always included solar forcing based on observations and Judith’s estimates for the period prior to accurate observations.”

“That makes the sun a bit more important, because the solar variability modulates the net planetary energy imbalance,” Hansen said. “But the solar forcing is too small to make the net imbalance negative, i.e., solar variations are not going to cause global cooling.”

“Unfortunately, when we focus on volcanic aerosol forcing, solar forcing and stratospheric water vapor changes, it is a case of looking for our lost keys under the streetlight,” Hansen said. “What we need to look at is the tropospheric aerosol forcing, but it is not under the street light.”

“I suspect that there has been increased aerosols with the surge in coal use over the past half decade or so,” he said. “There is semi-quantitative evidence of that in the regions where it is expected. Unfortunately, the problem is that we are not measuring aerosols well enough to determine their forcing and how it is changing.”

More fundamentally, the Argo probe data has prompted Hansen to revise his understanding of how the climate works in a fundamental way, a change he lays out in a sure-to-be-controversial paper to be published later this year.

For decades, scientists have known that most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases was going into the ocean, not the atmosphere; as a result, even if emissions stopped tomorrow, they said, the atmosphere would continue to warm as it sought balance with the overheated oceans. In a term Hansen coined, this extra warming would be “in the pipeline,” its effects lingering for years and years. But exactly how much warming would be in the pipeline depended on how efficiently heat mixed down into the oceans.

Hansen now believes he has an answer: All the climate models, compared to the Argo data and a tracer study soon to be released by several NASA peers, exaggerate how efficiently the ocean mixes heat into its recesses. Their unanimity in this efficient mixing could be due to some shared ancestry in their code. Whatever the case, it means that climate models have been overestimating the amount of energy in the climate, seeking to match the surface warming that would occur with efficient oceans. They were solving a problem, Hansen says, that didn’t exist.

At first glance, this could easily sound like good news, if true. But it’s not.

“Less efficient mixing, other things being equal, would mean that there is less warming ‘in the pipeline,’” Hansen said. “But it also implies that the negative aerosol forcing is probably larger than most models assumed. So the Faustian aerosol bargain is probably more of a problem than had been assumed.”

From John Daniel [a researcher at the Earth System Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]

When the record came in 1998, though, scientists faltered. It’s a pattern often seen with high temperatures. They cut out too much nuance, said John Daniel, a researcher at the Earth System Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We make a mistake, anytime the temperature goes up, you imply this is due to global warming,” he said. “If you make a big deal about every time it goes up, it seems like you should make a big deal about every time it goes down.”

From Ben Santer

For a decade, that’s exactly what happened. Skeptics made exaggerated claims about “global cooling,” pointing to 1998. (For one representative example, two years ago columnist George Will referred to 1998 as warming’s “apogee.”) Scientists had to play defense, said Ben Santer, a climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“This no-warming-since-1998 discussion has prompted people to think about the why and try to understand the why,” Santer said. “But it’s also prompted people to correct these incorrect claims.”

“Susan’s stuff is particularly important,” Santer said. “Even if you have the hypothetical perfect model, if you leave out the wrong forcings, you will get the wrong answer.”

From Judith Lean

The answer to the hiatus, according to Judith Lean, is all in the stars. Or rather, one star.

Only recently have climate modelers followed how that 0.1 percent can influence the world’s climate over decade-long spans. (According to best estimates, it gooses temperatures by 0.1 degrees Celsius.) Before then, the sun, to quote the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, got no respect, according to Lean, a voluble solar scientist working out of the the space science division of the Naval Research Laboratory, a radar-bedecked facility tucked away down in the southwest tail of Washington, D.C.

Climate models failed to reflect the sun’s cyclical influence on the climate and “that has led to a sense that the sun isn’t a player,” Lean said. “And that they have to absolutely prove that it’s not a player.”

According to Lean, the combination of multiple La Niñas and the solar minimum, bottoming out for an unusually extended time in 2008 from its peak in 2001, are all that’s needed to cancel out the increased warming from rising greenhouse gases. Now that the sun has begun to gain in activity again, Lean suspects that temperatures will rise in parallel as the sun peaks around 2014.

This consistent trend has prompted Lean to take a rare step for a climate scientist: She’s made a short-term prediction. By 2014, she projects global surface temperatures to increase by 0.14 degrees Celsius, she says, driven by human warming and the sun.

More HERE (See the original for links)

The outstanding hypocrisy and lack of standards at "Nature" magazine

A comment by Nigel Calder below on a matter I used as my lead post on 27th

As a science writer I’m well used to picking my way through the minefield of embargoes on papers not yet published. I know, too, of possible risks to scientists as well as journalists, when quoting from preprints or even reporting results presented at a conference. Publication can be cancelled.

You’d expect clear guidance from leading journals on that subject. How bewildering then, to read an editorial “Scientific climate” in today’s Nature (vol. 478, p. 428). It’s on the subject of the Berkeley Earth / Richard Muller furore noted in my recent posts. The editorial’s sub-heading is: "Results confirming climate change are welcome, even when released before peer review."

… Where “climate change” is to be understood, I suppose, as “catastrophic manmade global warming”. Other points from the editorial are, as I construe them:
The welcome is the stronger because the Muller results can be used against the Republicans in the USA.

But Muller really should not have publicised his work as he did.

Muller is wrong to claim that Science and Nature forbid the discussion of unpublished results – Nature only opposes pre-publicity.

All that said, it was fine for physicists to give pre-publicity to apparent evidence of neutrinos travelling faster than light.

What on earth does all that mean, to scientists and journalists who are just trying to tell their stories promptly? Here are three extracts from Nature’s instructions to authors concerning embargoes, which can be seen in full here
“Material submitted to Nature journals must not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media no more than a week before the publication date under our embargo conditions. We reserve the right to halt the consideration or publication of a paper if this condition is broken.”

“The benefits of peer review as a means of giving journalists confidence in new work published in journals are self-evident. Premature release to the media denies journalists that confidence. It also removes journalists’ ability to obtain informed reactions about the work from independent researchers in the field.”

“… communicate with other researchers as much as you wish, whether on a recognised community preprint server, on Nature Precedings, by discussion at scientific meetings (publication of abstracts in conference proceedings is allowed), in an academic thesis, or by online collaborative sites such as wikis; but do not encourage premature publication by discussion with the press (beyond a formal presentation, if at a conference).”

What the new editorial means, in my opinion, is that the politicisation of science has now penetrated right through to the workaday rituals of publication. On no account must you publicise your new work prematurely, unless you do it to bash the climate sceptics or the Republican Party or supporters of Special Relativity or anyone else the editors happen to dislike today. In that case they’ll forgive you.


How junk science is done: Start with a bogus model and fiddle with the parameters until you get the desired answer

From: "Global warming: Middle East's vital wet winters are disappearing -"
The team estimates that average precipitation from November through April in the region between 1971 and 2010 fell 6.8 percent below the average from 1902 to 1970.

The team began the hunt for causes.
...The team began using computer models to assess the effect of this ocean warming on the Mediterranean's winter precipitation.

The team found that warming all the oceans by a uniform 0.5 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) would dry out the eastern Mediterranean.

But the oceans haven't warmed uniformly. The greatest warming has come to tropical oceans. So the team focused next on warming the tropical oceans uniformly in their virtual world. The team got a Mediterranean-wide drying and a wetter northern Europe.

Still, neither of these experiments produced the strong positive North Atlantic Oscillation-like signal with enhanced drying to the south and heavier precipitation to the north.

But by adding another 0.5 degrees C to the Indian Ocean alone, model produced the strong north-south differences in precipitation associated with a positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Comment on Overfitting:

With four parameters I can fit an elephant and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk -- John von Neumann


British government subsidy cut pulls plug on solar panels

Homeowners who decide to save money by generating their own renewable energy for the National Grid are to lose almost half their Government subsidy, prematurely published documents suggested yesterday.

Drastic cuts to the feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar power, the guaranteed income to anyone who installs working solar panels in their roof, are likely to be announced by the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, on Monday.

And the precise level of the cut – from 43.3p per kilowatt hour of solar electricity to just 21p – appeared to be made clear yesterday in a document inadvertently published on the website of the Energy Saving Trust, the public advice body, and quickly taken down.

Although the Department for Energy and Climate Change said later that the published document was "neither final nor accurate", the swingeing 50 per cent cut in the subsidy it revealed was in linewith what observers have been expecting.

The feed-in tariff scheme, introduced 18 months ago, has been a huge success and has led to 100,000 households installing solar power.

This is because the levels on return on a typical £10,000 investment have been very generous, at about seven per cent per annum – far in excess of rates that can be found in the banks.

This has sparked a mini-solar boom, and from fewer than 500 companies employing about 3,000 people before the FIT was introduced, there are now 3,000 companies with a 25,000 workforce, which has been predicted to expand to 360,000 by 2020.

Yet the Government has become nervous of the subsidy's cost, as it is paid not from the Treasury but by a levy on household electricity bills – an increasingly sensitive subject – and wants to limit it.

Although it has been expected that the FIT level would drop as the cost of solar installation itself drops – it has come down 30 per cent in the time of the subsidy – the likely high level of the cut to be announced on Monday is dismaying the solar professionals.

"Coming from a Government that said it would be the greenest ever, this is completely misguided and will be a devastating blow for the solar industry," said Howard Johns of Solar Trade Association.

"Solar installation will be limited to a few rich people, and all the installation going on in solar housing will stop. Hundreds of companies will go bankrupt."



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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Warmist Muller's actual data are more consistent with him being a skeptic

CO2 rose at an unprecedented record rate over the last decade, and temperatures went down. By contrast, from 1910 to 1940 temperatures rose very fast while CO2 hardly increased at all.

So the BEST data Proves That Muller Is A Skeptic


Pesky Bering sea not warming

It's got a mysterious and unexpected "cold pool"

As scientists observed climate warming in the Bering Sea, they suspected valuable commercial fish species such as Pacific cod and walleye pollock would move north toward the Bering Strait and into the Arctic Ocean.

But that's likely decades off, according to one surprising result from a study of the sea north of the Aleutian Islands.

Scientists say a pool of cold water in the northern Bering Sea has been a locked door to the northward migration of pollock and cod, the fish harvested for America's fish sticks and fast food sandwiches.

"Our original hypothesis was wrong, and we think they won't have habitat to occupy northward in the northern Bering Sea," said Mike Sigler of Juneau, a marine biologist with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Water along the ocean floor where pollock live has been kept cold by the layer of sea ice that forms every winter on the surface of the northern Bering Sea. That ice is expected to persist even with climate warming. Cold water sets up below the ice layer and remains cold throughout the summer.

"What it looks like at the moment is that the northern Bering Sea — and north to us is north of St. Matthew Island — looks like it is going to stay cold," said physical oceanographer Phyllis Stabeno of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Sigler and Stabeno are two of more than 100 principal investigators taking part in a $52 million study of the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem. Supported by the National Science Foundation and the North Pacific Research Board, scientists are focusing on creatures from plankton to walrus.

"We're in the analysis and synthesis stage to complete the project," Sigler said, of the study that began in 2007..

Commercial fishermen in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands this year were allowed to catch 1.27 million metric tons (2.8 billion pounds) of pollock, and nearly 228,000 metric tons (510 million pounds) of Pacific cod.

Researchers had documented sub-arctic species including cod and pollock moving north within the Bering and assumed that would continue, until the discovery of the cold pool.

"The hypothesis that we had worked with for years was that as warming occurs, the Bering Sea would kind of warm uniformly," Stabeno said, meaning that fish species would move north. And that would have complicated matters for the commercial fishing fleet, increasing calls for a Coast Guard base, a deep water port and other infrastructure in northwest Alaska, which has remained remote because it's covered by ice so much of the year.

Temperature readings collected for more than a decade from fixed buoys and from cruises show an environment that remains inhospitable to pollock, cod and arrowtooth flounder, which do not like temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The key is ice cover, which forms in the Bering Sea in December or January.

"In a cold year, like 2010, it will cover basically the whole eastern shelf," Stabeno said. "That's that broad area that's less than 200 meters (656 feet) deep. It stays until March, April. In the north, it stays until even into June sometimes.

Water below the ice chills to minus 1.73 degrees Celsius (28.9 degrees Fahrenheit), Stabeno said, the freezing point of seawater. In the north, after ice retreats in spring, a warm layer forms at the top that isolates cold water on the bottom.

The northern Bering Sea is hemmed in by Russia on the west and Alaska on the east, Stabeno said, likely contributing to colder water.


Romney morphing into a skeptic?

Mitt Romney is still trying to plant himself in the global warming skeptic camp. "My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet," the GOP presidential front-runner said Thursday during a fundraiser in Pittsburgh. "And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us."

The liberal blog Think Progress released a video here and a transcript of the exchange Friday.

Romney’s doubts about climate science — countering the widespread understanding that human activity and greenhouse gas emissions are a contributing factor to rises in global temperatures — have become a regular feature in his presidential campaign and represent a gradual rightward shift for someone who once considered putting a limit on power plant emissions.

In late August, as conservative lawmakers questioned his stance on the topic, Romney tried to align himself with those who dispute global warming science by questioning the role that humans play.

"Do I think the world's getting hotter? Yeah, I don't know that, but I think that it is," Romney said in New Hampshire, according to Reuters. "I don't know if it's mostly caused by humans."

Romney aides argued then that he wasn’t changing his position, noting that he’d made a similar case in his book "No Apology."

"I believe that climate change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore,” he wrote. “I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control."

But in June, Romney ignited a conservative firestorm when he seemed to walk a bit too close to the line.

"I don't speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," he said. "I can't prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.

"No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that," Romney continued. "I don't know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there's been periods of greater heat and warmth than in the past, but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you're seeing."

As Massachusetts governor, Romney in 2005 considered signing onto the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate cap-and-trade compact for power plant emissions. But he backed away from the program, citing a lack of economic safeguards.


America’s Worst Wind-Energy Project

Wind-energy proponents admit they need lots of spin to overwhelm the truly informed

The more people know about the wind-energy business, the less they like it. And when it comes to lousy wind deals, General Electric’s Shepherds Flat project in northern Oregon is a real stinker.

I’ll come back to the GE project momentarily. Before getting to that, please ponder that first sentence. It sounds like a claim made by an anti-renewable-energy campaigner. It’s not. Instead, that rather astounding admission was made by a communications strategist during a March 23 webinar sponsored by the American Council on Renewable Energy called “Speaking Out on Renewable Energy: Communications Strategies for the Renewable Energy Industry.”

During the webinar, Justin Rolfe-Redding, a doctoral student from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, discussed ways for wind-energy proponents to get their message out to the public. Rolfe-Redding said that polling data showed that “after reading arguments for and against wind, wind lost support.” He went on to say that concerns about wind energy’s cost and its effect on property values “crowded out climate change” among those surveyed.

The most astounding thing to come out of Rolfe-Redding’s mouth — and yes, I heard him say it myself — was this: “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.” After the briefings on the pros and cons of wind, said Rolfe-Redding, “enthusiasm decreased for wind. That’s a troubling finding.” The solution to these problems, said Rolfe-Redding, was to “weaken counterarguments” against wind as much as possible. He suggested using “inoculation theory” by telling people that “wind is a clean source, it provides jobs” and adding that “it’s an investment in the future.” He also said that proponents should weaken objections by “saying prices are coming down every day.”

It’s remarkable to see how similar the arguments being put forward by wind-energy proponents are to those that the Obama administration is using to justify its support of Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar company that got a $529 million loan guarantee from the federal government. But in some ways, the government support for the Shepherds Flat deal is worse than what happened with Solyndra.

The majority of the funding for the $1.9 billion, 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon is coming courtesy of federal taxpayers. And that largesse will provide a windfall for General Electric and its partners on the deal who include Google, Sumitomo, and Caithness Energy. Not only is the Energy Department giving GE and its partners a $1.06 billion loan guarantee, but as soon as GE’s 338 turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the Treasury Department will send the project developers a cash grant of $490 million.

The deal was so lucrative for the project developers that last October, some of Obama’s top advisers, including energy-policy czar Carol Browner and economic adviser Larry Summers, wrote a memo saying that the project’s backers had “little skin in the game” while the government would be providing “a significant subsidy (65+ percent).” The memo goes on to say that, while the project backers would only provide equity equal to about 11 percent of the total cost of the wind project, they would receive an “estimated return on equity of 30 percent.”

The memo continues, explaining that the carbon dioxide reductions associated with the project “would have to be valued at nearly $130 per ton for CO2 for the climate benefits to equal the subsidies.” The memo continues, saying that that per-ton cost is “more than 6 times the primary estimate used by the government in evaluating rules.”

The Obama administration’s loan guarantee for the now-bankrupt Solyndra has garnered lots of attention, but the Shepherds Flat deal is an even better example of corporate welfare. Several questions are immediately obvious:

First: Why, as Browner and Summers asked, is the federal government providing loan guarantees and subsidies for an energy project that could easily be financed by GE, which has a market capitalization of about $170 billion?

Second: Why is the Obama administration providing subsidies to GE, which paid little or no federal income taxes last year even though it generated some $5.1 billion in profits from its U.S. operations?

Third: How is it that GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, can be the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness while his company is paying little or no federal income taxes? That question is particularly germane as the president never seems to tire of bashing the oil and gas industry for what he claims are the industry’s excessive tax breaks.

Over the past year, according to Yahoo! Finance, the average electric utility’s return on equity has been 7.1 percent. Thus, taxpayer money is helping GE and its partners earn more than four times the average return on equity in the electricity business.

A few months ago, I ran into Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy. I asked him why Duke — which has about 14,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity — was investing in wind9energy projects. The answer, said Rogers forthrightly, was simple: The subsidies available for wind projects allow Duke to earn returns on equity of 17 to 22 percent.

In other words, for all of the bragging by the wind-industry proponents about the rapid growth in wind-generation capacity, the main reason that capacity is growing is that companies such as GE and Duke are able to goose their profits by putting up turbines so they can collect subsidies from taxpayers.

There are other reasons to dislike the Shepherds Flat project: It’s being built in Oregon to supply electricity to customers in Southern California. That’s nothing new. According to the Energy Information Administration, “California imports more electricity from other states than any other state.” Heaven forbid that consumers in the Golden State would have to actually live near a power plant, refinery, or any other industrial facility. And by building the wind project in Oregon, electricity consumers in California are only adding to the electricity congestion problems that have been plaguing the region served by the Bonneville Power Authority.

Earlier this year, the BPA was forced to curtail electricity generated by wind projects in the area because a near-record spring runoff had dramatically increased the amount of power generated by the BPA’s dams. In other words, Shepherds Flat is adding yet more wind turbines to a region that has been overwhelmed this year by excess electrical generation capacity from renewables. And that region will now have to spending huge sums of money building new transmission capacity to export its excess electricity.

Finally, there’s the question of the jobs being created by the new wind project. In 2009, when GE and Caithness announced the Shepherds Flat deal, CNN Money reported that the project would create 35 permanent jobs. And in an April 2011 press release issued by GE on the Shepherds Flat project, one of GE’s partners in the deal said they were pleased to be bringing “green energy jobs to our economy.”

How much will those “green energy” jobs cost? Well, if we ignore the value of the federal loan guarantee and only focus on the $490 million cash grant that will be given to GE and its partners when Shepherds Flat gets finished, the cost of those “green energy” jobs will be about $16.3 million each.

As Rolfe-Redding said, the more people know about the wind business, the less they like it.


More than two children is unethical? The old Zero Population Growth movement rides again

Check out the ethics of people-hating. In its white paper on “The Ethical Implications of Population Growth“, Population Matters states,
3. Reproductive ethics: It is also a fact that if two people with two living children have a third child, they will ratchet up the population of the planet, and thus: ratchet up damage to the environment; bring nearer the day of serious ecological failure; and ratchet down everyone else’s share of dwindling natural resources to cope with this. So individual decisions to create a whole extra lifetime of impacts affect everyone else (including their own children) – far more than any other environmentally damaging decision they make. We need to be aware of the ethical implications of having large families; and sex education in schools should include it.

That drastic population shrinking in the developed world is now underway seems to have escaped their notice


Australia: Farmers in green protesters' sights next as fight against mining escalates

FRUSTRATION: Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the industry was frustrated with the contradictions of the State Government over mining exploration. Picture: Nathan Richter Source: The Courier-Mail

THE Federal Government has told environmental activists to get out of the way of mining and warned farmers are likely to be the next target of green protests.

But the State Government has also felt the wrath of the mining industry, with a survey showing that the worst thing about doing business in Queensland was dealing with the Bligh Government.

All those who stood in the way of mining faced a fierce attack yesterday, as more than 400 mining delegates gathered for the launch of the industry's scorecard in Brisbane.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told the function he accepted legitimate concerns about coal seam gas but environmental activists had to get out of the way of legitimate mining activity.

"Fundamentally, many of these groups are against economic development in all its forms and once they have moved on from protesting against CSG, they could very well have farmers in their sights as their next target over water access," Mr Ferguson said yesterday.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the industry was frustrated with the contradictions of the State Government.

He said they wanted the Government to become a leader in exploration but then it "turns around and declares more than 23,000sq km of southeast Queensland off-limits to exploration".

Mr Roche also took on the anti-mining lobby, claiming that the public was being fed a constant diet of inaccurate information about mining exploration.



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


Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Economic Models Are Always Wrong

But climate models are right? Both types of model are of the same ilk. What the guy below says is what my son tells me: He builds mathematical models of flows in liquids so he can always test his models against reality. And what he tells me is that the tiniest inaccuracy in the parameter input can send the model output completely away from reality. And climate models are full of guesswork and unproven assumptions so are just as certainly wrong as are stockmarket models

When it comes to assigning blame for the current economic doldrums, the quants who build the complicated mathematic financial risk models, and the traders who rely on them, deserve their share of the blame. [See “A Formula For Economic Calamity” in the November 2011 issue]. But what if there were a way to come up with simpler models that perfectly reflected reality? And what if we had perfect financial data to plug into them?

Incredibly, even under those utterly unrealizable conditions, we'd still get bad predictions from models.

The reason is that current methods used to “calibrate” models often render them inaccurate.

That's what Jonathan Carter​ stumbled on in his study of geophysical models. Carter wanted to observe what happens to models when they're slightly flawed--that is, when they don't get the physics just right. But doing so required having a perfect model to establish a baseline. So Carter set up a model that described the conditions of a hypothetical oil field, and simply declared the model to perfectly represent what would happen in that field--since the field was hypothetical, he could take the physics to be whatever the model said it was. Then he had his perfect model generate three years of data of what would happen. This data then represented perfect data. So far so good.

The next step was "calibrating" the model. Almost all models have parameters that have to be adjusted to make a model applicable to the specific conditions to which it's being applied--the spring constant in Hooke's law, for example, or the resistance in an electrical circuit. Calibrating a complex model for which parameters can't be directly measured usually involves taking historical data, and, enlisting various computational techniques, adjusting the parameters so that the model would have "predicted" that historical data. At that point the model is considered calibrated, and should predict in theory what will happen going forward.

Carter had initially used arbitrary parameters in his perfect model to generate perfect data, but now, in order to assess his model in a realistic way, he threw those parameters out and used standard calibration techniques to match his perfect model to his perfect data. It was supposed to be a formality--he assumed, reasonably, that the process would simply produce the same parameters that had been used to produce the data in the first place. But it didn't. It turned out that there were many different sets of parameters that seemed to fit the historical data. And that made sense, he realized--given a mathematical expression with many terms and parameters in it, and thus many different ways to add up to the same single result, you'd expect there to be different ways to tweak the parameters so that they can produce similar sets of data over some limited time period.

The problem, of course, is that while these different versions of the model might all match the historical data, they would in general generate different predictions going forward--and sure enough, his calibrated model produced terrible predictions compared to the "reality" originally generated by the perfect model. Calibration--a standard procedure used by all modelers in all fields, including finance--had rendered a perfect model seriously flawed. Though taken aback, he continued his study, and found that having even tiny flaws in the model or the historical data made the situation far worse. "As far as I can tell, you'd have exactly the same situation with any model that has to be calibrated," says Carter.

That financial models are plagued by calibration problems is no surprise to Wilmott--he notes that it has become routine for modelers in finance to simply keep recalibrating their models over and over again as the models continue to turn out bad predictions. "When you have to keep recalibrating a model, something is wrong with it," he says. "If you had to readjust the constant in Newton's law of gravity every time you got out of bed in the morning in order for it to agree with your scale, it wouldn't be much of a law But in finance they just keep on recalibrating and pretending that the models work."


The Real Luddites

Have you noticed that any person who exhibits any skepticism about global warming alarmism will, sooner or later, be called a Luddite?

“Are you a Luddite, a troglodyte? Are you a part of ‘The Planet of the Apes’ that doesn’t want science? Where would you place yourself in this argument?” newscaster and anti-simian Chris Matthews “asked” a congressman a few years back. “Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the anti-science party should pay attention,” warned columnist Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post this week.

And so on and so forth.

The Luddites, as you all know, were a 19th-century social movement that protested, often by violent means, the encroachment of the Industrial Revolution on their lives, fearing that it would leave them without their jobs and destroy their communities.

But Luddites weren’t challenging the veracity of some scientific theory; they just weren’t crazy about the options progress offered them.

So global warming skeptics — call them anti-science if you like — are not Luddites. Luddites have an irrational fear of development in a seemingly chaotic world. This is capitalism. Today’s Luddite fears that we have too much energy, too many people, too many choices, too much bad food, too many cheap knickknacks. Today’s Luddite believes that the free movement of money and economic productivity are immoral and that if your slice is too big, someone else’s slice has to be too small.

For example, Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. recently claimed that the iPad was “responsible for eliminating thousands of jobs,” you know, just like the modern-day automated loom. What, he wonders, will happen to “all the jobs associated with paper?” Surely, a remark as deeply juvenile as that one matches anything offered by those wild-eyed skeptics.

Or take President Barack Obama, who earlier this year — and not for the first time — claimed that “structural issues with our economy” have nothing to do with politicians. The problem, in his opinion, is that “a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient,” making the workforce smaller. “You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM. You don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

Those aren’t structural issues; they are productivity issues. And rather than kill jobs, efficiency drives output and growth and improves performance and the quality of goods and services — along with our lives. Perhaps if this administration weren’t busy trying to create morally pleasing but temporary and unsustainable jobs through bailouts, subsidies and “stimulus,” we could all hit that ATM more often.

Today’s Luddite also adamantly opposes a mythical institution called Wall Street, a place where a few players act illegally, some act recklessly and some team with government to undermine healthy competition. But the vast majority of companies create new technologies, services and products that make modern life possible. If they don’t, they fail.

Or at least they used to.

Luddites on the streets of Manhattan can demonize big oil, big food and big pharma all day long. They can decry profit as if Satan himself invented the notion. Yet when the multinational firm GlaxoSmithKline announces, as it did last week, that it has come up with the first effective vaccine for malaria, you can bet that it would never have happened in the system they propose. And if the vaccine is successful, the company will have done more good for the world than a million marches about the evils of capitalism could ever hope to produce.

What irks Robinson, Matthews and others like them is not that people do not accept “science,” but that they won’t accept the statist solutions tied to that science. Moreover, a Luddite opposes capitalism. A skeptic only asks questions.


It’s libel — except when a Warmist does it

Lewis Carroll died too soon. Just imagine the fun he’d have with the cliquish clan of climate catastrophe researchers who seek to control science, debate and public policy on global warming and energy – and then get outraged when someone challenges their findings, methodologies or integrity.

On Oct. 1, Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and “hockey stick” fame published an angry riposte in Colorado’s obscure Vail Daily Voices (circulation 15,000), expressing his umbrage over an article that had appeared in the free coffee shop newspaper a day earlier.

“An individual named Martin Hertzberg did a grave disservice to your readers by making false and defamatory statements about me and my climate scientist colleagues in his recent commentary in your paper,” Mann began. (Hertzberg is a research scientist and former US Navy meteorologist.)

The thin-skinned Penn State scientist then ranted: “These are just lies, regurgitation of dishonest smears that have been manufactured by fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers, and those who do their bidding by lying to the public about the science.” [emphasis added]

Meanwhile, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, recipient of huge monetary awards for strident climate disaster claims, wants oil and coal company CEOs prosecuted for “crimes against humanity.”

So Mann and Hansen are honest scientists, trying to do their jobs. But Hertzberg and anyone else who questions the “imminent manmade climate change catastrophe” thesis are dishonest crooks, liars, Holocaust deniers, hired guns for fossil fuel interests, criminals threatening all humanity.

Hertzberg’s views were defamatory, but Mann’s and Hansen’s accusations are mild, rational and truthful. Uh-huh.

(Readers can find Mann’s letters and lively discussions about them and Hansen on Dr. Anthony Watts’ climate change website. Hertzberg’s letter appeared, mysteriously disappeared, then reappeared in the Vail Voices online archives as the controversy raged and ebbed.)

The bizarre saga gets even stranger when viewed alongside Dr. Mann’s kneejerk lawsuit against Dr. Tim Ball, a Canadian scientist, historical climatologist and retired professor who has frequently voiced his skepticism about claims that hydrocarbon use and carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of climate change and present an imminent risk of widespread planetary cataclysms. Dr. Ball has analyzed Canadian and global climate history, and does not regard computer models as much more than virtual reality scenarios that should never be the basis for real-world public policy.

Dr. Ball had poked fun at Dr. Mann, playing word games that suggest the computer guy should not be at Penn State, but in a similarly named state institution. Unfortunately, Mann is not easily amused, as Dr. Ball should have known from the PSU professor’s testy reaction to the “Hide the decline” animation and other spoofs that various AGW “deniers” posted online.

Mann insisted that Dr. Ball’s little joke was libelous and took him to court. Mann’s legal principal seems to be that libel is fine only when he and Hansen practice the craft, albeit with far less good humor than others display. More importantly, Dr. Ball does not live or work in the United States.

U.S. libel cases are governed by the First Amendment, “public figure” rules and other safeguards that ensure open, robust debate, and make it difficult and expensive to sue people over slights, affronts, insults, disagreements and jokes.

Canada, unfortunately, has more limited free speech protections. So Dr. Mike sued Dr. Tim in Canada, assuming victory would be rapid and sweet. Surprise! Dr. Ball decided to slug it out.

In Canada, the principal defenses against libel claims are that the alleged defamation constitutes “fair comment” or was in fact “the truth.” Ball chose the latter defense.

Doing so means the penalty for losing could be higher than under “fair comment” rules. But arguing that his statement was based on truth allows Dr. Ball to seek “discovery” of evidence that Dr. Mann’s actions reflect a use of public funds to alter or falsify scientific data, present highly speculative results as solid facts, or otherwise engage in something that a reasonable person would conclude constitutes dishonest activity or criminal culpability, undertaken moreover through the use of taxpayer funds.

Proving that will not be easy, especially since Mann has steadfastly refused to provide such potential evidence to anyone, including Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. That evidence might include Climategate emails; computer codes and data used, misused or used selectively to generate global warming spikes in historical graphs; and questionable research or proposals used to secure additional government grants, misinform citizens or lawmakers, or promote costly or harmful public policies.

The US government alone spent an estimated $79 billion on climate, renewable energy and related research between 1989 and 2009 — and many billions more since then. Obviously, there is a lot at stake for scientists, universities, government agencies and other institutions engaged in trying to demonstrate a link between human greenhouse gas emissions and climate, weather, agricultural, sea level and other “disasters.” The reputations and credibility of researchers and their institutions are likewise at stake.

Keeping people alarmed, insisting that numerous disasters will soon result from carbon dioxide emissions and a few degrees of planetary warming — and silencing anyone who questions climate chaos claims — are essential if this money train is to be kept on the tracks.

Dr. Mann is likely aided by Penn State lawyers, largely paid for with climate research taxpayer dollars the university wants to safeguard, by preventing criticism or scientific disclosure and transparency.

A judge and jury will decide the Mann vs. Ball case, after carefully weighing all the evidence on whether Dr. Ball’s allegations and insinuations were factual, accurate and truthful.

Dr. Mann’s research was conducted primarily with public money. It is being presented as valid, peer-reviewed science. It is also being used to champion and justify major policy recommendations at state, national and international levels. And those recommendations call for carbon taxes and other penalties for using hydrocarbon energy; the replacement of affordable, dependable fossil fuel energy with expensive, unreliable wind and solar facilities; a roll-back of living standards in rich developed nations; and limited or minimal energy and economic development in poor countries.

Therefore, as I have argued previously, the public has a right to demand that Mann & Comrades show their work, not merely their answers and policy demands. Thus far, serious questions about Mann’s research remain unanswered. The public also has a right to require that Mann, Penn State & Company provide their source material, not just their results — along with anything else that may be relevant to gauging the validity, accuracy and honesty of the work and its conclusions and policy recommendations.

We the People have a further right, duty and obligation to protect free speech, robust debate, the integrity of the scientific method, our personal freedoms, and our access to the reliable, affordable energy that makes our jobs and living standards possible. One way you can do this is by supporting Dr. Tim Ball’s legal defense fund. Just click here


Global Warming -- RIP

By historian Victor Davis Hanson

Not long ago, candidate Obama promised to cool the planet and lower the rising seas. Indeed, he campaigned on passing "cap-and-trade" legislation, a radical, costly effort to reduce America's traditional carbon energy use.

The theory was that new taxes and greater regulations would make Americans pay more for fossil-fuel energy -- a good thing if it reduced our burning of coal, oil and gas. Obama was not shy in admitting that under his green plans, electricity prices would "necessarily skyrocket." His energy secretary, Steven Chu, at one point had even said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" -- that is, about $8-$10 per gallon. Fairly or not, the warming movement seemed to cast a tiny elite imposing costs on a poorer and supposedly less informed middle class.

But despite a Democrat-controlled House and Senate in 2009-2010, President Obama never passed into law any global warming legislation. Now the issue is deader than a doornail -- despite the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency to enact new regulations that would never pass Congress.

So what happened to the global warming craze?

Corruption within the climate-change industry explains some of the sudden turnoff. "Climategate" -- the unauthorized 2009 release of private emails from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom -- revealed that many of the world's top climate scientists were knee-deep in manipulating scientific evidence to support preconceived conclusions and personal agendas. Shrill warnings about everything from melting Himalayan glaciers to shrinking polar bear populations turned out not always to be supported by scientific facts.

Unfortunately, "green" during the last three years has also become synonymous with Solyndra-style crony capitalism. Common-sense ideas like more windmills, solar panels, retrofitted houses and electric cars have all been in the news lately. But the common themes were depressingly similar: few jobs created and little competitively priced energy produced, but plenty of political donors who landed hundreds of millions of dollars in low-interest loans from the government.

Of course, it didn't help that the world's most prominent green spokesman, Nobel laureate Al Gore, made tens of millions of dollars from his own advocacy. And he adopted a lifestyle of jet travel and energy-hungry homes at odds with his pleas for everyone else to cut back.

But even without the corruption and hypocrisy, sincere advocates of man-made global warming themselves overreached. At news that the planet had not heated up at all during the last 10 years, "global warming" gave way to "climate change" -- as if to warn the public that unseasonable cold or wet weather was just as man-caused as were the old specters of drought and scorching temperatures.

Then, when "climate change" was not still enough to frighten the public into action, yet a third term followed: "climate chaos." Suddenly some "green experts" claimed that even more terrifying disasters -- from periodic hurricanes and tornadoes to volcanoes and earthquakes -- could for the first time be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. At that point, serially changing the name of the problem suggested to many that there might not be such a problem after all.

Current hard times also explain the demise of global warming advocacy. With high unemployment and near nonexistent economic growth, Americans do not want to shut down generating plants or pay new surcharges on their power bills. Most people worry first about having any car that runs -- not whether it's a more expensive green hybrid model.

Over the last half-century, Americans have agreed that smoky plants and polluting industries needed to be cleaned up. But when the green movement began to classify clean-burning heat as a pollutant, it began to lose the cash-strapped public.

While the Obama administration was subsidizing failed or inefficient green industries, radical breakthroughs in domestic fossil-fuel exploration and recovery -- especially horizontal drilling and fracking -- have vastly increased the known American reserves of gas and oil. Modern efficient engines have meant that both can be consumed with little, if any, pollution -- at a time when a struggling U.S. economy is paying nearly half a trillion dollars for imported fossil fuels. The public apparently would prefer developing more of our own gas, oil, shale, tar sands and coal as an alternative to going broke by either importing more fuels from abroad or subsidizing more inefficient windmills and solar panels at home.

We simply don't know positively whether recent human activity has caused the planet to warm up to dangerous levels. But we do know that those who insist it does are sometimes disingenuous, often profit-minded, and nearly always impractical.


Be prudent with climate claims

Cardinal George Pell is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. His Eminence approaches Warmism by looking to the scientific facts, not religion -- and notes religious fanaticism in Warmism:

SCIENCE and technology have already achieved considerable mastery over nature, and massive local achievements. But where is the borderline separating us from what is beyond human power?

Where does scientific striving become uneconomic, immoral or ineffectual and so lapse into hubris? Have scientists been co-opted on to a bigger, better-advertised and more expensive bandwagon than the millennium bug fiasco?

We can only attempt to identify the causes of climate change through science and these causes need to be clearly established after full debates, validated comprehensively, before expensive remedies are imposed on industries and communities.

I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the "deep greens". Mine is not an appeal to the authority of any religious truth in the face of contrary scientific evidence. Neither is it even remotely tinged by a postmodernist hostility to rationality.

My appeal is to reason and evidence, and in my view the evidence is insufficient to achieve practical certainty on many of these scientific issues.

Recently Robert Manne, following fashionable opinion, wrote that "the science is truly settled" on the fundamental theory of climate change: global warming is happening; it is primarily caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide; and it is certain to have profound effects in the future.

His appeal is to the "consensual view among qualified scientists". This is a category error, scientifically and philosophically. In fact, it is also a cop-out, a way of avoiding the basic issues.

The basic issue is not whether the science is settled but whether the evidence and explanations are adequate in that paradigm.

I fear, too, that many politicians have never investigated the primary evidence.

Much is opaque to non-specialists, but persistent inquiry and study can produce useful clarifications, similar to the nine errors identified by the British High Court in Al Gore's propaganda film, An Inconvenient Truth.

The complacent appeal to scientific consensus is simply one more appeal to authority, quite inappropriate in science or philosophy.

It is not generally realised that in 2001 at least, one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report's workinggroups agreed: "In climate research and modelling, we are dealing with a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible."

Claims of atmospheric warming often appear to conflict and depend upon the period of time under consideration.

* The earth has cooled during the past 10,000 years since the Holocene climate optimum.

* The earth has cooled since 1000 years ago, not yet achieving the temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period.

* The earth has warmed since 400 years ago after the Little Ice Age three centuries ago.

* The earth warmed between 1979 and 1998 and has cooled slightly since 2001.

The following facts are additional reasons for scepticism.

* In many places, most of the 11,700 years since the end of the last ice age were warmer than the present by up to 2C.

* Between 1695 and 1730, the temperature in England rose by 2.2C. That rapid warming, unparalleled since, occurred long before the Industrial Revolution.

* From 1976 to 2001, "the global warming rate was 0.16C per decade", as it was from 1860 to 1880 and again from 1910 to 1940.

My suspicions have been deepened through the years by the climate movement's totalitarian approach to opposing views. Those secure in their explanations do not need to be abusive.

The term "climate change denier", however expedient as an insult or propaganda weapon, with its deliberate overtones of comparison with Holocaust denial, is not a useful description of any significant participant in the discussion. I was not surprised to learn that the IPCC used some of the world's best advertising agencies to generate maximum effect among the public .

The rewards for proper environmental behaviour are uncertain, unlike the grim scenarios for the future as a result of human irresponsibility which have a dash of the apocalyptic about them.

The immense financial costs true believers would impose on economies can be compared with the sacrifices offered traditionally in religion, and the sale of carbon credits with the pre-Reformation practice of selling indulgences.

Some of those campaigning to save the planet are not merely zealous but zealots. To the religionless and spiritually rootless, mythology - whether comforting or discomforting - can be magnetically, even pathologically, attractive.

Whatever our political masters might decide at this high tide of Western indebtedness, they are increasingly unlikely, because of popular pressure, to impose new financial burdens on their populations in the hope of curbing the rise of global temperatures, except perhaps in Australia, which has 2 per cent of the world's industrial capacity and only 1.2 per cent of its CO2 emissions, while continuing to sell coal and iron worth billions of dollars to Asia.

Extreme weather events are to be expected. This is why I support the views of Bjorn Lomborg and Bob Carter that money should be used to raise living standards and reduce vulnerability to catastrophes.

The cost of attempts to make global warming go away will be very heavy. They may be levied initially on "the big polluters" but they will eventually trickle down to the end-users. Efforts to offset the effects on the vulnerable are well intentioned but history tells us they can only be partially successful.

Sometimes the very learned and clever can be brilliantly foolish, especially when seized by an apparently good cause. My request is for common sense and what the medievals, following Aristotle, called prudence.

The appeal must be to the evidence. First of all we need adequate scientific explanations as a basis for our economic estimates. We also need history, philosophy, even theology and many will use, perhaps create, mythologies. But most importantly we need to distinguish which is which.


Australia's "Solyndra"

SAYONARA, Premier. Anna Bligh's claims her bungled clean-coal dream would live on have collapsed, with the company at the centre put into liquidation at a loss to taxpayers of almost $160 million.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the controversial ZeroGen operation was shut down a fortnight ago, despite the Premier promising the ailing firm would be given to - and run by - the coal industry to ensure its work did not go to waste.

Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission this month show the company is under external administration after a liquidator was appointed on October 11.

ZeroGen was set up to be owned by the Government to develop carbon capture technology. Its key project was to be a $4.3 billion clean coal power plant in central Queensland, running by 2015, with the power to capture 90 per cent of coal emissions.

The confirmation of the financial losses come as photos have emerged showing former ZeroGen chiefs living it up in Japan and Singapore as they tried to secure backing of business giant Mitsubishi Corp.

Former ZeroGen chief Tony Tarr and the company's corporate affairs manager Heather Brodie were snapped partying in kimonos and horseplaying in Singapore.

After scrapping the key "world-first" $4 billion central Queensland plant, the Bligh Government claimed ZeroGen would be given to the Australian Coal Association to ensure the knowledge it gained lived on.

Ms Bligh, who had insisted the money was not wasted, had said it would become "an independent entity, owned and run by industry and dedicated to the accelerated development and deployment of carbon capture storage".

But ACA chairman John Pegler yesterday said the group knew nothing of its supposed involvement. "We have never, ever, ever been in negotiations to take over ZeroGen," he said.

Contradiction also emerged in the office of Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday, who insisted the intellectual property still belonged to the state and would be used in future.

"The Federal Government was an equity partner in the venture and has been actively involved in the wind-up process," he said. The wind-up began in June.

But federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the Commonwealth became aware only "in early October that the board may voluntarily liquidate the company".

Queensland has pumped $116 million into the project, the Commonwealth about $43 million and the coal industry about $50 million.

Federal Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt yesterday called for an inquiry, saying the loss of so much money was scandalous.

"There should be an immediate, independent inquiry as to how this money has been lost and where it has gone," he said.

ZeroGen garnered attention across Asia and the US and was touted by Ms Bligh and former premier Peter Beattie as a ground-breaking world-first as far back as 2006.

But now the ZeroGen website has been closed. "The ZeroGen Project has concluded," the site states. "Arrangements are ongoing for final knowledge capture and dissemination with the assistance of the Global CCS Institute."

State Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney said ZeroGen epitomised the waste and mismanagement of a tired Labor Government. "Anna Bligh has still never fully explained why the warnings about ZeroGen were ignored for so long and why they were so gung ho to roll the dice with taxpayers' money," 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here