Saturday, February 11, 2012

1939: When Climate Science Still Involved Actual Scientists

Real scientists are not afraid to say: "We don't know"; Glacial retreat goes back a long way

The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 13 January 1939


CANBERRA, Thursday: One of the riddles which is puzzling geologists all over the world is the continuous retreat of the ice glaciers. Does this phenomenon indicate that the sun is getting hotter as some astronomers believe or is it dependent upon comparatively unimportant changes in the earth’s atmosphere?

Consideration such as these were discussed by Professor R. Speight, formerly professor of geology at Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand and now curator of the Canterbury Museum. In his presidential address to the geology section of the Science Congress today. His subject was “Some Aspects of Glaciation in New Zealand.”

The steady retreat of the glaciers in New Zealand he said had been observed during the last 70 years. Photographs taken in 1896 and 1935 showed that several glaciers had retreated distances varying from 100 yards to half a mile in 40 years

(The EPA uses 1935 as the start date for their photos, and they pretend that they don’t know that the glaciers were rapidly retreating during the 19th century)


The phenomenon, however, was world-wide. Equally impressive records were obtainable from Switzerland, Scandinavia, Iceland and the United States. Attempts had been made to reconcile these observations with the Bruckner cycle of climate change every 16 years. Pro-fessor Speight said, but so many discrepan- cies occurred that in his opinion precise synchronisation with that period could not be accepted.

In Alaska glaciers had been retreating from 100 to 200 years, the average rate of recession being about 50 feet a year. The Antarctic ice-sheet also showed signs of recent retreat.

“In fact,” said Professor Speight, “no case is recorded of a region of the world in which there are present signs of an advance. This is quite apart from the general retreat since the pleistocene age and may be merely a pacing phase. Its precise significance can only be determined by continued observation.”


United Nations pushing a 'green economy'

They're a talking shop for tyrants anyway so new tyrannies of course attract them

At a closed-door retreat in a Long Island mansion late last October, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his topmost aides brainstormed about how the global organization could benefit from a "unique opportunity" to reshape the world, starting with the Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development, which takes place in Brazil in June.

A copy of the confidential minutes of the meeting was obtained by Fox News. According to that document, the 29-member group, known as the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), discussed bold ambitions that stretch for years beyond the Rio conclave to consolidate a radical new global green economy, promote a spectrum of sweeping new social policies and build an even more important role for U.N. institutions “ to manage the process of globalization better.”

At the same time, the gathering acknowledged that their ambitions were on extremely shaky ground, starting with the fact that, as Ban’s chief organizer for the Rio gathering put it, “there was still no agreement on the definition of the green economy, the main theme of the [Rio] conference.”

But according to the minutes, that did not seem to restrain the group’s ambitions.

Its members see Rio as the springboard for consolidation of an expanding U.N. agenda for years ahead, driven by still more U.N.-sponsored global summits that would, as one participant put it, “ensure that the U.N. connected with the roots of the current level of global discontent.”

Among other things, the CEB heard Ban’s top organizer, a U.N. Under Secretary General from China named Sha Zukang, declare that the wish list for the Rio + 20 meeting, already being touted as a landmark environmental conclave on the issue of “global environmental governance,” included making it:

* “the catalyst” for solidifying a global economic, social and political agenda, built around “green economy” goals

* a means to “reorient public and private decision-making” to make the world’s poorest people the new economy’s “main beneficiaries,”

* a method of also reorienting national decision-making in countries around the world to put the new agenda “at the heart of national ministries,”

* the occasion to create new bodies, like a U.N. Sustainable Development Council, similar to the U.N. Human Rights Council, to help guide the global process further in the years ahead, or give additional responsibilities to the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP), the world body’s chief environmental agency..

Other participants chimed in with additional ideas, including the notion from one key organizer that “the U.N. in Rio should be the voice of the planet and its people.”

At the same time, conference organizer Sha noted, “2012 was not the best year” for driving new environmental bargains, due to the global financial crisis walloping the world’s rich economies, a prevalent “atmosphere of general trust deficit” between the world’s rich and developing countries and that many countries (notably including the U.S.) were holding national elections that left their future policies up in the air.

Those realities had already stymied the latest attempt to forge a multi-trillion-dollar bargain to transfer wealth from rich nations to poor ones in the name of controlling “climate change,” at a meeting last December in Durban, South Africa.

As one of the participants, Achim Steiner, head of the UNEP, put it, according to the minutes: “In framing its role and mission, the U.N. not only had the preoccupations of the financial and economic crisis, but also had to grapple with the phenomenon of a geo-economically transformed world that was not yet geopolitically articulated.”

Translation: One of the U.N.’s challenges is that the world had not been globally reorganized in political terms -- yet -- to the same extent that it had been globally reorganized in economic terms.

But in general, the members of the CEB saw that as an opportunity for the world organization, which they clearly hoped to make central to that global re-articulation.


First you scare ‘em, then you snare ‘em – how the UEA treats 13 and 14 year olds

That epicentre of scarequakes on climate and carbon dioxide, the University of East Anglia (UEA) has been lowering its sights recently to target more than 60 early teenagers in their neighbourhood. Power Engineering carries the story, as does the print edition of the Norwich Evening News on 9th February. The impression it gives me is that they want them to be receptive to renewables as a source of energy, and at the same time get them involved in a scary scenario about a planetary emergency to get them on side.

Why would a university stoop to such a thing? Let us first look at it:

First, you get the youngsters to imagine that fossil fuels have disappeared, that this is really scary, and that they must come up with ideas to save the world. You pay an outside consultancy to do this, since it is one of their suite of activities for the young, and they no doubt have it down to a fine art. Now by itself, I can imagine really good teachers, with the right type of pupils, engaging their attention in such a way (with no need of course to pay others to do so). It is easy to imagine this could lead to lots of ideas and useful discussions. But what about the rest of it?

Second, you bring in people with a vested interest in renewable energy (in this case Aquaterra , Seajacks and a tiny start-up called Wind Elements Ltd) and/or carbon reduction schemes and devices (in this case, Lotus Cars and the University of East Anglia – the UEA, home of the Low Carbon Innovation Centre, commented on here in 2010, and of course of CRU, perhaps most widely known as the source of the Climategate materials ). You arrange for the pupils to speed-date their way amongst them.

Third, you alert the press to what you are up to, perhaps invite them to be there.

Fourth, you invite a children’s hero to attend, in this case a local footballer, perhaps in order to increase the possibility of a positive response from the press, and maybe even encourage more pupils to attend.

Now how does it look? Can you imagine this happening in the old Soviet Union (‘First, imagine the capitalists have closed down all their businesses in some yet-to-be-liberated land, and you have to save the people there from starvation. Second, let me introduce Commissar Crulcicski who wishes to tell the class about the new 5 year plan, and the glorious ideals of the Party. You will each have to talk with him. You need pay no attention to the comrade reporter from Pravda sitting at the back, but the famous footballer Stakhanovily Matthewski is here to distract deal with any technical questions that may arise. Let us begin.’)

There’s more. The no doubt well-intentioned facilitators of the simulation game (Camouflaged Learning) describe it as follows:
‘As the day begins, the students are informed that the Earth’s remaining reserves of fossil fuels have finally been exhausted and, as a result, the fabric of what we consider normal life has immediately started to crumble. No more light, no more heat, no more iPads. No more anything, in fact, meaning something needs to be done- and soon- before the world falls into total chaos.’

The UEA representative at the event is reported as hyping this up just a bit: ‘The students must solve the most catastrophic, significant and terrifying crisis imaginable – a world without power’, she said, ‘…It is essential that they act fast because, unless they’re successful, life as we know it could come to an end.’

If I were of a cynical disposition, I’d call this event ‘Camouflaged Selling – of renewables by the companies, and of alarmism by the university’. Perish the thought. Who would do such a thing with such young people?


Poor pupils of Norwich. A similar wheeze was followed by energy giant, EDF, last year at a high school in Norwich when they invited a famous athlete to attend a sustainability day of their devising. To their credit though, it seems they might have skipped the bit where you first scare the kids:

‘“Days like these are something that pupils will remember for the rest of their lives and it is great that EDF Energy can combine this with a way of getting people together to fight climate change.”

It is hoped that the school’s sustainable efforts will inspire others in the local community to follow in its footsteps and think about what they can do differently in their lives to be greener.
Clive Steed, sustainability manager for EDF Energy said: “We can only tackle climate change effectively by taking action together. As a leading energy company, EDF Energy has an ethical responsibility and the expertise to inspire people to reduce their carbon footprint, which is why we kicked off Green Britain Day.’


How Capitalism Makes Catastrophes Non-Catastrophic (Key data point for energy/climate debate)

One of the greatest and most unheralded successes of industrial capitalism is making our climate eminently livable.

The mass-production of sturdy, weather-proof buildings … the universal availability of heating and air conditioning … the ability to flee the most vicious storms through modern transportation … the protection from drought through modern irrigation … the protection from disease through modern sanitation–all of these have led to a 99 percent reduction in the number of climate-related deaths over the last century.

Given how obsessed America is about climate change (or some intellectuals/politicians want us to be), these facts should be well-known and incorporated into every discussion of industrial policy. Those who claim to care about a livable climate for the future should strive to understand the mechanisms by which industrial capitalism has already created the most livable climate in history.

If they did so, they would learn from such thinkers as Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises how capitalism, by permitting only voluntary associations among men, unleashes the individual human mind–and that millions of such minds, free to associate and trade however they choose, will engage in stupendously intricate, collaborative planning for everything from how to make sure they can always get groceries to how to account for nearly any conceivable weather contingency.

Armed with an understanding of individual freedom and individual planning, the climate-concerned would suspect that any preventable problem in dealing with weather–such as widespread vulnerability to flooding–is caused by government interference in voluntary trade, such as taxpayer-financed flood insurance that encourages people to live in high-flooding areas.

Center for American Regress?

Unfortunately, an understanding of capitalism and climate is sorely lacking at the Center for America Progress, the hottest left-wing think-tank today. On its blog, ThinkProgress, the Center recently ran a piece by Christian Parenti entitled Climate Action Opponents Are Ensuring the Outcome They Claim to Oppose: Big Government.

A little translation is in order. From an individualistic perspective, “climate action” refers to the actions that free citizens take to make their climate as livable as possible–the kinds of actions that decreased climate vulnerability 99% in the last century.

But from the collectivist, statist perspective of CAP, “Climate Action” refers to dramatic caps on energy generated from hydrocarbons–the energy source that runs the industrial capitalist system that has increased our life expectancy from 30 to 80 years.

How will banning the vast majority of modern energy production help us oppose “Big Government”? Because otherwise we would face so many catastrophic storms, the article argues, that the government would necessarily become a disaster-recovery Leviathan.

After all, Mr. Parenti takes as given, government is the only entity that can adapt to storms: “To adapt to climate change will mean coming together on a large scale and mobilizing society’s full range of resources. In other words, Big Storms require Big Government.”

Big Storms Require Limited Government

In fact, the larger-scale a problem, the more freedom is essential. As economist George Reisman brilliantly explains in his landmark essay on global warming economics,
Even if global warming is a fact, the free citizens of an industrial civilization will have no great difficulty in coping with it—that is, of course, if their ability to use energy and to produce is not crippled by the environmental movement and by government controls otherwise inspired. The seeming difficulties of coping with global warming, or any other large-scale change, arise only when the problem is viewed from the perspective of government central planners.

It would be too great a problem for government bureaucrats to handle (as is the production even of an adequate supply of wheat or nails, as the experience of the whole socialist world has so eloquently shown). But it would certainly not be too great a problem for tens and hundreds of millions of free, thinking individuals living under capitalism to solve. It would be solved by means of each individual being free to decide how best to cope with the particular aspects of global warming that affected him.

Individuals would decide, on the basis of profit-and-loss calculations, what changes they needed to make in their businesses and in their personal lives, in order best to adjust to the situation. They would decide where it was now relatively more desirable to own land, locate farms and businesses, and live and work, and where it was relatively less desirable, and what new comparative advantages each location had for the production of which goods. Factories, stores, and houses all need replacement sooner or later. In the face of a change in the relative desirability of different locations, the pattern of replacement would be different. Perhaps some replacements would have to be made sooner than otherwise. To be sure, some land values would fall and others would rise. Whatever happened, individuals would respond in a way that minimized their losses and maximized their possible gains. The essential thing they would require is the freedom to serve their self-interests by buying land and moving their businesses to the areas rendered relatively more attractive, and the freedom to seek employment and buy or rent housing in those areas.

Given this freedom, the totality of the problem would be overcome. This is because, under capitalism, the actions of the individuals, and the thinking and planning behind those actions, are coordinated and harmonized by the price system (as many former central planners of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have come to learn). As a result, the problem would be solved in exactly the same way that tens and hundreds of millions of free individuals have solved greater problems than global warming, such as redesigning the economic system to deal with the replacement of the horse by the automobile, the settlement of the American West, and the release of the far greater part of the labor of the economic system from agriculture to industry.


We should be thankful that previous generations were not governed by the “ThinkProgress” philosophy of regarding government coercion as the solution to future changes, whether economic or environmental. Had they followed the near religious state-worship of Center for American Progress, we would have had the equivalent of Barack Obama or Christian Parenti dictating to millions of Americans when, how, or if they could transition to automobiles or go West or leave their farms. If we do indeed face worse weather ahead, then nothing is more important in preparing than more industry and more freedom.


The Galileo of Global Warming

By Robert Tracinski

I have written before about how the left loves to invoke the example of Galileo in order to present themselves as the great defenders of science against all of those knuckle-dragging religious bigots who don't believe in global warming. But these same people don't understand science very well themselves (remember amateur neurologist Janeane Garofalo lecturing us about the "limbic brain"?), so they end up using Galileo, a man who defied the "consensus" of his day, as a propaganda talking point to enforce the consensus of today.

It occurred to me a while back that there is something worse about this invocation of Galileo, because there is a modern-day equivalent to Galileo, specifically on the issue of global warming—and he's on the other side. In this more civilized age, he is thankfully not threatened with torture or any kind of persecution. But he is a pioneer of new and important scientific truths who is being ignored and vilified because his discoveries run counter to the quasi-religious dogma of our day.

That man is the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, who seems to have discovered the most important factor that actually regulates Earth's climate, and who is quietly in the process of proving it.

I linked last year to Svensmark's latest big breakthrough, but I didn't get a chance to discuss it much, so I want to give a little more detail now, then show one of the recent consequences of Svensmark's achievement.

Let me briefly sum up Svensmark's theory. The temperature of the Earth, he argues, is regulated by the intensity of solar radiation, but not in the obvious way. It is not that the increase is solar radiation heats the Earth directly. (It does, of course, but not to a sufficient degree to explain climate variations.) Rather, an increase in solar radiation extends the Sun's magnetic field, which shields Earth from cosmic rays (highly energetic, fast-moving charged particles that come from deep space). How does this affect the climate? Here is the crux of Svensmark's argument. When cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, he argues, their impact on air molecules creates nucleation sites for the condensation of water vapor, leading to an increase in cloud-formation. Since clouds tend to bounce solar radiation back into space, increased cloud cover cools the Earth, while decreased cloud cover makes the Earth warmer.

So if Svensmark is right, lower solar radiation means more cosmic rays, more clouds, and a cooler Earth, while higher solar radiation means fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer Earth.

Those who have followed the global warming controversy over the years may recall that cloud-formation is one of the major gaps in the computerized climate "models" used by the consensus scientists to predict global warming. They have never had a theory to explain how and why clouds form or to account accurately for their effect on the climate. Svensmark has smashed through this glaring gap in their theory.

Like I said, Svensmark hasn't just put this theory out there. He has been working to prove it. He has done some studies that attempted to track measurements of cosmic ray flux against surface temperature and cloud cover, with some success. But his big breakthrough last year was a long-awaited experiment at Switzerland's CERN particle accelerator that demonstrated the most controversial part of Svensmark's theory.

It is widely accepted that the Sun's magnetic field helps shield Earth from cosmic rays, and it is also widely accepted that increased cloud cover cools the Earth (though expect this to suddenly come into question as Svensmarks' theory gains ground). What Svensmark needed to demonstrate was that cosmic rays form nucleation sites that seed clouds.

Hence the aptly named CLOUD experiment performed at CERN last year, with the results published last August. The experiment was actually more than a decade in the making, but as Lawrence Solomon explains, it was help back for years by the scientific bureaucracy because of its potentially unwelcome results.

The results are indeed unwelcome, at least for the advocates of the global warming consensus. Anthony Watts explained the experiment at his blog, Watts Up With That? The CLOUD experiment used CERN's particle accelerator to send a beam of artificially generated charged particles—simulated cosmic rays—into a gas-filled chamber and then measured the formation of aerosols, the kind of compounds that can serve as cloud nucleation sites. It found a direct and very significant relationship.

This is not a total demonstration of Svensmark's theory. The Nature paper on the CLOUD experiment notes that "the fraction of these freshly nucleated particles that grow to sufficient sizes to seed cloud droplets, as well as the role of organic vapors in the nucleation and growth processes, remain open questions experimentally." But last year's result is a clear demonstration of a crucial step in Svensmark's theory. It's certainly a lot farther than the warmthers have ever gotten in demonstrating the physical basis for their theory.

("Warmther," by the way, is a coin termed—if I recall correctly—by occasional TIA Daily contributor Tom Minchin. It's intended to put advocates of the global warming hysteria in the same category as the "truthers" and the "birthers.")

What impact did the CLOUD experiment have? Well, the global warming establishment set out to make sure it would have no impact. Like I said, this is a more civilized age, so Svensmark and his colleagues will not be subject to an Inquisition. They will just be ignored, for as long as the entrenched establishment can manage to do so.

This campaign began immediately. James Delingpole's overview of the reaction to CLOUD quotes the statement given to the press by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN.
I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.

I don't know what I find more amusing about this quote: the fact that he is directing scientists not to draw conclusions from data, or the fact that he then proceeds to assert his own interpretation of the data, that "cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters." Well, no, if Svensmark's theory is right, it is not "only one of many," it is the central factor, far more important than human emissions of carbon dioxide. But thanks for telling us all ahead of time what we're supposed to think.

Heuer's statement is an example of an old warmther practice of releasing scientific results to the media only on the condition that upper-level science bureaucrats, the ones who want to increase or preserve the funding they get from government, provide the politically appropriate "spin" to the press. In this case, the appropriate spin is, "move along, nothing to see here."

The BEST study provides an example of a different kind of spin. BEST, which stands for Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, was a study begun in response to the Climategate scandal. Part of the Climategate scandal, you may recall, was the refusal of prominent climate scientists to share their raw data on global temperatures, as well as evidence that this data was unreliable. So Berkeley scientist Richard Muller, a believer in global warming who nonetheless publicly criticized the Climategate miscreants, started a program to examine the accuracy of global temperature measurements and make the data publicly available. As part of his team, he drafted Judith Curry, a scientist with a history of sympathy for global warming skeptics.

But Muller is still a warmther, and old habits die hard. So he released the study's first set of data shortly before an international global warming conference—then pulled the old warmther trick of summing it up in a press release promoting the politically correct conclusions, claiming that this data "proved you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer." Curry was then forced to go the newspapers to contradict this spin, telling the Daily Mail that "There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped. To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate."

The Daily Mail, being a London tabloid, present the controversy in very sensational terms. But here is the crucial passage that indicates what is going on.
[A]lthough 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."

I am afraid Professor Curry has been a bit naïve, because this is an exact repeat of the technique long used by the organizers of those United Nations global warming panels. The technique is to get a bunch of honest, legitimate scientists to contribute to your report and be listed as "co-authors," so long as their contributions are safely buried in the dense minutiae of the body of the report, which no politician or reporter is going to bother reading. Then, without their knowledge or consent, you "summarize" the work of these "co-authors" in a politically slanted press release and claim all of them as part of the "consensus" for your political conclusions.

So there you have the rules of the game, as played by the political-scientific establishment. If you have a study that you think backs up the global warming dogma, preface it with a press release drawing wildly speculative conclusions from the data. If you have a study that contradicts the global warming dogma, preface it with a press release declaring that no conclusions can be drawn.

But that's not going to work, which brings me to the recent news item that I mentioned at the beginning. James Delingpole's Daily Telegraph blog alerted me to the latest. In Germany, where the global warming dogma has been very deeply entrenched, one of the founding fathers of Germany's environmentalist movement, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, has converted into a global warming skeptic and is promoting his views in a new book and a series of article in Bild, a major German newspaper. What caused the change? According to one account:
Vahrenholt’s skepticism started when he was asked to review an IPCC report on renewable energy. He found hundreds of errors. When he pointed them out, IPCC officials simply brushed them aside. Stunned, he asked himself, “Is this the way they approached the climate assessment reports?”

Vahrenholt decided to do some digging. His colleague Dr. Lüning also gave him a copy of Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion. He was horrified by the sloppiness and deception he found.

But longtime skeptic Benny Peiser also notes another factor: "the work of the Danish researcher Henrik Svensmark and other climate scientists convinced [Vahrenholt] that the fluctuating magnetic field of the sun is a driver of climate change."

This is the way things are going to be from now on. The discoveries of the Galileo of global warming—to appreciate the irony, call Svensmark's view the heliocentric theory—is out there, the evidence for it is building, and that fact can no longer be hidden or ignored. If more brutal methods of suppression couldn't stop the truths spoken by Galileo, today's soft suppression of science isn't going to work, either.


Australia: Carbon tax to hit car jobs

CAR parts and plastics manufacturers warn their industries could be the next to shed jobs because the carbon tax will hit them hard.

And the future of Alcoa's Geelong smelter and 600 workers' jobs was no clearer after high-level meetings yesterday involving the company's bosses, Premier Ted Baillieu and federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Regional Cities Minister Denis Napthine revealed only that discussions had been "frank" and Alcoa had made no specific demands.

Mr Abbott called for the carbon tax to be dropped to save the jobs, saying: "With the carbon tax, the aluminium industry is essentially dead in this country."

The Federal Government, which is giving the aluminium industry $3.5 billion in compensation, said the big problem for Alcoa was the soaring dollar, not the tax.

Despite previously flagging that the carbon tax would be a significant cost to the company, Alcoa said yesterday it was not a factor in its decision this week to launch a review of its loss-making smelter at Point Henry in Geelong.

But car parts manufacturers, who employ about 43,000 Victorians, took the opportunity to warn a carbon tax could be a decisive impost on a fragile industry.

Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers chief executive Richard Reilly said continuing government help would be needed. "We are going to be impacted by a carbon tax, and our competitors (overseas) won't," he said. "If we want to have a car industry, we need continued co-investment."

Vinyl Council of Australia chief executive Sophi MacMillan warned the combination of a high Australian dollar, imported products and the impending carbon tax would "weed out" many exposed businesses. "It is difficult for the manufacturing sector in Australia at the moment across the board whether you are in plastics or other materials," she said.



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1 comment:

slktac said...

I wrote a piece about running out of energy, only it involved the government outlawing fossil fuels and renewables being the only thing available....