Thursday, March 22, 2012

Greenies acknowledge complexity for once

Warmist models take into account only a fraction of the potential influences on climate, which is the fundamental reason why they have no predictive skill. But that they take more than one factor in account is very sophisticated by the standards of how science is generally conducted. Particularly in the reports I cover in my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog, medical scientists usually write as if there is just a one-to-one relationship between two variables. The possibility of a third variable complicating the story is rarely considered.

And a good example of such limited thinking among Greenie researchers was the cry of woe when they found that pine beetles are twice as active these days in lodgepole pine forests than they used to be. The Greenies of course attributed that to global warming without asking how a temperature change measured only in tenths of one degree could have such a large effect.

One group of researchers, however, were proper scientists and realized that there were a number of variables involved and decided to study several factors together to get a fuller picture of what is happening. And what they found was that pine beetle infestations REDUCE another great danger to the forests concerned -- fire.

An evolutionary speculation which might flow from that is that the trees have not evolved good defences (such as toxins) against the beetles precisely because the beetles are on balance good for the tree. All that is far too profound for your average Warmist, of course. Journal abstract below:
Do mountain pine beetle outbreaks change the probability of active crown fire in lodgepole pine forests?

By Martin Simard et al.

Disturbance interactions have received growing interest in ecological research in the last decade. Fire and bark beetle outbreaks have recently increased in severity and extent across western North America, raising concerns about their possible interactions. Although it is often presumed that bark beetle outbreaks increase probability of active crown fire by producing high loads of surface and canopy dead fuels, empirical data are scarce and results are ambivalent. We combined field measurements and modeling to address the following question: How do fuel characteristics, microclimate, and potential fire behavior change with time since a severe mountain pine beetle outbreak in Pinus contorta forests of Greater Yellowstone (Wyoming, USA)? We measured surface and canopy fuels, and soil surface temperature in a time-since-beetle-outbreak chronosequence (n = 35 sites) from undisturbed to 36 years post-outbreak, including stands in red- and gray-needle stages (respectively, 1–2 and 3–5 years post-outbreak). Field data were used to parameterize the fire behavior model NEXUS and predict potential fire behavior at each site.

Dead surface fuel loads of all size categories did not differ among undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands. Compared to undisturbed sites, red and gray-stage sites had on average 53% lower canopy bulk density, 42% lower canopy fuel load, and 29% lower canopy moisture content, but had similar canopy base heights (3.1 m). In subsequent decades, coarse wood loads doubled and canopy base height declined to 0 m. Modeling results suggested that undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands were unlikely to exhibit transition of surface fires to tree crowns (torching), and that the likelihood of sustaining an active crown fire (crowning) decreased from undisturbed to gray-stage stands. Simulated fire behavior was little affected by beetle disturbance when wind speed was either below 40 km/h or above 60 km/h, but at intermediate wind speeds, probability of crowning in red- and gray-stage stands was lower than in undisturbed stands, and old post-outbreak stands were predicted to have passive crown fires. Results were consistent across a range of fuel moisture scenarios. Our results suggest that mountain pine beetle outbreaks in Greater Yellowstone may reduce the probability of active crown fire in the short term by thinning lodgepole pine canopies.

Ecological Monographs 81:3–24. 2011

Making science more convincing

The warmist Christian Science Monitor (which is neither Christian nor scientific) had this to say recently:
A recent study by the Brookings Institution shows that unusually warm winter weather has made climate-change converts out of many Americans. Unseasonable temperatures are continuing with warm spring weather in much of the United States. In Washington DC, which just recorded its warmest winter, the famed cherry blossoms have opened two weeks early.

Though this kind of weather disruption is what climate scientists predict, they hesitate to place too much emphasis on one or two unusual seasons as a trend that changes public opinion. If next winter is more normal, the public may get the wrong impression about the dangers of climate change. Better for science to be more convincing.


So just HOW "unseasonable" is the current warm March weather? Some science below:


Clearly a warm March is not unusual at all. The high March temperatures were all in the FIRST half of the 20th century and the 21st century is continuing the pattern of the late 20th century.

Pity that the CSM writers just talk about science instead of doing any. But don't expect mere scientific facts to convince CSM writers!

Once again Greenies undermine their own alleged goals

But if we see the CO2 scare as just a mask for their real aim of economic destruction, it makes perfect sense

Well, the lunatic fringe has done it again. But, they’ve managed even better than a trifecta. They’ve set events in motion which creates higher costs and higher CO2 emissions and greater odds for environmental damage. And as a bonus, it is likely they’ve enriched a couple of the world’s richest people.

Bill Gates began buying rail stocks quite a while back, and he convinced his friend Warren Buffet to buy them as well, we also see our old friend George Soros as a holder of railroad company stocks. You can read it here. A simple Google shows how Buffet and Gates and their holdings have been buy railways like crazy in the last few years.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, because Keystone isn’t ramping up, they’re moving the oil sand oil by rail. Of course, we all know the trains run on diesel, lots of diesel. So, they’re not stopping the mining for oil, and in their efforts they will significantly increase the CO2 emissions per barrel. Further, this adds a cost of $5-$10/barrel. Environmentally, I think the risk of derailment and containment puts the environment at a much great risk. If a pipe bursts, one simply shuts off the valve nearest the burst, thus containing the amount of oil spilt. A train derailment….. well that’s limited to how much oil the train was carrying.

Well done green crusaders, you morons. There are some other things to note as well. While this will help the rail industry in both Canada and the U.S., there would have been more job creation with the pipeline. There would have been a continuous supply as opposed to the intermittency of the rails. An infrastructure upgrade has been thwarted. And to review, we’ve also increased CO2 emissions, (which I thought the lunatics were scared of) we’ve likely made some of the richest people in the world richer, while increase the cost of our fuel and energy for the rest of us. And, we’ve likely made the environment less safe from an oil spill. Have I left anything out?


It's people that are the problem (again)

One Greenie has rightly detected that "alternative" energy is a crock. It won't replace conventional energy sources. So energy use must be SUPPRESSED by the government. Good Stalinist thinking. People-hating is in the bones of Greenies

Many nations, including the United States, are actively pursuing technological advances to reduce the use of fossil fuels to potentially mitigate human contributions to climate-change. The approach of the International Panel on Climate Change assumes alternative energy sources -- nuclear, wind and hydro -- will equally displace fossil fuel consumption. This approach, York argues, ignores "the complexity of human behavior."

Based on a four-model study of electricity used in some 130 countries in the past 50 years, York found that it took more that 10 units of electricity produced from non-fossil sources -- nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar -- to displace a single unit of fossil fuel-generated electricity.

"When you see growth in nuclear power, for example, it doesn't seem to affect the rate of growth of fossil fuel-generated power very much," said York, a professor in the sociology department and environmental studies program. He also presented two models on total energy use. "When we looked at total energy consumption, we found a little more displacement, but still, at best, it took four to five units of non-fossil fuel energy to displace one unit produced with fossil fuel."

For the paper -- published online March 18 by the journal Nature Climate Change -- York analyzed data from the World Bank's world development indicators gathered from around the world. To control for a variety of variables of economics, demographics and energy sources, data were sorted and fed into the six statistical models.

Admittedly, York said, energy-producing technologies based on solar, wind and waves are relatively new and may yet provide viable alternative sources as they are developed.

"I'm not saying that, in principle, we can't have displacement with these new technologies, but it is interesting that so far it has not happened," York said. "One reason the results seem surprising is that we, as societies, tend to see demand as an exogenous thing that generates supply, but supply also generates demand. Generating electricity creates the potential to use that energy, so creating new energy technologies often leads to yet more energy consumption."

Related to this issue, he said, was the development of high-efficiency automobile engines and energy-efficient homes. These improvements reduced energy consumption in some respects but also allowed for the production of larger vehicles and bigger homes. The net result was that total energy consumption often did not decrease dramatically with the rising efficiency of technologies.

"In terms of governmental policies, we need to be thinking about social context, not just the technology," York said. "We need to be asking what political and economic factors are conducive to seeing real displacement. Just developing non-fossil fuel sources doesn't in itself tend to reduce fossil fuel use a lot -- not enough. We need to be thinking about suppressing fossil fuel use rather than just coming up with alternatives alone."

The findings need to become part of the national discussion, says Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation at the UO. "Research from the social sciences is often lost in the big picture of federal and state policymaking," she said. "If we are to truly solve the challenges our environment is facing in the future, we need to consider our own behaviors and attitudes."


Stop! Don’t Cut that Wire! That’s a Chevy Volt!

The “Grab the Cat” scene from the movie Lethal Weapon 3 is being played out in training rooms across America thanks to a generous $4.4 million grant from the Department of Energy.

If you’re not familiar with the scene, first responders, Detectives Riggs and Murtaugh, are trying to disarm a car bomb, while a cat plays nearby. Riggs doesn’t know which wire to snip, so he just snips one at random. As he watches the bomb’s timer begin to hyper-accelerate, he realizes that he’s cut the wrong wire. He casually says to his partner Roger Murtaugh, “Hey, Rog?”

“Yeah,” says Murtaugh.

“Grab the cat.”

The men and the cat escape in the nick of time.

Well that scene, minus the explosion, is just another of the unintended benefits brought to us by the award-winning designers of the Chevy Volt.

Unlike old-fashioned lead acid batteries, the Chevy Volt lithium battery contains enough of a punch that it can kill you- and anyone else who is not grounded- if first responders cut the wrong wires or even the right ones, as Stephen Smoot reminded us last week on Townhall.

After taking us through the procedure first responders are supposed to use to cut the wires, Smoot writes: "General Motors also warns that 'cutting these cables can result in serious injury or death.'"

Nothing like making first responders’ jobs more hazardous. Give that car an award for design innovation!

“Besides attending to and rescuing the injured, first responders must now be aware of the potential hazards the new alternative-fuel technology may pose,” says Energyboom’s transportation correspondent Jace Shoemaker. “In order to keep both passengers and rescue crews safe, first responders must be aware of the potential for electrical shock, dangers of unintended vehicle movement, the challenges of charging stations and fires.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring training for first responders through the Department of Energy grant, “Training programs will help first responders ascertain whether the car is disabled or not, provide information about how to power down vehicles, demonstrate how to safely disconnect the high-voltage system, and show safe cut points for extrication.”

Before I even get in a vehicle, I always try to identify the safe cut points for extrication. My family and I make a game of it on the way to Grandma’s.

“Anyone who can guess the safe cut points for extrication gets to sit near one!” I say.

“Hurray, I’m going to live…assuming I don’t get electrocuted or crushed by unintended vehicle movement or burn up in a lithium-coolant fire,” says the winner.

In response, General Motors- after a year of sales- is considering ways to allow first responders to discharge the battery so they can have a safe working environment.

“I can’t conceive that they didn’t have a standard operating procedure in place for handling a wrecked vehicle before the car went on sale,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington according to Bloomberg. “NHTSA and GM should have established protocols in place before it went on sale.”

Yeah, well that’s all fine and good in the real world, but the Chevy Volt is a government program. It’s not about results, it’s a “journey of personal discovery.”

“In all instances when there’s an accident, you have to have a protocol,” says Dan Akerson, GM’s chief executive officer, writes Bloomberg. “That was a good lesson that came out of this.”

Wow. Akerson almost sounds like he has done this before.

Maybe that’s a lesson he learned as the last company he was CEO of, XO Communications, went into bankruptcy.

In 1999, just three years before bankruptcy, mediabistro reports that Akerson’s average monthly compensation at XO was $15,045,578. That’s $180, 546,396 for one year’s compensation.

That’s quite a safe cut point for extrication if you’re a CEO of a failing company.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those OWS types who think CEOs should make minimum wage. But since all of us are shareholders in GM, and since XO did go into bankruptcy and since Akerson was the knucklehead who decided two years ago to increase production capacity of the Chevy Volt by 50 percent, you do have to wonder if the guy has the extra capacity to learn anything.

Akerson’s flagship offering, the Chevy Volt, has all the safety features of the Pinto and the Corvair, housed in the elegant styling of the Gremlin with a 25 mile range- if you don’t use heat and air conditioning.

Just exactly why are we putting first responders or anyone else in danger for this vehicle? So that the Volt can win the first Nobel Prize in auto design? So it can be Time Magazine’s Man of the Year?


Speaking in my role as GM shareholder and innocent bystander, let me be the first to respond by saying “Grab the cat.”


Obama's Algae Racket

Michelle Malkin

Pond scum stinks. And so do the Obama administration's enormous, taxpayer-funded "investments" in politically connected biofuel companies. While the president embarks on a green rehabilitation tour this week to quell growing public outrage about big green boondoggles, the White House continues to cultivate a cozy algae racket.
Obama's promotion of algae as a fuel source at a campaign speech in Miami last month caught the nation's attention. But algae companies have been banking on administration support from Day One. In December 2008, when the White House announced the nomination of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the CEO of Florida-based biofuels startup Algenol, Paul Woods, exulted to Time magazine: "You see this smile on my face? It's not going away. Everyone is really excited by this."

The next year, Woods and Algenol -- dubbed "Obama's favorite algae company" by Forbes magazine -- racked up $25 million in federal stimulus grants from Chu. Say cheese.

Yet another algae-based biofuels developer, Sapphire Energy, has absorbed $105 million in stimulus funds and loan guarantees even as doubts about the practicality, efficiency and viability of pond-scum fuels multiply. Sapphire's CEO, Jason Pyle, has donated exclusively to Democratic campaigns, candidates and committees -- and his company's website reads like a satellite White House communications office:

-- "President Obama Announces $14 Million Funding Opportunity To Develop Transportation Fuels from Algae";

-- "President Obama's Secure Energy Blueprint -- Industry Reaction";

-- "Obama Defends Energy Policy, Hitting Back At Presidential Candidates."

Another prominent DOE recipient in the world of blue-green sludge? San Francisco-based Solazyme. The manufacturer of algae-based renewable fuels has scooped up more than $21 million in federal stimulus grants and contracts. Solazyme's ties to the White House and the Democratic establishment in Washington are myriad. As blogger J.E. Dyer at (which I founded in 2006 and sold in 2010) reported in December, Solazyme's "strategic advisers" include TJ Glauthier -- a member of the Obama presidential transition team who just happened to work "on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill."

Andrew Stiles of the Washington Free Beacon writes that Glauthier:

"serves on the board of EnerNOC Inc., a company that provides demand-response services to electric utility firms. EnerNOC won a $10 million contract with the Department of Energy Resources in 2010 despite being underbid by competitors, the Boston Herald reported. Glauthier also served on the board of SunRun, a solar financing company that received a $6.7 million federal grant in 2010."

And in total, Glauthier adds, "Solazyme officials including Glauthier have contributed at least $360,000 to Democrats since 2007."

Wait, that's not all. The head of Solazyme's Washington lobbying office is Drew Littman, former chief of staff for Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Littman's old pal, entrenched D.C. lobbyist and Obama appointee Michael Meehan, feted Littman earlier this year and bragged that "we couldn't be more thrilled to be working on a daily basis with Drew and the Solazyme team."

Thanks to one of President Obama's executive orders, Solazyme secured a $12 million contract with the U.S. Navy to unload hundreds of thousands of gallons of biofuel -- priced at an estimated four to seven times the normal cost of regular jet fuel.

This self-sustaining crony ecosystem, powered by administrative fiat and wealth redistribution, gives new meaning to the phrase "green crude."



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



slkttac said...

ON the pine bark beetles: Yes, they considered more than one factor. Now, let's see how correct they are when one of the many stands of dead trees catches fire. Models are wonderful, but until one of these huge dead forests catches fire, we won't know if this is true. This study also addresses crown fires and it's not clear what happens in other fires. Just because we like the implications of a study does not mean the predictability is any better than that of the greenies. It just means one more factor was involved. And personally, I often think a forest fire in a 3/4 dead forest would be an excellent outcome. Have you ever seen the damage and dead trees?

slktac said...

As for the study out of the University of Oregon, I believe someone named Jevons said the same thing over 100 years ago. Good of the University to reaffirm Jevons belief that that the more energy we have, the more we use.......Very modern, don't you think?