“When the IPCC’s fifth assessment comes out in 2013 or 2014, there will be a major revival of interest in action that has to be taken,” said Dr. Pachauri, speaking of the periodic assessments rendered by the group of more than 400 scientists around the world that he leads. “People are going to say, ‘My God, we are going to have to take action much faster than we had planned.’”
Ethics are ‘missing dimension’ in climate debate, says IPCC head – Bahá’í World News Service
Why even pretend they are doing science? The outcomes were determined by politicians before the scientists even started.
Nature magazine is at it again
They are just a propaganda outfit these days
Big news last week was that new findings published in Nature magazine showed that human emissions of aerosols (primarily from fossil fuel use) have been largely responsible for the multi-decadal patterns of sea surface temperature variability in the Atlantic ocean that have been observed over the past 150 years or so. This variability—commonly referred to as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO—has been linked to several socially significant climate phenomena including the ebb and flow of active Atlantic hurricane periods and drought in the African Sahel.
This paper marks, in my opinion, the death of credibility for Nature on global warming. The first symptoms showed up in 1996 when they published a paper by Ben Santer and 13 coauthors that was so obviously cherry-picked that it took me and my colleagues about three hours to completely destroy it. Things have gone steadily downhill, from a crazy screamer by Jonathan Patz on mortality from warming that didn’t even bother to examine whether fossil fuels were associated with extended lifespan (they are), to the recent Shakun debacle. But the latest whopper, by Ben Booth and his colleagues at the UK Met Office indeed signals the death of Nature in this field.
The U.K. Met Office issued a press release touting the findings by several of their researchers, and didn’t pull any punches as to the study’s significance. The headline read “Industrial pollution linked to ‘natural’ disasters” and included things like:
These shifts in ocean temperature, known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO, are believed to affect rainfall patterns in Africa, South America and India, as well as hurricane activity in the North Atlantic - in extreme cases leading to humanitarian disasters.
Ben Booth, a Met Office climate processes scientist and lead author of the research, said: “Until now, no-one has been able to demonstrate a physical link to what is causing these observed Atlantic Ocean fluctuations, so it was assumed they must be caused by natural variability.
“Our research implies that far from being natural, these changes could have been largely driven by dirty pollution and volcanoes. If so, this means a number of natural disasters linked to these ocean fluctuations, such as persistent African drought during the 1970’s and 80’s, may not be so natural after all.”
An accompanying “News and Views” piece in Nature put the findings of Booth and colleagues in climatological perspective:
If Booth and colleagues’ results can be corroborated, then they suggest that multidecadal temperature fluctuations of the North Atlantic are dominated by human activity, with natural variability taking a secondary role. This has many implications. Foremost among them is that the AMO does not exist, in the sense that the temperature variations concerned are neither intrinsically oscillatory nor purely multidecadal.
But not everyone was so impressed with the conclusions of Booth et al.
For instance, Judith Curry had this to say at her blog, “Climate Etc.,”
Color me unconvinced by this paper. I suspect that if this paper had been submitted to J. Geophysical Research or J. Climate, it would have been rejected. In any event, a much more lengthy manuscript would have been submitted with more details, allowing people to more critically assess this. By publishing this, Nature seems to be looking for headlines, rather than promoting good science.
And Curry has good reason to be skeptical.
“In press” at the journal Geophysical Research Letters is a paper titled “Greenland ice core evidence for spatial and temporal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation” by Petr Chylek and colleagues, including Chris Folland of the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office.
In this paper, Chylek et al. examine evidence of the AMO that is contained in several ice core records distributed across Greenland. The researchers were looking to see whether there were changes in the character of the AMO over different climatological periods in the past, such as the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period—periods that long preceded large-scale human aerosol emissions. And indeed they found some. The AMO during the Little Ice Age was characterized by a quasi-periodicity of about 20 years, while the during the Medieval Warm Period the AMO oscillated with a period of about 45 to 65 years.
And Chylek and colleagues had this to say about the mechanisms involved:
The observed intermittency of these modes over the last 4000 years supports the view that these are internal ocean-atmosphere modes, with little or no external forcing.
Better read that again. “…with little or no external forcing.”
Chylek’s conclusion is vastly different from the one reached by Booth et al., which in an Editorial, Nature touted as [emphasis added]:
[B]ecause the AMO has been implicated in global processes, such as the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes and drought in the Sahel region of Africa in the 1980s, the findings greatly extend the possible reach of human activity on global climate. Moreover, if correct, the study effectively does away with the AMO as it is currently posited, in that the multidecadal oscillation is neither truly oscillatory nor multidecadal.
Funny how the ice core records analyzed by Chylek (as opposed to the largely climate model exercise of Booth et al.) and show the AMO to be both oscillatory and multidecadal—and to be exhibiting such characteristics long before any possible human influence.
Judith Curry’s words “By publishing this, Nature seems to be looking for headlines, rather than promoting good science” seem to ring loud and true in light of further observation-based research.
May God rest the soul of Nature.
SOURCE (See the original for references)
USHCN Surface Temperatures, 1973-2012: Dramatic Warming Adjustments, Noisy Trends
By Dr Roy Spencer
Since NOAA encourages the use the USHCN station network as the official U.S. climate record, I have analyzed the average [(Tmax+Tmin)/2] USHCN version 2 dataset in the same way I analyzed the CRUTem3 and International Surface Hourly (ISH) data.
The main conclusions are:
1) The linear warming trend during 1973-2012 is greatest in USHCN (+0.245 C/decade), followed by CRUTem3 (+0.198 C/decade), then my ISH population density adjusted temperatures (PDAT) as a distant third (+0.013 C/decade)
2) Virtually all of the USHCN warming since 1973 appears to be the result of adjustments NOAA has made to the data, mainly in the 1995-97 timeframe.
3) While there seems to be some residual Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in the U.S. Midwest, and even some spurious cooling with population density in the Southwest, for all of the 1,200 USHCN stations together there is little correlation between station temperature trends and population density.
4) Despite homogeneity adjustments in the USHCN record to increase agreement between neighboring stations, USHCN trends are actually noisier than what I get using 4x per day ISH temperatures and a simple UHI correction.
The next plot shows the differences between my ISH PDAT dataset and the other 2 datasets. I would be interested to hear opinions from others who have analyzed these data which of the adjustments NOAA performs could have caused the large relative warming in the USHCN data during 1995-97:
Trend Agreement Between Station Pairs
This is where I got quite a surprise. Since the USHCN data have gone through homogeneity adjustments with comparisons to neighboring stations, I fully expected the USHCN trends from neighboring stations to agree better than station trends from my population-adjusted ISH data.
But the ISH trend pairs had about 15% better agreement (avg. absolute trend difference of 0.143 C/decade) than did the USHCN trend pairs (avg. absolute trend difference of 0.167 C/decade).
Given the amount of work NOAA has put into the USHCN dataset to increase the agreement between neighboring stations, I don’t have an explanation for this result. I have to wonder whether their adjustment procedures added more spurious effects than they removed, at least as far as their impact on temperature trends goes.
And I must admit that those adjustments constituting virtually all of the warming signal in the last 40 years is disconcerting. When “global warming” only shows up after the data are adjusted, one can understand why so many people are suspicious of the adjustments.
Much more HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
Paper bags or Plastic? NEITHER says L.A.
If you’re the type of person who freezes up with indecision every time you’re asked that question, consider moving to Los Angeles — the city may decide for you.
“A Los Angeles City Council committee moved forward Wednesday with a plan to end the use of paper and plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, saying such a move would spur consumers to switch to more environmentally friendly reusable ones,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
By arguing that banning bags is just as important as banning smoking, the city’s Energy and Environment Committee has advanced a plan to ban bags at some 7,500 stores.
The proposal went forward with total disregard for plastic bag manufacturers and their employees. “I will be losing my job, losing my insurance. Please take that into consideration,” said Norma Fierro, an employee of Crown Poly, a company which expects to layoff between 20 and 130 employees if the ban in approved, according to the Times.
20-130 employees? That’s okay: it’s not like we’re in the middle of a faltering economy where even an investment of $5 million dollars can barely muster up 15 permanent jobs; saving the world from shopping bags if far more noble endeavor.
Well, maybe that’s unfair. Perhaps it didn’t occur to the city council that people might lose their jobs over the bag ban.
“Councilman Paul Koretz said he expected that Crown Poly would need to eliminate only a small number of positions,” the Times reports. Wait — the city council is aware the ban will result in layoffs?
Okay, so aside from the expected firings, what‘s the city’s plan to implement the ban? The Times explains:
"Under the proposal, the council would still need to draft an ordinance and initiate an environmental review of the bag phaseout. Once the ordinance is in effect, city officials would provide six months’ warning to stores — including supermarkets and other retailers that sell food — that plastic bags would no longer be permitted. Once the plastic bag ban is in place, supermarkets would be required to charge 10 cents for each paper bag. Six months later, paper bags would be prohibited as well, said Koretz, who wrote the proposal."
Unsurprisingly, the ban is being enthusiastically supported by environmentalist groups who say the vast majority of plastic bags don’t get recycled properly and are littering the city and ocean. They argue the ban will force consumers to use reusable bags.
“People will adjust,” councilman Dennis Zine said. “They’ll adapt.” Or we’ll just try to carry everything all at once…which is what we do half the time anyway.
And its gets even better. Mark Daniels, Vice President of Sustainability and Environmental Policy for Helix Poly, wrote in a statement (via the Daily Caller):
"The proposed policy will have no real impact on litter, instead it will only force residents to purchase less environmentally-friendly alternatives like reusable bags, nearly all of which are not recyclable, are less sanitary, are made in China using foreign oil, and often contain heavy metals. Worse, bag bans inflict a regressive tax on the disadvantaged, impose a burden on small businesses, and are a threat to local manufacturing jobs."
But despite these reasonable objections, it doesn’t look like the council has any plans to abandon its pursuit of a bag-free city. In fact, some council members want it take a step further.
“Andrea Alarcon, president of the Board of Public Works, had urged the panel to embrace a complete ban [as opposed to a phaseout], saying paper bags lead to deforestation,” the Times reports.
Really? We guess this means the next time we’re asked to choose between paper or plastic, what we’re really being asked is whether we’d rather destroy the ocean or level a forest. Decisions, decisions…
GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Five current articles below
Carbon tax is 'unconstitutional', says tax expert
A PROMINENT Australian legal expert says he believes the Gillard government's carbon tax is unconstitutional and that the three largest states stand a chance of successfully overturning the legislation in the event of a High Court challenge.
The University of New England academic and practising barrister, Bryan Pape, has provided legal advice to conservative policy think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, that says the carbon tax legislation — due to come into effect on July 1 — could be challenged on several grounds including that, "the Commonwealth cannot tax State property: Legally carbon dioxide emissions are State property".
The advice goes on to say that, in Mr Pape's legal opinion, "the Commonwealth cannot impose a carbon tax and other related penalties within the same Act. The Commonwealth cannot introduce a carbon tax within its external affairs powers".
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Mr Pape — a specialist in taxation and administrative law — made headlines in 2009 when he mounted a High Court challenge over Labor's $42 billion stimulus package, arguing that the $900 payments to individuals exceeded the federal government's taxation powers.
"These greenhouse gases are property owned by the States and it is impermissible for the Commonwealth to impose any tax on any property of any kind belonging to a State," Mr Pape said.
The full bench of the court ruled in favour of the Commonwealth by a margin of 4-3.
IPA Climate Change policy director, Tim Wilson, told the National Times today that the think tank had commissioned the advice in a bid to prod the states into action against the carbon tax, a piece of legislation the conservative body has long opposed.
"The IPA commissioned a legal opinion because state governments have sat on their hands and let the Gillard government introduce a tax that they could potentially stop," he said. "Only the High Court can decide the constitutionality of the carbon tax, but there are clear grounds to challenge it according to one of Australia's top administrative law minds."
Mr Wilson said the full text of the legal opinion would not be released "pending a possible legal challenge."
"A copy has being provided to the Premiers and Attorneys-General of the states with the best legal standing for a potential challenge – New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia," he said.
The legal advice will arrive on the desks of state premiers as they prepare to travel to Canberra this week for Friday's Council of Australian Governments meeting, where, for the first time in 4½ years in office, Labor will be outnumbered at the negotiating table.
NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland are all under conservative rule and a new opinion poll has today revealed that federal Labor now trails the Coalition in every state and territory on both primary votes and on a two-party preferred basis.
Companies urge war on environmental 'green tape'
THE business community has united to demand Julia Gillard and the premiers slash unwieldy environmental assessments and approvals processes, warning "green tape" is jeopardising $900 billion in resources and infrastructure projects.
In a rare move, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry last night issued a joint plea for the Prime Minister and state leaders to declutter the bloated national reform agenda so that it focused on fewer areas that would have the biggest impact on improving the economy.
The business groups said the new priorities should include scrapping the double-handling of environmental assessments on projects between the commonwealth and the states, fast-tracking the approvals for major projects including by quarantining some areas for resources exploration and exempting light industrial and residential developments from costly assessment processes.
The groups have also called for governments to axe more than 240 federal and state policies related to climate change and energy efficiency before the July 1 start of the carbon tax, revive the stalled energy reform agenda and cut business red tape.
On top of this, they want a new scheme for rewarding the states for making good on significant reforms after an impasse at last week's treasurers' meeting over the expiry of "national partnerships" agreements that trigger hundreds of millions of dollars in federal payments.
The groups have released their call in a discussion paper for the Council of Australian Governments business advisory forum that meets tomorrow with Ms Gillard and the premiers in Canberra, and will include BHP Billiton's Marius Kloppers, Rio Tinto's David Peever, Telstra's David Thodey, Wesfarmers' Richard Goyder and Pacific Brands chairman James MacKenzie.
In the paper, the groups cite the case of one major resources project that took more than two years to get environmental approvals, involved more than 4000 meetings and presentations with interest groups and prompted a 12,000-page report. The project was approved with more than 1200 state conditions and 300 federal conditions, with a further 8000 sub-conditions.
The BCA estimates that a 12-month delay to a 10 million-tonne coking coalmine in Queensland would cost the state $170 million in royalty revenues.
Last night, BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott said all businesses were "absolutely on the same page" about the need to cut business costs. "With the economy in transition and many businesses struggling to stay competitive, it is vital COAG is helped to look at all of its reforms through the lens of what is going to make it easier to do business, and reducing unnecessary business costs so the economy can grow faster."
The move is all the more significant as it is a rare show of unity by the business groups.
The BCA spans the top 100 chief executives, ACCI represents 350,000 large and small businesses and the AI Group represents more than 60,000 businesses. The politically sensitive small business lobby also provided input into the paper. It comes as the Gillard government attempts to improve its relations with the business community.
Corporate Australia's relationship with the government has been at a low point after disagreements over key policies, including the carbon tax, mining tax, industrial relations and the threat of new taxes on business in next month's budget.
Yesterday, Australian Securities Exchange chief executive Elmer Funke Kupper, who used to run gaming company Tabcorp, said his clients the 2223 sharemarket-listed companies were rendered less competitive because of the stalled reform agenda. "I'm a great supporter of my clients. National businesses and international businesses demand the most efficient model in Australia and there's no excuse for not having it, particularly in an environment where the economy is slowing and our competitiveness is under threat from the high dollar."
Mr Peever, the managing director of Rio Tinto Australia, said the COAG business advisory forum had to increase competitiveness and tomorrow's meeting should help establish a "proper framework" to develop a more effective way to create policy.
"Australia needs a proper policymaking process to ensure key reforms are delivered in the right way," he said. "A lack of proper process can inhibit good policy development and hold back the reform drive crucial to creating a more competitive Australia."
ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said tomorrow's meeting should give political leaders a "reality check" on the regulatory reform plans.
The paper by the business groups signals they will escalate their campaign against green tape.
Business wants to avoid the situation where Canberra knocks back assessments conducted under bilateral agreements with the states that are supposed to reduce the duplication in green approvals. It wants the federal government to commit to making a decision within six months of state approvals, and for the states to reserve areas for certain activities such as exploration.
"These reforms are essential to removing the double-handling of environmental assessments that do nothing to improve environmental outcomes but risk the cost-effectiveness and competitiveness of Australia's unprecedented investment pipeline. There are around $900bn of committed and prospective investment opportunities in large-scale projects, mostly in resources and economic infrastructure," the paper states.
On development assessment reforms, business wants the states to commit to a target where 50-70 per cent of applications for low-risk residential and light industrial developments are exempted from the process, with Canberra to consider reviving reward payments to states that update their planning systems.
The Productivity Commission has estimated this reform could deliver $225m in benefits to the economy.
Business figures cite the lengthy approvals and consultation processes that have hindered coal-seam gas projects, potentially adding to the costs of energy.
This could also be on the agenda at tomorrow's meeting as one participant is Origin Energy boss Grant King, who has accused the Greens of ignoring scientific consensus in its attack on CSG.
Wesfarmers's Mr Goyder is also likely to be well versed on the issue as the company's Coles supermarkets chain has raised concerns previously about inflexible and outdated planning controls on the size of stores.
New Qeensland State government to slash real estate "green" tape
The new government has a huge conservative majority
SCRAPPING real estate red tape will be the Newman Government's first legislative priority as it aims to kickstart Queensland's ailing property industry.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney yesterday confirmed laws to jettison sustainability declaration forms would be the initial legislation introduced by the new administration when Parliament resumes in mid-May.
The controversial mandatory forms aimed at tackling climate change have dogged home sellers since their introduction in 2010.
Despite revisions and a fine amnesty, the real estate industry has argued vehemently for the forms to be scrapped, insisting they add nothing to what is already a testing time for buyers and sellers.
The Newman Government will also streamline home sale contracts, as well as reinstate the $7000 residential stamp duty concession, in a bid to breathe life into the industry that has not fully recovered since the global financial crisis.
It comes as Premier Campbell Newman's Cabinet meets formally for the first time today to map out a broad first-term agenda after the LNP annihilated Labor at last month's election.
Other priorities for the Government's first month in office include freezing vehicle registration and commencing the introduction of the flood inquiry recommendations.
Mr Newman will also travel to Canberra on Friday to attend his first Council of Australian Governments meeting.
Mr Seeney yesterday told The Courier-Mail that the declaration form had become symbolic of all that was wrong with the Bligh Government. He said the forms added red tape without providing any real benefits to buyers. "It was just about feel-good green preferences rather than any sort of outcome at all," he said.
Mr Seeney said the LNP had recognised the importance of helping the property sector to aid the recovery of the overall Queensland economy.
Along with ditching red tape, Mr Seeney said getting more efficient decision-making would also help the sluggish industry. "What the industry wants is timely decisions," he said. "If it is 'yes' let them get on with it, and if it is a `no' then let them know so they can get on with something else."
Originally proposed in 2008, the sustainability declarations were pitched as a way buyers could easily compare the energy efficiency credentials of competing properties.
However, amid threats of fines of up to $2000 for failing to complete the forms, the former Bligh Government was forced to ditch some of the confusing questions amid an outcry from sellers and the real estate industry.
The initial two-page form required sellers to detail everything from the star rating of appliances to the width of hallways before they could put their property on the market.
Questions, such as one requiring sellers to detail whether "at least one entry from outside to inside the dwelling is provided by either a level entrance, no more than three steps, a ramp or a lift", were later erased.
However, even the current simplified version continued to court controversy with questions about the number of east and west-facing windows, the colour of the roof and the star rating of toilets.
Property Council Queensland executive director Kathy MacDermott said the measures promised by the LNP would help restore confidence in the residential market.
Ms MacDermott also backed plans to establish a Cabinet sub-committee and a "go to" person for the industry. "That will help interstate investors know who to go to so there is a clear direction," she said.
However, Ms MacDermott urged the Newman Government to go further by eliminating the temporary land tax surcharge introduced after the GFC and scrapping stamp duty from off-the-plan sales.
"If the property industry is allowed to operate at its full potential through great transparency and certainty in processes, it will go a long way to helping restore Queensland's balance sheet," she said.
New Queensland conservative government approves new mining-related projects -- including the building of a DAM
Horrors! Greenies hate ALL dams
THE state government has approved two mining-related projects and advanced aims for new dam in central Queensland.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney today said the Co-ordinator-General had approved applications from mining companies to expand a north Queensland freight terminal and move a rail route used to transport coal through central Queensland.
Pacific National has won approval to expand its freight terminal at Stuart in south Townsville.
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliances (BMA) is also able to proceed with proposed changes to a rail route from its Caval Ridge Coal Mine near Moranbah to the Queensland coast.
The Co-ordinator-General has also released the environmental impact statement for the proposed Nathan Dam on the Dawson River, north of Taroom, in the state's southeast.
Mr Seeney says the dam would unlock the potential of the Surat and Bowen basin regions in southern and central Queensland. "The project could create 425 jobs during its construction," he said in a statement.
Mr Seeney says the LNP is delivering on a promise to drive economic growth and focus the Coordinator-General's office on major projects.
The Coordinator-General said the expansion of Pacific National's freight terminal was compatible with existing and future development in the area.
The change in rail route for BMA's Caval Ridge mine provides a more direct route and reduces noise impacts on housing, the statement from the state government said.
Salvation Army opposes carbon tax
CHARITIES will be forced to cut back essential services for needy families as the carbon tax adds millions of dollars to operating costs.
In the latest challenge to the Gillard government's carbon tax, the Salvation Army estimated it would add $3.5 million to the annual landfill costs for charitable organisations.
The Salvation Army says it is bracing for an avalanche of useless household goods, dumped by people unwilling to pay higher rubbish tip fees as a result of the carbon tax.
In a confidential briefing note, it labelled the carbon tax "unjust and unfair" and said it would lead to "more dumping from a price-sensitive public".
Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong has assured charities that government assistance will be available to help them deal with the impact of a carbon tax which comes into effect from July 1.
"We have put in place a fund for charities to help them with the transition to the carbon price," she told ABC Radio today.
Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said it was absurd that programs such as support for victims of domestic violence and the homeless could be at risk.
"This hit on charities shows the stupidity of this carbon tax and exposes it as a policy failure," he said in a statement.
The Salvation Army warns the new tax will encourage struggling families to use the charity shops as a dumping ground for their unsaleable furniture and clothing rather than pay the cost of rubbish tips.
From July 1, the cost of going to the local tip will rise as the carbon tax hits landfill facilities.
About 25 per cent of pre-loved furniture and clothing collected by the Salvos, St Vincent de Paul Society and other charity organisations ends up at local rubbish tips.
"It is of considerable concern to us," National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations executive director Kerryn Caulfield said.
The Salvos said they would be paying between $687,000 and $1.25 million in additional landfill fees after July 1.
While the charity had about $300 million in annual revenue, Salvos Stores chief operating officer Frank Staebe said it was "another impost on our bottom line".
"What that really means is that less goes into social programs," Mr Staebe said.
St Vincents is also working out the costs of the carbon tax on its network of outlets and other services.
While charities would be hit inadvertently by the carbon tax, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the government's Community Energy Efficiency Program would be used to lower the energy use of community organisations.
Charities are preparing to open a new front in their campaign against the tax, warning it would lead to a reduction in services to the community's most vulnerable.
"The underlying issue here is that this is not waste which we generate," the Salvos said in the internal document.
"The carbon price is based on a 'polluter pays' philosophy and yet, once again, charitable recyclers will face soaring costs."
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