Monday, April 23, 2012

Sun doing strange things

The sun may be entering a period of reduced activity that could result in lower temperatures on Earth, according to Japanese researchers.

Officials of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation said on April 19 that the activity of sunspots appeared to resemble a 70-year period in the 17th century in which London’s Thames froze over and cherry blossoms bloomed later than usual in Kyoto.

In that era, known as the Maunder Minimum, temperatures are estimated to have been about 2.5 degrees lower than in the second half of the 20th century.

The Japanese study found that the trend of current sunspot activity is similar to records from that period.

The researchers also found signs of unusual magnetic changes in the sun. Normally, the sun’s magnetic field flips about once every 11 years. In 2001, the sun’s magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere, flipped to the south.

While scientists had predicted that the next flip would begin from May 2013, the solar observation satellite Hinode found that the north pole of the sun had started flipping about a year earlier than expected. There was no noticeable change in the south pole.

If that trend continues, the north pole could complete its flip in May 2012 but create a four-pole magnetic structure in the sun, with two new poles created in the vicinity of the equator of our closest star.


Century old map throws new doubt on climate change sea level claims

A new book on the history of New Zealand has inadvertently stirred the climate change debate by revealing a near zero sea level increase over the past century.

The book, The Great Divide, includes a 100 year old map of Cloudy Bay lagoons in New Zealand, drafted back in 1912 to show the location of 20 kilometres of canals dug with wooden spades by ancient Maori.

However, when the 1912 map is shown alongside a satellite image of the same location from Google Earth, it reveals not only the startling accuracy of the original map (drafted at a time when aerial photography did not exist) but also a stunning lack of Pacific Ocean encroachment on the narrow shoal linking the lagoons to the sea.

The shoal is comprised of rock and pebbles, making it an ideal weathervane for sea level increase as it’s less prone to erosion than shifting sands.

Even the narrowest and lowest part of the bar, marked with a black squiggle on the 1912 map, remains the same in 2012.

SOURCE  (See the original for links and graphics)

That unique Warmist logic again

Polar bears may have survived multiple warm and ice-free episodes, so The Independent assumes they are at even greater risk

Polar bears are 450,000 years older than we thought – Endangered predator may be particularly vulnerable to rapid climate change in Arctic, experts fear

    The polar bear is a much older species than previously thought and probably emerged as the Arctic’s top land predator when a cold-adapted bear diverged from an ancestral brown bear about 600,000 years ago, a study has found.

    The findings suggest that the evolution of the world’s largest land carnivore was a much slower process than originally believed, which indicates that the polar bear may be more vulnerable to rapid climate change in the Arctic than previously suggested.


Biodiversity Bombshell: Polar Bears And Penguins Prospering, But Pity Those Paramecia!

Just last year, the World Wildlife Fund’s climate blog headlined that “Polar Bear Population in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay Unlikely to Survive Climate Disruption.” But it seems that since then this subpopulation, previously believed to be among the most threatened subpopulations due to global warming, has made a miraculous recovery. According to aerial surveys released by the Government of Nunavat this month, their numbers are at least 66% higher than expected. This region, which straddles Nunavat and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered to be a bellwether for how well polar bears are faring elsewhere in the Arctic.

And to top off that happy news, recent space satellite images reveal that 36 colonies of Antarctic emperor penguins are twice larger than researchers previously thought. In fact four additional colonies that scientists hadn’t known about were discovered as well.

But don’t get complacent. Now, just when growing public immunity to feverish global warming hype is relieving hallucinatory sweats, another climatic crisis looms nigh. While some of it is still attributable to “climate change” along, with other human-caused dilemmas, there is a big difference. Yup, this one is much worse. I’m referring here to mass extinctions of species we don’t yet even know about…not to mention even some that we do. This constitutes nothing less than a planetary biodiversity crisis!

Alarm over biodiversity peril got a big boost a decade ago when Harvard ant biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson estimated that 50,000 species are going extinct. When Environmental activist Tim Keating of Rainforest Relief was asked if he could name any of them he replied: “No we can’t, because we don’t know what those species are. But most of the species we’re talking about in those estimates are things like insects and even microorganisms.” Apparently they primarily inhabited the computer hard drive that generated his theoretical model.

Regarding Wilson’s predictions, U.K. scientist and professor emeritus of Biogeography at the University of London Philip Stott commented, “The Earth has gone through many periods of major extinctions, some much larger than even being contemplated today.” He went on to say “…the idea that we can keep all species that now exist would be anti-evolutionary, anti-nature and anti the very nature of the Earth in which we live.”

Adding fuel to the fire of extinction frenzy is a March 4, 2011 paper published in the journal Nature proclaiming “World’s Sixth Mass Extinction May be Underway: Study”. It states that “Over the past 540 million years, five mega-wipeouts of species have occurred through naturally-induced events. But the new threat is man-made, inflicted by habitation loss, over-hunting, over-fishing, the spread of germs and viruses and introduced species, and by climate change caused by fossil-fuel greenhouse gases.”

Greenpeace co-founder and ecologist Dr. Peter Moore believes that the paper is seriously flawed and should never have made it through the peer-review process. In an interview posted on Climate Depot he observed that “Since species extinction became a broad social concern, coinciding with the extinction of the passenger pigeon, we have done a pretty good job of preventing species extinctions.” He also believes that “The authors [of the journal Nature] study greatly underestimate the rate new species can evolve, especially when existing species are under stress,” noting: “The polar bear evolved during the glaciations previous to the last one, just 150,000 years ago.”

Again, let’s take another look at those climate-threatened polar bears …the ones adrift and stranded on melting ice caused by our coal-fired power plants and oil-fueled SUVs. A federal investigation into those claims has seriously questioned that. It seems a 2006 paper in the journal Polar Biology indicating that “drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues” lacked any real evidence.

That conclusion, which may have been largely responsible for getting polar bears listed as a “threatened species”, was based upon a sighting of four bear carcasses from an aircraft at an altitude of 1,500 feet over the Beaufort Sea that likely died during a storm. Biologist Charles Monnett, the lead scientist on the paper, has returned to work after being placed on administrative leave over the matter. Quite obviously, his own livelihood isn’t threatened. He presently manages $50 million in studies at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. What have been endangered, however, are any near-term prospects for Arctic drilling.

Then there’s the matter of those minnow-size “delta smelt” that were determined to be endangered  by agricultural and urban fresh water diversions from California’s San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers into their briny eastern marsh habitats. Based upon their listing by the California Fish and Game Commission as an endangered species, water channeled to the Central Valley was cut by up to 90%.  This led to 40% unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley, turning that major food basket into an empty dust bowl.

There are some big questions about the basis for that decision as well. Two scientists, Frederick V. Feyer of the Bureau of Reclamation and Jennifer M. Norris of the Fish and Wildlife Service, were called to task for presenting misleading court testimony. Regarding Dr. Norris, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger commented: “I find her testimony to be that of a zealot. I’m not overstating the case, I’m not being histrionic, I’m not being dramatic. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve seen a few witnesses testify.”

He went on to say, “Does the court reasonably rely on this kind of analysis? What the court uses as the term to describe it is opportunistic. It is an answer searching for a question. It is an ends/means equation where the end justified the means no matter how you got there. Whether you use statistics, whether you use anything that is objective or not.”

Twelve state and local Southern California water agencies are now also suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a no-explanation July 2011 decision to double the size of the habitat for a small “vulnerable” algae-eating fish known as the “Santa Ana sucker”. Of course saving the suckers will come at a high price, straining water supplies and raising living costs for up to 3 million citizens in the Inland Empire region. Not surprisingly, there are many, including environmental organizations, who don’t think this is warranted. The Santa Ana Sucker Fish Task Force, for example, sees it as a flat-footed federal effort using “sloppy science” to horn in on their currently successful conservation practices.

A spotted owl protection effort killed logging and created ghost towns throughout the Northwest, only to later discover that the kindness campaign made little difference. Government studies ultimately revealed that those spotted owls weren’t logging casualties at all. Instead, they were being victimized by their cousins, the barred owls, who crowded them out of habitats and attacked them. So the government then came up with a $200 million “barred owl removal plan” to literally shoot the interlopers, a subspecies of the same Mexican owl clan. This has come to be a very familiar solution…namely, for government to choose losing favorites and kill strong competitors.

Now, as if deadly human CO2 emission climate endangerment of polar bears, logging displacement of spotted owls, and water diversion from California agriculture for delta smelt and Santa Anna suckers wasn’t scary enough, domestic oil and gas drilling is now claimed to threaten yet another innocent creature.  In December 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that a native three-inch Southwestern U.S. reptile “faces immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicide treatments.” Then they initiated the process to get it listed under the all-purpose Endangered Species Act. Should this designation be granted, oil and gas production in the New Mexico and Texas Permian Basin containing an estimated 20% of our nation’s reserves  and a quarter of our active oil and gas wells may need to be shut down.

First filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2002, the Bush administration delayed consideration of the petition for six years. An issue of dispute now is whether the “dunes sagebrush lizard” in question is truly a separate species, or rather, a common sagebrush lizard subspecies…in which case, they can just drag their scrawny tails back to Mexico where they came from. The Obama administration has now put the matter back on a high priority track… along with the designation of vast regions in and off Alaska as protected areas for caribou and polar bears.

As E. Calvin Beiser observed in a June 4, 2010 Washington Times article “Move Over, Global Warming- Biodiversity is the Next Central Organizing principle of Human Civilization”, that climate catastrophe alarmism follows a familiar tactic. It is typically based upon computer model projections and hypotheses, not supported by observable empirical evidence. A central premise holds that our modern industrial, agricultural, capitalist society promotes population growth and consumption that is not “natural”.

Following this theme, saving Earth from catastrophic man-made climate change has served as the central United Nations rallying mantra over more than two decades. Now, as public warming fears continue to cool, it is cranking up the thermostat on biodiversity alarm. Addressing attendees at the U.N.’s October 2010 biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, Environment Minister Ryo Matsumoto’s opening remarks were reminiscent of proclamations broadcast at all of the annual global warming summits. “We are now close to a ‘tipping point’- that is, we are about to reach that threshold beyond which biodiversity loss will become irreversible, and may cross that threshold in the next 10 years if we do not make proactive efforts for conserving biodiversity.”

The message is clear. If we don’t begin to curb carbon-fueled capitalism and transfer governance and unfair wealth to the U.N right away, many thousands of as-of-yet undetermined insects, microbes and other species are most surely doomed!

Can you live with that guilt?


Skepticism among Canadian Conservatives too

Ahead of Sunday's Earth Day, Alberta's Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith has made headlines because of her views on the environment. Essentially, Smith, the front-runner in the race to become the province's next premier, isn't convinced climate change is real. According to the Edmonton Journal, she was forced to defend her position again at a leader's debate Thursday.

"We've been watching the debate in the scientific community, and there is still a debate," Smith said amid the deafening jeers from live audience.

"I will continue to watch the debate in the scientific community, but that's not an excuse not to act."

Believe it or not, Smith isn't the only right-leaning politician in Canada to discount the climate change hypotheses. In January, Postmedia News 'outed' several deniers in the federal Conservative caucus.

The list includes Stephen Harper's senate appointees Nancy Greene Raine and Bert Brown. Brown, described by his colleagues as the party's  'resident denier,' rose in the senate to speak about the topic earlier this month.

"Despite government spending over $30 billion on climate research, there is still no empirical evidence to show that carbon dioxide has any effect on global climate," he said.

Maxime Bernier, the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, is another doubter.

He, according to Postmedia News, believes climate change scientists from around the world are involved in a conspiracy to exaggerate warnings about the dangerous impacts of fossil-fuel consumption and rising greenhouse gas emissions.

"Every week that goes by confirms the wisdom of our government's modest position," Bernier wrote in a letter defending the Harper government's climate change policies.

"There is, in fact, no scientific consensus. What's certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to resolve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about."

And, as for the prime minister, he has actually changed his tune in recent years.

Harper, Postmedia notes, used to question the credibility of scientific evidence linking human activity to global warming, but  has recently softened his rhetoric.

"I have said many times that climate change is a great problem for the world," Harper recently said in Parliament.


Should fish be eaten or just admired?

Australian Greenies say that  fishing disturbs nature so fishing should be forbidden in vast areas of Australia's extensive territorial waters  -- and the present Leftist Australian government is about to give Greenies just about all they want

Australia's newest Commonwealth marine reserve will be the world's largest "fattening paddock" for yellow fin tuna, but critics say only foreign fishing vessels will be reaping the benefits.

The one million square kilometre Coral Sea Marine Reserve will be the world's largest.

Chief among those arguing that commercial fishing should be allowed in the reserve is Canberra University's Dr Bob Kearney.  He is a former director of fisheries research in NSW and a fierce critic of what he claims is a decline in scientific rigour when it comes to Australia's plans to give up a third of its exclusive economic zone to marine reserves.

Dr Kearney says the Western Pacific tuna fishery is the world's last great fishing resource and Australia should be increasing its catch, rather than locking it up.  "It's just absolute nonsense, it's scientific claptrap to claim the yellow fin tuna is under any threat," he told ABC's Landline.  "The real problem for Australia is it's grossly under-exploited.

"While we've got a shortage of food, we're importing 70 - 75 per cent of our seafood."

Contrary to claims by conservation groups such as Greenpeace, Dr Kearney says yellow fin tuna stocks are not threatened by fishing and could be fished much harder.  "You couldn't wipe them out on known technology if they were $1 million each," he said.

But one of Australia's leading marine conservation scientists says that is not the point.  "I'm not arguing we need to protect the Coral Sea because it's hugely overfished, its actually the opposite argument," says Dr Terry Hughes, who is director of Coral Reef Studies at the ARC centre for Excellence in Townsville.

Dr Hughes is also one of 300 international marine scientists who have called on the Australian Government to make the Coral Sea Reserve a 100 per cent no-take park.

"The issue isn't about food security or about fisheries management, it's about preserving one of the last few pristine ecosystems on the planet for the benefit of future generations," he said.  "So we have a societal choice to make. Do we want to make everywhere in the ocean equally degraded or do we want to have a few places that are very special where we afford a higher level of protection?"

The Australian Government hopes to complete its rollout of marine reserves by the end of 2012 but could finalise the Coral Sea proposal in the coming weeks when Australia commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

The Government received more than 486,000 submissions during its 90-day public consultation period, with about 80 per cent generated by an international online campaign run by conservation groups.

The Protect Our Coral Sea Alliance comprises 14 organisations including the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the American Pew Foundation.

It has welcomed Australia's commitment to marine conservation but argues the Coral Sea proposal does not go far enough.  The alliance also wants a ban on all fishing.

Under the Coral Sea proposal released late last year, some commercial fishing would be allowed in the reserve.

But a group of longline operators fishing the Coral Sea say the restricted zones are unworkable.  They would rather be compensated than risk legal action for accidentally fishing in no-take areas.

"Our gear shifts around in the currents and we set that gear over about 50 miles (80 kilometres) in length in the water so we have to allow enough room for the gear not to drift over the line, if we drift over the line with any hooks into the park then we would be breaking the law," says Gary Heilmann, of De brett Seafoods.

He is the spokesman for the group representing 10 boats fishing out of Cairns and Mooloolaba.  Mr Heilmann says it costs about $50,000 to send a boat from Mooloolaba to the Coral Sea to fish for tuna and other large species.  He says the likely returns once the marine reserve is declared would not justify the cost.

'Fattening paddock'

Queensland Senator Ron Boswell says Australian boats are being forced out of the Coral Sea while Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands governments are licensing foreign operators to exploit the region's abundant tuna reserves.

"People are taking 700,000 tonnes of tuna just on the other side of the Coral Sea so Australia is providing a big fattening paddock for international fishermen to come in and take our catch," he said.

He has asked questions in the Senate about the likely cost of compensation which will also include about 40 prawn trawlers and the businesses supporting them.

"No-one's ever put a figure on it but I've done a rough count around Australia and there's 245 boats that are going to be displaced in one form or another and that is going to cost millions and millions of dollars," he said.

The Government says compensation and readjustment funding will be decided on a case-by-case basis and it expects to begin negotiations with the industry in the coming months.



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