Thursday, May 24, 2012

The WWF's Living Planet Report

Last week the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a new report. Titled Living Planet Report 2012, it was discussed with breathless credulity by numerous media outlets (see here, here, here, here, and here, for example).

But there's actually little that's fresh, urgent, or newsworthy within these 164 pages. The report is primarily a prop - a device to help the WWF keep its name in the news. In March, the media devoted gallons of ink to the corporate-driven WWF event known as Earth Hour. Mere weeks later, it's once again providing these professional nags with a megaphone.

What message is being broadcast? The same old, same old. Humans are a plague on the planet. The world is headed to hell in a hand basket. The sky is falling, and it's all our fault.

Over at The Register, Lewis Page has written a critical analysis of the report (be sure to click through to page 2; backup links here and here ). He points out that, rather than using standard measures commonly understood by everyone, the WWF and similar groups have invented their own indices. Might this be because, if they used a standard approach, they'd discover that things are not, in fact, getting worse?

Unlike most journalists, Page takes statements in this WWF document to their logical conclusion. In doing so, he sees a grim, grey future no one would want to bestow on their grandchildren:
the only people on Earth who are [currently] living within their means are those in the poorest nations - their "footprint" exactly matches the "biocapacity" in their countries.offering a picture of the sort of life all human beings could aspire to in a WWF-run world.

... you are to accept a massively lower standard of living, in order to reduce your "footprint" to match your nation's "biocapacity".That means less heating when it's cold - no cooling at all, probably, when it's hot. It means sharply limited hot water: so dirtier clothes, dirtier bedding and a dirtier you - which will be nice as you will also have to live in a smaller home and travel almost exclusively on crowded buses or trains along with similar smelly fellow eco-citizens.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that an electronic search within this report turns up:

* 46 instances in which the WWF talks about what we need (as in "the choices needed to ensure a sustainable existence")

* and 24 uses of the word must (as in "temperature must not rise more than 2 degrees")

There's also heavy use of the word should. Need. Must. Should. Bossy bunch of folks, aren't they?

Nowhere, however, does the WWF bother to explain why an organization that is supposed to be saving wildlife is making statements about other matters entirely. And yet this report is full of declarations such as "Equitable resource governance is essential." and catch phrases like "societal inequality" (see pages 61 and 162). Indeed, the terms inequality and equality appear 28 times in this report.

This is a huge red flag. Equality is a political concept. In the world in which I live, people who want to make political decisions first need to get themselves elected.


Obama's war on coal hits your electric bill

Obama's War on Coal has already taken a remarkable toll on coal-fired power plants in America. Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a shocking drop in power sector coal consumption in the first quarter of 2012. Coal-fired power plants are now generating just 36 percent of U.S. electricity, versus 44.6 percent just one year ago. It's the result of an unprecedented regulatory assault on coal that will leave us all much poorer.

Last week PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) held its 2015 capacity auction. These are the first real, market prices that take Obama's most recent anti-coal regulations into account, and they prove that he is keeping his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket."

The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity - almost all natural gas - was $136 per megawatt. That's eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.

Why the massive price increases? Andy Ott from PJM stated the obvious: "Capacity prices were higher than last year's because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015." Northern Ohio is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, hence the even higher price.

These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These are the actual prices that electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. The costs will be passed on to consumers at the retail level.

House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) aptly explained: "The PJM auction forecasts a dim future where Americans will be paying more to keep the lights on. We are seeing more and more coal plants fall victim to EPA's destructive regulatory agenda, and as a result, we are seeing more job losses and higher electricity prices."

The only thing that can stop this massive price hike now is an all-out effort to end Obama's War on Coal and repeal this destructive regulatory agenda.

The Senate will have a critical opportunity to do just that when it votes on stopping Obama's most expensive anti-coal regulation sometime in the next couple of weeks. The vote is on the Inhofe Resolution, S.J. Res 37, to overturn the so-called Utility MACT rule, which the EPA itself acknowledges is its most expensive rule ever.

This vote is protected from filibuster, and it will take just 51 votes to send a clear message to Obama that his War on Coal must end.

Of course, Obama could veto the resolution and keep the rule intact, although that would force him to take full political responsibility for the massive impending jump in electricity prices.


Climate Change as pushed by the IPCC is Daylight Robbery

The first robbery was with the definition of climate change. Most believe they examine all causes of climate change, but they use Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
"a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over considerable time periods."

You cannot determine human effects unless you understand natural climate change and we don't.

The second robbery involved admitting the severe limitations of their science, but convincing the public it was settled. They produce "The Physical Science Basis" that they know few read or understand. It's completed and set aside while a Synthesis Report or Summary for Policymakers is written and released at an orchestrated press conference months before the Science Report. The two are markedly different.

The third robbery involves Summary claims that computer models are scientifically sound. Media focus on temperature projections invariably putting the highest increase in the headlines. These projections are predetermined, and always wrong. The Science Report explains why they cannot be correct. Here are 17 quotes from Chapter 8 of the 2007 Science Report.
Nevertheless, models still show significant errors. Although these are generally greater at smaller scales, important large-scale problems also remain.

Due to the limited resolutions of the models, many of these processes are not resolved adequately by the model grid and must therefore be parametrized. The differences between parameterizations are an important reason why climate model results differ.

Since the TAR, there have been few assessments of the capacity of climate models to simulate observed soil moisture. Despite the tremendous effort to collect and homogenize soil moisture measurements at global scales (Robock et al., 2000), discrepancies between large-scale estimates of observed soil moisture remain.

The global Aerosol Model Intercomparison project, AeroCom, has also been initiated in order to improve understanding of uncertainties of model estimates, and to reduce them (Kinne et al., 2003).

Our assessment is that although problems remain, climate models are improving in their simulation of extratropical cyclones.

Unfortunately, the total surface heat and water fluxes (see Supplementary Material, Figure S8.14) are not well observed.

These errors in oceanic heat uptake will also have a large impact on the reliability of the sea level rise projections.

Evaluation of the land surface component in coupled models is severely limited by the lack of suitable observations. Large discrepancies remain in albedo for forested areas under snowy conditions, due to difficulties in determining the extent of masking of snow by vegetation (Roesch, 2006).

The evaluation of the hydrological component of climate models has mainly been conducted uncoupled from AOGCMs (Bowling et al., 2003; Nijssen et al., 2003; Boone et al., 2004). This is due in part to the difficulties of evaluating runoff simulations across a range of climate models due to variations in rainfall, snowmelt and net radiation.

Despite considerable effort since the TAR, uncertainties remain in the representation of solar radiation in climate models (Potter and Cess, 2004). Several other groups have evaluated the impact of coupling specific models of carbon to climate models but clear results are difficult to obtain because of inevitable biases in both the terrestrial and atmospheric modules (e.g., Delire et al., 2003).

Blocking events are an important class of sectoral weather regimes (see Chapter 3), associated with local reversals of the mid-latitude westerlies. There is also evidence of connections between North and South Pacific blocking and ENSO variability.but these connections have not been systematically explored in AOGCMs.

Despite this progress, serious systematic errors in both the simulated mean climate and the natural variability persist.

Due to the computational cost associated with the requirement of a well-resolved stratosphere, the models employed for the current assessment do not generally include the QBO.

In short, most AOGCMs do not simulate the spatial or intra-seasonal variation of monsoon precipitation accurately.

For models to simulate accurately the seasonally varying pattern of precipitation, they must correctly simulate a number of processes (e.g., evapotranspiration, condensation, transport) that are difficult to evaluate at a global scale.

This suggests that ongoing improvements in model formulation driven primarily by the needs of weather forecasting may lead also to more reliable climate predictions.

The spatial resolution of the coupled ocean-atmosphere models used in the IPCC assessment is generally not high enough to resolve tropical cyclones, and especially to simulate their intensity.

Many won't understand the comments, which is exactly the point. Some of these alone are sufficient to invalidate the models. Collectively they're a disaster, but illustrate the charge of Daylight Robbery. IPCC can say we told you about the problems; it isn't our fault you don't understand.


Global Warming Author Says "Bar-Code Everyone at Birth"

Orwell lives!

In a fascinating insight into the mentality of those who espouse the mantra of catastrophic global warming, writer Elizabeth Moon has a short piece for the BBC in which she argues that everyone should be involuntarily implanted with a microchip at birth so that "anonymity would be impossible".

Elizabeth Moon, who writes about global warming, wants everyone implanted with microchips for ease of identification and enforcement.

Moon, who has published essays warning of the dire effects of global warming and even made catastrophic global warming part of the background to her novels, made the stunning revelation in a BBC Radio programme on possible futures. Asked for her vision for the future of humanity, Moon stunned and "terrified" the other guests with this vision:
If I were empress of the Universe I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached - a barcode if you will; an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals.

It would be imprinted on everyone at birth. Point the scanner at someone and there it is.

Anonymity would be impossible as would mistaken identity making it easier to place responsibility accurately, not only in war but also in non-combat situations far from the war

Moon's astonishing vision for the future reveals the warmist obsession with the supposed need for tracking and enforcement of personal behaviour. It reveals the fantasies of control and administration of everyday life that seem to motivate many of those whose professed concern is the future of the planet, but whose interests seem to actually lie in the ever-closer administration of individual's daily lives. Only last year, the Infowars website detailed some of the proposals that were being floated for controlling people's movements and activities, including carbon rationing and calorie cards whose avowed aim is the curtailment of people's lives in the name of saving the environment.

Given the horrific history of totalitarian state's attempts to dehumanise people by reducing them to mere ciphers, numbers in a database, you would think that an author such as Ms Moon who show a little cultural awareness and be wary of making proposals that apparently disregard the history of such attempts. But it seems that this is not the case. In revealing her fantasies of being "empress of the universe" and bar-coding humanity at birth, Ms Moon has done us all a service in giving us a glimpse into the future for us all which her and many others like her would like to see.


Poverty reduction vs climate change

by Professor Will Alexander, writing from South Africa

You might have noticed that the phrase poverty reduction is in the process of overtaking climate change as the issue of major international concern. The phrase sustainable development is also losing ground. It never was implementable and now the UN organisers of Rio+20 are struggling to get an international agreement on its objectives.

All of this is because climate change was used as a weapon by the affluent nations of the West to maintain their supremacy over the world's rapidly developing nations. The Kyoto Protocol was one of the mechanisms to achieve this objective. Another was promises of substantial economic aid (with conditions attached) to enable the developing nations to abandon the use of cheap coal to more expensive electricity generating methods such as wind turbines, solar panels and biofuels. Nuclear energy was the only economically viable large scale alternative but the public were worried because of its linkage with nuclear weapons and the consequences of nuclear fuel leakages and destruction of the power stations such as happened in Japan.

Despite these pressures, the use of coal continues to expand worldwide including here in South Africa. Now the world sees the almost universal use of shale gas as the alternative source of energy for the future. Here in South Africa the authorities have just given the go ahead for shale gas exploration after a long hesitation based on environmental considerations.

Economic turmoil

Unfulfilled promises of economic aid have been a characteristic of meetings of high-level wealthy nations under the leadership of the G8 nations. The establishment of the notorious and grossly misleading Stern Review was an outcome of the G8 meeting at Gleneagles in 2005.

The African countries have repeatedly stated that they require trade not aid. This fell on deaf ears in the Western countries but there has been a rapid growth of bilateral trade between the African and the developing Eastern countries, particularly China, India and South Korea.

As I write, the EU nations are in economic turmoil. Any thought of large scale financial assistance to the developing countries to control their emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other undesirable gases is out of the question.

As a consequence, we now see the IPCC changing its tactics from mitigation (prevention) to adaptation. This is described in the IPCC's recent special report. Note that they are in deep water because accommodating climatic extremes - mainly floods and droughts - has been a function of the civil engineering profession since the beginning of civilisation thousands of years ago.

Computer programs

In passing, the first civilian use of mainframe computers was for the electronic storage and processing of hydro-meteorological data. Appreciating this, IBM allocated two senior mathematicians (Mandelbrot and Wallis) to become involved in advanced hydrological analyses. They published many reports that are still valid today.

I have had the unusual privilege of being directly involved in the transition from mainframe computers that occupied several adjacent rooms in the Department of Water Affairs; to desktop microcomputers; to personal computers; to laptops and now to handheld tablet computers that are far more powerful than the mainframe computers of old. My first personal computer was a Sinclair ZX 81, followed by BBC microcomputers with their excellent version of BASIC. The IBM compatible PCs were late on the scene but soon dominated the markets. I wrote all my own computer programs. Initially the outputs were to Epson dot matrix printers. I still have my Sinclair and BBC computers in my garage. I am uncertain what to do with them.

Global warmers are babes in the wood when it comes to developing computer programs to model natural processes. They fail to appreciate that the greater the number of variables in the model, the greater the level of uncertainty in the output. They believe the opposite. I discussed this issue in my invited Stander Memorial lecture that I titled The case of the multidimensional watermelon. I discuss alternative forms of process modelling in my handbook on analytical methods.

Today there are half a dozen or so huge computer systems that we are told are capable of analysing climate on a global scale. There are two problems. The first is that the alarmist predictions produced by the models have failed to eventuate. The second and more important is that their outputs are not in a format that can be used for practical applications such as two-dimensional flood magnitude/ frequency relationships and three-dimensional drought magnitude/ frequency/ duration relationships. The next step is the determination of human and structural vulnerability to floods and droughts. The final step is the development of measures to reduce the impact of these events.

All of this is far beyond the knowledge and experience of climate change scientists. So why should we take any notice of them? The reason is that they have infiltrated the South African authorities by linking climate change with postulated environmental damage which has popular and consequently political interest. They have diverted attention away from the very real water resource management problems that lie ahead.

Chickens coming home

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Last week our Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs addressed the media ahead of the budget vote in parliament. The following is a summary.

South Africa needs to spend R573bn over the next decade on water covering everything from maintenance and new infrastructures to operations. To do this it will need the private sector's help. Quite independently, there were television news items showing riots in parts of South Africa arising from lack of potable water supplies and deteriorating water infrastructures.

The future

I shudder when I consider how the South African authorities will cope with widespread droughts such as those of the 1980s and widespread floods such as those of the 1970s. There is nobody in authority with this experience. There will be chaos in this part of the world when (not if) the next round of widespread, severe droughts occurs. The authorities and even our research institutions are totally unprepared for this. The news media will not have difficulty in identifying the culprits for our unpreparedness.

Poverty reduction vs climate change


Pesky "Green" car

Report from Australia

Some customers have "failed" a Nissan test to see if they were suitable for the new Leaf electric car.

Nissan has knocked back some customers interested in purchasing its first electric car, the Leaf, because they have been deemed "unsuitable" for ownership.

The plug-in electric vehicle officially hits the market on June 1, but interested customers need to pass a two-stage approval test before being issued with a certificate that will allow them to purchase the $51,500 car from one of Nissan's special EV dealerships.

The test involves answering five questions about their intended usage for the car, followed by a visit from Nissan's electrical supplier Origin Energy for an assessment of the suitability of the customer's home electrical network.

Speaking at a promotional event at Melbourne's Federation Square designed to raise awareness of the Leaf's non-reliance on petrol, Nissan Australia model line manager James Staveley told Drive the company had approved about 100 customers with another 100 undergoing the process.

Some intending customers have also been declined. "If you answered that you regularly drive from Melbourne to Sydney, then we might have politely informed the customer that this is not the car for them," Staveley says.

"The majority of customers we have declined have been because they don't have off-street parking available to them, which we consider essential for a safe and convenient recharging environment."

When Mitsubishi brought the only other mass-produced electric car available in Australia to market, the i-MiEV, it initially appointed leases only to high-profile corporate customers.

As supply restrictions eased it later placed the car on general sale, although Nissan says it intends to maintain its selection criteria "to ensure our customers have a great experience with the Leaf".

Nissan Australia is only holding one firm order on its books for the Leaf. "We chose to do it that way. We held a competition to be the first person to own a Leaf in Australia, and the family that won now holds the first and only order," Staveley says.

For customers who pass the two "toll gates" of the selection process, the car will retail for $51,500 (plus on-road and dealer costs). That includes a recharging cable, but not a wall-mounted recharging station.

A package including the telephone book-sized station adds a minimum of $2700 to the price, or more depending on the logistics involved in its installation.

Staveley says the recharging station isn't a mandatory purchase, but that plugging the car directly into a 15-amp power outlet - which is the minimum infrastructure required and costs several hundreds of dollars to install - will take five hours longer to fully charge the car.

"It's the customer's choice but we'd really prefer that people take the option of the recharging station because then we know it's being properly and appropriately installed and minimises the risk of anything going astray," he says.



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


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