Friday, August 03, 2012

Lots of power stations and SUVs in Antarctica 50m years ago (apparently)

They "forget" to mention that CO2 levels were even higher during some very cold periods

RAINFORESTS thrived in Antarctica during a period of high atmospheric carbon levels 50 million years ago, scientists have discovered. And they are warning the planet's atmosphere could have similar levels of the greenhouse gas within hundreds of years.

An international team led by German scientists and involving University of Queensland Environmental Geologist Dr Kevin Welsh has found tropical palms grew on the coast of Antarctica 52 million years ago.

At that warm period in the earth's history, there was twice as much CO2 in the atmosphere as there is now and winter temperatures of 10C meant Antarctica's 4km thick ice sheet didn't exist.

"It's massively different to what we think of today," Dr Welsh told AAP. "It would be entirely ice-free and not only ice-free but warm enough that you'd have near-tropical rainforest actually growing along the margin of the continent."

Dr Welsh was on board the JOIDES Resolution as it drilled the seabed off the coast of Antarctica in early 2010 as part of the multi-national Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

The seabed cores brought to the surface are like a trip back in time for scientists, who can find evidence of temperature and ecology over millions of years.

They remain unsure why CO2 was so high 50 million years ago, but they say humans are on track to produce similar levels within centuries.

"If the current CO2 emissions continue unabated due to the burning of fossil fuels, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, as they existed in the distant past, are likely to be achieved within a few hundred years," said Professor Jorg Pross, lead author of a paper published in the journal Nature.

A bushwalk in Antarctica for our descendants remains unlikely because additional factors such as warm currents also contributed to the prehistoric warm period.

But changes are expected. "We could end up with an ice-free Antarctica," Dr Welsh said. "Even melting small amounts of ice from Antarctica has quite significant implications for sea level."


Pathetic worm Misleads US Congress

The politicization of climate science is so complete that the lead author of the IPCC's Working Group II on climate impacts feels comfortable presenting testimony to the US Congress that fundamentally misrepresents what the IPCC has concluded. I am referring to testimony given today by Christopher Field, a professor at Stanford, to the US Senate.

This is not a particularly nuanced or complex issue. What Field says the IPCC says is blantantly wrong, often 180 degrees wrong. It is one thing to disagree about scientific questions, but it is altogether different to fundamentally misrepresent an IPCC report to the US Congress. Below are five instances in which Field's testimony today completely and unambiguously misrepresented IPCC findings to the Senate. Field's testimony is here in PDF.

1. On the economic costs of disasters:
Field: "As the US copes with the aftermath of last year’s record-breaking series of 14 billion-dollar climate-related disasters and this year’s massive wildfires and storms, it is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disasters is clear."

What the IPCC actually said: "There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change"
Field's assertion that the link between climate change and disasters "is clear," which he supported with reference to US "billion dollar" economic losses, is in reality scientifically unsupported by the IPCC. Period. (More on the NOAA billion-dollar disasters below.) There is good reason for this -- it is what the science says. Why fail to report to Congress the IPCC's most fundamental finding and indicate something quite the opposite?

2. On US droughts:
Field: "The report identified some areas where droughts have become longer and more intense (including southern Europe and West Africa), but others where droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter."

What the IPCC actually said: "... in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ..."
Field conveniently neglected in his testimony to mention that one place where droughts have gotten less frequent, less intense or shorter is ... the United States. Why did he fail to mention this region, surely of interest to US Senators, but did include Europe and West Africa?

3. On NOAA's billion dollar disasters:
Field: "The US experienced 14 billion-dollar disasters in 2011, a record that far surpasses the previous maximum of 9."

What NOAA actually says about its series of "billion dollar" disasters:  "Caution should be used in interpreting any trends based on this [data] for a variety of reasons"
Field says nothing about the serious issues with NOAA's tabulation. The billion dollar disaster meme is a PR train wreck, not peer reviewed and is counter to the actual science summarized in the IPCC. So why mention it?

4. On attributing billion dollar disasters to climate change, case of hurricanes and tornadoes:
Field:  "For several of these categories of disasters, the strength of any linkage to climate change, if there is one, is not known. Specifically, the IPCC (IPCC 2012) did not identify a trend or express confidence in projections concerning tornadoes and other small-area events. The evidence on hurricanes is mixed."

What the IPCC actually said (p. 269 PDF): "The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados"
Hurricanes are, of course, tropical cyclones. Far from evidence being "mixed" the IPCC was unable to attribute any trend in tropical cyclone disasters to climate change (anywhere in the world and globally overall). In fact, there has been no trend in US hurricane frequency or intensity over a century or more, and the US is currently experiencing the longest period with no intense hurricane landfalls ever seen. Field fails to report any this and invents something different. Why present testimony so easily refuted? (He did get tornadoes right!)

 5. On attributing billion dollar disasters to climate change, case of floods and droughts:
Field: "For other categories of climate and weather extremes, the pattern is increasingly clear. Climate change is shifting the risk of hitting an extreme. The IPCC (IPCC 2012) concludes that climate change increases the risk of heat waves (90% or greater probability), heavy precipitation (66% or greater probability), and droughts (medium confidence) for most land areas."

What the IPCC actually says (p. 269 PDF): "The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses"

and (from above): "in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America"
Field fails to explain that no linkage between flood disasters and climate change has been established. Increasing precipitation is not the same thing as increasing streamflow, floods or disasters. In fact, floods may be decreasing worldwide and are not increasing in the US. The fact that drought has declined in the US means that there is no trend of rising impacts that can be attributed to climate change. Yet he implies exactly the opposite. Again, why include such obvious misrepresentations when they are so easily refuted?

Field is certainly entitled to his (wrong) opinion on the science of climate change and disasters. However, it is utterly irresponsible to fundamentally misrepresent the conclusions of the IPCC before the US Congress. He might have explained why he thought the IPCC was wrong in its conclusions, but it is foolish to pretend that the body said something other than what it actually reported. Just like the inconvenient fact that people are influencing the climate and carbon dioxide is a main culprit, the science says what the science says.

Field can present such nonsense before Congress because the politics of climate change are so poisonous that he will be applauded for his misrepresentations by many, including some scientists. Undoubtedly, I will be attacked for pointing out his obvious misrepresentations. Neither response changes the basic facts here. Such is the sorry state of climate science today.


Courtroom Chaos as New Zealand Skeptics Rout Government Climatists

New Zealand skeptics of man-made global warming score historic legal victory as discredited government climate scientists perform U-turn and refuse to allow a third party peer-review report of official temperature adjustments to be shown in court. Skeptic lawyers move for sanctions likely to prove fatal to government’s case.

New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are reeling after what may prove a fatally embarrassing admission that it is breaking a solemn undertaking given to parliament. NIWA had assured ministers that it would disclose a third party peer-reviewed report of its science for courtroom verification as part of its defense against a petition in the case of NZ Skeptics-v-NIWA.

NIWA’s decision renders an almighty self-inflicted wound to the government agency’s already dire credibility. But worse, the move will be regarded as contempt of court and thus permits the court to grant the plaintiff’s motions for punitive sanctions, including summary judgment. As such, this would bring a swift victory for skeptics with profound legal ramifications around the world. In the sparsely-measured southern hemisphere the New Zealand climate data is critical to claims about a verified global temperature record.

At a stroke this case may affirm that up to one quarter of our planet’s climate records have been fraudulently audited. As such this provides compelling legal ammunition to other pending/ongoing lawsuits that have arisen in the aftermath of the Climategate scandal. Immediate ramifications will be felt in Canada where popular skeptic climatologist Dr. Tim Ball is defending two vexatious libel suits against IPCC climatologists. Of those cases the one most likely to be impacted is that of Andrew Weaver-v-Tim Ball currently underway in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Weaver was lead author of a chapter on Global Climate Projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s report Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Weaver took exception to Ball’s widely-published denouncements of cherry-picking models.

Last year NIWA gave an undertaking to the Kiwi Parliament that it would permit external peer-review by scientists from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). This evidence was to be presented to the court to help resolve a drawn out legal battle to prove whether or not NIWA had cooked the country’s climate books. Lawyers for the jubilant skeptics are to motion for an adverse inference against the defendants on the grounds that they intentionally have “spoliated” the evidence (spoliation is the withholding/destroying of evidence).

As with the Kiwi case, over in Canada Tim Ball is having a hard time getting his court adversaries to be forthcoming in releasing their hidden data and records. As in any common law jurisdiction, when a litigant refuses to comply with the opposing party’s motions for disclosure then spoliation doctrine comes into play. Persistent refusal by any party in a lawsuit to hand over evidence on request renders them liable to severe sanctions. As with his Kiwi counterparts Ball will be hoping to win the adverse inference. If granted in these cases the jury will be directed to rule that the party withholding the evidence has done so “from a consciousness of guilt.” In other words, the juries will be directed to rule that climatologists refused to disclose the evidence because to do so would prove they intentionally falsified the climate records to get a predetermined outcome.

A jubilant Richard Treadgold, one of the skeptics involved in the case writes: ”This boils down to a confession to the Court that NIWA has no evidence to show that the BoM approves of NIWA’s review. NIWA does not even bother to present the ineffectual BoM covering letter at page 15 of the Review, for it expresses no approval of the report – though NIWA claims it does.”

But why is this victory in New Zealand so important in the world context?

Well, alarmists in the UN’s IPCC have touted the NIWA record, known widely as the Seven Station Series (7SS), Eleven Station Series (11SS), and NZTR, as proof of antipodean man-made climate warming. These number sets, along with the discredited Australian (BOM) records, represent the cornerstone of Australasia/South Pacific (Oceania) warming. That’s an area that constitutes two of our planet’s eight terrestrial ecozones; or, one quarter of the world’s ‘official’ climate record. In effect, this is a monumental blow to the legal validity of 25 percent of all the world’s climate records. Richard Treadgold has more of the details in ‘Affidavits are for ever’ (August 1, 2012)


Why have “Meatless Mondays” in schools? To reduce the threat of cow farts

Beef producers recently cried foul when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced to its employees that it would be imposing a “Meatless Mondays” program in the department’s cafeterias. In an employee newsletter, the department ironically criticized beef and dairy production, two industries it’s supposed to be promoting.
Because of public pressure, the department is now ditching the program . The USDA tweeted the newsletter had been posted "in error."

With that victory in hand, ranchers and cattlemen would be smart to turn their attention to K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, as the “Meatless Mondays” movement is already infecting the world of government education.

" Meatless Mondays" is a part of “The Monday Campaigns.” One of these efforts urges smokers to stay away from cigarettes every Monday. Another encourages young men to set aside Mondays “to visit their local clinics to get checked for HIV and STDs.” That campaign's slogan is, “If you hit it this weekend, hit the clinic Monday.” Another is, “Got Condoms? Restock Monday.” Classy.

“The Monday Campaigns” is supported by several health-related organizations, universities and strangely, the Fox News Channel.

“Meatless Mondays” has already spread to several major school districts, including New York City, Detroit, Baltimore, Miami-Dade, Oakland, as well as many others. It’s now being used by many colleges and universities, including Columbia, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Temple and Yale.

But what’s the agenda? Less cholesterol? Fewer fatsos? Perhaps, but a " K-12 Tool Kit" lists several other benefits of “Meatless Mondays,” including:

Reduce carbon footprint: The UN estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change.

In layman’s terms, the activists don’t like so many cows farting. Perhaps instead of sticking it to the ranchers, “Meatless Mondays” should advocate for the production of gas-capturing underpants for cows and let us eat what we want.


A Book Review of Brian Sussman’s “Eco-Tyranny”

In “Eco-Tyranny,” author Brian Sussman sounds a timely and important warning: The radical "greens" are not in retreat. With the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010 and the increasingly discredited alarmist theory of anthropogenic global warming, the greens may have lowered their public profile; however, with the full cooperation of the Obama administration, they are forging ahead with their illiberal agenda of gaining ever more control over the American economy and people.

Sussman, a trained meteorologist and veteran San Francisco talk-show host, has followed up his 2010 demolition of the global warming quackery, “ Climategate ," with a book that takes a big-picture view of the history, ideology, and goals of the anti-capitalist, anti-people green movement.

The event that drove Sussman to write “Eco-Tyranny” was a federal document to which a Department of Interior employee had alerted him. On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order titled, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Although that title hints at the immense scope of the order, it understates the frightening extent to which it expands the power of the federal government and constricts the rights and liberty of private citizens. According to Sussman’s Interior Department insider, the long-term goal of President Obama’s “green team” is to “divide the country into sectors where all humans would be herded into urban hubs” while most of the land would be “returned to a natural state upon which humans would only be allowed to tread lightly.” (The full text of the 14-page executive order is reproduced in the appendix of “Eco-Tyranny.”)

Far too few Americans are aware that environmentalism is one of the most virulent illiberal ideologies in the world. Sussman traces the history of illiberal environmentalism from the 1800s up to the present, and he includes a helpful summary of key dates in the appendix.

Remarkably, Sussman shows readers that such destructive figures as Marx, Lenin, and Hitler were intellectual and political forerunners of the modern illiberal green movement. Readers will be interested to learn of the four left-wingers who influenced and shaped the thinking of Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” marked the birth of the modern environmentalist movement.

“Eco-Tyranny” shows how closely the American left has worked to fulfill the United Nations’ explicit plans to hamstring American prosperity, using hundreds of billions of our own tax dollars against us.

Yes, we the American taxpayer have financed the green elite’s war against efficient energy sources. Sussman includes chapters devoted to the green attacks against nuclear energy and fossil fuels, with another chapter devoted to the wasteful, uneconomical boondoggles of wind and solar energy. It is with no little irony that Sussman retells the story of President Obama denouncing oil as an undesirable source of energy from the headquarters of the now-bankrupt solar energy firm, Solyndra.

After his “greens against cheap energy” chapters comes an excellent chapter tracing the greens’ multi-decade campaign to limit Americans’ access to water. What becomes clear from Sussman’s “big-picture” view of the green movement is how monstrously misanthropic it is. The radical greens are committed to reforming life in America to make it less free and less prosperous.

The quibbles that I have with “Eco-Tyranny” are minor. There are silly errors of detail—the kind of mistakes that slip into books that are rushed into print (e.g., erroneously stating that the late Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had been married to “the Gandhi,” meaning the mahatma; writing that a man who was born in 1901 died at age 39 in 1939; calling ANWR the “Alaskan” rather than “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”). My other gripe is the gratuitous use of derogatory or ideological adjectives—denigrating former President Carter as a “peanut farmer” and a tendency to label everyone who cares about environmental quality as “liberal” or “radical,” when, in truth, many Americans who have been seduced by the green movement are not leftists, but simply decent people who value a clean environment.

The book’s afterword contains a 12-point agenda for rolling back the greens’ well-advanced, oppressive agenda. It includes abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and the Endangered Species Act; turning ownership of federal parks to the states; divesting federal lands to the private sector; reducing the multiple legislative and administrative barriers to the development of our nation’s abundant fossil fuel resources and much more.

To say that such an agenda is dauntingly ambitious is an understatement. But the very fact that that the list covers so much ground indicates how far advanced the green agenda is. Indeed, the greens have spent decades putting into place their oppressive infrastructure of bureaucracies and regulations. When one looks at their own stated plans for the future, then one realizes that although undoing the mischief of decades will be a prodigious task, Sussman’s pro-liberty, pro-prosperity, pro-human and, yes, pro-environment, agenda is imperative.

We need more knowledgeable people like Brian Sussman sounding the alarm—and more people heeding it.


A reminder that the drought in some parts of the USA is a local, not a global event

South America Readies Record Crops Amid U.S. Drought

South American farmers are preparing to plant record grain and oilseed crops that may temper surging food inflation caused by the worst U.S. drought in a generation.

Argentine farmers, buoyed by rains that alleviated a drought, will smash a previous corn harvest record of 22 million metric tons by reaping as much as 31 million tons in the 2012- 2013 season, growers group Crea said July 23. Brazil may harvest its biggest-ever soybean crop in 2012-2013 to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest grower, according to Sao Paulo-based researcher Agroconsult.
Enlarge image South America Readies Record Crop Amid U.S. Drought

South America may boost its soybean crop by 30 percent in the 2012-2013 season as farmers look to cash in on higher prices and improved soil conditions after a drought last season, said Karim Cherif, a Zurich-based analyst for Credit Suisse Group AG. Photographer: Diego Giudice/Bloomberg

Corn rose to a record $8.205 a bushel in Chicago yesterday, capping the biggest monthly gain since 1988, while soybeans reached an all-time high on July 23 and surged 15 percent last month. Corn retreated 1.2 percent today. The response from South American growers to the worst U.S. drought since 1956 will be the “turning point” in the corn and soybean rally, Wayne Gordon, the head of global agriculture markets research at UBS AG in New York, said in an interview.

“We are in a great situation,” said Martin Otero, the owner of Buenos Aires-based farm investment group Hillock Capital Management that owns and manages farmland in Argentina and Uruguay. “We have very high yield prospects, and there’s a high probability that prices will be very good.”
Soil Conditions

South America may boost its soybean crop by 30 percent in the 2012-2013 season as farmers look to cash in on higher prices and improved soil conditions after a drought last season, said Karim Cherif, a Zurich-based analyst for Credit Suisse Group AG.

Argentina and Paraguay are the world’s third- and fourth- largest exporters, respectively, of the oilseed behind the U.S. and Brazil. In corn, Argentina, Ukraine and Brazil trail the U.S. as the largest global exporters of the cereal. South American farmers start planting corn and soybean crops from September, while harvesting will take place between February and June next year.

In the U.S., whose season runs inversely to South America, the already planted corn crop is “not save-able” in many areas, economist Dennis Gartman wrote in his daily Gartman Letter. Ninety-four percent of U.S. corn crops have gone through the silking stage, while only 55 percent of soybean plants are setting pods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said July 30. Both phases are critical for determining yields. Soybeans typically mature later than corn and damages can be reversed by rains now, Gartman said.

Much of the U.S. Midwest may remain hot and dry through the middle of August, Matt Rogers, Commodity Weather Group LLC president, said in an e-mail today.
Weather ‘Crucial’

Prices may advance to records on the shortage, said Sudakshina Unnikrishnan, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the top so far,” she said in an interview. In the U.S. “weather through August is going to be absolutely crucial.”

The U.S. drought will cause food-price volatility that may expand hunger to the world’s poor, threatening social stability and putting pressure on governments, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a report July 30. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said a surge in grain and soy prices is a “major preoccupation” worldwide.

“South American farmers will respond to high crop prices by increasing planted acres,” Juan Luciano, chief operating officer of Decatur, Illinois-based grains processor Archer- Daniels-Midland Co. said in a conference call with analysts yesterday.

Brazilian farmers may plant a record soybean crop because of prices, the prospect of rain caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and its higher profitability than corn, said Silvio Porto, the director of agriculture policy and information at Conab, the Brazilian government crop-forecasting agency.



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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