Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Record melt of Arctic sea ice?

Warmist apparatchik Borenstein says so below and he has official NSDIC figures to back his story.

I didn't mention the story when it first came out yesterday because I was rather bored by pointing out that the history of the measurements concerned goes back only to 1979 and that there were some very warm years in the first half of the 20th century. I figured that some of my fellow skeptics who are closer to the data that I am would have some more interesting comments to make. And they have.

Watts points out that the NSDIC series on which the scare is based is only one of several series that the NSDIC maintains and that the other series do not support any alarm. "You chooses your series and you takes your pick" -- or something.

And Gosselin's headline says it all: "Oh No! Six Thousandths Of One Percent (0.006%) More Of The World’s Ice Melted This Summer!"

And then there's the big Arctic storm (not warming) which would have helped disperse and melt some ice. Marc Morano has a summary of it all

I note that one of the Warmists quoted by Borenstein is the delightfully named Ten Scambos. He sure is a scam boss. I think he should change his name to Jones

Critical ice [What's critical ice? Is it less polite than other ice?] in the Arctic Ocean melted to record low levels this sweltering summer and that can make weather more extreme far away from the poles, scientists say.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice. In the winter, the frozen saltwater surface usually extends about 6 million square miles, shrinking in summer and growing back in the fall. That's different from Antarctica, which is land covered by ice and snow and then surrounded by sea ice.

Normally sea ice in the Arctic reaches its minimum in mid-September and then starts refreezing. But levels on Sunday shrank 27,000 square miles — about the size of West Virginia — beyond the old record.

Figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979. The ice center bases its figures on averages calculated over five days.

Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. There are natural factors involved too, including a storm that chewed up a significant amount ice earlier this month. But, he said, dramatic summer sea ice losses in all but one year since 2007, continuous thin ice, and warm air temperatures show a pattern that can only be explained by climate change.


The American Meteorological Society huffs and puffs

Many meteorologogists (perhaps a majority) seem to be global warming skeptics but all professional societies seem to fall under the control of a small group of activists eventually. The average professional does not want to add hours of committee meetings to his workload.

So the latest proclamation by the AMS suports global warming. A number of AMS members and climate scientists have voiced objections to this. I quote an excerpt from Judith Curry below

My strong objections to this type of statement by professional societies has been voiced previously. This statement is worse than the previous AMS statement, and much worse than the statement by the Royal Society, which is probably the most credible statement on this topic made by a professional society.

So who is responsible for this statement? Current members of the AMS Council can be found [here]. It is not clear who authored the statement, but I suspect it was the members of the AMS Committee on Climate Variability and Change (for membership list, see here). After reading this list of names, I recognize some, but less than half. Does this group of people inspire my confidence in making an assessment of climate change? In a word, NO.

Apart from the broader issue of whether or not professional societies should make such statements, the main question that I have is why write a new statement now? It appears that each statement has a life time of 5 years. Why not wait another year or two until the IPCC AR5 is out? It seems that there is little in the AMS statement that is associated with more recent publications (since the AR4). As the CMIP5 climate model simulations show a broader range of uncertainty than the simulations used in the AR4, what is the basis for making a more confident statement on attribution (which seems to be based wholly on models) than was made in the AR4?

As far as I can tell, this statement is a naive example of Michael Kelly’s invisible hand (quote from my no consensus paper):

"Kelly (2005) describes an additional source of confirmation bias in the consensus building process: “As more and more peers weigh in on a given issue, the proportion of the total evidence which consists of higher order psychological evidence [of what other people believe] increases, and the proportion of the total evidence which consists of first order evidence decreases . . . At some point, when the number of peers grows large enough, the higher order psychological evidence will swamp the first order evidence into virtual insignificance.”

In other words, consensus statements get parroted without any actual intellectual examination. In this case, what is the point of the AMS statement. Apparently, to ‘inform the public’ on this controversial issue by appealing to the ‘authority’ of the society.


Contempt-filled and self-defeating reasoning from Warmist academics

Below is an excerpt from a post by Ben Pile. Ben is clearly a very smart guy and I mostly agree with him but he sounds like he has a philosophy background the way he writes. He doesn't let a single point go. Such careful reasoning does have a lot to be said for it but it makes his argument a bit laborious to follow at times. But I think the following repays the effort of reading it. I have added some paragraphing that might help. I think I would have confined my comments on the Greenie nonsense to the last sentence below -- JR

From the pulpit at the Church of Crass Generalisations and Poorly Concealed Prejudice, Andrew Brown of the Guardian delivered these words on Tuesday: "There’s a first class article in Nature this week on the reasons Americans reject the science of climate change. It has wider implications for a lot of the ways in which we think and talk about rationality."

Hmm. ‘Americans reject the science of climate change’? All of them? Or just some of them in particular?

The article linked to by Brown was authored by Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School. Kahan tries to explain why it is that controversy persists in the climate debate. People’s ‘reasoning powers have become disabled by a polluted science-communication environment’, he says.

In some senses, this is a refreshing break from the ‘deficit’ model of the climate debate: that stupid politicians are in hock to the material desires and base instincts of the stupid, fecund, consuming public. The problem is not too few powers of reason on the public’s behalf, but too much.

The reason the debate is polarised, says Kahan, is that people are very good at ‘filtering out information that would drive a wedge between themselves and their peers’. In other words, you believe what your mates believe, because to do otherwise would mean to commit to a life of loneliness… or something.

Scepticism of climate change, then, is perfectly rational, from the point of view of sustaining your social network. The problem begins, on Kahan’s view, when the ‘communication environment fills up with toxic partisan meanings’.

Meanings like ‘denier’, perhaps?

Kahan’s theory is that people don’t make decisions about the facts in front of them, but are motivated by something else. He begins by challenging the theory that people are too stupid to understand the science, but ends up back in the same place. Curiously, he passes over the research that is most likely to take him in the right direction…

"Social-science research indicates that people with different cultural values — individualists compared with egalitarians, for example — disagree sharply about how serious a threat climate change is."

… to go on to describe instead some superficially empirical test which bears out the idea that even in the face of unimpeachable expertise, people will return to the prejudices of the group to which they belong:

People with different values draw different inferences from the same evidence. Present them with a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, for example, and they will disagree on whether he really is an ‘expert’, depending on whether his view matches the dominant view of their cultural group (D. M. Kahan et al. J. Risk Res. 14, 147–174; 2011).

But the trouble for social science theorists is that you don’t need to be one of them to understand why this is. There are very good reasons why people with ‘different cultural values’ may end up diverging on the interpretation of evidence, as I’ve described here before.

In brief: if you hold with a view that nature is in a permanent state of fragile balance and that human society is dependent on that balance, you will be more nervous of change in the natural environment than someone who believes that humans (especially in industrial society) are more self-dependent and robust. For entirely contingent reasons, these two positions roughly correspond to contemporary political trends that are nominatively/superficially ‘egalitarian’ and ‘individualistic’. (This idea of such a distinction is itself a bit of a red herring, but that is another blog post.)

The even bigger mistake is putting the social-group cart before the belief horse. No doubt some values are socially-transmitted. But it is primarily people’s interests which determine what circles they move in, not vice versa.

Except in the most parochial of places, we — by which I mean people who are sufficiently privileged to take a view on the climate change debate — encounter sufficient diversity of opinion that few could argue that they didn’t have the opportunity to reflect their change of mind with a change of social group, albeit slowly.

Things may be different for Kahan, perhaps, but I remain friends with the people who think I’m absolutely insanely wrong about environmental politics. Good friends. And our continued friendship is not predicated on our agreement about climate change.

So much pseudo-scientific social theory that passes for academic research is transparently intended to deny that people are capable of reason, or that they reason in ways that they shouldn’t. And in the process, these researchers cannot help but reveal that what they attempt to reveal in the wider public is much more true of the academy. Who would dare challenge environmentalism on the campus dominated by seemingly liberal, progressive thought?

More pertinently, perhaps: who would dare to suggest that the wider public possessed sufficient faculties that the Faculty itself is is in many cases (but not all, of course) redundant, if not an actual toxic force in today’s, post-democratic politics?

Perhaps people presented with ‘a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences’ aren’t inclined to bow and scrape before him, because the PhD scientist has a tendency to undermine his new acquaintance’s faculties, to say that they are lacking, and that a study of them reveal patterns of thought which are irrational and thus not capable of making decisions. The feeling is surely mutual.

Kahan should worry as much less about science communication as he counsels that people should worry less about the public’s intellectual deficit; he should worry about what the science of reducing people in this way — and for what ends — says about climate ‘science’.

Back to Brown, who it is now clear was wrong to say that Kahan says anything particular to Americans in general, or American sceptics in particular. And even if Kahan had explained the mechanics of some kind of ‘group think’ at the social level, it would equally apply to environmentalists. Brown believes that,

"It will take the kind of conformism and sense of moral obligation offered by religious thought and ritual if we are to save the planet"

Brown continues to try to distance himself from the people-are-stupid account of scepticism in the same way Kahan does. The argument again being that individuals are making ‘rational’ decisions, but rationalising on a different basis — their social survival, rather than on the basis of the putative facts of climate science. But this leaves Brown and Kahan in a relativistic bind: if values and the basis for rational decisions are dependent on social context, what does that say about the content of Kahan and Brown’s own reasoning?

Much more HERE

Obama’s pay for play green grants

A flood of criticism and questions surround the president’s energy agenda. Unfortunately for him, it seems his “green” energy ventures reek of biased decision making, thereby rightfully calling his agenda into question.

Forbes states that 71 percent of Department of Energy grants went to “projects involving his [President Obama] major money bundlers, members of his National Finance Committee, or those who contributed as large Democratic Party donors.”

Coincidence or intentional?

Remember Solyndra? It’s often the first example of crony politics in regards to the president’s energy policy that comes to mind. After receiving a $535 million loan from taxpayers the California-based solar panel company went belly up — leaving taxpayers on the hook.

However, not all was lost for everyone involved. Forbes reports: “Bankruptcy records show that executives pocketed thousands in payments just months before the company dismissed 1,100 workers. At least 17 company executives received two sets of payments — ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 each payment — on the same days in April and July 2011, just as Solyndra was catapulting towards bankruptcy in early September.”

While executives taking a larger piece of the pie in this type of situation might not be out of ordinary, there have been some red flags raised in regards to one of Solyndra’s big investors. George Kaiser, majority owner of Solyndra, was a huge Obama campaign donor in 2008. His name has repeatedly shown up on the White House visitor’s log and email evidence proves he was aware the solar panel company was seeking a second federal loan, which never went through.

Maybe this bit of favoritism is a coincidence. After all, it’s not unusual for a president to look out for his friends no matter what political party they associate themselves with.

But as new information about these lost Department of Energy grants comes to light, fair and transparent politics is nowhere to be found.

Herbert M. Allison Jr. spent four months reviewing the Department of Energy loans and “minimized concerns that the Energy Department was at high risk in more than $23 billion in federal loans awarded to green energy firms,” Fox News reports.

However, after the loan reviews, Allison contributed $52,500 to the Obama campaign.

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso, member on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a press conference that this “so-called” independent investigation “raises a major red flag.”

That is does. Taxpayers have and continue to take a huge hit from these loans to unstable and now-bankrupt “green” companies.

In another instance of suspect cronyism, The New York Times released news about Illinois-based energy producer Exelon Corporation. It turns out this energy producer’s executives were big supporters and donors to Obama’s campaign, and they too have received preferential treatment from the White House.

The New York Times reports: “With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House, a review of Exelon’s relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon.

“White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies.”

These instances of favoritism are so blatant it would seem Obama’s true energy policy would read something like “If you help me, I’ll help you.”

“Picking winner and losers is not an energy policy,” Senator Barrasso remarked during his press conference.

Knowing the president’s energy plan is a bit shady should raise some alarm. If this Chicago-esque style of governing were to continue, what does that mean for America’s energy future — and taxpayer dollars?

“We’ll freeze in the winter and sweat to death in the summer,” answers Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “We won’t have any real energy resources left because Obama will just keep handing our money over to his friends.

“His agenda is not an energy policy; it is a looting policy.”


Political barriers to fracking likely to keep energy expensive in Europe

Europe has been unable to repeat the shale gas revolution that has swept the United States, and that could prove to be the unlikely savior of long-term EU efforts to spur renewables and curb greenhouse gases.

The United States has managed to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy prices as cheap shale gas has displaced coal, prompting calls from industry for Europe and others to follow suit. The argument is that natural gas, which emits less CO2 than coal, can be a friend, not a foe, to environmentalists.

But investors say the shale gas revolution will not be repeated in Europe - a failure that could make way for greener fuel than gas.

"I wouldn't completely write off shale gas development in Europe, but certainly the scale and speed at which it happens will not be like in the U.S.," said Chris Rowland, an associate at Ecofin, a British-based investment manager with around $1.9 billion of assets under management, covering global energy, utility, infrastructure and alternative energy sectors.

"It's a good fuel for reducing emissions but not a good fuel for decarbonizing," he added.

A series of European Commission road maps envisage virtually carbon-neutral power generation by the middle of the century.

Unless carbon capture and storage can be developed on a commercial scale, that means gas as a fuel has a limited future and should not be invested in too heavily, environmental campaigners say.

They are especially against shale gas, whose environmental credentials are questioned in Europe.

"We need natural gas as a transition fuel. However, we don't need such a huge amount of gas and certainly not cheap gas, because that would kick out not just coal, but also renewables," Greenpeace renewable energy director Sven Teske said.

In the medium term, the value of conventional gas is in providing reliable baseload power to supplement unpredictable renewables, which depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing.

In Europe, gas is likely to mean conventional gas for the foreseeable future as the barriers to shale stay high.

Higher population density and different rules on land and resources ownership explain in part why progress has been so much slower in shale exploration in Europe than in the United States.

Environmental impact studies are under way in several countries to examine fracking, the process to extract gas from shale formations thousands of meters below the earth's surface by injecting chemicals and water at high pressure.

The industry will need to change radically the way it approaches fracking if it is to have a future in Europe, said Andrew Gould, chairman of British oil and gas company BG Group.

European Union countries have barely broken ground on shale gas, with some 20 test drills compared with estimates of as many as 35,000 sites in the United States.


Old-fashioned light bulbs banned by EU directive can still be sold in Britain after traders find loophole allowing them to be renamed

Shoppers fed up with feeble energy-saving light bulbs are getting round the EU ban on traditional bulbs by buying models meant for industrial use.

The European ban on 40-watt bulbs is being phased in from this coming Saturday, September 1, following bans already imposed on 100W and 60W versions.

But poor drafting of the EU directive banning the 40W bulb means that shops can continue to supply bulbs intended for ‘industrial use’ in factories.

At least two British manufacturers are exploiting the loophole to mass-produce ‘rough-service’ bulbs, which look almost identical to and work in exactly the same way as traditional incandescent bulbs.

Their availability will be welcomed by those who say the energy-saving variety is not bright enough.

The rough-service bulbs come in both screw and bayonet versions, and will cost around £1 – not much more than the household bulbs they will replace and half the price of energy-saving alternatives.

They are not being sold by major supermarkets but will be available from specialist lighting and hardware shops and online retailers.

The loophole has occurred because the EU directive banning 40W incandescent bulbs refers only to those intended for ‘household lamps’, meaning shops can continue selling those intended for ‘industrial use’. Manufacturers are allowed to make and sell the incandescent bulbs if they are described on the box as ‘rough-service lamps’ that are not for domestic use.

These bulbs are designed to withstand the knocks and vibrations of industrial settings, and are therefore tougher than the ordinary variety.

From Saturday, retailers will not be allowed to buy any more incandescent bulbs covered by the ban, although they will be able to sell existing stock.

Ian Fursland, managing director of The Lamp Company in Hertfordshire, said there were ‘bucketloads’ of rough-service lights being produced. ‘This stupid ban was not thought out at all, it is absolutely ridiculous,’ he said. ‘We sell loads of them.

‘You cannot get a compact fluorescent or an LED that does what an incandescent does – it’s physically impossible. They don’t warm up as quickly, they glow a different colour, and they are ridiculously expensive.’

At the Bradford branch of Maplin last week, a pack of ten 100W rough-service bulbs was on sale for £6.99 and described on the shelf as ‘ideal for home use’.

Online retailer Lamps2udirect offers a 60W ‘tough’ incandescent bulb for 90p. The description on the website says: ‘Can be used for industrial and household use. Commonly used in living areas around the home.’
One manufacturer said that it had already sold more than five million rough-service bulbs to suppliers.

The National Measurement Office, the Government agency responsible for enforcing the ban on traditional bulbs, warned householders against buying rough-service bulbs.

An official guidance paper says such bulbs are ‘declared by the manufacturer as unsuitable’ for illuminating household rooms and adds: ‘Consideration should be given to the terms and conditions of any household insurance policy if such lamps are used for illuminating your house.’ [Bluff!]



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1 comment:

Peter T said...

Unfortunately re the article on the rough service bulb loophole,
the EU seem to be trying to close it.

In Germany the European Commission want the authorities to supervise shops to not sell those bulbs to the general public, but the authorities are refusing to do it...
Freedom Light Bulb

The same website has a list of reasons why the arguments for the light bulb ban are wrong
(13 points, referenced)