Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This appalling decline in productivity

Comment from Britain by Tim Worstall

Much ink is being spilled as people try to work out how to reconcile two conflicing economic statistics. GDP is still going down yet so is unemployment. If more people are employed they should be producing more thus GDP should be rising. Unless, of course, productivity is falling at the same time but that would be very odd indeed.
Finally, it is possible that falling productivity has been one of the many malign effects of the recession. If output per worker has dropped markedly, then it is possible to square rising employment with falling output, even though there has not yet been a really convincing explanation for why employees should have lost their skills or their motivation in such a profound way over the past five years. If both the GDP and the employment figures are correct, then productivity is dropping by more than 1% a quarter, a truly catastrophic performance.

The thing is though, this very odd indeed, this truly catastrophic performance, it's not a happenstance, some unlikely side effect of our current problems. This is actually planned, forced upon us even. It's deliberate.

Take, as an example, they way in which we are told that green energy is more jobs intensive. Without bothering to look up the numbers we're told that powering the country by nuclear plants employs 3 people, doing so with solar 50,000 and with windmills 2,000,000. There might be some exaggeration for effect there but we all have heard the story. Green energy will produce more jobs for the same amount of power. We are told this is a good thing.

Yet greater jobs intensity is exactly the same thing as falling labour productivity. If it takes 10 people to make a unit of electricity one way and 20 people another then the productivity of labour in producing electricity in the second method is half that in the first.

It's not just energy that is afflicted with this nonsense either. The usual suspects are similarly telling us that we must farm organically, something that requires more labour for the same output. That we should use small local shops instead of supermarkets: we're told we must do this because small local shops are more labour intensive: read lower labour productivity. We should purchase artisanal products, not mass manufactured ones: by definition, products with lower labour productivity. Every hand spun yurt knitted out of lentils is indeed more job intensive and thus lowers labour productivity.

Now quite how much of what we can see in the unemployment and GDP figures comes from this effect is another matter. But do understand the basic point. What even The Guardian calls a "truly catastrophic performance" is what the various greens and Greens are urging upon us as our future lifestyle. They want to lower labour productivity. They insist that it must happen.

They really are campaigning that we must all work harder in order to have less.

This is neither happenstance nor coincidence: this is enemy action.


BBC burnt over climate change claim UK will be as hot as Madeira

The BBC has been accused by the Met Office, its forecaster, of making "unrealistic" claims that climate change will make Britain as hot as Madeira by the 2060s.

Tom Heap, the Countryfile presenter, said the Government's research indicated that in 50 years "there is a pretty good chance" Britain's climate will be similar to the semi–tropical island off Africa.

Broadcasting from the island for Radio 4's Costing the Earth, he suggested that British farmers will be able to grow papaya, pineapples and prickly pear within decades.

But Dr Richard Betts, the top climate change scientist at the Met Office, said it was "unrealistic" to expect a climate like Madeira's by the 2060s.

In making predictions for the Government, the Met Office suggested temperatures could rise from the average of 10C (50F) to 17C (63F) in the summer to 15C (59F) to 22C (72F) by 2080.
This is comparable with Madeira's summer range of 19C (66F) to 23C (73F) but would not happen until well into the 2080s, and then only in the South.

Dr Peter Carey, an ecologist who contributed to the BBC show, claimed certain areas could be similar to "cooler, wetter parts of Madeira" by "the 2060s to the 2080s". Radio 4 said the theory was clearly identified as "Dr Carey's interpretation".


Australian public broadcaster on Muller and crumbling scepticism

This article, by ABC's environment editor, Sara Phillips, encapsulates all that is wrong with the national broadcaster's treatment of the climate debate. Written, as always, from a position of belief, and institutionally critical of any dissent, Phillips attempts to show that scepticism is crumbling in the face of ever-mounting evidence to the contrary:
American physicist Richard Muller is one climate sceptic who has recently changed his mind after reviewing the evidence.

Muller crunched a bunch of numbers to do with global temperatures and announced in the New York Times that he is a "converted sceptic". It was this opinion piece in arguably the world's most influential paper that set tongues wagging about climate change all over again.

Muller had previously been claimed by those unconvinced by the science as one of their own, because he questioned the validity of Mann's 'hockey stick' graph, used by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth.

Muller was never a sceptic, and there are plenty of rusted on believers who have problems with both Mann's hockey stick and AIT, which is nothing more than a propaganda film. Muller's subsequent evidence-free claim of attribution to human causes has led to widespread ridicule from within the warmist community.

She then attempts to frame Bjorn Lomborg as a convert from scepticism, using some highly selective quotes from past newspaper interviews:
Bjorn Lomborg is another high-profile climate sceptic who changed his mind after reviewing the evidence. He now believes climate change is real, but that it won't be the calamity predicted by some.

However, Lomborg directly addressed his alleged switch in a Guardian article cited indirectly:
He reiterates that he has never denied anthropogenic global warming, and insists that he long ago accepted the cost of damage would be between 2% and 3% of world wealth by the end of this century. This estimate is the same, he says, as that quoted by Lord Stern, whose report for the British government argued that the world should spend 1-2% of gross domestic product on tackling climate change to avoid future damage.

He has never doubted the role of CO2, but has rightly questioned the cost-benefit analysis of the proposed solutions. Phillips then describes Alan Jones as "frothing" to David Karoly. Whether you agree with Jones or not, Phillips would never describe a consensus climate scientist as "frothing", a highly inappropriate term to use. But it just helps to paint the picture of "deniers" as being deluded and crazy.

Of course there is a spectrum of views on climate - as she points out - which range from outright disbelief that temperatures are rising at all to acceptance of a measurable human signal in the global temperature record. However, she portrays this range of views in a very simplistic manner in an attempt to ridicule those who dare question the consensus.

Her conclusion appears to be that scepticism is on the wane and that "denial" is harder to sustain. But her view, distorted as it is by the prism of belief in AGW, fails to appreciate that the majority of sceptics accept the role of CO2 and that there is a human contribution to warming.

However, the reality is that there are problems with the surface temperature record, and there are problems with feedbacks in climate models, and there are serious questions to be answered regarding the proposed mitigation policies in response. Nothing in Muller's alleged conversion changes any of those issues.

More importantly, she completely ignores the fact that, due in part to an endless barrage of scare stories which have failed to eventuate, scepticism of the alarmist claims of The Cause™ has increased substantially over the past decade, to the point where a significant proportion of the public are now highly suspicious of the pronouncements of climate scientists and government advisers such as Tim Flannery.

Unfortunately, the article is just the latest in a very long line of examples of ABC's climate groupthink, where the utterances of climate scientists are beyond reproach and questioning of the consensus is frowned upon. That is not how science works: the motto, which the ABC, our taxpayer-funded and supposedly impartial national broadcaster, would do well to remember, is "question everything".


Global Warming: a Marxist perspective

With the recent Rio+20 green fest now over, but with the underlying agenda continuing in myriad different ways because of the insidious impact of Agenda 21, this article in a Marxist journal describes exactly what is behind the the activities of the UN.
The impacts of global warming fall disproportionately on the poor. The effects will manifest themselves in lots of ways: more expensive foods, a shortage of water, less fertile soil, and more extreme weather. Those who will suffer (and already are suffering) as a result are ordinary working and middle class people, peasant farmers – in short, everyone except the super-rich, who can always up sticks and move to a more pleasant climate. Although at the moment the effects are largely confined to the so-called third world, they are already starting to impact on the richer countries.

This means that global warming is not just a scientific issue, but a class issue.

“The dialectical nature of climate change is a striking confirmation of the philosophy of dialectical materialism developed by the founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In his unfinished book The Dialectics of Nature, Engels provides us with an explanation of dialectical materialism: “the transformation of quantity and quality – mutual penetration of polar opposites and transformation into each other when carried to extremes – This is confirmed to be just as correct for global warming, particularly through the discovery of ‘tipping points’, as in other aspects of science and nature.

Solving environmental issues would require investment in new research, industry and technique, which the capitalist class is incapable of. Even in the previous period of economic growth before the economic crisis, investment from the private sector in clean technology such as solar panels or wind turbines was minimal.

They do have some insight, as we know, green subsidies brought global companies such as GE, BP, Shell and others, onto the global warming bandwagon:


Now Backyard Barbeques Are Destroying The Planet – Leading German Alarmist Site Frets

The demonization of the outdoor barbecue has begun – expect it to be banned soon in our lifetime

I like visiting the German alarmist websites. Among my favorites is klimaretter “climate rescuers”, a leading alarmist site run by a gaggle of tree-hugging, panic-spreading kooks who insist the end is near. They’re aligned with Joe Romm, Bill McKibben and other nutjobs. Stefan Rahmstorf donates money to them.

Today their entertainment did not disappoint me. Climate-rescuer contributor Georg Etscheit shares his experience and exasperation over a barbecue birthday party he was invited to by his barbecue-fan dentist - too much smoke, environmental destruction and fat!

For the environmentally and climatically obsessed Georg, all that the charcoal-burning and meat-eating is a “pyromaniacal ritual” that is intolerable and has to stop.

First he frets that in the future climate change will surely bring us many more days that will be ideal for having more environmentally destructive barbecues. Next, he describes the set-up his meat-eating dentist had:

"In his yard behind his dental practice, he had a pavilion set up for guests and his barbecue equipment was placed near it. The first thing that caught my eye was this voluminous casket-like appliance of US-American origin, a metal box with a huge cover for the charcoal. There’s an overheat feature that is supposed to be good for handling an entire pig. And such an animal was indeed lying on that casket, red, oozing and carved – a wretched picture. And I was supposed to eat that soon?”

But the cruelty that the poor pig frying on the grill had to endure was the least of his worries. Next he describes the dentist’s grill in more detail:

"My barbecue-enthusiast dentist of course owned a luxurious barbecue grill, the kind you can buy at every home-center. Such a luxury grill-monster on wheels can easily cost several thousand euros. Sizzling on the grill, producing huge clouds of smoke, was an abundance of sausage and spare ribs. Then I noticed he also had a smaller spherical grill with a dozen grilled chickens going as well.”

Georg then complains about the all the smoke and grease, advising barbecue guests that it’s best to wear old clothing to barbecues because…

"Smelly clouds of smoke are produced by the burning spare ribs and charred chicken, which are also drenched with artificial smoke-aroma barbecue sauces, all accompanied by mayonnaise-soaked egg, potato and pasta salads, which all surely leave fat and grease everywhere.”

How yukky! By now I can imagine poor Georg sitting as far away as possible, in some corner all by himself. He adds:

"I don’t want to go further into detail. But for me it is clear that there is little to be desired from such pyromaniacal male rituals from the early times of the homo sapien sapiens. From a culinary perspective, invitations to barbecues are almost always a catastrophe, also health-wise because charred fat and meat in addition to the synthetically produced sauces and marinades are known to be extremely carcinogenic and very difficult to digest without huge quantities of pure alcohol.”

Well, alcohol does help. Next he describes the environmental and climatic impacts of barbecues:

"Ecologically and from a climate perspective, barbecues are nothing but a disaster. Just the enormous quantities of meat at barbecues is completely unacceptable. Then there’s the charcoal, which is ecologically okay only if you look at it only on the surface. About two thirds of the 300,000 tons of charcoal burned in Germany every year by barbecue fans comes from the South American rain-forests. Most of the raw wood for this must be illegally cut.”

Again the rainforests. Georg then says that barbecues will take the planet to a tipping point:

"Barbecue fans contribute to the destruction of the rain forests in three ways, and thus to climate change: First because of the soy production needed for producing huge amounts of meat. Secondly through the chopping of trees for producing charcoal. Moreover, this takes away an important source of fuel for the local people, who then in turn have to cut even more trees down. Now that rising temperatures are leading to a classic vicious circle whereby the number of summer evenings with ”super barbecue weather” are rising, which in turn drives up demand for more charcoal, which leads to more deforestation and so on.”

Has he never gone camping in the forest? I think Georg just needs more getting used to barbecues. Everybody invite Georg to your next barbecue: I’m having one on August 25, and Georg you are invited to come.


Gullible Warming: A Contrived Crisis That Is Too Good To Waste

Whew, it has really been hot lately…along with all those unprecedented droughts and storms! How can there be any lingering doubt about global warming? Right? So isn’t it a really good thing that, as Ryan Lizza reported in a June New Yorker article, “The president has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term of office is climate change”? In other words, this means he will further energize his EPA’s war on fossil energy, and double-down on his “green energy” subsidy agenda. If this doesn’t help to fix the economy, that priority will just have to wait.

Premised upon recent weather in some U.S. regions, the global warming crisis narrative has been driving lots of media traffic. For example, an Investor’s Business Daily Op/Ed piece by Eugene Robinson titled “Feeling the Heat: It’s Too Hot to Be a Global Warming Skeptic” notes that “…the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode. About one-fourth of all households have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented [that word again] assault by violent thunderstorms…” He went on to say: ”Yes, it’s always hot here in summer. Yes, we always have thunderstorms-but never like these.”

Robinson offered a sensible disclaimer admitting that no one extreme weather event can be definitively blamed on climate change, while also taking issue with those who dismiss climate change as a “figment of scientist’s imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs” as “the data are beginning to add up.”

Fair enough. I agree that anyone who thinks climate change is illusory probably isn’t intellectually qualified for a license allowing them to drive an SUV, or any other motor vehicle that will outpace a riding lawnmower for that matter. And as for any “crypto-socialist one-worldish plot” to take away our choice to own one, that won’t be necessary. Imposition of the Obama administration’s radical new automotive CAFÉ standards will take care of that right here within our own government, avoiding any need to depend upon the U.N. for this.

But regarding that “data adding up” to support a war against fossil fuels under a man-made climate crisis banner…well, maybe that is something that warrants a bit more attention.

Mr. Robinson supported his reasoning by citing a NOAA statement that “the past winter was the fourth-warmest in the United States since record-keeping began in 1895”, along with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA-GISS) surface temperature reports that indicate “nine out of the warmest 10 years on record have occurred since 2000”.

So to begin, let’s consider the first statement from a global warming perspective (because that’s what “global” really means). That warm 2011/2012 U.S. winter (which accounts for about 1.5% of the Earth’s surface), would certainly have been a very welcome difference from what much of world experienced. A European cold spell killed more than 500. More than 140 perished in the Ukraine, along with hundreds of others in France, Serbia and the Czech Republic. Europe’s 2,860-kilometer Danube River that is crucial for transport, power, industry and fishing froze over, as did nearly all rivers in the Balkans. More than 130 villages in Bulgaria went without electricity.

Closer to those of us in the lower forty-eight, Fairbanks, Alaska reported the coldest January temperatures since 1971, reaching -24º F. The coldest January average temperature there occurred in 1906 (-36.4º F).

Just like its former governor, Alaska has continued to go rogue. After experiencing its record-breaking cold winter, the state is now reported to have one of its coldest Julys, averaging 53 degrees F during the beginning of the month, about 12 degrees below average. The National Weather Service predicts this will soon change. If so, some will undoubtedly point to this as even more evidence of an imminent global warming disaster.

And what about the statement claiming that nine out of ten warmest years occurred since 2000? According to an article posted in the UK’s Daily Mail, recent readings taken from more than 30,000 measuring stations that were quietly released by the U.K.’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit show that world temperatures haven’t warmed over the past 15 years.

Shortly afterwards, a Met spokesman issued a response charging that the article was misleading. While much of the criticism challenged the article’s central premise that changes in solar activity during the next “Cycle 25” will produce a net cooling influence, (contradicting Met’s projections), it also renounced the 15 year lack of warming assertion. After admitting that its future temperature projections are “probabilistic in nature,” and that it will require several decades of data to assess the projections, it said: “However, what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend [italics added] of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850.”

But while the Met response refers to a warming “trend”, it should be remembered that the temperature record trend line began at the end of the Little Ice Age. Yup, there has certainly been a warming trend since then. And while the recent decade has been warm, the current “trend” over the past decade (measured in degrees Celsius/decade) is approximately zero. Yes, temperatures have been essentially flat. Measurements for any temperature trend over any “x” number of years depends upon what number you establish for “x”, and the year you begin measuring. It can readily be argued that the Daily Mail article was correct on this matter.

Regarding the possibility that the global climate will soon enter a substantial cooling phase attributable to a weak new solar cycle, this may ultimately prove true also. Many prominent scientists predict that this is likely due to important modulating cloud-forming influences of cosmic rays throughout periods of reduced sunspot activity. More clouds tend to make conditions cooler, while fewer often cause warming.

Met Office projections hold that the greenhouse effects of man-made carbon dioxide are far stronger than the Sun’s influences, and sufficiently so not only to overwhelm potential solar cooling, but to produce net warming. These findings are fiercely disputed by solar experts. They point out that the Met’s assessment is based upon highly theoretical climate models that exaggerate CO2 influence, while failing to account for numerous other important contributing factors.

Judith Curry, a well-known climatologist who chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, finds the Met’s confident determination of there being a “negligible” solar climate impact “difficult to understand”. She has stated that “The responsible thing to do would be to accept the fact that the models may have severe shortcomings when it comes to the influence of the Sun”.

Dr. Curry also notes important contributions of 60-year Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperature cycles, observing that they have been “insufficiently appreciated in terms of global climate”. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific “flipped” back from a warm to a cold mode in 2008, and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip back in the next few years.

Global temperatures have been rising since before the Industrial Revolution could have had any real influence…from the time the Little Ice Age ended in the mid-19th century…and according to NASA-GISS, about 0.8°C (1.5°F) since 1880. About half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred before the mid-1940s, despite continuously rising CO2 levels since that time.

Yes, let’s realize that climate change is very real, dating back to always. It actually began to occur long before humans invented agriculture, smoke stacks, and gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines. In fact, a recent study conducted by German researchers using tree ring data reveals that 2,000 years ago Romans wore cool togas with good reason. Summer temperatures between 21 to 50 AD were about 1 degree Celsius warmer than now, and they were just as warm during the Medieval period about 1,000 years later.

Lead author Professor Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: “We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.” He notes that while 1 degree Celsius may not seem significant, “their findings are significant with respect to climate policy, as they will influence the way climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods.”

The study documented temperatures dating back to 138 BC, indicating that the world has been on a “long-term cooling trend” punctuated with a couple of warm spells for two millennia until another warming occurred during the twentieth century. In general, there was a slow cooling of 0.6 degrees Celsius over the earlier period.

As for those “worst time ever” extreme weather conditions that Eugene Robinson referred to, remember that as recently as 1,000 years ago Icelandic Vikings were raising livestock in grasslands on Greenland’s southwestern coast. Then, around 1200, temperatures began to drop, and Norse settlements were abandoned by about 1350. Atlantic pack ice began to grow around 1250, and shortened growing seasons and unreliable weather patterns, including torrential rains in Northern Europe led to the “Great Famine” of 1315-1317.

Temperatures dropped dramatically again in the middle of the 16th century, and although there were notable year-to-year fluctuations, the coldest regime since the last true Ice Age (that so-called “Little Ice Age”) dominated the next hundred and fifty years or more. Food shortages killed millions in Europe between 1690 and 1700, followed by more famines in 1725 and 1816. The end of this time witnessed brutal winter temperatures suffered by Washington’s troops at Valley Forge in 1776, and Napoleon’s bitterly cold retreat from Russia in 1812.

Although temperatures and weather conditions have been generally mild over about the past 150 years, we should remember that significant fluctuations are normal. In fact, the past century has witnessed at most, two (and very possibly only one) periods of warming. The first definite warming period occurred between 1900 and 1945. Since CO2 levels were relatively low then compared with now, and didn’t change much, they couldn’t have been the cause before 1950. Since this apparently resulted from natural influences, then why is more recent warming being attributed to increased atmospheric CO2 emissions?

A recent reanalysis of U.S. temperature trends reported at National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration surface stations indicates that there has been only about half as much warming over the past 30 years as was previously believed (+0.155C/decade vs. +0.309C/decade). This spurious doubling of estimates is attributed to serious miss-location problems at many NOAA recording sites, along with erroneous post-measurement data adjustments which exaggerated temperatures upwards between 1979 and 2008. The new analysis conducted by Anthony Watts (California), Evan Jones (New York), Stephen McIntyre (Toronto), and John Christy (Department of Atmospheric Science, U. of Alabama), applied a more advanced station measurement rating method which revealed that “station siting does indeed have a significant effect on [recorded] temperature trends.”

Regarding global temperatures, while some measurements suggest some warming between 1975 and 1998, a strong Pacific Ocean El Niño year, some scientists seriously question the existence of solid evidence of that increase. (A future article will be devoted exclusively to this important subject.)

Yet even if that 1975-1998 warming occurred, U.K. Hadley Center and U.S. NOAA radiosonde (balloon) instrument analyses fail to show any evidence, whatsoever, of a human CO2 emission-influenced warming telltale “signature” in the upper troposphere over the equator as predicted by all U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) general circulation models.

Regarding false alarm linking recent global warming to more extreme weather conditions, CBS News, CNN, the Christian Sciences Monitor, and even recently covered a NOAA press release stating that “La Niña -related heat waves, like experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during a La Niña today than La Niña fifty years ago.” Texas State Climatologist and Texas A&M Professor, John Nielsen-Gammon, discusses the indefensibility of this seriously hyped pronouncement in his July 20 Climate Abyss blog. While he notes that, based upon simplistic modeling assumptions, the “20 times more likely” prediction goes too far, he agrees with report conclusions that La Niña heat waves are “distinctly more probable” today, with global warming but one contributing factor among others.

There is little dispute that severe droughts experienced in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles have been caused primarily by natural Pacific Ocean equatorial La Niña sea surface temperature cooling that shifted the jet stream more northward than usual. This shift created a stronger jet stream aimed towards the northwest part of the U.S., bringing drier and warmer conditions across the southern and eastern portion of the country.

It appears that the U.S. really is in store for some more extreme weather. Evelyn Browning-Garriss, owner and author of the monthly Browning Newsletter climate publication, predicts this will result due to a transition from current cooler than normal La Niña ocean conditions to developing hotter than normal El Niño temperatures.

Many natural factors are known to contribute to these longer-term climate and short-term weather changes, although even the most sophisticated climate models and theories they are based on cannot predict the timing, scale (either up or down), or future impacts…much less the marginal contributions of CO2, a trace atmospheric “greenhouse gas” which has been branded as a primary culprit and endangering “pollutant”.

And if you’re really worried about catastrophic global warming, perhaps take cheer that it isn’t likely to last very long. Consider that we are currently about 10,000 years into a typical 12,000 to 18,000 year-long interglacial period. Assuming that climate history over the past 400,000 years continues to repeat its pattern with the nearly electrocardiogram regularity, maybe we should think about enjoying this brief intermission before the next life-unfriendly Ice Age covers much of the Northern Hemisphere with glaciers up to miles thick for the next 90,000 years.

So if human carbon dioxide emissions actually do make any difference, are you feeling any better about those SUVs and coal plants now?



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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