Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Al Gore nails his colors to the mast

"If you thought 2012 was hot, just wait until 2013"

“It has been another "normal" global-warming summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The United States sweltered in the hottest July on record, following the hottest spring on record. More than 60 percent of the contiguous United States is suffering from drought, as are parts of eastern Europe and India. In the Arctic, sea ice cover is at a record low, and the Greenland ice sheet shows what the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center calls "extraordinary high melting." Global land temperatures for May and June were the hottest since records began in the 19th century.”
“Meanwhile, El Niño conditions are forecast to develop in the tropical Pacific Ocean, warming up ocean surface temperatures. Some observers have predicted that this will lead to record-breaking global temperatures next year.”

“If El Niño does arrive and temperature records are broken, there will inevitably be much discussion of the causes of the warming.”


Actually, Big Al is on pretty safe grounds. The official meteorologists will "adjust" the temperature record upward, come what may. Below is a record of their past adjustments

British PM Fells Green Politics

Has a political era so recent ever seemed so far away? Britain just before the crash was, at least to judge from the way its ruling elites talked, evolving into a post-material society. A decade and a half of uninterrupted growth and low inflation had slowly put economic discourse to sleep. All major parties tacitly accepted a mixed economy – more egalitarian than the US, more free-market than Europe – and ever higher public spending too. They differed at the margins, of course, and played up footling quarrels like ham actors, but their real focus was migrating to other, softer issues: culture, lifestyle and, above all, the environment.

The face and voice of this holiday from history is now the prime minister. With huskies in train, David Cameron began his leadership of the Conservative party with a visit to a Norwegian glacier threatened by global warming in 2006. The gesture helped to soften his party’s image at the time but, as a statement of priorities, it has not aged well. Neither has his ethical finger-wagging at business, or his insistence that “GWB” (general wellbeing) was as important as gross domestic product, or, as he now knows painfully well, his environmentalist objections to a third runway at Heathrow. Far from asking how to preserve and hasten economic growth, he seemed animated by the question of how society could remain sane and healthy despite economic growth.

Recession put paid to this strain of Tory modernisation, which was always more modish than truly modern. After rebranding themselves as guardians of Mother Earth, the party had to scurry to re-rebrand as flinty custodians of the ruined public finances. The undulations of internal Tory politics have played a part too. Mr Cameron’s mania for greenery and wellbeing was ignited by Steve Hilton, then his closest adviser. But Mr Hilton grew more Thatcherite after the crash and in any case George Osborne, the hawkish chancellor of the exchequer, gradually became the prevailing counsel in Mr Cameron’s ear. Then came the election of an unashamedly pro-business generation of MPs two years ago.

It has not eluded the chancellor’s notice that the percentage of voters who rank the environment as an important issue has fallen to low single figures. In the face of resistance from his governing partners, the Liberal Democrats, he is trying to prune the coalition’s green policies, especially those likely to impose costs on ordinary people. His efforts to keep fuel duty down betray his determination to avoid his party being painted as high-minded rich kids indifferent to the living standards of ordinary people. Mr Cameron himself has not given a major speech on the environment since becoming prime minister in 2010. Given Britain’s economic and fiscal plight, it is hard to blame him.

His cabinet reshuffle last Tuesday fanned this bonfire of the inanities. A change of transport secretary has made it easier for the government to contemplate a U-turn on its silly promise to abjure that third runway. Owen Paterson, perhaps the most conservative member of the cabinet, has moved to environment. Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock – men never much taken with the more esoteric excesses of Tory modernisation – will champion deregulation in a Department for Business that has done too little of it. And there is more to come. The autumn should see a new round of policies to make the UK leaner and more competitive: looser labour laws, for example, and progress in the government’s mission to quicken the lugubrious planning process

However, businesses would be wise to view this continuing shift from pre-crash absent-mindedness to a more economically hard-headed era without great excitement. Nothing is being proposed that will make their lives radically easier anytime soon. The only thing that can – a soothing of economic tumult abroad, and especially in the eurozone – is not in the gift of any government to deliver. And although Mr Cameron can tinker with his personnel, policies still have to be signed off by the Lib Dems. They are girding themselves to resist any watering down of the government’s environmental programme.


Kyoto Protocol May End With the Year

As government negotiators from the world’s poorest countries ended a round of United Nations climate change talks in the Thai capital, they sounded a grave note about what appears imminent when they assemble in November in Doha – the reading of the last rites of the Kyoto Protocol.

“We are concerned that the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only international treaty that binds developed nations to lower (greenhouse gas) emissions, and thus our lone assurance that action will be taken, is eroding before our eyes,” declared a statement released by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Africa Group, which represent over a billion people vulnerable to the ravages of extreme weather.

Such concern about the fate of the Kyoto Protocol in the capital of Qatar, where negotiators from over 190 countries will gather for a U.N. climate summit, is with reason. The upcoming 18th conference of the parties (CoP 18) will be the last meeting before the clock runs out on Dec. 31for the world’s industrialised countries to meet their initial, legally-binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and to announce new legally binding cuts for the second period as 2013 dawns.

But as analysts who followed the week-long talks in Bangkok noted, the world’s richer nations appear determined to walk away from the leadership they have been expected to demonstrate under the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty, which entered into force in 2005 after nearly a decade of negotiations.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, a cornerstone of the U.N.’s international climate change architecture – the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFFC) – the world’s 37 industrialised nations and the European Union (EU) pledged to reduce their greenhouse gases by five percent, measured against 1990 levels by the end of 2012, when the first phase of the protocol ends.

During the climate talks here, which ran from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, the “Annex 1 countries” as the bloc of industrialised countries are dubbed under the Kyoto Protocol, offered little hope to the developing world that the talks will produce new, legally binding emission cuts that are higher than the prevailing five percent to cover a period from 2013-2020.

“The negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol need to be concluded successfully, and that means having the second commitment period in place by the Doha CoP,” says Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre, a Geneva-based intergovernmental policy think tank of developing countries. “It was meant to be revealed at the last Cop in Durban, but it was postponed by a year.

“That is why the Doha talks will have to be about the Kyoto Protocol; if not what is the point in all these negotiations,” he tells IPS. “The disappointment of developing country negotiators was evident during the final session at the Bangkok talks. They realised that the developed countries are not showing any leadership to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Even the EU’s offer to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over an eight-year period from 2013 onwards was dismissed by environmental activists. “The Kyoto Protocol that the European Union wants here is one that is not legal, but merely a ‘political decision’,” says Asad Rehman, head of international climate at Friends of the Earth, a global green campaigner. “The 20 percent target the EU is offering is ‘business as usual,’ and business as usual is killing the climate – it is criminal.”


Global Warming as theatre

What a neat idea: Stage a dramatic monologue in a theatre with tickets sold to true believers and you have no critics to answer! But as the commentator below says: "There is nothing explicitly new in this analysis". And where have we heard this before? "We face a future in which billions will starve" Paul Ehrlich, give a bow! Same old, same old

Stephen Emmott is an unlikely candidate for a star of a sell-out London theatre hit. He currently uses crutches after recently losing a disc in his spine and until last month he had never trod the boards. Yet the 52-year-old academic has just completed a majestic run at the Royal Court. For the past three weeks, he has filled the seats of the company's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs with audiences, mostly young, flocking to see his solo performances of Ten Billion, a brutal but careful dissection of the likely impact of humanity's swelling numbers on our planet.

Forget the hunt for the Higgs boson, Emmott tells audiences. Scientists may think that this was the greatest experiment ever performed, but it is nothing compared to the one humanity is now carrying out on our own planet as we pump more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, melt icecaps, destroy precious ecosystems and eradicate species in their thousands. The end result is "one of the most disturbing evenings I have ever spent in a theatre," wrote the Guardian's Michael Billington.

We face a future in which billions will starve, he states. Britain, which could come off relatively lightly when 6C rises in global temperature take effect, will be turned into a military outpost dedicated to preventing waves of immigrants reaching our shores.

So can we do anything to halt the devastation that lies ahead? Emmott asks as he reaches the end of his show. "In truth, I think we are already f*cked," is his answer. Then he quotes the response he got when he asked one of his younger colleagues what measures he planned to take to ward off the worst effects of the mayhem that lies ahead. "Teach my son how to use a gun," he was told. Cormac McCarthy would be proud.

Emmott merely stands in front of a desk within a set that is a recreation of his own office, right down to the slowly ageing tangerine that he has left in one corner. "I am a scientist, not an actor – as will quickly become clear," he announces. Then he proceeds with his analysis with the help of some neat video graphics. The result is more lecture than play, though I would argue that this is a perfectly reasonable theatrical mechanism, one that has been deployed recently in London by the Tricycle theatre in its staging of the public inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case and by the Finborough theatre in its depiction of recent events in Syria.

In Emmott's case, his main concern is the ecological costs that underlie our daily lives: the billions of barrels of oil drilled each year, the billions of passenger miles flown and billions of tonnes of carbon pumped into the atmosphere. Two years ago, Russia halted its grain exports after its harvest failed. As a result, there were food riots in many countries, including several in the Middle East. The Arab Spring erupted in their wake. Today, an even greater harvest failure is threatened in the United States, where scorching temperatures have devastated crops. The implications for civil unrest across the planet are profound. Add to this the prospect of even greater temperature rises, triggered by increasing emissions of greenhouse gases that are in turn fed by our undiminished urge to burn fossil fuels and you begin to get a feel for the troubles we face. Populations are soaring but our capacity to feed ourselves is dwindling as the heat is turned up on our planet.

There is nothing explicitly new in this analysis. What is fresh is its measured, uninterrupted exposition. Emmott remains remarkably calm throughout his performance although you can still sense his concealed fury at our failure to take action. There are no Paxmans to quibble over details and no climate gainsayers to make arcane or inaccurate objections. And that is the real lesson of Ten Billion. Without the clamorous voices of climate change deniers who constantly question the minutiae of scientists' research or cherry-pick data, Emmott has shown that it is possible to make a straightforward, telling demonstration of the dreadful problems we face. We need a lot more sober, pithy work like this.

Emmott believes it is too late now to prevent our planet burning. Others, myself included, believe there is still time to take action. Making sure that the message of Ten Billion is not lost would be a very good starting point.


New Courtroom Strategy for Kiwigate Climate Data Skeptics

The life-and-death struggle by Warmists to keep their data secret tells its own story, of course

Government climatologists in New Zealand (NZ) last week won a major courtroom victory against skeptic plaintiffs when a high court judge declined to order scientists to release their data. But fresh legal analysis points to a new courtroom strategy to circumvent the kiwi government’s failure to honor a promise to release hotly contested global warming evidence.

Last Friday the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET) was defeated in their legal challenge to compel government scientists to reveal anomalies in their nation’s unofficial “official” climate record. Because a court permitted the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand (NIWA) to break a promise to reveal key evidence the judge was able to rule that NZCSET had failed to prove their case.

The man-made global warming skeptics of NZCSET had initiated this judicial review after they saw that their nation’s climatologists had inexplicably grafted a warming trend onto the country’s raw temperatures using dubious statistical techniques. For over three years the controversy grew and NZ’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) resorted to hiding/destroying data. In 2010 – to ameliorate the controversy – NIWA was compelled to approach the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to undertake an independent and open external peer review. Thereby, under ministerial order the government anticipated that the methodology and documentation of the disputed Seven Station Temperature Series (7SS) data file would be vindicated and the full Aussie review would be put on show. But last Friday, because NIWA (and the National Party government) had belatedly renegade on their promise, the judicial review found their was insufficient evidence to sustain the skeptics’ courtroom claims.

As the dust settles at the Auckland High Court and the climate alarmists gloat the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET) has yet to announce how it will respond. But legal analysts have seen a way forward to resolve the stalemate after NIWA’s refusal to come clean about their disputed ‘Seven-station Temperature Series’ (SS7). Readers can contrast and compare the SS7 (adjusted) temperatures with the actual (raw) temperatures in the graphs below. Skeptics remain insistent that NIWA used a discredited, non-standard method in SS7 to create an unjustified warming trend that fitted a political agenda.

Despite Justice Venning’s adverse decision NZCSET still achieved something of a moral victory. In this three-year dispute NIWA has been forced to disavow it’s own National Temperature Records. NIWA chose to lose the “official” tag for its temperature series rather than come clean about its methods. On September 10, 2012, the Monday after their defeat NZCSET’s lawyer, Barry Brill issued a public statement:

“NIWA asserts that it is not required to justify its methods. It claims the exclusive and untrammelled right to select any statistical technique it thinks appropriate. However, it publicly undertook to have its methods tested by both a BoM review and the independent peer-review of a scientific journal. It has now elected to neither disclose nor rely upon BoM’s work and it has not submitted to a journal review.”

NIWA had altered its position at the eleventh hour, as signaled by a hasty revision of NIWA chief climatologist, Dr David Wratt’s affidavit. Astonishingly, at paragraph 306 Wratt now claimed, “NIWA and BOM regard the process of peer review and the interchanges between them as confidential, privileged, and subject to public interest immunity.”

The fresh claim for public interest immunity is baffling and disingenuous in light of the fact that the minister responsible for NIWA, Hon. Dr Wayne Mapp, promised that the BoM review would be independent and more transparent. NIWA’s last-minute U-turn is a betrayal of the trust petitioners and NZ taxpayers placed in Mapp’s mealy-mouthed assurances; it gives the clearest signal yet that the Australian climatologists’ review probably pinpointed shenanigans that Mapp’s ministerial colleagues felt compelled to suppress despite his high-sounding promises. In effect, NIWA – the accused in this “crime” – had manipulated behind the scenes to ensure that the “prosecutors” (NZCSET) of the case were barred from examining critical evidence provided by NIWA’s own “expert witness” (BoM).


Australia: CSG miners get to drill everywhere in NSW

FARMERS have lost their fight for greater protection from coal seam gas (CSG) miners, with the state government refusing to fence off any land from exploration. The miners were was given the OK yesterday to start drilling on farm land, albeit under the "strongest restrictions in the world".

The government released its strategic regional land use policy, outlining the extra hurdles companies will have to jump to start work.

Mining companies will have to prove any extraction will not destroy water quality, or prime farming and grazing land.

And in a bid to appease farmers, the government has removed the clause that gave it power to override the restrictions in exceptional circumstances. All CSG companies will have to meet the strict guidelines.

Farmers Association president Fiona Simson said farmers were not protected by the policy. "We got an incomplete package with watered down water protections and a virtual green light for exploration and mining right across most of the state," Ms Simson said.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham accused the Premier of "declaring war" on farmers.

But Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said the increased regulation would make NSW less attractive for mining companies. "The area of land classified strategic has increased threefold since the draft mapping was first released in March, so much more land will be covered by the new gateway assessment process," he said.

"This new layer of project assessment comes at a time when commodity prices are falling and production and other input costs in Australia are rising."


Australia: Suspect wheat variety not used in GM trial

CALLS to abandon a genetically modified wheat trial in Western Australia amid reports certain varieties could cause liver failure have been dismissed by the state government as scaremongering.

New Zealand-based genetics lecturer Jack Heinemann has warned that if humans eat one of the CSIRO's genetically modified wheat varieties, it could suppress glycogen production, leading to liver failure.

CSIRO said the claims had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal but would be considered by the organisation and regulatory bodies along with all other relevant research.

It was trialling both GM and non-GM versions of high amylose wheat, which had increased levels of resistant starch that could have positive benefits for bowel health and people with diabetes, CSIRO said.

Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested in the small intestine and travels into the large intestine, where it plays a key role in digestive function.

In the wake of the report, WA opposition agriculture spokesman Paul Papalia called on the Barnett government to abandon a trial of GM wheat in Merredin, which was announced in 2010.

However, a spokesman for the state's agriculture minister Terry Redman said the variety in question was not being trialled in WA.

Mr Redman said a trial of the variety in the ACT was not complete, so it was too early to say whether it was safe.

"To claim halfway through a trial, speculating in fact, that something's unsafe now is quite frankly too early to do so, and I think scaremongering," he told ABC.




The graphics problem: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


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