Friday, September 07, 2012

Some more psychologizing about climate skepticism

The writer is a psycholopgist, which makes it no surprise that he is a paid up member of the Green/Left. So it is also no surprise that he himself does exactly what he says not to do.

For starters, I was amused by this at the head of his article: "John Cook does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations." We also read: "John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow at University of Queensland". So he is paid to promote Warmism but that does not bias him? Let me guess that if he were to become a skeptic he would be out on his ear in no time flat.

The essence of his article however is that skeptics cherry pick the evidence whereas noble souls like him do not. Let me mention a couple of cherries that he seems to miss.

He regurgitates the totally hokey "97%" claim. See the sidebar here for a dismantling of that. Just by repeating such a flawed claim he reveals himself as unconcerned with the facts.

He quotes all sorts of climate processes that are allegedly going on but fails to look at the bottom line as given in the header of this blog. And note that the header is a copy of a mainstream Warmist graph. It shows a totally trivial warming. If the warming has been so slight over the last century or more what are we worried about? A temperature change of less than one degree Celsius contrasts vividly with the (say) 10 degrees warming we all experience during the course of a single day, to say nothing of seasonal variations. In the context of normal human experience, the warming observed so far over the last 100 years or is so slight as to be almost undetectable.

And the cook-up man fails to mention that to go from the negligible warming actually observed to something alarming, Warmists have to invent all sorts of unproven and dubious "tipping point" processes that are going to befall us in the vaguely specified future. So he misses the biggest "cherry" of all. He ignores the most crucial point in the whole story. Warmism is prophecy, not fact.

It would be great if he would take his own advice and consider ALL the data and leave the prophecies for those with a paranoid spark

In a previous article on The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky asked, why do people reject science? I’m going to take a slightly different angle and consider how people are able to reject climate science in the face of strong evidence.

A growing body of research has found that when a person’s worldview is threatened by scientific evidence, they interpret the science in a biased manner. One issue where this influence is strongest is climate change.

For supporters of an unregulated free market, regulating polluting industries to reduce global warming is so unpalatable that they are far more likely to reject that climate change is happening.

The mechanism by which ideology such as this influences our scientific views is confirmation bias. We place greater weight on evidence that confirms our beliefs, while ignoring or resisting conflicting evidence. This can be a challenge when confronted with a convergence of evidence and a scientific consensus, but confirmation bias is up to the task. Let’s look at some examples.

The most common manifestation of confirmation bias is cherry picking, where one carefully selects a small piece of data that paints a friendly picture and overlooks any inconvenient evidence.

How do we spot cherry picking? It’s important to remember that there is no “their evidence” versus “our evidence”. There is only the full body of evidence.

If someone arrives at a conclusion from carefully selected evidence that contradicts the conclusion drawn from the full body of evidence, that’s cherry picking.

Cherry pickers ignore the fact that our planet is currently building up heat at the stunning rate of around 3 Hiroshima bombs per second. Instead, they focus on short periods of the surface temperature record. This record bounces up and down from year to year as the ocean exchanges heat with the atmosphere, meaning that it’s possible to find any short period during a long-term warming trend where temperatures fall briefly. Meanwhile the planet continues to build up heat – around 250 Hiroshima bombs worth since you started reading this article.

Confirmation bias also influences which sources of information we put our trust in. People tend to attribute greater expertise to people who share their values and beliefs. We’re drawn to those who tell us what we want to hear.

So what happens when 97 out of 100 of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming?

Those who reject the scientific consensus lavish their attention on the 3% minority, magnifying their significance and turning a blind eye to the 97% of scientific experts.


Peak water: The new scare

Peak oil has been dynamited by new energy discoveries so what else could run out? Water! Just a few excerpts from a huge and tendentious article below

We start off with some wisdom from the well-known crook, Peter Gleick and move on to note that Britain has had some rare dry weather in recent years. That Britain's most recent water problems have been extensive flooding is not mentioned. Nor is it mentioned that there is plenty of water in the North. It just needs a big pipe to bring it to London. But with drought being rare in Britain, who would bother?

We then move to Australia where there is only one water problem: Greenies. There have been many plans to build new dams but Greenies screech their heads off about dams so politicians are scared away from authorizing any. Again, however, in the last couple of years flooding has been the problem, rather to the relief of politicians. Many dams overflowed in the last 12 months and more. Even Brisbane's big flood-mitigation dam overflowed, with disastrous results. But you would never guess that from the article below.

So the article below is nothing but a one-sided beat-up that tells a totally distorted story. It is totally dishonest beneath its sober-seeming facade. It's about as scientific as my big toe, with apologies to my big toe

Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, a leading think tank on water issues. He isn't surprised that Intel and Chandler are optimistic about the future. Their cheerful attitude, he believes, reflects their confidence that social and economic priorities are on their side. "It shows to what lengths we'll go to ensure water for high-value uses," Gleick says. "Truth is, Intel will always be able to pay more than anybody else for water. They can act as though it's not scarce, because for them it's a relatively small cost."

Looking out at Kensington Gardens in London, where ornate fountains shimmer in the sunshine, it's difficult to imagine that this famously damp city has less water per person at its disposal than Dallas, Rome, or Istanbul. But it's true, and the problem is getting worse. I'm sitting in a restaurant next to the gardens with John Rodda, a hydrologist with Britain's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. White-haired and buttoned-down, Rodda presents his doom-and-gloom outlook with quintessential British stoicism. He pulls out a map of Britain and points to the country's southeast, printed an angry shade of red to indicate water scarcity. "We fall well below the World Bank standard, per capita, of a water-stressed region," he says.

In the summer of 2006, London was hit by the worst drought in three decades. After two consecutive dry winters (the time of year when rainfall usually replenishes the water supply), the city imposed restrictions on watering lawns, filling swimming pools, and other nonessential uses. Newspaper columnists raised the specter of Londoners lining up at fire hydrants to collect water rations. Desperate to maintain supplies, water companies considered extreme measures: cloud seeding, bulk transportation by tanker, even towing icebergs down from the Arctic.

Australia has always been dry. It's the most arid continent after Antarctica. Covering an area roughly the size of the lower 48 states, it supports less than one-tenth the US population, and even that is an enormous strain on water supplies. The country was founded during the second-worst drought in its history, but the worst dry spell is unfolding right now. Rainfall, which has declined to 25 percent of the long-term average, is projected to plummet another 40 percent by 2050.

Three factors are working to desiccate the landscape. One is simple overexploitation of existing resources. More water is withdrawn to support agriculture, industry, and cities than the system can handle. Another is El NiƱo, a weather pattern that periodically alters rainfall, further drying the continent. The third is climate change. Australia is growing hotter, which compounds the other two problems by boosting both consumption and evaporation.

The convergence of these factors could have catastrophic results. Every major city in Australia is hobbled by mandatory restrictions on water consumption, but most of the country's water — two-thirds — goes to agriculture. The economics of food production have always been based on ready access to cheap water. The price of beer has been rising since a jump in barley prices, a development that many joke could lead to large-scale civil unrest. But it's no joke: The global price of wheat hit its highest level in decades in December, partly due to Australia's water shortage. The most fundamental impact of scarcity will be on Australia's ability to feed itself.


And peak food is approaching, according to Justin Gillis of the NYT

The article below is a laugh a minute. If global warming DID exist, it would be INCREASING food-crop yields. Plants gobble up CO2. It is their basic food. And a warmer world would be a wetter one -- again giving plants a boost.

And the corn shortage is simply because 40% of the huge U.S. crop now goes into automobile gas tanks. The EPA could remedy that nonsense with the stroke of a pen

Aside from Greenie folly and basic biology, however, there is China. China was a food-importer under Mao and any Greenie wisehead would see that as inevitable given that an area about the same as the contiguous United States has to feed 1.3 billion people with primitive technology. Poop is their main fertilizer.

But under capitalism China feeds the world. It is a huge exporter of food and exports to most countries on the globe. For instance: "By value, China is the world's No.1 exporter of fruits and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food products ranging from apple juice to garlic and sausage casings. Its agricultural exports to the US surged to $US2.26 billion last year". And that quote was from 2007!

Politics and economics are the main constraints on the food supply, nothing else. Capitalism is its friend. Greenies are its enemy

Perhaps the biggest single question about climate change is whether people will have enough to eat in coming decades.

We have had two huge spikes in global food prices in five years that were driven largely by chaotic weather. And this year we may be in the early stages of a third big jump. Droughts and heat waves have damaged crops in many producing countries this year, including the United States and India.

As my colleague Annie Lowrey reported this week, United Nations agencies are hitting the alarm button.

Now come two reports that help to frame the problem of the future food supply — one of them offering a stark warning about what could be in store, the other offering a possible way out.

As readers of an article I wrote last year may recall, growing scientific evidence suggests that climate change is already functioning as a drag on global food production.

Rising temperatures during the growing season in many large producing countries are cutting yields below their potential, the research suggests. On top of that background factor, extreme events like droughts or torrential rains can destroy crops altogether. Extremes have always been part of the agricultural picture, of course, but they are expected to increase on a warming planet.

One of the new reports comes from Oxfam, the global antipoverty charity. It commissioned researchers at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex in Britain, to use computer modeling to study the possible impacts of climate change on global food prices by 2030, compared with prices in 2010. (The Oxfam report is summarized here and can be downloaded here, and detailed methods and results can be found here.)

The researchers recognized that global food demand is rising as many millions of people in developing countries acquire the means to eat richer diets. That alone would be expected to drive food prices higher, but their calculations suggest that climate change will greatly compound the problem.

For instance, the report said that corn prices could jump by 177 percent, adjusted for inflation, by 2030, with stress from climate change accounting for something like half the increase. The price increases could be 120 percent for wheat and 107 percent for rice, with climate change accounting for perhaps a third of the increases for those crops.

And those are just the baseline price increases. Severe weather shocks could cause further spikes, induce panic buying, prompt countries to close their borders to food exports and even lead to riots and revolutions.

If any of that sounds alarmist, recall that every bit of it has already happened because of the price spikes of recent years. In 2008, food riots broke out in more than 20 countries, and the government of Haiti fell as a result of the unrest. The second price spike, in 2011, apparently played a role in the social discontent that led to the revolutions in the Arab world.

In the West, raw ingredients make up only a small fraction of the cost of the food most people eat, and price spikes tend to be felt only moderately for that reason. But in parts of the world where people subsist on staple grains, Oxfam warns, a doubling or more of grain prices from 2010’s already high levels would probably be devastating. The price spikes occurring over the last decade have already led to some of the biggest increases in global hunger in generations.

“Food price spikes are a matter of life and death to many people in developing countries, who spend as much as 75 percent of their income on food,” Oxfam said in its report. “Increased hunger is likely to be one of climate change’s most savage impacts on humanity.”

As many Green readers know, agriculture is not just a potential victim of climate change — it is also a major cause. It helps to drive extensive deforestation in the tropics, consumes fossil fuels and puts a powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, into the air.


Experts Fear Climate Change Will Slow Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Well, it's a good thing global warming stopped 16 years ago, then. No hint that the writer below is aware of any actual climate statistics, though. He just invokes his Warmist religion. Amusing that he admits to having seen no effect on AIDS so far, though

According to the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 34.2 million people around the world were infected with the disease in 2011, the most recent data available. Last year, the virus led to 1.7 million deaths.

Though the number of afflicted people is rising, the rate of new infections is slowing down and infected people are living longer, in part due to better education and more affordable treatments reaching those who need it. While HIV still has no cure or vaccine, certain drugs can help manage the disease so that infected people can live more productive lives, and can help reduce transmission.

However, some of this progress may be lost as the planet changes, with extreme weather events and higher average temperatures cutting food security, creating refugee crises as people flee stricken regions and spread the disease.

"I think mainly the interaction between climate change and AIDS is in the future," said Colin Butler, an associate professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at Australian National University. Like climate change itself, the HIV epidemic took decades to develop and could be even more disastrous in the coming century if there is no intervention. And some climate change impacts are already becoming apparent, so their influence on the current HIV problem could be a harbinger of things to come, according to Butler.


Al Gore skipping DNC because Obama is not Green enouigh

I guess that they'll have to make do with Bill Clinton, then

Al Gore is boycotting the Democratic National Convention because he doesn’t get along with President Obama and is disappointed that Obama hasn’t pushed harder for a cap-and-trade law that would force Americans to use less fossil fuels, sources tell Flash.

While tens of thousands of Democrats from across the country are gathered in Charlotte, N.C., Gore stayed in New York to cover the convention for his struggling Current TV channel. “Gore was not treated respectfully by the Obama team. He’s snubbing them, because they snubbed him,” said one Democratic fundraiser.

Former President Bill Clinton has been given an active role in Obama’s re-election effort, and was given a prime-time slot to speak just before Obama accepted his nomination last night. But Clinton’s running mate, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been an invisible man.

“He’s been missing in action. It’s not just the convention. Gore hasn’t made any speeches for for Obama, or campaign appearances, or fundraising solicitations ... nothing,” said our source.


A chance to stop the gusher of useless wind subsidies

On May 24, President Barack Obama visited wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa. While there, he announced that his “to do list” for Congress included extending the wind energy’s Production Tax Credit.

The credit, which expires at the end of 2012, gives 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour to wind energy producers. For all of 2012, U.S. wind farms are expected to provide about 3.5 percent of U.S. electric power, or 145 billion kwh, making wind producers eligible for $3 billion in tax credit subsidies.

On May 30, Republican candidate Mitt Romney took up the Iowa challenge to his energy policies. His campaign told the Des Moines Register that Romney “will allow the wind credit to expire in 2012, end the stimulus boondoggles and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.”

Through 2011, the wind industry had the option of a 30 percent investment tax credit that could be received as up-front cash grants, instead of having to wait until power was generated for the tax credit. Of the most recent $1 billion in wind energy grants handed out by the government, 85 percent — $849 million — has gone to foreign wind turbine companies, such as Germany’s Siemens, Spain’s Gamesa, India’s Suzlon and Denmark’s Vestas. Spanish utility company Iberdrola S.A. alone has collected $545 million in recent years through its U.S. subsidiary. Subsidy data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that on a per-unit-of-energy-produced basis, oil and gas producers receive 28 cents; nuclear receives $1.79; biofuels got $20.37 and wind got $32.59.

The head of Vestas, the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, has said the U.S. wind turbine market is likely to fall by 80 percent next year if the tax credit expires. Vestas also warned that failure to extend the credit could force it to cut 1,600 U.S. jobs. By contrast, a study by energy, mining and metals consultant Wood MacKenzie reports that new U.S. oil and gas production could create an additional one million U.S. jobs by 2018.

Spain has aggressively subsidized wind and solar energy as a job creator. But a study by King Carlos University shows that for each new wind energy job, Spain loses 2.2 jobs in energy-consuming industries because of higher power costs.

During 2012 to date, our nation’s 50,000 MW of wind capacity is producing an intermittent and unpredictable 29 percent of that capacity. Wind blows just part of the time, needing backup from natural gas plants. This is a reason wind energy needs subsidies.

Britain is a world leader in wind, with a subsidized program to take advantage of the windiest conditions in Europe. But its program continues to fail. Figures released in early January showed that as temperatures plunged to well below freezing and electric power demand soared, electricity production at Britain’s 3,100 wind turbines fell from an average of 8.6 percent of Britain’s electricity mix to just 1.8 percent.

As Jeremy Nicholson, director of the U.K. Energy Intensive Users Group, said, “What is worrying is that these sorts of figures are not a one-off.

It was exactly the same last January and February when high pressure brought freezing cold temperatures, snow and no wind.”

Nicholson added, “We can cope at the moment because there is still not that much power generated by wind. What happens when we are dependent on wind turbines for more of our power, and there is suddenly a period when the wind does not blow and there is high demand?”

A better approach is to continue research such as the consortium of wind energy researchers led by the University of Minnesota which will receive $7.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for fostering wind energy development in the U.S.

Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, summed up the issues with Britain’s wind program, describing wind supporters as people who “believe in fairy tales.”

Romney has this one right. It’s time for “all sources of energy to compete on their own merits.”




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


1 comment:

slkTAC said...

We are running out of water because it leaks out the ozone hole. That's been going on for years and the governments of the world have been hiding it while building secret water storage facilities so they have water when the level reaches a critical shortage. Everyone knows that. How could you have missed it??? :)