Britain sent a clear signal of support to its oil and gas industry when it named an advocate of shale gas fracking as environment minister and a wind farm sceptic as energy minister.
The appointments in Prime Minister David Cameron's ministerial reshuffle on Tuesday mark a departure from his pledge to run Britain's greenest government, in favour of the fossil fuel sector that generates billions of pounds in tax revenue.
The government last year put a brake on the development of shale gas extraction due to environmental concerns after it triggered two small earthquakes near Blackpool.
But Owen Paterson, a member of Cameron's Conservative Party who was appointed Environment Secretary in the reshuffle, has hailed the potential economic benefits of shale gas, a message likely to sway the country's decision in favour of the drilling method.
"If developed safely and responsibly, shale gas could generate massive economic activity and a wealth of new jobs," Paterson said in May, when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
He said huge shale gas deposits in Northern Ireland could be exploitable, adding that discoveries in the United States had shrunk its gas price to a quarter of British levels.
"(Shale gas) has also ended America's dependence on unreliable and dictatorial regimes," he said.
The decision on whether Britain will resume shale gas fracking, a method of drilling through shale deposits to retrieve gas by injecting liquids and chemical, is in the hands of the energy ministry, but support from the Department for Environment could speed up a decision.
In his final media interview as Energy Minister, Hendry said a decision on shale gas was not imminent, but that Britain could not ignore its impact on the U.S. energy market.
Hayes has been a vocal opponent of wind farms, a technology the government regards as key to meeting climate change goals.
"Such tall structures will have a detrimental impact on the quality of life for local residents, the attractiveness of the area and its potential for tourism," Hayes said at a local council meeting, reflecting the views of his constituents campaigning against the construction of a wind farm.
He said wind farms would always be backed up by conventional power plants because of their unreliability and that they had a detrimental impact on wildlife.
"Wind power (considerably) increases the average household energy bills as the profit-hungry energy companies continue to chase the taxpayer funded subsidies and credits," the new Energy Minister said.
Greens Against Green Energy
Big Solar gets the Big Oil treatment
A couple of weeks ago we wondered if green lobbying groups would object to new Department of Interior rules to streamline environmental approval for solar energy projects on hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land. ("The Solar-Painted Desert," Aug. 13, 2012.) Well, here we go. Three environmental groups—Western Lands Project, Basin and Range Watch, and Solar Done Right—have filed a formal complaint of the kind that often presages a lawsuit.
The letter of protest to the Bureau of Land Management alleges that the agency "failed to analyze numerous impacts of solar energy plant development within several Solar Energy Zones" and that allowing "industrial-scale solar generation" could result in the "virtual privatization of public lands."
But here's the real shocker: The letter complains that "no scientific evidence has been presented to support the claim that these projects reduce greenhouse emissions." And "the opposite may be true. Recent work at the Center for Conservation Biology University of California, Riverside, suggests that soil disturbance from large-scale solar development may disrupt Pleistocene-era caliche deposits that release carbon to the atmosphere when exposed to the elements, thus 'negat[ing] the solar development C [carbon] gains.'"
So solar energy, like corn ethanol, really doesn't reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Now they tell us.
And there's more, says the letter: The environmental impact from these solar panels "are long-term (decades to centuries)" and they threaten the habitat of "endangered species, including the desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, flat-tailed horned lizard, golden eagle and desert bighorn."
Who knows if these objections have any factual basis. They're similar to the exaggerated complaints that greens have used for decades to kill or delay natural gas drilling, coal mining, road building, and the construction of dams for hydropower. But it's certainly news that some greens are even turning against green energy. Welcome to the club, Big Solar
Don't Believe The Global Warmists, Major Hurricanes Are Less Frequent
When Hurricane Isaac made landfall in southern Louisiana last week, the storm provided a rare break in one of the longest periods of hurricane inactivity in U.S. history. Seeking to deflect attention away from this comforting trend, global warming alarmists attempted a high-profile head fake, making public statements that the decline in recent hurricane activity masked an increase in strong, damaging hurricanes.
“The hurricanes that really matter, that cause damage, are increasing,” John Abraham, a mechanical engineer on the staff of little-known University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, told Discovery News.
Normally, of course, the subjective global climate opinions of a mechanical engineer at an obscure Minnesota university wouldn’t be national news. However, global warming alarmists put Abraham forward as the point man for their self-proclaimed Climate Science Rapid Response Team. But hey, if Abraham is the best they can do, so be it.
Abraham says major hurricanes are the only ones that really matter, and that major hurricanes are increasing. If that is indeed so, then we might have a cause for concern. Let’s go straight to the data to find out if major hurricanes are indeed increasing.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) provides information on major U.S. hurricanes during the past 100-plus years.According to the NHC, 70 major hurricanes struck the United States in the 100 years between 1911 and 2010. That is an average of 7 major hurricane strikes per decade. What are the trends within this 100-year span? Let’s take a look.
Let’s split the 100-year hurricane record in half, starting with major hurricane strikes during the most recent 50 years.
During the most recent decade, 2001-2010, 7 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is exactly the 100-year average.
During the preceding decade, 1991-2000, 6 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is below the 100-year average.
During the decade 1981-1990, 4 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially below the 100-year average, and ties the least number of major hurricanes on record.
During the decade 1971-1980, 4 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially below the 100-year average, and ties 1981-1990 as the two decades with the least number of major hurricanes.
During the decade 1961-1970, 7 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is exactly the 100-year average.
Incredibly, not a single decade during the past 50 years saw an above-average number of major hurricanes – not a single decade!
Now let’s look at the preceding 50 years in the hurricane record, before the alleged human-induced global warming crisis.
During the decade 1951-1960, 9 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average.
During the decade 1941-1950, 11 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is substantially above the 100-year average.
During the decade 1931-1940, 8 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average.
During the decade 1921-1930, 6 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is slightly below the 100-year average.
During the decade 1911-1920, 8 major hurricanes struck the United States. That is above the 100-year average.
Global warming alarmists and mechanical engineers at obscure Minnesota universities may lie, but the objective data do not lie. During the past 5 decades, an average of 5.6 major hurricanes struck the United States. During the preceding 5 decades, and average of 8.4 major hurricanes struck the United States.
“The hurricanes that really matter, that cause damage” are not increasing. Hard, objective data show exactly the opposite. Indeed, during the past 4 decades, the time period during which global warming alarmists claim human-induced global warming accelerated rapidly and became incontrovertible, the fewest number of major hurricanes struck during any 40-year period since at least the 1800s.
Oh, and during the first two years of this current decade exactly zero major hurricanes struck the United States.
Global warming alarmists better hope we start seeing a rash of major hurricanes pretty soon if this is not going to be the quietest decade on record. Until and unless that happens, the objective data show the Climate Science Rapid Response Team is actually the Climate Science Rapid Propaganda Team.
But hey, if that’s the best they can do, so be it.
Dutch analysis finds wind power is a 'money pit with virtually no merit in CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving'
A Dutch analysis finds that wind energy reduces emissions and fossil fuel use by a maximum of only 1.6% compared to directly generating energy from fossil fuels. Furthermore, the study finds that with large wind installations, power is often wasted since the electricity grid cannot always absorb the intermittent supply, resulting in more fossil fuel consumption than directly generating power from fossil fuels. Thus, the study concludes, "wind developments are a money pit with virtually no merit in terms of the intended goal of CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving."
Conclusion and outlook
Adding it all up, one must conclude that under the present conditions in the Netherlands a 100 MW (Megawatt) 'name plate' capacity wind development produces on average 23 MW because of the capacity factor. 4,6 MW (20%) of this has to be subtracted from the final net result because of initial energy investments. From the actual Statline production figures we know that 27% of this 23 MW = 6,17 MW represents the actual fossil fuel and CO2 savings. But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our windturbines therefore is 6,17 - 4,6 = 1,57 MW on average over the year. That is ~ 1,6% of the installed capacity. It makes wind developments a Mega money pit with virtually no merit in terms of the intended goal of CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving.
What is going to happen next? The current plan is to extend wind capacity to 8 GW onshore and 4 GW offshore. Presently wind name plate capacity is about 15% of the average domestic electric power need, which is roughly 14 GW. If the capacity exceeds 20% we enter into a new phase in which frequent curtailment sets in: there wil be periods in which the grid simply cannot absorb the supply. This situation already exists in Denmark and Ireland. Then we shall see a further dramatic decrease of the fuel-replacing effectiveness. In a previous study (6), we used a model in which the most conservative scenario had a thus defined windpenetration of 20%. We found that in that case savings were already negative, which means that wind developments actually caused an increase in fossil fuel consumption. The present study based on actual data shows that we are well on the way to reach that stage.
Eco-nomics: Was Stern 'wrong for the right reasons' ... or just wrong?
Perhaps greens just aren't the good guys
Analysis "Why should we sacrifice 10 per cent of our income today to make Bill Gates better off?" asked an MP. "As the world's [second] richest man, he doesn't need our sacrifice."
The second richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is a proxy in this rhetorical question. The MP, a former Cabinet minister, is raising a fascinating and rarely asked moral question. Should we make ourselves poorer to save the rich of the future some insignificant amount of money: an amount so small, it will be a rounding error? The argument he builds is that government spending on climate policies is in fact a form of regressive wealth distribution. And the question the minister poses is far from rhetorical; it's at the heart of the climate policy debate.
For an issue that is discussed in stark moral terms – good guys favour cutting carbon emissions, and bad guys don't – things are not what they seem, suggests former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley. Poverty is the greatest killer on the planet, robbing societies of the ability to protect themselves, and look after their most vulnerable. A legacy of our obsession to cut carbon dioxide emissions aggressively may be to trap billions in poverty, and the avoidable suffering that goes with it.
It's all about economics. Six years ago the Stern Review landed with a thud that could be felt on the Richter Scale. The 700-page blockbuster – The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, to give it its full title – was commissioned by the UK government, written by UK bureaucrats led by a former economist to the World Bank, Nicholas Stern. It made the case for urgent climate mitigation policy: we'd be better off making sacrifices now to alleviate damage – both social and economic – in the future, Stern argued.
The MP, former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley, has called foul. Lilley and economist Richard Tol have written a 100-page analysis of the Stern Review, published today by policy think-tank the Global Warming Foundation (PDF). The study asserts that Stern's economic arguments can no longer form the basis for policy. Government should focus on a series of more practical measures instead, the study argues. These range from practical carbon emission reduction policy, to greater energy efficiency programmes, to the distribution of aid.
Stern's summary was simple. Climate change would cost 5 per cent of GDP "now and forever", he advised, yet we could avert disaster with policy that would set us back just 1 per cent of GDP. So the benefits outweighed the costs.
It's astonishing to re-read Stern's government-commissioned report today and be reminded that the 'bedrock' of climate economics itself rests such a flimsy base. But at the time, the watchdogs didn't bark. Only a few of Stern's economic peers, when they finally got the chance to examine his logic and mathematics, were critical, and their voices were confined to academia, argues Lilley, referring to a Yale Center for the Study of Globalization seminar held the year after the review's publication. Lilley writes that the report received a "comprehensive battering" from attending environmental economists. Lilley also contended that British media had "amplified uncritically" the report's "most stark and dramatic conclusions".
Here's an example of Stern-logic. The Review assumes that those most affected by increasing temperatures would not adapt to them. As support for this, Stern cited a study in which yields of a particular a strain of peanut vulnerable to higher temperatures fell by 70 per cent. He omitted the rest of the study, showing that alternative peanut strains would give farmers increased yields if temperatures increased.
"Surely it is reasonable to suppose that Indian farmers would switch to the variety that would actually increase their yields, rather than passively letting their yields decline by up to 70 per cent?" writes Lilley. "Stern’s approach has been called ‘the dumb farmer hypothesis’. His selective quotation of the results might be called ‘the gullible reader assumption’."
But the 'Bill Gates argument' is where Stern's calculations, and UK climate policy are at their weakest, claims the rebuttal. Lilley argues that the concepts outlined in the Stern Review were founded on Robin Hood economics: robbing today's poor to benefit tomorrow's rich. By 2200, by figures the IPCC itself uses, we'll be seven times as wealthy as today. Even on using the most pessimistic estimates, Africa will be as wealthy as the West today - although why it need take so long, when Asian economies have transformed living standards in the space of a few decades, is worth questioning. Africa has shown strong GDP growth in recent years.
Discounting the truth
The conventional economic approach to climate change is to regard the damage as an externality, which means the 'polluter pays', the payment being priced at the market discount rate. This is how most economists tackle the issue. But not Stern. Instead of a market rate, Stern chose an improbably low 'discount rate' to reach his conclusion that mitigation policy costs were lower than the benefits. This was a new kind of economics.
So what, then, is a discount rate?
"It's the cost of doing something now, versus the benefit accrued in the future," says Lilley. "Everyone does it; it's a calculation we do instinctively, even if we don't realise we're doing it."
Stern's 'trick' was really twofold. Firstly, he used an improbably low discount rate - the exact figure, over 700 pages, he omitted to disclose. The second was the use of the word 'forever'. Stern made a projection of the losses to infinity. The result was that the costs were underestimated by a factor of between 2.5x and 5x.
Fundamentally Stern was asking the current generation to accept a 5 per cent hit in income, so that a future generation seven times richer would not suffer 5 per cent loss of income.
"He is entitled to use a low discount rate, but only if he accepts that, logically, he should advocate investing in a Norwegian-style ‘fund for the future’, not just in mitigating climate change but in any projects with returns above his discount rate until the market rate and his discount rate converge," notes Lilley's study.
Stern made some other curious assumptions, Lilley points out. The World Bank has estimated that Bangladesh needs to devote 1 per cent of its GDP today to stop flooding.
"Bangladesh today is far wealthier than Holland was when it built its dikes," says Lilley. "The idea that they can't build irrigation, that they can't adapt, is a racist view."
According to the new study's authors, other parts of Stern's landmark study continue to defy explanation.
"The more innovative parts of the Stern Review – the non-Newtonian calculus in Chapter 13, for instance – have yet to be submitted to learned journals," notes Tol acidly in his foreword.
Even supporters of the manmade global warming hypothesis conceded that the economics didn't add up, argues Lilley. Economist Martin Weitzman conceded that the discount rate Stern assumed was 'unlikely' and rejected Stern’s "ultra-low discount rate", preferring to use a market rate of 6 per cent per year. However, Weitzman argued, Stern was "wrong for the right reasons", since in Weitzman's view global warming may "destroy planet Earth as we know it". The economist reasons that since the response of the climate to a doubling of CO2 cannot be accurately be made, the worst case must be assumed.
But far more dramatic changes in the climate have been experienced within the past 20,000 years, Lilley contends, with humans able to draw on far more primitive technological resources, and yet survive. Much depends on the belief that the climate will 'run away'.
The cult twists and turns -- with money as a major reinforcement
This article was originally published a little while ago but it is a very good coverage of global warming as a cult
The typical doomsday cult believes that an apocalyptic disaster is imminent. When the disaster fails to arrive, the cult faces a psychological disaster from which it may or may not recover by announcing a new and later date for doom to arrive. The advocates of apocalyptic global warming have a lot in common with doomsday cults1. Compared to the typical doomsday cult, the global warming cultists are better-educated and use the jargon of science to make their beliefs sound reasonable. The global warmers have the special advantage of generous government financing. Billions of dollars of government money is spent on climate research and low-carbon energy schemes. The money buys impressive political support.
An iron triangle, in political usage, describes a strong lobbying interest with three mutually supporting components. The iron triangle of interests that promotes government support for global warming consists of big science, environmental organizations, and alternative energy industries.
The advocates of global warming are beginning to have the classic doomsday cult problem. The Earth hasn't been warming for 16 years, and that's starting to get very embarrassing. The first adjustment to the dogma was to stop talking about global warming and start talking about climate change. The latest version of the party line is that we are going to have more extreme weather. The reality is that the weather is not any more variable or extreme than in the past. But with suitable fishing in the data, it is easy to make a case that this or that weather phenomenon has become more extreme.
The scientist Richard Lindzen has pointed out that the extreme weather theme is inconsistent with the global warmers' own theories. The global warmers have long claimed that the poles will warm faster than the tropics. One of their key scary claims is that vast amounts of ice at the poles will melt and raise sea level. So, according to warmer theory, the temperature difference between the poles and the equator will lessen. But it is that very temperature difference that drives weather, particularly extreme weather, when cold fronts from the poles collide with warm fronts emerging from the tropics. So the warmers' claims are fundamentally contradictory. How can weather become more extreme when the driver of extreme weather, the pole-to-equator temperature difference, is supposed to weaken?
The scientific case for disastrous human-caused global warming is very weak. But the case is cloaked in hard-to-understand scientific jargon and thus receives credibility that it doesn't deserve. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, is the Vatican of the global warming cult. Other subsidiary authorities, such as the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), generally take the pronouncements of the IPCC as infallible truths.
The IPCC predictions of global warming are supposedly the carefully considered product of the world's best climate scientists, using strict guidelines to assure quality control. Author Donna Laframboise undertook the major project of examining how the IPCC actually operates. The result was the book The delinquent teenager who was mistaken for the world's top climate expert. The IPCC was revealed as a sloppy organization, breaking its supposed rules constantly2. Yet Laframboise's revelation has had little effect on those who are committed believers in global warming dogma or who benefit financially from global warming.
The scientific theory of global warming is that the accumulation of greenhouse gases, meaning gases that are strong absorbers of infrared radiation, will inhibit cooling of the Earth. The Earth gets rid of heat via infrared radiation. If infrared radiation is slowed by greenhouse gases, the Earth must warm a bit to in order to increase the infrared radiation enough to overcome the inhibition of the greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide, emitted from burning coal, oil, and natural gas, is the main greenhouse gas villain.
The greenhouse theory is potentially plausible, although the details are quite complicated, and other actors, especially clouds, are involved. Usually the question is framed as what will be the effect of a CO2 doubling. There are two questions: how much warming will there be, and how bad will the effect of the warming be?
It is generally agreed that CO2 by itself cannot create a lot of warming. In order to get a lot of warming, there has to be an amplification of the effect of CO2. The advocates of extreme global warming theorize that a slight increase in temperature will be amplified because more water vapor will evaporate into the atmosphere, and water vapor, being a greenhouse gas, will amplify the initial effect from CO2.
Figuring out what will really happen is difficult. For example, the amplification of warming by water vapor depends on water vapor being added to the stratosphere, kilometers above our heads. How water vapor gets there is not simple. The effect of clouds is strong and difficult to pin down. It is possible that the initial warming from CO2 will be resisted because more clouds will form and reflect sunlight.
The scientific approach to solving this problem has been to create computer models of the Earth's atmosphere. These computer models don't work very well. The twenty or so laboratories around the world that do climate models are not eager to be candid about the shortcomings of their models. If you have been receiving large government grants for ten or twenty years to create climate models, you would surely be inclined to paint a pretty picture of your work. If your computer model is still lousy after ten years, the government might terminate your grant. Once in a while, though, one hears candid statements. The important scientist Kevin Trenberth said this about the climate models: "... none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate."
The climate models are how the IPCC answers the question about how much warming doubling CO2 would bring. This number is known as climate sensitivity. Unfortunately, the climate models around the world and recognized by the IPCC can't come to an agreement about how big the number is. The range of climate sensitivity in the twenty or so models used by the IPCC to make predictions3 is from 2.1 degrees to 4.4 degrees Celsius for CO2 doubling. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that the real number is constrained within this range. All the climate models use similar methodologies and even share computer code with other models. It is perfectly plausible that they are all wrong and that the real value is much smaller. An important school of thought thinks that the value is around one half of a degree.
If the IPCC were the prudent scientific organization it pretends to be, it would surely say that nobody really knows how much global warming we are likely to get. It would point out that the computer models are seriously deficient and cannot be relied on to answer the important questions. Instead of taking this prudent, but politically unpalatable course, the IPCC pretends that the disagreeing models disagree because of random errors, and therefore, excepting these random errors, the models are getting at the true climate sensitivity. Thus, according to the IPCC, the average climate sensitivity of the collection of models is to be trusted as a good estimate of the true climate sensitivity of the Earth.
It is common in science to have data that is noisy due to the presence of random errors. In such a situation, it makes sense to average together many data points to reduce the random noise. This is a procedure that is taught in freshman physics classes, but the IPCC seems to be following the same procedure when is it not remotely appropriate. The IPCC takes the approximate average climate sensitivity from the models -- about 3 degrees -- as the most likely value. The IPCC further pursues this fiction by estimating probabilities of deviations from 3-degree climate sensitivity based on the spread of the various model results. A simple thought experiment reveals the absurdity of this approach. If we had eighty different models instead of twenty models, then according to basic statistics, the error in the estimate would be halved. So all we have to do is have the world governments establish more climate modeling labs, and we can get a better estimate of the Earth's climate sensitivity. Of course, this is ridiculous, but it is a logical inference from the IPCC methods.
The IPCC has created a highly misleading graph4. The graph makes it appear that climate models are extremely proficient at simulating the Earth's climate.
The black line follows the observed average global temperature. The yellow lines are the simulations by various models, and the red line is the average of the various model simulations. This is called a back fit to the 20th century. The agreement between the model average and the observations is remarkable, except for the period from 1910 to 1940 (more about that later).
Several scientists have pointed out that this graph does not make much sense because the different models should be showing widely divergent behavior in the late 20th century, when CO2 is rapidly increasing. That is because the models have widely divergent sensitivity to CO2. The puzzle is solved when we learn that each modeling group was allowed to use different inputs to its models. For example, aerosols, or finely divided particles floating in the atmosphere that come from various sources, are known to have a strong effect on climate, but there is not a good understanding of the magnitude of this effect during the 20th century. So each modeling group was free to use a different aerosol history to make its model fit the 20th-century temperature record better. Of course, whatever the history of aerosols was during the 20th century, there was only one history, not a different history for each climate model. It gets even worse, because a common method of creating an aerosol history is called the inverse method. The history is manufactured to make the model fit the 20th century.
Aerosols are not the only free variables. Heat uptake by the oceans will slow or accelerate warming depending on the assumptions of how it works, and this can be adjusted by tuning the model. To make a long story short, this graph is simply fake, a mathematical creation, and a demonstration of curve-fitting by computer.
The organizations that promote global warming are highly political. The American Geophysical Union, a scientific organization, aggressively promotes the global warming dogma. Workshops on communication have become a staple in recent years. These workshops attempt to teach scientists how to present the global warming gospel to legislators and media. Usually it is recommended that they simplify the message and avoid any qualifications. Of course, a vast amount of money for scientific research is dependent on continuing global warming alarmism.
Entire industries are dependent on the global warming scare stories. Without global warming alarmism, there would be little or no need for wind turbines, solar power stations, or ethanol factories. Without global warming alarmism, many environmental organizations would lose most of their reason for existing. Armies of academics find work writing about the economics and effects of the supposed great warming.
There is massive scientific opposition5 to the global warming story. But not surprisingly, the opposition is far less noticeable among mainstream climate scientists who are basically funded by global warming alarmism. Mainstream climate scientists who go against the crowd and are open skeptics find themselves having difficulty getting published and become alienated from the profession.
Roy Spencer is a mainstream climate scientist who has developed a convincing method of computing climate sensitivity from satellite data. He comes up with a climate sensitivity of around one half of a degree. Not only has he been forced to water down his papers to get published, but in a case where a paper of his was published in an obscure European journal, the editor of the journal was forced to resign (nominally his resignation was voluntary) and humbly apologize for publishing Spencer's paper. There was nothing wrong with the paper or the procedures and peer review leading to its publication. What was wrong with the paper is that it was critical of global warming dogma. Another example is that the MIT scientist Richard Lindzen was the victim of an orchestrated attack when he published a paper suggesting that climate sensitivity is much lower than indicated by the climate models.
A major contradiction in the global warming story is the early 20th-century warming from 1910 to 1940. This strong warming trend is very similar to the warming trend in the late 20th century from 1970 to 1997. The early-century warming cannot be attributed to greenhouse gases because world use of fossil fuels was small during that period. The fact is that nobody knows what caused the early-century warming. The late-century warming is always attributed exclusively to fossil fuels. The obvious question is, how do we know that the late-century warming was not caused in major part by the same forces that caused the early-century warming, whatever they may be? Some scientists think that the cause of both early- and late-century warming may be well-known, multi-decade temperature cycles of unknown cause in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
It's difficult to find an analogy with the global warming mania. There have been plenty of false or exaggerated environmental scares, but none of them made a claim on the resources of the world economy near what the global warmers are demanding. The warmers want to scrap most of the world's energy infrastructure in favor of a fantasy involving windmills and solar panels. The climate science community is kept submissive by domineering leaders in positions of power. The president's science adviser, John Holdren, is a longtime environmental extremist and promoter of global warming hysteria. Thomas Karl, another strong advocate of the dogma, holds important positions. He is head of the National Climatic Data Center and chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Climate Research Committee. The levers of bureaucratic power are firmly under the control of warmers.
There are, however, incidents of rebellion. For example, a group of 49 former NASA employees, including astronauts, recently wrote a protest letter requesting that the agency stop blatant promotion of unscientific claims revolving around climate change and global warming. The key word, of course, is "former" -- any current employees doing the same risk becoming former employees. NASA, after all, is the home of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies headed by a true fanatic, James Hansen. Hansen considers coal trains to be death trains and wants to put the heads of energy companies on trial for crimes against humanity. He has been arrested for protesting in front of the White House. This from a high civil servant heading an important laboratory for climate research.
The problem that the warmers have is that the mania is rapidly losing steam. The science has been discredited in one way or another by scientists as well as by amateur bloggers. The politician allies of the movement are now mostly afraid to utter the words "global warming" because the term has become unpopular with the public. The failure of subsidized green companies, such as the solar panel company Solyndra, has made the public ever more skeptical. In order to keep the train on the tracks, the warmers will have to resort to more traditional paths to political influence. The iron triangle of scientists, environmental organizations, and subsidized industries will have to buy politicians to keep the subsidies flowing. The global warming movement will have to transform itself from an ideological movement into a special interest seeking government patronage.
There are signs that this is already taking place. The ethanol industry has been discredited as a low-carbon energy source, and it is clearly an uneconomic waste of the Midwestern corn crop. Ethanol is propped up by government mandates, and the Obama administration recently decided to increase the percentage of ethanol that refiners are forced to put in gasoline. Probably this is an attempt to curry favor with corn farmers in electorally important Midwestern states.
Although the global warming mania is losing steam, this is a slow process that could take years. Totalitarian regimes that hold on to power through fear and reward seem impregnable until they aren't. They are subject to sudden collapse when the mass of people stop being afraid. Climate science is such a regime. But the climate science regime can't arrest people, nor can it fire people who have tenure, and the positions of the high mucky mucks won't last for long if they are subjected to withering criticism from rank-and-file scientists. We may be near a tipping point -- and I don't mean a climate tipping point.
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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