Sunday, September 09, 2012

When is a consensus credible?

The paper below argues that for a consensus to be credible it has to be the result of fierce and open debate among opposing sides, an open availability of the data, and scientists who are perceived to be of good character. The slimy little cabal revealed by the Climategate emails shows that none of these tests are met by the consensus among Warmists -- and there is no general consensus on climate anyway. Judith Curry gives the paper a thorough review


What makes a consensus among scientists credible and convincing? This paper introduces the notion of a “hard-won” consensus and uses examples from recent debates over climate change science to show that this heuristic standard for evaluating the quality of a consensus is widely shared. The extent to which a consensus is “hard won” can be understood to depend on the personal qualities of the participating experts; the article demonstrates the continuing utility of the norms of modern science introduced by Robert K. Merton by showing that individuals on both sides of the climate science debate rely intuitively on Mertonian ideas—interpreted in terms of character—to frame their arguments.

Citation: Ranalli, B. Climate Science, Character, and the “Hard-Won” Consensus, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal Vol. 22, No. 2, 183–210. (behind paywall)


Sunspots do impact climate

It's DAYTIME temperatures that matter. The sun isn't shining at night, funnily enough

By Willie Soon and William M. Briggs

Scientists have been studying solar influences on the climate for more than 5,000 years.

Chinese imperial astronomers kept detailed sunspot records. They noticed that more sunspots meant warmer weather. In 1801, the celebrated astronomer William Herschel (discoverer of the planet Uranus) observed that when there were fewer spots, the price of wheat soared. He surmised that less light and heat from the sun resulted in reduced harvests.

Earlier last month, professor Richard Muller of the University of California-Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project announced that in the project’s newly constructed global land temperature record, “no component that matches solar activity” was related to temperature. Instead, Mr. Muller said carbon dioxide controlled temperature.

Could it really be true that solar radiation — which supplies Earth with the energy that drives our climate and which, when it has varied, has caused the climate to shift over the ages — is no longer the principal influence on climate change?

Consider the accompanying chart. It shows some rather surprising relationships between solar radiation and daytime high temperatures taken directly from Berkeley’s BEST project. The remarkable nature of these series is that these tight relationships can be shown to hold from areas as large as the United States.

This new sun-climate relationship picture may be telling us that the way our sun cools and warms the Earth is largely through the penetration of incoming solar radiation in regions with cloudless skies. Recent work by National Center for Atmospheric Research senior scientists Harry van Loon and Gerald Meehl place strong emphasis on this physical point and argue that the use of daytime high temperatures is the most appropriate test of the solar-radiation-surface-temperature connection hypothesis. All previous sun-climate studies have included the complicated nighttime temperature records while the sun is not shining.

Even small changes in solar radiation may have a strong effect on Earth’s temperature and climate. In 2005, one of us demonstrated a surprisingly strong correlation between solar radiation and temperatures in the Arctic over the past 130 years. Since then, we have demonstrated similar correlations in all the regions surrounding the Arctic, including the U.S. mainland and China. The confirmation of a sun-temperature relation using only the daytime-high-temperature records from the United States certainly adds scientific weight to the soundness of this connection.

The close relationships between the abrupt ups and downs of solar activity and of temperature that we have identified occur locally in coastal Greenland, regionally in the Arctic Pacific and North Atlantic; and hemispherically for the whole circum-Arctic, suggesting that changes in solar radiation drive temperature variations in at least many areas.

Pictures like these cannot be drawn for temperature and CO2 concentration. There just is no such close match between the steady rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration and the often dramatic ups and downs of surface temperatures in and around the Arctic, China and the United States.

Even more recently, in collaboration with professor David Legates of the University of Delaware, we were able to provide a self-consistent explanation for these observed apparent sun-climate correlations, which involves the exchange of heat and moisture between the equator and the Arctic region. In addition, we recently discovered direct evidence that changes in solar activity have influenced what has been called the “conveyor belt” circulation of the great Atlantic Ocean currents over the past 240 years. For instance, solar-driven changes in temperature and in the volume of freshwater output from the Arctic cause variations in sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic five to 20 years later.

These peer-reviewed results, appearing in several science journals, make it difficult to maintain that changes in solar activity play no or an insignificant role in climate change.

The hallmark of good science is the testing of plausible hypotheses that are either supported or rejected by the evidence. The evidence in BEST’s own data and in other data we have analyzed is consistent with the hypothesis that the sun causes climate change, especially in the Arctic, China and the United States. BEST’s data also clearly invalidate the hypothesis that CO2 is the most important cause of observed temperature changes across the United States.

Given the wide, and perhaps at times excessive, interest in tying carbon dioxide to climate, there has been relatively little work investigating the solar-climate connection. The scientific community has proved the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so.”


Soot not so bad after all

Radically less warming than the climate models assume. An example of an alarmist article here. Another failed scare

Viewed as a potential target in the global effort to reduce climate change, atmospheric black carbon particles absorb significantly less sunlight than scientists predicted, raising new questions about the impact of black carbon on atmospheric warming, an international team of researchers, including climate chemists from Boston College, report today in the latest edition of the journal Science.

Mathematical models and laboratory experiments used to study airborne soot particles led to projections that the absorption-boosting chemicals that coat black carbon could yield an increase in absorption by as much as a factor of two. But field studies in smoggy California cities found black carbon absorption enhancements of just 6 percent, suggesting that climate models may be overestimating warming by black carbon, the researchers report.

The surprising results highlight the early challenges in a nascent sector of climate science and could have implications for regulatory efforts to reduce the production of black carbon, or soot, by curbing the burning of fossil fuels. Still, scientists agree that black carbon in the atmosphere has a significant effect on global and regional climate, with earlier studies ranking the warming effects of black carbon particles second only to carbon dioxide gas.

"The team's field measurements in California showed the enhancement of absorption was very small – approximately six percent instead of by a factor of two," said Boston College Professor of Chemistry Paul Davidovits, an authority on airborne particles, known as aerosols. "In one respect, it shows that nature is much more complicated than our initial laboratory experiments and modeling indicated. Now we will try to unravel and understand that complexity."

The historic role of black carbon soot in climate change has been well documented by scientists, most notably in the study of ice samples taken from deep within glaciers. For the past several years, Davidovits has collaborated with Aerodyne Research Inc., and colleagues from universities and government labs in the U.S., Canada and Finland. Their research has focused on the chemical and optical properties of sub-micron airborne particles of black carbon produced by commercial and industrial activity.

Unlike carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, which can survive in the atmosphere for decades and centuries, black carbon has a relatively short life span of approximately one to two weeks. Black carbon is part of a group of pollution sources known as Short-Lived Climate Forcers (SLCFs), including methane gas and ozone, which are produced on earth.

During their lifetime, black carbon particles are coated with airborne chemicals, which sophisticated laboratory tests have shown can act like lenses capable of increasing the ability of the particles to absorb sunlight and heat the atmosphere. That has raised a critical question as to whether targeting black carbon emissions in an effort to reduce climate change could yield relatively quick results on a regional or global level.

Led by principal investigators Christopher D. Cappa, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Davis, and Timothy B. Onasch, principal scientist at Aerodyne and an associate research professor of chemistry at Boston College, the team analyzed air samples near the California cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Researchers tested air samples using a combination of real-time techniques, including aerosol mass spectrometry and photoacoustic spectroscopy. These techniques are capable of making measurements to determine the chemical, physical and optical properties of the black carbon particles, said Onasch, whose Billerica, MA-based company has developed the aerosol mass spectrometer instruments.

Onasch said the recent findings set the stage for further studies around the world under different atmospheric conditions in order to better understand how chemical coatings from a range of emission sources affect the absorptive properties of black carbon.

"When you put a soot particle into the atmosphere, we known it contains an elemental carbon component and we know what it's absorption will be based on mass and size," said Onasch. "But black carbon particles in the air are constantly changing. They collect inorganic and organic materials, they grow, change shapes, and change composition. These changes affect the absorption or warming capability of the black carbon. So the question remains: to what extent exactly?"

The recent findings only add to the challenge of understanding complex chemical activity in the atmosphere, said Davidovits, whose research is supported by the National Science Foundation's Atmospheric Chemistry division and the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric System Research program.

"These findings do require us to reduce our projections about the amount of heating soot produces, at least under some experimental conditions. But the findings don't point to soot as being a harmless climate forcer," said Davidovits. "Soot remains an important climate heating agent, as well as a health problem that has been well documented."


Government of, by and for the EPA

Seven score and nine years ago, President Lincoln resolved to take increased devotion to ensuring that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.

Yet, today, our lives are determined not so much by We the People, as by a distant central government, particularly increasingly powerful, unelected and unaccountable Executive Branch agencies. Foremost among them, by almost any standard, is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under Administrator Lisa Jackson, the Gettysburg vision has mutated into government of, by and for the EPA. Indeed, Ms. Jackson seeks not merely to regulate, but to legislate; not merely to protect our health and environment against every conceivable risk, but to control every facet of our economy, livelihoods and lives. Under her direction, EPA increasingly flaunts the naked power of regulators gone wild.

Instead of following laws and policies set by our elected representatives, EPA is now controlled by environmental ideologues, determined to impose their utopian ideas, via a massive and arrogant power grab. President Obama set the tone, with his promises to “bankrupt” coal and utility companies and “radically transform” our economy and society, and serves as the rogue agency’s cheerleader-in-chief. With few exceptions, our courts have refused to intervene, and the Senate has obstructed any meaningful efforts to constrain agency overreach or reexamine the laws under which it claims jurisdiction.

EPA’s power grab picks the pockets of every American business and citizen, making it increasingly expensive to fill gas tanks, heat and cool homes and offices, run hospitals and factories, or buy food and consumer goods. The Employment Prevention Agency’s $100-billion diktats are killing countless jobs, making America more dependent on foreign sources of energy and raw materials that we have in abundance right here at home, and endangering our economic health and national security.

Under Lisa Jackson’s agenda, fossil fuels are to be relegated to the dustbin of history. America is to get its energy from “renewable” sources, whenever they are available. Regulations on carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases,” mercury, soot and other substances are to make non-hydrocarbon energy appear cheaper by comparison, and pave the way for crony-corporatist “alternatives” like wind,solar, ethanol, wave and tidal action, and even biofuel for the Navy and Air Force.

In a mere six instances, our courts have delayed or blocked some of EPA’s worst excesses. Ruling that the agency had exceeded its authority, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down EPA’s “cross-state” air pollution rule, which would have controlled power plant emissions on the ground that computer models predicted the pollutants might harm neighborhoods hundreds of miles away.

In far too many other cases, however, EPA has been given carte blanche to regulate as it sees fit. A key pretext is the 1970 Clean Air Act, as amended by Congress in 1977 and 1990. The act deals primarily with six common pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, particulates (soot), ozone, lead and carbon monoxide. It never mentions carbon dioxide, the plant-fertilizing gas that is essential for all life.

As EPA itself acknowledges, between 1970 and 2010, those six “criteria” air pollutants declined by an average of 63% and will continue to do so under existing regulations and technologies. Moreover, those dramatic reductions occured even as coal-based electricity generation increased 180% … overall US energy consumption rose 40% … miles traveled soared 168% … and the nation’s population increased by 110 million. However, EPA intends to go much further, to advance its radical agenda.

It ruled that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant,” ignoring solar influences and citing claims by alarmists like James Hansen and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that this essential gas (0.0395% of Earth’s atmosphere) “contributes” to “dangerous” global warming. Since hydrocarbons provide 85% of the energy used to power America, this single ruling gives EPA effective control over our transportation, manufacturing, heating, cooling and other activities – virtually our entire economy – while making it all but impossible to operate existing coal-fired power plants or build new ones.

To ensure that coal really is excised from our energy mix, EPA also issued oppressive new rules on other emissions. Its new mercury rule is based on computer-generated risks to hypothetical American women who eat 296 pounds of fish a year that they catch themselves, its determination to prevent a theoretical reduction in IQ test scores by “0.00209 points,” and its refusal to recognize that coal-fired power plants contribute just 3% of the total mercury deposited in American watersheds, and thus in fish tissue.

EPA’s new PM2.5 soot standard is equivalent to having one ounce of super-fine dust spread equally in a volume of air one-half mile long, one-half mile wide and one story tall – while other rules demand that water from coal mines be cleaner than Perrier bottled water!

The agency repeatedly denied Shell Oil permits to drill in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, because emissions from drilling rig and icebreaker engines might contribute to global warming. It opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline on the ground that burning Canadian oil sands fuel might likewise “contribute” to catastrophic climate change – whereas that would presumably not be the case if China burned that same fuel.

When Congress failed to act, it imposed new 54.5 mpg automobile standards that will make cars less affordable, but also smaller, more lightweight and less safe, causing thousands of additional injuries, disabilities and deaths every year. The agency bragged about fuel savings, and ignored the human toll.

EPA also added industrial pollution, habitat destruction and fertilizer runoff as more reasons why irrigation water should not be turned on again in California’s San Joaquin Valley, to “protect” the delta smelt at the expense of farm jobs and families, after a judge ordered water to be turned back on.

To further justify its despotic decisions, EPA grossly overstates the economic benefits of its rules – insisting that each “premature death” theoretically avoided creates $9 million in hypothetical societal economic gains, whether the assumed “person” was a newborn or an 85-year-old in hospice care.

If even that isn’t enough, it uses human subjects in laboratory tests, exposing them to what Ms. Jackson has testified are dangerous, even toxic levels of fine soot. The agency also pays activist groups millions of taxpayer dollars a year to promote and applaud its farfetched claims and rogue actions.

Finally, EPA ignores the clearly harmful impacts its regulations have on human health and welfare. The rules cost jobs, thereby increasing the risk of depression, alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, cardiovascular disease and suicide. They just as obviously raise the cost of food, electricity, heating, air conditioning, commuting, healthcare and other necessities, thereby reducing health, welfare, living standards, civil rights progress and environmental justice – especially for poor, elderly and minority families.

EPA is out of control, and thus far unaccountable for its abuses of power, its disinformation and fraud, and the harm it is inflicting – for little or no health or environmental benefit.

Our founding fathers provided for elections, so that the American people could choose leaders who make the major decisions affecting their lives – and not be subjected to involuntary servitude at the hands of unelected, unaccountable kings or bureaucrats.

Rarely in history has one election meant so much, or one agency asserted so much control over our lives, livelihoods and freedoms. The 2012 elections will determine whether America once again enjoys a new birth of freedom, or continues suffering under an EPA that enslaves and impoverishes us, rather than protects us.


The latest example of Greenie misanthropy

They just hate people and anything normal to them

In 1929, long before man made climate change had been detected, a Russian journalist by the name of Ilya Ehrenburg once said; “The automobile cannot be blamed for anything. Its conscience is as clear as Monsieur Citroen’s conscience. It only fulfills its destiny; it is destined to wipe out the world”.

He had seen something which the rest of the world is begging to comprehend. This article will not talk about how bad oil companies, rich governments and manufacturing industry are to our beloved environment, but will talk about how dangerous our transport system is to our environment.

Perhaps the most intractable cause of global warming is ‘love miles’: the distance you have to travel when visiting friends, partners and relatives on the other side of the planet. The world could be destroyed by love.

However, it is important to note that different transport system emit different amounts of carbon dioxide. For example; railway system is considered a low emitter of carbon dioxide, while flight system is the highest major emitter as a return transatlantic flight will make you responsible for the same amount of emissions as running a car for a whole year.

Unless something is done to stop the ever increasing number of people using airports, aviation will overwhelm all the cuts we manage to make elsewhere. I know that this would not be popular or go well with a lot of people, maybe because that is where their interests are. Reducing the number of people using flights is the only option that can bail us out of the predicament we have put ourselves to.


And children in poor countries are expendable to Greenies

Airy generalizations and obstruction of realistic assistance are all that they have to offer

Greenpeace is demanding a halt to field trials of genetically modified “golden rice” in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur, out of fear the crop was carrying environmental and health risks.

The nongovernmental organization said field trials of the artificially enriched rice, which was proposed as a solution to vitamin A deficiency among children, were ongoing in the three provinces at the behest of the International Rice Research Institute, and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

“Open field trials of golden rice are now currently ongoing in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur, exposing conventional rice crops—the country’s staple—to GMO [genetically modified organism] contamination,” the group said in a statement.

“The next ‘golden rice’ guinea pigs might be Filipino children,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

He was alluding to a recent scientific publication that suggested researchers, backed by the US Department of Agriculture, fed experimental genetically-engineered golden rice to 24 children in China aged between 6 and 8 years old.

“Should we allow ourselves to be subjects in a human experiment? There are already safe and proven solutions to vitamin A deficiency which do not rely on the genetic modification of food,” Ocampo said.

He said golden rice was “a myth.”

Greenpeace said it believed that golden rice was an irresponsible and dangerous way to address Vitamin A deficiency because it did not address the underlying causes of the deficiency, which were mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet.

“Because it encourages a diet based on one staple rather than an increase in access to the many vitamin-rich vegetables, ‘golden rice’ could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security,” it said.

Ocampo said golden rice could be carrying “all the environmental and health risks associated with GMO crops,” although he did not elaborate.

“Spending even more time and money on ‘golden rice’ development is not only environmentally irresponsible, but also a disservice to humanity,” he added.

Greenpeace said organizations funding the development of golden rice should divert their resources to address vitamin A deficiency directly, such as empowering and diversifying the diets of those afflicted.




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:

John A said...

"When is a consensus credible?"

I still do not see an item I feel was/is of importance. The IPCC was formed to investigate possible human effects oon climate, and if any then how much. This naturally leads to the heavy self-selection bias toward those who who see human influence as omnipresent, overriding, and adverse while quite effectively discouraging even looking at other factors.

This may help explain why the "Hockey Stick" deletion of the long-accepted MWP was at first not disputed - noone eother than this group of believersin Malthus and Erlich was involverd in the early stages, and the believers have maintained their leading positions. Even though the IPCC was expanded and publishes research on non-human influences, they are still not very much considered by what may be called the Old Guard.