Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Failed Met office attempt to slime their way out of their own findings
They ignore statistical significance and errors of measurement. By doing the same one can equally show global cooling. The Met office "reply" is here. Comments below by David Whitehouse
In response to an article in the Mail On Sunday that points out the absence of a recent temperature rise in the Met Office’s newly released Hadcrut4 global temperature database the UK Met Office released a statement that is misleading.
The Mail On Sunday article uses the Met Office’s Hadcrut4 database that was updated from 2010 to the present day last week.
We live in the warmest decade of the instrumental era (post-1850), and most of the warmest years have occurred in the past decade, but what the Met Office ignores to say is that, at present, we live on a temperature plateau – there is no recent upward trend in global temperature.
The Met Office says that the world has warmed by 0.03 deg C per decade since 1997 based on their calculation of the gradient in the Hadcrut4 dataset. But what the Met Office doesn’t say is that this is statistically insignificant. The gradient of the trendline in Hadcrut4 is very sensitive to the start and end dates used as temperatures vary significantly month-to-month, so the Met Office is being misleading in quoting trendlines for a particular start and end date without taking into account how the scatter of the data, the errors in the temperature measurements, and short-term changes affect the statistical confidence in the resulting trendline.
Trendlines from 1997 to August 2012 vary between 0.04 to 0.02 deg C per decade with an associated error of 0.04 deg C per decade. This has to be considered along with the error in annual global temperature measurements of 0.1 deg C. Hence there is no case to be made for a statistically significant increase in global temperatures as given in the Hadcrut4 dataset between 1997 and August 2012.
Quoting trendlines without errors can mislead. For instance the trendline between January 2002 and August 2012 in Hadcrut4 is negative, being minus 0.04 deg C per decade: Between January 2003 and August 2012 it is minus 0.05 deg C per decade – that is global cooling. Would the Met Office be happy to quote such figures in the same way they have for 1997 onwards and state that the world has cooled in the past decade? Only when the errors are incorporated, which the Met Office did not do, can these be seen to be statistically insignificant.
The Met Office also says that if they were to calculate a linear trend from 1998 (a strong El Nino year) to August 2012 it would show a warming more substantial that 0.03 deg C per decade. Actually the warming since 1998 is the same – 0.03 deg C per decade – and again statistically insignificant.
The year 1997 – roughly the start of the recent temperature standstill – is not cherrypicked. Before that year there is a statistically significant increase to 2012, after 1997 there is not.
The Met Office says the 15-year standstill is not unusual. This is true but again the Met Office is being economical with the truth. The IPCC concluded that the period 1960-80 marked the start of mankind’s domination of the Earth’s climate via greenhouse gas forcing. The period before 1960-80 the IPCC regarded as being solely due to natural factors. In the pre 1960-80 period there was a standstill between 1940-80. In the post 1960-80 period there was warming between 1980 – 96 and a standstill thereafter. The mankind-dominated era has only one standstill, which is becoming the dominant global climatic feature of this era.
Only a few years ago the Met Office said that temperature standstills of a decade were common (about one in eight decades), but that temperature standstills of 15 years were not supported by their climate models. They appear to have altered their view as the observed temperature standstill lengthens. The Met Office’s track record in predicting global temperature changes has been dismal.
The Met Office says that climate change can only be detected in multi-decadal timescales. In the three decades since the IPCC said that mankind dominated the Earth’s climate there has been equal timespans of warming and temperature standstills. Which one do they consider to be more significant?
It is disappointing, if not misleading, that when the Hadcrut4 data was announced in March, with data only available to 2010 (a warm El Nino year), the Met Office promoted it with a press release and briefings to journalists. They told Louise Grey of the Daily Telegraph that the Hadcrut4 data showed that the world had warmed even more than expected in the past ten years and that the warming between 1998 – 2010 was 0.1 deg C.
When the full dataset was available, in the past week, showing global temperatures to August 2012, and telling a very different story, no press release was produced.
In an official response to comments on the Met Office website criticising the Mail on Sunday article by David Rose the Met Office have said regarding their trend of 0.05 deg C in Hadcrut4, “…the figure is not intended to show significant warming has occurred. We agree with Mr Rose that there has only been a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century.”
This is clearly in contradiction to the original message of the Met Office’s release, i.e. that there had been warming in the past 16 years. One could ask what is their evidence that the warming in the 21st Century is “very small” when by their own admission their figures are not intended to show statistically significant warming had occurred. As we have pointed out if one uses the Met Office technique of deducing warming one finds that the trend in the 21st Century is negative – i.e. there has been cooling.
Liberals’ green-energy contradictions
Al Gore is about 50 times richer than he was when he left the vice presidency in 2001. According to an Oct. 11 report by The Post’s Carol D. Leonnig, Gore accumulated a Romneyesque $100 million partly through investing in alternative-energy firms subsidized by the Obama administration.
Two days after that story ran, Mitt Romney proclaimed at a rally in Ohio’s Appalachian coal country: “We have a lot of coal; we are going to use it. We are going to keep those jobs.” Thousands cheered.
The juxtaposition speaks volumes about the Democratic Party, and about modern liberalism generally. As the Democrats become more committed to, and defined by, a green agenda, and as they become dependent on money from high-tech venture capitalists and their lobbyists, it becomes harder to describe them as a party for the little guy — or liberalism as a philosophy of distributive justice.
Gore’s sanctimony doesn’t help. The erstwhile Tennessee populist bristles at any suggestion that his climate crusade is about money. And, no doubt, he cared about the planet before he got rich. Still, his investments, including in such flops as Fisker, the maker of $100,000 plug-in hybrid cars, create a patent conflict of interest. This hurts his credibility — if not about climate change per se, then certainly about the particular solutions he advocates.
But that’s not the worst contradiction in the Democrats’ doing-well-by-being-green ethos. Green energy is not cost-competitive with traditional energy and won’t be for years. So it can’t work without either taxpayer subsidies, much of which accrue to “entrepreneurs” such as Gore, or higher prices for fossil energy — the brunt of which is borne by people of modest means.
Consider California’s “net metering” subsidy for solar-panel users. As the New York Times reported in June, the program hugely benefits well-off consumers who can afford to install photovoltaic panels. They get sun power for their homes — plus an excess supply that utilities must buy. Thus utilities must also pay to keep them on the grid. Those costs get passed along to everyone else — including low-income customers.
For a sense of where this may lead, look at Germany, whose crash program to replace nuclear power with wind and solar is boosting electricity rates. Der Spiegel reports that 200,000 long-term unemployed lost power in 2011 because they couldn’t pay their electric bills.
Democrats try to square this circle by talking up “green jobs,” but expensive electricity is bad for industry, as Germany is discovering. Fact is, subsidies for green energy do not so much create jobs as shift them around.
The “smart grid” was a $3.4 billion item in the 2009 stimulus bill, touted as the key to vast new efficiencies in power distribution. Maybe that’s a good idea, but one way smart grids work is by making human meter-readers obsolete — just as solar panels put coal miners out of work.
Small wonder that the United Mine Workers of America — a core Democratic constituency if there ever were one — has refused to endorse Obama in 2012 as it did in 2008. The union hasn’t backed Romney, but he is campaigning hard for rank-and-file votes. That a private-equity baron is getting a hearing in the coal fields should give liberals pause.
Obviously, creative destruction is part of what makes capitalism go. There’s no inherent reason to protect coal mines any more than buggy-whip makers. The biggest threat to coal country comes from vast new supplies of natural gas, not from wind and solar.
The point remains: Government, with its inevitable susceptibility to lobbying and favoritism, should not be picking winners and losers, whether through green subsidies or tax breaks for oil and gas.
It’s one thing to lose your job because a competing firm built a superior mouse trap; it’s quite another, justice-wise, to lose it because a competitor talked the government into taking its side.
There must be a better way to pursue the legitimate goals of environmentalism.
Meanwhile, Gore and his partners carry on rent-seeking. The greatest Tennessee populist of all would surely have disapproved.
“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes,” President Andrew Jackson wrote in 1832. “[W]hen the laws undertake to add . . . artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.”
Climate spin is rampant
Over the years, the political debate over climate change has been waged on many fronts. At various times at the center of the debate, we've seen green jobs, SUVs, Al Gore and climate "deniers." The latest front in this battle is extreme weather.
Earlier this week, Munich Re, a large German reinsurance company, fueled this debate with a report claiming that it has identified "the first climate change footprint in the data from natural catastrophes" in the damage caused by thunderstorms in the United States since 1980. USA Today put the claim on steroids by announcing on its front page, "Climate change behind rise in weather disasters."
A big problem with the claim by Munich Re and its amplification by the media is that neither squares with the actual science of climate change and disasters.
Along with colleagues around the world, I've been studying climate change and disasters for almost 20 years, and we just had a scientific paper accepted for publication this week on damage from U.S. tornadoes since 1950. What we found may surprise you: Over the past six decades, tornado damage has declined after accounting for development that has put more property into harm's way.
Researchers have similar conclusions for other phenomena around the world, ranging from typhoons in China, bushfires in Australia, and windstorms in Europe. After adjusting for patterns of development, over the long-term there is no climate change signal — no "footprint" — of increasing damage from extreme events either globally or in particular regions.
What about the United States? Flooding has not increased over the past century, nor have landfalling hurricanes. Remarkably, the U.S. is currently experiencing the longest-ever recorded period with no strikes of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane. The major 2012 drought obscures the fact that the U.S. has seen a decline in drought over the past century.
Such scientific findings are so robust that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded earlier this year that over the long-term, damage from extreme events has not been attributed to climate change, whether from natural or human causes.
So if the science is so clear on this subject, why then are companies and campaigners, abetted by a willing media, engaged in spreading misinformation?
The debate over climate change is well known for excesses on all sides. Those who claim that the issue is a hoax actually have a lot in common with those who see climate change in every weather extreme. The logic behind such tactics is apparently that a sufficiently scared public will support the political program of those doing the scaring.
Andrew Revkin, who has covered the climate issue for decades for The New York Times, explains that "the media tend to pay outsize attention to research developments that support a "hot"conclusion (like the theory that hurricanes have already been intensified by human-caused global warming) and glaze over on research of equivalent quality that does not." This leads to an amplification of "findings" such as the report presented by Munich Re this week and a complete blackout of coverage of our peer-reviewed paper on declining tornado damage.
Does it matter that campaigners and the media are actively peddling disinformation? For the most part, probably not, as the public is by now used to such nonsense on just about every subject from unemployment figures to Barack Obama's birth certificate.
But there is one group that should be very concerned about the spreading of rampant misinformation: the scientific community. It is, of course, thrilling to appear in the media and get caught up in highly politicized debates. But leading scientists and scientific organizations that contribute to a campaign of misinformation — even in pursuit of a worthy goal like responding effectively to climate change — may find that the credibility of science itself is put at risk by supporting scientifically unsupportable claims in pursuit of a political agenda.
Wind and solar: investments to avoid
Renewable energy is the future, say environmentalists. But for green and ethical investors it has turned into a nightmare, with makers of wind and solar power systems among the worst-performing stocks in recent years.
Take Vestas, the Danish wind turbine maker. Early investors enjoyed sparkling returns, with shares leaping from 34 Danish kroner in 2003 to 698 in 2008 – a 20-fold rise. But since then, beset by the loss of government subsidies, cost overruns, production delays and competition from China, the price has collapsed. Today it is trading at 35 kroner – so someone investing in 2008 will have lost nearly 95% of their money.
In August Vestas revealed it had slumped into losses and shed another 1,400 jobs, bringing total redundancies for the year to more than 3,700. It had planned to construct a plant at Sheerness docks in Kent to supply turbines for expected deep-water North Sea windfarms, but this was axed in June.
Solar panel manufacturers have also burnt a hole in investors' pockets. Look at SunTech, the world's biggest maker of PV (photovoltaic) panels, based in Wuxi, China. Its private equity backers (notably Goldman Sachs) made a fortune when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005, making well over 10 times their original investment. So did the people who bought at the initial share launch, with the shares shooting from $20 to $79 in late 2007. And today? They are changing hands at just 92 cents. First Solar, another one-time darling of Nasdaq, collapsed from $308 in April 2008 to $23 last week. Solar is an industry awash with overcapacity in China, falling prices and declining government subsidies.
Funds that specialise in renewable energy have fallen a long way short of expectations. Impax Environmental, an investment trust, has lost 20% over the past five years, while BlackRock New Energy investment trust has done even worse, falling 49.9% since 2007. It's a salutary reminder to avoid investment fads and bubbles.
Meanwhile, many "sin" stocks screened out by ethical investors have outperformed. At the turn of the century, in the midst of the "TMT" (technology, media and telecoms) stock market bubble, tobacco companies were the market's most unloved sector. Shares in British American Tobacco, makers of Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall, were changing hands at 224p. Today they fetch £31.93.
Obama's Green Jobs Promise: 355 Jobs and Counting
In Thursday night’s Vice Presidential debate, the Administration’s green agenda was, once again, part of the verbal sparring. The exchange ended with Congressman Ryan’s unanswered question: “Where are the 5 million green jobs…?” Moderator Martha Raddatz cut him off mid-question, steering the conversation elsewhere: “I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we've gone over this quite enough.”
Ryan didn’t finish his question. Vice President Biden wasn’t pressed into an uncomfortable answer that would have wiped the smile off his face.
Had Ryan not been interrupted and been allowed to finished the question, he likely would have continued: “…Candidate Obama promised in 2008 when he pledged to jumpstart the economy with an influx of green jobs. Many times, he specifically stated: ‘I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create 5 million new energy jobs over the next decade—jobs that pay well; jobs that can’t be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan, not in South Korea but right here in the U.S. of A. Jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in 10 years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again.’ Where are those green jobs?”
Had Biden answered, he might have tried the same line Obama used in the 60 Minutes interview clip that didn’t air on national television: “We have tens of thousands of jobs that have been created as a consequence of wind energy alone”—though that hardly adds up to 5 million. Try as he might, Biden couldn’t have smiled his way through a recitation of green jobs created through the proposed $15 billion a year. It is not a happy story. In fact, through the 2009 stimulus, more than $15 billion a year was allocated for green energy projects—which in his four-year term would have added up to $60 billion. Instead, while the numbers quoted vary, $80-90 billion has been made available for green energy projects.
With the assistance of researcher Christine Lakatos, I have been chronicling Obama’s stimulus-funded green energy failures. First we looked at the companies that have gone bankrupt, and then those that are heading that way—or, at least, have financial issues. Within those reports, we frequently addressed specific green jobs failures. For example, regarding Fisker, the electric car made in Finland, we say:
“ABC reported: ‘Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright, new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs.’ Those jobs didn’t materialize—at least not in America. … Two years after the loan was awarded, the Washington Post stated that Fisker ‘has missed early manufacturing goals and has gradually pushed back plans for U.S. production and the creation of thousands of jobs’… Now, in 2012, Fisker Automotive is laying off staff in order to qualify for more government loans. So, President Obama’s ‘green’ energy stimulus was supposed to create jobs; now it’s destroying jobs so that companies can get more stimulus?”
About now-bankrupt, and under-investigation for fraud, Abound Solar, we wrote:
“President Obama, in July 2010, praised Abound Solar, which was to make advanced solar panels … He believed these plants would be huge job creators: ‘2000 construction jobs and 1500 permanent jobs.’ In December 2011, CEO Craig Witsoe called Abound Solar the “anti-Solyndra” saying that his company is “doing well and growing.” However, just months after that optimistic report, Abound Solar filed bankruptcy…”
Due to the various loans, grants, and subsidies, it would take an investigative team made up of dozens of people to ferret out each and every true green-energy job that was created, absent that, we are hitting the high points in attempt to answer Ryan’s question: “Where are the 5 million green jobs?”
Short answer, even optimistically—and perhaps deceptively, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) news release, only 3.1 million green jobs were created. To reach this number, BLS counts jobs that “were associated with the production of green goods and services,” specifically those which “are found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.” It is important to note that most of these 3.1 million jobs are primarily pre-existing jobs that have been reclassified as “green.” Once those existing jobs were shifted into the green column, through three-quarters of 2011 only 9,245 new “green” jobs were generated when the White House touts generating over 200,000 new jobs by 2010.
The House Oversight Committee wondered, just what are those jobs that are “associated with the production of green goods and services?”
On June 6, 2012, at a House Oversight hearing Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) questioned BLS Director John Galvin on his agency’s green jobs numbers. Through Galvin’s reluctant responses (he didn’t want to be there), we learned that the Obama administration’s labor department counts oil lobbyists, bus drivers, garbage men, etc., as green jobs—shameful, embarrassing, deceptive. According to how BLS rates green jobs, I have a green job. I qualify under several headings. After all, I do education and public awareness on environmental issues. Next time I am at a social event, where I am asked the inescapable: “What do you do?” I’ll respond: “I have a green job.”
Complete details can be found in a report on the “Green Job Myth” from the Institute for Energy Research (IER). It states: “the green-job definition is extremely broad and includes both direct and indirect jobs.” Each of the following would qualify:
A person who sweeps the floor in a solar-panel manufacturing facility
A driver of a hybrid bus
A school bus driver
An employee who fills the bus with fuel
An employee involved in waste collection or water and sewer operations
A clerk at a bicycle repair shop
A manufacturer of rail cars
An oil lobbyist whose company is engaged in environmental issues
An employee of an environment or science museum.
Now that we know what the BLS constitutes as a green job—even recycled ones; those that already existed—we’ll look at the billions of taxpayer money spent on green jobs. We’ll focus specifically on just two programs: the Loan Guarantee Program and the Renewable Energy Grant Program.....
There is one other part of the 2008 campaign promise that I must address. Obama talked about these jobs of the future: “jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid … Jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East.” I have to point out that jobs “building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid” do nothing, absolutely nothing, to “help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East.” Wind and solar produce electricity—with which Middle Eastern oil has virtually no connection (unless you tie in the failed electric car efforts). We have enough coal, natural gas, and uranium within our borders to provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come. Connecting electricity generation and Middle Eastern oil is at best a marketing campaign, at worst: a scare tactic. To “help eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East,” we need to develop our abundant domestic oil resources, not subsidize wind and solar.
While millions of Americans were preparing to watch the debate, I was part of a group gathered in a restaurant to watch the debate between New Mexico’s senatorial candidates: Republican Heather Wilson (my former Congressman) and Democrat Martin Heinrich (my current Congressman). Toward the end of our local debate, Heinrich accused Republicans of turning “their back on the jobs of the future.” With the history of the “jobs of the future,” as Obama called them in the 60 Minutes clip, the Republicans have been wise to turn their backs and run far, far away.
Where are the 5 million jobs Obama promised? I doubt that Biden’s smiling now.
Much more HERE
Green stimulus profiteer comes under IRS scrutiny
Vice President Biden snickered during last week's debate at the suggestion there was waste, inefficiency or cronyism in the 2009 stimulus bill.
If he can stop cackling for long enough, Biden, the self-proclaimed "stimulus sheriff" should sit down with the IRS officials and the federal inspector general who are investigating a solar company owned by leading Obama donor and subsidy recipient Elon Musk.
Musk, as he cashes in on his solar investment by taking his company SolarCity public this month, had to make an awkward admission in his financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Internal Revenue Service is auditing SolarCity, the SEC filings reveal, and at the same time the Treasury Department's inspector general is investigating the company. The question at hand: Did President Obama's Treasury Department inappropriately give stimulus money to Musk's company.
Obama's stimulus transformed a long-standing tax credit for renewable energy investment into a direct grant from Treasury, worth 30 percent of a company's investment in a renewable project. Musk's company has applied for approximately $325 million in these stimulus grants, according to the SEC filing.
Treasury found that SolarCity repeatedly overstated the value of its investments, the SEC filings indicate. In those cases, Treasury awarded smaller grants than SolarCity had tried to claim. Now the department's IG and the IRS are doing a broader audit of the projects for which SolarCity and other large solar companies got stimulus cash. Investigators want to know if the companies regularly overstated the value of their investments and thus got overly generous taxpayer grants.
While no government body has accused SolarCity of wrongdoing, the company disclosed: "[I]f at the conclusion of the investigation the Inspector General concludes that misrepresentations were made, the Department of Justice could decide to bring a civil action to recover amounts it believes were improperly paid to us."
The Obama administration's possible mismanagement of the grant program is one issue here. Musk's intimate ties to politics are another.
Musk is the paradigmatic political entrepreneur, launching businesses that seek to capitalize on government favors and lobbying clout rather than provide goods or services that consumers demand.
Musk is CEO of and the biggest investor in Tesla Motors, an electric car company that depends on stimulus money and other subsidies. He also founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, whose primary customer is the federal government.
Musk has personally given more than $100,000 to Obama's re-election campaign, including two gifts of more than $30,000 each to the Obama Victory Fund, which divides the money between the maximum allowable donations to the Democratic National Committee and the maximum to the Obama campaign. (Musk has also given generously to Republicans.)
Keep those max gifts in mind when Obama says he rejects donations from lobbyists. Musk is not a registered lobbyist, but he lobbies. Hard. In early 2010, auto industry news site Autoblog described his lobbying on Tesla's behalf: "Musk flew to Washington D.C. at least a dozen times since early 2009 to help make the case to the Department of Energy for nearly half a billion dollars in low interest loans as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program."
Tesla got that $465 million loan from Obama's DOE in order to produce the Model S, an all-electric plug-in car, which will also benefit from other stimulus goodies. This summer, Tesla began delivering the taxpayer-subsidized cars at $50,000 a pop.
Musk touts SpaceX as the cutting edge of free-enterprise space exploration, but so far the company's revenue seems to come mostly from Uncle Sam. My Washington
Examiner colleague Richard Pollock reported that NASA has given $824 million to SpaceX through a special program known as the Space Act Agreements, which circumvents much of the oversight in other federal spending. Most notably, SpaceX just delivered freight to the International Space Station.
Musk's Obama ties go beyond his maximum donations.
One of Tesla's major investors is the Westly Group, founded by Steve Westly, who also sat on Tesla's board of directors. Westly is a top-tier Obama bundler, having raised more than $1.5 million for Obama over his two elections, according to the New York Times.
Obama put Westly on an energy policy advisory board, which was charged with giving recommendations on modifying federal subsidies to buyers of electric cars.
Musk has also recruited some of K Street's best-connected Democratic lobbyists. In the weeks after Obama's election in 2008, SolarCity and Tesla both hired McBee Strategic, the lobbying firm at the center of the green-energy subsidy universe. SolarCity and Tesla also retain the Podesta Group, founded by Obama confidant and transition director John Podesta.
Joe Biden might find this all funny, but taxpayers, if they knew, wouldn't likely be entertained.
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Posted by JR at 3:07 PM