Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three Cheers for Scientific Backbiting

Malaria theory debunked

If, as I argued last week, scientists are just as prone as everybody else to confirmation bias—the tendency to look for evidence to support rather than to test your own ideas—then how is it that science, unlike cults and superstitions, does change its mind and find new things?

The answer was spelled out by the psychologist Raymond Nickerson of Tufts University in a 1998 paper: "It is not so much the critical attitude that individual scientists have taken with respect to their own ideas that has given science the success it has enjoyed…but more the fact that individual scientists have been highly motivated to demonstrate that hypotheses that are held by some other scientist(s) are false."

Most scientists do not try to disprove their ideas; rivals do it for them. Only when those rivals fail is the theory bombproof. The physicist Robert Millikan (who showed minor confirmation bias in his own work on the charge of the electron by omitting outlying observations that did not fit his hypothesis) devoted more than 10 years to trying to disprove Einstein's theory that light consists of particles (photons). His failure convinced almost everybody but himself that Einstein was right.

The solution to confirmation bias in science, then, is not to try to teach it out of people; it is a deeply ingrained tendency of human nature. Dr. Nickerson noted that science is replete not only with examples of great scientists tenaciously persisting with theories "long after the evidence against them had become sufficiently strong to persuade others without the same vested interests to discard them" but also with brilliant people who remained wedded to their pet hates. Galileo rejected Kepler's lunar explanation of tides; Huygens objected to Newton's concept of gravity; Humphrey Davy detested John Dalton's atomic theory; Einstein denied quantum theory.

No, the reason that science progresses despite confirmation bias is partly that it makes testable predictions, but even more that it prevents monopoly. By dispersing its incentives among many different centers, it lets scientists check each other's prejudices. When a discipline defers to a single authority and demands adherence to a set of beliefs, then it becomes a cult.

A recent example is the case of malaria and climate. In the early days of global-warming research, scientists argued that warming would worsen malaria by increasing the range of mosquitoes. "Malaria and dengue fever are two of the mosquito-borne diseases most likely to spread dramatically as global temperatures head upward," said the Harvard Medical School's Paul Epstein in Scientific American in 2000, in a warning typical of many.

Carried away by confirmation bias, scientists modeled the future worsening of malaria, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change accepted this as a given. When Paul Reiter, an expert on insect-borne diseases at the Pasteur Institute, begged to differ—pointing out that malaria's range was shrinking and was limited by factors other than temperature—he had an uphill struggle. "After much effort and many fruitless discussions," he said, "I…resigned from the IPCC project [but] found that my name was still listed. I requested its removal, but was told it would remain because 'I had contributed.' It was only after strong insistence that I succeeded in having it removed."

Yet Dr. Reiter has now been vindicated [again]. In a recent paper, Peter Gething of Oxford University and his colleagues concluded that widespread claims that rising mean temperatures had already worsened malaria mortality were "largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends" and that proposed future effects of rising temperatures are "up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures."

The IPCC, in other words, learned the hard way the value of letting mavericks and gadflies challenge confirmation bias.


No corn? Let them eat ethanol

Here come the corn riots. Climate change policies – much more than the vagaries of climate – are now beginning to create the instabilities that cooler heads have been warning about for years.

Corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade are now at or near record levels, around $8.30 per bushel for spot delivery. The rise in recent weeks has been dramatic, driven by the perception of declining yields caused by hot and dry conditions mainly in the upper Midwest.

Much of this corn is beyond redemption as grain. High temperatures render corn's pollen sterile, and the narrow pollination season – usually around ten days in a given field – dictates that once this time has passed, there's likely to be very few kernels set on each ear. While rain may allow the plant to recover, its value as feed is dramatically reduced.

The U.S. corn growing region is massive in extent, so that some residual yields are always preserved. The drought of the mid-1950s was a widespread and multi-year event, but it only reduced yields (the amount produced per acre) around 20 percent. The current drought is comparable in extent, but not in magnitude nor in duration. Yet.

Back then, the average yield was around 45 bushels per acre (a bushel is 56 pounds of shelled corn), and rising at a pretty constant rate that began with the large-scale adoption of hybrid corn, which began in the 1930s.

Despite the wailings of Paul Ehrlich and his tiresome compatriots, there were no great famines because of some fantasy "limits to growth" that were forecast to soon to be breached. Instead, corn yields continued their steady climb. A good year now yields around 160 bushels. Between then and now, there have been several bad years caused by drought, heat, and blights, and pretty much every one of them has seen the same percentage toll on yields, about 25 percent of the maximum expected value at the time.

The Department of Agriculture's July 11 projection is for a 9 percent reduction from that nominal 160. But it's been pretty hot and dry since that estimate was made (with data from many days before 7/11), so things are going to drop further, which is why corn prices continue to climb.

Which brings us to ethanol. It comes from corn. The amount to be produced is a mandate, not a choice. It's 13.2 billion gallons this year. Last year we burnt up 40 percent of our crop. This year, given the expected yield reductions, we could easily destroy over half of our corn.

The U.S. is by far the world's largest producer, and our abundant supply is a major factor in keeping the price of the world's most abundant feed and food grain low – generally around $3.00/bushel. That was before George W. Bush decided that the answer to global warming was to produce ethanol from corn. Hence the rise in corn price that commences with the 2007 passage of the ethanol mandates, followed soon by global food riots. $8.00 corn today will likely bring much more of the same.

Bad weather is a fact of life in agriculture. In the last four decades, the time of maximum and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, there's no evidence of an increase in the number of bad crop-years, nor a change in the magnitude of the percent drop in yields that occurs. 2012 is shaping up like a garden-variety crummy year.

What we have seen is a change in policy, not of the weather. Now, the Saudi Arabia of corn burns up half of its supply, instead of selling it to a hungry world. All of this was brought to you by our greener friends and, yes, Republicans, working the political process hand in hand. Later, the environmental community realized – as some of us had been telling them for years – that corn ethanol results in an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, not a decrease.

Of course, there is little chance that the disproportionately influential farm lobby is going to swallow changing the ethanol mandate when its constituents are making money hand-over-fist because of an artificially induced shortage. It's also an election year. But, isn't it just too bad about those poor people in Mexico and around the world who actually will suffer for the insanity and depravity of our agricultural/environmental policy?


Are environmentalists’ anti-gun policies to blame for wildfires in the West?

The headlines have echoed across the country: “Guns blamed for starting wildfires in parched West” According to the Associated Press, officials believe target shooting or other firearms use sparked at least 21 wildfires in Utah and nearly a dozen in Idaho. Shooting is also believed to have caused fires in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

In Utah, the AP says Republican Gov. Gary Herbert “took the unusual step” of authorizing the top state forest official to impose gun restrictions on public lands after a gunfire-sparked fire.

A gunfire-sparked, you say? How could target shooting start fires? I mean, we’re almost certainly not dealing with flintlock guns here.

The devil is in the details, and an accurate Associated Press headline would read as mine does above:

“Are environmentalists’ anti-gun policies to blame for wildfires in the West?”

From the AP article:

“Utah officials believe steel-jacketed bullets are the most likely culprits, given one shot that hits a rock and throws off sparks can ignite surrounding vegetation and quickly spread…The bullets were recently banned on state and federal lands in Utah. Officials are telling sportsmen to use lead bullets that don’t give off sparks when they hit rocks.”

What the article doesn’t mention, of course, is that environmental extremists have been attempting to ban the use of lead bullets - the very ones Utah officials now say are preferred - in favor of bullets made of materials such as steel, which is blamed for causing sparks when they impact rocks. Many in the West are avid Second Amendment proponents, so most state lawmakers are hesitant to enact any restrictions for fear of a backlash.

“We’re not trying to pull away anyone’s right to bear arms. I want to emphasize that,” said Louinda Downs, a county commissioner in fire-prone Davis County, Utah. “We’re just saying target practice in winter. Target practice on the gun range.

“When your pleasure hobby is infringing or threatening someone else’s right to have property or life, shouldn’t we be able to somehow have some authority so we can restrict that?” she asked.

For weeks, state officials have said they were powerless to ban gun use because of Second Amendment rights, but legislative leaders say they found an obscure state law that empowers the state forester to act in an emergency. The last high-profile time people’s Second Amendment rights were stripped in the name of an emergency, the problem was hurricane-level flooding in Louisiana, not fires.

For his part, Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Sports Shooting Council, told the AP he is skeptical about the placement of blame on target shooters, and estimated that perhaps 5 percent of the wildfires in the state have been caused by target shooters this year. “I don’t know how much of a problem it really is,” he said. Aposhian said his group will conduct tests to determine if the steel-jacketed bullet theory is true. If there are limits, “we want to make sure it is not knee-jerk legislation to ban guns or ammunition,” he said. “If it turns out the problem is with a few types of rounds, we will not be an apologist for them.” There is no need for such tests, Utah state fire marshal Brent Halladay said. With steel bullets, “you might as well just go up there and strike a match,” he said.

And so, yet again, we have to suffer the unintended consequences of extreme environmentalist policies that weren’t based on sound, verifiable data in the first place, just as we are suffering with the whole lead bullet controversy that may very well have caused these fires in the first place.


Contrary To IPCC Climate Models, Massive Human CO2 Emissions Still Unable To Reverse Nature's Global Cooling Over Last 15 Years

Over the last 15 years, we've been told that human CO2 emissions would cause global warming to accelerate to new dangerous levels, and this "unequivocal" warming would generate fantastic, catastrophic climate change disasters - the IPCC's climate models told us this, and truth be told, they were absolutely and spectacularly wrong

As the adjacent HadCRUT global temperature chart shows, the large growth in atmospheric CO2 levels continues, ad nauseam. Yet the 15-year trend of stable to a slight global cooling remains.

This extended 180-month period of non-warming was not predicted by a single global climate model - nada, zilch, zero.

The IPCC's climate models obviously have very serious, fundamental issues that can't just be 'tweaked' away. The most serious issue is their being CO2-centric, thus minimizing other factors (ie, forcings) that influence temperatures and climate.

From recent experience, it is quite clear that the climate models' sensitivity to CO2 levels is likely to be way overstated - in other words, the climate is not as sensitive to CO2 as the programmers thought.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

We have to keep the message simple

It seems like there’s a new article appearing almost daily on the Internet with new and shocking evidence that the entire manmade global warming story has been a hoax. But is anyone really listening or doing anything about it?

They’re starting to pay attention in Europe, but America, like an environmentalist Don Quixote, just keeps tilting at the climate change windmill. For over three years, residents of the Northeast have been paying for worthless carbon credits in every electric bill they pay. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a cap-and-trade system that’s already bilked citizens of the nine member states out of over a billion dollars, and most people in those states are totally unaware that this is going on. I recently compared my electric bill to a friend’s from NYC and found that he was paying almost four times what I’m paying per KWh.

It’s not surprising because for the most part, when we attack the climate alarmists, we usually do so in the wrong way and mostly for the wrong reasons.

Prior to Climategate, our primary argument against cap-and-trade laws, was that the potential benefits were too meager for the enormous costs involved. But there were no benefits! CO2 is a beneficial trace gas that’s one of the cornerstones of all life on earth. It’s NOT a pollutant. There’s no such thing as a carbon footprint unless you’re a coal miner and still wearing your work boots. You don’t attack a bogus idea by granting the validity of its underlying scientific premise up front. By pandering to the eco-fascists in this way, we’re playing word games that are hurting us in the long run.

None of the new scientific reports and studies that prove global warming is a hoax are ever seen in the major media, and even if they were, they’re above most people’s heads, or at least outside their attention span. Instead we need to keep repeating the basic scientific facts about climate change: 1) That climate change drives CO2 levels, and 2) That the earth in fact is relatively cool right now, and that constantly changing cycles of solar activity are the real reason for climate change. We also need to start mentioning the most ironic part of this farce, the fact that warming is good!. The only type of climate change that’s dangerous to us is extreme cooling. Man and all other forms of life have always thrived during the earth’s warm periods, while every extreme cold period has brought suffering, starvation and death. It doesn’t take an atmospheric physicist to understand why this is true. Crops don’t grow well when it gets cold. Crop failures cause famines, which kill both people and their domestic animals thru malnutrition and reduced resistance to disease.

They demonize capitalism and freedom … and it’s working! Read Brian Sussman’s new book, “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America”

Drawing any conclusions about long-term climate change based on short term changes in the weather is just silly. A character from a Robert Heinlein novel observed: “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” Climate change is merely the long-term average of all the short-term changes in our day-to-day weather. But no matter how much new evidence we keep producing, the average man on the street isn’t getting the message.

Maybe we need to borrow some strategy from the left and start attacking the messenger. Every 25 to 35 years the same cast of characters starts whining about the coming climate catastrophe, and each and every time they’ve been proven wrong. So why on earth do we even listen to them? For the last 20 years or so, the propaganda has been pretty consistent:

In the ’60s and ’70s, however, the same alarmists were singing an entirely different tune, and it wasn’t motivated by globalism, money and power the way it is today.

A Time magazine article from June 24, 1974, “Another Ice Age,” showed that there was no progressive/globalist political agenda behind it when it correctly identified the real cause of the changing climate:

“Sunspot Cycle. The changing weather is apparently connected with differences in the amount of energy that the earth’s surface receives from the sun. Changes in the earth’s tilt and distance from the sun could, for instance, significantly increase or decrease the amount of solar radiation falling on either hemisphere–thereby altering the earth’s climate.”

They also had a different take on human activity and the greenhouse effect back then: “Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin’s Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth.”

These days they’re saying our emissions are trapping the sun’s heat. Back then, they were saying the same emissions were blocking the heat from reaching us in the first place.

But this most recent cooling period is especially important because all by itself, it quite adequately refutes the theory that manmade CO2 causes global warming. The chart below proves the point. As anyone can clearly see, this cooling period, during which our use of fossil fuels was rising at the fastest rate, was one that saw a steady lowering of temperatures at virtually the same rate. Not one advocate of CO2 caused warming has ever tried to refute this clear and direct evidence. Instead they just falsify the data.

Prior to the global cooling scare of the 1950s through 1970s, we had another warming period, and prior to that, another cooling period, and so on, and so on, ad nauseum.

What lessons should we take from all of this? The first and most obvious is that climate is always changing, and it does so quite slowly. It always has and always will. The second is that we can’t control it, and we’re not even that good at predicting it yet. So what should we be doing about climate change? Australian scientist Dr. Bob Carter described it quite simply and eloquently in a short You-Tube video, when he said:

“We don’t try to stop volcanic eruptions, we don’t try to stop earthquakes, we don’t try to stop storms and we don’t try to stop tsunamis because we know that they’re natural hazards that we can neither predict nor control. Climate change is exactly the same with the single difference that it tends to happen over slightly longer periods of time. But our response should be the same. We should adapt to it, and we should help the people, who through no fault of their own, are particularly badly damaged by it.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

The Smithsonian makes an exhibition of itself

One of my motives for a fortnight’s stay in Washington DC was to check out the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (MNH). I was one of the museum’s 7 million annual visitors....

At the back corner of the display one gets to the dangerous-global-warming hypothesis per se. There are two graphics asserting the warmist case.

One graph plots, on a 400,000 year time scale, atmospheric CO2 against temperature and sea level rises. This has a strong resemblance to the notorious ‘up on the cherry picker’ graph in Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth movie. It has the same vertical rocketing of the CO2 line in the past half-century, although we are actually just viewing a rise from 0.00028 to 0.00039 in atmospheric CO2 content.

The caption reads: "Our Survival Challenge"

"During the period in which humans evolved, earth's temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere fluctuated together. Higher CO2 levels are associated with a warmer planet ..."

The graph’s source is undoubtedly the seminal paper by Petit et al in Nature in 1999, but with sea level changes added.[6] However, new data by 2003 clarified that temperature lagged CO2 changes by 800 years or so.[7]

It is therefore accepted by warmists and sceptics alike that CO2 and temperatures did not “fluctuate together”; temperatures rose and probably caused the later rise in CO2. We even have a UK High Court Judge, Justice Burton, ruling:

"Mr Gore shows two graphs relating to a period of 650,000 years, one showing rise in CO2 and one showing rise in temperature, and asserts (by ridiculing the opposite view) that they show an exact fit. Although there is general scientific agreement that there is a connection, the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts.[8]"

Dr Potts’ graph time-scale is too long to show the lagged relationship, but coupled with the caption, the graph is misleading. Nearby is another placard saying: Rising CO2 levels

"The level of CO2 today is the highest since our species evolved. The projected increase over the next century is more than twice that of any time in the past 6 million years and suggests a long term sea level rise of 6.4 meters (21 ft)."

The placard does not mention that the mid-point of IPCC sea rise projections for 2100 (itself a wild extrapolation), is only about 60cm (2 ft).[9]

From where does Dr Potts get the alarming 6.4m rise? Oceanographers talk in terms of several centuries for a 7m rise, and that’s assuming the Greenland ice sheet melts away entirely.[10] [11] The great-grandchildren of the primary schoolers in the museum now being scared by talk of 21ft sea rises, will be buried long before any problem arises.

The other key graph in the display does what warmists normally run a mile to avoid. It plots CO2 rises over just the past 140 years against temperature rises. Normally, such a graph will show good correlation only for the 1970-1995 quarter-century. The other periods show an ugly lack of correlation.

Dr Potts’ treatment avoids discomfiture by showing a smoothed rising line for CO2 levels but a confusing forest of annual bars for actual temperatures (rather than the normal plotting of temperature variations against a long-term average). The non-correlation is hard to perceive, especially behind glass and two paces away. The graph also halts at the year 2000, ignoring the lack of statistically-significant warming from about 1997 to 2012.[12] Given that the display was launched in 2010, nearly a decade’s worth of inconvenient data was omitted.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Monday, July 30, 2012

Never in the field of human scientific endeavour has so little been so rubbished by so many

That's my summary of what you will read below about the Muller BEST project's latest emission:

It's out! The new Anthony Watts paper on biased surface temperature measurements

Which, inter alia, puts a bomb under the Muller claims also just published

For a private person to undertake almost single-handed such a big task as collating data from all U.S. temperature-measuring stations is a Herculean effort but Watts and his helpers have done so. There are great bureaucracies devoted to the task elsewhere.

What he has done is to show that a more rigorous measure of the urban heat island effect -- a measurement method embraced by the World Meteorological Organization -- greatly alters the resultant findings. And after that essential adjustment, the 1979-2008 U.S. temperature rise is much REDUCED, halved, in fact.

Its rather a disgrace that the official meteorological organizations have not applied the more rigorous method but they would have seen very early on that doing so would have dynamited their Warmist beliefs. Ideology trumps facts.

Below are three conclusions about the adjusted data used by Muller which I particularly like:

* Poorly sited station trends are adjusted sharply upward, and well sited stations are adjusted upward to match the already-adjusted poor stations.

* Well sited rural stations show a warming nearly three times greater after NOAA adjustment is applied.

* Urban sites warm more rapidly than semi-urban sites, which in turn warm more rapidly than rural sites.

In short, the tiny amount of global warming claimed by the Warmists gets even tinier if you bypass the conventional adjustments. Putting it another way, most of the claimed global warming is an artifact of the analytical method. It is not there in reality.

A quote from Watts about the Muller research: "“I fully accept the previous findings of these papers, including that of the Muller et al 2012 paper. These investigators found exactly what would be expected given the siting metadata they had."

In other words, the Muller paper found what it did only because of the poor data that the authors used.

Much more HERE

Some comments on the Watts and Muller papers from Roger Pielke Sr.

This paper is a game changer, in my view, with respect to the use of the land surface temperature anomalies as part of the diagnosis of global warming.

The new study extends and improves on the study of station siting quality, as they affect multi-decadal surface air temperature trends

Anthony has led what is a critically important assessment of the issue of station quality. Indeed, this type of analysis should have been performed by Tom Karl and Tom Peterson at NCDC, Jim Hansen at GISS and Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia (and Richard Muller). However, they apparently liked their answers and did not want to test the robustness of their findings.

In direct contradiction to Richard Muller’s BEST study, the new Watts et al 2012 paper has very effectively shown that a substantive warm bias exists even in the mean temperature trends. This type of bias certainly exists throughout the Global Historical Climate Network, as well as what Anthony has documented for the US Historical Climate Reference Network.

Anthony’s new results also undermine the latest claims by Richard Muller of BEST, as not only is Muller extracting data from mostly the same geographic areas as for the NCDC, GISS and CRU analyses, but he is accepting an older assessment of station siting quality as it affects the trends.

Indeed, since he accepted the Fall et al 2011 study in reporting his latest findings, he now needs to retrench and re-compute his trends. Of course, for the non-USHCN sites, he must bin those sites as performed by Anthony’s research group. If he does not, his study should be relegated to a footnote of a out-of-date analysis.

In Richard Muller’s Op-Ed in the New York Times (see The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic), he makes far-reaching conclusions based on his sparse knowledge of the uncertainties in multi-decadal land surface temperature record. His comments show what occurs when a scientist, with excellent research credentials within their area of scientific expertise, go outside of their area of knowledge.

Now, with the new Watts et al 2012 paper, Richard Muller’s conclusion regarding the robustness of the BEST analysis is refuted in the same day as his op-ed appeared.

It certainly appears that Richard Muller is an attention-getter, which he has succeeded at, but, unfortunately, he has demonstrated a remarkable lack of knowledge concerning the uncertainties in quantifying the actual long-term surface temperature trend, as well as a seriously incomplete knowledge of the climate system.

The proper way to complete a research study is provided in the Watts et al 2012 article. This article, a culmination of outstanding volunteer support under Anthony’s leadership, shows that Anthony Watts clearly understands the research process in climate science. As a result of his, and of and his colleagues, rigorous dedication to the scientific method, he has led a much more robust study than performed by Richard Muller in the BEST project.

The new Watts et al 2012 paper shows that Muller’s data base is really not a significant new addition for assessing land-side climate patterns, at least until further analyses are performed on the siting quality of the stations he uses in the BEST assessment.

Anthony Watt’s new paper shows that a major correction is needed Muller’s BEST study. Anthony also has shown what dedicated scientists can do with even limited financial support. Despite the large quantities of funds spent on the BEST study, it is Anthony Watts and his team who have actually significantly advanced our understanding of this aspect of the climate system.


Even Warmist David Appell is critical of the Muller claims

He is happy with their picture of temperature rises but points out that their claim of human causation is not established by their research. Even I saw that in my comments yesterday -- JR

It seems BEST is getting into trouble with their claims of attribution [i.e. what causes the observed warming] instead of their reconstruction of the temperature data. What they've done sounds like -- well, like what a bunch of physicists would do, not what climate science needs (and what climate scientists do).

Andrew Revkin quotes Judith Curry (who declined to be a co-author on the BEST results being announced today):
Their latest paper on the 250-year record concludes that the best explanation for the observed warming is greenhouse gas emissions. Their analysis is way oversimplistic and not at all convincing in my opinion.

There is broad agreement that greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to the warming in the latter half of the 20th century; the big question is how much of this warming can we attribute to greenhouse gas emissions. I don’t think this question can be answered by the simple curve fitting used in this paper, and I don’t see that their paper adds anything to our understanding of the causes of the recent warming. That said, I think there are two interesting results in this paper, regarding their analysis of 19th century volcanoes and the impact on climate, and also the changes to the diurnal temperature range.

Attributing climate is more like figuring out the structure of DNA than it is like figuring out the laws of quantum mechanics -- simple curve-fitting ("exponentials, polynomials") doesn't cut it. In fact, it makes you look kind of foolish. If it were that simple climatologists would have done it in the 19th century (and, of course, they've all tried curve-fitting on the second week of their research, then hid those papers in a bottom drawer.) That's exactly why they scratch around for all the clues they can get, and why they ruin their youth building climate models. (Sure, CO2 is one of the big factors, which is already enough to be worried about our large emissions; but there is usually a lot going on.)

BEST did a great job reconstructing the temperature history of the planet (assuming their work passes peer review, at least). Perhaps they should have stopped there.


And, to cap it, even Michael "Hockeystick" Mann says Muller has contributed nothing new:

"My view is that Muller's efforts to promote himself by belittling the collective efforts of the entire atmospheric/climate research community over several decades, though, really does the scientific community a disservice. Its great that he's reaffirmed what we already knew. But for him to pretend that we couldn't trust this entire scientific field until Richard Muller put his personal stamp of approval on their conclusions is, in my view, a very dangerously misguided philosophical take on how science works. It seems, in the end--quite sadly--that this is all really about Richard Muller's self-aggrandizement"


And a big-time Warmist says that Muller's paper might even fail peer review

He would certainly have to drop his completely hollow attribution claims to get it published in any respectable journal -- JR

Benjamin D. Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a lead author of the 1995 U.N. climate report, said he welcomed the involvement of another research group into “detection and attribution” of climate change and its causes. But he also said he found it troubling that Muller claimed such definitive results without his work undergoing peer-review.

“If you go into the public arena and claim to have generated evidence that is stronger than the IPCC, where is the detailed, scientific evidence? Has he used fundamental new data sets?” Santer said. “Publish the science and report on it after it’s done.”

He added: “I think you can do great harm to the broader debate. Imagine this scenario: that he makes these great claims and the papers aren't published? This (op-ed) is in the spirit of publicity, not the spirit of science.”


"We have no idea" -- Rare but honest admission from a climate scientist

SCIENTISTS say they have unravelled the mechanism by which Earth-warming carbon is sucked deep into the Southern Ocean to be safely locked away.

Wind, currents and eddies (a current running opposite to the main current) work together to create carbon-sucking funnels, said the research team from Britain and Australia in a discovery that adds to the toolkit of scientists attempting climate warming predictions.

About a quarter of the carbon dioxide on Earth is stored away in its oceans - some 40 per cent of that in the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica.

At a depth of about 1000 metres, carbon can be locked away for hundreds to thousands of years, yet scientists had never been sure exactly how it gets there after dissolving into surface waters.

They had suspected the wind was the main force at play, pooling up surface water in some areas and forcing it down into the ocean depths.

Using 10 years of data obtained from small, deep-sea robotic probes, the researchers found that in addition to the wind, eddies - big whirlpool-like phenomena about 100km in diameter on average, also played a part.

"You add the effect of these eddies and the effect of the wind and the effect of prominent currents in the Southern Ocean, you add these three effects, it makes ... 100km-wide funnels that bring the carbon from the sea surface to the interior," study author Jean-Baptiste Sallee told AFP.

The team had also used temperature, salinity and pressure data collected from ship-based observations since the 1990s.

"This is a very efficient process to bring carbon from the surface to the interior. We found in the Southern Ocean there are five such funnels," said Sallee.

The team also found that the eddies counterbalanced a different effect of strong winds - that of releasing stored carbon by violent mixing of the sea.

"This does seem to be good news, but the thing is what will be the impact of climate change on the eddies? Will they stop, will they intensify? We have no idea," said Sallee.

A changing climate could theoretically affect the nature and effect of the Southern Ocean eddies by changing ocean currents, intensifying winds or creating stark temperature spikes.

There is also another carbon capturing process, not covered by this study, of CO2-producing micro organisms that live near the ocean surface sinking to the sea floor and settling there when they die.


Frackin' B.S.

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day” is an adage we’ve all heard dozens of times. Today, it applies to the EPA as even it gets things right now and then. The EPA is well known for its attacks on virtually every kind of industry that might result in economic development—hitting the energy sector particularly hard. Despite the agency's best efforts, it has not been able to match up the science with its desired claims of water contamination from natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing—which has been in use in America for more than 60 years.

In early December 2011, the New York Times ran a story declaring: “Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies.” Environmental groups jumped all over the announcement. Amy Mall, a fracking opponent with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report “underscores the urgent need to get federal rules and safeguards on the books to help protect all Americans from the dangers of fracking.” An NPR story on the EPA’s draft study released on December 8, 2011, stated: “The gas industry and other experts have long contended that fracking doesn't contaminate drinking water. The EPA's findings provide the first official confirmation to the contrary.”

However, just three months later, on March 8, it was announced that the EPA had to backtrack as frequent attacks forced the agency to acknowledge that it had rushed to judgment. The chemicals supposedly found in the drinking water of Pavilion, Wyoming, were chemicals that could have come from a variety of sources—including the plastic piping. The EPA released the data and findings outside of the purview of two “working groups” made up of state and EPA officials, which had been examining the Pavillion pollution for the better part of a year. Following accusations that the EPA rushed the release of the report without peer review, the EPA backed down and agreed to retest. Now, the EPA and Wyoming, as well as U.S. Geological Survey and two American Indian tribes, are working together on further study of the Pavillion groundwater.

On April 1, a lawsuit the EPA had filed earlier this year against a Texas energy company, Range Resources, accusing it of contaminating water through hydraulic fracturing, was quietly dropped. Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas development, responded: “By dropping their court case and enforcement actions, EPA now acknowledges what we at the Railroad Commission have known for more than a year: Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater. This announcement is a vindication of the science-based processes at the Railroad Commission.”

On April 7, 2011, the EPA released test results for Dimock, Pennsylvania, that “did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action.” Despite the EPA’s test results, Water Defense executive director Claire Sandberg claimed that the “EPA's test results continue to show what Dimock residents have claimed for years: the water is contaminated.”

Dimock became the “symbol of possible threats to water from hydraulic fracturing” through the anti-fracking movie Gasland. While testing was being done, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the company drilling in the area, had, beginning in 2009, been providing families with fresh water, installed water filters, and offered to pay each affected family twice the value of their home. According to Bloomberg, “The Houston-based company set aside $4.1 million to pay claims stemming from residents’ complaints.” After its testing found the water to be safe and state regulators agreed, Cabot discontinued the fresh water deliveries late last year. However, the EPA stepped in and continued delivering water.

A few days ago, “after months of back-and-forth wrangling,” the EPA finally cleared Dimock’s water and announced it would discontinue the water deliveries saying that it has “no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.” The EPA acknowledged that the substances found in the water were “naturally occurring.”

Thursday’s announcement was a victory for proponents of oil and gas drilling, the economic development that comes with it, and the energy independence it gives to America.

Cabot company spokesman George Stark emphasized: “Cabot's operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community.”

One oil and gas official heralded the decision, but called the EPA’s approach part of a “pattern of overreaching, aimed at undercutting job-creating American energy development.”

While the decision, as Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber stated, provides “closure to the situation,” self-described “fracktivists” gathered on Saturday in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Frack Attack” rally—billed as the first-ever national protest to stop hydraulic fracturing. Despite their claim that thousands of people would descend on the west lawn of the Capitol building, live video of the event showed that, perhaps, the EPA’s decision took some of the wind out of their sails as a sparse crowd listened to speakers spread fear over “dirty water” and rising global temperatures.

The EPA has had to retreat in these three widely-publicized cases: Wyoming/Encana, Texas/Range Resources, and now, Pennsylvania/Cabot Oil and Gas. What remains to be seen is how the decisions will impact America’s job-creating domestic energy development. Will our energy policy be dominated by the emotion and ideology of “fracktivists” carrying signs such as those seen at the “Stop the Frack Attack” rally: “Stop feeding us bull**** and making us drink gas” or will it be determined by facts and sound science?

Thousands of jobs and billions in economic development are waiting in states such as New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky—and others with new resource discovery. Supporters of America’s job-creating domestic energy development don’t want to eliminate all regulations, but they need to be reasonable—encouraging responsible resource extraction, not so strident that they stifle progress and kill jobs.

The Dimock decision proves that the efforts of the “fracktivists” are more about a political anti-energy agenda than doing what is best for America.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The new Muller "bombshell" article

A new article by Richard Muller reporting more results of his "Berkeley" temperature project is to be published in the NYT in the next day or two. A copy of it has been leaked to skeptics and Anthony Watts is apparently preparing an exhaustive demolition of it.

So just a few notes: Muller does not dispute the small magnitude of the temperature rise over the last 150 years (though giving temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit rather than the usual scientific custom of using degrees Celsius may create that impression) and has NOTHING to say about the "Tipping point" hypothesis that is crucial to the dire prophecies of Warmists.

He also says some sensible things. I hope that the gods of copyright enforcement won't crucify me if I quote just one sentence: "I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated, or just plain wrong." And he proceeds to give examples.

But his central points are that the observed temperature variations track CO2 levels and do not track solar effects. That is certainly interesting, if true, but one would have to look at WHICH solar statistics he used and WHICH records of CO2 levels he used. Prof. Ernst has shown that CO2 levels inferred from proxies do not track ACTUAL CO2 levels as directly observed over the last two centuries. I don't think I am gambling when I say that Muller did not use Prof. Ernst's figures.

The BIG weak point in Muller's article and a deadly weak point in the whole Warmist faith is one that Muller does tackle head-on. And he ends up admitting that he cannot prove his answer to the question: Are the CO2 rises caused by humans? All he has to offer by way of evidence for his belief is the correlation between CO2 levels and temperature, which completely begs the question. That there is much evidence to show that warming causes CO2 rise (via ocean outgassing) rather than the other way around he does not go anywhere near.

So rather than a bombshell, even this benighted social scientist has to see the Muller article as a damb squib. His faults are as much faults of logic as of science -- JR

Was the Medieval Warm Period Confined to Europe?

That’s what the self-anointed ‘consensus of scientists’ claims. As noted in a previous post this week, right after the IPCC famously declared that the 1990s were likely the warmest decade of the past millennium, they stated: “Evidence does not support the existence of globally synchronous periods of cooling or warming associated with the ‘Little Ice Age’ and ‘Medieval Warm Period’” (Third Assessment Report, Chap. 2, p. 102).

But those remarkable Idsos, Shirwood, Craig, and Keith, keep reviewing studies that find evidence of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) not only in Europe but also in Asia, Africa, Australia/New Zealand, North America, South America, the Oceans, and even Antarctica. What’s more, the preponderance of these studies indicate that the MWP was warmer than the current warm period (CWP). The Idsos divide these studies into two categories, Level 1 Studies, which attempt to quantify the difference between MWP peak temperatures and CWP peak temperatures, and Level 2 Studies, which indicate whether the MWP peak temperatures were higher than, lower than, or the same as CWP peak temperatures.

This week on their Web site, CO2Science.Org, the Idsos review a study, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, that attempts to reconstruct the temperature history of the Antarctic Peninsula from ikaite crystals (an icy version of limestone) in marine sediments. The study, by Zunli Lu of Syracuse University and colleagues, finds that “both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula.” What is more, the researchers find that the “climatic signature” from the most recent crystals is “not yet as extreme in nature as the MWP.”

Prof. Lu cautions that the study “does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend” of recent decades and that results from one site “should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe.” Nonetheless, the Idsos reasonably conclude that the study is additional evidence that “the Earth has not yet eclipsed the level of GLOBAL warmth experienced during the MWP.”

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Pachauri Proves He Is Scientifically Incompetent Again

Railroad engineer Pachauri [Head of the IPCC] demonstrates once again that he understands nothing about science

“it’s possible that part of this huge body of ice (Greenland) could collapse, and fall into the ocean which would lead to several meters of sea level rise."

Mindless drivel. The Greenland ice sheet is a 3 km thick chunk of ice spread across a 1000 km wide island. You could visualize it as being a thick piece of paper. Can you imagine a piece of paper lying flat on a table, collapsing?

But it is worse than it seems. The land under the ice sheet is depressed due to the weight of the ice above it, and is bowl shaped. Furthermore, the island is full of mountain ranges buried under the ice – which prevent lateral movement.

Perhaps Pachauri thinks that ice cream can spontaneously jump out of a bowl? What a maroon.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Those Pesky clouds again

Clouds are central to the Warmist "tipping point" theory and I mentioned on July 10 the Laken work on South America which showed clouds not to be behaving themselves according to Warmist doctrine.

Now a new paper on clouds over Spain is equally awkward for the Warmists. According to them, we should be living through an era of increasing cloudiness. But what do the data show? They show that just when increasing cloudiness was supposed to cut in, it actually stopped and started to decrease!

A paper published today in Climate of the Past finds that Total Cloud Cover (TCC) has significantly decreased over Spain by about 4% since 1960, the same period during which the IPCC claims there is no explanation other than man-made greenhouse gases to account for global warming.....

Until cloud effects are much better understood (as well as a host of other factors such as ocean oscillations), computer climate models will remain computer fantasy games.
Clim. Past, 8, 1199-1212, 2012

Increasing cloud cover in the 20th century: review and new findings in Spain

By A. Sanchez-Lorenzo et al.


Visual observations of clouds have been performed since the establishment of meteorological observatories during the early instrumental period, and have become more systematic and reliable after the mid-19th century due to the establishment of the first national weather services. During the last decades a large number of studies have documented the trends of the total cloud cover (TCC) and cloudy types; most of these studies focus on the trends since the second half of the 20th century. Due to the lower reliability of former observations, and the fact that most of this data is not accessible in digital format, there is a lack of studies focusing on the trends of cloudiness since the mid-19th century.

In the first part, this work attempts to review previous studies analyzing TCC changes with information covering at least the first half of the 20th century. Then, the study analyses a database of cloudiness observations in Southern Europe (Spain) since the second half of the 19th century. Specifically, monthly TCC series were reconstructed since 1866 by means of a so-called parameter of cloudiness, calculated from the number of cloudless and overcast days.

These estimated TCC series show a high interannual and decadal correlation with the observed TCC series originally measured in oktas. After assessing the temporal homogeneity of the estimated TCC series, the mean annual and seasonal series for the whole of Spain and several subregions were calculated.

The mean annual TCC shows a general tendency to increase from the beginning of the series until the 1960s; at this point, the trend becomes negative

The linear trend for the annual mean series, estimated over the 1866–2010 period, is a highly remarkable (and statistically significant) increase of +0.44% per decade, which implies an overall increase of more than +6% during the analyzed period. These results are in line with the majority of the trends observed in many areas of the world in previous studies, especially for the records before the 1950s when a widespread increase of TCC can been considered as a common feature.


Warmists are amusing

They are always talking about "the facts" or "the science" but never mention one single scientific fact in support of their arguments (mainly because there are none)

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who is trying to build support for a carbon tax, said the facts on global warming will “overwhelm” GOP resistance to climate change action and alter the party’s stance.

“What we have been doing so far is sort of shrinking in science denial and holding onto shaky ideology that really will be overwhelmed by the facts,” the former GOP lawmaker said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“You can hold back the facts only for so long and eventually they overwhelm you,” Inglis said on Platts Energy Week TV. “I think that is happening on climate change. The science is pretty clear.”

Inglis, who was vanquished by a conservative upstart in his 2010 primary, this month launched a new initiative at George Mason University to promote what he calls market-based, conservative solutions to energy and climate challenges.

“I think that eventually the champions of free enterprise, which is who conservatives are, who Republicans generally are, will rise to the occasion and come forward with real solutions here,” he said.

Inglis backs a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax under which taxes on emissions would be offset by reductions in other rates.

“Right now we tax income, labor and industry, but we don’t tax the negative externality associated with the burning of fossil fuels,” he said.

Under his plan, subsidies and tax breaks for various energy sources — including green energy — would go away, but carbon-heavy fuels would see the costs of emissions included in their price.

“If you attach the negative externalities, the hidden cost, to those fossil fuels, then the economics would be set right for the challenger fuels to succeed in a fair competition,” Inglis said.


Voting for Wildlife Extermination

The latest justification for extending the industrial wind electricity production tax credit (PTC) is that we need an “all of the above” energy policy. The slogan falls flat, even when it’s expanded to “all of the above and below” – which is rarely the case with radical environmentalists and “progressive” politicians, who steadfastly oppose “any of the below” (ie, hydrocarbons).

America needs an “all of the sensible” energy policy. If an energy option makes sense - technically, economically and environmentally - it should be implemented. If it flunks, it should be scrapped.

Industrial wind energy mandates, renewable portfolio standards, subsidies, feed-in tariffs and production tax credits fail every test. They flunk environmental standards disastrously. In fact, they are subsidizing the slaughter of countless eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, herons, cranes, egrets, other birds and bats.

The wind PTC epitomizes “you didn’t build it.” If any business “didn’t get there on your own,” or was “successful because, along the line,” somebody (in government) “gave you some help” – it is Big Wind.

Industrial wind energy has been mandated, propped up, subsidized, built and protected by government. Elected and unelected officials at the federal, state and local levels have given it every unfair advantage that taxpayer and ratepayer money, legal favors and exemptions, and crony corporatism could bestow upon it. Meanwhile, in numerous cases, the same legislative, regulatory, environmentalist and industrialist cronies have penalized and marginalized Big Wind’s hydrocarbon and nuclear competitors – often for the same reasons that are ignored with wind energy.

Industrial wind is actually our least sustainable energy resource.It requires perpetual subsidies to survive. The tax revenues it takes from productive sectors of the economy, the insufficient and unreliable nature of wind electricity, and the exorbitant electricity rates that wind turbines impose on factories and businesses, kill two to four jobs for every "green" job created. Wind is a net job loser .

Big Wind also imposes excessive environmental impacts. It requires vast amounts of raw materials and land for turbines, backup power and long transmission lines. The extraction and processing of rare earth metals and other materials devastates large agricultural, scenic and wildlife habitat areas and harms people’s health, especially in China. Worst, the turbines are returning numerous bird and bat species to the edge of extinction, after decades of patient, costly efforts to nurse them back to health.

These are not sparrows and pigeons killed by housecats. They are bats that eat insects and protect crops . They are some of our most important and magnificent raptors, herons, cranes, condors and other majestic sovereigns of our skies. They are being chopped out of the air and driven from numerous habitats.

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC)and other experts estimate that well over 500,000 birds and countless bats are already being killed annually by turbines. The subsidized slaughter “could easily be over 500” golden eagles a year in our western states, Save the Eagles Internationalbiologist Jim Wiegand told me. Bald eagles are also being killed at alarming rates that could soon reach 1,000 per year.

In the 86-square-mile area blanketed by the Altamont Pass wind facility, no eagles have nested for over 20 years, and golden eagle nest sites have declined by half near the actual facility, even though both areas are prime eagle habitat, says Wiegand. Wildlife expert Dr. Shawn Smallwood estimates that 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by Altamont turbines over the past 25 years.

The wind industry keeps the publicly acknowledged death toll “low” and “acceptable” by employing deliberately flawed methodologies, says Wiegand. Companies have crews search around turbines that are not operating; search only within narrow radiuses of turbines, thus missing birds that were flung further by the impact or limped off to die elsewhere; search for carcasses only every 2-4 weeks, allowing scavengers to take most of them away; avoid using dogs to sniff for bodies; not count disabled or wounded birds and bats; and pick up carcasses, under the guideline of “slice, shovel and shut up.”

High security at most wind turbine sites makes independent analysis almost impossible, adds ABC wind energy coordinator Kelly Fuller. Even the faulty (fraudulent?) raw bird kill data are rarely made public and are difficult to access even through the Freedom of Information Act. Amazingly, the US Fish & Wildlife Service does not require that the information be made public. What little does get released is too often filtered, massaged and manipulated – and now the FWS may allow the industry to put even these suspect body counts into private data banks that would not be subject to FOIA.

The FWS and Justice Department prosecuted and fined oil companies for the unintentional deaths of just 28 small migratory birds (no raptors and no rare, threatened or endangered species) over several months throughout North Dakota. They fined ExxonMobil $600,000 for accidentally killing 85 birds over a five-year period in five states. But they have never prosecuted or penalized a single wind turbine company for its eco-slaughter. Now they are going much further.

The Service has proposed to grant “programmatic take” permits that would allow wind turbine operators to repeatedly, systematically, legally and “inadvertently” injure, maim and kill bald and golden eagles –turning what has been outrageously selective (non)enforcement of endangered species laws into a 007 license to kill. While the new rule “is not specifically designed for the wind industry” (as an industry spokesman helpfully pointed out), Big Wind will be by far the biggest beneficiary.

The FWS says it can do this based on illusory “advanced conservation practices” that are “scientifically supportable,” approved by the Service, and “represent the best available techniques to reduce eagle disturbance and ongoing mortalities to a level where remaining take is unavoidable and incidental to otherwise lawful activity.” The Service also claims “mitigation” and other “additional” measures may be implemented where necessary to “ensure the preservation” of eagles as a species.

When its goal is to restrict development, the FWS frequently defines species, subspecies or “distinct population segments” for sage grouse, spotted owls, “jumping mice” and other wildlife – or labels a species “imperiled” in a selected location, even when it is abundant in nearby locations. With eagles, the proposed “take” rules strongly suggest that the Service could easily say the presence of eagles in some parts of the Lower 48 States or even just Alaska would mean their preservation is ensured, even if they are exterminated or driven out of numerous habitats. (Ditto for other species imperiled by wind turbines.)

Attempts to “mitigate” impacts or establish new population segments will almost certainly mean imposing extra burdens, restrictions and costs on land owners and users outside of turbine-impact areas.

Another vital, majestic species being “sliced” back to the verge of extinction is the whooping crane, North America’s tallest bird. Since 2006, installed turbine capacity within the six-state whooping crane flyway has skyrocketed from 3,600 megawatts to some 16,000 MW – and several hundred tagged and numbered whooping cranes “have turned up missing and are unaccounted for,” says Wiegand. And yet, another 136,700 MW of new bird Cuisinarts are planned for these six states!

The Service knows this is happening, and yet turns a blind eye – and Big Wind is not about to admit that its turbines are butchering whooping cranes, bald eagles, Peregrine falcons, bats and other rare species.

This subsidized slaughter and legalized carnage cannot continue. Every vote to extend the PTC, or approve wind turbines in or near important bird habitats and flyways, is a vote for ultimate extinction of majestic and vital species in numerous areas all over the United States.

Wind energy is not green, eco-friendly, sustainable or sensible. Extending the subsidized slaughter is not something any members of Congress, state legislatures or county commissions – Republican or Democrat – should want to have on their conscience.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Friday, July 27, 2012

Britain's brainless Met Office

An interesting correspondence below -- forwarded to me. Among other things, they can't even spell such simple words as "truly" or "huge". I start with an email to them:

Dear Met Office,

You may know of the late Mr Norman Holdsworth, who was a senior Met Office weather forecaster for decades. He served at Cyprus ; Aberporth, Wales and Bracknell.

Norman was a lovely man.... a real gentleman of high intellect. He always used to tell me that he never believed in the twin falsehoods........"global warming" and "climate change".

Since he's died, we have had four successive winters in the UK, with long spells of severe weather.

So where is the EVIDENCE for anthropomorphic "global warming" ........ now dubbed "climate change" to try and dupe people even further?

Could you please supply PROOF that there has been global warming over the last 10 years ?

Yours faithfully,

L J Jenkins,

The Met reply below

Dear L J Jenkins,

The evidence for climate change is vast and if you wish to truely understand the physical forces at work you will need to be prepared to do a certain amount of reading to gain this. There are hugh amounts of scientific research available in the public domain. However as a good overview, I would refer you to the web site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html and the Met Office Hadley Centre publications which can be found here (in particular the one titled "Evidence"): http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/publications/climate-change.

The Met Office Hadley Centre is the UK’s national centre for climate change research. Partly funded by DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) and Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the Hadley Centre provides in-depth information to the Government and advise them on climate change issues using expert scientific evidence. Our climate scientists undertake studies of the global climate using similar, though more extensive, models of the atmospheres, as are used for the prediction of weather conditions.

In its Fourth Assessment Review, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that there is unequivocal evidence from observations that the Earth is warming. It further stated and that most of the observed warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations. By “very likely”, the IPCC means a 90% probability or greater. This broad climate change message has also been strongly supported by the world’s top Academy of Sciences, including the Royal Society in the UK and the National Academy of Sciences in the USA.

In view of this, the Met Office firmly believes that climate research has captured the essential aspects of what is causing our planet to warm. It is now time to look at strategies for adaptation and mitigation; better defining uncertainty and improving regional detail in climate models. This is where our efforts will and should be directed.

Trish Lamb,

Climate Science Enquiries Coordinator

If Trish had another brain, she'd be lonely

Another broken hockey stick: New paper finds ocean temps were warmer during multiple periods over past 2700 years & current warming within natural variability

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds that sea surface temperatures [SSTs] in the Southern Okinawa Trough off the coast of China were warmer than the present during the Minoan Warm Period 2700 years ago, the Roman Warm Period 2000 years ago, and the Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period 1400 years ago.

According to the authors, "Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean [sea surface temperature] in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years."

In addition, the paper shows the rate of warming in the Minoan, Roman, Medieval, and Sui-Tang dynasty warm periods was much faster than in the current warming period since the Little Ice Age. The paper finds "A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation," which corroborates other papers demonstrating that the climate is highly sensitive to tiny changes in solar activity.

The paper adds to the peer-reviewed publications of over a thousand scientists showing that the current warm period is well within the range of natural variability and is not unprecedented, not accelerated, and not unusual in any respect.


Sea surface temperature variability in southern Okinawa Trough during last 2700 years

By Weichao Wu et al.


Most of the temperature reconstructions for the past two millennia are based on proxy data from various sites on land. Here we present a bidecadal resolution record of sea surface temperature (SST) in Southern Okinawa Trough for the past ca. 2700 years by analyzing tetraether lipids of planktonic archaea in the ODP Hole 1202B, a site under the strong influence of Kuroshio Current and East Asian monsoon. The reconstructed SST anomalies generally coincided with previously reported late Holocene climate events, including the Roman Warm Period, Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, Current Warm Period, Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age. However, the Medieval Warm Period usually thought to be a historical analogue for the Current Warm Period has a mean SST of 0.6–0.8°C lower than that of the Roman Warm Period and Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period. Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean SST in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years. A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation.


IPCC seeks to influence UK FOI laws

For much of the year, the House of Commons Justice Committee has been conducting a post-legislative review of the Freedom of Information Act, its work taking place in the face of a concerted effort by the bureaucracy to push it into accepting the idea that the Act should be neutered.

The review has now ground to a conclusion, and the news is, on the whole quite good. For example, from the recommendations comes the welcome news that the committee favours a tightening of the legal ramifications for breaches of the Act.
The summary only nature of the section 77 offence means that no one has been prosecuted for destroying or altering disclosable data, despite the Information Commissioner’s Office seeing evidence that such an offence has occurred. We recommend that section 77 be made an either way offence which will remove the limitation period from charging. We also recommend that, where such a charge is heard in the Crown Court, a higher fine than the current £5000 be available to the court. We believe these amendments to the Act will send a clear message to public bodies and individuals contemplating criminal action.

However, one of the other recommendations is less obviously welcome, with the committee concluding that England and Wales adopt the Scottish approach to research data. This allows exemption under two different grounds - a narrow one and a broad one. The narrow exemption is for data held for future publication, the narrowness coming from the requirement that the publication date cannot be more than 12 weeks in the future. The broader, and therefore much more worrying, exemption is for data held as part of an ongoing research programme. I'm not sure that this doesn't allow those who would rather their research was not examined by outsiders simply to say that they are still using the data and that it cannot therefore be disclosed.

The whole of the university sector seems to have been keen to get a much broader exemption in place. One submission of evidence, from Universities UK is a particularly interesting case in point, which shows that those champions of openness, the IPCC, have also been taking an interest.
[...] evidence of commercial partners being put off working with UK institutions is largely anecdotal. However, in a case involving the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) recently settled by the Information Commissioner for drafts of a published paper, the University of East Anglia highlighted that:

In another matter, we recently received exactly such representations from the IPCC TSU [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Technical Support Unit] based in Geneva, Switzerland in which they explicitly noted that release of such material would “[...] force us to reconsider our working arrangements with those experts who have been selected for an active role in WG1 AR5 [Working Group One, Fifth Assessment Report] from your institution and others within the United Kingdom.”


US Green Building Council: An unchecked taxpayer-supported monopoly

Something called the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) enjoys de facto authority over government green building standards. Many would be surprised, however, to learn that it is not a government agency.

Rather, the USGBC is a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that sets the standards for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. For those unfamiliar, LEED is the dominant certification program used for measuring building sustainability and energy efficiency.

Technically, LEED is a voluntary program. But because a reported 400 U.S. cities and localities, 39 states and virtually the entire federal government currently require builders to meet LEED standards, USGBC effectively operates as a taxpayer-subsidized monopoly – one whose standards increasingly seem driven by ideology and influence rather than sound science and economic common sense.

For evidence of that, look no further than LEED v4, the USGBC’s proposed fourth generation changes to its green building standards.

Representing a dramatic departure from the USGBC’s stated goal of promoting energy efficiency through “consensus-based decision-making” that includes all affected stakeholders, LEED v4 seeks to discourage the use of commonly used building materials and products that ironically are utilized today in energy-efficient buildings. On the proposal’s chopping block? Literally hundreds of proven and prevalent building products that include most PVC piping, foam insulation, heat reflective roofing and LED lighting, just to name a few.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) mandates that all new federal buildings and renovations to existing buildings be certified to LEED “Gold" standards at a minimum. Therefore, if approved and adopted in its current form as the sole green building standard by GSA, LEED v4 could lead to an outright ban on manufacture of those products as builders, architects and others would be coerced into avoiding their use altogether.

To add insult to injury, the arbitrary changes to the LEED standards, some of which are based on regulations put forth by the European Union, are being made without sound science to support them and without any substantive input from leaders and experts in the manufacturing and building industries that would be most affected. The costs of the changes would be felt in the form of good-paying U.S. jobs, American competitiveness and increased costs to taxpayers at a time when our nation’s struggling economy can least afford it.

With LEED certification per building costing up to $27,500, it’s easy to see how the USGBC took in over $100 million in revenue in 2009 - much of that coming from the pockets of taxpayers. Due to LEED’s existing standards and short-sightedness, consumers and taxpayers already pay as much as a 20 percent premium on wood certified by the program, with dubious environmental benefits. Given those alarming costs, it’s high time for Congress to use its influence over the GSA to put an end the USGBC’s stranglehold on the market.

Fortunately, LEEDv4 has begun to raise the ire of bipartisan groups in Congress. Some 56 members of the House, led by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R–KS) and 18 Senators led by Mary Landrieu (D–LA) and David Vitter (R–LA), recently wrote GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini objecting to the changes and stating the agency should reconsider the USGBC’s LEED rating system should the proposed changes occur. In addition, at a July 19 House Government and Oversight Committee hearing, Congressional leaders raised concerns over the restrictive and arbitrary LEED process and the high costs the proposed changed will impose on American manufacturing and other sectors vital to U.S. economic recovery.


Making the nation’s buildings “greener” or more energy-efficient may be a worthwhile goal, but any effort to do so must be driven by the free and competitive market. We already witness too many government policies picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Remember Solyndra? For the federal bureaucracy to allow a third-party environmental group to do so is appalling.

Given USGBC’s agenda and arbitrary actions, it is reckless to empower that organization to dictate a government-sanctioned standard.

The process for the adoption of the proposed LEED v4 standards is not scheduled to conclude until next year. But with the GSA and other federal agencies currently reviewing which building standards to adopt moving forward, Congress must turn up the heat now to force GSA to replace LEED with a building certification system that is fair, open, based on unimpeachable science and uses consensus-based standards. In other words, one that is cognizant of its impact on jobs, the economy and taxpayers.

The era of the taxpayer-supported USGBC monopoly must end.


Skeptic Magazine Needs to be More Skeptical of Man-Made Global Warming

I have been taking potshots at "Skeptic" for years, including writing to them -- but their Leftism overwhelms critical thought. All that they are skeptical about is magic and superstition -- in which they include religion -- JR

A quarterly magazine called Skeptic published a cover story a few weeks back by Donald Prothero titled “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” That struck us here at The Heartland Institute as rather strange.

Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media. And we have two immense volumes of peer-reviewed literature and the videos of many conferences to prove it.

So if the very name of your magazine is Skeptic, shouldn’t readers expect you to carefully examine the spoon-fed doctrines of the likes of Al Gore, Michael Mann, the UN’s IPCC, etc., and be … well … skeptical of “doctrine”especially in light of the Climategate scandal? Alas, no.

Skeptic magazine, as the headline of the cover story makes clear, is not skeptical of global warming. Like the Roosters of the Apocalypse who allow group-think and ideology to trump their scientific judgment, Skeptic refuses to take serious the mounting and even overwhelming scientific case against man-made global warming. It’s amusing and ironic, then, that the Skeptic article begins with a quote from Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman:

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Yet the fact is: Reality, and scientific observation of nature, tells the truth about the climate — and man is not causing a climate catastrophe. Skeptic Magazine is the one regurgitating public-relations lies disguised as a hard-boiled look at the climate debate and grounded in real science.

Feynman has posthumously become a bit of a YouTube star for his one-minute explanation of the scientific method. The video below, from a lecture at Cornell in 1964, blows up Skeptic magazine’s idea of what science is.


In one minute, Feynman lays out how the scientific method works: Theories are constantly proposed, questioned and tested. Only after a theory goes through many exhaustive rounds of scientific examination — using observational data — can a “guess” become a “law” of science. And even then, a well-founded scientific “law” laid down by the smartest people in history is temporary. Just ask Newton.

Men and women who couldn’t hold Feynman’s briefcase have for years told us that the science is “settled”: Human activity is causing a catastrophic climate disaster — no matter that their computer model predictions haven’t come true, violating the scientific method and becoming the decades-later butt of Feynman’s presentation.

Yet Skeptic magazine, of all publications, dedicated a nine-page cover story to carrying water for public-relations hacks — propagandists — and not the kind of real, observable science that should be its hallmark. But let’s not completely condemn Skeptic. It still has the fact that there is no solid evidence for Bigfoot in its favor.

Christopher Monckton — Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, good friend of Heartland, advisor to Lady Thatcher, and one of the most learned “laymen” experts on climate science — gives that Skeptic article a hearty vivisection. Skeptic refused to publish it, so we share it here. There’s a short version and a long version of his reply, and they are both devastating.

Lord Monckton starts it off with his typically cheeky and refreshing in-your-face style:

Be skeptical, be very skeptical, of Skeptic magazine’s skepticism of climate skeptics. The latest issue has, as its cover story, a Climate Change Q&A, revealingly subtitled Climate Deniers’ Arguments & Climate Scientists’ Answers.

The article, written by Dr. Donald Prothero, a geology professor at Occidental College, opens with the bold heading How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.

Anyone who starts out by using the hate-speech term “Climate Deniers” – laden with political overtones of Holocaust denial – cannot expect to be taken seriously as an objective scientist.

Despite this promise of “Climate Scientists’ Answers”, only four peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists are cited among the 41 references at the end of the article.

And the implicit notion that “Climate Deniers” are non-scientists while true-believers are “Climate Scientists” is also unreasonable. Many eminent climate scientists are skeptical of the more extremist claims made by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC. We shall cite some of their work in this response to the Professor’s unscientific article.

His reply to the Skeptic article contains tons of scientific research — with no fewer than 42 citations in the footnotes. A taste of the truth:

1. Is “global warming” occurring at anything like the predicted rate?

No, it isn’t, say the skeptics. Predictions of doom have repeatedly failed.

Sea level: Aviso Envisat data show sea level rising in the eight years 2004-2012 at a rate equivalent to 1.3 inches (3 cm) per century. What is more, sea level in 2011-2012 was lower than in each of the previous seven years:

Sea-ice extent: Growth in Antarctic sea-ice extent almost matches the decline in the Arctic over the past 30 years, so that global sea-ice extent shows little change since the satellites have been watching:

When the data doesn’t match the hypothesis, it’s not science. It’s propaganda.


Environmental justice: A new movement to restrict your movement

When most people talk about President Obama's influence on America, they mention reforming health care, repealing "don't ask, don't tell" or ending the war in Iraq.

But a nearly unknown executive order could have a greater impact on the future of America than all of those things combined, potentially giving the federal government power to control every project in the country.

The obscure memorandum of understanding, based on a long-forgotten executive order signed by President Clinton in 1994, marries the issues of environmentalism and social justice. The federal government can use the laws from one to control the other.

Seventeen federal agencies signed the Aug. 4, 2011, memorandum — a clear indication of its widespread implications. By signing it, “Each Federal agency agrees to the framework, procedures, and responsibilities” of integrating environmental justice into all of its “programs, policies, and activities.”

This integration was the topic of the State of Environmental Justice in 2012 Conference held April 5 in Crystal City, Va. The low-key conference featured speakers who are key players in the movement, offering a rare glimpse into how the federal government intends to use this new tool as an instrument of power and control over the lives of every American.

Environmental justice has already stopped transportation projects in their tracks by using Title VI, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial "discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Mr. Obama explicitly suggests using Title VI to achieve environmental justice in his memorandum.

“This is all about integrating environmental justice into the transportation decision-making process,” said conference speaker Glenn Robinson, director of the Environmental Justice in Transportation Project at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

The president had taken steps to integrate environmental justice into transportation even before he wrote the memo. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation to create the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

This partnership, according to the "Environmental Justice and Sustainability Reference Deskbook," “marks a fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing, and environmental policies, programs and spending” to include environmental justice concerns.

James Cheatham, director of the Office of Planning at the Federal Highway Administration, is listed as an environmental justice contact in this book, which EPA published in December 2010. At the conference, he explained that the movement's early focus on transportation was no accident.

“Transportation is that vital link that moves our economy one way or another,” he said.

But what do civil rights have to do with transportation projects? When combined with environmentalism, they can stop almost anything.

Last year, an environmental justice claim prevented the state of Virginia from installing express toll lanes to help alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 395 in Arlington County. The county alleged that the state had violated a series of laws that Mr. Obama suggested as enforcement tools for environmental justice.

First, emissions from vehicles operating in the toll lanes would have violated the Clean Air Act. And, since the lanes would have run mostly through a low-income minority community, they also violated Title VI by discriminating against residents who live there.

The lanes also would have violated the National Environmental Policy Act, according to Arlington County Attorney Stephen A. MacIsaac.

“What NEPA requires is a study of traffic impacts, air quality impacts and impacts on disadvantaged and minority communities … and we felt like that wasn't an adequate review,” Mr. MacIsaac said.

Mr. MacIsaac insisted that the county's lawsuit did not allege racial discrimination, even though traffic studies projected that mostly affluent white people would use the HOT lanes, which he referred to as “Lexus lanes.”

But conference speaker Sharlene Reed, community planner at FHWA, suggested conferees adopt exactly that strategy for filing project-stopping lawsuits.

“If environmental justice is looking at minorities and low income," she asked, "can you actually afford to utilize this road, or are you being disadvantaged as a result of them having a price associated with it?”

Like Mr. Cheatham, Ms. Reed is listed as an environmental contact in the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership. She helped develop "EPA's Action Development Process: Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action," published in July 2010.

All told, the HOT lanes lawsuit cost Arlington County taxpayers about $2 million, Mr. MacIsaac said. Fearing a long, expensive court battle, the Virginia Department of Transportation dropped Arlington from the project and began an intensive environmental review.

Arlington County government considers this a victory, but James Corocan, head of the chamber of commerce in neighboring Fairfax County, has a different take on it.

“It's businesses and citizens that are going to pay for this government's decision not to move forward with the HOT lanes,” Mr. Corocan said. “It's a shame for Arlington, because other areas are going to leave them behind when it comes to moving traffic around. … When businesses are looking at where do they want to locate, obviously access is key.”

He said he had talked to several Arlington business leaders who would have welcomed HOT lanes in their county.

Paul Driessen, senior policy fellow at the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise, said one of the dangers of environmental justice is that it gives the federal government power to make decisions that should be made by the people affected by them.

“There's a huge element within the environmental community, … within the various government agencies and so forth, of desire to control what people can or can't do,” Mr. Driessen said.

Mr. Driessen said he lamented the fact that environmental regulations placed “so many controls” over “free markets that have advanced us in so many ways. We're really holding back entrepreneurship. People are not investing because they don't know what the next round of regulations is going to do.”

But conference speakers lauded the use of Title VI in this way.

“File a complaint under the Title VI Administrative Enforcement Process if you cannot get the results that you want in other ways,” advised Marc Brenman, a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mr. Brenman recounted how he did just that to stop a train route from being extended from downtown Oakland, Calif., to Oakland International Airport. He alleged that the project violated Title VI because it better served whites than minorities since the trains would pass by so many low-income minority neighborhoods along the way.

And, as environmental contractor Alexander Bond reminded the group, there are plenty of other laws people can use the same way as Title VI.

“The American Disabilities Act, the National Restorative Preservation Act for some visually impaired people, … [there is] lots of room built into this process for bringing environmental justice to the table,” said Mr. Bond, a senior associate at energy and environmental contractor ICF International in Fairfax.

Mr. Corocan disputed environmentalists' claims that HOT lanes would worsen air quality in Arlington, since the same number of cars will be on the road anyway, only now they will travel at a slower pace. That, if anything, will increase pollution.

David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, did not find this surprising at all. Environmental justice claims very rarely have anything to do with actually helping anyone, he said.

“They're not thinking about economic consequences to the everyman, but they're pushing environmental justice not in my opinion as a way to help a minority community but as a way to play the race card and make their arguments harder to fight,” Mr. Almasi said.

Another thing that makes environmental justice hard to fight is the vague terms EPA uses to define it, according to Mr. Driessen.

“The EPA's agenda is so broad, it's used to advance any new regulation that they have conceived of over this little bit in the past administration,” he said.

Conference speaker Eloisa Reynault, transportation, health and equity program manager at the American Public Health Association, described public health and transportation as issues married by environmental justice.

Ms. Reynault said the combined cost of four chronic problems — traffic deaths and injuries, obesity, lack of physical activity, and air pollution — cost taxpayers an estimated $478 billion per year. She assured conferees that environmental justice could offset those costs by addressing health and safety issues "connected to transportation."

She said that while "car travel is sedentary travel," getting to the bus or train stop often requires walking. She also asserted that a lack of public transit in low-income communities causes greater air pollution and, in turn, more lung disease. Another example? Car accidents, since minorities are often "overrepresented" in traffic fatalities and injuries.

Under these definitions, members of a low-income or minority community could file a Title VI complaint by claiming that lack of access to public transportation made them fat and sick — and win.

The wide scope of environmental justice also makes it easier for government offices to share funds to achieve it.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here