Wednesday, March 06, 2013

How to Win Any Climate Change Argument

Slate has put up an infographic under the heading above. It's mainly just the usual appeals to authority.  The writer below offers a detailed fisking of it

One thing the infographic shows clearly is that Warmists have only the vaguest notion of the arguments against Warmism. They carefully shield themselves from knowing too much. That "tipping points" are the key element of the Warmist argument and that such points are sheer guesswork they seem not to know

The arguments seem to progress from right to left, so I'll address them in that order.

* Argument: Negative outweighs positive. Sure, plants use CO2 to grow, but we can't expect them to absorb all the CO2 we pump out!

Why not? According to this NASA chart, plants already absorb thirteen times as much as humans pump out. There's plenty of evidence that increased CO2 enhances plant growth, which means enhancing plants' take-up of CO2 from the atmosphere. There is no evidence that plants are "saturated" and can't take up more CO2.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas--that's nothing new--and too much warming has severe impacts on the planet, including sea-level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather that damages our cities (about half the world's people live near coasts), and species extinction.

You assume your conclusion. Granting that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, there is little evidence that man's CO2 emissions are the dominant force in global temperature. For the last 17 years, CO2 has risen but temperature has remained flat, which suggests that some other influence is stronger than CO2. Also, "too much" warming is a judgment call -- there is no scientific basis for how much is too much. Sea level isn't rising any faster than it used to. The ocean isn't becoming acid; at most, it's becoming slightly less alkaline, and that change is well with natural variation from place to place. The scientific evidence is that there is no linkage between CO2 emissions and extreme weather, even the IPCC has admitted as much in their recent SREX report. And no one has named a single species that has gone extinct due to global warming.

The US army even says climate change is a national-security threat because while a thawing Arctic, for example, might be good for tourism or oil development, climate change might produce waves of refugees and food crises because of displacement, extended drought, and unrest.

"Might." Every bit of that is speculation, not backed up by science. The UN claimed there would be 50 million climate refugees by 2010; the actual number was zero. There's no evidence that CO2 emissions will harm food production. The U.S. drought severity index has decreased as CO2 levels have risen. Scare stories about imaginary crises are, bluntly, fiction.

* Argument: Scientists agree. Ohh, scandal! Sorry to burst your bubble: Big reports, including one by the UK government, found no evidence of wrongdoing in so-called "Climategate."

First, those reports only looked at scientific ethics -- by their own admission, they did not investigate the science itself. Second, those reports did not take evidence from "the opposition" -- they were all defense and no prosecution. It's no wonder they found no wrongdoing when they weren't accepting evidence of wrongdoing. Third, with all that, some of those reports did censure the scientists for unprofessional behavior (like withholding data and violating the Freedom of Information Act).

The vast majority of scientists (~97%) agree that climate change is driven by humans.

Wrong. First, the 97% figure comes from just 77 scientists in a survey of over 3100 scientists. The survey-takers threw out over 3000 responses to get the result they wanted. Second, the survey did not ask whether climate change is "driven" by humans; it asked if human activity is a "significant contributing factor" in changing global temperature. "Significant" might be a 10% effect; and that activity might be deforestation or agriculture, rather than CO2 emissions.

In 2005, the science academies of the US plus 10 other countries cosigned a statement saying just that.

Actually, no: the executive committees of those academies issued those statements, without consulting their members. Some members have resigned as a result. And at least one of those academies has withdrawn the statement.

A UC-San Diego survey of all peer-reviewed abstracts about climate change from 1993-2003 revealed that not one rejected this position.

First, given what Climategate revealed about the deliberate manipulation of the peer-review system, this situation should not be surprising. Also, research funding is directed to -- some would say contingent upon -- "pro warming" research. Despite this, there are over 1100 peer-reviewed papers supporting climate-skeptic arguments.

The 2007 IPCC report says with "very high confidence" that "unequivocal" warming is caused by us. The real debate now is how bad is it going to get?

The IPCC produces a political report, not a scientific report. One edition explicitly reversed, in its summary, the scientific conclusion in the main text that the human "signature" on climate could not be identified. Chapter 8 of the Second Assessment Report was rewritten by one author to insert his own pet theory. In the Fourth Assessment Report it was found that almost one-third of the citations were from "grey literature", not peer-reviewed science. Many key positions are held by graduate students and Greenpeace activists.

And for the question of "how bad is it going to get," like the question of atmospheric sensitivity, you will find wide disagreement. One recent report concluded that up to 2 degrees C of warming would be beneficial.

* Argument: It's happening now. Yes, everyone agrees Earth has undergone drastic cooling and warming across millions of years. Hello ice age. But since 1900, the average global temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees F (0.8 C). 1988 was hot, but for global records, 2010 was the hottest on record, tied with 2005, in line with warming.

First, it's no surprise that the earth has warmed since the end of the "Little Ice Age" around 1850. Indeed, since 1850 there have been three other times when temperature rose as quickly as in the 1990s...and then fell back down. There is a cyclical component to temperature, which may be one reason temperatures have been stable for the last 17 years. By the way, 2010 was the hottest year in the U.S., not the world -- that honor goes to the year 1932.

Second, the fact that the earth is measurably warmer does not prove that man is responsible. Nor does it prove that warmth is a bad thing. The previous warm periods -- the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Warm Period -- were times of prosperity, not hardship.

The draft 1,000-page National Climate Assessment, authored by more than 240 US scientists, said future generations can expect more of what we are already seeing: "heat waves, heavy downpours, and in some regions floods and drought." It's oh-so here...and happening.

Need I point out again that science isn't decided by consensus, or by numbers of scientists? And, well, duh: of course we're going to see more heat waves, downpours, flooding, and drought. We've seen those all through history, and we'll see them again. Some of the worst examples in U.S. history occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s...not to mention the Dust Bowl. Weather happens. It always has, and always will. Trying to control it by reducing CO2 emissions is downright silly.

* Argument: Humans: it's us. Fact: Over the last 30 years, the sun has actually been cooling, just as the Earth has been warming.

Really? Global mean temperatures have flat-lined for the last 17 years. And yet CO2 emissions have continued to rise. Perhaps you have discovered what many of us already suspect -- that global temperatures are strongly driven by solar activity. (Climate is complex, and there are many contributing factors. The sun, with its various cycles, is one of them.)

Volcanoes, you say? They emit about 0.2 billion tons of CO2 per year. Sounds like a lot! But it's less than 1% of human CO2 emissions.

Actually, no, I didn't say. And I've yet to read any climate skeptic who claims that volcanic CO2 emissions are a cause of global warming. This is a straw man, I'm afraid.

(In fact, volcanoes might actually cool the Earth in the short-term because aerosols reflect the warmth of the sun).

That actually seems to be widely agreed, even among skeptics. So what?

The consensus is that humans are the driving force: Burning fossil fuels is contributing to unprecedented levels of CO2 in the 20th century.

Unprecedented? No. There have been many times in prehistory when atmospheric CO2 levels were far higher than they are right now. In fact, they were dangerously low for a while, not long ago -- 290 ppm, when a minimum of about 180 ppm is necessary to sustain life on earth.

Ten of the warmest years have all occurred since 1995, and seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.

First, this statistic is incorrect: there were as-warm or warmer years in the 1930s, before intensive use of fossil fuels. Second, the key phrase is "on record," which really means "since 1880." Third, those records have been systematically adjusted to increase recent temperatures. I could go on. But so what? Again, the fact that temperatures are increasing does not mean that man is the cause. Temperatures went up before, and went down before, long before fossil fuels.

Climate changes. Always has, always will. You might as well try to stop the tides, as try to halt climate change.


Settled science: 48% of models predict a drier California in 2060, 52% predict wetter

A paper published today in the Journal of Climate examines the output of 25 climate models for projected precipitation in California and finds little consensus, stating that "12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter." The paper adds to many other peer-reviewed papers demonstrating the failure of climate models to predict known temperatures of the past, much less the future, as well as an inability to even agree on the sign of future precipitation, the effect of clouds, ocean oscillations, solar activity, winds, internal waves, etc, etc.
The key role of heavy precipitation events in climate model disagreements of future annual precipitation changes in California

David W. Pierce et al.


Climate model simulations disagree on whether future precipitation will increase or decrease over California, which has impeded efforts to anticipate and adapt to human-induced climate change. This disagreement is explored in terms of daily precipitation frequency and intensity. It is found that divergent model projections of changes in the incidence of rare heavy (> 60 mm/day) daily precipitation events explain much of the model disagreement on annual timescales, yet represent only 0.3% of precipitating days and 9% of annual precipitation volume. Of the 25 downscaled model projections we examine, 21 agree that precipitation frequency will decrease by the 2060s, with a mean reduction of 6-14 days/year. This reduces California’s mean annual precipitation by about 5.7%. Partly offsetting this, 16 of the 25 projections agree that daily precipitation intensity will increase, which accounts for a model average 5.3% increase in annual precipitation. Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter. These results are obtained from sixteen global general circulation models downscaled with different combinations of dynamical methods (WRF, RSM, and RegCM3) and statistical methods (BCSD and BCCA), although not all downscaling methods were applied to each global model. Model disagreements in the projected change in occurrence of the heaviest precipitation days (> 60 mm/day) account for the majority of disagreement in the projected change in annual precipitation, and occur preferentially over the Sierra Nevada and Northern California. When such events are excluded, nearly twice as many projections show drier future conditions.

Manufacturing Earth Hour

Canadian students are so jazzed about Earth Hour they need to be bribed to do volunteer work

In less than three weeks, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will hold its annual Earth Hour event. That event will be promoted aggressively by the lapdog – as opposed to the watchdog – media. (The largest circulation newspaper here in Canada, the Toronto Star, is once again an official Earth Hour sponsor.)

All sorts of preachy Earth Hour messages will soon be yammering in your ears and burrowing into your brain. But don’t be bamboozled. Rather than being a grassroots initiative, organized by the earnest and sincere, this is a slick, international campaign partly devised and owned by Fairfax Media Limited – a publicly-traded Australian conglomerate.

Rather than being an organic outpouring of concern for Mother Earth to which masses of people willingly donate their time, Earth Hour is highly orchestrated. For example, see this volunteer job posting at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in beautiful British Columbia.

Each full-time student at that institution pays $2 per semester to fund an organization called Sustainable SFU. What does Sustainable SFU do? For one thing, it’s in the business of recruiting Earth Hour project managers.

The three people on staff at Sustainable SFU are apparently so preoccupied with “lobbying decision makers” and “eliminating campus waste” they couldn’t possibly tack up a few Earth Hour posters on bulletin boards. Moreover, the student population is apparently so uninterested in Sustainable SFU’s goals that young people willing to donate a few hours to the Earth Hour cause are hard to come by.

Instead, the group needs to advertise. It needs to find someone who’ll formally agree to perform designated Earth Hour tasks.

Between March 1st and March 31st, this year’s project manager is expected to spend 20-28 hours “raising awareness at SFU around the Earth Hour event.” In exchange for a “letter of recommendation from the Executive Director upon completion of assigned duties.”

As a university student, I joined campus groups because I believed in certain causes. I donated my time to the activities of those groups out of a sense of community spirit. I wasn’t politically active because someone promised to reward me afterward with a letter that would help me climb the corporate ladder.

There’s a big clue here regarding Earth Hour’s essential nature. This isn’t about genuine, authentic, spontaneous expression. Instead, Earth Hour is a media event. One that is being deliberately and cynically manufactured.


A Scientist’s Misguided Crusade

From the NYT!

Last Friday, at 3:40 p.m., the State Department released its “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” for the highly contentious Keystone XL pipeline, which Canada hopes to build to move its tar sands oil to refineries in the United States. In effect, the statement said there were no environmental impediments that would prevent President Obama from approving the pipeline.

Two hours and 20 minutes later, I received a blast e-mail containing a statement by James Hansen, the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA — i.e., NASA’s chief climate scientist. “Keystone XL, if the public were to allow our well-oiled government to shepherd it into existence, would be the first step down the wrong road, perpetuating our addiction to dirty fossil fuels, moving to ever dirtier ones,” it began. After claiming that the carbon in the tar sands “exceeds that in all oil burned in human history,” Hansen’s statement concluded: “The public must demand that the government begin serving the public’s interest, not the fossil fuel industry’s interest.”

As a private citizen, Hansen, 71, has the same First Amendment rights as everyone else. He can publicly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline if he so chooses, just as he can be as politically active as he wants to be in the anti-Keystone movement, and even be arrested during protests, something he managed to do recently in front of the White House.

But the blast e-mail didn’t come from James Hansen, private citizen. It specifically identified Hansen as the head of the Goddard Institute, and went on to describe him as someone who “has drawn attention to the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed.” All of which made me wonder whether such apocalyptic pronouncements were the sort of statements a government scientist should be making — and whether they were really helping the cause of reversing climate change.

Let’s acknowledge right here that the morphing of scientists into activists is nothing new. Linus Pauling, the great chemist, was a peace activist who pushed hard for a nuclear test ban treaty. Albert Einstein also became a public opponent of nuclear weapons.

It is also important to acknowledge that Hansen has been a crucial figure in developing modern climate science. In 2009, Eileen Claussen, now the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told The New Yorker that Hansen was a “heroic” scientist who “faced all kinds of pressures politically.” Today, his body of work is one of the foundations upon which much climate science is built.

Yet what people hear from Hansen today is not so much his science but his broad, unscientific views on, say, the evils of oil companies. In 2008, he wrote a paper, the thesis of which was that runaway climate change would occur when carbon in the atmosphere reached 350 parts per million — a point it had already exceeded — unless it were quickly reduced. There are many climate change experts who disagree with this judgment — who believe that the 350 number is arbitrary and even meaningless. Yet an entire movement,, has been built around Hansen’s line in the sand.

Meanwhile, he has a department to run. For a midlevel scientist at the Goddard Institute, what signal is Hansen sending when he takes the day off to get arrested at the White House? Do his colleagues feel unfettered in their own work? There is, in fact, enormous resentment toward Hansen inside NASA, where many officials feel that their solid, analytical work on climate science is being lost in what many of them describe as “the Hansen sideshow.” His activism is not really doing any favors for the science his own subordinates are producing.

Finally, and most important, Hansen has placed all his credibility on one battle: the fight to persuade President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline. It is the wrong place for him to make a stand. Even in the unlikely event the pipeline is stopped, the tar sands oil will still be extracted and shipped. It might be harder to do without a pipeline, but it is already happening. And in the grand scheme, as I’ve written before, the tar sands oil is not a game changer. The oil we import from Venezuela today is dirtier than that from the tar sands. Not that the anti-pipeline activists seem to care.


Opposition to wind turbines in Ireland

Plans to build 2,300 wind turbines across the midlands to supply electricity to the UK were described last night at a public meeting as an “outrage”.

Local people in the Co Laois village of Ballyroan called for a moratorium on Government proposals to locate wind turbines in five midland counties until proper environmental assessments take place.

In January a memorandum of understanding between the Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte and the British secretary for energy and climate change Edward Davey was signed which could see the export of 5,000 megawatts of electricity for export to the British market. ‘Done deal’ Andrew Duncan, of the Lakeland wind farms information group, said the Government was behaving as if the decision to locate so many wind turbines in five counties was a “done deal. We are the pawns in a very large game.”

He said both Government parties were closely involved in the two companies involved in the proposals.

Local people are fearful that the turbines involved will be up to 185 metres high, higher than the Dublin Spire.

Mr Duncan said such turbines had only been seen at sea before and were “monsters”.

“It’s been planned for a long time back. You’ve got to get up and get angry,” he said.  “It is going to railroaded through the people of the midlands unless we rise up.”

Engineer Pat Swords, who is taking a case to the High Court in relation to the European Union’s attitude to renewable energy targets, said local people were entitled under the terms of the Aarhus convention to be consulted about the proposals.

He said wind energy does not work and the people of the midlands were being “sacrificed on the altar of a populist cult”.

Local resident Henry Fingleton told the meeting that both companies had been signing contracts with farmers and had i mposed a confidentiality clause on the contracts.

The proposals were already proving divisive in local communities, he claimed. Strategic infrastructure Mr Fingleton said the companies involved had been on the ground for five to six months and were “lining up their ducks in a row”. They had no reason to seek local planning permission as the wind turbines were regarded as strategic infrastructure and went straight to An Bord Pleanála.

He read a letter from an elderly Roscommon couple whose lives had been made a misery by living within 700 metres of a wind turbine.

Mr Fingleton said it had been established beyond doubt that turbines created a low frequency noise which was detrimental to those living close to them.

He expressed puzzlement at the decision to locate so many wind turbines in the midlands, which did not have the highest wind speeds in Ireland. He said there might be a perception that midlands people were a “soft touch” and the area had no big tourism infrastructure. “We’re nice and we just get on,” he said.

Colm Fingleton from the Ratheniska, Timahoe and Spink (RTA) sub-station action group said the new sub station being built by Eirgrid was going to be used as a midland hub f or renewables, which was never discussed during public consultations.

“We asked them why they are building a facility that would power Dublin, but Eirgrid wouldn’t tell us,” he said.


Our real manmade climate crisis  

The crisis is due not to climate change, but to actions taken in the name of preventing change

Paul Driessen

In his first address as Secretary of State, John Kerry said we must safeguard “the most sacred trust” we owe to our children and grandchildren: “an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.”

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and British Meteorological Office now recognize that average global temperatures haven’t budged in almost 17 years. Little evidence suggests that sea level rise, storms, droughts, polar ice or other weather and climate events and trends display any statistically significant difference from what Earth and mankind have experienced over the last 100-plus years.

However, we do face imminent manmade climate disasters. Global warming is the greatest moral issue of our time. We must do all we can to prevent looming climate catastrophes.

But those cataclysms have nothing to do with alleged human contributions to planetary climate systems that have always been chaotic, unpredictable and often disastrous: ice ages, little ice ages, dust bowls, droughts and monster storms that ravaged and sometimes even toppled cities and civilizations.

Our real climate crisis is our responses to Mr. Kerry’s illusory crises. It takes four closely related forms.

Influence peddling. Over the past three years, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center alone poured $335 million into environmentalist climate campaigns, and $1 billion into green lobbies at large, notes Undue Influence author Ron Arnold. Major US donors gave $199 million to Canadian environmental groups just for anti-oil sands and Keystone pipeline battles during the last twelve years, analysts Vivian Krause and Brian Seasholes estimate; the Tides Foundation poured $10 million into these battles during 2009-2012.

All told, US foundations alone have “invested” over $797 million in environmentalist climate campaigns since 2000! And over $19.3 billion in “environmental” efforts since 1995, Arnold calculates! Add to that the tens of billions that environmental activist groups, universities and other organizations have received from individual donors, corporations and government agencies to promote “manmade climate disaster” theories – and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Moreover, that’s just US cash. It doesn’t include EU, UN and other climate cataclysm contributions. Nor does it include US or global spending on wind, solar, biofuel and other “renewable” energy schemes. That this money has caused widespread pernicious and corrupting effects should surprise no one.

Politicized science, markets and ethics. The corrupting cash has feathered careers, supported entire departments, companies and industries, and sullied our political, economic and ethical systems. It has taken countless billions out of productive sectors of our economy, and given it to politically connected, politically correct institutions that promote climate alarmism and renewable energy (and which use some of this crony capitalist taxpayer and consumer cash to help reelect their political sponsors).

Toe the line – pocket the cash, bask in the limelight. Question the dogma – get vilified, harassed and even dismissed from university or state climatologist positions for threatening the grants pipeline.

The system has replaced honest, robust, evidence-based, peer-reviewed science with pseudo-science based on activism, computer models, doctored data, “pal reviews,” press releases and other chicanery that resulted in Climategate, IPCC exposés, and growing outrage. Practitioners of these dark sciences almost never debate climate disaster deniers or skeptics; climate millionaire Al Gore won’t even take questions that he has not preapproved; and colleges have become centers for “socially responsible investing” campaigns  based on climate chaos, “sustainable development” and anti-hydrocarbon ideologies.

Increasingly powerful, well-funded, unelected and unaccountable activist groups and bureaucracies use manmade global warming claims to impose regulations that bypass legislatures and ignore job and economic considerations. They employ sweetheart lawsuits that let activists and agencies agree to legally binding agreements that leave out the parties who will actually be impacted by the court decisions.

The green behemoth wields increasing power over nearly every aspect of our lives and liberties, with no accountability for screw-ups or even deliberate harm to large segments of our population. All in the name of controlling Earth’s temperature and preventing climate change

Climate eco-imperialism impoverishes and kills. Climate alarmism and pseudo science have justified all manner of regulations, carbon trading, carbon taxes, renewable energy programs and other initiatives that increase the cost of everything we make, grow, ship, eat, heat, cool, wear and do – and thus impair job creation, economic growth, living standards, health, welfare and ecological values.

Excessive EPA rules have closed numerous coal-fired power plants, and the agency plans to regulate most of the US hydrocarbon-based economy by restricting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, generating plants, cement kilns, factories, malls, hospitals and other “significant” sources. Were it not for the hydraulic fracturing revolution that has made natural gas and gas-fired generation abundant and cheap, US electricity prices would be skyrocketing – just as they have in Britain and Germany.

EU papers carry almost daily articles about fuel poverty, potential blackouts, outsourcing, job losses, economic malaise and despair, and deforestation for fire wood in those and other European countries, due to their focus on climate alarmism and “green” energy. California electricity prices are already highest in USA, thanks to its EU-style programs. The alarms are misplaced, the programs do nothing to reduce Chinese, Indian or global emissions, and renewable energy is hardly eco-friendly or sustainable.

Wind energy requires perpetual subsidies and “backup” fossil fuel power plants that actually produce 80% of the electricity attributed to wind, and blankets wildlife habitats with turbines and transmission lines that kill millions of birds and bats every year. In fact, industrial wind facilities remain viable only because they are exempted from many environmental review, wildlife and bird protection laws that are enforced with heavy penalties for all other industries. Solar smothers habitats with glossy panels, and biofuels divert crops and cropland to replace fuels that we have in abundance but refuse to develop.

Now climate activists and EPA want to regulate fracking for gas that was once their preferred option.

By far the worst climate crisis, however, is eco-imperialism perpetrated against African and other poor nations. When their country was building a new power plant that would burn natural gas that previously was wasted through “flaring,” President Obama told Ghanaians they should use their “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy, instead of fossil fuels that threaten us with dangerous global warming. Meanwhile, his Administration refused to support loans for South Africa’s critically needed, state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant, which the Center for American Progress, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and other radical groups stridently opposed.

The actions ignored both the livelihoods and living standards that electricity has brought the world, and the millions of deaths from lung infections and intestinal diseases that these power plants would prevent.

Ready-made excuse for incompetence. Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy proved how “dangerous manmade climate change” can give politicians a handy excuse for ill-considered development decisions that increase storm and flood risk, failure to prepare their communities for inevitable severe weather events, misleading storm warnings, and slow or incompetent responses in their aftermath. Blaming carbon dioxide emissions and rising seas is always easier than manning up and shouldering the blame for Bloombergian failures. Citing IPCC computer forecasts of nastier storms and flooded coastlines likewise gives insurers a convenient excuse for hiking insurance rates.

When the conversation next turns to climate change, discussing the real climate crisis – and the true meaning of environmental justice – could open a few eyes.

Via email



Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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