Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Second-string 'Hockey Team'
By Gordon J. Fulks [email@example.com]. Fulks holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago, Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research. He refers below to an attack on Don Easterbrook by Warmist pinheads at Western Washington University
The ongoing battle over Global Warming with Western Washington University geology professors has been fascinating for what it reveals about second tier supporters of the apocalypse who have backgrounds in science but not in climate science.
These are not the knowledgeable first string players on the 'Hockey Team,' working together to manipulate climate data and keep opponents from challenging them in the scientific journals, as Climategate revealed. There are no Michael Manns, no Phil Jones, no Gavin Schmidts, and no James Hansens here. These are the Inspector Clouseaus of the climate clique, the suave but hopeless practitioners of bumbling politicized science.
What distinguishes them from the Great Global Warming Guru James Hansen? The most obvious thing about Hansen is that he can discuss a wide range of topics related to Global Warming and display considerable scientific insight. He does not resort to popular political tactics based on consensus, authority, or belief. For instance, he and I agree about the lack of global warming for more than a decade, about Milankovitch cycles, nuclear power, and radiation safety.
He even uses a temperature reconstruction of this Holocene interglacial period similar to what I prefer. It shows the gradual average temperature decline over the last few thousand years as we sink toward the next ice age.
We also agree that ethanol-based motor fuel is a carbon reduction scam that needs to be abandoned. I chuckled with him about the difficulties he must face coming from Iowa where government-subsidized corn ethanol is very popular among those making money from it.
Had we gotten into a detailed discussion of carbon dioxide, we would have disagreed substantially. But that would have involved questions of 'climate sensitivity' where he is completely aware of the need to invoke an amplification from water vapor, because CO2 alone lacks sufficient horsepower.
Perhaps it was the wine or the fact that we are both astrophysicists that kept things constructive. Clearly, neither of us wanted to fall into the black hole of scientific nonsense, even though our disagreements about a climate catastrophe are profound.
The Professor Clouseaus from WWU are a world apart. Gone is the congenial atmosphere and discussion among colleagues where the objective is to find common ground before addressing difficult questions. These professors are going for a knockout blow against 'deniers' whom they equate with cranks.
Emeritus Professor of Geology Don Easterbrook was their lone crank, until I came along. Then there were two!
When I pointed out that many well-known physicists have views similar to mine, they supposed that physicists do not understand the complexities of climate, as they do. “FINE,” I said, “Show me!” “Let's have a seminar at WWU.”
That precipitated panic and retreat with a helpful twist. One professor admitted to an insufficient knowledge of climate science to argue with me. But just as one blunder after another never discouraged Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther, Professor Clouseau (played in this case by Dave Hirsch) was sure that 'consensus' is the way we properly do things in science.
Oh, really? The geological establishment has been famous for clinging to the majority opinion even when it is no longer scientifically viable and consequently being wrong time after time. One prominent example involves J. Harlen Bretz, once a high school biology teacher from Seattle, who proposed that the unusual geology of Eastern Washington was caused by catastrophic floods from an ice age lake in Montana and not by gradual erosion over millions of years. He spectacularly prevailed over the 'consensus' with convincing logic and evidence.
Similarly, the concept of 'continental drift' overcame stiff establishment resistance to become the present paradigm.
In 1905 a little Jewish man who was but a clerk in a patent office challenged the perception that Classical Physics was 'settled.' He recognized that the two hundred year old theory of Newtonian Mechanics had to be significantly modified to keep Maxwell's equations unchanged in a moving frame.
Although popular opinion quickly embraced Albert Einstein, he was content to wait decades for the necessary physical evidence to back up his new concepts of space, time, and gravity. To no surprise, Einstein understood how science works.
The Professor Clouseaus at WWU fall flat with their attempts to short circuit the scientific method using 'consensus.' If they want to legitimately participate in climate discussions, they should learn something about this topic and discuss it with their peers, including physicists.
Although many scientists seek assistance in understanding complex topics by consulting the most informed among us (like Don Easterbrook), the bottom line still comes down to the best 'logic and evidence.' All else is a sideshow.
The Psychology of Groupthink on Climate Change Hysteria
Most sensible people who are not financially dependent upon the climate change grave train are sensible enough to fully realise man cannot control climate and extreme weather. Yet, incredible though it may seem, there still remain some, who are otherwise intelligent, who still believe the claims of reversible impending human caused climatic destruction of the entire globe. How can this be? What drives people to cling to such strange and extreme beliefs?
The overwhelming need for many individuals to blindly and unquestioningly follow others is commonly known as ‘mob mentality’, ‘herd mentality’ or ‘groupthink’. Groupthink has been described thus: “It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints.”
Clearly, groupthink is a manifestation of consensus thinking and blind adherence to peer group pressure irrespective of the facts or consequences. Indeed, eight symptoms of groupthink have been established which highlight this abandonment of rational judgement:
* Illusion of invulnerability – Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
* Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
* Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
* Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
* Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
* Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
* Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
* Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.
The consensus nature of groupthink and the collective rigidity and irrationality of their attitudes may result in extreme measures to preserve the consensus, even to the point of attacking any who disagree and perceiving them to be enemies who must be silenced:
“Mob mentality is similar to groupthink and spiral of silence. Groupthink is a communication theory and term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972). It occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9).
Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups…….
It’s symptoms include the illusion of invulnerability. This illusion creates a belief in inherent morality and superiority and in the rightness of their cause. Members in a groupthink atmosphere ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions; they hold a stereotyped views of out-groups, i.e. they hold a negative view of outsiders as the “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
They put a direct pressure on dissenters and are put under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. Members censor themselves, which is a major symptom of spiral of silence and those in the group, particularly the leader have created and illusion of unanimity.
Each group has self-appointed gatekeepers, i.e., members who protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and decisions……….
Groups engaging in groupthink do not allow dissenting voices and are prone to fanatical and dangerous coercion methods……….
A government practicing groupthink and the perpetuation of propaganda to control its citizens is demonstrated in communist countries such as North Korea (Cummings, 2009; Kim, Han, Shanahan, & Berdayes, 2004). The closed regime of Kim Jong Il censors and controls the state-run media and uses propaganda to suppress its citizens by not promoting free-thinking and questioning authority and an unwillingness to voice opposing opinions.”
Climate Change Hysteria and Groupthink
From the above, the connection between climate change hysteria and groupthink is blindingly obvious. This connection has been noted by Paul MacRae, who comments:
“But it’s baffling that alarmist climate scientists are so certain that additional carbon dioxide will produce a climate disaster, even though there is little empirical evidence to support this view, and much evidence against it, including a decade of non-warming. This dogmatism makes it clear, at least to those outside the alarmist climate paradigm, that something is very wrong with the state of “consensus” climate science.
There are many possible reasons for this scientific blindness, including sheer financial and career self-interest: scientists who don’t accept the alarmist paradigm will lose research grants and career doors will be closed to them.
But one psychological diagnosis fits alarmist climate science like a glove: groupthink. With groupthink, we get the best explanation of “how can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong………….
It’s obvious that alarmist climate science—as explicitly and extensively revealed in the Climatic Research Unit’s “Climategate” emails—shares all of these defects of groupthink, including a huge emphasis on maintaining consensus, a sense that because they are saving the world, alarmist climate scientists are beyond the normal moral constraints of scientific honesty (“overestimation of the group’s power and morality”), and vilification of those (“deniers”) who don’t share the consensus………….
Climate scientists who dare to deviate from the consensus are censured as “deniers”—a choice of terminology that can only be described as odious. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explicitly aims for “consensus” in its reports—it does not publish minority reports, and yet it is impossible that its alleged more than “2,000 scientists” could completely agree on a subject as complicated as climate.
Climate alarmists will, of course, angrily dispute that climate science groupthink is as strong as claimed here. However, groupthink is clearly identified in the 2006 Wegman report into the Michael Mann hockey stick controversy. The Wegman report was commissioned by the U.S. House Science Committee after Mann refused to release all the data leading to the hockey stick conclusions, conclusions that eliminated the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in order to show today’s warming as unprecedented.
In fact, as mathematician Steve McIntyre discovered after years of FOI requests, the calculations in Mann’s paper had not been checked by the paper’s peer reviewers and were, in fact, wrong.
The National Academy of Sciences committee, led by Dr. Edward Wegman, an expert on statistics, identified one of the reasons why Mann’s paper was so sloppily peer-reviewed as follows:
"There is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility."
In other words, alarmist climate scientists are part of an exclusive group that talks mainly with itself and avoids groups that don’t share the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis and alarmist political agenda. Overall, Wegman is describing with great precision a science community whose conclusions have been distorted and polarized by groupthink.”
"In short, it is clear that groupthink—a later, more scientific word for “tribalism”—is strongly at work within alarmist climate science, however much the affected scientists refuse to recognize it.
As a result of tribalism (groupthink), alarmist climate science makes assertions that are often extreme (polarized), including the explicit or implicit endorsement of claims that global warming will lead to “oblivion,” “thermageddon,” mass extinctions, and the like. Indeed, one of the ironies of climate science is that extremist AGW believers like Gore, Hansen and Schneider have succeeded in persuading the media and public that those who don’t make grandiose claims, the skeptics, are the extremists.
Group polarization offers a rational explanation for extreme alarmist claims, given that the empirical scientific evidence is simply not strong enough to merit such confidence. It is likely that even intelligent, highly educated scientists have been caught in what has been called the “madness of crowds.” Indeed, writing in the Times Higher Education magazine, British philosopher Martin Cohen makes this connection explicit:
"Is belief in global-warming science another example of the “madness of crowds”? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible “authority”. Could it *belief in human-caused, catastrophic global warming] indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality?"
There is strong psychological evidence that alarmist fears of climate change are far more the result of groupthink and the group polarization process than scientific evidence and, yes, this alarmist groupthink has indeed led to the triumph of irrationality over reason.”
North Dakota Builds A Refinery, First In The U.S. Since '76
The U.S. has not opened a new oil refinery since Gerald Ford was in the White House. But that will change next year. So where will the next facility be? In North Dakota, where the locals aren't afraid to drill.
When the Dakota Prairie refinery west of Bismarck, N.D., starts turning crude into usable — and essential — products in 2014, it will be the first to open in America since 1976. This probably isn't what the green-energy president wants to have happen on his watch.
But he can't step on the refinery as he has the Keystone XL pipeline, so he'll have to live with it.
America's future as the global fossil-fuel king is a reality while Barack Obama's green economy is simply a fantasy. Fracking on nonfederal land has turned the U.S. into the top petroleum-producing country in the world, having passed Saudi Arabia in late 2012.
A British Petroleum report issued earlier this year said America is likely to hold the top spot for a decade.
The future is not only in conventional wells but in the fracking revolution that's pumping oil from shale in Eagle Ford of South Texas, the Marcellus formation of the Allegheny Plateau and the Monterey deposit in California.
And then there's the Bakken formation in North Dakota, where bountiful production has made the Dakota Prairie refinery — and three others in the planning stages — a necessity. The heavy equipment used in the oilfields needs a nearby source of fuel that the refinery will provide.
While much of the country is mired in joblessness, oil-flush North Dakota has openings to fill. The unemployment rate is 3.2%, the lowest in the country.
In the 12 counties located in the Bakken region — where employment has increased by 60% since 2009 — the jobless rate was 1.8% at the end of last year.
Each oil rig of the more than 200 in the area employs about 120 workers while pipe-laying and other infrastructure jobs employ thousands more.
Then there are the spinoff jobs created by businesses that provide the goods and services the growing worker population needs.
Pay has increased, as well. Average weekly wages in the Bakken region have risen 40% since 2009.
Simply put, the Obama economy isn't stumbling along in North Dakota as it is in much of the rest of the country. The good citizens should feel blessed he isn't their governor.
An end to zombie politics needed
When Tony Blair signed up for Kyoto, it was a cost-free policy for the UK as it coincided with the “dash for gas” which he inherited. But our adherence to Kyoto targets isn’t cost-free any more. Now we are subsidising wind-farms, solar energy etc so that the UK average energy bill has risen by 18% for this reason alone.
On 8 February, Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading posted a graph, subsequently globally anthologised, drawing attention to the mismatch between climate change models and some seventeen years without measurable climate warming. To be fair, the meaning of the graph is contested, with diehard proponents of classical “Anthropogenic Global Warming” (AGW) spluttering that it is premature to make much of the statistical meaning of the recent figures; or that the warming is taking place under the sea where we can’t measure it.
This is weak stuff: contrary to the campaigners the science turns out to be far from settled; indeed by the tests climate practitioners have set themselves their predictions are falling apart. Honest scientists are now revisiting their theories and models.
So let the Prime Minister launch a Royal Commission to revisit the evidence, modelling and consequent policy. The composition of such a Commission would have to be carefully chosen to ensure balance. The public interest needs statisticians and scientists from outside the hermetic world of “climate science” to challenge insiders robustly and in full view. Also in the interests of transparency, the DPP should seize data such as papers from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia for examination by forensic statisticians. The Commission should be given ample time to get it right - five years at least.
Over the period of its review the Government should suspend surcharges on energy bills, subsidies to energy suppliers or technologies, and generally the obligations of the Secretary of State for Energy under the Climate Change Act (2008).
We may expect the Liberal Democrats to object, but they may not want to stand in the way of a good-faith re-examination of the evidence. If they do, they have handed the Tories a priceless wedge issue for 2015.
EPA’s Tier 3 tyranny
High cost, no benefit does nothing to forestall agency’s quest for ecological utopia
President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has already promulgated a tsunami of 1,920 regulations, many of which will bring few health or environmental benefits, but will impose high economic and unemployment costs, often to advance the Administration’s decidedly anti-hydrocarbon agenda. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that his EPA’s twenty “major” rulemaking decisions (costing $100 million or more annually) alone could cost the United States over $36 billion per year.
The latest example involves a third layer (or tier) of rules that the agency says will clean the nation’s air and save lives, by forcing refineries to remove more sulfur and other impurities from gasoline. EPA and refiners call the proposal Tier 3 rulemaking. Tier 3 tyranny is more accurate – as the rules would cost billions of dollars but bring infinitesimal benefits, and will likely be imposed regardless.
Since 1970, America’s cars have eliminated some 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes. “Today's cars are essentially zero-emission vehicles, compared to 1970 models,” says air pollution expert Joel Schwartz, co-author of Air Quality in America.
In addition, he notes, more recent models start out cleaner and stay cleaner throughout their lives. “As a result, fleet turnover has been reducing on-road emissions by an average of about 8 to10 percent per year.” Over time, that has brought tremendously improved air quality, and continues to do so.
Moreover, since 2004, under Tier 1 and 2 rules, refiners have reduced sulfur in gasoline from an average of 300 ppm to 30 ppm – a 90% drop, on top of previous reductions. Those benefits are likewise ongoing. Using EPA’s own computer models and standards, a recent ENVIRON International study concluded that “large benefits in ground-level ozone concentrations will have accrued by 2022 as a direct result” of Tier 1 and Tier 2 emission standards and lower gasoline sulfur levels” that are already required by regulation.
By 2022, those existing emission reduction requirements will slash volatile organic pollutants by a further 62%, carbon monoxide by another 51% and nitrous oxides 80% more – beyond reductions achieved between 1970 and 2004.
But even this is not enough for EPA, which now wants sulfur levels slashed to 10 ppm – even though the agency’s models demonstrate that Tier 3 rules, on top of these earlier and ongoing reductions, would bring essentially zero air quality or health benefits.
Viewed another way, further Tier 3 improvements would amount to reduced monthly ozone levels of only 1.2 parts per billion (peak levels) to 0.5 ppb (average levels). These minuscule improvements (equivalent to 5-12 cents out of $100 million) could not even have been measured by equipment existing a couple decades ago. Their contribution to improved human health would be essentially zero
To achieve those zero benefits, the new Tier 3 standards would cost $10 billion in upfront capital expenditures and an additional $2.4 billion in annual compliance expenses, the American Petroleum Institute says. The sulfur rules will raise the price of gasoline by 6-9 cents a gallon, on top of new fuel tax hikes and gasoline prices that have rocketed from $1.79 to $3.68 per gallon of regular unleaded over the past four years. These and other hikes will ripple throughout the economy, affecting commuting and shipping, the cost of goods and services, the price of travel and vacations. (White House and EPA officials claim the Tier 3 rules would only add only a penny per gallon to gasoline costs, but that is highly dubious.)
EPA believes the additional sulfur reductions are technologically possible. Its attitude seems to be, if it can be done, we will require it, no matter how high the cost, or how minimal the benefits.
Citizens need to tell EPA: “The huge improvements to date are enough for now. We have other crucial health, environmental, employment and economic problems to solve – which also affect human health and welfare. We don’t have the financial, human or technological resources to do it all – especially to waste billions on something where the quantifiable health benefits payback is minimal, or even zero.”
Moreover, there are better ways to reduce traffic-related urban air pollution. Improve traffic light sequencing, to speed traffic flow, save fuel, and reduce idling, emissions, driver stress and accidents, for example. That’s where our efforts should be concentrated.
Another basic problem is that EPA always assumes there is no safe threshold level for pollutants – and pollution must always and constantly be ratcheted downward, eventually to zero, regardless of cost.
This flies in the face of what any competent epidemiologist knows: the dose makes the poison. There is a point below which a chemical is not harmful. There are even chemicals which at low or trace quantities are essential to proper operation of our muscular, brain and other bodily functions – but at higher doses can be poisonous. There are also low-level chemical, radiation and pathogen exposures that actually safeguard our bodies from cancer, illness and other damage, in a process known as hormesis.
Even worse, this Tier 3 tyranny is on top of other highly suspect EPA actions. The agency has conducted illegal experiments on humans, used secret email accounts to hide collaborations with radical environmentalist groups, and implemented 54.5 mpg vehicle mileage standards that will maim and kill thousands more people every year, by forcing them into smaller, lighter, less safe cars.
EPA also expanded the ethanol mandate to promote corn-based E15 fuels (15% ethanol in gasoline). That means we must turn even more food into fuel, to replace hydrocarbons that we again have in abundance (thanks to fracking and other new technologies) but our government won’t allow us to develop, and to substitute for cellulosic ethanol that doesn’t exist (but EPA tells refiners they must use anyway). So corn farmers get rich, while consumers pay more for gasoline, meat, fish, eggs, poultry and other products.
The agency is also waging war on coal, automobiles and the Keystone XL pipeline – based on assertions that carbon dioxide emissions are causing “dangerous manmade global warming.” Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, British Meteorological Office, and many once alarmist scientists now acknowledge that average planetary temperatures have not budged in 16 years, and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and sea level rise have shown no statistically significant variation from century-long averages – even as CO2 levels have “soared” to 395 ppm (0.0395% of Earth’s atmosphere). True scientists increasingly recognize solar and other complex, interconnected natural forces as the primary drivers of Earth’s ever changing and unpredictable weather and climate.
These inconvenient truths have apparently had no effect on Administration thinking. Perhaps rising indoor CO2 emissions from larger EPA and White House staffs have “weirded” their thinking. The EPA’s yellow brick road to Eco-Utopia is not one our nation should travel. It will not take us to an economic recovery, more jobs, a cleaner environment, or improved human safety, health and welfare.
Nothing in the Clean Air Act says EPA needs to promulgate these rules. But nothing says it can’t do so. It’s largely discretionary, and this Administration is determined to “interpret” the science and use its executive authority to restrict and penalize hydrocarbon use – and “fundamentally transform” America.
EPA administrator nominee Gina McCarthy says EPA will “consider” industry and other suggestions that it revise greenhouse gas and other proposed rules. However, neither she nor the President has said they will modify or moderate any policies or proposals, or retreat from their climate change agenda.
We are desperately in need of science-based legislative standards, commonsense regulatory actions, and adult supervision by Congress and the courts. Unfortunately, that is not likely to be forthcoming anytime soon, and neither Republican Senators nor the House of Representatives seem to have the power, attention span or spine to do what is necessary. Where this all will end is therefore anyone’s guess.
Australia: Conservative State (Qld.) government rolls back Greenie tree-clearing laws
THE largest rollback of environmental protection in Australia's history is under way as the State Government waters down vegetation protection laws.
If an amendment Bill passes through Parliament in its current form, it will become legal to clear regrowth habitat for koalas, endangered mahogany gliders and cassowaries.
This is despite a written commitment from Premier Campbell Newman to conservation group World Wildlife Fund before the last election, saying he would "retrain the ... current level of vegetation protection".
WWF spokesman Nick Heath said yesterday there was no record of any government winding back laws to such a degree. "This is a clear breach of Newman's commitment," he said.
"If the amendments pass, 700,000ha of endangered forest could be cleared. This would accelerate the extinction of animals in regrowth areas."
Mr Cripps, who will make a speech to the Rural Press Club today entitled "Taking the axe to Queensland's tree clearing laws", said amendments supported agricultural growth, while retaining environment protections.
"Twenty years of Labor Government had allowed the pendulum to swing too far towards extreme green policies at the expense of jobs in rural and regional communities," he said.
Before laws were introduced in 1999, more than 750,000ha a year was cleared, mostly for pasture. This was reduced to 77,590ha in 2009-10.
Greens spokeswoman Larissa Waters said amendments weakened rules to allow some farmers to assess their own clearing.
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Posted by JR at 7:06 PM