Thursday, April 11, 2013

Warmer summers now?  An amusing bit of cherrypicking

Anybody wondering why they went back only 600 years for comparisons?  Easy-peasy:  They avoid the Medieval Warm Period that way.  There's no such thing as an honest Warmist.  There probably was once but not in the present era of climate stasis

SUMMERS in the northern hemisphere are now warmer than at any period in six centuries, according to climate research published in the science journal Nature.

Harvard University researchers analysing evidence from Arctic tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and thermometer records said recent warm temperature extremes in high northern latitudes "are unprecedented in the past 600 years" both for magnitude and frequency.

"The summers of 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011 were warmer than those of all prior years back to 1400," they reported in the journal published on Wednesday.

"The summer of 2010 was the warmest in the previous 600 years in western Russia and probably the warmest in western Greenland and the Canadian Arctic as well," they said.

"These and other recent extremes greatly exceed those expected from a stationary climate."


Munich Re are liars too

Some excerpts from Pielke Jr.

Last October Munich Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies, issued a press release in which they made a remarkable claim about a new study of normalized economic losses related to thunderstorms in the United States:

"In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades."

To date no studies of economic losses associated with weather events have successfully identified a signal of human-caused climate change in loss data. This conclusion was underscored by the IPCC which surveyed the literature and concluded in its 2012 Special Report on Extreme Events that "Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded."

The claimed discovery was thus of tremendous significance. But fantastic claims before peer review deserve, as Andy Revkin has warned, caution.

Munich Re did prepare a report (which was not made readily available) in conjunction with its press release, but no peer reviewed paper. They later promised that peer reviewed support for the claim would soon be forthcoming:

"[Ernst] Rauch [head of Munich Re's Climate Center] said Munich Re researchers have submitted a paper for peer review that shows how climate change is resulting in intensifying storms in the United States. The forthcoming study, he says, points for one of the first times "toward an attribution of climate change to losses."

This week, the promised study -- Sander et al. 2013, hereafter SEFS13 -- was published in the journal Weather, Climate and Society of the American Meteorological Society.

As one looks a little bit closer at the public representations made by Munich Re about the paper and the paper itself, one quickly finds -- as is all too common in climate science -- that the strong public claims simply cannot be supported by the actual research, and the paper suffers from an obvious fatal error. Let's have a look.

The further one reads into the press release the further it deviates from the claim expressed in its title. The paper says the following about attribution of loss trends:

"[A] high probability is assigned to climatic variations primarily driving the changes in normalized losses since 1970. Due to the chosen methodology, the current study has not been able to conclusively attribute the variability in severe thunderstorm forcing situations and losses to either natural climate variability or anthropogenic climate change."

Got that? The paper says nothing conclusive about attribution. It is not an "initial climate change footprint." It does not support the claim that "climate change effects increasingly influencing US thunderstorm losses."

In fact, the paper says much the opposite: attribution of losses to climate change was not achieved in the paper. Perhaps the media is getting wise to these games, because there has been almost no media coverage of the sensational claim trumpeted in the headline of the press release put out a few days ago -- a claim, which if it were correct, would deserve broad coverage.

But it gets worse.

The paper argues that the causal mechanism leading to greater thunderstorm variability is the frequent claim that it is the consequence of an atmosphere holding more water vapor:

"Trapp et al. (2007, 2009) have found that climate-model-based projections display indications of a regime in which increasing specific humidity (as the main contributor to increasing CAPEml over time) increases the annual frequency of severe thunderstorm environments (defined by the product of CAPEml and DLS) in a transient climate model experiment since 1950."

The paper further explains:

"As a precondition of rising CAPEml, monthly observations of near surface specific humidity during the period 1973–1999 (HadCRUH, Peterson et al. 2011) show a clear increase in the Northern Hemisphere. In eastern North America this increase equals 3.6 (±2.7) %. This was shown to be in coarse statistical agreement with the results from (anthropogenically forced) GCM runs over this period (Willett et al. 2010)."

It is here where the reader of the paper might find themself being taken for a fool.

Willett et al. 2010, the source cited by SEFS13, provides estimates for changes in "near surface specific humidity" for a large number of regions around the world

Eastern North America, which is cited explicitly in SEFS13, is found where you would expect it and is labelled ENA. You might wonder why SEFS13 did not say anything about CNA- Central North America, which is otherwise known as "tornado alley.". I sure did.

You can clearly see that the vast majority of normalized US thunderstorm losses actually occurs in Central North America -- CNA. This conclusion is insensitive to small errors in the mapping of the CNA region onto SEFS13 Figure 1.

So, what do Willetts et al. 2010 actually say about changes in "near surface specific humidity" in the CNA region 1973-1999?

It is not hard to find as it appears in the same table as the ENA data which was reported by SEFS13. In fact, it appears in the row just above. It says that there has been no change in "near surface specific humidity" in Central North America 1973 to 1999. The numbers are 1.9 (±4.1) %. Surprised?

So let's recap:

Munich Re claimed to have discovered the first "climate change footprint" in economic loss data.

That was incorrect.

Munich Re claimed in the headline of the press released announcing SEFS13 that "climate change effects increasingly influencing US thunderstorms."

That turns out not to be supported by the paper, which actually concludes the opposite.

SEFS13 argues a causal mechanism between increasing humidity, thunderstorm variability and by extension, to normalized losses.

The paper fails to report that in the region where most US thunderstorm activity and damage has occurred, the data shows no change in humidity 1973 to 1999 -- undercutting its core argument.

The paper reports data for an accompanying region where there has been an increase in humidity, but very few losses.

Misleading public claims. An over-hyped press release. A paper which neglects to include materially relevant and contradictory information central to its core argument. All in all, just a normal day in climate science!


Greedy green land grabbers

“Clean Development Mechanism” schemes drive out African villagers for “carbon offset” profits

Ron Arnold

On Sunday, February 28, 2010, armed troops evicted villagers in Uganda’s Mubende district, to make way for a tree plantation. The troops were acting on behalf of a British forestry company that claims it fights global warming. The trees will supposedly absorb carbon dioxide, so that carbon-credits can be sold to transnational polluters, to stave off “dangerous manmade climate change and disruption.”

Long-time villagers in thriving communities were beaten by gun-toting soldiers who burned homes, destroyed crops and butchered livestock. Eight-year-old Friday Mukamperezida was sick in bed at home and was burned to death, while his mother was out getting medicine for the boy. Olivia Mukamperezida, the mother, was on her errand when she ran into friends who frantically told her to get home fast. When she got there, the house was sputtering to ashes. “I just cried,” she told a reporter. She buried her son’s bones, but isn’t sure if the grave is still there, now that the forest company planted its trees.

These are among the charges contained in a civil suit filed by 1,489 Mubende claimants in the High Court of Uganda at Nakawa. A report by the British group Oxfam corroborates the claims. The New York Times and other media outlets reported the story.

New Forests Company, the London-based carbon credit seller, denies the claims and says the settlers living in its leased land in the Namwasa and Luwunga Forest Reserves were illegally trespassing transients, who left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner. In 2005, the government of Uganda had granted NFC a 50-year license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests – non-native, water-hungry, invasive species – in three districts of one of the world’s poorest nations, which desperately needs the fees and taxes.

NFC has attracted investment from international banks and private equity funds since 2008. The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU’s financing institution, has loaned NFC five million Euros ($6.5 million) to expand one of its Ugandan plantations. Oxfam assessed NFC with puzzlement:

“It has economic power, professional expertise, and close political support. It has a hands-on chief executive with local knowledge and ethical credentials. The company and its investors have clear environmental and social standards they commit to uphold, and corporate social responsibility and accountability principles are embedded at the heart of its operations.

“Given all this, how is it possible that thousands of people in affected communities have alleged that land clearances, which have taken place to make way for NFC’s operations in Uganda, have been accompanied by distress and violence, and have left many in a state of poverty?”

NFC posted its response to Oxfam, arguing that the encroachers are “illegally occupying land leased to an independent third party, NFC.” It relies upon an “extensive and exhaustive government-driven authentication process,” which it says confirmed that only 31 families on the Namwasa Reserve, and none in the Luwunga reserve, had legal rights to remain on the land. It insists that it is respecting the rights of these families and that dealing with “illegal” settlers is solely at the discretion of the NFC, which regards the thousands of others who were living on the land as “illegal encroachers” who do not have a legitimate claim to compensation.

The evictions were legal, within the letter of the law, NFC maintains. However, the villagers had won a temporary injunction in 2009, ordering the evictions stopped, though they were given a deadline to vacate company premises under police surveillance. The deadline was February 28, 2010, and NFC enforced it immediately. The horrifying events of that day became part of court filings seeking compensation.

New Forests operates projects in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda, where its combined deals total around 222,000 acres. In its defense, it said it runs education, health and income-generating programs with local communities. In Uganda, it says, it has built school rooms, health clinics, wells and latrines, and runs literacy programs, while out-sourcing some tasks to local businesses.

I asked my young Ugandan friend, Steven Lyasi, to see what he could find out locally. He sent a mountain of news clips showing that New Forests Company enjoys an excellent reputation with the national government, in media and environmental circles, and is backed by deep-pocket investors, including the World Bank. It wants to tap an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol and its successors. Some of Al Gore’s millions came from that Enron-like paper “market.” The company says it could earn up to $1.8 million a year.

The Uganda government issued a rebuttal of the Oxfam report, Clarification by Govt of Uganda Regarding the Case Study by OXFAM.
All this is legal, but is it right? Absolutely not, says a growing body of professionals who blame corrupt climate science, avaricious profit seekers, and a soul-less, pitiless bureaucratic machine.

British geographer David Harvey calls the process “accumulation by dispossession,” the result of a Kyoto Protocol program called the “Clean Development Mechanism.” The CDM provides for emissions reduction projects that generate “Certified Emission Reduction” units (CERs), which may be marketed in government-approved emission trading schemes – based on the increasingly dubious assumption that CO2 causes runaway global warming. The CDM legalizes the purchase of CERS by industrialized countries and allows companies to invest in emission reduction projects that are cheapest globally.

But they are cheapest only for the investors and their operations. For the people who live on the land they covet, the price is everything they own and possess. In the private sector this would be called a Ponzi scheme. In government circles it’s called saving the planet. The new critics call it “Green Grabbing.”

This hideous new imperialism has become a global ignominy that thankfully is now being tracked by professionals, who evaluated it last year in the British peer-reviewed Journal of Peasant Studies.

A special issue, “Green Grabbing: A new appropriation of nature?” revealed some of the forces behind green land grabs like those in Uganda. “Things green have become big business.” They require “the construction and perpetuation of a sense of crisis,” the analysts explain. “There would be no carbon-trading without the science-policy discourses that have discerned global warming.”

As the New York Times reported, “Development experts say there is a dark side to some ostensibly ‘green’ market initiatives: the appropriation of resources for biofuels production, carbon offsets, ecotourism and so on can have devastating consequences for local people.”

Melissa Leach, director of Britain’s Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Center, is one of the three authors of the special issue. She wrote “Green grabbing: the dark side of a green economy,” posted by the Green Economy Coalition. “We are seeing a new kind of colonization,” said Leach. “Small farms and villages that have thrived alongside nature are being replaced by a landscape of grabbed concessions, while people, if they have any rights at all, are being reduced to laborers in ecosystems in which they no longer have any stake.” Or any rights to justice or due process.

She points out how this vulture environmentalism is victimizing developing countries: “Green grabbing involves novel forms of valuation, commodification and markets for pieces and aspects of nature, and an extraordinary new range of actors and alliances. Pension funds and venture capitalists, commodity traders and consultants, GIS service providers and business entrepreneurs, ecotourism companies and the military, green activists and anxious consumers, among others, find once-unlikely common interests.”

Green grabbing is simple greed – rabid, self-righteous green greed. Where’s the justice in that, and why is it immune to the rigid regulation that governments force upon industry and common stock traders? What happened to the environmental credo of making industries pay for all the costs they impose on others?

And yes, Leach said even the military. In Guatemala, she noted, the government has authorized turning the Maya Biosphere Reserve into a “Maya-themed vacationland,” which, she wrote, “will generate ecotourism profits, while conveniently assisting the government's war on drugs and counter-insurgency. In the process, people are being violently excluded.”

I have been to Tikal, where Guatemalan soldiers stopped our expedition bus at the entrance gate, to interrogate each visitor – and sell us little US$10.00 English-language tourist guides, which everyone was prudent enough to purchase.

So not all green grabbing is about “global warming control” – just enough to highlight the perfidy of the whole concept. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels climbed steadily for the past 17 years, but planetary temperatures did not budge. That is sending carbon traders into full panic mode. Billions in paper climate credit fortunes stand to evaporate like Enron stock shares, if the CO2-temperature disconnect continues.

So we get panicky movies, like the current flop “Greedy Lying Bastards,” diverting attention from inconvenient facts and attacking climate change “deniers.” Well, who are the real greedy lying bastards?

I nominate the Greedy Green Land Grabbers.

Via email

Fracking causes as much seismic activity as 'jumping off a ladder': Controversial method for extracting gas is 'extremely unlikely to trigger an earthquake we would feel'

A controversial process used to extract shale gas causes tremors equivalent to someone ‘jumping off a ladder’.

Fracking, which involves blasting underground rock deposits with water and chemicals to release trapped pockets of gas, has been blamed for triggering earthquakes.

But a study has concluded ‘it is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking’.

After examining hundreds of thousands of gas extraction operations, the scientists found only three instances where resulting shocks could be detected by residents above ground.

In contrast, they found other man-made activities, such as mining and waste-disposal, are much more likely to trigger noticeable seismic activity.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Davies from Durham University’s Energy Institute, said the risk of fracking resulting in seismic activity that could be felt on the surface is ‘not significant’.

‘In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists. It is also low compared to other man-made triggers,’ he said.

‘By comparison, most fracking-related events release a negligible amount of energy roughly equivalent to or even less than someone jumping off a ladder onto the floor.’

He added: ‘It is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking.’

A forthcoming report by the British Geological Survey is expected to announce that shale gas deposits are far larger than previously predicted. Industry experts say we could be sitting on enough gas reserves to supply the nation for more than a century.

David Cameron wants to see Britain at the heart of the ‘shale gas revolution’, and Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to offer lucrative tax breaks and a simplified regulatory regime to the industry in a bid to promote investment.

Fracking was temporarily halted at Britain’s only test drill site in 2011, after two small earthquakes woke some residents in Blackpool – they were 2.3 in magnitude.

Operations were allowed to resume in December after Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced greater restrictions aimed at limiting the likelihood of tremors.

Critics say any shale gas energy boom will scar the countryside and pollute water supplies.  Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace said: ‘People’s apprehensions about fracking go well beyond earth tremors.  'Communities are concerned about industrialisation of the English countryside, including noise, increased traffic, falling house prices and environmental damage.’

The Durham team compared data from all earthquakes resulting from human industrial activity since 1929. They found the largest fracking tremor was at Horn River Basin in Canada in 2011 and had a magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale.

‘A tremor of 3.8 would feel like a little shudder to most people, like a lorry going down the road or someone jumping off a ladder,’ said Professor Davies.

He added: ‘Earthquakes caused by mining can range from a magnitude of 1.6 to 5.6, reservoir-filling from 2.0 to 7.9 and waste disposal from 2.0 to 5.7.’

A Department of Energy and  Climate Change spokesman said: ‘An independent panel of experts commissioned by DECC concluded there was a small risk that fracking could cause relatively minor  seismic activity.

'As a result, the Government has set out that any fracking must be carefully monitored and will be stopped at the first sign of seismic activity.’


Europe 'falling behind US and blighted by energy costs'

Europe is falling dangerously far behind the US in productivity growth and is blighted by crippling energy costs, the pan-EU industry federation has warned.

“Europe doesn’t have an energy policy. It has a climate policy,” said Markus Beyrer, head of BusinessEurope.

Mr Beyrer said the US is running away with the shale energy revolution, leaving Europe’s companies in the dust. Spot gas prices are now four to five times higher in Europe, with grim implications for the chemical industry.

“Shale gas is a game-changer and we need to have a discussion based on the evidence, not based on risks,” Mr Beyrer told The Daily Telegraph. France has imposed a moratorium on shale exploration and few countries have yet to take decisive action.

Mr Beyrer said Europe’s carbon trading scheme is a muddle with “mutually distorting objectives” that drive up energy costs without much benefit for the climate. The latest twist is a switch to coal by EU power companies, playing havoc with CO2 goals.

“Nobody is happy. The US and even China are making more progress with renewable targets than we are,” he said.

Equally worrying, he said, is that Europe is slipping further behind in industrial efficiency, chiefly due to rigid labour markets. “Labour productivity in US manufacturing has increased by 1.8pc since the early 2000s, compared with 0.66pc in the Euro Area,” he added.

The transatlantic gap in economic growth reached 2.6pc last year after the eurozone crashed back into recession, the highest since 1993. Citigroup expects the gap to widen further to 3.4pc by 2014 as EMU remains stuck in slump, with extreme levels continuing into the latter part of the decade.

This will have profound compound effects. Euroland’s overall GDP will slip from 78pc of US levels to 66pc by 2025. “We expect very different recovery paths, reflecting differing policy choices,” said the bank.

America’s per capita income will be 9-10pc higher than the 2007 level by 2017; the eurozone’s will be 3-4pc lower, worse than Japan’s Lost Decade.

The problems facing the eurozone were underlined on Tuesday with figures showing that German exports fell in February. Exports fell by 1.5pc compared with January of this year and by 2.8 pc from February 2012, official figures said.

In France, the second biggest eurozone economy, the trade deficit widened as a drop in exports was not made up for by a bigger drop in imports.


The Looming Population SHRINKAGE

A model based on global population data spanning the years from 1900 to 2010 has caused a research team to predict the opposite of what Doomsday Prophets of the 1960s and beyond insisted would happen -  the number of people on Earth will stabilize around the middle of the century and perhaps even start to decline.

The results coincide with the United Nation's downward estimates, which claim that by 2100 Earth's population will be 6.2 billion, if low fertility and birth rate continues on its current path, below the 7 billion we are at now.

The numerical model developed by a team from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the CEU-San Pablo University seems to confirm the lower estimate, in addition to a standstill and even a slight drop in the number of people on Earth by the mid-21st century. The population prospects between 1950 and 2100 provided by the UN were used to conduct the analysis published in the journal Simulation.

"This is a model that describes the evolution of a two-level system in which there is a probability of passing from one level to another," as explained to SINC by Félix F. Muñoz, UAM researcher and co-author of the project.

The team considered the Earth as a closed and finite system where the migration of people within the system has no impact and where the fundamental principle of the conservation of mass –biomass in this case– and energy is fulfilled.

"Within this general principle, the variables that limit the upper and lower zone of the system's two levels are the birth and mortality rates," Muñoz pointed out and recalled the change that occurred in the ratio between the two variables throughout the last century.

"We started with a general situation where both the birth rate and mortality rate were high, with slow growth favouring the former," he added, "but the mortality rate fell sharply in the second half of the 20th century as a result of advances in healthcare and increased life expectancy and it seemed that the population would grow a lot.

However, the past three decades have also seen a steep drop-off in the number of children being born worldwide."

The model's S-shaped sigmoid curve reflects this situation with an inflection point in the mid-1980s when the speed at which the population is growing starts to slow down until it stabilises around 2050.

The data also reflect the downward trend in the UN's series of prospects. "Overpopulation was a spectre in the 1960s and 70s but historically the UN's low fertility variant forecasts have been fulfilled," Muñoz highlighted.

As recently as 1992 it was predicted that there would be 7.17 billion people on Earth by 2010 instead of the actual 6.8 billion. In fact, the fertility rate has fallen by more than 40% since 1950.

"This work is another aspect to be taken into consideration in the debate, although we do not deal with the significant economic, demographic and political consequences that the stabilisation and aging of the world population could entail," the researcher concluded.




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


1 comment:

slktac said...

If fracking is going to be monitored for "earthquakes", how about road construction, installation of wind turbos (and can the vibrations from those huge machines cause tenors), all mining, all demolition? One doubts it.