Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dissident scientist fired:  Shades of the old Soviet Union

How did Soviet values get transplanted to an Australian university?  No mystery.  The Soviets were Leftist; Universities are mostly Leftist.  Tolerance and free speech are alien to both

Last month we spotlighted here the devastating synopsis of the case against conventional climate alarmism by Macquarie University physicist Murry Salby, presented last spring in Germany.  It seems the Luca Brazis of the climate campaign have not taken this sitting down, and apparently Salby has been sacked from Macquarie.  Over on Australian science writer Joanne Nova’s blog, Salby gives an account of what has taken place.

It is a long account you can read in full at your leisure, but the overall point is that the university apparently regretted its hiring of Salby and reneged on its commitment of support for his research, is penalizing one of his graduate students, and has used technicalities to dismiss him.  Here’s the key section:
8. Under the resources Macquarie had agreed to provide, arrangements were made to present this new research at a scientific conference and in a lecture series at research centers in Europe.

9. Forms for research travel that were lodged with Macquarie included a description of the findings. Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie. The obstruction was imposed after arrangements had been made at several venues (arranged then to conform to other restrictions imposed by Macquarie). Macquarie’s intervention would have silenced the release of our research.

10. Following the obstruction of research communication, as well as my earlier efforts to obtain compliance with my contract, Macquarie modified my professional duties. My role was then reduced to that of a student teaching assistant: Marking student papers for other staff – junior staff. I objected, pursuant to my appointment and provisions of my contract.

11. In February 2013, Macquarie then accused me of “misconduct”, cancelling my salary. It blocked access to my office, computer resources, even to personal equipment I had transferred from the US.

My Russian student was prohibited from speaking with me. She was isolated – left without competent supervision and the resources necessary to complete her PhD investigation, research that Macquarie approved when it lured her from Russia.

12. Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense.
It is likely that Tim Flannery, one of the leading climate campaign thugs who is also at Macquarie, is behind this purge.

I’m still convinced that I was correct when I said in my post on Salby last month that “I suspect there are a lot more Salbys out there in the sciences in academia.”  But his treatment shows how hazardous it can be to challenge the “consensus” if you aren’t tenured.  Which reminds me of a story on this point.

A few years ago a young lady I know, teaching in a top environmental engineering program at a top university, was approaching her tenure review.  She had a solid record of published peer reviewed technical papers on subjects having little to do with climate, and strong teaching evaluations.  But she had written one newspaper op-ed expressing skepticism about one aspect of the climate change narrative that came squarely in her field of special expertise.  This was enough for some faculty to argue her tenure should be denied.

If you know anything about science departments in leading universities, they are desperate for women faculty.  (At MIT, I am told the science departments are to look first for a woman for every new faculty vacancy.  Unofficially, of course, since an explicit policy like this would be illegal.)  Armed with this leverage, I told my friend that she should march into the dean and tell him bluntly—“If you want to give in to this crap, go right ahead.  I’m sure if I start calling around at lunchtime I can get five offers by the end of the day from other universities.”

I don’t know if she spoke to the dean thusly, but she got her tenure.


Another mechanism for a solar influence on Earth's temperature

There is a book chapter titled "Warming Due To Ultraviolet Effects Through Ozone Chemistry" which offers a detailed look at ozone as a mediator of earth's temperature. It's a bit technical for non-specialists so I reproduce just a few excerpts from it below.  It pretty thoroughly scotches the warmist claim that solar output does not vary enough to affect earth's temperature.  It is thus an alternative/supplement to Svensmark's cosmic ray theory

The sun's yearly average radiance during its 11-year cycle only changes about one-tenth of one percent, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. But the warming in the ozone layer can be much more profound, because ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation. Between the high and low of the sunspot cycle, radiation can vary more than 10 percent in parts of the ultraviolet range, Elsner has found.

When there are more sunspots and therefore ultraviolet radiation, the warmer ozone layer heats the atmosphere below

Although solar irradiance varies 0.1- 0.15 (this cycle) over the 11 year cycle, radiation at longer UV wavelengths increased by several (6-8% or more) percent with still larger changes (factor of two or more) at extremely short UV and X-ray wavelengths. Energetic flares increase the UV radiation by 16%.

Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs this excess energy and this heat has been shown to propagate downward and affect the general circulation in the troposphere. Both the production and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere are exothermic (heat releasing) processes.

Thus, ozone in the stratosphere prevents highly energetic radiation from reaching the Earth's surface and converts the energy of this radiation to heat. Labitzke and Van Loon (1988) and later Labitzke in numerous papers has shown that high flux (which correlates very well with UV) produces a warming in low and middle latitudes in winter in the stratosphere with subsequent dynamical and radiative coupling to the troposphere.

Shindell (1999) used a climate model that included ozone chemistry to reproduce this warming during high flux (high UV) years. The winter of 2001/02 (figure 2), when cycle 23 had a very strong high flux second maxima provided a perfect verification of Shindell and Labitzke and Van Loon’s  work.

 NASA reported on the use of the Shindell Ozone Chemistry Climate Model to explain the Maunder Minimum (Little Ice Age).  Their model showed when the sun was quiet in 1680, it was much colder than when it became active again one hundred years later. “During this period, very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, and the overall brightness of the Sun decreased slightly. Already in the midst of a colder-than-average period called the Little Ice Age, Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly—an event that is rare today.”

The UV is only one candidate solar related variance that may influence climate. Though the IPCC and alarmist scientists like to point to the small changes in the brightness/irradiance as evidence that the sun does not rule the climate, these other factors collectively likely make the sun the primary candidate for climate change. This is true even for any warming from 1977 to 1998 that is above and beyond the urbanization and land use change effects.


The Global-Warming Debate: Matt Ridley Responds

A post on criticized Matt Ridley’s Mind & Matter column, “Science Is About Evidence, Not Consensus,” in the Saturday-Sunday Review section of the Wall Street Journal. Below, Viscount Ridley responds:

Sadly, Phil Plait’s understanding of the literature in this area is very superficial and out of date. He also fails to rebut my arguments entirely. Indeed, he admits I am right in the first case:

“First, it’s true that in the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years ago) a rise in carbon dioxide sometimes did follow a rise in temperature.” Actually, this is invariably the pattern in the ice core record, not “sometimes.”

Moreover, as you can see on John Kehr’s excellent graphs here, the inconvenient truth is that at the end of the Eemian interglacial temperature fell steadily for thousands of years before CO2 levels fell at all. The argument that a small warming at the start of an interglacial causes a CO2 release which causes a large warming is one that has been tested and found entirely wanting. To quote from an excellent essay on the topic: “Now, the standard response from AGW supporters is that the CO2, when it comes along, is some kind of positive feedback that makes the temperature rise more than it would be otherwise. Is this possible? I would say sure, it’s possible … but that we have no evidence that that is the case. In fact, the changes in CO2 at the end of the last ice age argue that there is no such feedback. You can see in Figure 1 that the temperatures rise and then stabilize, while the CO2 keeps on rising. The same is shown in more detail in the Greenland ice core data, where it is clear that the temperature fell slightly while the CO2 continued to rise.

As I said, this does not negate the possibility that CO2 played a small part. Further inquiry into that angle is not encouraging, however. If we assume that the CO2 is giving 3° per doubling of warming per the IPCC hypothesis, then the problem is that raises the rate of thermal outgassing up to 17 ppmv per degree of warming instead of 15 ppmv. This is in the wrong direction, given that the cited value in the literature is lower at 12.5 ppmv.”

None of this contradicts the idea that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will in the absence of other factors cause net warming, something I have always accepted. But as I have repeatedly made clear in my writings, that’s not at issue—at least in my mind. What is at issue is the question of whether current CO2 rises can cause dangerous warming, which I no longer think is likely, though it remains possible. Why do people like Mr. Plait try to pretend that I am some kind of closet denier, rather than take on this argument, for luke-warming, and address it seriously? They are simply wasting their fire on a straw man.

As for the hockey stick, Mr. Plait repeats long-discredited defenses of the graph, including the suggestion that other selections of data have confirmed it. Surely he knows (if only because it is in my article) that these confirmations rely on including Tiljander’s lake sediments or bristlecone pines, but that if you leave these now-debunked data sets out, then the effect vanishes. Please read Climate Audit to verify this. Here’s a quote:

“As CA readers are aware, the ‘big news’ of Mann et al 2008 was its claim to have got a Hockey Stick without Graybill’s bristlecone chronologies (camouflaged as a ‘no-dendro’ reconstruction). CA readers are aware that this claim depended on their use of contaminated modern portion of the Tiljander sediments and that the original claims for a ‘validated’ no-dendro reconstruction prior to 1500 fell apart, even though no retraction or corrigendum to the original Mann et al (PNAS 2008) has been issued.As we learned (from an inline comment by Gavin Schmidt in July 2010), Mann et al have conceded that these claims fell apart, but did so using a “trick” (TM- climate science.) Instead of acknowledging the false assertions at the journal in which the assertions were made (PNAS), they acknowledged the failure of the no-Tiljander no-bristlecone reconstructions deep in the Supplementary Information of a different paper (Mann et al, Science 2009) – a trick for which the term ‘Mike’s PNAS trick’ is surely appropriate (though the term ‘Mike’s Science trick’ also merits consideration.)”

And I am gobsmacked to find Mr. Plait showing the Marcott et al graph, when this was comprehensively demolished within weeks of publication as evidence for unprecedented temperatures: See a good summary of the scandal here.

Note that the authors themselves said:

“[The] 20th-century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions.”

I am sorry, but Mr. Plait really should do his journalistic research better. He has missed important developments on both questions.


Obama Administration Forecasts Bright Future For Fossil Fuels

President Obama has frequently promoted renewable energy sources, and said during his 2012 campaign that “We’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.” By “investments” Obama most likely means massive “taxpayer-funded subsidies” for wind, solar, and biofuels. At the same time, Obama has often dismissed fossil fuels as “energy sources of the past.” But according to projections from Obama’s Department of Energy, the reality is much different — fossil fuels will continue be America’s dominant source of energy for at least the next quarter century, while renewables, even with taxpayer life support, will continue to play a relatively minor role as an energy source for the US.

Here’s what the Department of Energy reported on its website last week:

    "While the overall energy history of the United States is one of significant change as new forms of energy were developed, the three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal, which together provided 87% of total U.S. primary energy over the past decade—have dominated the U.S. fuel mix for well over 100 years. Recent increases in the domestic production of petroleum liquids and natural gas have prompted shifts between the uses of fossil fuels (largely from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power generation), but the predominance of these three energy sources is likely to continue into the future."

MP: The chart above illustrates the importance of fossil fuels to America as an energy source — in the past, today, and in the future. Over almost a one-hundred year period from 1948 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of America’s energy by far (based on Department of Energy data here, here and here). Last year, fossil fuels provided almost 84% of America’s energy, which was nearly unchanged from the 85% fossil fuel energy share twenty years ago in the early 1990s. Even more than a quarter of a century from now in 2040, the Department of Energy forecasts that fossil fuels will still be the nation’s dominant energy source, providing more than 80% of our energy needs. So, despite President Obama’s dismissal of fossil fuels as “energy sources of the past,” the Department of Energy’s own forecasts tell a much different story of an energy future where fossil fuels serve as the dominant energy source to power our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and fuel the US economy.

Further, President Obama says we should “invest” in “energy sources of the future” — renewables like solar, biofuels, and wind — instead of focusing on oil. But again, the Department of Energy’s forecasts tell a much different story. Even after “investing” billions of dollars in government taxpayer subsidies in renewable energy already, those sources provided only 7.5% of America’s energy last year, which was actually less than the 9.3% share of renewables in 1948, more than 60 years ago — that’s not a lot of progress for the politically-popular, taxypayer-subsidized renewables. When it comes to solar and wind, those energy sources provided only 1.8% of America’s energy last year — an almost insignificant amount. Even in 2040, more than a quarter century from now, solar and wind together will account for only 3.6% of America’s energy, according to the Department of Energy forecasts, and all renewables together will provide less than 11% of the nation’s energy.

Bottom Line: The economic and scientific reality, according to Obama’s Energy Department, is that abundant, low-cost fossil fuels will continue to dominate the US fuel mix for at least the next quarter century, and probably much, much longer into the future. Meanwhile, politics aside, the economic and scientific reality according to the Energy Department is that renewable sources of energy will continue to play a minor role in America’s energy mix. In 2040, the Energy Department’s projected 10.8% share for renewables will be almost inconsequentially different from the 9.3% share in 1948. In other words, the Energy Department’s not expecting a lot of progress for renewable energies as a fuel source for America, even after almost 100 years of efforts from politicians like Obama and billions of taxpayer dollars.


France bans new Mercedes cars over 'greenhouse gases'

The latest models of Mercedes cars cannot be sold in France as they still use an air conditioning refrigerant the EU says emits excessive greenhouse gases and should be replaced, the German auto company said.

"Only new cars are subject to the measure," a company spokesman told AFP, adding that customers confronted with the ban are to be offered alternate models.

Since January 1, European Union norms demand that car makers use a cleaner R1234yf refrigerant, deemed less polluting than older products.

But Daimler is sticking to R134a, an older coolant, as it claims studies have shown that the new gas catches fire more easily and puts cars at a greater risk of explosion in case of a crash.

The makers of R1234yf reject Daimler's claims but in Germany, the auto giant was given special permission to keep using the older gas.

Daimler says it will persist with the older product with the hope that "in the next few years" a safer version will be available.

No country besides France has raised an objection to the continued use of R134a, the Daimler spokesman said.

But last month the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, threatened sanctions against German carmakers for using the refrigerant.

The Commission officially notified Germany of its objections to the continued use of the polluting gas, giving Berlin until September to comply.


U.S. Now Leads World In CO2 Emission Reductions

Fortunately, the U.S. did not sign the idiotic United Nation's Kyoto Protocol that Democrats attempted to force on the U.S. And, thank goodness for common sense, most Americans did not swallow the incredibly lame global warming fear-mongering that is a staple of left-wing, liberal politics - instead, the U.S. relied on innovation and competition, which led to the natural gas/shale fracking revolution and massive CO2 emission reductions, in spite of Al Gore and his green, anti-America jihadis

Thanks to fracking, U.S. carbon emissions are now lower than they were in 1995.

While global warming has all but disappeared (being replaced with a slight cooling trend) the U.S. free market has been busy reducing America's CO2 emissions tonnage. As the adjacent chart attests to, the U.S. leads the world's major powers over the last 5 years.

While Obama, the billionaire-crony Al Gores of the world, the anti-growth Democrats and the green-religion fanatics continue to literally lie about the threat of global warming and push for continuing anti-business and anti-job CO2 regulations, they have completely misled Americans about the phenomenal success of pro-market forces arresting CO2 emissions.

Of the major economic/diplomatic/military powers listed in this chart, only the U.S. embraced new fossil fuel technologies and non-Kyoto strategies to reduce emissions.

Over the last 5 years, fracking has not only helped America to lead the world towards a smaller carbon impact, it has massively shifted the U.S. to an improved level of energy security while vastly reducing the petro-dollar funding of Islamist terrorists - a 'win-win-win' outcome that liberal Democrats worked extremely hard to prevent and, by god, they still do.


1. The U.S. will continue to reduce its CO2 footprint by a greater utilization of new fossil fuel technologies and free market forces

2. The vast majority of countries could also reduce their CO2 emission level/growth rate if they too embraced market forces instead of more government regulations, control and fraud that only bureaucrats and cronies love and prosper from

3. The Kyoto Protocols were an abject failure as the world's CO2 emissions increased by some 10%+ over the last 5 years

4. Obama and the Democrats' most recent push for more crushing, byzantine, Kyoto-type regulations/taxes on America's industrial base will not arrest civilization's CO2 emissions; only new fossil fuel technologies (such as fracking) and open competition will produce a smaller growth rate of human industrial/consumer CO2

5. California recently rejected the alarmist lies about fracking - the U.S. will continue to lead the world in CO2 reductions if all Americans reject the 5 great fracking lies




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 or here


1 comment:

John A said...

I thought I remembered something about that. The new refrigerant does not burn well, if at all, by itself in lab tests, but Daimler tried it in an auto and found that when it mixes with oil (also not terribly flammable by itself) when both leak onto a hot engine or exhaust the result is near-certainty of fire. Apparently, no contradictory result has been published so Daimler is sticking with its own testing.