Friday, August 30, 2013

Climate Science Exploited for Political Agenda:  Lindzen

Climatism or global warming alarmism is the most prominent recent example of science being coopted to serve a political agenda, writes Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. He compares it to past examples: Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union, and the eugenics movement.

Lindzen describes the Iron Triangle and the Iron Rice Bowl, in which ambiguous statements by scientists are translated into alarmist statements by media and advocacy groups, influencing politicians to feed more money to the acquiescent scientists.

In consequence, he writes, "A profound dumbing down of the discussion…interacts with the ascendancy of incompetents." Prizes and accolades are awarded for politically correct statements, even if they defy logic. "Unfortunately, this also often induces better scientists to join the pack in order to preserve their status," Lindzen adds.

Lindzen discusses key aspects of the global warming models, including their dependence on the "globally averaged mean temperature anomaly"—that is the average of the differences between the average temperature for the year at each weather station and the 1961-1990 average for that station. This metric is used to create an influential graph that resembles the daily chart of stock indices, but is of dubious significance. The change in the anomaly is tiny against the perspective of the temperature variations we experience daily, Lindzen demonstrates.

In normal science, models are judged by how well they agree with nature, Lindzen explains. In the climate "debate," however, the models are given a claim to validity independent of agreement with real observations.

The highly oversimplified terms of the discussion in the policy arena "largely exclude the most interesting examples of historical climate change. The heavy intellectual price of the politicization of science is rarely addressed," writes Lindzen.

Lindzen writes: "Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions. How can one escape from the Iron Triangle when it produces flawed science that is immensely influential and is forcing catastrophic public policy?"

Escape from climate alarmism will be more difficult than from Lysenkoism, in Lindzen's view, because Global Warming has become a religion. It has a global constituency and has coopted almost all institutional science. Nevertheless, he believes "the cracks in the scientific claims for catastrophic warming are…becoming much harder for the supporters to defend."


Poland's shale gas hopes buoyed by promising test output

Poland, whose hopes for shale gas faded after three international firms quit after disappointing drilling results, has been looking for signs of bigger quantities of the unconventional gas, which could help it reduce its reliance on Russia.

Lane Energy started production testing at its well in the northern city of Lebork in July.

The daily amount of gas being produced there still does not qualify as commercial production, but is the largest obtained in any shale gas well so far in Europe, the newspaper said.

Lane Energy and ConocoPhillips were not immediately available for comment.

"This is very good news for Poland and European oil geology," Piotr Wozniak, deputy environment minister and Poland's chief geologist, was quoted as saying. He said the results should encourage other companies to speed up work on shale gas exploration.

Polish refiner PKN Orlen is expected to announce the results of production tests at its shale gas well in Syczyn in eastern Poland, which Wozniak has described as one of the most promising in the country.

Poland, which consumes 15 billion cubic metres of gas a year, mostly imported from Russia, has estimated its recoverable shale gas reserves at up to 768 billion cubic metres.

It has issued more than 100 shale gas exploration licences to local and international firms which have drilled 48 wells to date.

Some companies, however, have complained that the commercial output of shale gas is being delayed by red tape and difficult geology. This year, Marathon Oil and Talisman Energy followed Exxon Mobil in pulling out of Poland.


The dangerous greenies are in Brussels, not Balcombe

All media eyes were last week focused on that infantile little ruckus over fracking in the Sussex village of Balcombe. But virtually unnoticed recently was a very odd and much more significant event in the fracking drama, which shed further disturbing light on the curious workings of that system of government which now rules our lives much more than most people realise. At a meeting of the EU’s Council of Ministers in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, a special “informal” lunch was given for 28 environment ministers, including our own Owen Paterson, to discuss what should be the EU’s policy on fracking.

Seated near the Brussels environment commissioner at the head of the table was Jeremy Wates, from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), who was allowed to listen to the discussion as ministers from each country put forward their country’s view on fracking. Some, including Britain and Poland, were in favour; rather more, including France, were strongly against; others waited to be persuaded.

Towards the end of the lunch, however, Mr Wates was invited to address them all with a vehement attack on fracking, trotting out all the familiar green scare stories about how it pollutes water supplies, triggers dangerous earthquakes, hastens disastrous global warming, and all the rest.

Who was this man who was allowed to make such a partisan contribution to a top-level policy discussion? Why was he treated so deferentially, with no one being permitted to point out that everything he said was just a load of piffle?

Mr Wates is an Irish former green activist, who has made his way up through a succession of well-paid jobs with international bodies such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, to become secretary-general of the EEB. This is a Brussels-based lobbying body, claiming to represent “140 environmental citizens’ organisations”, which is funded not just by other green activist groups such as Greenpeace and WWF, but also by many European governments, including our own.

Furthermore, its biggest source of income is the European Commission, which gives it around one million euros a year. So here was a fanatical green advocate, being paid by the Commission to lobby the Commission itself in favour of EU regulation so draconian that it might well rule out fracking in the EU. It is no accident that the EEB is closely linked in the “Spring Alliance” to other Commission-funded lobby groups, such as the European Trade Union Confederation, which openly promote a Left-wing agenda.

What makes the row over fracking so absurd is that it is being conducted by the greenies as if this is some highly dangerous new technology which has never been properly tested. The whole point about fracking is that it has already been demonstrated at thousands of sites across America to work perfectly safely, without harming the environment, and to such effect that it has more than halved US energy bills and is helping more than anything else to put the US economy back on the road to recovery.

That is why the greens so hate it, because it makes a nonsense of all their scare stories about fossil fuels becoming too expensive to use; it shows up more clearly than ever the ludicrous cost of their pitifully inadequate “renewables”; and it has even slashed US “carbon emissions”, for what that is worth, to their levels of 30 years ago.

So the green lobby is going into overdrive to ensure that Europe and Britain must at all costs be prevented from copying America’s miraculous success story. And by far their best hope of doing this is by persuading the EU to pass laws which would make fracking in Europe virtually impossible. Mr Wates and his allies know this, which is why last month he was given the chance to lobby those very politicians at the top whose support they need to get their way.

Compared with that, last week’s silly street theatre in Sussex was just an irrelevant little sideshow.


Regulatory Commissars: Big Corn

The Renewable Fuel Standard signed into law by President George. W. Bush has rightly been chastised by the oil industry, which requires refineries to add (or blend) massive quantities of biofuels into gasoline. The predictable results have been disastrous. Consider just a few of the consequences: The ethanol mandate means that nearly 50% of the country's corn harvest goes toward biofuels, which artificially drives up inflation in the food market. Additionally, a lackluster 5% of autos are under warranty for concentrations of ethanol higher than 10%, leaving "Big Oil" to buy ethanol it can't blend into gasoline just to meet EPA requirements. In short, the fantasies that ecofascists dreamed up while expanding the law over the years have devolved into failed expectations -- but at least it makes them feel good about "saving the planet."

Given the odious effects of the mandate, legislators on both sides of the aisle have taken steps toward repealing the law. And Big Ethanol isn't happy about the interest in shutting it down. Growth Energy, a corn ethanol group, is launching an advertising campaign set to air on major networks, blasting Big Oil. "While Big Oil may be one of the largest and well-funded industries on the planet," the group said in a statement, "they are not entitled to use their influence to control Congress to maintain unbridled control over the transportation fuels marketplace." Cute, considering that's exactly what these hypocrites have done to implement draconian biofuel mandates.

It's a stretch to expect the law's repeal, but that won't stop environmentalists from demonizing Big Oil. If it weren't for double standards...


Global warming skeptics fire back at Al Gore

Global warming skeptics are hitting back at former Vice President Al Gore, who earlier this week compared them to racists and supporters of slavery.

“Gore is still trying to demonize and smear skeptics as modern racists and generally evil people,” Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, a global warming skeptic site, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The problem is that the science is revealing Gore to be on the wrong side of history.”

“Al Gore has shown once again why he is seldom let out of his box without adequate adult supervision,” said Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “When he is losing the debate, Gore has always resorted to nasty name calling, so this is just the latest embarrassing instance.”

In an interview with the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, Gore equated his fight against global warming to the struggles against slavery, segregation and apartheid.

Thus disagreeing with Gore about environmental policy is similar to opposing civil rights, gay rights and the end of slavery.


Australian Carbon farm in trouble

The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association wants Henbury Station in central Australia to resume operations as a cattle property and abandon plans for what was intended to be the world's largest and the nation's pioneering carbon credits farm.

The station, 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs is being put up for sale, a month after its owner, RM Williams Agricultural Holdings, was placed in administration.

The station was bought by the company for $13 million, with a $9 million contribution from the Federal Government, in 2011.

The 5,000 square kilometre property was destocked two years ago as part of the plan to create a conservation project to earn carbon credits as part of a Commonwealth plan to combat greenhouse gases and global warming..

The aim at the time was also to take a lead in establishing a business model for properties in remote areas to be used to earn carbon credits.

NT Cattlemen's Association executive director Luke Bowen says potential buyers should consider using the property to run cattle again.

"It is a high quality property that has been recognised as such for a number of years," he said.

"It is good to see that it is potentially available for somebody to come in and get it going again, and run it as a viable productive pastoral property in the central Australian region, with all the added economic benefits that that will bring with it."

Mr Bowen says the science that saw Henbury Station turned into a carbon farm was flawed.

"The methodology and the principles were based around a carbon methodology that had not been verified, that had not been tested or established and was a theoretical model," he said.

"We were concerned that this would create an artificial bubble in land values and see land go out of production."

The Federal Environment Department, handed over the $9 million to help purchase Henbury Station says it remains committed to a conservation outcome at the property.

A spokeswoman says the department wants to talk about plans to secure long-term conservation management of the land.

The original purchase of the property for use as a carbon farm drew criticism from both the cattle industry and Indigenous traditional owners.

Last year, the Central Land Council said it had been supporting local Aboriginal interests trying to buy the station since 1974.

Today, the Territory Government said the former owners of Henbury Station had never received approval to run the pastoral property as a carbon farming venture.

Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra van Holthe told the Legislative Assembly the project was illegal, because carbon farming is a non-pastoral use.

"It was unlawful because there was never a pastoral land permit issued," he said.

"In fact, there was never even an application lodged for a pastoral land permit and, even if there was, it's unsure whether it would have satisfied the requirements of the Native Title Act."




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


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