Sunday, September 01, 2013

Hey, Ho!  It's Hayhoe!

"Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University"

Katharine Says We Can Control The Climate.  According to Katharine Hayhoe:-

But, there again, Katharine thought that she saw climate change in an increase in Texas winter temperatures. Interviewed by Yale 360, she was asked:-

“have you seen sizeable increases in average temperatures that could be defined as climate change?”

Her reply, from Lubbock, Texas:-  “What we’ve actually seen, at least in West Texas, is an increase primarily in winter temperatures. Our very cold days are getting less frequent and our winter temperatures are increasing in nearly every station we look at across Texas ”.

And the reality?

A trend of 0.0C per decade. Nice one Katharine!  And they call themselves scientists!


Skepticism at the BBC!

Transcript of BBC Radio 4: More or Less

Tim Harford: Now, what are we to do with Labour's immigration spokesman Chris Bryant? It seems that every time he makes a statement, at the moment, there'll be a correction along in a minute. Earlier in the summer, he released extracts from a speech taking aim at Tesco and Next, for recruiting too many immigrants. By the time the speech was delivered, many of his claims had been withdrawn, and Mr. Bryant was "taking full responsibility". So, who's going to take full responsibility for this?

Chris Bryant: So if we get climate change wrong, there is a very real danger we shall see levels of mass migration as yet unparalleled.

Tim Harford: That's Chris Bryant in the process of being afraid that millions of people around the world will be forced to flee their homes, and in their droves move to countries less affected by environmental problems. Some of this, he says, has already happened.

Chris Bryant: The United Nations estimates that in 2008, 20 million people were displaced by climate change, compared to 4.6 million by virtue of internal conflict or violence.

Tim Harford: But much more is to come.

Chris Bryant: You can imagine that the UN estimates of 200 million such refugees, more than the total number of worldwide migrants today, may be about right.

Tim Harford: Now in fairness to Mr. Bryant, he didn't just make that claim up - it did indeed come from the United Nations. But we still suspect that some kind of retraction may be necessary, alas. Here at More or Less, we have a climate migration correspondent, Hananh Barnes. Hannah, you've done this before - you specialise in taking the heat out of these kinds of statistics.

Hannah Barnes: That's right. But it's not just me - various experts in the field, and even concerned charities have to spend a lot of their time correcting overblown statements like these.

Tim Harford: Let's start with the claim that 20 million people were displaced by climate change in 2008.

Hannah Barnes: And a surprising critic of that number - Alex Randall works for the Climate Outreach and Information Network, a charity which aims to raise awareness of climate refugees and their needs. So you might think he'd be shouting the same alarming numbers from the rooftops. But he's not.

Alex Randall: What Chris Bryant was quoting in his speech was a kind of adding up all of the people who've been displaced by any kind of natural disaster, and labelling them "climate refugees". And that's problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, because the relationship between natural disasters and climate change is complicated - it's certainly true that climate change might be making some of those particular disasters more likely, but it's certainly not the case that we can attribute all of those individual displacements to climate change alone.

Hannah Barnes: And, even if all 20 million people had been displaced by climate change, they're unlikely to be looking to set up home in a new country.

Alex Randall: The idea that, in the event of a natural disaster, people will immediately move long distances and permanently, is mistaken - people tend to move short distances for a short period of time and then move back.

Tim Harford: So let's take a look at this claim from the United Nations, quoted by Chris Bryant, that 200 million people will become climate refugees in future.

Hannah Barnes: Yeah, and what we're really talking about here is people who have to leave their homes because their lives and livelihoods are being adversely affected by climate change - so not just because of sudden natural disasters, but because of a slow creep, changing weather systems, say, or rising sea levels. But many experts don't expect this to cause mass migration. Alex Randall explains why.

Alex Randall: If it becomes increasingly difficult for a farming community to sustain their livelihood by growing the crops that they have been, what's likely to happen is that in response to that, rather than all of them at once upping sticks and moving to another country, the likely response is that one or two household members will move, probably within their own country and probably to a big urban centre, to a city nearby. They'll then work and send money back to their family.

Tim Harford: So migration tends to be relatively local and small-scale. Now, I was fascinated by the way the UN justifies its claim that 200 million people will become climate refugees.

Hannah Barnes: It doesn't. The UN told me it "cannot comment in any way on the accuracy of a figure we did not produce".

Tim Harford: So they're happy to use the figure, just not to defend it.

Hannah Barnes: Quite. Now the figure is the work of a scientist called Norman Myers, who's based in Oxford, in the UK.

Tim Harford: Hannah, we've heard about his work in the past.

Hannah Barnes: Yeah. Back in 2011, we looked at his claim that 50 million people would become climate refugees by 2010. It had been quoted by some influential institutions. But one year on, there was scant evidence that these people existed. The UN had a map showing this prediction on the website, but hastily took it down, we discovered, when it started to get attention. Initially, there was no explanation as to why it had disappeared. just a totally bizarre message came up. when you went to click on the link.

Man's voice: Dear visitor, it seems like the map you are navigating by is maybe not fully up-to-date, or that it might have an error in it, or is it that your GPS is not loaded with the correct data? We are just taking the scenic route, darling! See Honey, We're not lost. I know where we are: This way I think... mmm! [Verbatim from screen grab of UNEP website.]

Tim Harford: I love it when our investigations take a surreal turn.

Hannah Barnes: Well, eventually the fog lifted and a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme told me the map had been removed because it was wrong.

Tim Harford: They had funded the research it was based on, though.

Hannah Barnes: They had, and this work had been unquestioningly adopted by all sorts of eminent bodies, like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But some academics had doubted his numbers from the start. Stephen Castles, from the International Migration Institute at Oxford University, outlined some of his concerns to me at the time.

Stephen Castles: Norman Myers, who I know and we've discussed together, is an environmentalist. And I think his objective, in putting forward these dramatic projections, was to really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change, which of course is a very laudable motive. But the problem was that he really used a method to make projections that is really not permissible at all - he simply took a map of the world, worked out what areas would be inundated if the sea rose, say, by 50 centimetres, and then simply assumed that all the people affected by this sea level rise would have to migrate, and a lot of them would migrate to developed countries. And really there was no basis for it.

Tim Harford: And the 200 million figure was calculated in the same way.

Hannah Barnes: Yes. It's his projection for the number of climate refugees there'll be by 2050.

Tim Harford: So he said: 50 million by 2010 and 200 million by the time climate change takes hold.

Hannah Barnes: Yes, and he defended his methods to us at the time.

Norman Myers: It's very difficult to say how many there are, and where are they, and to point out a crowd over there, on the rise, and say "There's environmental refugees". It is difficult. I would not like to be the person who tries to come up with an exact, precise figure. But, in the long run, I do believe very strongly that it will be better for us to find we have been roughly right than precisely wrong. I would be very suspicious of somebody who said "Where are they?" I think it would be much harder to demonstrate that there aren't any of these environmental refugees than to demonstrate that there are environmental refugees.

Hannah Barnes: But if you can't prove that there are, then we shouldn't be making the statement, should we? We can't prove it.

Norman Myers: Well, you can't prove that smoking causes cancer. Science is never, never ever completely final. It's always a bit iffy.

Tim Harford: "Iffy". Good choice of word.

Hannah Barnes: Well, to be fair to Norman Myers, he did make it clear in his research that not everyone he classes as an environmental refugee will flee their country. He just said that there'll be forced to move. And that could well be internally.

Tim Harford: And equally, Stephen Castles didn't deny that some people have been, and will be, forced to move country.

Stephen Castles: We do have some cases where places have become, or are likely to become uninhabitable. There are these very small Pacific islands, like Tuvalu and Kiribati. But, of course, the populations there are very small - we're talking about a few thousand people, ten thousand at the very most. There one would say migration to New Zealand or Australia might be the long-term solution for at least some of those people.

Hannah Barnes: That's tens of thousands, not tens of millions.

Stephen Castles: Absolutely, yes.

Tim Harford: Stephen Castles, from Oxford University's International Migration Institute, who, back in 2011, was talking to Hannah Barnes.


NOTE: Even if there were any climate refugees, it would hardly be unique to the present.  Around this time in 1936, half of Oklahoma was on the road to California in order to escape the heat and drought. And many of the population movements in Europe of the last 2,000 years appear to have been driven by climatic deterioration.  As harvests failed, the populations moved on in search of better land. And we know how the Little Ice age wiped out the Viking population in Greenland -- JR

The anti-human organization that is Greenpeace

Did you hear that a group of 400 angry farmers attacked and destroyed a field trial of genetically modified rice in the Philippines this month? That, it turns out, was a lie. The crop was actually destroyed by a small number of activists while farmers who had been bussed in to attend the event looked on in dismay.

The nature of the attack was widely misreported, from the New York Times to New Scientist to BBC News, based on false claims by the activists. But then anti-GMO activists often lie. In support of the vandals, Greenpeace has claimed that there are health concerns about the genetically modified rice. In fact there is no evidence of risk, and the destruction of this field trial could lead to needless deaths.

The rice is genetically enhanced to produce the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene, giving it a golden color. This vital nutrient is missing from the diets of millions of rice-dependent people in poor countries, where vitamin A deficiency leads to preventable blindness and death on a massive scale.

The golden rice trial was being conducted by the government’s Philippine Rice Research Institute, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and other public sector partners—contrary to the activists’ accusations, there is no private corporate involvement.

In an exclusive interview at IRRI in Los Baños, I spoke to the golden rice project senior manager Raul Boncodin, who personally witnessed the attack on the morning of Aug. 8.* IRRI also provided photos of the attack; this is the first time they have been seen outside of the Philippines.

Boncodin had traveled to the field site because the researchers had been expecting a rally and a dialogue with activists, he told me. A band of more than 50 split away from the main group of 300 to 400 protestors and broke down the fence around the golden rice plot. They trampled and uprooted the young rice plants across the entire plot. "You could see they were angry—it was a mob," Boncodin said. The local police were outnumbered and did not intervene.

So who were these attackers? Did they look like farmers? "No," replied Boncodin. "Maybe two or three of them were farmers, but the rest of them were not real farmers. I could see that this was the first time they had stepped in mud or been to a farm. They were city boys, city girls. Two of them were even sporting dyed hair. ... Would you consider a farmer having dyed hair?"

There is additional evidence beyond the physical appearance of the activists. "Real farmers will not trash a living rice plant," said Boncodin, who is a native of the region where the vandalism took place. "They have this culture that it is unlucky to kill a living rice plant," even if plants are diseased and threaten to infect the rest of the crop.

This taboo on destroying green rice plants is widespread and even has a name: Bosung. Boncodin insists that the real farmers "stayed by the side, and didn't directly participate in the trashing of the trial site." When local people were informed, their reaction, he said, was that "no sane farmer would do that to a living rice plant."

When the news of the attack was related to local farmer leaders, they were aghast. According to Boncodin, one of them, a 50-year-old man, burst into tears at the thought that so many young rice plants had been destroyed.

The local office of the Department of Agriculture backs up this version of events. Their press statement also names names: "The surprise attack was staged by the group led by Wilfredo Marbella, deputy secretary of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Bert Auter, secretary general of KMP Bicol. Also identified were members of Anakpawis Partylist and MASIPAG."

So who are these groups? MASIPAG describes itself as a "farmer-led network of people's organizations." It has long been a mainstay of the anti-GMO scene in the Philippines and recently joined with Greenpeace in securing a court injunction against a genetically modified eggplant designed to reduce insecticide use.

KMP is an extreme-left organization that promotes a conspiracy theory that golden rice is being produced to facilitate a multinational takeover of the Filipino rice market. In reality, golden rice is being produced by public sector organizations and would be handed out free to farmers, who would be encouraged to save and replant seeds year after year with no technology fees or royalties. Such widespread, free distribution is central to the project’s plans for achieving its humanitarian goals.

The attack was rapidly condemned worldwide. A petition on the website, written by a team of internationally renowned scientists, quickly gathered thousands of signatures. (You can add your name here.) Most of the signatories expressed moral outrage that the ideologues of the anti-GMO movement, including behemoths like Greenpeace, demonize golden rice despite its potential to prevent millions of premature deaths from vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.

Although some anti-GMO activists dismiss the public health problem of vitamin A deficiency to bolster their case, the medical community agrees that it is a major killer, comparable in scale to malaria, HIV/AIDS, or tuberculosis. The World Health Organization estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind each year because of a lack of vitamin A in their diets, and half of them die within 12 months.

Vitamin A deficiency also depresses the immune system, raising overall mortality from other causes such as diarrhea, measles, and pneumonia. For these diseases the additional toll is estimated at 1 million preventable deaths a year, or around 2,700 per day, mostly among children younger than 5.

Greenpeace, with its $335 million annual revenue, has nearly four times more funding than the entire International Rice Research Institute (most of whose work involves conventional plant breeding). Greenpeace has waged a decade-long campaign against golden rice because it involves transgenic technology. The scientists at IRRI insist that there was no other way to get genes for beta-carotene into rice.

Greenpeace's scaremongering includes the regular production of glossy reports spreading unscientific myths about golden rice. In China last year it successfully created a fake media scandal which landed some of the key Chinese project scientists in jail. Greenpeace Southeast Asia spokespeople took to the media to speak in support of the destruction of the golden rice trial in the Philippines.


UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy

Tribunal warns that the Government acted illegally by denying public participation

Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects.

The new ruling, agreed by a United Nations committee in Geneva, calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future wind-farm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore.

The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.

The UNECE committee has also recommended that the UK must in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in nature to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to public participation, as required by Article 7.

The controversial decision will come as a blow for the Coalition’s wind-power policy, which is already coming under attack from campaigners who want developments stopped because of medical evidence showing that the noise from turbines is having a serious impact on public health as well as damaging the environment.

Legal experts confirm the UNECE decision is a “game-changer” for future wind-turbine developments in the UK. David Hart, QC, an environmental lawyer, said: “This ruling means that consents and permissions for further wind-farm developments in Scotland and the UK are liable to challenge on the grounds that the necessary policy preliminaries have not been complied with, and that, in effect, the public has been denied the chance to consider and contribute to the NREAP.”

The UN’s finding is a landmark victory for Christine Metcalfe, 69, a community councillor from Argyll, who lodged a complaint with the UN on the grounds that the UK and EU had breached citizens’ rights under the UN’s Aarhus Convention.

She claimed the UK’s renewables policies have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO2 and harmful emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.

Ms Metcalfe made the legal challenge on behalf of the Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council at the Committee Hearing in Geneva last December. She and the AKCC decided to take action after their experience of dealing with the building of the local Carraig Gheal wind farm and problems surrounding the access route, an area of great natural beauty.

The retired councillor said she was “relieved” by the UN decision. “We were criticised by some for making this challenge but this result absolves us of any possible accusations of wrong-doing... The Government needs to do more than just give ordinary people the right to comment on planning applications; they deserve to be given all the facts.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “We are aware of this decision and we are considering our response. Wind is an important part of our energy mix providing clean home-grown power to millions of homes. Developers of both offshore and onshore wind farms do consult with communities and provide generous benefits packages.”

The Aarhus Convention: What is it?

The Aarhus Convention, or the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, is named after the Danish city where it was first established by a UN summit.

It sets up a number of rights for individuals and associations in regard to the environment. People can request to know the health risks linked to the state of the environment and applicants should be informed within one month of the request.

It also ensures the public get a say in any environmental project such as a wind farm. Public authorities must provide information about environmental projects, and those affected by such schemes must be told if they are going ahead and why.


Behind Alaska's Pebble Mine controversy is a hidden-influence whodunit

Six federally recognized Native Alaskan tribes and commercial fishing interests started what may well prove to be Big Green's biggest ballyhoo ever with a May 2010 letter to the Environmental Protection Agency against the proposed Pebble Mine -- a huge prospect of copper, gold, and molybdenum near the vast salmon runs of Bristol Bay.

Pebble Limited Partnership, the mining company, saw the letter as a call for EPA to use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act -- the rarely used "preemptive veto" hammer -- that could block mine development before its plans were submitted.
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Robert Dillon, spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told me, "the Senate's concern as I see it is the question of due process. That is a very serious problem."

EPA responded to the tribes' letter with an unprecedented and controversial "assessment" of an imaginary mine at the Pebble site, unfairly stuffed with every disaster imaginable to blemish the project. Then the agency held a spate of shamelessly rigged hearings on the fairy-tale report, followed by a mixed peer review of the nonexistent mine's assessment.

Kill Pebble was the most lavishly funded Big Green campaign I know of, with activists on a paid junket to a Pebble investor meeting in London; a snooty Washington reception with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; chefs in upscale restaurants preparing Kill Pebble Alaska salmon dinners; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson chumming around Alaska with mine haters; and Mike Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany Inc., with a $250,000 grant from Tiffany Foundation to Trout Unlimited to stop Pebble.

Now, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wants to know who made this mess and who stirred up all that hoopla. Issa invited recently retired EPA biologist Phil North to a transcribed interview -- North told a local reporter he pushed the preemptive veto idea inside EPA. North is a sixth-rank employee of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds in the remote Kenai facility.

I noticed that the tribes' 2010 letter said they wrote "with assistance of counsel." Who was that counsel? One signature reads, Geoffrey Y. Parker, attorney in Anchorage. So I spoke to him by phone. He said I was the first media to call him since Issa started asking about the tribes' letter. After an hour of talk, I was fairly certain that Parker was at the forefront of the 404(c) strategy.

Parker doesn't like to say he was the spark. "Everybody who works with water issues knows about 404(c) and always has," he told me, "so it's unseemly to say one person started the 404(c) effort."

Parker has been a Trout Unlimited member, as well as counsel. His client list is a Who's Who of Alaska conservation. In 2007, he and other attorneys looked at 404(c) with clients, but pursued other efforts at that time. In 2008 he coauthored a law review article on Pebble that mentioned 404(c).

He worked from September 2009 to May 2010 to perfect the tribes' letter, asking North about technical points on 404(b)(1) Guidelines, which are the convoluted instructions for using 404(c) -- they'd known each other for 20 years, and North had worked on regulating mines for much of that.

I'm convinced that the extraordinary letter Parker wrote for the tribes is what got EPA's Washington leadership moving with 404(C) against Pebble Mine. North worked on the assessment, but my bet is that Issa won't find anything more from any transcribed interview.

I have good reason to believe that the real people who stirred up all that hoopla are far above Parker and North's pay grade. Chairman Issa, now is the time to, as the maxim goes, follow the money.

In 2008, two years before Parker and the tribes' electrifying letter, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation gave nearly $3 million to Alaska groups for purposes they described as, "Pebble mine campaign coordination," and $766,000 more in 2010, according to their Form 990 reports. Moore gave activists two years to pressure EPA in preparation for Parker's and the tribes' letter.

Chairman Issa, you should be interviewing the program officers of the Moore Foundation. Ask them what the blazes they think they're doing to our strategic mineral reserves.


Warmist Arctic rowers fail: "20 years have not seen anything like. Its, ice, ice and more ice"

But failure shall not weary them nor change their religion

Severe weather conditions hindered our early progress and now ice chokes the passage ahead.

Our ice router Victor has been very clear in what lies ahead. He writes, “Just to give you the danger of ice situation at the eastern Arctic, Eef Willems of “Tooluka” (NED) pulled out of the game and returning to Greenland. At many Eastern places of NWP locals have not seen this type ice conditions.

Residents of Resolute say 20 years have not seen anything like. Its, ice, ice and more ice. Larsen, Peel, Bellot, Regent and Barrow Strait are all choked. That is the only route to East. Already West Lancaster received -2C temperature expecting -7C on Tuesday with the snow.”

Richard Weber, my teammate to the South Pole in 2009 and without doubt the most accomplished polar skier alive today, is owner and operator of Arctic Watch on Cunningham Inlet at the northern end of Somerset Island. Arctic Watch faces out onto our proposed eastern route. Richard dropped me a note the other day advising: “This has been the coldest season with the most ice since we started Arctic Watch in 2000. Almost no whales.

The NWPassage is still blocked with ice. Some of the bays still have not melted!”

...we’d require at least another 50-60 days to make it to Pond Inlet. Throw in the issues of less light, colder temperatures, harsher fall storms and lots of ice blocking the route and our decision is easy.

...Our message remains unaffected though, bringing awareness to the pressing issues of climate change in the arctic.




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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