Sunday, October 13, 2013
Science not so "settled" after all?
New study "could fundamentally change our understanding of climate change"
British research has discovered that our agricultural practices help form clouds: the news could change the way we calculate global warming...
A team of scientists led by a British academic has solved a long-standing enigma to explain how up to half the clouds in the sky are formed. And in finally cracking the problem of how planet-cooling clouds are conjured from what might seem to be thin air, the researchers found that humans play a significant role. It is a discovery that could fundamentally change our understanding of climate change, and may even mean experts have underestimated just how warm the planet will get over the next century. ....
The lack of knowledge about aerosols – particles suspended in the atmosphere – and their effect on clouds is widely recognised as the major source of uncertainty in predictions about global warming. "We have to understand how clouds have been changed by human activity or natural activity if we are to understand climate change in the 20th century and therefore have reliable projections in the 21st century," Professor Kirkby said. ....
Gerald North, professor of atmospheric sciences and oceanography at Texas A&M University in the US, welcomed the research, saying that aerosols had been "really very poorly understood".
'Obamaclimate' Rules For Global Warming Would Be Just As Disastrous As Obamacare
Adam Hartung argued here at Forbes.com earlier this week that the United States needs to implement an Obamacare-style program to address global warming. Hartung’s column inadvertently illustrates that Obamaclimate would be just as disastrous as Obamacare.
The most memorable and illuminative statement made in the Obamacare debate was Nancy Pelosi smiling and saying “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” In other words, “We don’t know what the heck we are passing here, but it is big government, and therefore we like it.”
The American people are now finding out what is in it, and they don’t like it. In the words of Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus, Obamacare is fast becoming a “train wreck.”
Adam Hartung now wants a federal Obamaclimate plan. Apparently, one train wreck per presidential term isn’t enough for some people.
While Nancy Pelosi acknowledged Congress had no idea what kind of a law it was passing, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just acknowledged in its most recent report that it has no idea why global temperatures haven’t risen during the past 17 years. IPCC also acknowledged its models have consistently predicted more warming than has occurred in the real world. IPCC admitted its previous predictions about Himalayan glacier melt were wrong. IPCC contradicted alarmist assertions that global warming was shutting down oceanic conveyor belts. IPCC political appointees were embarrassingly caught telling contributing scientists that they would have to change their scientific assessments to conform with political agendas. And the list of IPCC flubs and embarrassments goes on and on….
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
“We have to restrict energy use, reduce living standards and shut down economic growth even though we don’t have a strong scientific case for doing so.”
Cue the trains barreling toward each other on a single track.
To be fair, Hartung did cite IPCC’s relatively undisputed finding that global temperatures were rising somewhat about 20 years ago. And, extending the trend back a little farther, we emerged from the Little Ice Age a little more than a century ago.
Okay, but so what?
Escaping the Little Ice Age, which entailed the coldest temperatures of the past 10,000 years, was – and is – beneficial to human health and welfare.
Hurricane activity is becoming less frequent and severe.
Tornado activity is becoming less frequent and severe.
Global crop production sets new records on a near-yearly basis.
Deserts are shrinking and plant life is expanding in some of the earth’s most arid regions.
Global soil moisture is improving at almost all sites in the Global Soil Moisture Databank.
And Hartung argues that we should implement an Obamaclimate train wreck to fight against these benefits?
The only plausible negative impact mentioned by Hartung is global sea level rise. Even here, however, he cannot help but strain credulity with his assertions. Hartung claims, “we can now predict the oceans will rise between 1 and 6 feet in the next 50 years.” Really?! Global sea level rose merely 7 inches during the entire previous century, and there has been little or no acceleration in sea level rise this century. How does that translate to between 1 and 6 feet of sea level rise in merely 50 years? Adam, I will wager whatever sum of money you wish that global sea level will not rise by either (take your pick) 7 inches in the next 10 years, 14 inches in the next 20 years, 21 inches in the next 30 years, 28 inches in the next 40 years, or 3 feet in the next 50 years. This gives you the benefit of a slower pace of sea level rise than the midpoint pace of your prediction and whatever pace or time period you wish. Of course, you will not accept the wager because you and I both know your prediction lacks credibility.
Throughout his column, Hartung laments such things as, “I never hear any business leaders talk about how they are planning for global warming. No comments about how they are making changes to keep their business successful.” There is a reason for this. When government predictions and programs fail, Nancy Pelosi and her political allies don’t personally go broke. When entrepreneurs prescribe or follow bad advice, however, they go broke. American entrepreneurs are too smart to foolishly lose their personal finances on yet another round of ridiculous global warming assertions.
Global Climate Models and Their Limitations
Many scientists, policymakers, and engaged citizens have become concerned over the possibility that manmade greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), may be causing dangerous climate change. A primary reason for this public alarm is a series of reports issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC places great confidence in the ability of global climate models (GCMs) to simulate future climate and attributes observed climate change to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. In a Summary for Policymakers describing its latest assessment report, the IPCC claims the “development of climate models has resulted in more realism in the representation of many quantities and aspects of the climate system,” adding, “it is extremely likely that human activities have caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature since the 1950s.”
Climate models are important tools that can be used to advance our understanding of current and past climate. They also provide qualitative and quantitative information about potential future climate conditions. But in spite of their sophistication, they remain merely models. They represent simulations of the real world, constrained by their ability to correctly capture and portray each of the important processes that affect climate. Notwithstanding their complexities, the models remain deficient in many aspects of their portrayal of the climate, which reduces their ability to provide reliable simulations of future climate.
In general, GCMs perform poorly when their projections are assessed against empirical data. Several IPCC forecasts made by GCMs have been falsified by real-world data, as documented in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.
To have any validity for future projections, GCMs must incorporate not only the many physical processes involved in determining climate, but also all important chemical and biological processes that influence climate over long time periods. Several of these important processes are missing or inadequately represented in today’s state-of-the-art climate models.
The current generation of GCMs cannot make accurate projections of climate even 10 years ahead, let alone the 100-year period that has been adopted by policy planners. The output of such models should therefore not be used to guide public policy formulation until they have been validated and shown to have predictive value.
The hidden subsidies each British household pays every year thanks to "Green" laws passed by the previous Labour Party government
The Mail on Sunday today reveals the real cause of soaring energy costs – a bewildering web of green taxes and subsidies which add £132 to the average household’s bill.
The taxes range from levies to help fund domestic solar panels and windmills to subsidies for strict European greenhouse gas limitations.
The shock figures are based on official information from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about average annual bills, showing what they cost now, and how much they will have risen by 2020.
It is predicted that by then, some 33 per cent of household electricity bills will be going towards green taxes – up from 17 per cent now.
Put another way, in 2020 consumers will be paying £270 a year to fund green initiatives, some imposed by ambitious targets set by the 2008 Climate Change Act, which was piloted through the Commons by Ed Miliband when he was Energy Secretary.
Last week a political storm was triggered by energy firm SSE’s announcement of an 8.2 per cent price rise. Other companies are expected to follow suit shortly.
Yesterday Energy Minister Greg Barker said: ‘The higher energy bills falling on to people’s doormats have Ed Miliband’s smudgy fingerprints all over them.’
The DECC says that although green levies will increase the price of energy, overall bills will fall because of increased efficiency and the introduction of appliances which consume less power.
Many believe those efficiencies have been overestimated while the real cost of some green taxes remains underestimated.
Last night Dr Lee Moroney, chief analyst for the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: ‘DECC relies on implausibly optimistic assumptions that energy efficiency measures will offset the increasing costs to consumers who are having to finance the Government’s drive to meet climate-change targets.
‘As the energy bills rise and the savings are not materialising, consumer anger at the mismanagement of energy policy is justifiable.’
Britain And Germany In Secret Pact To Defy EU Climate Laws
Britain is negotiating a secret deal to help to shield Germany’s luxury car industry from new European climate rules in return for support for UK bankers.
Downing Street officials and their counterparts in Berlin held discussions after Germany sought help to delay the introduction of caps on carbon dioxide emissions that could harm BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) greets Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) during the official arrrivals for the start of the G8 Summit
In return, Britain is seeking help to protect the banking sector, which is lobbying to reduce the impact of regulations from Brussels. Suggested measures include the disclosure of the tax that banks pay in every country and forthcoming regulations proposed by the European Commission for the hedge fund industry.
Britain is also seeking German assistance to protect taxpayers from having to contribute to a fund to help ailing eurozone banks. Senior Liberal Democrat sources claimed that the proposed deal also included a request for help with Britain’s attempt to overturn an EU cap on bank bonuses, which would limit them to 200 per cent of salary.
Australia: The future is not bright for deeply divided Green Party
ARE the Greens finished? Christine Milne, explaining the poor election result, says minor parties build up their political capital in opposition and spend it in alliance with governments.
But an alternative explanation is that the Greens are in terminal decline, suffering voter capital punishment rather than cycles of political capital. Which is it?
One thing is certain: events in the past few weeks demonstrate that the Greens are no different from any other political party. All parties contain internal divisions which they struggle to overcome. Some have Left and Right, some have "Rudd and Gillard", some have Victoria and NSW, but the Greens have all of these and more. So extensive are the divisions inside the Greens parliamentary party that the party's future must be bleak.
One rift of significance is a generational one, between Sarah Hanson-Young and Milne.
Milne is a hard warrior learning her craft in the heat of activist battle. She adopts what is called a strong ecological modernisation stance. This approach says that dirty industries are ruining the planet and must be fundamentally transformed.
Milne has no time for fossil-fuel industries such as the electricity industry. For her, these industries must be transformed root and branch. They are beyond saving. Get rid of them.
By contrast, the younger generation, supporters of Bob Brown, are weak ecological modernisers, parliamentarians, negotiators, conciliators. Like Brown, they are deal brokers who consider dirty industries to be salvageable with the right incentives for renewables. They are also interested in issues beyond the environment, such as asylum-seekers and cancer victims among firefighters.
The question of what to do about industries becomes critical now that there is a new Coalition government committed to an approach to climate change that it calls Direct Action.
Direct Action, unlike carbon pricing, discriminates against industries, quarantining some, such as the electricity industry, from emissions reduction. The rationale is to protect consumers from electricity price rises. Direct Action will open up these divisions within the Greens.
Old versus young, weak ecological modernisers versus strong ecological modernisers, as well as Tasmania versus the mainland - not to mention the NSW watermelons (Green on the outside, red on the inside) versus the rest. The rifts that lay hidden within the Greens are revealed.
Milne can say the party is united but the leadership challenges ahead are acute. Not only does she have to manage the divisions within her own party but she has to retain the support of the broader environmental movement. The Greens' decision to join Julia Gillard's multi-party climate change committee opened up divisions between the Greens and the broader environmental movement, contributing to a fall in support for the party at this year's election.
The Greens leadership has to decide which way to go: co-operate with Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt on Direct Action or continue the carbon-price fight? Either way, it will be difficult to contain the divisions within the parliamentary party and with the broader environmental movement.
In politics, context is everything. The context has changed. The Greens must lead the environmental movement to accept that there is more than one way to reduce emissions. The obsession with a carbon price does not fit the times. Direct Action is an acceptable alternative to a carbon price aiming to reduce emissions by capping the amount spent on greenhouse gas reduction rather than capping the emissions themselves.
The Greens will be able to contribute to a reduction in emissions, and save themselves from destructive divisions internally, if they are able to adjust to the changed political and policy context in Australia. However, this will take formidable leadership skills inside the party.
Nikita Khrushchev said to John F. Kennedy that the two of them should not pull tightly on each end of a rope, for that would tighten a knot that would then have to be cut. Last week, Hanson-Young and Milne each pulled on the rope and tightened the knot of division. This knot will have to be cut. Either she goes, or she goes? That is the question for the Greens as they work out how to deal with the weak ecological modernisation of Hunt and Direct Action.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
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Posted by JR at 3:35 PM