Friday, November 08, 2013

Global warming 'pause' may last for 20 more years and Arctic sea ice has already started to recover

The 17-year pause in global warming is likely to last into the 2030s and the Arctic sea ice has already started to recover, according to new research.

A paper in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Dynamics – by Professor Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr Marcia Wyatt – amounts to a stunning challenge to climate science orthodoxy.

Not only does it explain the unexpected pause, it suggests that the scientific majority – whose views are represented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – have underestimated the role of natural cycles and exaggerated that of greenhouse gases.

The research comes amid mounting evidence that the computer models on which the IPCC based the gloomy forecasts of a rapidly warming planet in its latest report, published in September, are diverging widely from reality.

The graph shown above, based on a version published by Dr Ed Hawkins of Reading University on his blog, Climate Lab Book, reveals that actual temperatures are now below the predictions made by almost all the 138 models on which the IPCC relies.

The pause means there has been no statistically significant increase in world average surface temperatures since the beginning of 1997, despite the models’ projection of a steeply rising trend.

According to Dr Hawkins, the divergence is now so great that the world’s climate is cooler than what the models collectively predicted with ‘five to 95 per cent certainty’.

Curry and Wyatt say they have identified a climatic ‘stadium wave’ – the phenomenon known in Britain as a Mexican wave,  in which the crowd at a stadium stand and sit so that a wave seems to circle the audience.

In similar fashion, a number of cycles in the temperature of air and oceans, and the level of Arctic ice, take place across the Northern hemisphere over decades. Curry and Wyatt say there is evidence of this going back at least 300 years.

According to Curry and Wyatt, the theory may explain both the warming pause and why the computer models did not forecast it.

It also means that a large proportion of the warming that did occur in the years before the pause was due not to greenhouse gas emissions, but to the same cyclical wave.

‘The stadium wave signal predicts that the current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s,’ said Wyatt. This is in sharp contrast with the IPCC’s report, which predicts warming of between 0.3 and 0.7C by 2035.

Wyatt added: ‘The stadium wave forecasts that sea ice will recover from its recent minimum.’ The record low seen in 2012, followed by the large increase in 2013, is consistent with the theory, she said.

Even IPCC report co-authors such as Dr Hawkins admit some of the models are ‘too hot’.  He said: ‘The upper end of the latest climate model projections is inconsistent’ with observed temperatures, though he added even the lower predictions could have ‘negative impacts’ if true.

But if the pause lasted another ten years, and there were no large volcanic eruptions, ‘then global surface temperatures would be outside the IPCC’s indicative likely range’.

Professor Curry went much further. ‘The growing divergence between climate model simulations and observations raises the  prospect that climate models are inadequate in fundamental ways,’ she said.

If the pause continued, this would suggest that the models were not ‘fit for purpose’.


Fighting Fracking Fiction

Providing yet more proof of the falsity of the anti-fracking fracas, a study performed by Public Health England (PHE), an agency within Britain's Department of Health has found that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as a means of tapping into vast underground resources of natural gas poses few emissions-related health risks when operations are run properly. The study, which examined fracking operations in countries including the United States, also found that “[c]ontamination of groundwater from the underground fracking process itself … is unlikely.”

This comes on the heels of another recent study that showed fracking hardly poses the grave greenhouse gas emissions threat that ecofascists claim. Unfortunately, the truth – however often confirmed – is unlikely to mollify anti-fracking alarmists, who have said the process does everything from ignite tap water to cause bowel disease. (And that's not even mentioning all those fracking-induced traffic accidents. Seriously, folks, we can't make this stuff up.) What the truth does do, however, is make it more and more difficult for fracking's foes credibly to fight the facts with little more than fiction.


Regulatory Commissars: Order to Combat Warming

In a Friday afternoon executive order, Barack Obama ordered the federal government to do even more to combat so-called climate change. The order read, in part, “The impacts of climate change – including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification and sea-level rise – are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies and public health across the nation. The federal government must build on recent progress and pursue new strategies to improve the nation's preparedness and resilience.” The order, of course, not only ignores that the climate has not warmed over the last 15 years but also deceitfully asserts that wildfires, droughts and so forth are increasing.

The regulations that will come out of such a general order are sure to be costly or even crippling to the economy. As we have already seen, Obama's refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast is driven in part by a desire to appease his ecofascist constituents who claim drilling exacerbates global warming. Obama's EPA has also issued crushing new regulations on coal-burning power plants – regulations that will put many plants out of business and even prevent construction of new ones. The EPA has turned a deaf ear to those concerned about the economic impact of its rules, and it regularly continues to abuse its authority.

Mountains of new regulations is one reason that Obama is seeking to pack the DC Circuit Court with nominees who will see things his way.


British power crisis risk 'worse than feared' this winter, SSE warns

The risk of power shortages this winter has been underestimated by ministers and the National Grid, with factory shutdowns and “politically unacceptable” price spikes more likely than had been feared, energy giant SSE has warned.

National Grid last month said that in a cold winter the UK’s electricity “margin” - the safety buffer between peak demand and supply - would fall to just 5pc, the lowest since 2007, as old power stations are switched off.

But Keith MacLean, SSE’s director of policy and research, warned: “We think that could easily flip to minus 5pc.”

“We are heading for a critical period. We worry that [the Department of Energy and Climate Change] and National Grid have been over-optimistic,” he said.

National Grid’s estimates of peak demand were too low, at 2GW below levels seen in December 2012, he said.

The Grid had also admitted it had been counting on supply from power stations that would not actually be available this winter - potentially taking away about 1.5GW or 2GW of supply, Mr MacLean said.

“It’s easy to see how you get from just about having enough, to not having quite enough,” he warned.

He said Britain would not face blackouts “unless National Grid really cocks up quite badly” as it had measures to manage demand, such as asking industrial sites to switch off.

But he said: “Is that really the answer we want when trying to drive a bit of growth into the economy? I don’t think it is.”

Power shortages would also mean that “the price is going to start spiking”, he said, resulting in levels that were “not politically acceptable... either for industry or certainly not for domestic consumers”.

SSE was the first energy giant to raise its prices this year, blaming rising costs of wholesale energy, network charges and green levies on bills for the 8.2pc increase.

Mr MacLean blamed politicians for the looming power crunch.

“We have an enormous number of policy interventions but they are creating an incredibly complex picture which no-one really is able to understand,” he told the Stationers’ Company Autumn Forum in London.

“We are moving to a centrally-planned system, but you try to find someone who thinks it’s their responsibility to say what that plan is, or find a copy of that plan, you’ll be looking for a long time.”

Gas plants are currently being mothballed because of “extremely unattractive” economics that means most are loss-making.

“The cheapest way to keep the lights on at the moment is to keep what we have got going and to stop any more plant being mothballed,” he said, suggesting the Government should bring forward a proposed “capacity mechanism” policy to pay plants to be available as back-up, which was only due to start operating in 2018.

A National Grid spokesman said: “Our report uses historical data and information from the market to outline scenarios for the coming winter. It’s not a prediction, but this year’s report does shows that the market has the capability to meet electricity and gas demand.”

A DECC spokesman said that National Grid estimated a capacity margin of about 8pc this winter, only falling to 5pc in high demand.

Regulator Ofgem estimates the margin to be about 6pc, while DECC's own analysis suggests margins will be nearer 10pc.

The DECC spokesman said: “We have enough energy to meet our needs this winter. Our infrastructure can deliver more than we need and has coped well during recent very cold winter spells.”


Australia: Razor taken to CSIRO

Global Warmists get the boot.  Their completely unscientific support of global warming dogma has destroyed much of the respect the CSIRO once had

Almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at Australia's premier science institution will lose their jobs under the federal government's present public service jobs freeze.

The blanket staff freeze across the public service threatens the jobs of 1400 "non-ongoing" workers at the CSIRO and could paralyse some of the organisation's premier research projects, with a ban on hiring, extending or renewing short-term contracts effective immediately.

The impact of the freeze on the CSIRO follows fears expressed in the scientific community about the Abbott government's failure to nominate a dedicated science minister out of his cabinet or ministerial team. The concerns have been heightened by subsequent decisions, including the closure of the global warming advisory body the Climate Change Commission, and revelations on Thursday that Australia will not be sending its Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, or any ministerial stand-in to international climate change negotiations starting on Monday in Warsaw.

The freeze is part of the Abbott government's plan to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service.

On Friday, the government will also announce the immediate dismantling of a raft of government advisory bodies, expert panels and national steering committees, covering diverse areas including ageing, legal affairs, ethics and animal welfare. Federal cabinet this week signed off on the changes, which will see a dozen "non-statutory" bodies axed altogether, and several more amalgamated with other bodies or absorbed into existing departmental functions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly promised before the election that a Coalition government would dramatically reduce the size of the bureaucracy and would do away with thousands of regulations said to be clogging the economy.

"There are currently more than 50,000 Acts and legislative instruments, many of which are a handbrake on Australia's ability to get things done," Mr Abbott said.

The bodies scrapped are: Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee; Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Committee; International Legal Services Advisory Committee; National Inter-country Adoption Advisory Council; National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing; Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee; Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula; High Speed Rail Advisory Group; Maritime Workforce Development Forum; Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing; Insurance Reform Advisory Group; and the National Housing Supply Council.

On Friday, the head of the advisory panel on positive ageing, Everald Compton, said his group had only six months of important work to go - and was not expensive.

"A few hundred thousand dollars a year, a couple of hundred thousand I think it is," he told ABC Radio. "We run a lean, mean operation. We don't go anywhere that we don't have to. We're not causing a financial disturbance in the government."

Mr Compton said that the group was on brink of presenting government with a blueprint on the legislative and financial changes that were needed over the next 25 years to turn ageing "into an asset rather than a liability".

"I find it a little hard to understand why, when we're so close to finishing something that we've had some years of work in, that it's chopped off and that the Government does not appear to want a report on how ageing is going to hit Australia."

At the CSIRO, staff leaders fronted their bosses on Thursday, demanding answers on the fate of the workers on contracts, which can often last up to 24 months.

CSIRO has an unusually high proportion of “non-ongoings” with 990 “term” workers and about 440 casual staff among its 6500 headcount.

"It's going to be a huge problem," said one staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Staff were told last week of the decision, which will hit the organisation's 11 research divisions and 11 national research flagships, as well as critical support for frontline scientists.

In an email to staff, CSIRO chief executive Megan Clarke said: "I announce an immediate recruitment freeze covering the following: External recruitment; and, entering into any new, or extending existing term or contract employment arrangements."

Catriona Jackson, the chief executive of Science and Technology Australia, the peak lobby for the nation's scientists, said she was "concerned that cuts to the public service may fall disproportionately on scientists".

West Australian federal Liberal Dennis Jensen, himself a former research scientist at CSIRO, said the suggestion that the government had an anti-science bias was incorrect.

But he admitted the failure to have a dedicated science minister worried him.  "That does concern me," he said.

"If somebody wanted to raise a concern from one of the Cooperative Research Centres, often a bridge between academia and industry, then who would they write to? Do they write to the education minister or the industry minister, I think that is the major problem, that the focus and drive of a single minister is lost."

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos told Sky News on Friday that only 500-600 support staff could go at the CSIRO but argued the new government needed to be able to choose where it allocated and prioritised resources.  "The new government has to have a capacity to do that," he said.

A CSIRO spokesman said the number of jobs under threat had been exaggerated by the staff association.  The spokesman said that no more than 550 casual and “term” workers were facing contract renewals this financial year.

CSIRO's executive and senior staff have been frantically seeking explanations from government as to how the edict is to be interpreted.

Labor's spokesman for the environment, climate change and water, Mark Butler, said he wasn't surprised that scientists were being sacked by the government, say Mr Abbott does not respect scientists' work, particulary on climate change.

"And I don't think it's a coincidence that the experts being sacked by this government have previously pointed out the serious flaws in the Coalition's direct action con," Mr Butler said.

"If the government consulted independent scientists and researchers instead of Wikipedia, they would know their direct action policy will do nothing to tackle pollution and will end up costing households more.

"The government is sacking the experts and shutting out anyone who doesn't agree with them. It's a disgraceful act."


The tragedy of the elites

By Robert Romano

One of the most influential works that advises today’s brand of excessive environmental regulations by federal regulatory organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was written 45 years ago in 1968. In “The tragedy of the commons,” Garrett Hardin set forth arguments against overpopulation, resource depletion and pollution.

Although it predated modern concern over carbon emissions now regulated by the EPA, he still laid forth a framework that can give everyday Americans an idea of at least an intellectual basis for the radical ideology that today threatens economic growth and the ability to provide for ourselves.

On the resource management side of the equation, Hardin made the Malthusian assumption of scarcity, using the example of overgrazing of cattle on the frontier to argue against Adam Smith’s implicit presumption that everyone working in their self-interests would enhance the common good.

Argued Hardin, “Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is limited. Ruin is the devastation toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”

By “commons,” Hardin is essentially referring to natural resources, and access to them. He worried about a “pasture open to all.” Except, there was no such pasture. Lands are either public or private, a detail he later gets to.

To navigate the problem, he argued, “We might sell them off as private property. We might keep them as public property, but allocate the right to enter them.” This reflects the permitting system that was already in place for resource extraction on public lands, and the general concept of private property that long predated Hardin’s essay.

Here, he is using property, whether held privately or publicly as a matter of law, to show that a problem without what he said had “no technical solution” that might otherwise be solved through scientific means required further action — i.e. the coercive power of the government.

Which brings us to pollution, and the primary concern of this essay, what I shall call the tragedy of the elites. His views on resource management being dealt with via property, whether public or private, leave far less to be questioned than his views on pollution, and what happens when the two concepts are married and the government begins to view the resources as the source of the pollution.

“[T]he air and waters surrounding us cannot readily be fenced, and so the tragedy of the commons as a cesspool must be prevented by a different means,” Hardin wrote, adding, “by coercive laws or taxing devices that make it cheaper for the polluter to treat his pollutants than to discharge them untreated.”

Here, one can begin to see the intellectual framework for proposals such as a carbon tax, or for requiring coal-fired power plants to burn “cleaner,” or for carbon sequestration (i.e. requiring emitters to “store” carbon emissions without releasing them into the atmosphere). How did we get here?

The EPA was required by the Supreme Court in 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA to reinterpret the Clean Air Act. Under that decision, carbon emissions were defined as a “harmful pollutant,” even though the statute never even mentioned carbon dioxide, a gas necessary for the very existence of life.

Here, again, Garrett was prophetic. “The law, always behind the times, requires elaborate stitching and fitting to adapt it to this newly perceived aspect of the commons.” What better articulation of the preferred tactic of the radical environmentalist movement? Whether it’s sue and settle arrangements or the Supreme Court decision, the EPA’s powers have been vastly expanded through what can only be called an “elaborate stitching” of the law.

The beauty of the judicial route, from the environmentalist perspective, is that it is inoculated against almost any potential legislative remedy. Now, the agency can regulate carbon emissions on motor vehicles, power plants, and everything else — at will — without any vote in Congress.

At first it will be, as Hardin suggests, “coercive laws or taxing devices” to combat perceived “man-made,” carbon-induced climate change. But ultimately, being an advocate of population control, Hardin foresaw even more drastic means to deal with the problem since, as he noted, “The pollution problem is a consequence of population.”

That is why, ultimately, he viewed the solution to pollution is “by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon.” Have you signed up for your parental licenses yet?

The population explosion over the past 200 years is entirely owed to the Industrial Revolution that was fueled in large part by increased energy output, particularly carbon-based energy. The necessary consequence of dramatically reducing carbon-based energy consumption — and the food production, medical advancement, and economic growth that depends on it — would have to be a commensurate, significant decrease in the human population.

Really, it all depends on just how draconian the agency’s restrictions of carbon emissions are. How much of a price will be placed on carbon emissions by the agency? If it’s too high, the impact could be devastating, resulting in the means of sustaining the world’s population being suddenly restricted or gradually reduced.

Moreover, even if all of the resources, particularly energy, are indeed finite or if the impact of carbon emissions were truly impactful on climatic conditions—both questionable prospects—an arbitrary restriction of consumption and economic growth will not permit or at least severely reduce the possibility of market-based solutions to these problems.

Instead, Hardin’s approach, once resources become “pollutants” and the law is perverted to restrict extraction and use, knowledge itself is compartmentalized.

Solutions become dependent upon an a priori, top-down, regulatory approach utilizing fewer individuals to achieve innovation and sustainability for a growing population.

Hydraulic fracturing of shale oil and the proliferation of nuclear energy as a public utility are both market-driven solutions to resource problems. Both assume that resources can be expanded if people choose to chip in and pay for them. But they will not be permitted, the moment the government decides that accessing these resources somehow they will destroy the environment.

How many more innovations will be suppressed in an environment where the government will eventually not even permit the economy to grow? The solutions are more likely to be found in conditions that permit the freedom to innovate in areas thought to be daunting today.

Therein lays the tragedy of the elites, for Hardin’s central premise is that the government knows better now — the future be damned.



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.  

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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