Tuesday, January 07, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused at just how freezing American Warmists must be feeling right now

Life-threatening cold:  Where do we find this in those  marvellously predictive "models" of the Warmists?

More than half of the U.S. is enduring a dangerously cold start to the week as a whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a ‘polar vortex’ descended on Monday morning, pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold and adding to the brutal weather that has grounded more than 4,400 flights.

Record low temperatures have already been set; at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, temperatures of minus 16 degrees were recorded at 8am on Monday, beating the previous record of minus 14 set in 1988.

In Minnesota, officials took the rare step of closing all of the state's public schools on Monday - the first time in 17 years. Schools across Chicago, Milwaukee and St Louis were also closed, while officials in Washington D.C. and as far south as Atlanta have announced school closures for Tuesday.

With wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama, much of the U.S. is experiencing the coldest temperatures in almost 20 years, according to the National Weather Service. They are expected to be 30 to 50 degrees below average in some cities - and the deep freeze is expected to last into Tuesday.

Nearly 187 million people, more than half of the nation's population, were under a wind chill warning or advisory on Monday.

The winds made it feel like 55 below zero in International Falls, Minn., and parts of the Midwest accustomed to temperatures that are cold - albeit seldom this cold. But even the coal fields of Virginia and West Virginia, the wind chill was negative 35.

Every major weather-reporting station in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin reported temperatures below zero at 11 a.m. Monday, and South Dakota would have joined them if not for the reading of 1 at Rapid City.

The coldest temperature reported in a 24-hour period through Monday was -36 degrees at Crane Lake, Minn. The warmest: 84 at Hollywood and Punta Gorda, Fla.

The deep freeze is to blame for an estimated 13 deaths so far - almost all of them from traffic accidents. A man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia, while an elderly woman with Alzheimer's disease was found dead in the snow about 100 yards away from her home in New York state after wandering out.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state emergency covering 13 counties into western New York, while parts of the state Thruway in western New York are be closed from 8 p.m. on Monday.

The snow is expected to drop 36 inches of snow in the next day-and-a-half, with lake effect snow in some areas up to four inches per hour. Cuomo said the storm could produce wind gusts up to 40 mph and wind chill temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero.

'As this new winter storm develops, bringing heavy snow and high winds, I strongly urge all citizens in these regions to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors,' Cuomo said in a statement.

'To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency, so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible.'

The Division of Military and Naval Affairs is mobilizing more than 300 New York Army and Air National Guard citizen Soldiers and Airmen in western and central New York to assist local authorities if requested.

On Monday morning, Nashville was 40 degrees colder than Albany, New York. Memphis, Tennessee, was 20 degrees colder than Anchorage, Alaska. And Atlanta was colder than Moscow - either Russia or Idaho.

In the Great Lakes region, temperatures hovered in the negative 20s - before wind chill, which dropped temps to the negative 50s, making it very dangerous to go outside.

Meteorologists have warned about the weather 'dangerous, life-threatening winds', that could inflict frostbite on exposed skin in just 10 minutes.

Temperatures are so cold across the Midwest that antifreeze in residents' cars could freeze, the National Journal pointed out. The popular brand freezes at 34 degrees - and the coldest temperature on Monday afternoon was minus 35 in Crane Lake, Minnesota.

'Skin freezes in just five minutes with a wind chill of minus 50,' said HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen as wind chills are putting temperatures in northern Minnesota at 60 below zero.

For a big chunk of the Midwest, the subzero temperatures were moving in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous.

Thousands of travelers remain stranded or delayed following a chaotic weekend of canceled flights. FlightAware reported that more than 4,400 flights had been canceled by Monday morning - on top of the 4,100 flights canceled on Sunday.

Chicago's Department of Aviation said on Monday that airlines have canceled more than 1,600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. Another 85 were reported at Midway International Airport.

Delays at O'Hare were average about 40 minutes, while reported delays are about 20 minutes at Midway.

JetBlue also announced it would be scaling back operations at Boston's Logan International Airport, Newark, JFK and LaGuardia in the New York-area in a bid to catch up with dozens of weather-related delays and cancellations. It is stopping operations between 1pm and 5pm.

The forecast is extreme: 32 below zero in Fargo, North Dakota; minus 21 in Madison, Wisconsin; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills - what it feels like outside when high winds are factored into the temperature - could drop into the minus 50s and 60s.


Britain's  storms are no different – but we are

After a Cobra emergency committee meeting, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, said: “Surface water flooding remains likely in some parts.” You can say that again.

With hundreds of flood warnings and alerts in force, and giant waves crashing down on her bulwarks, HMS United Kingdom seems almost to be sinking. Cataracts and hurricanoes rush across the Atlantic in a succession of tight whorls. Wait for the spin-off from the polar vortex over America.

This is the worst set of storms for two decades. But two decades is not long. How far back does your memory go? In January 1993 a deep storm (the most intense system of low pressure outside the tropics ever recorded over the north Atlantic) miraculously broke up the oil spilt from the tanker Braer. The Burns Day storm of January 1990 cut off power for half a million. The storm of 1987 blew down 15 million trees. Since history is anything before your own time, history for me includes the storm of 1953 that killed more than 300 in Britain. Who remembers 1928, when 14 drowned in London and piles of Turners wallowed in the Tate?

If the effects of the winter storms today seem worse (although they are not), it is partly because power cuts now instantly deprive a generation that has grown dependent on them of technologies that didn’t exist three decades ago: chiefly mobiles and the internet. Their sudden loss brings isolation, alienation, and a desire to blame someone.

My stepmother, by contrast, though going day after day without electricity, has had a lovely time stoking up the log fire, going to bed by candlelight and cooking her neighbours’ dinners with her gas stove. She didn’t care for television much anyway.

Things have been made worse in the commuter counties around London by the passive-aggressive policy of those in charge of trains. Passengers get annoyed if they’re stuck for hours on trains, goes the thinking, so we’ll cancel the lot till we’ve tidied away all the wrong kind of trees from the line and we’re sure of a clear run. Cancellations now follow every new rainstorm that arrives from the west promptly to schedule.

And Tewkesbury Abbey always features on television, as we noted in a leading article yesterday, because it looks striking on its island of rising ground, surrounded by floodwaters from the confluence of the rivers Avon and Severn, as it is every year. Tewkesbury is also in the greeting-line for the westerly gales.

It was in a big storm, in February 1661, that “at Tewkesbury a man was blown from an house and broken to pieces”. Those words were written by Daniel Defoe, the author of the classic account of the storm of November 26-27 1703, which still claims the right above all others to the title of the Great Storm.

That night, the sea rushed up the Severn estuary, carrying a whole house and stable inland at Berkeley. When the stable fell apart, out jumped the horse, none the worse. The Bishop of Bath and Wells was not so fortunate. A chimney stack fell on to the bed where he and his wife were lying and drove it through the floor, burying their dead bodies in rubble.

The Great Storm killed 10,000 or 15,000 people. No one quite knows. In the current storms, deaths are rare, thank heavens. The bad-news narrative that blames the weather for everything has to recruit to its casualties even a worker in America crushed by a 100ft pile of salt stockpiled for the icy roads.

Yet the Great Storm of 1703 keeps its title not just by force of fatal numbers, but because Defoe made it appeal to the imagination. He piled up details from contemporary reports until the reader could almost hear the roaring of the wind that lifted the roof from Westminster Abbey. For Defoe, it was a rehearsal for his great disaster novel: A Journal of the Plague Year.

This latter fiction purports to be a collection of facts. It was a way of telling a story that HG Wells developed in The War of the Worlds. Defoe’s narrator, called only

HF, in the intervals between casting up the numbers of victims, wonders what caused the plague. He see-saws between natural philosophy (as he called what we know as “science”) and Providence. Was the plague, like the Great Storm to come, a punishment?

Today, we rather resent the right of God to punish us, even if He exists. Yet our own instincts have taken a step towards the primitive. We see bovine spongiform encephalopathy, salmonella in eggs, horse meat in burgers and savage winter storms all as symptoms of having broken some taboo of going “against nature”.

In a play by Aeschylus, Xerxes is defeated in battle because he hubristically bridged the Hellespont with boats. It was against nature. The present-day explanation of the storms is that we have offended nature by burning too much organic matter.


‘Worse Than We Thought’ Rears Ugly Head Again

Our last post was a brief run-through of some items of interest from the recent scientific literature that buck the popular alarmist meme that human-caused climate change is always “worse than we thought.” But as we said in that post, finding coverage of such results in the dinosaur media is a fool’s errand. Instead, it thrives on “worse than we thought” stories, despite their becoming a detriment to science itself.

Not to disappoint, headlines from the first major climate change story of the new year claim “Climate change models underestimate likely temperature rise, report shows,” and it’s clearly Worse Than We Thought. In its January 5 (Sunday) paper, the editorial board of the Washington Post points to the new results as a call for action on climate change.

The trumpeted results appear in a paper published in the January 2nd 2014 issue of Nature magazine by a team led by University of New South Wales professor Steven Sherwood and colleagues which claims that the earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity—how much the global average surface temperature will rise as a result of a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide content—is being underestimated by most climate models. Sherwood’s team finds “a most likely climate sensitivity of about 4°C, with a lower limit of about 3°C.”

Sherwood’s most likely value of 4°C is about twice the value arrived at by a rather largish collection of other research published during the past 2-3 years and lies very close to the top of the likely range (1.5°C to 4.5°C) given in the new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

While there are a host of reasons as to why our understanding of the true value of the climate sensitivity is little better constrained now that it was some 20+ years ago (it was given as 1.5°C to 4.5°C in the IPCC’s first report issued, almost a quarter-century ago), it is widely recognized that our understanding of the role of clouds in a changing climate is central to the issue.

In describing the why climate models have such different climate sensitivity values, the IPCC writes, in the 2013 edition of it’s science compendium,

    There is very high confidence that uncertainties in cloud processes explain much of the spread in modelled climate sensitivity.

Sherwood and colleague set out to see if they could help nail down the specific cloud processes involved in the model spread and to see if recent observations could help better understand which models were handling  processes related to cloud behavior better than others.

The rate of vertical mixing in the lower atmosphere has a direct role in the formation of clouds. In a broad sense, according to the authors, the more vertical mixing that takes place in the lower atmosphere, the more drying that occurs in the lowest levels of the atmosphere, and therefore cloud amounts must decrease.

Sherwood and colleagues then compared the amount of mixing simulated by a collection of climate models with some observations of the mixing rate derived from weather balloon observations and other observation/model hybrids (called “reanalysis” products). They found that the climate models which most closely match the observations turned out to be the climate models with the highest climate sensitivity. Climate models with low sensitivities largely failed to contain the observations at all.

Based on this general finding—that climate models with a greater sensitivity to carbon dioxide increases produce a better match to observations of low level mixing rates—Sherwood and colleagues conclude that future global warming is going to progress much faster than is generally accepted.

This is the EEBE (“everything else being equal”) trap in big print.

While Sherwood et al., and press coverage of their paper, emphasize model comparisons with the “real world” they fail to show the “real world” comparison that makes the most sense—how do the climate model projections of global temperature changes compare with observations of real world temperature changes?

If they aren’t strongly related to vertical motion changes, then everything else is most decidedly not equal.

Our Figure 1 below shows the observed global surface temperature history from 1951-2013 compared with the temperature evolution projected by the collection of models used in the latest IPCC report. We broke the climate models down into two groups—those  which have a climate sensitivity greater than 3.0°C (as suggested by Sherwood et al.) and those with a climate sensitivity less than 3.0°C.  Figure 1 shows that while neither model subset does a very good job is capturing evolution of global temperature during the past 15-20 years (the period with the highest human carbon dioxide emissions), the high sensitivity models do substantially worse than the lower sensitivity models.

How in God’s getting-greener earth did the reviewer boffins at Nature miss this? (Hint:  it messes up the meme.)

Figure 1. Observed global average temperature evolution, 1951-2013, as compiled by the U.K’s Hadley Center (black line), and the average temperature change projected by a collection of climate models used in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report which have a climate sensitivity greater than 3.0°C (red line) and a collection of models with climate sensitivities less than 3.0°C (blue line) (climate model data source: Climate Explorer).

Sherwood et al. prefer models that better match their observations in one variable, but the same models actually do worse in the big picture than do models which lack the apparent accuracy in the processes that Sherwood et al. describe.

It’s Worse Than We Thought all right—but for the climate models, not the real world.  The result can only mean that there must still be even bigger problems with other model processes which must more than counteract the effects of the processes described by Sherwood et al. After all, the overall model collective is still warming the world much faster than it actually is.

Predictably, such a conclusion is absent from popular coverage of these results and from call-to-action editorials based upon them.


Obama's "Climate Change" Lies

By Alan Caruba

The extreme cold that gripped the nation at the beginning of the year just added to the growing public dismissal of the claims that “greenhouse gas emissions” would lead to a dangerous stage of “global warming.”  Indeed, even the charlatans that have devoted decades to this hoax are now using the phrase “climate change.”

We tend not to recall what the weather was like a year ago. In May 2013, Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute, noted that “Lots of us are commenting on the U.S. having the second coldest spring in the official thermometer record (starting ca. 1860) and the coldest since 1975. This cold spring highlights another climate cycle that has nothing to do with carbon dioxide (CO2).”

Records of cold weather are being broken all around the nation and the world. That’s not exactly what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been predicting since it was set up in 1988 to get nations to sign onto the Kyoto Protocols to reduce CO2 emissions, claiming they were causing warming.

We are all going to have to pay attention to what President Obama will have to say in his forthcoming State of the Union speech and other pronouncements about “climate change” because that is going to be a major theme of his as he begins the second year of his second term. Climate change ranks right up there with “If you want to keep your healthcare plan, you can. Period.”

Last February, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an extremely liberal group, wrote Obama to say “We are inspired and gratified by your commitment to address the threat of climate change. Still gushing, they said that the “science of climate change…calls for action to swiftly and deeply reduce heat-trapping emissions and better prepare our nation for now unavoidable impacts.”

If one merely refers to “climate change” without specifically identifying it, how can the UCS be so sure that emissions from our cars, trucks, manufacturing, and of course the coal-fired plants that, until Obama arrived, provided half of all the electricity Americans need and use. To save us all from the “climate change” 150 of these plants have been closed since he took office.

To replace them, the Obama administration “invested” in a variety of wind and solar businesses, most of which promptly went bankrupt with our taxpayer funds. To get us to stop driving, Obama advocated high-speed railroads in a nation where people routinely get on an airplane to get to distant cities. Amtrak has never made a profit since it was created in 1970.

The President, however, can be counted upon to talk about “climate change” as if recent examples of it threaten our lives. The facts say something else. For example, there has been NO global warming for over 17 years. In 2013 there was a record quiet tornado season and severe tornadoes have been declining for 40 years.

Other than tropical storm Sandy in 2012, the U.S. has gone more than 8 years without a major hurricane strike and the U.S. has experienced the fewest forest fires in three decades and, over the same time period, there has been no sea level rise on the west coast of the U.S. or Canada.

In contrast, an Antarctic global warming expedition of 74 eco-tourists, certain that sea ice there was melting, was trapped by it. In the summer of 2013, all manner of yachts, sailboats, and others got trapped by sea ice while trying to sail the Northwest Passage after being told it would be free of ice. It turned out that 2013 recorded the second highest volume of sea ice ever recorded.

It’s not that the climate is not changing. The climate—measured in decades and centuries—has always changed and it does so in remarkably predictable cycles. The period between ice ages is 11.500 years. We are overdue for the next one, though we did have a mini ice age from 1300 to 1850.

All this scientific data guarantees one thing. The President is lying when he talks of “climate change” by which he means a warming cycle. He is lying when he blames it on carbon dioxide which plays no role whatever in climate change. The $7.45 billion his administration gave to 120 nations between 2010 and 2012 to cope with “climate change” was an utter waste of our taxpayer dollars. Given the nation’s $17 trillion in debt, it was money we did not have, but which added to our debt.

Recall, too, that Obama refused to negotiate with the Republican Party in 2013 when it wanted to reduce such spending, resulting in the government shutdown that was blamed on the GOP.

You can forget about “climate change”, but you should keep in mind what the President is doing to bankrupt America and deny it the production of the energy it needs as the weather gets colder.


60mph 'green' speed limit on British motorway

The speed limit on one of Britain’s busiest motorways is to be cut from 70mph to 60mph under a controversial plan to meet European Union pollution targets.

The first ‘environmental’ speed limit is set to be imposed within months on a 32-mile stretch of the M1 – for seven days a week, from 7am to 7pm

The limit will be in place for several years, and any driver caught breaking it faces a hefty fine and penalty points on their licence.

The Highways Agency said last night that the scheme was likely to spread to other stretches of motorway, and is ‘not ruled out’ on up to a dozen major routes.

A busy stretch of the M3 near London is among those currently being assessed for anti-pollution measures.

Motoring groups said it would be ridiculous to limit drivers to 60mph if the motorway was empty.

And the restricted route will still be subject to variable speed limits to keep traffic flowing during congested periods, leading to regular caps of 50mph or 40mph.

The Highways Agency admitted it will be the first time a motorway speed limit has been cut on environmental rather than safety grounds, but insisted the plan was backed by ministers.

The limit will be enforced on the M1 from junction 28, near Matlock, Derbyshire, to junction 35a, north of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Motorists will be able to drive at the standard 70mph on the rest of the M1, which runs from London to Leeds.

The restriction will apply from 7am to 7pm seven days a week and be enforced by speed cameras and police patrols.

The route is part of a  £400million ‘smart’ motorway scheme, under which technology is used to manage traffic flow and the hard shoulder can be used to ease congestion.

It passes Mansfield, Chesterfield and Sheffield – and also includes nine so-called Air Quality Management Areas described as ‘pockets of poor air’.

Although the Highways Agency said the lower speed limit will be in place until pollution dropped to acceptable levels, it admitted the 60mph restriction was likely to remain for several years.

It said a lower speed limit was needed to ensure new EU guidelines on air quality, which come into force this year, will be met.

Whitehall sources said last night that ‘a handful’ of other smart motorway schemes currently in the pipeline could have ‘green’ maximum speed limits imposed to meet air quality targets and avoid Brussels fines.

A section of the M3 from J2-4a near London is currently undergoing environmental assessment to see if measures will be needed to cut pollution levels.

Motoring groups reacted angrily to the plan, and warned of an alarming precedent and that wider use of the lower limit would have an impact on businesses.

AA President Edmund King said: ‘Billions spent on railways to speed up thousands of journeys while hundreds of millions spent on the M1 to slow down hundreds of thousands is an irony that won’t be lost on drivers.

‘Smart motorways were intended to ease congestion and improve journey time reliability through use of the hard shoulder.

‘And here we have a scheme which costs around £400million to simply slow traffic down to 60mph with associated enforcement. Clearly we cannot have such a speed reduction when the M1 is empty.’

RAC technical director David Bizley said: ‘Worryingly, this could pave the way for similar restrictions on other sections of motorway.

While preserving air quality is obviously a paramount concern there will inevitably be a negative impact on business efficiency and individual mobility.’

A Highways Agency consultation on the plan began yesterday and will close on March 3.


A New Leaf for Federal Forests

When two million federal workers rate a government agency as among the worst managed of the lot, you know something must be dreadfully wrong. And so it is with the U.S. Forest Service. The agency, which employs 35,000 workers to care for about one-tenth of the land in the United States, was ranked 260th out of 300 agencies in a 2013 survey. Small wonder. Every few years the Forest Service sees a new record in the number of acres lost to forest fires. Last year the agency lost 6,500 square miles to fires—and that number was an improvement over 2012. The agency knows it has serious problems, but it hasn’t gotten around to finalizing the strategy report that Congress required it to complete three years ago. What should the troubled agency propose to do?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert H. Nelson, who worked for many years as an economist at the Department of the Interior, recommends an innovative approach to improving national forest management: “Create ‘charter forests,’ like charter schools.”

Like charter schools, charter forests wouldn’t be privatized entities—but they would be highly decentralized, with decisions made by local boards of directors that might include government officials, economists, environmentalists, and representatives of recreational and commercial interests. Charter forests would also be free to hire and fire their own personnel—and they would be exempt from various land-use restrictions, provided the directors met basic standards for maintaining environmental quality. “But they would have the flexibility to develop and implement innovative solutions to the severe problems of forest fire, spreading disease and other threats today to national forests, especially in the West,” Nelson writes.



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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