Sunday, May 18, 2014
Scientists Condemned For Political Bias On Climate Change
If you doubt global warming you should be
The journal says the Bengtsson paper was rejected on academic grounds. It would be interesting to see the actual reviewer reports to see just what those "academic" grounds were. I'll have a bet that they were very shallow. But given compulsive Warmist secrecy, I doubt that we will ever see that. "Hiding" things is essential to their modus operandi
Climate scientists who vilified a colleague for advising a think-tank are “blind to their own biases”, according to a former senior member of the UN’s climate change advisory body.
Mike Hulme, professor of climate and culture at King’s College London, condemned fellow scientists for “harassing” Lennart Bengtsson, and gave warning that climate science had become too political.
Professor Bengtsson resigned this week from the academic advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic think-tank, after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics.
Professor Hulme, who helped to lead the team that produced the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2001 report, last night broke ranks within the climate science community to defend Professor Bengtsson.
He condemned climate scientists who “believe it’s their role to pass public judgment on whether a scientific colleague should offer advice to political, public or a campaigning organisations and to harass that scientist until they ‘fall into line’.”
He added that the episode said much about how politicised climate science had become and “how some scientists remain blind to their own biases”.
An academic journal yesterday defended its decision to reject a paper co-authored by Professor Bengtsson and four other leading climate scientists. The paper suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September. An anonymous reviewer for Environmental Research Letters recommended rejecting the paper and described it as “harmful” because climate sceptics could use it to argue their case.
Nicola Gulley, editorial director at IOP Publishing, which publishes the online journal, said that the rejection was based solely on editorial standards. “The referees selected to review this paper were of the highest calibre and are respected members of the international science community,” she said. IOP declined to name the reviewer.
Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said that external pressure on climate scientists had polarised the debate over global warming into “us and them” camps. “It is regrettable that perceived political stances on the climate issue are apparently so affecting academic activity,” she said.
In a statement last night issued via the University of Reading, where he is a research fellow, Professor Bengtsson said: “I am worried by a wider trend that science is gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact.”
More Settled Science!
Sea levels to fall, at the same time as they rise!
More on the West Antarctic nonsense
Despite having local unstable regions Antarctica has more sea ice surrounding it than for many years, with more ice being added than is being lost by glaciers in the West Antarctic.
The media have been saying that the collapse of the West Antarctic glaciers is unstoppable; nothing can halt their retreat, say the headlines. They add that man-made climate change is one of the driving factors that will result in sea-level rises that will alter the coastlines of the world.
The media reports are based on two new studies, or rather the press releases associated with them. One of them looked at 40 years of data. The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The other study investigated nearby Thwaites glacier saying it will likely disappear in a few centuries.
It’s clear that this region is currently the most changeable part of Antarctica, but it’s not clear why, or how long it will go on for. Not every change seen in the past few decades (when we started obtaining reliable satellite data for the first time) is down to mankind.
The most famous and most studied glacier in the region is Pine Island. It has seen significant changes in the last few decades. Its velocity has increased by 40% between 1996 and 2007 and its grounding line retreated by about 1 km/yr between 1992 -2011. It seems that the grounding line – the boundary where a glacier touches the sea floor – is retreating allowing warm water to melt the glacier from below. This was seen for the first time in the 1990s. Since 2009 however there is some evidence that the glacier has been receding at a steady pace.
Because this region of glaciers rests on land below sea level, and there is no land formation to hold it back it is postulated that a runaway process will eventually cause the entire glacier to discharge out to sea, if things continue as they are. Timescales are important. The “collapse” of this particular ice sheet could happen in 200 years, or more likely in 500 or a thousand or more. One should be careful extrapolating hundreds of years into the future from just 20 years of data. The experience from the glaciers in Greenland is that you have to monitor them for much longer to see how variable is their output. “Rignot said, “It happened many times before when the Earth was as warm as it is about to be.” So the collapse needs the current conditions to last hundreds of years. Is that likely?
It’s all too easy to see such changes as obviously manifestations of man-made climate change. Mankind may have played a role. There is some evidence that ocean current changes induced by ozone depletion (down to us) have brought more warm water southward particularly affecting the Antarctic Peninsula.
The most relevant research, not mentioned in the recent media reports, that helps put the changes seen in this particular region into context is a study of the region’s glaciers over the past 8,000 years. The study showed that Pine Island Glacier has experienced rapid thinning in the past and that once set in motion the rapid changes can persist for centuries, and eventually reverse, without mankind’s help.
So this event occurs naturally and has happened before. Of course we are now more vulnerable to such changes that we were in the early Holocene and should monitor the area and make plans. It is an example that even without any human changes to the climate we humans will still have to adapt to climate changes, potentially big ones.
The ice discharge from Pine Island Glacier could rise to 130 GT/yr and lead to significant sea-level rise, perhaps over a metre. It’s a good thing that the vast majority of the 27 million GT of total Antarctic ice is stable.
Despite having local unstable regions Antarctica has more sea ice surrounding it than for many years, with more ice being added than is being lost by glaciers in the West Antarctic. Sea ice is however not the same as land ice. Sea ice is more variable and does not contribute to sea-level rise. No one really knows why the Antarctic sea ice is expanding, undermined as it is by the very same warm water that is said to be responsible for the increased glacier flow in the West Antarctic.
End to solar farm blight as subsidy scheme is scrapped in Britain
Subsidies that have driven the spread of large solar farms across Britain are to be scrapped under plans to stop the panels blighting the countryside.
Energy companies that build solar farms currently qualify for generous consumer-funded subsidies through the so-called 'Renewable Obligation' (RO) scheme, and had expected to keep doing so until 2017.
But the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced on Tuesday that it planned to shut the RO to new large solar farms two years early, from April next year.
The decision follows an admission by ministers that far more projects have been built than expected, leading to an rising subsidy bill for consumers and increasing local opposition.
Greg Barker, the energy minister, pledged last month that solar farms must not become "the new onshore wind" and said he wanted solar panels installed on factory rooftops instead.
Although a separate, new subsidy scheme will be made available to large solar farms, it is expected to be far more difficult for solar farms to gain funding under the new regime.
A Whitehall source said: "Large scale solar shouldn't be in any place or at any cost. The direction of travel is away from farms - especially where communities don't want them."
Leonie Greene, head of external affairs for the Solar Trade Association, said the industry was "dismayed" at the proposals.
She said that the replacement subsidy scheme - so-called 'contracts for difference' (CfD) - simply "doesn't work for solar".
The new scheme will have a capped budget and onshore wind and solar farm projects will be forced to compete with each other in reverse auctions to win subsidy contracts.
Ms Greene said that, on current costs, solar farms "can't compete with onshore wind". The uncertainty in the auction process also made solar farm development too risky for the small businesses who typically build them.
"Unless we can get major amendments to CfDs and fair treatment, they [large-scale solar farms] won't get built," she said.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "Large-scale solar is deploying much faster than we expected. Industry projections indicate that, by 2017, there could be more solar deployed than is affordable – more than the 2.4-4GW set out in the electricity market reform (EMR) delivery plan.
"We need to manage our financial support schemes effectively and responsibly. That means that we need to ensure that the growth of the solar sector is delivered in a way that gives best value for money to consumers and allows us to offer effective support to the renewables sector as a whole.
"So we are also consulting today on proposals to close the RO to new solar PV capacity above 5MW from 1st April 2015, across England, Wales and Scotland. Those proposals include grace period arrangements to protect developers who have already made significant financial commitments."
In a solar strategy released last month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: “We want to move the emphasis for growth away from large solar farms.”
Seb Berry, head of public affairs at solar company Solarcentury, said: "Today's announcement is unnecessary and totally at odds with the government's desire to reduce the cost to energy bill payers of delivering the 2020 renewable energy target.
"This policy proposal will undermine investor confidence in the entire UK renewable energy sector, by removing at a stroke the short and medium-term policy certainty required for major project investments.
“It is surprising that the government is trying justify this proposal on cost grounds. Large-scale solar is already significantly cheaper than offshore wind and will be competitive with onshore wind by 2017. In deliberately setting out to strangle the growth of cheaper solar from 2015, Secretary of State Ed Davey can no longer claim that government policy will deliver the most cost-effective mix of technologies by 2020."
Government Policy: Save the Planet from the Plague of Hungry Humans
I guess vegetables ARE mostly green
Our friends at the Independent Women’s Forum sent a letter the other day to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing concern about the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee becoming overly ideological.
Brace yourself: The guidelines recommend taking great care to feed humanity while being mindful of the carbon footprint consuming food requires … no matter the cost.
IWF Senior Fellow Julie Gunlock wrote at National Review Online about the food nannies our First Lady has decided to direct:
"Every five years, a committee of officials chosen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviews the federal dietary guidelines. This committee, called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, is mandated by Congress to work on “providing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public . . . based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge currently available.” In other words, these are the government-fat-camp counselors, and they’re here to tell you what to eat."
Gunlock notes the sketchy track record of the federal food police. Once they advocated a food pyramid that since 1992 was heavy on carbs. But under the guidance of our First Lady, we moved to the “Choose My Plate” program, which was high in vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Writes Gunlock:
"The new plate was met with much optimism. Celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi gushed that the new plate was a “triumph for the first lady and the rest of us.” Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University said, “The new design is a big improvement.” Others suggested the plate would finally knock some sense into us piggy Americans and make us eat better and lose weight.
Of course, reasonable people realize this is ludicrous because what normal person says, “You know, I really need to eat better. I think I’ll go check out the USDA website for diet info.”?
Only Washington bureaucrats could be oblivious enough to miss the utter uselessness of the DGAC. Only they could be unaware that the United States has a thriving, $60 billion diet and exercise industry (not to mention a whole host of independent bloggers) that already provides people with a variety of choices and advice on how to get fit and eat nutritiously. The DGAC members must avoid grocery stores altogether because if they did ever stand in the checkout lane, they’d be bombarded with magazine headlines promising guidance on dieting (along with pictures of bikini-clad hard bodies)."
Great point by Gunlock. Liberals have zero faith in the public to make the right choices — and an equal lack of recognition that the free market endlessly urges Americans to shape up. But nothing matters to a liberal unless the government urges/mandates it.
Gunlock watched the live feed of the DGAC event so you don’t have to, and noticed something that caught her attention — and should have yours:
"Kate Clancy, billed as a “food systems consultant” (yeah, so am I!) came to the podium and explained that the DGAC must integrate environmental concerns into the guidelines. As her speech went on, I heard phrases like “environmentally friendly food choices” and making “low impact food choices” and looking at things with an “ecological perspective.” Her point was clear: Americans must not only make nutritious food decisions, they must make environmentally responsible food decisions even if that means Americans’ food costs increase. And food prices most definitely will go up if her recommendations are included in the final guidelines."
The liberal elite shops at Whole Foods (despite it being headed by a libertarian), so everyone else should too!
"While Clancy doesn’t say we have to swear off meat altogether, she envisions a population that procures protein from local sources, only buying line-caught fish, grass-fed beef, and organic milk. Again, she makes no mention of the added costs associated with this Whole Foods-style food shopping. Which should make us all wonder, do these folks understand that the highest rates of obesity are suffered by those who live under the poverty line? This administration, which portrays itself as looking out for the poor, might want to reconsider making recommendations that will needlessly hike the prices of healthy food for that very demographic."
Sure. That will happen. As soon as kids all across the country stop dumping their First-Lady-approved lunches into the garbage.
When will we be free of the food nannies? Maybe when we all agree to compost the crappy food they demand we eat.
Over a three-year period, 2009-2012, Department of Justice data shows American taxpayers footed the bill for more than $53 million in so-called environmental groups’ legal fees—and the actual number could be much higher. The real motivation behind the Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation, perhaps, could have more to do with vengeance and penance than with a real desire to protect flora and fauna.
On May 7, I spoke at the Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference in Farmington, New Mexico. During the two-day event, I sat in on many of the other sessions and had conversations with dozens of attendees. I left the event with the distinct impression that the current implementation of the ESA is a major impediment to the economic growth, tax revenue, and job creation that comes with oil-and-gas development. I have written on ESA issues many times, most recently I wrote about the lesser prairie chicken’s proposed “threatened” listing (which the Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS] listed on March 27) and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s lawsuit against the federal government over the “sue and settle” tactics of FWS and the Department of the Interior.
While at the conference, I received an email announcing that FWS has asked a federal court for a six-month delay in making a final determination on whether to list the Gunnison sage grouse as an endangered species—moving the decision past the November elections. Up for re-election, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) “cheered” the extension request. The E & E report states: Colorado elected leaders “fear the listing could have significant economic impacts.”
Kent Holsinger, a Colorado attorney specializing in lands, wildlife and water, posited: “Senator Udall is among those lauding the move—perhaps because a listing decision would affect his fate in the U.S. Senate. Gunnison sage grouse populations are stable, if not on the increase. In addition, myriad state, local and private conservation efforts have been put into place over the last decade. Those efforts, and the Gunnison sage grouse, are at risk if the FWS pursues listing.”
The report continues: “WildEarth Guardians is not opposing the latest extension after Fish and Wildlife agreed to some extensive new mitigation measures that will be made in the interim, including increasing buffer zones around sage grouse breeding grounds, called leks, and deferring coal, oil and gas leasing, said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians.” It goes on to say: “But the Center for Biological Diversity, which is a party to the settlement agreements with WildEarth Guardians, said the latest extension is a bad move for the grouse, which it says has needed ESA protections for years.”
Two important items to notice in the Gunnison sage grouse story. One, the power the environmental groups wield. Two, part of appeasing the environmental groups involves “deferring coal, oil and gas leasing.”
It is widely known that these groups despise fossil fuels. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)brags about its use of lawsuits to block development—but it is not just oil and gas they block, it is virtually all human activity.
In researching for this week’s column, I have talked to people from a variety of industry and conservation efforts. The conversations started because I read something they’d written about CBD. Whether I was talking to someone interested in protecting big horn sheep, a fishing enthusiast, or an attorney representing ranching or extractive industries, CBD seems to be a thorn in their side. All made comments similar to what Amos Eno, who has been involved in conservation for more than forty years, told me: “CBD doesn’t care about the critters. They are creating a listing pipeline and then making money off of it.” Environmental writer Ted Williams, in a piece on wolves, called CBD: “perennial plaintiffs.”
New Mexico rancher Stephen Wilmeth directed me to a CBD profile he’d written. In it he addressed how the CBD’s efforts targeted livestock grazing and sought “the removal of cattle from hundreds of miles of streams.” Wilmeth states: “CBD has elevated sue and settle tactics, injunctions, new species listings, and bad press surrounding legal action to a modern art form. Consent decrees more often than not result in closed door sessions with concessions or demands made on agency policy formulation.”
In a posting on the Society for Bighorn Sheep website titled: Legal tactics directly from the Center for Biological Diversity, board member Gary Thomas states: “The Center ranks people second. By their accounting, all human endeavors, agriculture, clean water, energy, development, recreation, materials extraction, and all human access to any space, are subordinate to the habitat requirements of all the world’s obscure animals and plants. But these selfish people don’t care about any person, plant, or animal. The Center collects obscure and unstudied species for a single purpose, specifically for use in their own genre of lawsuits. They measure their successes not by quality of life for man nor beast, but by counting wins in court like notches in the handle of a gun.”
You’d expect someone like me, an energy advocate, to dis the CBD—and I have (CBD is not too fond of me)—but how’d it get such a broad-based collection of negativity from within the environmental community?
Ted Williams told me: “environmentalists who are paying attention are not happy with CBD.” He has written the most comprehensive exposé on CBD that can be found—for which he was threatened with a lawsuit. Without Williams’ work, one has to resort to bits and pieces off the internet to put together CBD’s modus operandi—but there is plenty to choose from!
One of the most interesting ones to catch my eye was a part of the post on SheepSociety.com. There, Thomas points out the fact that the three founders of CBD are ex-forest service workers. He states: “To donors, their motives appear altruistic. To the informed, they look more like a 20-year quest for revenge for their firing.”
I am fairly well acquainted with CBD, but Thomas’ accusation was new to me—though it fit what I knew. (One of the very first pieces I ever wrote, when I originally got into this work seven plus years ago, was on the one and only legal victory ever won against CBD. Arizona rancher Jim Chilton won a defamation suit against CBD with a $600,000 dollar settlement. Nearly everyone I talked to as a part of my research for this story mentioned Chilton’s name with reverence.)
I dug around and found an interesting story from Backpacker Magazine that gave credence to Thomas’ claim. The February 2003 issue features a multi-page profile on Kieran Suckling, co-founder and executive director. Addressing the three founders, who were working for the Forest Service, Backpacker reports: “All three of them were frustrated by their agencies’ inaction.” The story goes on to explain how the threesome “hatched a plan” to petition the Forest Service and force it to list the spotted owl.
Then, I found a 2009 profile on Suckling in High Country News (HCN). It quotes Suckling describing how the roots of his full-time activism started while working for the Forest Service doing spotted owl surveys: “We had signed contracts saying we wouldn’t divulge owl locations, but we went the next day to the Silver City Daily Press, with a map that told our story. We were fired within seconds. That was the start of us becoming full-time activists.”
These snippets help explain Suckling’s animosity toward the Forest Service and other government agencies. CBD is gleeful over its results. It has sued government agencies hundreds of times and has won the majority of the cases—though many never go to court and are settled in a backroom deal (hence the term: “sue and settle”). Thomas writes: “They are extremely proud to report that single-handedly they deplete the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s entire annual budget, approximately $5 million, for endangered species listings year after year by forcing them to use their limited funds defending lawsuits instead of their intended purpose.”
The HCN piece describes Suckling’s approach to getting what he wants—which he explains in the New Yorker, as “a new order in which plants and animals are part of the polity”: “The Forest Service needs our agreement to get back to work, and we are in the position of being able to powerfully negotiate the terms of releasing the injunction. … They [federal employees] feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed—and they are. So they become much more willing to play by our rules and at least get something done. Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning.”
“In CBD speak,” adds Wilmeth, “the suggestion of playing by the rules equates to its rules of manipulating positive outcomes for its mission.”
Putting the pieces together, it does appear, as Thomas asserts, that Suckling is on a 20+ year “quest for revenge” for being fired—vengeance that American taxpayers are funding.
Suckling is an interesting character. The Backpacker story cites his ex-wife, who said the following: “He’s not tethered on a daily basis to the same things you and I are tethered to.”
Tierra Curry is another name that comes up frequently in CBD coverage. CBD’s staff section of the website lists her as “senior scientist” and says she “focuses on the listing and recovery of endangered species.” As Warner Todd Huston reports: “Curry has an odd profile for an activist. She once claimed to have enjoyed dynamiting creek beds in rural Kentucky and taking perverse pleasure at sending fish and aquatic animals flying onto dry land and certain death. Now Curry spends her time filing petitions to ‘save’ some of the same animals she once enjoyed killing.”
Perhaps Curry’s frenetic listing efforts are her way of doing penance for her childhood penchant of killing critters.
The role vengeance and penance may play in CBD’s shakedown of the American public is just a hypothesis based on facts. But the dollars paid out are very real.
In an April 8, 2014 hearing before the House Committee on Natural Resources, fifth-generation rancher and attorney specializing in environmental litigation, Karen Budd-Falen talked about the need for ESA reform, as four different House bills propose: “Public information regarding payment of attorney’s fees for ESA litigation is equally difficult to access.” Addressing HR 4316—which requires a report on attorney’s fees and costs for ESA related litigation—she says: “It should not be a radical notion for the public to know how much is being paid by the federal government and to whom the check is written.”
As she reports in her testimony, Budd-Falen’s staff did an analysis of the 276-page spreadsheet run released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) listing litigation summaries in cases defended by the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Wildlife Section. She explains: “The spreadsheets are titled ‘Endangered Species Defensive Cases Active at some point during FY09-FY12 (through April 2012).’
Although the DOJ release itself contained no analysis, my legal staff calculated the following statistics.” Budd-Falen then shows how she came up with the nearly $53 million figure of taxpayer money paid out over an approximate three-year period. However, she then shows how her own Freedom of Information Act requests have proven “that the DOJ does not keep an accurate account of the cases it defends”—making the actual dollar figure much higher.
Budd-Falen has stated: “We believe when the curtain is raised we’ll be talking about radical environmental groups bilking the taxpayer for hundreds of millions of dollars, allegedly for ‘reimbursement for attorney fees.’”
Budd-Falen’s research shows that for groups like CBD—who sue on process not on substance—it really is about the money.
Eno believes that for the CBD, it isn’t about the critters: “CBD endangers the endangered species program on multiple fronts. First, their petitions and listing suits use up significant financial and personnel resources of both Office of Endangered Species and solicitors office in DOI. This means less funding and personnel devoted to species recovery. Second, CBD suits antagonize and jeopardize recovery programs of cooperating federal land management agencies, particularly USFS and BLM. Third, their suits have hampered forest and grassland management thereby inviting forest fires which endanger both human and wildlife (sage grouse) communities throughout the west. Fourth, CBD suits antagonize, alienate and create financial hardship for affected private land owners, thereby reducing both public support and initiatives and active assistance for listed species recovery.”
Despite numerous attempts, the ESA has not had any major revisions in more than 25 years. The Wall Street Journal states: “The ESA’s mixed record on wildlife restoration and its impact on business have made the law vulnerable to critics.” Groups like CBD have twisted the intent of the law. Reform is now essential—not just to save taxpayer dollars, but to put the focus back on actually saving the species rather than, as Wilmeth calls it: “the bastardized application of science, policy and education.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.
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
Posted by JR at 6:45 PM