Sunday, July 06, 2014

This is what happens when you express global temperature in simple degrees Fahrenheit instead of as an "anomaly"

Calibrated in whole degrees

And here it is in Celsius:

Odd that Warmists always use "anomalies", isn't it?

The Trouble With Climate Change Denial (?)

Bob Ward below must get tired talking about global warming.  It's the same old story from him over and over:  Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse.  No room for the facts about global warming  -- such as we see above.  Odd that skeptics are always using graphs but Warmists rarely do.  The graphs are just too pesky

Over the past few months, the Global Warming Policy Foundation has been strongly pushing a campaign pamphlet on 'The trouble with climate change', written by its founder and chair, Lord Lawson of Blaby. It provides a fascinating demonstration of the trouble with climate change denial.

The pamphlet is a grumpy polemic by Lord Lawson in which he complains bitterly about being subjected to "extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification" because of his views on climate change, while also condemning "climate scientists and their hangers-on who have become the high priests of a new age of unreason".

It shows that he is still filled with the same intense dislike of climate scientists that he felt when he first produced an essay on the issue for the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing lobby group, in 2006.

That essay, which provided the basis for his book 'An Appeal to Reason', suggested that "the new religion is eco-fundamentalism", which he compared with "the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism", and "the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than clerics of the established religions".

Like his first contribution, Lord Lawson's latest pamphlet is imbued with contempt for climate scientists, and depends on denying their findings about the scale of the risks that are being created by unmanaged climate change.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has no scientific training or qualifications, accepts the undeniable fact that "by burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - we are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus, other things being equal, increasing the earth's temperature". But beyond this, he presents a distorted account of the science, apparently based on whether it is in line with his ideological opposition to climate change policies.

For instance, Lord Lawson claims that "the effect of carbon dioxide on the earth's temperature is probably less than was previously thought". This is simply false. The most authoritative review of the scientific evidence, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September 2013, found that the long-term sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was likely (66 per cent chance) to cause global average surface temperature to rise by between 1.5 and 4.5 centigrade degrees.

This compares with the previous assessment in 2007 which concluded that the value of the long-term climate sensitivity is between 2.0 and 4.5 centigrade degrees. So although the lower bound is slightly lower in the new assessment, it is not true that the value is "probably less than previously thought".

And as the new report shows, if atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to grow at the current rate, even assuming a low value of climate sensitivity, global warming will substantially exceed two degrees by the end of this century, resulting in a global average surface temperature that, as the IPCC points out, has not been experienced for a sustained period on Earth since the Pliocene Epoch about 3 million years ago, when the polar ice caps were much smaller and global sea level was up to 20 metres higher than it is today.

However, 82-year-old Lord Lawson seems unperturbed by the prospect of creating a prehistoric climate for future generations to deal with. He argues that "over millennia, the temperature of the earth has varied a great deal". That may be so, but human civilisation has developed over the past 12,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age during a period when global average temperature has only varied by a couple of centigrade degrees at most.

Lord Lawson offers proof of our resilience against climate change by citing the Little Ice Age in the 17th century, "when the Thames frequently froze in winter and substantial ice fairs were held on it". This is a 'sceptic' canard. The River Thames froze over only 23 times between 1408 and 1814, and was due to the old London Bridge restricting tidal flows. After the Bridge was replaced in the 1830, the river did not freeze over even though London experienced many colder winters.

Finally Lord Lawson argues that even if the Earth is warming, the consequences are nothing to worry about. He claims that it is "still uncertain whether there is any impact on extreme weather events as a result of warming", yet the IPCC concluded that "changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950", and, for instance, "the frequency or intensity of heavy precipitation events has likely increased in North America and Europe".

Lord Lawson also denies any link between climate change and the floods that hit the UK earlier this year during the wettest winter on record, even though the Met Office has laid out the evidence for a connection. Instead, he accuses the Met Office of "weasel words" and accuses its chief scientist, Professor Julia Slingo, of being "publicity-hungry".

The pamphlet provides stunning proof that the arguments put forward by Lord Lawson and other climate change 'sceptics' require not just a dogmatic rejection of the expert views of climate scientists, but also a denigration of their professional competence and integrity.

That is the trouble with climate change denial.


BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes

The Vatican of Global Warming

BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’

The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.

The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.

Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’

“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” wrote the report authors.

“Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”

The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.

In April the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about climate change and creating ‘false balance’ by allowing unqualified sceptics to have too much air-time.

In a damning parliamentary report, the corporation was criticised for distorting the debate, with Radio 4’s Today and World at One programmes coming in for particular criticism.

The BBC’s determination to give a balanced view has seen it pit scientists arguing for climate change against far less qualified opponents such as Lord Lawson who heads a campaign group lobbying against the government’s climate change policies.

Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill climate sceptic blog, former children’s television presenter Johnny Ball and Bob Carter, a retired Australian geologist, are among the other climate sceptics that have appeared on the BBC.

The report highlighted World at One edition in September of a landmark UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research project which found concluded with 95 per cent certainty that the climate is changing and that human activity is the main cause.

The programme’s producers tried more than a dozen qualified UK scientists to give an opposing view but could not find one willing to do so – so they went to Mr Carter in Australia.

Pitted against Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Mr Carter described the findings of the most authoritative report ever undertaken into the science of climate change – put together by hundreds of scientists around the world – as “hocus-pocus science”.


There is zero evidence that plastic bags kill fish, birds or the planet

The British government should be ashamed of itself, says Jill Bell, of the Marine Conservation Society, for letting supermarket chain Tesco hand out plastic bags for free.

Prime minister David Cameron has apparently heeded the message since he now proposes to use some of his limited remaining time in power passing a law that will oblige customers to pay five pence per bag.

Why? Because ‘animals are dying from ingesting plastic and it is entering the food chain’, Bell told the Daily Mail, a newspaper that has become an evangelist for the bob-a-bag cause. Seabirds and marine mammals have died from ingesting and being entangled in disposable shopping bags, we are told.

The number of creatures polished off by plastic in, say, the last 12 months is impossible to establish, so environmental campaigners are obliged to make up the stats. The fatalities are ‘countless’, says Greenpeace, ‘numerous’ in fact. ‘An increasing number’, says the United Nations Environmental Programme; ‘thousands’, reports the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Between 100,000 and 500,000’, says the Winterlife Cooperative in Seattle. The death toll for seabirds alone is ‘around one million’, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), plus ‘100,000 marine animals’.

Chris Davies MEP, the environment spokesman for the UK Liberal Democrats, confidently assures the Mail that ‘discarded plastic bags are killing millions of marine animals each year’, which is why the European Parliament has declared jihad, or as they prefer to call it, a ‘Binding European Union Target’ on plastic bags. Shoppers in Britain face the prospect of a five-pence polybag tax because ‘it’s become a massive problem across Europe’, says Davies, ‘one we must deal with together’.

The phantasmal qualities of discarded plastic pouches have become part of modern folklore. Plastic bags are seen as the harbinger of wider eco-calamity that strikes fear into our hearts, much like the dreaded medieval Welsh king Gwynn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Dead, with his powers to summon the souls of unbaptised children. ‘We must change our habits’, say the sages at the AMCS, ‘and break the deadly cycle’.

For advice on matters of impending doom, the ancient Assyrians turned to the soothsayer, ‘the frenzied woman from whose lips the god speaks’. Her prophecies were self-evidently beyond question; to deny her word was tantamount to apostasy. Today we ascribe environmentalists with the omniscient virtues of the soothsayer. Their wild claims on the deleterious qualities of plastic, like their wild long-term weather forecasts, are seldom questioned.

Plastic sceptics are assumed to be in the pay of Big Checkout and lacking in compassion for our suffering airborne and aquatic friends. When Tesco says it has reduced the number of bags it gives away, its claims are regarded as dubious, since it has a ‘vested interest’ in lining its own pocket. Not-for-profit campaigners, on the other hand, are afforded great respect in media interviews. As valiant campaigners against callous slaughter, they are immune to baser motives, like raising money for a cause that allows them to pay their mortgage.

Curiously for a newspaper that has shown admirable scepticism towards climate claims, the Mail appears to have swallowed the checkout catastrophe theory hook, line and sinker. The tabloid and its readers are understandably fed up with Eurocrats who presume to impose national law, yet Westminster’s craven response to this particularly moral crusade is treated with indifference. The Mail, an organ that presents itself as a supporter of consumer rights, seems unconcerned at this regressive impost on supermarket shoppers. Five pence a bag will be of little, if any, consequence to the average merchant banker; it is a tenth of the price of Waitrose gourmet pork sausages with black pepper and nutmeg. For the price-conscious shoppers in Morrisons, however, a shilling is half the cost of a banger.

Those who make a virtue of their compassion for the poor and vulnerable have been notably silent on this point, for turtles trump people in the ecological hierarchy of concerns. Looking for logic or consistency in the arguments of the bob-a-bag vigilantes, however, is a futile exercise. This is public policy based on gut instinct rather than evidence.

The Productivity Commission, the Australian government’s independent policy research body, considered the case for regulating plastic bags in 2006 and concluded: ‘The case for proceeding with the phase out of plastic bags appears particularly weak.’ Plastic bags accounted for a mere 0.2 per cent of solid waste in landfill disposal. The inert nature of plastic meant its environmental impact was low and there was some evidence that it helped stabilise landfill and reduce leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. An Australian government report in 2002 concluded: ‘Actual numbers of animals injured or killed annually by plastic-bag litter is obviously nearly impossible to determine.’

The most commonly-quoted death toll – 100,000 – came from a 20-year-old Canadian study on fishing nets and tackle. ‘A more cost-effective approach to addressing the underlying issues of concern would be to target plastic-bag litter directly’, the Productivity Commission recommended. Anti-littering and anti-dumping laws should be enforced. Community education and action schemes should be encouraged. Tidy-town awards and volunteer clean-up days have a double benefit; they produce a healthier environment and healthier communities.

Under Australia’s federal system, the state of South Australia is the equivalent of the crash-test dummy when it comes to appraising the efficacy of nanny-state legislation. It is the state that banned smoking in mental hospitals to ‘provide a clear message to the community’ but still allows smoking in prisons.  It is the state that set up a Cat and Dog Management Board to lecture citizens about responsible pet ownership and gives free surfing lessons to graffiti vandals to try to wean them off aerosols. And it is home to the parliament that passed the Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Act 2008 because it could not trust its citizens to throw them in the bin.

Under the legislation, a South Australian shopkeeper who fails to charge for a lightweight plastic bag, ‘as a means of carrying goods purchased, or to be purchased, from the retailer’, faces a $5,000 fine. The retailer can gain exemption if ‘he or she believed on reasonable grounds that the bag was not a plastic shopping bag’. The law comes down hard, however, on a person who attempts to present a plastic shopping bag as something other than a plastic shopping bag. Section 6 of the 2008 Act is clear: ‘If a person sells, supplies or provides a bag to another knowing that it is a plastic shopping bag; and… represents to the other that the bag is not a plastic shopping bag, the person is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: $20,000.’

The South Australian government claims that it ‘leads the nation’ in the crusade against lightweight, single-use, disposable bags, and that there will be 40million fewer of them as a result. That figure, like every other statistic in this field, is dubious to say the least.

The inconvenience to customers has been considerable and there are unintended consequences; householders are running out of bags to line the bin. Zero Waste SA, one of South Australia’s many statutory authorities, has stepped in with a handy factsheet titled ‘The Bin-Liner Dilemma’. It notes that abandoning the bin liner altogether would reduce the volume of solid waste entering landfill, but would introduce other problems. Water use increases, since bins require washing more frequently. The use of bin-cleaning products has increased, along with the associated environmental impacts.

Plastic bags, it transpires, have their good points after all. Plastic-lined dustbins are odourless and discourage vermin. Naked bins, on the other hand, pose health risks for garbage collectors, and burden them with additional work. The risk of accidental littering increases, the factsheet notes, particularly ‘if waste is collected in windy conditions’. Zero Waste concludes: ‘There remains no clear “environmental impact-free” solution to the bin-liner dilemma.’

And in any case, is the consumption of plastic bags really that bad, or is our aversion to them just another food fad? It may seem a flippant question, but a recent report in the Mail suggests it is not. ‘Man addicted to eating plastic bags’, reads the headline. ‘They’re delicious’, says Robert, 23, from Oakland, Tennessee, who claims to have been eating plastic bags since he was seven years old. We are led to believe he has eaten 60,000 in his lifetime and cruises the neighbourhood when he gets peckish in search of a discarded bag. His fiance persuaded him to see a doctor, but ‘even though eating plastic can cause liver damage and intestinal blockages, Robert’s tests come back OK’.

It’s a story that just about sums up everything the Mail has published about plastic bags. Hard to swallow.


Cellulosic alcohol hits  a rock

Contrary to popular ‘green’ beliefs, a study funded by the US federal government argues that corn-based biofuels are actually worse for the environment than gasoline, as they emit more greenhouse gasses and deplete soil carbon.

The $500,000 peer-reviewed analysis by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, published in an issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, claims that cellulosic biofuels like ethanol, produced from residue, the byproduct of harvested corn (left-over leaves, cobs etc.) lead to a 7-percent increase in emissions, as well as 62 grams above the 60-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions stipulated in the law on energy targets of 2007.

This is a setback for those lobbying for cleaner fuels, who wish to combat climate change. The federal government has been trying to push through mandates for increasing ethanol production to promote the idea of clean alternatives to gasoline. They invested over $1 billion in federal funds to support cellulosic biofuel research. But ethanol-based fuel alternatives have so far been a more expensive, cumbersome venture.

This should make farmers happy, as soil erosion has always been a problem, as well as the issue of retaining residue for nourishing and preserving soil quality.

According to experts in the field, the research is long overdue and is the first attempt to quantify the effect of ethanol-based biofuel on carbon depletion in soil. It looked at production in 12 Corn Belt states.

The key conclusion is that when left to be absorbed naturally by the soil, the leaves, stalks and cobs are more beneficial for the soil than when it is later burned as fuel and the residue gives off carbon into the atmosphere. As a result, the study concludes the process contributes to global warming.

"If less residue is removed, there is less decrease in soil carbon, but it results in a smaller biofuel energy yield," Adam Liska, the professor in charge of the study said, adding that the results of the study were in line with his expectations and that he’s “amazed [the findings have] not come out more solidly until now.”

As a preventive measure against depriving the soil of carbon it gets from corn residue – and to reduce carbon emissions - the research suggests planting more crops to give the earth the carbon it needs; it also talks of using alternative feed stocks and sources of residue, as well as harnessing more electricity from carbon-fuel stations, as opposed to coal-operated ones.

The study received a swift response from government officials and oil businesses, who say the research is flawed, as it uses scenarios that are firstly too simplistic, because they don’t account for variations in carbon depletion from soil in a given field; secondly, they are seen as too extreme in overestimating how much residue is removed.

According to Jan Koninckx, who is the global business director for bio refineries at DuPont, a chemical company, “no responsible farmer or business would ever employ [the study’s suggestions], because it would ruin both the land and the long-term supply of feedstock. It makes no agronomic or business sense.”

But Liska believes that this is, in fact, the first study that got the carbon depletion math as close to the truth as possible.

And, as professor David Tilman of the University of Minnesota said in support of the study: “It will be very hard to make a biofuel that has a better greenhouse gas impact than gasoline using corn residue,”


Germany Shelves Shale-Gas Drilling For Next Seven Years

Planned Regulations Come Amid Political Standoff With Russia, Germany's Main Gas Supplier

Germany plans to halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over concerns that exploration techniques could pollute groundwater.

"There won't be [shale-gas] fracking in Germany for the foreseeable future," Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Friday.

The planned regulations come amid a political standoff with Russia, Germany's main natural gas supplier, and following intensive lobbying from environmentalists and brewers concerned about possible drinking-water contamination.

The production of shale gas requires the application of the hydraulic fracturing technology known as fracking, which involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart rocks to release the gas. The government plans to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for drilling operations shallower than 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) and hopes to get a bill ready early next year.

The government will reassess the ban in 2021.

"Protecting drinking water and health has the highest value for us," Ms. Hendricks said.

Fracking technology has been used since the 1960s in Germany, allowing the industry to maximize the output of conventional gas fields. Although there is currently an oversupply of natural gas in Europe, prices in Germany are much higher than in the U.S. where fracking is used extensively.

But Germans are suspicious of fracking, fearing that it could pollute drinking water. Shale-gas carrying rock formations tend to be closer to the surface, and therefore closer to groundwater deposits.

While fracking for conventional gas deposits will remain permitted, the government will tighten rules aimed at preventing water contamination from fluids released during the fracking process.

A ban on fracking for shale gas is consistent with previous comments from leading lawmakers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. In its coalition agreement, the government last year stated that it "rejects the application of toxic substances" in oil and gas extraction. The coalition, which groups Ms. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, has said fracking should pose no risk to water supplies.

It has said, however, that it could change its mind if the energy industry were to improve its environmental track record and replace toxic substances with harmless ones.

While the new regulations are aimed at cementing an effective moratorium on shale-gas production in Germany, they also pave the way for a reinvigoration of conventional gas production.

Public opposition to fracking had prompted state regulators to restrict almost all gas extraction that involves fracking. And the gas industry has blamed dwindling domestic gas production on the authorities' restrictive approval practices.

German domestic gas production declined by around 10% in 2012 and again in 2013, due partly to the fracking ban, according to Wintershall AG, Germany's largest gas and oil producer.

Declining gas production has already hit public budgets. Before the fracking ban, Germany's gas industry contributed roughly €600 million ($816 million) annually in taxes and other income to Lower Saxony's budget. In the coming years, the state is projecting income of around €400 million, the state government has said.

Fracking proponents in Germany have said it could boost the country's economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The West's rising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine has also prompted calls for more indigenous gas production to reduce reliance on Russian energy supplies.



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