Tuesday, November 25, 2014

World locked into 'alarming' global warming, says World Bank

On their own figures the warming is trivial  -- certainly not 'alarming'.  A temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the last 200 years is less than a one degree (i.e. .75 of a degree) rise per century. Are these guys serious?   At that rate no-one will notice anything about the climate.  One hopes that they understand more about money than they do about climate

The world is locked into 1.5°C global warming, posing severe risks to lives and livelihoods around the world, according to a new climate report commissioned by the World Bank.

The report, which called on a large body of scientific evidence, found that global warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times – up from 0.8°C today – is already locked into Earth's atmospheric system by past and predicted greenhouse gas emissions.

Such an increase could have potentially catastrophic consequences for mankind, causing the global sea level to rise more than 30 centimeters by 2100, droughts to become more severe and placing almost 90 percent of coral reefs at risk of extinction.

The World Bank called on scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and asked them to look at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, cities and ecosystems across the world.

Their findings, collated in the Bank's third report on climate change published on Monday, specifically looked at the risks climate change poses to lives and livelihoods across Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa.

In the report entitled "Turndown the heat – Confronting the new climate normal," scientists warned that even a seemingly slight rise in global warming could have dramatic effects on us all.

"A world even 1.5°C [warmer] will mean more severe droughts and global sea level rise, increasing the risk of damage from storm surges and crop loss and raising the cost of adaptation for millions of people," the report with multiple authors said. "These changes are already underway, with global temperatures 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and the impact on food security, water supplies and livelihoods is just beginning."

As temperatures rise, heat extremes on a par with the heat waves in the U.S. in 2012 and Russia in 2010 will also become more common, scientists believed. "Everyone will feel the impact, particularly the poor, as weather extremes become more common and risks to food, water, and energy security increase."

Without concerted action to reduce emissions, the report warns that the planet is on pace for 2°C warming by mid-century and 4°C or more by the time today's teenagers are in their 80s.

A temperature rise of this magnitude would create "a frightening world of increased risks and global instability," the World Bank Group's President Jim Yong Kim said, calling the scientists' findings "alarming."

"Today's report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course of warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world's poorest and most vulnerable people the most," Kim said. "Climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable," he added.

The effects of climate change are already starting to impact on mankind, the president noted, with record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places, while drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean are getting dryer. A significant increase in tropical North Atlantic cyclone activity is affecting the Caribbean and Central America.

The new report comes on the heels of strong new warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the pace of climate change and the energy transformations necessary to stay within 2°C warming.

Earlier in November, China and the U.S. signed a landmark agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 but there are fears those curbs don't go far enough to slow the onslaught of global warming. There are still many prominent and influential climate change skeptics to convince too.

Global governments are gathering in Lima, Peru at the start of December for the next round of climate negotiations. The World Bank said its latest report provides "direction and evidence of the risks and the need for ambitious goals to decarbonize economies now."


Brainwashed Greenie realizes she was wrong

“Yes, Monsanto is pure evil,” I said. This was about a year ago, in 2013, and I was defending science and nuanced thinking in the same sentence, no less. “Monsanto is pure evil,” I said, “but genetic engineering is just a tool and in itself is neither good or bad.” My University course literature had given a balanced view of many possible benefits to GM while highlighting a couple of areas of caution. My main insight on Monsanto came from the movie Food Inc., confirmed by plenty of common internet knowledge and a couple of trusted friends of mine.

I had always considered myself a rational and science-minded person so I was upset when I first heard people object to GMOs for reasons such as not wanting genes in their food (in the late nineties, when the topic was still very new and knowledge scarce) or just because ‘it wasn’t natural’, which I saw as a fear of the unknown.

Later on I was incredibly frustrated to find that a lot of people opposed standard vaccinations going counter to scientific evidence. So when I stumbled on a Facebook page called “We love vaccines and GMOs”, though I didn’t exactly think of my view on genetic engineering as ‘love’, I was happy to find a place to share my frustration. But as I started following their posts I was confronted with something that gave me pause. There were several that criticised organic farming.

I had been a loyal organic consumer for a decade. My vegan friends had talked a lot about how detrimental industrial agriculture was for the environment, and even my favourite ecology teacher back in the University mentioned how important it was to buy organic milk and meat. Living on student subsidies and saving on about everything else, I was convinced that buying ecological produce (In Finland the label actually goes under the name ‘Eco’, and the Swedish label, translated roughly to ‘Demand’, also states the food is ecologically produced. In Switzerland it’s called ‘Bio’ for biologically farmed.) was vital for the environment. Paying twice the price was more than worth it.

I couldn’t just leave the criticism unaddressed. Somebody needed to present a nuanced voice of organic farming, so that people would not group it together with anti-science sentiments. So I started digging. I read about comprehensive meta-analyses of studies where they found that organic food was no more nutritious than conventional produce1,2. Interesting, but hardly devastating. That wasn’t my reason for choosing organic. I read about how organic was an industry like any other, looking for profit, with all the dirt that entails3,4 – well sure. It couldn’t exactly be a charity, could it? Not every company was perfectly principled. It didn’t mean that the whole organic label was bad. Then I read a Swiss animal welfare organisation statement that organic did not necessarily reflect in greater well-being for the animals, that it was more narrowly focused on the farming of crops5. As a great animal lover I thought, okay, that’s a pity, for animal products I would have to look for different labels. But I would continue to support organic for the most important point, for the sake of the environment.

I continued. There were studies about organic pesticides being no more benign than conventional6. Well that was surprising, but made sense, they would all have to be some kind of chemicals that kill plants and insects. I further read about how the risks from pesticides for the consumer were actually very small7,8,9, and that people feared them much out of proportion! What a relief. Why did so many seem to think the opposite?

Further, there was a study that said organic farming actually contributed more to pollution of groundwater10, and then an analysis of more than a hundred studies saying organic had more ammonia and nitrogen run-off per product unit, leading to more eutrophication as well as acidification potential11. Ouch. That was not what I would have thought. But considering the imprecise mode of fertilisation (spreading out manure), that too did make sense. Most importantly, also confirmed by several sources, I found out that the big issue with organic farming was the yield – forgoing the more efficient synthetic methods meant having one third (or between a half and one fifth) less of end product2,11,12,13. Which in turn meant that scaling up organic farming, we would need to find a third more land to make up for its inefficiency.

When I looked at these studies one by one, my immediate reaction was: surely now that these results were available, where necessary, organic farming practices could be adapted so that they would continue to provide consumers with the best environmentally friendly sources of food. But that relied on an assumption I held that I had so far not even thought of checking.

I thought organic farming was based on evidence, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t designed by studying what would be best for the environment. On the contrary, to my surprise I found it’s roots were actually in biodynamic agriculture – a method that emphasizes spiritual and mystical perspectives on farming14. What? How could I have missed such a point for a decade? The picture I was beginning to piece together was that being ‘organic’ was based on the idea that modern farming – industrial agriculture – was bad, and the old ways of farming were better. That whatever natural was, that was better.

So anything created specifically in a lab, with intention, aim, and knowledge – anything synthetic – had to be bad15. Genetic engineering (which I had thought would go hand-in-hand with many of the ecological intentions of organic farming) had to be especially bad. And companies working on modern agricultural approaches were simply the worst16.

While I was in the midst of what I call my organic crisis, I saw another post that was at odds with my world view. But this one was over the top. A YouTube video called “I love Monsanto”17. I clicked on the link in disbelief as I had never seen those three words in the same sentence before. Obviously it was an attention-seeking stunt, and it worked. The man in the video, Dusty, went through one Monsanto-claim after another, and punched them full of holes. And quite easily too. He urged his watchers not to take his word but to read up on the claims themselves. I did. Alleged lawsuits, abusing and controlling farmers, bad treatment of employees, Indian farmer suicides, terminator seeds, terrible farming practices, toxic pesticides, devastating health impacts and on and on18,19,20,21,22.

I came up empty. There was nothing terrible left that I could accuse Monsanto of. I even skimmed back and forth in the movie Food Inc., and looked for supporting sources online, but instead of finding ammunition, I found more holes23,24. With a few emotional testimonies and dramatised footage the movie painted a worldview which made all its following insinuations plausible. I couldn’t believe I had not seen the gaps in its presentation on the first viewing. Why didn’t they interview any science experts or organisations? What about the FDA? Union representatives? Farming organisations? Lawyers? Immigration officials? Where was the actual evidence?

I was embarrassed and angry over how easily I had been fooled. Not only had I parroted silly slogans such as ‘Monsanto is evil’, but I had long and determinedly supported a branch of agriculture that I thought was making the world better. It dawned on me that the only improvements in fact being made were the ones in the minds of myself and the other organic supporters – thinking better of ourselves for making such ethical choices. I had shunned others for using the ‘natural’ argument, but with my wallet I had supported the idea that ‘natural’ methods were best in a mysterious way that was above and beyond evidence.

I began to question if there even was a ‘natural way to farm’? If natural was defined by, say, the exclusion of human activities, then surely there was nothing natural to farming. On the other hand, if we accepted humans as a part of nature, and our continued innovations as part of *our nature*, then all farming was natural. Saying that more traditional farming practices would be inherently better than those using more advanced technology wasn’t a concept that could be settled by a romantical appeal to nature. Only careful definitions of ‘better’, followed by observations, testing, and evaluation of evidence could tell us something about that.

Another thing which may or may not be considered natural, is how incredibly many humans there are on this planet today. My reading has made me accept that innovations like synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, and enhanced crops are important in the quest of keeping everybody fed. I have even begun to accept that Monsanto – gasp – could play a part in making the world better. As I see it, the best kind of agriculture going forward should be a scientifically oriented one. It should be free to combine the best methods whether they be derived from old traditions or created in the lab, using what makes most sense, in order to arrive at efficient and environmentally friendly ways of farming. And what has made me happy indeed, is realising that this is already being done2,12,25,26,27.

Organic labels on the other hand are not adapting. Actually, it appears they are spending considerable sums of money to mislead the public about science3,28,29. That is not something I can approve of. And I am not ready to give up one third more land to support the appealing idea of ‘being natural’. That is land which isn’t there. Land which comprises the last dwindling habitats for wild-life – the actual nature.

I am still searching for that label that would say ‘buying this will make the world a better place’. And if I do find one, I will do a proper background-check to see if I can verify its claims. I’ve realised that I am in no way immune to basing my views on unchecked assumptions, and I shouldn’t judge others for making the same mistake. Having to change a deep-seated world view can be exhausting and painful. I am thankful for this experience and see it as a reminder to stay respectful of others, no matter what beliefs they may hold. We can help each other in remaining open for opportunities to learn.


Keystone shows what most Democrats don't get

So the Senate Democrats just defeated the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline by 1 vote. Sitting duck Mary Landrieu — the soon-to-be former senator from Louisiana — begged her Democratic colleagues to vote for the energy-and-job-creating project but, no, the Fauxcahontas Elizabeth Warren “Green” wing of the party chose leftist sanctimoniousness over practicality.

Here’s the thing about energy: we need as much of it as we can get as cheaply as possible. Are you worried about “the environment,” “peak oil,” etc.? Then you should be an aivd supporter of fracking, the Keystone pipeline, and any other means of extracting fossil fuels from the bounty of the Earth. Why? Because what the United States needs is cheap, abundant energy, period (as the president might say). The reason is that if you want to help the downtrodden, save the environment, preserve the wetlands, and make the world safe for unbearable gasbags like Elizabeth Warren, then you need money. And to get money you need energy, lots and lots of energy.  Let’s say you are interested in developing viable alternatives to carbon-based fuels: how would you do it?  By basic research and an accumulation of engineering experiments.

What is the indispensable prerequisite for undertaking those tasks wholeheartedly? Money, wealth, prosperity. Without those golden keys, there is no research to speak of and little in the way of experimentation. The liberal (i.e., the wacko) wing of the Democratic Party doesn’t seem to understand that.

Or maybe it does understand it but chooses to ignore it. After all, a lack of resources does not hamper Elizabeth Warren’s movements. It merely hurts the people she pretends to serve. Air Force records show that Barack Obama charged the taxpayers $1,539,402.10 for his Labor Day travels for “fundraising, personal business, and politicking.” As Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton put it, “This Labor Day back-and-forth shows President Obama seems to confuse Air Force One with Uber.”


Climate Science is Settled?

Stop funding it then

Governments are running huge deficits, but still spend billions on “climate research” especially trying to model the effect of the atmosphere and its trace of carbon dioxide on surface temperature. Benefits are hard to find. It may have improved weather forecasts by a day or so, but official long-term predictions have not improved in the last fifty years. This is because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not the main driver of weather or climate.

“What is referred to reverently as “climate research” is mainly just grubby advocacy supporting the political war on carbon. Why are we still funding scientists who believe that “the science is settled”? If they believe that they know the answers, what are they are doing with their research funds?”

Around the world there are five official weather data-bases, about 14 weather satellites (some say there are 88 of them!), 73 climate computer models, at least 30 research groups and thousands of academics receiving grants and attending never-ending climate conferences. Much of this torrent of public money is now focussed on trying to torture a climate confession out of one normally un-noticed and totally innocent trace gas in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide.

The major determinants of surface weather are latitude, earth’s rotation, the seasons, the sun with its variable radiations and orbital changes; and nearness to the oceans which maintain the water cycle, moderate temperatures and house massive volcanic chains.

Earth’s mighty oceans cover 70% of the surface. Evaporation of water and convection in the atmosphere transfer large quantities of solar heat from the surface to the stratosphere. This process creates clouds, rain and snow and also forms low pressure zones which are the birthplace for cyclones and hurricanes. Wind direction and strength are related to sun-generated convection in the atmosphere, the transfer of solar heat from the equator to the poles, and the Coriolis effect of the rotation of the earth. Carbon dioxide plays no significant part in these processes.

Oceans also conceal most of the volcanic ring-of-fire and are home to huge numbers of volcanoes, many of which are active. The mighty weather-changing ENSO/El Nino starts with a pool of warm water in the eastern Pacific. Carbon dioxide plays no part in creating such hot-spots, but periodic eruption of undersea volcanoes may do it. We know less about the floor of the oceans and their volcanoes than we do about the surface of Mars.

The community is getting little benefit from much atmospheric research and most climate modelling, and that money should be redirected to more productive areas.

Half of “climate research” money should be spent on improving the ability of public infrastructure to survive natural disasters.

The remaining funds should be spent on real climate research - mapping the floor of the oceans, with particular reference to locating active volcanoes; and investigating how volcanism, solar variations and cycles of the sun, moon, planets and solar system impact long-term weather forecasts and future climate. This work should preferably be done by contracting private operators; and the climate models in public hands should be handed over to practising meteorologists to see if they are useful for short-term weather forecasting.


Green charades in Britain

On Wednesday, the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee is to hold a one-day inquiry into a report published by Lord Stern's New Climate Economy project (NCE) and will take evidence from Stern himself, as well as Jeremy Oppenheim, an economist from McKinsey and Co who is involved in the project.

According to its website, NCE is a joint initiative of the governments of seven countries, including the UK - no doubt this is Mr Davey's work then. A glance at the people involved suggests that it is one of those charades in which a panel of green activists selected from universities around the world  pretends that they have taken an objective look at the subject at hand before faithfully delivering up the required message.

In this case, the required message will then be reviewed by the ECC committee, a panel of (mostly) green activists selected from constituencies around the UK. The ECC will then pronounce the importance of the findings of the first panel before retiring to its trough. This committee of Parliament is in effect operating as the public relations arm of a green activist body.

It's this pretence of holding the executive to account that is behind the failure of our democracy here in the UK. And its why much of the Westminster elite so badly needs to be swept aside.


Australian astronomer, Michael Brown,  says science is not about debate, people are too stupid to judge

Michael Brown, recipient of taxpayer funds for astronomy, tells us that science is not about debate because people are not smart enough to judge the winner. He doesn’t list any evidence to support his faith in climate models (he’s just part of the herd following the consensus pack). Nor does he have any serious scientific criticism of the NIPCC climate report. But he uses plenty of names, baseless allusion, and innuendo. In the article ”Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience” in The Conversation he resorts to a group smear (with the help of the taxpayer funded site) in the hope that people won’t listen to those who disagree with him. Apparently he can’t win a fair and open debate, so he’s doing what he can to stop one.

If science now has “Gods” who are above question, it’s not science, it’s a religion. A scientist who says “I’m right because I’m a scientist” is neither right nor much of a scientist. Brown is acting like a self-appointed High-Priest of the Climate Doctrine.

The NIPCC report is more balanced, more comprehensive, and more accurate than the politically-guided tome from the IPCC . It contains hundreds of peer reviewed references put together by independent scientists. In his reply to it, Michael Brown tells us all we need to know about the intellectual state of Australian science, and the value of The Conversation.

This is the face of the Church of Global Warming.

How low can Brown go?  How about “zombies”, “aliens”,  and “pseudoscience”? As an unskeptical scientist (and we all know what that means), it appears Brown hopes to win through name-calling and “seeding doubt” about the motivations of people he disagrees with. Skeptical scientists are “skeptics” (always in quotes to imply they’re fakes) who are “bankrolled” (he’s blind to the evidence about the financial truth too).

For evidence Brown cites a consensus study that mixes up 0.3% with 97%. He likes the IPCC political-consensus approach. This is post-modern science (or post-science, science) forget radiosondes, just poll government appointees.

All the other evidence Brown lists is superficial and irrelevant. He claims: “there is remarkably good agreement between models of climate change and the temperature data.” Then offers as evidence the utterly banal and correct predictions of the “last 50 years” while ignoring the devastating failure in the predictions of the last 20 years that matter.

Modern science is broken — Astronomy in Australia is a small community and  illogical, unscientific people have already been promoted to influential positions. I could ask where the decent astronomers are, and why aren’t they protesting, but because Brown’s activism is so strong, so unscientific, and unequivocal, I expect those who disagree with him would choose to stay silent.  They wouldn’t know whether their next grant will be reviewed by him, but they know that if it is, and they are a vocal skeptic, it won’t help them. After a rant like this, why would anyone expect equal treatment?

This Heisenberg-like state of uncertainty (will or will he not be a reviewer for my application/proposal/paper? and will or will he not be biased if he thinks I am a zombie/denier/anti-science?) is enough to bring people in line. Welcome to the stifling blanket of self censorship.

Ode to the stupid: According to Brown, those who question the mantra of the IPCC are not just speaking their mind, they are using a pseudoscience “ploy” to fool the people (who are too dumb to realize).  These evil mercenary skeptics want you to think we need to debate complex, costly plans that are dependent on our knowledge of the weather. (Imagine that!) Luckily for us, Brown is here to correct the dumb engineers, doctors, and lawyers who are unconvinced a solar panel in Melbourne will help stop a flood in Bangladesh.

The call for adversarial debate is a variant of the debate ploy, a common pseudoscience tactic. At first glance having two teams present competing positions seems entirely reasonable, but this approach only works if the intended audience can effectively assess the arguments presented.

Who is the pseudoscientist using a ploy to fool the public? The geologist who tells us that this warming is not unusual, or the man who has no evidence, and a profoundly unscientific and patronizing belief that only the anointed can speak their mind?

How’s this for reasoning: According to Brown, adversarial debate failed once with Einstein’s theory of relativity (the audience were not able to get the right answer in 1920 on one of the most difficult and ground breaking scientific advances in centuries). Cue the High-Priest, therefore and verily says he, adversarial debate is always a waste of time and science can only advance if the populace lets politicians annoint Gods in each subject (and everyone bows to them).

No dissent will be tolerated, or we will call you a “zombie”!

Brown manages a few paragraphs of sciencey looking talk, but the papers he supposedly debunks are irrelevant to all the main NIPCC claims. The papers he cites as supporting him don’t have any evidence that the IPCC assumptions were correct.

Zombie Science: The Zombie in the room here is the dead science being revived endlessly by Brown and the IPCC, despite the evidence that climate models are based on flawed assumptions, which we know from 28 million weather balloons, 3000 ARGO buoys, 800,000 years  of ice cores, and 30 years of satellites.

Unlike Climate Gods, real scientists list real evidence. When theory clashes with data, the real scientists discard the theory.

Unlike government funded propaganda sites, we unfunded bloggers would never publish such a religious rant and call it “science”. We have standards.

We taxpayers want our money back. Let The Conversation compete in the free market.

Monash University may want to teach its scientists what science is and how to reason. Do Monash approve of this anti-science behaviour? Is this what they teach the students? Can someone ask the Dean?

If Monash don’t have good answers, the questions ought go to the Minister for Education. Why are tax dollars supporting university “science” which is so unscientific?

Send your questions to The Dean of Science at Monash, and or to The Minister for Education, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, which not only funds Monash, but through Monash and other universities, The Conversation.

The ARC needs to start funding real scientists and stop funding religious activists.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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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