Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Trenberth restates the faith
He would! He says that natural variability is preventing warming. By that logic, maybe the slight warming of the 20th century was caused by natural variability too. It is all just speculation
There are signs that the planet is heating up, and even 'on fire.' This is according to Dr Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, who claims the global warming 'pause' is now over.
The so-called pause refers to the fact that the temperature of Earth's surface has increased by just 0.06°C in the past 15 years.
It has been used by some groups as evidence that climate change is not happening.
But Dr Trenberth argues that natural variability in weather patterns has masked the upward trend in temperatures, and he says this variability may be about to end.
He points out that in the western region of North America, the prolonged drought has led to high temperatures and many wildfires, from Canada and the Northwest earlier this summer to California more recently.
In the Pacific, hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones have caused havoc, and with several damaging hits in Japan, China and Taiwan, in particular.
Globally, surface temperatures have been setting record high values. US temperatures this year are well above average.
Meanwhile, precipitation has been above average in much of the US outside of the West, making temperatures lower than they otherwise would have been.
In a paper titled, 'Has There Been a Global Warming Hiatus?', Trenberth argues natural variability through of the oceans, atmosphere, land and ice is responsible for the strange weather.
'The warmest year in the 20th century was 1998. However, since then there has been an apparent absence of an increase in global mean surface temperature (GMST) from 1998 through 2013.
'This has become known as the 'hiatus,' said Trenberth, writing in The Conversation. 'While 2005 and 2010 GMST values slightly exceeded the 1998 value, the trend upwards slowed markedly until 2014, which is now the warmest year on record.
'Moreover, there are excellent prospects that 2015 will break that record – the past 12 months through June 2015 are indeed the warmest 12 months on record. 'It looks like the hiatus is over.'
Trenberth says there are major natural variabilities that prevent the global temperature rise from simply being linear.
The main variability is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation - or PDO - in which the planet's largest ocean goes through a cycle of burying heat and then releasing it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the PDO has gone into a positive phase when stored heat gets released to the atmosphere and across the globe.
'There are major changes in Pacific trade winds, sea level pressure, sea level, rainfall and storm locations throughout the Pacific and Pacific rim countries, but also extending into the southern oceans and across the Arctic into the Atlantic,' said Dr Trenberth.
'There is good but incomplete evidence that these changes in winds alter ocean currents, ocean convection and overturning, which leads to changes in the amount of heat being sequestered at greater depths in the ocean during the negative phase of the PDO.'
'The role of natural variability paints a different picture than one of steadily rising global mean temperatures,' added Dr Trenberth.
'Indeed, the combination of decadal variability plus a heating trend from increasing greenhouse gases makes the GMST record more like a rising staircase than a monotonic climb.'
Recent British environmental excesses
Regular readers know this column collects daft stories about rare species and the impact of preservation on progress.
Many of you will remember Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, in South Wales, spending £190,000 building a special suspension bridge to allow dormice to cross a new bypass near Pontypridd.
Work on the road was halted while the bridge was built, along with the construction of 60 dormouse boxes and the digging of new ponds for the relocation of newts and other vulnerable amphibians. I can recall writing at the time that although the idea seemed crazy and the cost excessive, any society which can be bothered to build a bridge for dormice can’t be all bad.
Unfortunately, conservation can be taken to extremes. A few weeks ago, I brought you news that work on a much-needed housing development in an abandoned limestone quarry had come to a standstill after it was discovered that the area was the natural habitat of the Horrid Ground-weaver Spider.
More than 2,000 nature lovers signed a petition claiming the project, which would have provided 57 new homes, could cause the extinction of the spider, known in Latin as the Nothophantes Horridus.
Now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate has upheld the local council’s decision to refuse permission for the work to go ahead, so the frustrated developers will have to look for a new site elsewhere.
Supporters of the Horrid Ground-weaver Spider are claiming a great victory. ‘What a fantastic result for wildlife,’ declared Andrew Whitehouse, who runs an outfit called Buglife.
So it might be, but what a terrible result for any family hoping to move into one of these new homes.
Now here’s the really silly bit. This could well turn out to be a hollow victory. The spider, which is said to live in cracks in the limestone, has only ever been spotted twice. The last time was in 1995 and it hasn’t been seen since. So for all anyone knows, it could be extinct already.
Then there was the case of the Depressed River Mussel, which was indirectly responsible for severe flooding in the Thames Valley last year. Hundreds of riverbank homes suffered water damage because the Environment Agency abandoned dredging to save this obscure creature. And to hell with the devastation this single-issue madness would wreak on homeowners.
Our planning authorities seem to have a particular soft spot for molluscs of every variety.
For years, drivers have been getting stuck in traffic jams at the Acle Straight, a single-carriageway stretch of the A47 between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, which motoring organisations have been campaigning to have widened.
The stumbling block has been the presence of a colony of Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snails, which haven’t been seen outside East Anglia since the Eighties. Maybe they’re all holed up with the Horrid Ground-weaver Spiders.
This week it was reported that plans to widen the road hinge upon whether the snails, which have shells less than a fifth of an inch in diameter, can be relocated successfully.
Fair enough, you might say. But the relocation of the snails is going to take three years, during which time they will be subjected to intensive monitoring.
So it will be 2018 before any decision to go ahead with the road widening can be taken. Meanwhile, traffic will remain at a crawl for the forseeable future, with all the extra greenhouse gases from exhaust fumes that will cause.
What a complete parcel of molluscs. Or should that be a complete parcel of escargots?
This is the kind of bio-diversity dilemma environmentalists keep coming up against — in this case the rights of snails versus the hole in the ozone layer.
One of the funniest conflicts currently raging around our coasts is the conflict between marine life and off-shore wind farms.
From the North Sea to the South Coast, biologists are warning that the giant wind factories so beloved of the ‘climate change’ fanatics are posing a serious threat to the eco-system.
Apparently, the construction and operation of these unsightly War Of The Worlds turbines causes extreme distress to dolphins, particularly the low-level hum the windmills emit when they are turning.
The noise and vibration interferes with the sonic communications not just of dolphins, but porpoises, basking sharks and, especially, whales — the poster boys of the Save The Planet movement.
The problem has become so severe that conservationists want safe havens established to protect the marine mammals.
The road to Hell, and all that. It turns out that in building wind farms to save the polar bears, we’re in danger of wiping out the whales and dolphins.
You couldn’t make it up.
My favourite story this week comes from Llandudno, North Wales, where the council recently upgraded the street lights at a local beauty spot, which is popular with members of the local dogging community who gather for alfresco sex with strangers after dark.
Unfortunately, they’ve had to be switched off again because the light from the new high-intensity sodium lamps is interfering with the sex lives — of glow worms.
Amateur naturalist Jenni Cox noticed that male glow worms were congregating under the lamp-posts and ignoring hundreds of female glow worms gathered nearby.
Apparently, when the females are in the mood for love their tails start to glow. (Well, they’re not called glow worms for nothing.) But these courting signals were being obliterated by the new street lights.
And although the females were raring to go, the males were leaning on the lamp-posts, presumably smoking, sipping super-strength lager and talking football.
So while the bright lights may have deterred doggers, they also put the glow worms right off their stroke.
I’ve no idea whether glow worms are endangered, but if Llandudno Council hadn’t turned off the new street lights they pretty soon would have been.
And it doesn’t get much sillier than that.
Scotland’s irrational GM crop ban
The Scottish government has decided to ban genetically modified crops to ensure Scotland maintains its ‘clean, green status’. This phrase, symbolic of what we are supposed to want to preserve, has not been defined, and we have no way of discerning exactly how it relates to the consequences of GM crops. Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Scottish National Party Member, announced the policy as Scotland’s stance, ahead of the government’s request to be exempted from EU-authorised GM crops.
None of the reasons given for the prohibition follow from the evidence we have about GM crops nor from countries’ experiences with them. One anti-GM-crop writer, Mike Small of Bella Caledonia, remarkably complained we are falling foul of an ‘expertocracy’ because of our ‘unswerving devotion to scientists’. He has also given a number of reasons why we should support the prohibition of GM crops in Scotland. Among those were that GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers; do not increase yield potential; increase pesticide use; and have not been shown to be safe to eat. These claims are simply wrong.
If we take a look at a meta-analysis conducted last year of the impacts of genetically modified organisms we see that the agronomic and economic benefits of GM crops are large and significant. The positive feedback we hear from people in developing countries is reflected in the studies as we find that yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. It concludes that, on average, GM technology has increased crop yields by 21%, reduced pesticide quantity by 37% and pesticide cost by 39%, and meant average profit gains of 69% for GM-adopting farmers.
The World Health Organisation has verified that all GM foods available in the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. People have been consuming them for decades in the United States and in 2014 GM crops made up 94% of soybean acreage, 93% of all corn planted, and 96% of all cotton. For as long as populations have consumed them no resulting effects on human health have been shown in the countries where they have been approved.
While farmers in the rest of the UK are looking to take advantage of GM technology, farmers in Scotland are concerned by the Scottish Parliament’s backwards policy; spokespeople for the agricultural industry say it will impede their efficiency and competitiveness. They are right: Scottish farmers will not be capable of competing in the same market as their neighbours if shut off from technological advances just as other countries are adopting GM crops.
To give any credence to Mike Small and similar superstitious claims would be to completely go against accepted evidence and rationality. So if Scottish politicians follow through with the GMO prohibition without any credible counteracting evidence that it would be harmful for Scotland, it will not only hold the country back, but the boundaries of scientific research will be redefined and Scotland might lose its leading research experts to more supportive political environments.
Wind "better than nuclear"?
Written by Mark Duchamp, Save the Eagles Intl.
Japan has just reactivated a nuclear reactor, Sendai 1, the first of 20 that may soon get back on line (1)(2). This, and a pro-nuclear comment on our webpage, prompts us today to state our position on that form of energy. nuclear or windSave the Eagles International are not keen on nuclear power plants, to say the least. If they can be done without, all the better. But can they be replaced by intermittent energy like wind? This is the question that must be asked.
The answer is no. Not until we find a way to store electricity. This would have to be done at the scale required to fuel a modern economy, ensuring grid frequency stability in spite of wind variations. So far, this has proved to be an impossible task. As long as the problem is not solved, the erratic nature of wind has to be compensated "real-time" by fossil-fuel power stations operating in back-up mode, consuming more fuel than they would otherwise.
Germany, for instance, has tried to replace nuclear by wind and solar, and failed. They had to build additional coal-fired power stations to keep the lights on in periods without wind or sunshine. And the rest of the time, these thermal plants are needed to regulate variable wind or solar energy, otherwise numerous blackouts would occur. As a result, Germany's use of fossil fuels has increased.
In France, which has vowed to close down some of its nuclear plants, much publicity is being given to the "transition énergétique", which rests mostly on wind power. But at the same time, the country has been discreetly building up its gas-fired generation capacity: 16 units since 2005 (3). Officially, they were built to replace dirtier coal-fired power stations. But France has 10,000 MW of installed wind power, more than the generation capacity of the coal plants that were closed down. And many more wind farms are in the pipe-line. So, actually, the new gas turbines will be used mostly to back-up the intermittency of wind power, and balance its unstability. Nuclear plants are not flexible enough to do that.
The double investment intermittent energy + fossil fuels, for the same total output, has pushed the price of electricity upwards wherever the switch to "green" energy is taking hold. Because of that, plus the high cost of wind & solar and related grid upgrades, German households, like their Danish neighbors, are paying 100% more for power than they would in most EU countries. In the UK, the spiralling cost of subsidies to onshore Wind got out of control, so the government announced a cut-out date, April 2016. As for France, a special tax has been slapped on utility bills, "la CSPE", which keeps being hiked year after year. As it has reached € 6 billion, i.e. 15% of utility bills, there is now talk of spreading it over fuel and gas bills.
Intermittent energy causes more fossil fuels to be burnt (4). Besides, its high cost (5) is causing a double problem: "fuel poverty" in humble households, and job destruction as investments and whole industries are attracted by lower energy prices abroad. Japan has been quick to understand the dangers of the German "energy transition" model: today, "Sendai 1" is active again, in spite of Fukushima. Nuclear energy appears to be back for the long haul in Japan (6).
At Save the Eagles International we wish we could, like many, daydream that intermittent energy can replace coal, gas and nuclear power. But we have to deal with realities, unfortunately.
Fossil Fuel Energy and Economic Wellbeing
By economist Dr. Michael Canes
"Today, fossil fuels supply better than 86 percent of the marketed energy used worldwide. The proportions of oil, gas and coal vary by region but basically these three fuels supply the great majority of energy used to produce economic output everywhere in the world.
"Energy is an essential input into economic activity of every kind. More energy enables an economy to produce more output and also to grow. For example, energy is used to distribute goods throughout regions, countries and the world. If less energy were available for the purpose, trade and markets would shrink, with adverse effects on income and consumption. Further, energy is an input into the research and development of new products or new ways of making older ones, and so is a key component of technological advance. Abundant, inexpensive energy therefore provides great advantages and is highly desirable. Because fossil fuels are such a large part of the world's energy supply, they play a very prominent role in enabling people everywhere to enjoy what they have and to look forward to better times ahead."
Dr. Michael Canes is a Distinguished Fellow at the Logistics Management Institute (LMI) in McLean, VA, where he conducts research on energy and environmental matters. "Fossil Fuel Energy and Economic Wellbeing" is available for free download here.
Australian Psychological Society uses biases and fallacies to accuse skeptics of bias and fallacies
Woolly-headed old lady leaps to the defence of something she knows nothing about
If psychologists want to be taken seriously, and want psychology to be called “a science”, they need to elect a director who knows what science is.
The Climate Study group in Australia published a half page advert in The Australian last week – Psychology and Climate Alarm: how fear and anxiety trump evidence. See the advert here.
In reply, Prof Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the [Leftist] Australian Psychology Society wrote a letter to The Australian protesting — claiming that the Climate Study Group are the ones suffering from the confirmation bias they accuse climate scientists of.
“The advertisement, ‘Psychology and the New Climate Storm’ misuses psychology-based arguments to add credibility to myths and misinformation about climate change. In doing so, the authors illustrate aptly the very error bias (confirmation bias) they are erroneously attributing to the climate science community.”
It’s the “the pot calling the kettle black”, exclaims Littlefield. But since her arguments are entirely fallacies, this is the kettle calling the pot calling the kettle black. The Climate Study Group mentioned many scientific observations, and in reply Lyn Littlefield can’t find an error in any of them, she can only cite “the consensus”. So instead of using a thermometer to measure the temperature, she wants to use keyword studies in abstracts of publications, and pronouncements of sub-committees of scientific associations.
Hey, it’s not like consensuses have been wrong before, or grants committees, journal editors, and scientists could possibly have any personal motivations, training deficits, or biases, right? But who would expect a psychologist to spot those…
Littlefield seems to think that scientists are robots. She talks of “vested interests” of the skeptics, but is blind to the 3500:1 ratio of funding for climate “belief”. Then she accuses skeptics of cherry picking and bias. It’s projection, projection all the way down.
The world cooled for 37 years while CO2 rose. Does that matter? No, says Lyn, the Royal Society was founded in 1662. Welcome to a conversation with a blind believer. Seriously, the good scientific psychologists need to speak up lest the fawning confused believers in their profession stay glued to the public mouth-piece. (Lucky Jose Duarte has spoken, and Littlefield should read his blog. Where are the other good psychs?)
Littlefield wants to talk “fallacies”, so let’s take her “jumping to conclusions” fallacy and raise it. Those who jump to assume long reports from human committees are “facts” are falling for the fallacy known as “argument from authority”. Real scientists look at the data — which is exactly what the Climate Study Group did.
The danger of believing press releases — there is a reason “argument from authority” is a fallacy
Littlefield seems to think that if an association issues a statement it’s an accurate reflection of the members, but these societies almost never survey their members. Those of us who understand the psychology of groups know that most associations speak on behalf of the six most motivated volunteers who signed up for the sub-committee on Climate Thingys. (You’d think, maybe, a psychologist might know that?) It’s just another reason the scientific method does not include “opinions of associations”. We have almost no evidence of what the members opinions are because no one asked them, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s not evidence about the climate. (Perhaps we should start a new society to supplant the Royal Society for people like Littlefield — maybe the Royal Gossip or the Royal Opinion?)
Lucky Professor Littlefield, director of The Australian Psychology Society, does not assess surveys for a living, eh?
Surveys show there is no consensus among scientists
For the record if Littlefield did some (any) research before writing to newspapers, she’d know there are a few surveys of scientists but they pretty much all have devastating news for naive fans of a “consensus”. Empirical data shows only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, that 52% of meteorologists think natural causes are more important and only 43% of climate scientists (fergoodnesssake) agree with the biblical certainty expressed in the IPCC. Clearly skeptics outnumber believers, but as a scientist, I’d never use that to defend my views. It all comes back to real evidence instead — observations from stuff like satellites, sediments, ice cores and boreholes.
Define “climate science denial” — is that where psychologists deny the empirical evidence?
Littlefield understands that the work “empirical” is a good word to use to sound scientific. If only she knew about empirical climate data, instead of empirical data of online-anonymous-surveys. One sort of data matters:
There is a growing body of empirical research into the psychology of climate science denial, and a number of these characteristics are on display in the Climate Study Group’s advertisement.
The Climate Study Group can back up their statements with empirical data, which unequivocally shows that the models are wrong, the hot spot didn’t appear (even according to the IPCC), the surface stopped warming when it shouldn’t have, and the warming started long before it was supposed too (1680 versus 1900). Logically the “climate science deniers” are the ones who think 28 million weather balloons don’t matter, but ten anonymous responses in a survey of unskeptical sites do.
A real discussion we need to have is about the pathetic state of psychology
Are the successful scientists and corporate directors misusing psychology, or is it the psychologists misusing psychology?
There are questions the Australian Psychology Society really need to answer. “Climate denier” is an abusive form of namecalling; does it have a place in university psychology? It defies any literal definition; no one denies we have a climate and no one denies the climate changes. There don’t appear to be any people who fit the definition. Even PhD students of psychology (like John Cook) are being encouraged to use it. Does accurate English matter in psychology?
Does Littlefield think it’s OK for psychologists to generate derogatory media headlines based on three anonymous responses? Does she think it’s useful to survey sites that are hostile to skeptics to find out what skeptics think? (Would she survey Jews in order to understand what Palestinians feel?) Is it acceptable to claim that 78,000 skeptics saw a link to a survey on a site run by a co-author that never hosted the link? Does the APS care about truth, or does the ends justify the means?
These kinds of “climate” psychology studies start from the “consensus” fallacy (despite the empirical evidence that the consensus does not exist) . Do they serve the taxpayer, or is it just a way of improving propaganda in order to bilk the public for more big-government funds?
There’s a unspoken potential vested interest here. Corporates, miners, and skeptics don’t funnel much money on the climate issue to research psychologists because they know how pointless it is. Big-government however seems happy to fund psychologists who use the money to promote their own personal political (big-government) beliefs. Does psychology suffer from its own “confirmation bias”? Aren’t “climate” psychologists just government-funded activists in the Climate Change Scare Machine?
The evidence Littlefield either denies or is ignorant of is that the climate models depend on assumptions about feedbacks that observations have long proven to be false.
The models not only fail on global decadal scales, but on regional, local, short term,  , polar, and upper tropospheric scales  too. They fail on humidity, rainfall, drought  and they fail on clouds . The hot spot is missing, the major feedbacks are not amplifying the effect of CO2 as assumed.
–see the scientific references for those.
The consensus that doesn’t exist, depends on models that don’t work. Can anyone spot a problem?
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Posted by JR at 12:35 AM