Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reversing the destruction of agricultural land

Viv Forbes below does not mention a relevant matter. He directs our attention to a talk by Savory which is an absolute eye-opener and we must be profoundly grateful for Savory's work.  But Savory  does justify his proposals as assisting with global warming.  That is just good politicking however.  By doing that Savory gets more people onside.  But his work is good for much more than global warming. It is truly a great leap forward in the management of agricultural land. I have always seen soil erosion as the environmental challenge that most needs attention but because the Greenies are really motivated by hatred of people rather than real care for the environment, I have yet to see concern about soil erosion from them -- JR

People send me things; lots of things - compliments, abuse, information and advice.

One correspondent is “Coochie” a wannabee grass-farmer who lives in town but reads all the latest stuff on managing grazing animals. He reads things like “Mother Earth” and “Stockman Grass Farmer”.

Coochie recently rebuked me.

“Please tell Farmer Fred that grazing animals are far better than ‘carbon neutral’. In fact they are the only hope for reversing desertification of the world’s grasslands and open forests. If managed properly, grazing herds will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce soil erosion, improve soil fertility and increase vegetative cover. They should earn ‘carbon credits’.”

I was all ears.

“You and Fred should study the work of Allan Savory. Allan is an observant honest ecologist who has spent his life worrying about desertification, which can be both a cause and a result of climate change. Initially, he hated grazing animals – he thought they were causing desertification and destroying his beloved wildlife.

“But a life-time of study of the whole system showed him it was neither the cloven hooves nor the animal numbers that caused desertification. The problem was how they grazed – how long, how intense. When hard-hoof animals are concentrated on small areas of land for short periods of time, they break up the hard crust and cover it with litter, dung and seeds. Then, when the herd moves on to seek new clean pastures, the abandoned areas recover quickly with improved soil and replanted pasture. This process restores the health of grasses and soil, returning much life-supporting carbon to the soil in the process.

“What turns grasslands into deserts is constant grazing by a few animals. Herds must be concentrated and moving.”

I insisted that Fred come over and listen to Alan Savory, telling us "How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change"

After he listened to it, Fred was stunned. He was always sceptical of our “funny ideas” on rotational grazing but suddenly he understood.

“Well, my boy” he said. “So much for all that rot from your Professor mate attacking us graziers and lauding soft-footed animals. It makes sense – soft-footed rabbits spread everywhere and destroyed everything with their constant nibbling; but one or two massive moving herds of bison, bunched and harassed by wolves and Indians and assisted by occasional fires, created the marvellous grasslands of the Prairies.

“Our cattle and sheep can be much more than grass harvesters and providers of periodic protein for people and predators. They can cultivate soil, prepare seed beds, spread seeds and mulch, and fertilise our grasslands and pastures in just one pass; but only if we concentrate them properly, and then give the pasture a decent rest-and-recovery period.”

“This Un-Savory chap will probably be expelled from the Deep Green Brotherhood for such blasphemy.”

Coochie was ecstatic: “With plenty of plant-sustaining emissions from coal in the skies, and soil-sustaining emissions from cattle in the soils, then coal and cattle can paint the grasslands green again.”


Jean-François Gariépy on the corruption of science

He is a brain researcher and is pretty spot-on in what he says below.  Warmism is a glaring example of a complete ethical collapse in science. He is burning his bridges at a rather young age.  But I did too.  I was so disgusted with the poor standards of "research" in the social sciences that I resigned my tenured university teaching job at age 39

This week, I resigned from my position at Duke University with no intent to solicit employment in state-funded academic research positions in any foreseeable future. Many reasons have motivated this choice, starting with personal ones: I will soon be a father and want to be spending time with my son at home.

Other reasons have to do with research academia itself. Throughout the years, I have been discovering more and more of the inner workings of academia and how modern scientific research is done and I have acquired a certain degree of discouragement in face of what appears to be an abandonment by my research community of the search for knowledge. I found scientists to be more preoccupied by their own survival in a very competitive research environment than by the development of a true understanding of the world.

By creating a highly-competitive environment that relies on the selection of researchers based on their "scientific productivity," as it is referred to, we have populated the scientific community with what I like to call "chickens with no head," that is, researchers who can produce multiple scientific articles per year, none of which with any particularly important impact on our understanding of the world. Because of this, science is moving forward similarly to how a headless chicken walks, with no perceivable goal.

This issue reveals itself in a series of noxious conditions that are affecting me and my colleagues: a high number of scientific articles are published with fraudulent data, due to the pressures of the "publish or perish" system, making it impossible to know if a recent discovery is true or not. The fact that the peer-review system does not care about looking at the data is not in any way reassuring about this concern. Furthermore, a large portion of the time of a scientist is spent on frivolous endeavors such as submitting a grant request to 5-10 agencies in the hope that one of them will accept. Finally, our scientific publication system has become so corrupted that it is almost impossible to get a scientific article published in an important journal without talking one-on-one with the editor before submitting the article.

Some of my best friends at Duke have told me that I sounded "bitter" when I expressed these concerns. I assure you that I am not and that I am writing these lines with the nonchalance and bliss of a man who has found other ways to be happy and to satisfy his own scientific curiosity, ways that do not involve the costly administrative war of attrition for state money that modern scientists are condemned to engage in. My friends have also pointed out that I should not be "discouraged" by the difficulties faced as a scientist, that I should continue to "fight." Again, they are wrong; discouragements due to failures have never kept me down. I have never been afraid of failures and of retrying, and retrying again; my scientific successes are what discouraged me, because I know how they were obtained.

My most important scientific articles were accepted in major journals because the editors had a favorable prejudice toward me or my co-authors; because I was making sure that I had a discussion with them before I submitted; or because the reviewers they chose happened to be close colleagues. No doubt the articles contained very good findings—I wouldn't have spent years of my life on them if they didn't. However, the real criteria that systematically led to publication, as opposed to the dozens of other journals where they were rejected, was the kind of prejudices described above.

The scientific publication system portrays itself as a strict system for the evaluation of the importance of individual scientific contributions to knowledge, but anyone who has participated to this system and became good at it knows that the true factors that influence the publication of a scientific work have to do with social networking and, in many cases, straight-out corruption. Most of this "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" system operates without wrongful intentions from anyone involved. In fact, I am certain that most people who contribute to it are well-intended people who end up obtaining power here or there in the scientific system and use this power to favor scientists who they genuinely think are good. However, the end result is the same, no matter what the intention is: a corrupt system where favoritism is the norm. A system that I have benefited from for long enough.

It is not surprising that such systems develop given human nature and considering that the publishing of just one article in a major journal means that a researcher can claim his share of a multi-billion dollar flow of money coming from the government or private foundations for his/her future work. No matter what one thinks of this system (I've heard everything from "It's terrible" to "It's totally fine"), the fact is that I do not have the energy to be a part of it for the rest of my life. I can work 12 hours a day, I can work on weekends, I can work at night, I can handle high-stress environments and I thrive in competition. I could sell a life vest to someone living in the Sahara Desert. Call me at 3 AM and tell me that an animal's life is in danger and I'll be dressed for surgery in less than 15 minutes. However, nothing in this world can exhaust me as much as the personal conviction that my work is not noble.

Of course, this does not mean that I will abandon all of my activities related to the search or dissemination of knowledge. I will still teach my courses in Biology and Artificial Intelligence at the University of the People. I will still publish my book, The Revolutionary Phenotype, which contains an important novel theory on the emergence of life. My wish is that this new theory will be taken for what it is and evaluated publicly by whoever wants to comment on it, not by two or three reviewers hiding behind anonymity.

Euclid's geometry stood on its own, because of the truths it contained, and his books have survived all scientific systems that have existed for the last few thousands of years, remaining perhaps still today the most concentrated series of useful truths ever gathered in a single place. I hope the same happens with my theory, but I want to make sure that whatever remains of it in a thousand years will be what it deserves in and of itself, not some superficial hype artificially generated by the leveraging of my own popularity, social network or other meaningless considerations. Unfortunately, my experience with research academia suggests to me that the traditional scientific publication system is not an appropriate vessel for my theory to obtain such an objective treatment.

I will still, also, publish the Season 2 of NEURO.tv, for which we have gathered amazing guests. I will still go talk science and have fun with the Drunken Peasants. And I will still spend my days trying to prove the Goldbach conjecture, although you probably won't ever hear about it because I probably won't succeed. In fact, my leave will likely give me more time to concentrate on these important activities. The reality is that throughout the years, my attention has drifted away from research academia, because I found other ways to satisfy my scientific curiosity that seemed more appealing and more genuine to me.

There is a general rejection of these alternative paths to knowledge dissemination in academia, but I have grown out of caring about it. Selling knowledge and prestige are the bread and butter of universities, so we should not be surprised to see the main recipients of the flow of money coming from well-wishing parents and governmental funding agencies dismiss the validity of other, less socially costly paths to knowledge dissemination.

This reminds me of an event which vastly contributed to my discouragement about academia, and which I think illustrates the vacuity with which certain editors of scientific journals treat the review of scientific works that may have taken years to perform. I was in a scientific meeting in Switzerland a couple of years ago and I was having a discussion with the editor of one of the two most important scientific journals in the world. He was asking me and my PI about different young scientists to know what we thought about them. He did not seem so concerned about the quality of their work or the insight they provided on the world. He was asking about their reputation. I remember a question that he asked very seriously but that was hilarious to me:

"And David Eagleman, I saw his book, is he a good one?"

The editor later proceeded to explain to us why he was inquiring about the reputation of these scientists:

"I'm asking to make sure that I accept articles from reputable people. Because you see, at ******, we want to do real science, not Richard-Dawkins-type science."

It is hard to express how many mental facepalms I have experienced in my head when he completed that sentence. A swirl of facepalms, a googol of facepalms +1, an embedded infinity of facepalms. I remember discreetly shedding some tears for an hour that night at the conference's bar, not because that man was unjustifiably mean to one of the most intelligent scientists in the world, but because I had come to the realization that our system of scientific publication is governed by people who have no idea what knowledge is.

I want to thank all the academics I have been interacting with in my career; especially those from Duke and the Université de Montréal. Academia is a weird thing; it is populated with very intelligent, motivated and brilliant people, who are operating in a system that is simply defective to the point of impeding on the very ability of these individuals to engage in a true search for knowledge. In this sense, I am leaving research academia for the same reason that I joined it 12 years ago: in search for a better way to satisfy my hunger for a scientific understanding of the world.


85% of British power can be via renewables by 2030, says Greenpeace

But only with a 60% reduction in demand for domestic heating!  And we need a money tree too, of course.  It's all just theoretical fantasizing

Britain can produce 85% of its power via renewable energy by 2030 provided it undergoes significant changes in energy production and use, according to a new study by Greenpeace.

The study attempts to counter the argument that only fossil fuels and nuclear power can keep the lights on for the next few decades. It foresees wind leaping from today’s level of 13 gigawatts (GW) of wind farms in operation – enough to power around 10 million homes – to a level of 77GW in 2030, with solar rising from just more than 5GW to 28GW.

However, the renewables drive would need to be accompanied by a 60% reduction in demand for domestic heating through a home insulation programme and other initiatives, according to the report by energy system analysts, Demand Energy Equality.

“For a long time the government and the fossil fuel industry have peddled the argument that renewables can’t keep the lights on if the wind’s not blowing. This hasn’t been based on evidence, but out of date instincts seemingly from staring out the window to see how windy it is,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace.

“For the first time, we have the evidence showing it is possible to keep the power system working and decarbonise the electricity system. We need to go for renewable energy with the help of new smart technology and reducing demand for power too.

“It is hugely ambitious but definitely doable, and it will take the same kind of enthusiasm and financial support from government, normally the sole preserve of the nuclear and fossil fuel industries.”

The plan, which would require a major change in government policies, envisages fossil fuels playing a role via combined gas-fired heat and power projects. Many homes and buildings would also need to move away from gas-fired boilers to their own ground source heat pumps or an electricity source.

The report is published in the run up to the UN-sponsored climate change talks in Paris and at a time when the Conservative government has axed a series of green subsidy schemes to wind and solar on the grounds of cost.

The feasability of decarbonising the UK’s power generation system, which was dependent for a long time on carbon-heavy coal, has long been argued over. Few believe that carbon dioxide can be eliminated entirely from energy production, or at least in the short term.

In 2014, around 30% of UK electricity was generated by coal-fired power plants, 30% by gas, 19% by nuclear and around the same amount by renewables, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The new analysis shows a low-carbon energy sector is possible but only if our relationship with energy changes at the national, household and personal level.


Update: Leader of effort to prosecute skeptics under RICO ‘paid himself & his wife $1.5 million from govt climate grants for part-time work‏

The Leader of a 20 scientist effort to prosecute climate skeptics under RICO revealed as hypocritical 'Climate Profiteer'! 'From 2012-2014, the Leader of RICO 20 climate scientists paid himself and his wife $1.5 million from government climate grants for part-time work.

George Mason University Professor Jagadish Shukla (jshukla@gmu.edu) a Lead Author with the UN IPCC, lavishly profits off the global warming industry while accusing climate skeptics of deceiving the public and demanding RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) be used against them for disagreeing with his view on climate change.

Shukla, the "leader of RICO20 climate scientists runs his government grants through a 'non-profit'," Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. wrote on September 20.

The group "pays Shukla and wife Anne $500,000 per year for part-time work," Pielke Jr. revealed. "The $350,000-$400,000 per year paid leader of the RICO20 from his 'non-profit' was presumably on top of his $250,000 per year academic salary," Pielke wrote.

"That totals to $750,000 per year to the leader of the RICO20 from public money for climate work and going after skeptics. Good work if you can get it," Pielke Jr. added.


Scientists Debunk Arctic ‘Death Spiral’ Claims

Current conditions in the Arctic are completely within normal climatic variability, according to peer-reviewed studies. Any ‘meltdown’ linked to climate change is not shown in the scientific evidence. arctic sea ice melt

 Western mainstream media has been giving prominence to the claims of a team of global warming alarmist researchers who have alleged the Arctic is showing the first signs of dangerous anthropogenic climate change. Articles have been written outlining "tipping points" in the region that together form a chain reaction leading to apocalyptic consequences.

    These alarmists have stated that “Global heating and climate disruption has already forced Arctic sea ice into a new state of 'death spiral' meltdown and it is anticipated to disappear in Summer months within a decade, or even a few short years, many decades ahead of previous estimates.”

   They then go on to push an end of the world scenario of “The ALREADY accelerated escape of massive amounts of the powerful, heat trapping greenhouse gas, methane, buried in the frozen permafrost of northern Canada, Siberia and underwater ocean shelves, is of EMERGENCY, 'LIFE OR EXTINCTION'-SCALE CONCERN. (Yes, really!)”

    This is the state of the hysteria that is based on global warming starting a chain reaction of positive feedback loops.  Peer-reviewed scientific research highlighted below shows that the main drivers of these predictions all fail.

Arctic Sea Ice Variability

   Research shows that the Arctic has a long history of temperature swings and of sea ice cover (SIC):  “Grumet et al. (2001) used sea salt Na+ fluctuations in a 700-year ice core record from the Penny Ice Cap (southeastern Baffin Island) as a proxy for Spring sea ice concentration and found that there was an apparent near-doubling in [SIC] over the past century,”

   Also the East Arctic was ice free and experienced greater warming than at present a few thousand years ago. In a respected research paper titled “Decadal-scale sea ice changes in the Canadian Arctic and their impacts on humans during the past 4,000 years:  the authors quote that:

“Our data show that from ~6500 to 2600 BP, there were large oscillations in summer SST from 2–4°C cooler than present to 6°C warmer and SIC ranged from 2 months more sea ice to 4 months more open water. The warmer interval corresponds to the period of pre-Dorset cultures that hunted muskox and caribou. Subsequent marine-based Dorset and Neo-eskimo cultures correspond to progressively cooler intervals with expanded sea ice cover. The warming took ~50–100 years and lasted ~300 years before replacement by colder intervals lasting ~200–500 years.”

   Another example of an ice free arctic is provided by the historically documents event of the Danes and Scandinavians sailing through the arctic during the Medieval Warm Period in 1122 AD. This is corroborated in an article title “Variations in Climate” by Alexander Beck, ME linked below.

   He states:

 “…it is precisely at this time that we find the Danes and several Scandinavian nations going through the Arctic open seas. Colonies are established by them in the highest northern latitude of Greenland, and the upper part of North America…”

   This history of variability in temperature regime and sea ice concentration in the Arctic puts the current warming of areas of the arctic into perspective. It cannot be said that current conditions are unprecedented.

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Australia: Green groups urge new PM to take the pressure off them

Environment groups are urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to abandon any plans to change the tax status of green charities.

A demonstration is expected outside the Victorian Parliament on Monday to coincide with hearings in Melbourne of a federal inquiry into the administration and transparency of environment groups.

Green groups see the the inquiry, set up by the Abbott government in March, as a "vendetta" and fear changes that will remove the tax deductibility for donations to organisations pushing for environmental protection.

Tony Abbott was particularly scathing of legal wrangling by environment groups to delay a proposal for a massive expansion of coal exports through the Great Barrier Reef.

Mark Wakeham​ from Environment Victoria said about 1000 demonstrators were expected to protest over the inquiry. "It does appear to be an attack on environment groups," Mr Wakeham said. He accused the Abbott government of attempting to silence critics.

Environmental groups had been singled out ahead of other charities, he said.

"We'll be highlighting we've got a legitimate role to play in a democracy. That might be inconvenient for governments at times, but only for governments that don't have credible environmental policies."

But the inquiry has also heard submissions from the Minerals Council of Australia, stating some environmental groups have exploited their tax deductible status to pursue "ideological campaigns" and encourage illegal behaviour, such as blockades.

The Queensland Resources Council said many environmental groups were not operating within the rules of a charity or pursuing "practical" environmental work.

The Victorian government urged the inquiry to "take into account the various ways in which environmental organisations fulfil their goal of improving the natural environment".

Mr Wakeham said the change of prime minister was a chance to press a "reset button"

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos​, a key driver in Malcolm Turnbull's toppling of Mr Abbott last week, appeared on Sunday to flag a more conciliatory approach in the politics of the environment.

"I think you'll see that there'll be a bit of an end to the idea that the environment and development have to be at loggerheads, that somehow it's a zero sum game. It's not," Senator Sinodinos told ABC TV.

"Good environmental policies can also be good economic policies and good economic policies give you a capacity to deal with environmental issues."

The inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations has received almost 700 submissions.



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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