Monday, September 21, 2015

The vanishing island (?)

The excerpt below is part of a big and colorful feature in the Sydney Morning Herald.  It claims that a small island in the Pacific is being swamped by global warming -- but gives no actual proof of that.  Since the satellites have detected no global warming for over 18 years now, that would be very difficult to do.

A careful reading of the article reveals two things:  1). It is tsunamis that are the main problem for the islanders;  and: 2). There has been a sea level rise in that part of the Pacific which is much greater than the global average.

So here comes my favorite weapon: Logic.  If the water level rise is not global, how can it be an effect of global warming?  It is clearly a local effect due to variations in ocean currents and the like.  And as a LOCAL effect, it has nothing to do with GLOBAL warming.

OK.  What I have just said is probable rather than logically entailed but there would need to be evidence of some process linking the two phenomena.  But since one of the phenomena does not even exist, that would be hard.  The SMH does not attempt one.

So what we have below is just the usual dishonest propaganda that we so often get from Left-leaning rags like the SMH.  They do pull their punches to a degree at one point but an uncritical reader would conclude that the fate of the island is tied to global warming --JR

Taro Island: a sometimes picturesque coral atoll adrift in the ocean at the north-western tip of the Solomon Islands.

Barely a kilometre long and less across and almost none of it more than two metres above sea level, it is barely a smudge on a map. Yet this smudge - with its nearly 600 permanent residents, its hospital, churches (four), school, police station and courthouse - is set to take an unwanted place in history. Though tiny, it is the capital of the province of Choiseul. Soon it may be the first provincial capital in the world to be abandoned due to climate change.

In the wash of environmental and geopolitical changes that flow from the warming of the planet, Taro is a drop in the ocean. But it is also an early marker of what lies ahead. As Peter Dutton joked with Tony Abbott about water lapping at the doors of Pacific Islanders, the people of Taro were weighing warnings that their home would be among the first - of dozens? hundreds? thousands? - of largely blameless communities swallowed by the ocean as sea levels rise.

Plans have been drawn up. The people are ready. But they have a nagging question. Who will pay the hundreds of millions needed to make it happen? They are waiting for an answer.

Roswita Nowak already knows what it’s like to abandon her home; she’s done it three times.

Shortly after 8am on April 2, 2007, the mother of eight was making the short stroll from her home at Taro’s northern end to her work in a government office when she was distracted by an unfamiliar sound. “I looked down [toward the village centre] and could see people running, and then I heard this ‘sssshhhh’, and saw the water rushing. Then there was shouting: ‘Tsunami! Tidal wave!’ Everyone started to panic, running. People were shouting, ‘We have to go, leave everything, we’re going now.’ And for the women, the first thing we thought of was our children.”

While others headed for boats on the shore, Nowak dashed for home - a slightly raised four-room house where she had left six of her kids minutes before. She calmed them best she could, and waited. “I was shaking.”

Soon her husband, Fleming, a police officer, arrived. He said, “The boat is ready, let’s go.” Their 15-year-old son, Stanislaus, picked up his five-year-old sister, Helena, and everyone ran to the beach at the atoll’s north, where a dinghy was waiting. “We got into the boat,” Nowak remembers, “and immediately the tide went out and we just sat there on the dry seafloor and had to wait for the water to come back in, not knowing what it would do.”

They were lucky. The water came back forcefully enough to lift them but not tip them out. So they headed about two kilometres east across rough seas to the Choiseul mainland and scrambled up a hill to a small camp used by a logging company.

The evacuation of Taro was messy. There weren’t enough boats so it took more than two hours of trips back and forth. Some people were dropped off on an exposed coral reef, only for the oscillating sea to return and swamp them up to their chests as they tried to walk to the shore. The town’s people relocated to the jungle logging camp for five days, largely exposed to the elements. Other parts of the country were much less fortunate. The tsunami, triggered by an earthquake about 160 kilometres south, killed 52.

The island has been evacuated twice more since, during heavy seismic activity in a week in April last year. To some extent, this is the risk that comes with life in a low-lying area dissected by geological fault lines. But the advice from scientists and hard-headed officials is that the risk is worsening rapidly.

Satellite data suggests sea levels in the south-west Pacific are rising up to five times faster than the global average - 7.7 millimetres a year in the capital Honiara, to the south, and up to 16.8 millimetres a year in the ocean to the country’s north.....

As always, climate change driven by greenhouse gases is interacting here with natural forces. Separating the two isn’t necessarily straightforward, but scientists say the human hand is already evident.

They cannot say with confidence that tropical cyclones in the area will become more intense due to climate change, but they know that storms are heading further south. When we arrive, the people of Choiseul are counting the cost of tropical cyclone Raquel, which took at least one life and destroyed homes, palm plantations and seaweed crops at the start of July. Along Taro’s shore, recently felled trees lie in the ocean waiting to be cleaned up.

It is, by several months, the latest in the season a cyclone has hit the area - a reflection, meteorologists say, of changing atmospheric patterns and ocean temperatures being the warmest on record.


GLOBAL WARMING STOPPED in 1998? NO it didn't. If you say that, you're going to PRISON

Lewis Page

In extraordinary developments, assorted scientists and other academics have waded into the debate over the widely-acknowledged absence of global warming seen over the last 15+ years.

The various researchers, one group of whom are based at Stanford, say that actually the hiatus simply didn't happen.

"There never was a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown in global warming," states Noah Diffenbaugh, associate prof, in a suitably blunt tinned quote issued by Stanford. Diffenbaugh and his colleagues arrived at this result by applying new statistical methods of their own devising, as opposed to the "classical" statistics techniques generally used by climate scientists to date.

With perhaps unfortunate timing, no less an organisation than the UK Met Office has this week referred in writing to the existence of a "slowdown" in global warming, and even suggested that it might continue for some time.

A different group of academics has also denied that the hiatus exists. They write:

There has been much recent published research about a putative “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming ... there is no evidence that identifies the recent period as unique or particularly unusual.

This group is quite well known in the climate debate: the lead author is Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist who has previously produced research proving to his satisfaction that climate sceptics are mostly lunatics who refuse to let their children be vaccinated, believe that Barack Obama was not born in the USA, think that MI6 assassinated Princess Diana, and - just to round things off - also believe that the Moon landings were faked and that Saddam Hussein really did have large stocks of WMDs. Lewandowsky is joined for his latest outing by Naomi Oreskes, not really a scientist but a historian (though her bachelor degree was in mining) famous for her book Merchants of Doubt, which says that climate sceptics are the same as those who cast doubt on the idea that cigarettes are bad for you, in that they are likewise corruptly working for sinister corporate interests.

On top of all that, an American senator - writing in the new Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post - has also likened climate scepticism to pro-tobacco propaganda. Senator Whitehouse pointedly mentioned the famous American RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations) law, which allows US enforcement agencies sweeping powers to probe into such things as suspected Mafia-owned businesses or front organisations and so backtrack to the criminal kingpins which control them - and put everyone involved in prison.

That's not terribly unusual in today's climate climate, but now a group of scientists has written to President Obama, saying:

We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change ...

We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation.

Signatories to the letter include the well-known Kevin Trenberth, famous for having written in an email to fellow climatologists regarding the hiatus:

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."

The email was not intended for public consumption, but it was leaked during the "Climategate" episode of 2009.


Obviously the call for a RICO probe into climate-sceptic organisations may be uncomfortably relevant for some of us here on the Register climate desk (though by no means all, we take no editorial stance on climate matters at the Reg and plenty of the Vultures espouse orthodox warmist beliefs on the subject).

In particular your correspondent today is often accused of being an evil denier swine in the pay of the Koch brothers or similar*, so presumably cuffs will be snapped onto wrists during the next editorial visit to the States - or perhaps Britain will join in the RICO probe and we'll find the door getting kicked in here at Vulture Central.

But this isn't terribly scary in the context of being a Reg writer, especially one covering a divisive subject such as climate, or iOS devices. It's not unheard of for people to call for or promise a Vulture's death, occasionally by unusual and painful means, so merely being chucked in the slammer by the future joint inter-agency international RICO climate witch hunt taskforce is no big deal.

Anyway, the alternative is a lot worse. Doing a bit of porridge can't possibly be as bad as having to share the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard with Julian Assange, so your correspondent plans to go quietly as and when the cops turn up. ®


*Ironically in a RICO context, one organisation that names your correspondent today as an "individual involved in the global warming denial industry" and "involved in the PR spin campaigns that are confusing the public and stalling action" actually is backed by a racketeer: that is the DeSmogBlog blog, funded by John Lefebvre, who was convicted in 2007 of financial and gambling-related crimes which had netted him more than $100m.

It's especially chuckleworthy to be accused of being involved in an industrially-funded PR spin campaign by Jim Hoggan, the man who runs DeSmogBlog for Lefebvre. Hoggan actually is a PR man and actually does take money from the green industry which benefits from his supposedly pro-bono DeSmog campaigning.

Here's a for-the-record note from the past for anyone wondering about all the funding channelled to your correspondent or the Reg by the Koch brothers or other sinister figures. (TL,DR: There is none and has never been any. This isn't being done for money, we just call it as we see it.) And you can ask anyone in the IT business; the Register editorial department doesn't do PR.

Anyway, it's not so bad being on the DeSmogBlog denier list and having one's name listed alongside such others as Freeman Dyson, Burt Rutan and various other Nobel prize winners, moon-walking astronauts and so on.


Nobody In Trump's Crowd Believes In Global Warming

Still-allegedly-running presidential candidate Donald Trump took questions from his audience Thursday at a New Hampshire rally, which predictably led to an unleashing of racist bile. But sprinkled in between the ignorance was Megan Andrade, a University of New Hampshire student who told Trump she volunteers for the League of Conservation Voters.

"I'm here to ask you what your plan is to reduce pollution that is driving climate change and endangering public health." she told the real estate man.

"Let me ask you a question, how many people here believe in global warming? Who believes in global warming? Who believes in global warming, raise your hand?" Trumps asks, getting precious little response.

 "Wow. Not much, huh? Nobody? One person? Huh," says Trump. "Oh, you believe, huh?"

And that, for Trump, is that. He moves on. "We're going to do two more questions, two more questions," he says.

Republican believers in climate change may've just stayed mum. In a poll of New Hampshire Republican primary voters that the GOP polling firm American ViewPoint conducted for LCV and the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, slightly more than half said there is solid evidence for climate change.

Trump has said in the past that he doesn't see climate change in a problem and has referenced the phenomenon of "global cooling," which is a go-to for deniers of the science.


Global Warming Gives Us The First Storm-Free Peak Hurricane Season In Nearly Four Decades

Remember the freak weather global warming was supposed to cause? It’s to the point where the Obama administration feels that this is a national security priority (it isn’t). Nevertheless, Mother Nature decided to play another prank on environmentalists with their global warming nonsense by giving us the first storm-free peak hurricane season in nearly four decades:

September 12 marks the peak of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, but this year the day passed without any named storms. Odder still, the recently restless Pacific Ocean had a quiet day, too. In fact, across the entire Northern Hemisphere, not a single tropical storm swirled.

Global warming is preventing the ice caps from melting, wreaking havoc on Antarctic research stations by preventing easy access for resupply ships due to the accumulation of sea ice, and expanded the Arctic Ice Cap by 533,000 square miles. Global temperatures have stagnated for nearly 16 years, and we’ve seen some of the quietest tornado seasons on record. In 2013, it was the calmest tornado season in six decades. In 2015, the tornado count is 59 percent below average.

No wonder why the CIA shut down its climate research program.


A nice tribute to Fred Singer -- aged 90 and still kicking

by Roy W. Spencer, who calls Fred a "trailblazer"

Those of you who follow our efforts to bring some balance to offset global warming alarmism also likely know of our honorary godfather, Fred Singer. Fred has been a tireless crusader, including helping to establish the NIPCC as an answer to the U.N.’s IPCC.

But people like Fred (and myself) didn’t start out in global warming, which is a relatively modern invention. For example, my original claim to fame was developing methods for measuring global precipitation from satellite-borne microwave radiometers, starting in the early 1980s. Fred started out well before me in satellite remote sensing, serving as the first director of the National Weather Satellite Service during 1962-64. I was still in elementary school at that time.

Now, as my 60th birthday approaches in December, I find myself going through my old files and throwing away everything except items of historical interest. Yesterday, I hit upon a stack of old microwave rainfall retrieval papers, and I stumbled upon one I had totally forgot about.

It turns out that Fred Singer wrote one of the very first papers on the possibility of measuring precipitation from satellites with microwave radiometers. The original idea was put forth in brief qualitative terms in a German article authored by Konrad Buettner in 1963. Then, in 1968, Fred and co-author G. F. Williams, Jr., put some theoretical equations and aircraft test flights behind the idea. The article was Microwave Detection of Precipitation over the Surface of the Ocean, in the May 1968 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research.

As an expert in this field, I can tell you that Fred’s treatment of the issue was surprisingly sound and insightful for such an early piece of work. It postulated effects which we now have widespread support for from satellite measurements.

I just wanted to bring attention to his early pioneering work in satellite microwave remote sensing, which eventually led to a wide variety of passive microwave imagers flying in space: ESMR, SMMR, SSM/I, TRMM, SSMIS, AMSR, GMI, and others. I’m sure there are other satellite areas he also helped to pioneer, too.

Great work, Fred!


Australia: The smoke and mirrors surrounding the anti-coal campaign

Coal divestment is the new black. Following the Anglican Church and others, the most recent organisations to jump onto the trend are Newcastle Council (despite the city being built on coal) and the University of Sydney. Both are withdrawing their investments from coal or other organisations that fund coal.

But like many fads, it doesn’t seem to be built on sound facts. It is more based on doing what others are doing to avoid the feeling of being left behind.

Let us look at the facts. Firstly, divestment probably won’t have a substantial impact on Australia’s coal production. Sydney University has an investment fund of about $1.4 billion, while Newcastle Council has $270 million. But the big banks reportedly have $36bn invested in coal, and the Future Fund has recently indicated it will continue to invest its $117bn in non-renewables.

Even if most of Australia’s investors engaged in divestment, there are so many other potential investors around the globe that it is hard to see any dramatic impact on the industry. And good luck to the divestment campaigners convincing investors in less democratic countries to stop funding Australian coal.

Despite this campaign, the official forecasts are for substantial increases in Australian coal production. The Department of Industry forecasts our coal exports will increase by 1.2 per cent per year to 2050. This is an increase of 54 per cent on today’s production.

To reiterate: coal production is predicted to grow by an enormous amount, not decline. And the Department also states that coal accounts for about 64 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, and is forecast to remain at about this level by 2050.

The divestment campaign also needs to face the inconvenient predictions about coal demand, including that India has plans to almost double its coal production by 2020, and most new electricity stations under development in India are expected to be coal-based. The Department of Industry assesses that it would be “exceptionally challenging” for India to reduce its use of coal-fired electricity (to limit greenhouse emissions). The International Energy Agency’s 2014 World Energy Outlook forecasts global coal demand increasing by 15 per cent by 2040 (in its central scenario).

Not a ringing endorsement of the divestment campaign, which seems likely to having similar  success to King Canute’s command that the tide stop coming in.

Of course, official forecasts might be wrong, and around the globe by 2050 we might all be using solar panels and Tesla batteries. But this would be driven by the lower cost of these alternatives, not the divestment campaign.

Nevertheless, let us humour the divestment campaign for a moment and assume it  causes a decline in Australia’s coal production. Unfortunately for the campaign, what is most likely is that production would simply increase overseas shifting from Australia — which has high environmental standards — to other countries where environmental standards are often lower.

World coal production would remain about the same, environmental outcomes would worsen, and Australia would lose substantial export income. The value of Australia’s coal exports are expected to be $37 billion in 2014-15. It is hard to see how this is an improvement. Of course, the divestment campaign could also try to stop coal expansion elsewhere, but (again) good luck trying to do this in less democratic countries.

Surely the divestment campaign is about reducing global coal use, not moving coal production to other economies. So let us (further) humour the divestors, and suppose that it does cut the worldwide use of coal. The campaign would no doubt argue that this would help human health.

The World Health Organisation has argued that there will be 250,000 deaths per year due to global warming in 2030. This is a very large figure, granted. But there are larger figures. The WHO has also estimated that indoor smoke from open fires and stoves caused 4.3 million deaths per year in 2012. Coal plays an essential role in replacing these cooking sources.

While we should never base decisions solely on lives lost versus lives saved, it is clear that the use of coal could easily be a net saver of life. And this isn’t count the innovations that can limit the greenhouse emissions of coal, or help avoid deaths from a warmer climate. It also doesn’t count the important impact of coal in reducing human poverty. So much for the ‘human life’ argument.

The divestment campaign also misses the patronising nature of its stance. Many of the campaigners would be strong opponents of Western imperialism. But they are perfectly happy to imply (or even state explicitly) that developing countries are bad global citizens for using coal. The campaigners would consider it is wrong to tell countries such as India and China what to think or believe, but it is good to tell them what fuels to use. The hypocrisy should be self-evident.

If they are truly concerned about the use of coal in India and China, the campaigners should persuade those countries to reduce their use, rather than lecturing them from a distance. However, that would require genuine effort, rather than mere trendsetter posturing.



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.  

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