Friday, October 16, 2015

Do Warmists believe their own hokum? Not usually, it seems

Belief in climate change not linked to wildfire mitigation actions.  Do as I say, not as I do?

People who believe that climate change is increasing the risk of devastating wildfires in Colorado are no more likely to take mitigation actions to protect their property, a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the U.S. Forest Service has found.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Environmental Hazards, examined the role that climate change beliefs play in a homeowner's choice to undertake risk mitigation activities such as installing a fire-resistant roof to reduce the ignitability of their home or thinning surrounding vegetation that could act as a potential fuel source.

Respondents in the study were placed on a continuum from 'believer' to 'skeptic' based on their attitudes about the degree to which climate change affects wildfire risk in Colorado.

Although over half of the study respondents agreed that climate change has increased wildfire risk in the state, those respondents were not necessarily more likely to take action on their private property to mitigate potential damage from future blazes.

The researchers did, however, find a correlation between climate change denial and risk mitigation actions.

"A small but distinct portion of respondents who reject climate science as a 'hoax' are also the ones who reported doing significantly more risk mitigation activities than other respondents," said Hannah Brenkert-Smith, a research associate in the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study. [The realists]

The findings suggest that attitudes and actions related to climate change and risk mitigation are more nuanced than they are often portrayed in the media, and that focusing on locally relevant hazards may be a more useful tool for educating and galvanizing residents in fire-prone areas of Colorado.

"The conventional wisdom that a belief about climate change is a pre-requisite for mitigating local climate change impacts was not found in this analysis," said study co-author Patricia Champ of the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station. "This was a bit of a surprise."


New IPCC Chairman Has Ties to Big Oil

Earlier this year, Rajendra Pachauri resigned as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after allegedly pestering at least one female colleague with unsolicited sexual innuendo. The IPCC announced his replacement last week — Korean economist Hoesung Lee, who has represented the vice-chair since 2008.

According to his bio, Lee has “[r]eal world high level experiences in public policy development for energy, environment and climate change through responsibilities in government and business.”

The most interesting part of his résumé, however, concerns his first postgraduate job. Lee initially worked for — no joke — Exxon from 1975-1978. That would be the same evil oil company that Slate’s Eric Holthaus claimed just last Friday is “materially responsible for Earth’s declining capability to support life.”

Holthaus then linked to a petition demanding Exxon be criminally charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (the same strategy recently advocated by 20 professors and scientists in calling for climate dissenters to be imprisoned). The petition claims, “Newly revealed documents show that Exxon’s own scientists were aware of and studying the dangerous impacts of greenhouse gases in the 1970s and 1980s — until Exxon’s leadership decided to shut down the research and promote climate denial instead, in order to protect the company’s unfathomably large profits.”

The irony here is two-fold: That Lee was employed by Big Oil is hypocrisy we’ve come to expect from ecofascists. But working for Exxon when, it’s now being claimed, it allegedly hid its own environmental findings “in order to protect the company’s unfathomably large profits”? Now that’s rich.

That’s not to say there’s any truth to these claims — it’s difficult to argue that greenhouse gases are “dangerous” when our very existence would be impossible without them. But the timing is impeccable. How will the alarmist crowd spin the fact Lee’s tenure at Exxon coincides with their new “bombshell” revelation?

Meteorologist Anthony Watts offers this rebuttal:

    "So, he worked for Exxon and wants to push adaptation rather than shutting down whole economies to prevent any further CO2 emissions? I’m sure the usual suspects will be calling for his removal any minute now with impassioned scream of the “d-word” and “fossil fuel shill” and all the other hoary labels applied to climate skeptics (or as the AP call us, doubters) who might at one time gotten a job, research grant, or a free car wash at their local Exxon station."

    Meanwhile, my “big oil check” that I’m supposedly getting is still long overdue.


How Obama Is Planning to Bypass Congress on International Climate Change Regulations

It’s almost winter in Paris, and soon the City of Lights will be blanketed beneath a heavy layer of foreign bureaucrats and climate change negotiators. On November 30, hundreds of unelected representatives of international powers will descend under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

According to recent press reports, the mission of the U.S. delegation will be to bind the government to multi-billion-dollar climate regulations—regulations the administration has no intention of sending to Congress for approval.

This is no trifling issue of executive-legislative disagreement. Rather, it’s the latest salvo from an executive intent on centralizing power in the White House.

When Congress refuses to enact policies he desires, President Obama takes “executive action,” putting those policies in place unilaterally. This continued executive overreach—and Congress’ failure to respond to it—is a grave threat to the fundamental nature of the separation of powers that guides our government.

In Federalist No. 51, James Madison wrote on the necessity of separated powers: “The accumulation of powers legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” His solution was to endow the three branches of government with co-equal power, thus ensuring that “ambition counteracts ambition.” That is, each branch would jealously guard its power from being usurped by the others, thereby keeping the three branches distinct and America free from tyranny.

Under this president, the slow accumulation of power in the executive branch has gone unchecked by a bumbling and ineffective Congress. That once powerful body has raised nary a whisper over the steady dilution of its authorities.

When Congress refused to pass his amnesty legislation, Obama moved ahead with it on his own, effectively implementing the DREAM Act. When he decided he didn’t like the Defense of Marriage Act, he unilaterally decreed it unconstitutional and directed his Justice Department to simply stop enforcing it. More recently, he flat-out ignored Congress and struck a deal with the terrorist state of Iran, opting to seek approval from the United Nations rather than from the lawmakers of his own country.

The administration’s intention to bypass Congress yet again when it comes to the Paris Protocol demonstrates how bold this president has become in dismissing the checks ascribed to his office. When asked if the protocol constituted a document worthy of review by the Senate, the president’s spokesman flippantly dismissed Congress as a body “hard to take seriously” and suggested that, by holding a different opinion on climate change, Congress somehow forfeits its right to approve new climate regulations—costing Americans billions upon billions of dollars—that the administration is expected to try to impose.

This abject dismissal of the role of the people’s representatives in constitutional governance should deeply unsettle anyone with even a passing concern for the rule of law.

The Paris Protocol represents a crucial test for Congress, which has continuously responded ineffectually to Obama’s executive ambitions. How lawmakers use the powers of their branch—particularly the power of the purse—in response to this agreement will in many ways determine the relationship between the executive and the legislature for years to come.

In terms of constitutional governance, this is perhaps the most consequential circumstance to confront Congress in decades—one that gets to the nature of liberty and to what it means to be American. If Congress willingly cedes its power, it becomes habitual. Should future Congresses wish to reclaim their rightful role, they will have to go to extraordinary lengths to restore balance among the branches.

It is incumbent upon this Congress to use this opportunity to right what has become a very lopsided ship of state. If lawmakers once again abdicate the authorities granted to them by the Constitution, America could quickly find itself in a democracy that has begun to resemble, in the words of the Founders, “the very definition of tyranny.”


More on the coral bleaching scare

When NOAA announced today that a global bleaching event is occurring, scientists took notice. coralWhen they wrote that it was the third-worst global coral bleaching event, headlines started blaring "devastating" and "dramatic." But the facts about coral bleaching are usually set aside in the rush to make headlines, and when it comes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), you really do have to pay attention to what they are declaring. Especially under this current administration.

As we first reported here, NOAA announced in early July that coral reefs are dying off at an unprecedented rate, even though a recently published paper showed that these statements are more alarmist than accurate. Coral reefs can turn white when the algae that surrounds them dies off from too warm (or too cold) water, and the satellites detect that thermal stress. But the paper published in Marine Biology showed that while even though some corals appear bleached, it doesn't mean they are dead or even dying. Why?

Conventional tracking methods (like NOAA's 5-km Coral Reef Watch Satellite Monitoring) can't distinguish between white and bleached (dead) colonies. The paper, by Cruz et al, showed that "although bleaching leaves the coral skeleton visible under its transparent tissue, not all white coral colonies display this feature," which "raises the question as to whether all 'white'-shaded colonies are indeed bleached." To determine whether bleached coral is actually dead, Cruz et al actually sampled coral off the east coast of Brazil, and found that white corals exhibited the same lifelike features as their multi-colored cousins.

Because the white (bleached) corals were physiologically healthy when compared to dark and light-browned colonies, the paper says this would lead to the "overestimation of coral bleaching" by nearly twice as much. This overestimation is caused because satellite monitoring of coral is unable to detect between white living colonies and bleached dead colonies. In fact, surveys off the coast of Brazil showed that the "proportion of bleached and white colonies is similar, thus suggesting that current coral reef surveys may be overestimating the bleaching" by nearly twofold.

So it's surprising to read that Mark Eakin, a NOAA Coral Reef Watch coordinator, told the Associated Press that, "We may be looking at losing somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 percent of the coral reefs this year. The bad news for the U.S. is we're getting hit disproportionately just because of the pattern of the warming." Eakin also called the bleaching a crisis, blaming it first on global warming, and then secondly on natural variability.

Any anomalous ocean warming in the Pacific can be directly linked to the enormous warm blob near Hawaii and a persistent El Niño first announced in June by NOAA. Neither of these two events have anything to do with climate change or atmospheric warming and have been studied extensively by scientists since first discovered.

"Hawaii is getting hit with the worst coral bleaching they have ever seen, right now," Eakinsaid. "It's severe. It's extensive. And it's on all the islands." That's according to satellite imagery as well as computer model forecasts. Eakin didn't actually travel to Hawaii and investigate all the reefs around all the islands, but instead relied on their Coral Reef Watch satellite monitoring system, which the aforementioned paper indicated does a disproportionate job of indicating dead coral reef that's still alive.

Another factor is that other bodies of water, such as the Atlantic Ocean, are showing anoverall cooling trend. Even NOAA's sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly map shows far less warming in the areas where the coral reefs are supposedly dying off. Keep in mind thatin 2010, "cold water temperatures in the Florida Keys caused a coral bleaching event that resulted in some coral death." During that event, water temperatures dropped 12.06 degrees Fahrenheit lower than what they normally are for that time of year.

While no one disputes that warmer water, a byproduct of an El Niño event, can cause some coral to die off, no one fully understands why El Niños form in the first place. Based on historical marine records, El Niños have been documented when people began sailing the world in earnest over 500 years ago. Plus the current Pacific warm blob has been determined to be completely unrelated to global warming and simply a consequence of natural variability. One study, by Washington's state climatologist Nick Bond, showed how the blob has been behind the nearly five-year-long drought in California.

Even as NOAA inarticulately proclaims this die-off as the third ever [sic] global coral bleaching event, they are basing that announcement on measuring instruments that have already been proven to overestimate so-called coral bleaching twofold. They are also making this statement in lieu of the fact that they have only been monitoring coral reef bleaching since 1989, when "a relatively new ocean phenomenon called 'coral bleaching' was increasingly observed in parts of the Caribbean Sea."

Under the supervision of former Vice President Al Gore, the Coral Reef Watch Program took shape and was formally established in 1998 when President Clinton "issued an Executive Order that created the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force." Using satellite data from 1985 to the present, the program created "historical" recreations of the past, allowing NOAA to declarethat this "may" be the third-largest global coral bleaching event "on record."

Put another way, coral bleaching events have been occurring for millions of years based on marine and fossil records. Unsurprisingly, the only thing new about this bleaching event is that agencies tasked with environmental initiatives are making a lot of noise just ahead of the Paris Climate Talks, where a climate change treaty is expected to emerge. A quick visit to the NOAA's climate reef watch website shows it devoted entirely to global warming. Unfortunately for U.S. citizens, all of this propaganda comes at taxpayer's expense.


Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story

Bjorn Lomborg

Six months have passed since plans for Australia Consensus were first announced. It has been intriguing and disturbing to see Australian media descriptions of me and my think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, that are ungrounded in reality.

Intriguing because, while Cop-enhagen Consensus has spent a decade working on development priorities, any Australian newspaper reader would be forgiven for believing our efforts are all in the trenches of global warming politics.

Disturbing because some in the Australian press seem to have difficulty distinguishing between journalism and campaigning, especially when they misinterpret data and make up quotes.

Copenhagen Consensus has existed for a decade. With more than 300 of the world's top economists and seven Nobel laureates, we have conducted nine major research projects highlighting the costs and benefits of different investments on topics from HIV-AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa to Latin American development priorities. Only one project - Copenhagen Consensus on Climate in 2009 - dealt exclusively with climate change. Top climate economists and three Nobel laureates asked where a dollar spent could do the most good for climate, for example with reforestation, carbon taxes or technology transfers.

Of 339 research papers published since 2004, just 51 tackle the economics of climate change. (Symptomatic of the state of debate in Australia, I feel compelled to add that all accept the reality of man-made global warming).

For the past 18 months, Copenhagen Consensus has focused on the UN Global Goal agenda, showing its 169 development targets to vary hugely in societal benefits. A Nobel laureate panel found the UN should focus on 19 phenomenal targets including efforts to eradicate tuberculosis, improve girls' schooling, increase family planning and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

As president, my role includes connecting with policymakers, international organisations and the public to ensure this research shapes real-world decisions.

During the past year, my articles and interviews about Copenhagen Consensus research have been published more than 1000 times in 89 countries, from The Age,Washington Post, Times of India to The East African and Venezuela's El Universal. Only a small portion focused on climate change; the vast majority talked about everything from malaria and domestic violence to air pollution and broadband access.

Yet in Australia my name is never published without "climate" by its side. Despite Australia Consensus plans focusing on development and prosperity, Australian reporters regularly have mislabelled it a "climate change think tank".

Recently, two media outlets went further than getting basic details wrong. In August, the Guardian Australia announced that "Lomborg's `consensus centre' was to spend up to $800,000 of its $4 million in government funding on promotion and marketing".

Yet the reporter hadn't stopped to properly fact-check and call us. She had a draft budget in which the University of Western Australia casually labelled some spending "Dissemination, promotion and mar-keting". This was a poor description because the entry covered academic publishing, book printing, multimedia production, websites for academic research, media monitoring, newsletters and mailing lists for research findings. Not the impression left by the Guardian Australia.

Of greater concern, the reporter wasn't actually reading the budget that showed how we would spend government funding but a different budget, mostly consisting of $8m extra from private funding sources. So she mischaracterised the proposed use of the funds and overstated the public component by more than 100 per cent.

We emailed the Guardian Australia to discuss these errors. The journalist did not respond. Her "scoop" has been extensively quoted elsewhere, including in The Conversation.

Despite its tagline "Academic rigour, journalistic flair", The Conversation has offered the most breathtaking example of Australian journalism. In a piece by Mon-ash University media studies lecturer David Holmes, the outlet published an incorrect quote.

Despite our record, Holmes believes that Copenhagen Consensus is climate-focused and we use development as a stalking horse to "attack" climate policies.

He rests this assertion on the claim that in 2013, writing for The Australian, I forgot the name of my own think tank and described it as the "Copenhangen (sic) Consensus Centre for Climate". In Holmes's mind, the veil slipped: my quote revealed that our work is really climate-focused.

Except it didn't. "Copenhagen Consensus Centre for Climate" never appeared in my text. I did refer to the project I mentioned earlier, "Copenhagen Consensus on Climate".

The word "Centre" was added to the quote in The Conversation. Given the article's argument wouldn't make sense without the fabrication, it is difficult to allow for a generous interpretation where this was just an error.

We have tried getting other factual errors acknowledged and fixed in the past. The Conversation told us these were a matter of "differing interpretations". I beg to differ. Campaigning reporters have every right to advance their own perspective, even if I question whether this should be called journalism.

What is dispiriting is when they do not engage with our research or record. Or the facts. Copenhagen Consensus has helped ensure billions of dollars is spent on highly effective measures such as malnutrition.

In any topic, I don't shy away from making unpopular arguments based on what cost-benefit analysis shows. Indeed, in the last months of this year, as global leaders prepare to strike a new climate treaty in Paris, Copenhagen Consensus will focus again on climate as we make the case for an effective treaty with more spent on research into green energy.

No doubt this will lead to further attacks and mischaracterisation of our work. I cannot help but think that this reflects more on the critics than it does on Copenhagen Consensus.


Australia's largest coal mine free to proceed after Feds give  approval.  Greenies horrified

The nation's largest coal mine is free to proceed after Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP approved it with "the strictest conditions in Australian history", in a decision declared "a disaster" by environment groups.

Mr Hunt on Thursday said the Carmichael coal mine proposed by Indian mining giant Adani has been given the green light "in accordance with national environment law" after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval.

The project, which will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export a year, has faced staunch opposition because its Abbot Point terminals are located close to the Great Barrier Reef.

Opponents have already flagged an intention to launch a legal challenge to the latest approval.

The government decision clears a regulatory hurdle, yet there are still questions over how the $16 billion project will be financed. National Australia Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured to follow suit.

The court previously said Mr Hunt had not properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Mr Hunt on Thursday said his approval for the project, in the Galilee Basin in remote central Queensland, considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups.

The approval, which includes a rail line, would be "subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history".

These include implementing all advice from an independent expert scientific committee and protecting and improving 31,000 hectares of southern black throated finch habitat.

The approval will require $1 million funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years, and strict groundwater monitoring and action triggers would protect Doongmabulla Springs, Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt has the power to suspend or revoke the approval and penalties will apply if conditions are breached.

The Department of Environment will monitor the mine and Adani must provide a groundwater management and monitoring plan.

The Mackay Conservation Group launched its Federal Court challenge in January, alleging greenhouse gas emissions from the mine, vulnerable species and Adani's environmental track record had not been taken into account.

Mr Hunt said the court set aside the mine's earlier approval at the request of the government.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said the approval "risks threatened species, precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers' money".

"[Mr] Hunt is sacrificing threatened species ... and precious ground water resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically," Ms Roberts said, adding the black throated finch would probably be pushed to extinction.

She said the conditions set by Mr Hunt did not adequately deal with the serious implications of the mine, which "can't be offset".

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Shani Tager said the mine would be "a complete disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef".

"This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions," she said.

Adani welcomed the decision, saying the initial legal hurdle was a "technicality" prompted by a mistake by the Department of the Environment.

In a statement, the company said it was always "confident in the soundness of the broader approvals, that the species involved had been protected by conditions, and that the technical error would be promptly rectified".

"Today's announcement ... makes clear that these concerns have been addressed, reflected in rigorous and painstaking conditions," it said.

The company intended to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested into community services, Adani said. The jobs figure has been disputed.

Lobby group GetUp! on Thursday said its members had already helped fund legal action against the mine, and the organisation was "exploring the legal opportunities available to us" in light of the latest decision.

"This coal mine is the dumbest, most dangerous and uneconomic development in Australia," senior campaigner Sam Regester said.

"We are calling on GetUp! members and the community to stand up and fight this mine again. We've beaten it before and we can beat it again."



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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