Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Arrogance in the U.S. Senate

Last Tuesday, Mark Steyn appeared before a Senate Inquiry chaired by Ted Cruz (See the post below this one for details).  He did not like what he saw of the way senators treat such sessions.  An excerpt from his report below:

In the US Senate, at least on Tuesday, senators wander in and out constantly. Their five-minute "question" sessions are generally four-minute prepared statements of generalized blather followed by a perfunctory softball to "their" witness, after which they leave the room without waiting to hear the answer - and then come back in when it's their time to speak again at which point the staffer feeds them the four-minute blather they're supposed to be sloughing off this time round.

So by the time Senator Ed Markey turned up, I'd had enough of it. Markey is the Massachusetts guy (whom I discussed on the radio with Howie Carr yesterday afternoon) and he began by comparing Rear Admiral Titley to Galileo - at which point I threw up my arms. I would have let this twaddle go, except that Markey then went on to insult the three scientists on my right. And, as with so many of the staffer-insulated ignorant bullies of the Senate, he did so with no intention of letting them respond.

Dr Judith Curry is a very brave woman who has withstood an extraordinary onslaught from the ugly misogynist types that climate alarmism attracts. She was not cowed by this know-nothing senator and she wished to respond, as she indicated discreetly.

Markey ignored her. Again, we're way beyond the rules of the Senate here. In the rules of life, a gentleman does not insult a woman and then stand on parliamentary dignity to deny her a reply. If that's the "decorum of the Senate", then Senator Markey puts the dick in decorum. Nevertheless, with characteristic pomposity, he sought to use the Senate's crappy rules to prevent those he'd abused from responding to his crude insults:

Markey must have been a little shocked when climatologist Judith Curry demanded to be able to respond to his testimony trying to discredit her views on climate science:

"I did not ask you a question," Markey, a Democrat, retorted when Curry asked if she could respond to his testimony during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the science behind global warming.

"Why can't she respond senator?" Conservative author and columnist Mark Steyn shot back at Markey. "You impugned her integrity. I think she's entitled to..."

"I was basically called a 'denier' — that I'm denying science," said Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech University. "Did you read my written testimony?"

Markey sought to discredit Curry in his testimony by framing her as ignoring the evidence humans are putting the planet at risk. Curry was not happy with essentially being labelled a global warming "denier" and pushed back against the senator's remarks.

"Are you aware the IPCC and the consensus has no explanation for the increase of ice in the Antarctic?" Curry said. "Are you aware that they have no explanation for the fact the rate of sea level rise from 1920 to 1950 was as large, if not larger, as it currently is?"

"Are you aware that temperatures have been warming for more than 200 years, and, that in the 20th Century, 40 percent of the warming occurred before 1950 when carbon dioxide was not a factor in the warming?" Curry continued.

Curry highlighted even more uncertainties among climate scientists many Democrats and environmentalists are loathe to admit. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has trouble explaining the recent "hiatus" in warming as well as the warming trend before the 1950s.

"Doctor, as I just said in my testimony — corroborated by Dr. Titley [another witness on the panel] — this is the warmest year ever recorded," Markey shot back. "Last year was the warmest year ever recorded until this year. This was the warmest November ever recorded. October... was the warmest ever recorded."

"You do not have an answer for that," Markey said before going on to cite Galileo and claim Curry was relying on "something that is perhaps God-made rather than dependent upon something that is man-made" and backed by science.

"Are you saying there's no natural variability senator?" Steyn cut in. "There were alligators at the North Pole. What was that? Was that you in your SUV?"

Markey was forced to acknowledge the planet does in fact warm and cool on its own, but said natural variability is regional and the warming trend "is straight up."

"Do you know what the little ice age was senator?" Steyn said to which Markey responded by claiming Boston's record levels of snow are a product of global warming.

Steyn: What percentage of climate change is man causing, senator? What percentage of climate change in anthropogenic?

Markey: Well, according to the scientists who are in Paris right now, which would fill pretty much the entire space of the building in which we're in right now and the number of deniers would still be the ones who are at the table.

Steyn: Yeah, what's the percentage senator?

Markey: What I am saying is that this warming is something that while it may have variability, year-to-year in specific parts of the planet that the trend is straight up.

Steyn: Yeah, do you know what the Little Ice Age was, Senator?

Markey: Again it is climate change. We had a hundred and ten inches of snow in Boston last year with measurements of water 21 degrees warmer than normal off the coast of Massachusetts. This was an unusual event for us. The warming of the ocean intensifies the amount of precipitation when arctic air hits that water. Now if you want to deny that, if you watch these changes are taking place and that they're having a dramatic impact, you are in the right place.

Steyn: You know what the winters were like at Plymouth Rock, Senator?

Here is the relevance of my question. The snow last winter in Boston is only relevant in the context of the snow a century ago and two centuries ago. Otherwise, it's merely an old weather forecast. So I was interested to know whether Senator Markey knew anything about the Massachusetts climate before last winter's snowfall.

Certainly, Senator Markey, like so many cowardly bullies, didn't take it well. He was supposed to come back for his scheduled second round of questions. But, after that exchange, he declined to return.


Reports of the confrontation by others (e.g. here) conclude that Markey was shown to be as shallow as a birdbath

Sen. Ted Cruz: ‘Global Warming Alarmists’ Ignore Scientific Data ‘Inconvenient’ to Climate Change Narrative

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz convened a subcommittee hearing Tuesday to dispute the validity of research from climate "alarmists," whose findings have become central to crafting environmental policy.

Cruz used his opening remarks to detail the 2013 expedition where a ship of 74 people sent into Antarctica to research climate change got stuck in ice, forcing an airlift rescue a week later.

"This expedition was there to document how the ice was vanishing in the Antarctic, but the ship became stuck," Cruz said before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. "It had run into an inconvenient truth, as Al Gore might put it."

Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee, also noted Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2009 claim that the Arctic would be "ice-free" by the summer of 2013—which was the same year the researchers became trapped in ice.

Republicans on the committee said the hearing was intended to shed light on "opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science," which Cruz said are "reflexively" brushed aside by policymakers.

He repeatedly pointed to satellite data that found no significant global warming during the past 18 years, a slowdown often referred to as the warming "pause."

"Global warming alarmists don’t like these data. They are inconvenient to their narrative," Cruz said. "But facts and evidence matter."

Judith Curry, former chair of Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, testified that while climate scientists uniformly agree that surface temperatures have increased during the past century, there is "considerable" disagreement about whether humans drive global warming and if warming is dangerous to the planet.

Curry’s research led her to findings that natural causes could be playing a larger role in warming than human activity, challenging what many consider "settled" conclusions in the climate debate.

But instead of leading to reignited deliberation, Curry said the science community quickly branded her a "heretic" for challenging the status quo.

"In their efforts to promote their ‘cause,’ the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem," she said, adding: "This behavior risks destroying science’s reputation for honesty and objectivity. Without this objectivity and honesty, scientists become regarded as merely another lobbyist group."

Democrats denounced the four witnesses Republicans called to testify as climate change "deniers" in a press conference held prior to the hearing.

"This hearing doesn’t make a lot of sense, given the challenges we are facing," said Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the top Democrat on the subcommittee. "When it comes to climate change, the science is pretty clear. It is basically settled."

As reason to close debate on the issue, Democrats routinely float the statistic that 97 percent of scientists agree that human activity causes climate change. But those on the right have pushed back on the number, arguing it’s contrived from vague surveys.

"Any time you hear people say scientists should not question the conventional wisdom, you are hearing someone advocating essentially for the abolition of science," Cruz said.


Climate deal faces wrath of GOP senators

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the climate change agreement passed by world leaders as a major achievement that could curb global warming, but they got a quick reminder that Republicans will fight it.

The immediate reaction of leading Republican critics was a stark reminder of the conflict that lies ahead. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama is "making promises he can’t keep" and should remember that the agreement "is subject to being shredded in 13 months," referring to the upcoming presidential election.

And Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said that Americans can expect the administration to cite the agreement as an excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the US economy.

Kerry said from Paris: "I have news for Senator Inhofe. The United States of America has already reduced its emissions more than any other country in the world.

"This has to happen," Kerry said of the agreement, predicting that voters would reject any candidate that doesn’t believe that. "I don’t think they’re going to accept as a genuine leader someone who doesn’t understand the science of climate change and isn’t willing to do something about it."

Through careful legal wording, the Paris agreement will not be considered to be a separate treaty under US law but rather as an extension of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the Senate ratified in 1992.

In an interview taped for CBS’s "Face the Nation," Kerry called the climate pact "a breakaway agreement" that will change how countries make decisions and "spur massive investment."

He acknowledged that a Republican president could undo the agreement but said there is already plenty of evidence that climate change is having a damaging and expensive impact with more intense storms, wildfires, and melting glaciers.

Leaders at the global talks in Paris agreed that while legislation and regulation are essential to set the ground rules for the marketplace, the ultimate goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy will require accelerated research, investment, and technological breakthroughs.

Kerry said the US government had helped catalyze the agreement by toughening fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, cracking down on emissions from coal-fired power plants, and reaching a deal with China, the only country that emits even more greenhouse gases.

Obama has endorsed the idea of a price on carbon — in the form of a tax, or a cap-and-trade system like California’s — and leaders of Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, France, Germany, and Mexico endorsed the idea at the Paris conference, but there was not nearly enough support to incorporate it into the agreement.

Although the pact was adopted "by consensus," no nation has signed it. Countries will be invited to do so in a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York on April 22. The agreement officially will take effect after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, have officially signed on.

With nearly every nation having now pledged to gradually reduce emissions, much of the burden for maintaining the momentum shifts back to the countries to deliver on their pledges.


The Greenies are not deceived by Paris "deal"

The new climate framework that’s been negotiated in Paris relies on ambition at the national level, and a burgeoning civil disobedience movement is planning to push for it on a global level. Thom Mitchell reports from Paris.

Activists have drawn a ‘red line’ under a new global climate regime decided in Paris overnight, arguing it’s a compact inked in the interests of big polluters, rich countries, and without regard for scientific reality.

Crowds approaching 10,000 defied a French ban on political gatherings to march from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, in a prelude to a campaign of civil disobedience which they say will continue until concrete steps are taken to solve the climate crisis.

Negotiators who’ve spent the last two weeks at a sprawling 18-hectare conference centre at Le Bourget, on Paris’ outer fringe, claimed on Saturday that they had cleared the way for a clean energy future free of fossil fuels.

They received qualified but enthusiastic support from major environmental groups, which framed it as a good deal, and the best that could realistically have been hoped for in the context of international negotiations involving nearly 200 countries.

But Naomi Klein, a Canadian activist, author, and board member of climate advocacy group 350.org, echoed the sentiments of thousands assembled in the shadow of the Eiffel tower when she told them the "agreement, as we knew it would, puts us on a course towards disastrous levels of warming".

"We heard our leaders say many of the right things over the last two weeks in beautiful speeches," Klein said, "and yet despite their words, they remain trapped in a broken system and a crashing worldview based on dominance of people and the planet".

"That world view simply does not allow them to align their words with their actions. And so the gap is immense between the rhetoric and the goal of safety, and the reality of the epic danger they are allowing to unfold."

Earlier, as demonstrators occupied a bridge leading up to the famous French monument, one organiser had declared the text "a big f*ck you from Le Bourget". "We say f*ck you too," he said, to rapturous applause from the crowd.

As it became clear in the afternoon what the final form of the text would be, another organiser noted "they have dropped any reference [in the main text]to human rights, to Indigenous rights; they have locked us in to a three degree world".

Demonstrators had endorsed calls for a lower threshold for temperature rise of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, chanting the call for "1.5 to stay alive" which was issued most strongly at the conference by Pacific Island leaders and other climate-vulnerable nations.

Protestor Gwendolyn Grey told New Matilda that the three degree temperature rise which current national commitments would add up to is a clear failure.

"For me it’s like, just set your house on fire and get ahead of the game," the seasoned Canadian climate campaigner said.

"If you’re young, you don’t realise a decade is like nothing," she said. "It’s like the snap of a finger. It’s like having ten dollars. It’s not much money, and it’s not much time. We’re on borrowed time, and it behooves us to start acting now like all the people here today."

Another activist, Sam Castro, from Australia, said "people are understandably angry". "This is our future and there’s no more time to mess around with this," she said. "This falls back on the leaders of the world which have been unable to reach an agreement which is actually stop our Pacific brothers and sisters from drowning.

"It’s their fault that we’re all out on the streets. So if it’s an inconvenience, we’re sorry, but the people are pretty determined to express themselves."

The deal which was done in Paris sets out a pathway towards closing the gap between the two degree target, and the at least 2.7 degrees current plans would lock in, and it includes an aspirational reference to staying below 1.5 degrees warming.

But the ‘bottom-up’ approach the United Nations process took, asking individual nations submit increasingly ambitious climate change plans over time, offers no concrete assurance that these targets will be met.

The plans that countries do put forward are not legally binding in terms of their implementation, but environmental campaigners elsewhere have welcomed the "balanced" plan which includes periodic reviews that will "inform" governments with a view to "updating and enhancing" their efforts.

The activists who descended on the Eiffel Tower yesterday are determined to ensure that the large-scale expression of urgency they represent also informs national level policies.

"It even says it in the text itself," Klein said. "What it says is ‘we note with concern’ that the commitments that governments have brought to not bring us to 2 degrees celsius, or 1.5 deg celsius.

"We note this as well, but not just with concern; we note this with alarm, and we say that our leaders have shown themselves willing to set our world on fire, and we will not let them," she said.

"And that our mood today, here in front of the Eiffel Tower, earlier at the Red Lines event, is not one of despair but rather our mood is one of clarifying purpose and commitment.

"We knew that those were not the real leaders: We knew that the leaders were in the streets, that the leaders were in the fields, that this city is filled with climate heroes."

"It’s our responsibility to keep [fossil fuels]in the ground" was one of the most common refrains of the demonstration, but there was also widespread concern that the climate regime which has been codified in Paris does not address many of the systematic root causes which gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place.

"System change, not climate change" has been an overarching message at political demonstrations in Paris during the course of the two-week climate negotiations. Yesterday, demonstrators diverted occasionally from climate-related chants, launching instead into refrains like "say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here".

Again, Klein captured the mood when she said "the gap is immense between the expressions of solidarity with the most vulnerable, and the reality of those leaders consistently putting the interests of the rich and the powerful before those interests of the vulnerable, and indeed all of humanity".

"I did a search," she said. "I did a word search on the final text, and the words ‘fossil fuels’ do not appear once in the text. What that means is that our leaders have none of the courage it takes to stand up to those corporate interests that are responsible for this crisis.

"They can’t even say the words. So it is up to us to do what they so clearly refuse to do, which is stand up to the polluters and make them pay, and we will do this everywhere, using every tool that we can," she said.

"We will do it in the streets with protests like this, and we will do it in the face of every single polluting project that they decide to try to roll out."

A major program of civil disobedience is planned to take place across 12 countries between May 7 and 13 next year, 350.org announced at the Paris climate summit.


Top science groups tell Congress to stop probing NOAA’s alleged misdeeds

Must not challenge the Gods

Saying it will have a ‘chilling effect’ on science, eight scientific organizations have sent a letter this week to Rep. Lamar Smith (R) for investigating corruption at NOAA.

Whistleblowers came forward during a congressional oversight hearing about data manipulation in a much-hyped global warming study. Rep. Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed government-owned emails related to NOAA’s work to determine if a landmark global warming study was "rushed to publication" to fit Obama’s "aggressive climate agenda."

The top scientific organizations opposed to this investigation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Statistical Association,Ecological Society of America,Geological Society of America, and the Society for Conservation Biology, believe Smith’s investigation is an "affront to science" and a partisan witch hunt.

All of the organizations ostensibly represent the will of its members, but surveys have shown that’s not necessarily the case.

At issue is a June paper (a.k.a. the Karl study) released by NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) that claims the global warming pause for the last 18-26 years was a figment of "uncorrected" data. NOAA removed the pause by tinkering with the data to produce the desired outcome, leaving many top climate scientists bewildered. And not just skeptics.

And those that speak up or challenge the underlying science are quickly "tossed out of the global warming tribe," writes The Spectator. Michael Mann, a climate scientist and professor at Penn State, is one of that tribe’s leaders. A "vociferous advocate of extreme measures to prevent a climatic Armageddon," Mann calls anyone that questions it ‘anti-science.’ Much like the organizations attacking Rep. Smith’s congressional inquiry.

One reason Smith is investigating the whistleblowers‘ accusations in the Karl study isbecause "businesses, governments, and academics rely heavily on NCEI data to make informed decisions to help grow the economy and protect public safety and theenvironment." But if the data has been willfully tampered with, the outputted figures are essentially useless. Prior to the Karl study, NOAA and other scientific organizations have released numerous studies that acknowledge a global warming pause for the last 18-26 years, and there have been nearly 70 excuses trying to shoo it away.

Once NOAA rewrote its own temperature data, NASA announced a month later it would now supplant its own temperature data with those from NOAA. That brought the total to two government agencies saying the global warming pause never occurred and that 2015 was turning out to be the hottest year since recordkeeping began (with the Paris Climate Talks kicking off this weekend, its not surprising). This despite a severe lack of "extreme weather" or climatostrophies that scientists claimed would happen in a warming world.

But facts say differently. As laid out by the popular science blog Watts up with that?, this year has shown record sea ice in Antarctica, Arctic sea ice extent rebounding, record snowfall across the country, record cold (e.g., Polar Vortex) across the globe, no increase in sea level rise, a thriving polar bear population (despite the so-called heat), CO2 levels rising less than 2 parts per million in 2014, and satellite data showing that 2014 (and 2015) has not been the warmest year ever. Most ground-based weather monitoring stations are affected by their surroundings, with many situated in cities where the Urban Heat Island effect makes them all but useless.

Another reason Rep. Smith may be asking for government-owned work emails related to the Karl study is the fiasco that happened in 2009. At that time, hackers (or possibly an insider) broke into the servers of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia/UK and released thousands of emails onto the web. The emails showed a disturbing trend to silence dissension, and "manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause."

While it garnered worldwide attention and generated much debate, it also showed unbecoming behavior by many prominent climate scientists (and even inspired a scathing Law & Order episode). Internal investigations by the organizations impacted by the email scandal showed "no wrongdoing," but all agreed that scientists needed to be more transparent and openly share their data (sound familiar?).

So far NOAA isn’t budging and is refusing to comply with Smith’s requests. So much so that Smith had to send a second letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who oversees NOAA. In it he asks Pritzker to have her NOAA employees comply with his request or he will be forced to use a Congressional subpoena.

As of press time, Pritzker has refused to comply, and Smith subpoenaed the requested internal documents. What NOAA scientists are disputing is that government-owned emails are not the property of the government and cited ‘confidentiality concerns.’ This was the same justification the EPA used when they were asked to produce the "secret science" behind all the new rules and regulations it has imposed since Obama took office.

Ironically, Rush Holt, who is the CEO of the AAAS and who spearheaded the letter, told the Washington Post: "This is not just a few scientists grousing about somebody besmirching the work of a group of scientists. It’s an affront to the scientific process."

That was also one of the chief complaints by whistleblowers, who said the Karl study ignored the basic tenets of the scientific method, "rushed to publication despite concerns from other scientists," ignored "established NOAA standards" and possibly violated its own "integrity policies." Smith continues to wait for these internal documents.

The letter to Smith by these eight organizations admits that Congress does have oversight responsibility, but that its inquiries "should not be used as a tool to inhibit the ability of federal scientists to fulfill" their goals. But Smith isn’t investigating NOAA’s goals, only its alleged misdeeds. Why was the Karl study rushed to publication over the objections of other NOAA scientists and why did it ignore the scientific method?


Paris Climate Deal: Australian government stares down dissenters

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has defended the non-binding nature of the Paris climate agreement, as the Turnbull government stares down climate change dissenters within its own ranks.

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, an outspoken climate change sceptic, warned the agreement was "essentially meaningless" and Australia should avoid "metaphorically burning our economy just to appear good on the global stage".

"Basically countries set their own targets and there’s no enforcement strategy. It provides flexibility to do anything essentially," he told ABC Radio.

"The entire globe needs to have similar commitments and be similarly achieving those goals."

Another Liberal MP, Craig Kelly, mocked the agreement on Facebook: "Hallelujah. The world is saved ... The polar bears can sleep soundly tonight."

Mr Hunt regretted there would be "no sanctions or penalties if a country falls short of its target".

"Our preference would have been for that. That’s probably the only real and significant element that we would have wanted, but we all knew that that wasn’t possible for the United States, it wasn’t on China’s agenda," he told Macquarie Radio.

"Others haven’t always honoured their agreements in the past, that is true. But the difference this time is everybody’s in the cart, everybody’s made their commitment; if countries fall short of that or indeed they renege on it I think there would be enormous internal and external pressure and criticism."

Mr Hunt said Australia was on-track to meet its 2030 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent, relative to 2005 levels.

Andrew Leigh, the opposition assistant treasury spokesman, applauded the deal’s aim of keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

"It leaves Australia out of the pack from the rest. We know Australia’s targets are now well in excess of what other countries have. We’re failing to demonstrate the level of ambition that Britain, the United States, Canada now ... are showing," he told Sky News.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the government trusted Mr Hunt to ensure Australia met its targets. He said South Australian premier Jay Weatherill deserved "full credit" for his "brave" decision to launch an inquiry into nuclear fuel cycle.

"Ultimately nuclear power will be something that is determined by … whether the community will accept it and … the economics of it," Senator Fifield told Sky News.

Dr Leigh said Labor was opposed to establishing a domestic nuclear power industry.



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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