Thursday, April 30, 2015

Australian Warmists breathing steam over Bjorn Lomborg

Australian universities are full of Warmists but appointing just one person who questions their dogma to a university post is outrageous, it seems.  Bias and bigotry anyone?  Certainly no willingness to debate ideas or engage in civil discourse there

HIS own country stripped him of funding and he’s famously known as a “climate contrarian” so why is Australia giving Dr Bjorn Lomborg $4 million to set up a university think tank?

That’s the question being asked in the scientific community, which has been left reeling by the decision. It comes after the government abolished the Climate Commission, because its $1.5 million annual operating cost was considered too expensive.

While Dr Lomborg doesn’t deny that climate change exists, the Danish author has been internationally criticised for his controversial research which many believe downplays its effects.

He is famous for suggesting the problem has been overstated and priority should be given to tackling other problems such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

His controversial Copenhagen Consensus Center has now partnered with the University of Western Australia to establish a new research centre called the Australian Consensus Centre, which the government will fund to the tune of $4 million, in a move that has been criticised for being “politically motivated”.

Certainly no one seems eager to claim ownership of the controversial move, with the university and Education Minister Christopher Pyne being blamed at first. The decision has now been traced back to the Prime Minister’s office, according to Fairfax sources, and at least one international research fellow at the university is reportedly set to transfer their fellowship in protest..

School of Animal Biology head Sarah Dunlop has complained that Dr Lomborg does not have the necessary academic track record to justify his appointment as an adjunct professor.

“Existing PhD students in the school are concerned that this appointment will tarnish their accomplishments as graduates from this university,” she reportedly wrote in the letter.

Meanwhile, the decision has been described as an insult to Australia’s scientific community given the deep cuts to the CSIRO and other scientific research organisations.

Many of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts lost their positions in 2013 when the government axed the Climate Comission, saying its $1.5m operating costs were too expensive.

“To see the best Australians, the best qualified Australians in the field, be let go because there was no money and then have someone from overseas just a few years later put in their place with abundant funding struck us as being odd,” environmental science and climate change writer Tim Flannery told Lateline.

Mr Flannery was the chief commissioner of the former Climate Commission, which relaunched as the Climate Council after thousands of Australians donated to keep the organisation going.

Dr Lomborg seems to be a favourite of the Prime Minister, who praised him in his 2009 book Battlines. He was also invited to launch the Department of Foreign Affiars and Trade’s development innovation hub.

The National Tertiary Education Union has questioned the Commonwealth funding, saying there appeared to have been no competitive process.  Union president Jeannie Rea said the cash “seems to have arisen from discussions between UWA, the government and departmental officials”.

Why are Dr Lomborg’s views so controversial?

Dr Lomborg has been referred to as a “climate change refugee” after funding for his Copenhagen Consensus Centre was cut by the Danish government in 2012. But he has managed to continue operating with the help of private funding in countries like the US, where there are more people sympathetic towards his views.

His centre has denied receiving funding from fossil-fuel companies but the DeSmogBlog claims to have uncovered donations from organisations with links to the billionaire Koch brothers, who have funded climate-denying think tanks in the US.

In Australia, the government’s $4 million contribution towards the centre is expected to cover just one-third of its operating costs, with the UWA saying other financial support would be drawn from corporate sponsors and government grants.

Dr Lomborg has been accused of cherrypicking data to understate the threat of climate change, and has questioned whether the benefits of efforts to curb climate change justify the costs. He believes funding would be better spent on adapting to changing conditions, investing in renewable technology and tackling poverty.

His books The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It have been criticised by climate scientists for underplaying the rate of global warming.

“Mr Lomborg’s views have no credibility in the scientific community. His message hasn’t varied at all in the last decade and he still believes we shouldn’t take any steps to mitigate climate change. When someone is unwilling to adapt their view on the basis of new science or information, it’s usually a sign those views are politically motivated,” the Climate Council said in a statement.

The Australia Consensus Centre will commission economists to “generate evidence and rational arguments” that will “result in the adoption of smarter, more cost-effective policies”.

The UWA Student Guild said the $4 million in “politically motivated” federal government funding should be rejected.

“While Dr Lomborg doesn’t refute climate change itself, many students question why the centre’s projects should be led by someone with a controversial track-record,” guild president Lizzy O’Shea said. “Students, staff and alumni alike are outraged.”

But UWA vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said Dr Lomborg was not leading the research and was not being paid as an adjunct professor.

“Lomborg is a contrarian but he is not a climate change denier,” Professor Johnson told AAP.  “His contrary stance is around the use of economic efficiency and effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation strategies.  “Contrarians are, I think, useful, particularly in a university context.”

He said a cost benefit analysis was one way of ranking possibilities in order to make decisions on how to tackle climate change.  “The United Nations is currently considering what to do for the period 2016 to 2030, and there are over 1400 proposals that have to be whittled down.”


Global warming IS making our weather worse and man-made emissions are to blame for 75% of extreme heatwaves, claims study (?)

Just another application of models already known to lack predictive skill

The majority of heatwaves and almost a fifth of extreme rain storms can be blamed on human activity, a new study has warned.

Researchers say that three quarters of extreme hot weather and 18 per cent of heavy precipitation is being driven by global warming that has occurred due to man-made emissions.

They warn that as climate change pushes global temperatures higher over the coming decades, humans will become responsible for 40 per cent of extreme rainfall events.

The scientists claim it is the rarest and most destructive events that seem to be the most responsive to human influence.

Dr Erich Fischer, from the institute for atmospheric and climate science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who led the study, said: 'Climate change includes not only changes in mean climate but also in weather extremes.

'With every degree of warming it is the rarest and the most extreme events and thereby the ones with typically the highest socio-economic impacts for which the largest fraction is due to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

'We show that at the present-day warming of 0.85°C about 18 per cent of the moderate daily precipitation extremes over land are attributable to the observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times, which in turn primarily results from human influence.

'For 2°C of warming the fraction of precipitation extremes attributable to human influence rises to about 40 per cent.

'Likewise, today about 75 per cent of the moderate daily hot extremes over land are attributable to warming.'

The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, examined the probability that heatwaves and heavy rainfall events could be attributed to humans using 25 climate models.

The models examined the weather between 1901 and 2005 using historical simulations.

They analysed daily temperatures and daily rainfall totals from climate models and looked for events that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 days in an unperturbed climate - referred to as moderate daily extremes.

They then used the models to look at predictions of extreme weather between 2006 and 2100 under an emissions scenario that is expected to lead to 2°C of warming around the world.

While attributing individual extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and heatwaves to climate change is notoriously difficult, climate scientists have predicted they will become more common as the world warms.

Dr Fischer and his colleague Professor Reto Knutti, also based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said taking a more global perspective made it easier to examine the role that human activity was having on such events.

They say their research demonstrated a strong signal for human influence in the extreme weather that is having impacts around the world today.

They found that the longer the period of the event - such as a heatwave, the greater the fraction is attributable to global warming.

Dr Fischer said: 'A warmer and moister atmosphere does clearly favour more frequent hot and wet extremes.'

Professor Peter Stott, a scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in the UK, pointed to the extreme weather that has happened in the past year - one of the warmest on record.

He said Bangladesh was hit by flooding in 2014, Australia suffered heatwaves and Kenya was battered by downpours.

California, for example, is in the grip of one of the most severe droughts on record.

He added that human-caused climate change had 'loaded the dice' in favour of heatwaves like the one that hit Europe in 2003 and the flooding that hit the UK in autumn 2000.

Writing in the journal, Professor Stott said: 'As each year goes by, evidence continues to accumulate that our climate is changing and that human influence plays a dominant role in observed warming.

'The prevalence of extremely hot temperatures is expected to increase with warming and more moisture in the atmosphere leads to a tendency towards more extreme rainfall events, changes that have been detected in the observational record.

'But what has been lacking up to now is a robust calculation of how much more likely extreme temperatures and rainfall have become worldwide.

'The idea that in a two-degree world almost half of heavy rainfall events would not have occurred were it not for climate change is a sobering thought for policymakers seeking to mitigate and adapt to climate change.'


Now every EU nation joins the battle to banish plastic bags

This crap never seems to die.  It is a classic case of preconceptions swamping the evidence.  See two accounts of the truth of the matter here

Every nation in the EU is to follow Britain’s lead and introduce tough measures to slash the use of plastic bags after a vote yesterday.

The European Parliament backed strict new targets to cut plastic bag use by 80 per cent before 2025 in a huge boost for conservationists.

They have fought for years to stop billions of bags ending up as litter, harming the environment and killing marine life.

The campaign led by the Daily Mail has resulted in a 5p charge on supermarket carrier bags in England to start in October.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already introduced the charge, slashing litter as a result. Now the rest of Europe will have to bring in similar measures or face large fines.

Each nation can choose what action to take but most are expected to introduce a charge for bags or tax shops giving them out for free.

The directive orders that the EU’s 28 members reduce disposable plastic bag use by 65 per cent by 2019 and 80 per cent by 2025.

That equates to a drop in the average number of bags used per person each year from 200 to 40.

An estimated 100billion carriers are used every year in Europe, with eight billion ending up as litter. Many blight seas and rivers, where they suffocate countless animals each year.

Recent studies show that plastic pollution hits 395 marine species, including puffins, seals, whales and every type of sea turtle.  The toll includes 67 which are on the international Red List of threatened species. A recent report suggests that an astonishing five trillion pieces of plastic litter are floating in the world’s oceans.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said: ‘This is a huge step in tackling the plastic waste in Europe’s oceans that kills thousands of marine animals each year.’ But she criticised Tory MEPs who abstained from the vote.

They responded that the directive was poorly drafted and claimed businesses would be burdened by new reporting obligations and labelling rules.

Plastic bags kill marine animals by getting trapped around their heads or when they are swallowed. Sea turtles suffer as they mistake floating or billowing bags for their jellyfish prey.

Latest research suggests that they are vulnerable as they hunt using vision whereas other sea creatures rely on their hearing.

Danish MEP Margrete Auken, who steered the law through parliament, said: ‘This will create a win-win situation.

‘We’re talking about an immense environmental problem. Billions of plastic bags end up in nature. It damages nature, harms fish, birds, and we have to get to grips with this.’

But Left-wing Irish MEP Luke Flanagan warned: ‘If you force member states, they won’t do it right. Leave it up to them.’


No need to go veggie: Bill Gates says you can eat meat and STILL care for the planet

For many of those concerned about the future of the planet, giving up meat is seen as a major way for people to reduce the impact they have on the environment.

Producing beef, for example, requires large amounts of water, land for grazing and emits tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But now Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft and philanthropist, has said it may in fact be possible to keep eating meat and still care for the planet.

In his most recent blog post, the world's richest man, has defended meat eating, saying was unrealistic to expect large numbers of people to become vegetarian.

He also explains that some of the impacts of meat farming have been overstated.

Instead he believes it will be possible to provide enough meat for the world's growing population as demand in developing countries increases.

He said: 'Although it might be possible to get people in richer countries to eat less or shift toward less-intensive meats like chicken, I don't think it's realistic to expect large numbers of people to make drastic reductions.

'But there are reasons to be optimistic. For one thing, the world's appetite for meat may eventually level off.  'Consumption has plateaued and even declined a bit in many rich countries, including France, Germany, and the United States.  'I also believe that innovation will improve our ability to produce meat.'

The consumption of meat has met with considerable criticism in recent years as climate change experts have warned about the harm it is doing to the planet.

A recent report from Chatham House said that the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, planes, trains and ships combined.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also found that dietary change was also necessary to 'substantially lower' emissions.

Lord Stern, the economist appointed by the British government to assess the financial impacts of climate change, has also urged people to give up meat.

However, calls for widespread vegetarianism have been deeply unpopular with the general public.

Some researchers have also estimated that it takes several thousand litres of water to produce just one kilogram of beef due to the water needed to grow feed for them.  This makes livestock farming increasingly difficult in areas hit by drought.  Cattle grazing can also take valuable land that could be used to grow more affordable agricultural crops.

Demand for meat is expected to soar over the next 30 years or so, with global beef consumption rising from 64 million tonnes in 2005 to 106 million tonnes in 2050 according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.

It also says pork demand will rise from 100 million tonnes to 143 million tonnes and chicken consumption will increase from 82 million tonnes to 181 million tonnes.

However, Mr Gates, who set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife to fund research into sustainable technology that can tackle poverty around the world, said some of the impacts of meat have been overstated.

He points to research that suggests most of the water needed for livestock production is known as green-water, which is used to grow grass.

Most of this green water comes from rainfall and also evaporates back into the atmosphere, meaning it is not lost. He said: 'One study that excluded green water found that it takes just 44 litres – not thousands – to produce a kilo of beef.'

Mr Gates has also been funding new research projects aimed at producing meat substitutes and says he has been impressed with the results.

Companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods have been experimenting with turning plant proteins into foods that taste and look like meat and eggs.

Mr Gates also explains that he once dabbled with being vegetarian himself in his late twenties but found he couldn't keep it going.

He argues that meat is an important source of nutrition needed to help children develop healthy and said it was important that people in developing countries have access to these foods.

He said: 'With a little moderation and more innovation, I do believe the world can meet its need for meat.'


Media, Environmentalists Were Wrong: How the Gulf Coast Roared Back After Oil Spill

Five years ago this week a blowout of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig 40 miles from the Gulf Coast tragically claimed 11 lives and spilled 3 million barrels of oil from the damaged wellhead into the Gulf. It’s hard to forget the video images of thick oil day after day gushing into the region’s waters.

It was a horrific accident that caused substantial damage to the ecology and commerce of the region. Gulf area wildlife, portions of the shoreline, tourism, fishers and shrimpers, and energy sector employment suffered large losses in the aftermath of the spill.

BP has paid close to $27 billion in penalties, payments to aggrieved parties, and clean up costs in one of the largest payouts for an accident in American history. This is enough money to hand every man, woman, boy, and girl in Chicago or Houston a $10,000 check. In addition, as the result of a court ruling last fall finding BP acted with willful misconduct and gross negligence leading up to the spill, BP could have to pay another $13.7 billion in Clean Water Act penalties.

But the good news on this fifth anniversary is that the lasting ecological damage from the spill that was originally feared, has not happened. The dire predictions by the media and the major environmental groups proved wildly off base.

Today, the Gulf region affected by the spill is enjoying a renaissance of energy production, booming tourism, and a healthy fishery industry. Scientific data and studies over the past five years show the Gulf environment is returning to its baseline condition. The remnants of the spill are hard to find.

A July 2011 report from the Coast Guard’s environmental assessment found that none of the dispersant constituents found in the thousands of water and sediment tests conducted exceeded the EPA’s chronic aquatic benchmarks. Five years later, wildlife populations have proven largely resilient. For instance, NOAA commercial fishery landings data show that after a drop off in the year of the spill, catch levels bounced back in 2011 to levels not seen in 11 years and they remain strong today.

Why has the damage been contained? First, thankfully, the vast majority of the 3.2 million barrels of crude leaked into the Gulf dispersed naturally, evaporating into literal thin air or biodegrading. Microbes, which already feast on the up to 1.4 million barrels of oil that scientists estimate seep naturally into the Gulf each year, increased in number following the spill — aiding greatly.

The massive $14 billion human clean-up response, with 100,000 personnel, 6,508 vessels, and 13.5 million feet on boom was unprecedented and effective. Dispersants successfully assisted natural dissolution by reducing the size of the oil compounds.

Some of the apocalyptic damage estimated proved to be mere propaganda. The National Center for Atmospheric Research predicted at the time that oil would enter the so-called “loop current”, reaching Florida’s Atlantic coast within a week. Synte Peacock, a NCAR scientist, warned “the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida.” Not to be outdone, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers breathlessly reported that “there will be tar balls all the way up the East Coast, all the way to Europe.”

But the oil didn’t make it to Tampa — let alone Europe as the requisite combination of winds and current failed to materialize. By the end of July, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco admitted that “For southern Florida, the Florida Keys, and the Eastern Seaboard, the coast remains clear … ”

And what of the long-term effects on the fishing and shrimping industries?

Advocacy groups such as the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s Jon Williams predicted the spill could last 40 years. CBS News Network’s Melanie Warner suggested that “this could mean a permanent end” to the Gulf’s seafood industry and that “ten years from now … there will very likely still be seafood — shrimp, bluefin tuna and maybe snapper and grouper — that are contaminated with BP’s oil.”

Not to be outdone on the contamination concerns, CNN correspondent David Mattingly worried about the “cascading effect on the entire food chain” from the spill.

Fewer than four months after the spill stopped, NOAA’s director of Sustainable Fisheries Science Center reported, “It appears so far that the impact on the larval population is relatively small.”

Data from NOAA confirm that post-spill Gulf fish populations are robust and that commercial seafood landings have generally been consistent with pre-spill ranges. And more than 10,000 government tests show it’s safe to eat.

The Audubon Society director Gregory Butcher warned the spill “could be the strikeout punch” for Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican. The executive director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Cecilia Riley, cautioned, “The disruption of the food web and lack of adequate food supplies could reduce avian productivity for several years.”

But in fact, Louisiana’s brown pelican population was still strong just a year after the spill, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

The effects of the spill were predicted to have long-term negative effects on tourism as well. The managing director of Oxford Economics USA opined, “History and current trends indicate a potential $22.7 billion economic loss to the travel economies of the Gulf Coast states over the next three years.”

In actuality, tourists have flocked to the Gulf every year since the spill, shattering records the summer immediately following the disaster in numerous locales, including Panama City and the Emerald Coast.

Big Green has tried to capitalize on the BP spill as the reason to block any further offshore drilling. And while there are critical caution signals from the accident, what is needed most is rational offsetting of costs versus tens of billions of benefits and hundreds of thousands of jobs, increased access to energy, community development and so on.

Most in the environmental movement portray the ecology of our planet as fragile and weak. No. The story of horrific accidents like this and natural ecological occurrences like Katrina, is that Mother Nature adapts and she has awesome healing powers.

The Gulf recovery has been swift and impressive and the doomsayers were thankfully wrong. When something like this happens, we should listen to the sage advice of the world’s most famous lawgiver, Moses, who warned us of false prophets:

“If the thing does not come about or come true … the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:22).

Good advice when it comes to the Green Movement prophets of doom.


UK: The pottiest and costliest mistake of our times: Forget his tax and spend plans. Red Ed's climate change law in the Brown years will cost £50,000 per home


One astonishing fact not getting a mention in this bizarrely unreal [British] election campaign is that Ed Miliband can already claim to have been by far the most expensive politician in Britain’s history.

This is because it was he more than anyone else who in 2008 was responsible for pushing through the final version of the Climate Change Act — on official figures easily the most costly law passed by Parliament.

Thanks entirely to a last-minute amendment by Miliband, this Act commits us within 35 years to cutting Britain’s emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2, by a staggering 80 per cent — to a level so low it hadn’t been seen since the early 19th century.

Even on figures sneaked out by the Government a few months later, the cost of this law was then estimated as high as £734 billion, or £18 billion every year until 2050.

But more recent estimates made by the EU and the International Energy Agency suggest that the cost of meeting Mr Miliband’s target will be even higher, at £1.3 trillion — almost equivalent to our entire current national debt, or more than £50,000 for every household in the country.


The story behind how this unprecedentedly far-reaching law came to be passed almost unanimously is itself one of the weirdest political episodes in our history.

The idea for it originated with a young climate activist, Bryony Worthington, when she was the campaign director on climate change for the green lobby group Friends Of The Earth.

In 2007, when hysteria over global warming was at its height — thanks not least to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — Ms Worthington was co-opted by then-Environment Secretary David Miliband to join his department’s staff.

As she described in a talk which can still be seen by googling ‘Bryony Worthington YouTube’, she was put in charge of a small group tasked with drafting a Bill to make Britain the only country in the world committed by law to slashing its ‘carbon emissions’ by 60 per cent.

But in 2008, when the Bill was already well on its way through Parliament, David Miliband was promoted by Gordon Brown to become Foreign Secretary. A new ministry was created, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to be headed by his brother, Ed. It was Ed Miliband who decided, following pressure from green lobby groups, to up the emissions reduction target from 60 per cent to an even more mind-boggling 80 per cent. This alone, on his department’s figures, nearly doubled its cost.

What seems barely credible, if one reads through the lengthy debates in Parliament on this Bill, is that scarcely a single MP showed the slightest interest in how the new target could in practice be met — any more than did Mr Miliband himself.

The CO2 emitted by fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, oil and petrol, is inseparable from pretty well every activity which keeps our economy functioning, from the way we make 70 per cent of our electricity to virtually our entire transport system.

As for electricity alone, we no longer use this just for lighting, heating and refrigeration, as we did in those far-off ‘three-day week’ days of the Seventies.

In the age of the computer, we are now dependent on it for everything from our work and mobile phones to shop and supermarket tills, the cashpoints where we collect our money and the signalling and traffic lights which keep our trains and roads running.

Yet thanks to Mr Miliband, and those MPs who mindlessly voted for his Bill, we are committed to cutting back on what currently makes this possible by such a colossal amount, it is impossible to see how it could be realistically achieved without closing down virtually all our economy.

What our ministers and officials fondly imagine — as we can see from their speeches and policy papers — is that we can somehow meet Mr Miliband’s target by closing down all those old ‘CO2 polluting’ coal and gas-fired power stations, to replace them with tens of thousands of wind turbines and a fleet of ‘zero carbon’ new nuclear reactors (though it looks increasingly unlikely we will get even one of those in the next decade).

The fossil fuel plants we still rely on for more than two-thirds of the electricity we need will be allowed to survive only if they are fitted with ‘carbon capture and storage’, to pipe away their ‘carbon emissions’ to be buried in holes under the sea — a hugely expensive technology which is pure wishful thinking, since it has never yet been made to work commercially, and would treble the cost of electricity even if it were viable.


The drive to ‘decarbonise’ our economy by piling on ‘green taxes’ and building ever more hugely subsidised windfarms has already added hundreds of pounds a year to individual electricity bills, helping to drive millions more households into fuel poverty. But even now we are scarcely scratching the surface of meeting our legal commitments.

The one lesson above all we might have learned from Ed Miliband’s brief spell in charge of our ‘energy and climate change’ policy is that he is quite astonishingly out of touch with any practical reality.

So lost was he in his green fantasy world that his only concern was the ‘climate change’ part of his job title. He showed no interest in the other half of the job he was paid for, the ‘energy’ bit, i.e. how to keep our lights on.

Informed observers at the time noted how the only people Secretary Miliband seemed to want to talk to were green lobby groups, such as Friends Of The Earth, Greenpeace and the canny chancers making millions out of windfarms and the ‘renewables’ subsidy bonanza.

The ‘Big Six’ energy giants — who, whatever we think of them, were actually keeping the lights on — he treated with disdain or outright hostility, as ‘polluting’ capitalists, interested only in making ‘obscene profits’ (unlike those green, clean developers of the wind farms which were increasingly disfiguring our countryside).

Many may recall their shock in September 2013 when Mr Miliband, by then Labour leader, announced one of his first acts on becoming PM would be to ‘freeze energy prices’ for three years (instantly knocking £3 billion off the share value of the big energy companies).

But what made this even more ludicrous was that no one had done more to push up Britain’s fast-rising energy bills than Mr Miliband himself.


It was he who had set in train the policy which made this inevitable, with his Climate Change Act.

And it was this same policy which was then so enthusiastically carried on after 2010 by his Lib Dem successors at DECC: first Chris Huhne (until he had to resign before being jailed for lying), and now that lacklustre green zealot Ed Davey, so dim that he has shown no more practical grasp of the technicalities of electricity production than Mr Miliband himself.

All this alone should raise a huge black question mark over the man now aspiring to become leader of our country next week. It shows he is so obsessively blinkered by woolly ideology that he has no practical judgment at all — about money or anything else.

We should remember that, in an earlier time, he and Ed Balls were the most intimate Treasury advisers of Gordon Brown when, in 1998, our formerly ‘prudent’ Chancellor took the reckless gamble of announcing he intended to double Britain’s public spending in ten years.

This was what happened, leading of course to the most disastrous public spending deficit our country has ever known: a catastrophe from which we shall be struggling to recover for years to come.

Ed Miliband was right behind that gamble. It should show us it is not only his stupidity over the Climate Change Act which made him our ‘most expensive politician’ in history. Worse still, his lack of judgment also marks him out as easily the most dangerous man who has ever come within touching distance of becoming our Prime Minister.



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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Change in the climate debate? Climate models start converging towards reality

And a Lindzen hypothesis is vindicated.  Paragraphed copy of the journal abstract appended. It's not hard to follow

On many occasions we have brought up the discrepancies between observed global data and the values of the latest IPCC climate models (CMIP5)

Recently Thomas Mauritsen and Björn Stevens, a clouds and aerosols modeling expert of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, examined the matter. In a very recent paper appearing in Nature Geoscience (hereinafter MS15) titled “Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models“, they took up the actual situation (a somewhat difficult to understand press release on this can be read here).

1) Apparently the models overreact to the greenhouse gas effect. Recent papers also have found from the observations a significantly lower value for forcing. The climate sensitivity (ECS) for a very long-term period after an increase in greenhouse gas is determined to be on average 3.3°C of warming while the observations indicate a value of about 2°C.

2) The global hydrological cycle is not taken correctly into account in the models (too small).

There’s also another phenomenon: According to the models, the troposphere in the tropics was supposed to warm up much more than at ground level. But this is not being observed, and we’ve written about this in an earlier post “Houston, we have a problem: We can’t find the hot spot“.

Here the authors searched for an explanation for the discrepancies. Perhaps a cooling effect was missing in the models. They found an explanation: an old hypothesis from Richard Lindzen and his colleagues from 2001: The earth has an “iris”, a negative feedback where more heat is released when there is more warming than when the temperature is cool. This mechanism, according to Lindzen, acts in the tropics and in the subtropics.

This “self-regulation” of the earth’s temperatures proposed by Lindzen of course was rejected by “mainstream” climate science. Chambers et al. wrote in the Journal of Climate 2002:

"As a result, the strength of the feedback effect is reduced by a factor of 10 or more. Contrary to the initial Iris hypothesis, most of the definitions tested in this paper result in a small positive feedback.”

Kevin Trenberth and colleagues rejected the iris-theory in the Geophysical Research Letters in 2010:

"…and their [Lindzen et al.] use of a limited tropical domain is especially problematic. Moreover their results do not stand up to independent testing.”

The authors of the latest Nature article obviously had not been impressed by Trenberth’s claim, and made the effort of integrating Lindzen’s iris effect into an advanced model. The result is somewhat surprising.

The increase in the tropical temperature trends between 7 and 14 km elevation in the model without the iris (Figure 3 left) and with the iris (right). The modeled hot spot with profound effect at about 10 km and above has disappeared…which is very much like what the observations have been telling us:

The iris shifts the ECS of the used models from 2.81 to 2.21. That’s 22% less sensitivity with respect to the warming effect by greenhouse gases. Also the discrepancy in the hydrological cycle (basically the increase in precipitation due to warming) could be resolved by taking the iris into account.

Even when the impression has been given here from time to time that we distrust models, we point out that precisely in climatology models can be very useful when they are fed with all the right information. We are not able to experiment with the atmosphere and so we have to rely on computers. It is essential that the models accurately reflect reality and do not produce a fictitious world that supplies catastrophe scenarios.

Climate models are extremely complex, and thus it is all the more critical that their programming be clean and that all the possible physical factors be correctly taken into account. The latest paper shows that modeling has taken a step in the right direction. It shows 22% less climate sensitivity due to the iris component.

Not everyone was happy to hear this news. Kevin Trenberth was quoted saying the following words (translated from the German):

"The paper is poorly written and misleading. It wasn’t necessary to blow the iris horn.”

Trenberth seemed almost infuriated: The authors even wrote it in the damn title.”

What fear has suddenly gripped the “climate establishment”? Could it be that among policymakers the word is out that the climate catastrophe has been called off?

Björn Stevens’ research results may go down as being the turning point in the history of climate science debate.


Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models

Thorsten Mauritsen & Bjorn Stevens


Equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 falls between 2.0 and 4.6 K in current climate models, and they suggest a weak increase in global mean precipitation. Inferences from the observational record, however, place climate sensitivity near the lower end of this range and indicate that models underestimate some of the changes in the hydrological cycle.

These discrepancies raise the possibility that important feedbacks are missing from the models. A controversial hypothesis suggests that the dry and clear regions of the tropical atmosphere expand in a warming climate and thereby allow more infrared radiation to escape to space. This so-called iris effect could constitute a negative feedback that is not included in climate models.

We find that inclusion of such an effect in a climate model moves the simulated responses of both temperature and the hydrological cycle to rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations closer to observations.

Alternative suggestions for shortcomings of models — such as aerosol cooling, volcanic eruptions or insufficient ocean heat uptake — may explain a slow observed transient warming relative to models, but not the observed enhancement of the hydrological cycle.

We propose that, if precipitating convective clouds are more likely to cluster into larger clouds as temperatures rise, this process could constitute a plausible physical mechanism for an iris effect.


Debate on the Merits, Anyone?

Marching under the banner of “transparency,” there is a growing movement in the U.S. to limit truly free speech. The movement claims to be attacking “dark money,” but the reality is that its adherents want to shut up its ideological opponents. Independent expressions of support or opposition for candidates or political issues are marginalized by irrelevant questions about funding sources. Honest research and well-formulated arguments are denounced as “biased” or “untrustworthy” because of who the donors are rather than based on the merits of the arguments presented.

One doesn’t need to look further than the tragic case of Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon to see how calls for transparency can unjustly harm others and deter future quality research. Soon was recently smeared by the New York Times and organizations like Greenpeace for his allegedly biased scientific research into the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change.

The Times and others attacked Soon because he did not openly and immediately disclose that he received funding for his research from organizations that have a financial interest in the energy sector. It didn’t matter that Soon’s research was of the highest quality, that Smithsonian received much of the funding itself, or that numerous organizations and individuals who support the theory of manmade climate change also receive funding from parties who have financial interests in the climate debate.

Another attack last week on the Smithsonian was launched last week by, the activist group founded in the wake of the Clinton impeachment scandals. Activists want to see David Koch – the philanthropist – removed from the boards of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History for being a “denier” of climate change. Koch has donated tens of millions of dollars to these museums for research and exhibits.

Regardless of what you may believe about global warming, it’s undeniable that these attacks and related calls for “transparency” are simply tools used by one side of the debate in an attempt to silence the other.

Rather than debate those who disagree with them, these progressive activists have learned it is far easier to bully, to retaliate, and to destroy. But to blackball people effectively, they need to know donor names so they can isolate and disrupt funding networks. You can only get so far with smears of the messenger and innuendo about disclosed funders. That’s why this transparently intolerant movement has transitioned from ad hominem attacks and boycotts to enlisting the coercive power of the state.

For a while, the campaign operated below the radar, using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to conduct inquisitions against Tea Party and conservative groups about their funding sources and affiliations in the course of applying for tax exempt status. Around the same time, Wisconsin prosecutors quietly launched secret “John Doe” investigations exclusively targeting subpoenas and surveillance to legions of center-right political groups and interests who were aligned with the policies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

But then, far from being shamed by public revelations about Lois Lerner’s coordination of the IRS campaign against conservative nonprofits, the aggressive transparency movement targeting the center-right upped the ante.

Like the opening shot of a starter pistol, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) deployed his official letterhead during the summer of 2013 to demand that dozens of conservative think tanks confess that they had supported the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.

In late 2013, the Center for Media & Democracy and ProgressNow repackaged public form 990 information into lazily crafted so-called exposés to launch ad hominem assaults on private donors and successful advocates of conservative causes, labeling center-right public interest groups “stink tanks.”

By the summer of 2014, Arshad Hasan, executive director of ProgressNow, was openly declaring, “The next step for us is to take down this network of [conservative non-profit] institutions that are state-based in each and every one of our states.”

Supporters of this manifestly totalitarian transparency movement insist the public has the right to know who is financially responsible for various social, cultural, and political movements, because if they don’t know, greedy corporations, manipulative religious zealots, or some other allegedly biased group of people will use their deep pockets and political connections to push oppressive policies regular working Janes and Joes don’t actually want. Transparency, they say, is the only way to hold people accountable.

In reality, as the escalation of ad hominem into coercive state action demonstrates, this campaign is really nothing more than an attempt to silence political opponents. Fear of political or social retribution is used to prevent particular causes from being funded. That’s why legal protections for private civic engagement are necessary to ensure that individuals feel safe donating and advocating for causes they believe in without worrying about being personally attacked as a result. Towards that end, the Heartland Institute recently published a Policy Study, titled “In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech–and How to Stop the Assault.”

The study advocates several methods for protecting the right to private civic engagement, but the passage of two pieces of model legislation are particularly important to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum.

The first proposed law is called the “Free Speech Privacy Act,” and it would act as a “federalism shield” for free speech, “prohibiting the enforcement [by the states] of any law directly or indirectly conditioning the exercise of the rights of free speech and association on the disclosure of the identity of a person or entity who fears a reasonable probability of social, political, or economic retaliation from such disclosure.”

The second important reform proposal is the “Publius Confidentiality Act.” Publius would empower individuals by allowing them to register for an official pseudonym that could be used in political and cultural debates of all sorts, thereby forcing opponents to focus attacks on ideas rather than on individuals, their families, or their businesses.

Increasing privacy protections for individuals is an essential part of ensuring the marketplace of ideas is free from coercive fear tactics designed to silence honest debate. Without these protections, politics will continue to devolve into a political war of all against all, rather than focusing on whose ideas are more likely to improve the nation and promote liberty.


A message for Pope Francis: Energy restrictions based on climate fears threaten the poor

Paul Driessen

Pope Francis plans to deliver an encyclical on climate change this summer. To pave the way and outline the Pope’s positions, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a workshop on the topic, April 28 in Rome. The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Heartland Institute will be there.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, director of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and an author of the draft encyclical, says the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that “our planet is getting warmer.” Christians have a duty to help the poor, “irrespective of the causes of climate change,” and address what Pope Francis apparently believes is an imminent climate crisis. The encyclical will likely present global warming as “a critical moral issue” and increase pressure for a new climate treaty.

That raises serious questions, which I have addressed in many articles – and which prompted Dr. E. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to write an open letter to Pope Francis. The articles and letter reflect our years of studying climate change assertions and realities, and the ways climate-related restrictions on energy harm poor families far more than climate change will.

At the most fundamental level, too many IPCC reports and the apparent new papal position represent the rejection of Judeo-Christianity’s illustrious tradition of scientific inquiry, which has brought monumental improvements to our understanding of nature and creation – and to humanity’s once “nasty, brutish and short” lives on this planet. As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman explained, we begin with a guess about a law of nature. Then we compute the consequences that would result if our hypothesis is correct – and compare actual observations, evidence and experimental data to the predicted consequences.

If the hypothesis and predictions are borne out by the observations, we have a new rule. But if the hypothesis “disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong,” Feynman says. That is honest, genuine science.

Alarmist climate science is precisely the opposite. That distorted version of science began with the hypothesis that carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels cause global warming. It served as the basis for computer models that assume rising CO2 and GHG levels will cause planetary temperatures and sea levels to soar, and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts to increase in number and intensity. The models predicted many such “scenarios” over the coming decades.

But Earth stopped warming 18 years ago; no major hurricane hit the USA for a record 9-1/2 years; seas are rising at barely seven inches per century; and even IPCC experts agree that long-term trends in weather disasters are not out of historic norms and are not attributable to human causes. The CO2-driven global warming disaster hypothesis and models do not reflect reality and are obviously wrong.

So alarmists began talking about “climate change,” blaming extreme weather events on human emissions and manipulating temperature data. They say terrible things are happening at unprecedented levels, when they are not. Worst, they say we must slash hydrocarbon energy use that has brought once unimaginable health, prosperity, living standards and life spans to billions of people, after countless millennia of crushing poverty, malnutrition, disease, and death before age 40. Fossil fuels still represent 85 per cent of the world’s energy – and they are essential if the rest of humanity is to catch up and improve their lives.

Denying humanity the use of still bountiful hydrocarbon energy is thus not simply wrong. It is immoral – and lethal. This is the real reason that climate change is a critical moral issue. No one has a right to tell the world’s poor they cannot use fossil fuels to improve their lives, or to tell others they must reduce their living standards, based on speculation and unfounded fears about a manmade climate crisis.

As Dr. Beisner notes, “Alongside good science in our approach to climate policy must be two preferential options: for humanity and, among humanity, for the poor.” This does not mean pitting humanity against nature, any more than to pit the poor against the rich. It means any effort to protect the environment must be centered on scientific truth and human well-being, and in particular the well-being of the poor, because they are more vulnerable, and less able to protect themselves. Climate alarmism does not do that.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating energy poverty – over 830 million because of coal. China connected 99 per cent of its population to the grid and increased its steel production eight times over, mostly with coal, energy analyst Roger Bezdek points out.

Abundant, reliable, affordable motor fuels and electricity empower people and support mobility, modern agriculture, homes and hospitals, computers and communications, lights and refrigerators, job creation, life and study after sundown, indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, less disease and longer lives. In conjunction with property rights and entrepreneurship, protected by laws enforced by limited, responsive, responsible governments, fossil fuels will continue transforming lives and nations the world over.

They will also enable people to respond and adapt to future climate changes and extreme weather events, floods and droughts, heat waves, new “little ice ages” and other disasters, natural or manmade. More plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would enhance wildlife habitats and food production.

However, 1.3 billion people (the population of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe combined) still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and four million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and safe food.

Imposing fossil fuel restrictions and renewable energy mandates – in the name of stabilizing planetary climate that has never been stable – would perpetuate Third World poverty, disease and death. In developed nations, it would reduce living standards, affect everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do – and cause thousands to die during cold winters, because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

It would be a needless tragedy – an unconscionable crime against humanity – if the world implemented policies to protect the world’s still impoverished and energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate dangers decades from now, by perpetuating poverty and disease, and killing millions tomorrow.

Just eight years ago, Pope Benedict XVI warned that any proposed “solutions” to global warming and climate change must be based on solid evidence, and not on computer models, unsupported assertions and dubious ideology. He suggested that concerns about man-made emissions melting ice caps and causing waves of unprecedented disasters were little more than fear-mongering. He argued that ecological concerns must be balanced against the needs of current and future generations of people.

Pope Francis apparently does not share his predecessor’s view about climate change fears. However, if he is truly committed to advancing science, the poor and creation, he should reject climate chaos claims unless and until alarmists can provide solid evidence to back up their assertions and models.

He should recognize that the issue is not global warming or climate change. It is whether human actions now dominate climate and weather fluctuations that have been common throughout Earth and human history – and whether those actions will cause dangerous or catastrophic changes in the future. Science-based answers to these questions are essential if we are to forecast future climate and weather accurately – and safeguard poor families, modern living standards and environmental quality.

Dr. Beisner has posted his letter to Pope Francis for others to endorse this commonsense approach. It is unwise and unjust to adopt policies requiring reduced use of fossil fuels, unless it can be conclusively shown that doing so will stabilize Earth’ fickle climate and prevent future climate disasters, Dr. Beisner concludes. “Such policies would condemn hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings to ongoing poverty.” We therefore respectfully ask Pope Francis to advise the world’s leaders to reject those policies.


Reporters Explain Why Balance Isn’t Needed On Global Warming

Elite journalists explain why they have no need for ‘balance’ on the global warming issue. So much for scientific and reportorial inquiry

Is it morally permissible to allow “climate deniers” to appear in print and televised media?

Columbia University journalism students wrestled with this question recently at a screening of the new documentary, “Merchants of Doubt.” “Merchants,” based on the 2010 book by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, endeavors to smear skeptics of anthropogenic global warming as the henchmen of the fossil-fuel industry. The film is light on evidence, as I show here, but heavy on verve. Director Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) traces the stories of sly 1950s tobacco reps who hired scientists to cast doubt on a growing consensus that smoking was unhealthy. The film’s implication, insinuated rather than demonstrated, is that global warming doubters are likewise mercenary.

If you buy that argument, then it makes some sense to keep “deniers” from deluding the public. In a room full of journalism students in training to ask tough questions and root out the truth, everyone bought it.

Global Warming Opposition Equals Propaganda

“It is a lie to say that global warming poses no danger,” New York Times reporter Justin Gillis told the crowd as part of a panel after the screening. He was responding to a question from the editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, who had asked him whether news outlets present a “false balance” when they cite both proponents and skeptics of anthropogenic global warming. Since the science is “settled,” and “consensus” has been achieved, why not quote only the proponents? “Journalists care about the truth—that’s my only care in life, to find the truth,” Gillis added. “To act as if the evidence is half and half is to tell a lie. I refuse to perpetuate that lie.”

Wendell Potter from the Huffington Post recommended that newspapers create a new “propaganda beat” with reporters devoted solely to unmasking the “deniers” as frauds.
“Accurate information about climate change is a human right,” insisted Emily Southerd, campaign manager for the advocacy group Forecast the Facts. “Accurate information” in this case apparently means “consensus” information. Southerd shared that her organization is petitioning news stations to quit booking “deniers” like Marc Morano of, one of the “merchants” shown in the film. Wendell Potter from the Huffington Post recommended that newspapers create a new “propaganda beat” with reporters devoted solely to unmasking the “deniers” as frauds.

It’s hard to take such caviling seriously when the New York Times is running beguiling hit pieces on respected (but climate-skeptic) astrophysicist Willie Soon and cheering a McCarthyite investigation into seven other professors who expressed skepticism towards the idea that global warming is dangerous and man-made. In the United Kingdom last summer, after global warming-skeptic Lord Nigel Lawson appeared on the BBC, the head of the BBC Complaints Unit announced that “minority opinions and sceptical views should not be treated on an equal footing with the scientific consensus.” Lawson has not been on the BBC since.

Skeptics are not exactly popular in the media. Gillis acknowledged a tacit pact among print journalists to stop giving credence to climate skeptics. He called this an “enlightenment” that began ten or 15 years ago. American television, he noted, still lets a few skeptics onto the air; broadcasters have yet to come out of the Dark Ages.

Denying the Deniers

The merits of the term “denier” also got some play among the panelists. Southerd cast a strong vote in favor of the term: “these people need to be labeled what they are: climate change deniers.” Gillis explained the need to maintain the appearance of impartiality. “This is much like the abortion wars: what term you use signals what side you are on.” His own preference was to describe the “deniers” as “people who oppose climate science.” He was adamant, though, that these opponents-of-climate-science should never be called “skeptics”; all scientists are professional skeptics, and it would be inappropriate to honor the climate-doubters with such a term.

Paper trails indicate that federal agencies solicited climate science research that supported their conclusions, cherry-picked peer reviewers known to be sympathetic to the pro-global warming cause, and overlooked conflicts of interest.
One member of the audience thought to ask about the funding for pro-anthropogenic global warming scientists. What if someone investigated the money that supports global warming research, and made a “Merchants of Doubt” sequel about the consensus scientists? An excellent question, especially since in the last 15 years pro-sustainability and global warming research has enjoyed nearly $400 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); $3 billion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $600 million from the National Institutes of Health; $1.7 billion from National Science Foundation; and even $2 million from the National Endowment for the Arts.

No worries about that, Gillis responded: “99.9 percent of climate science is funded by the government.” That means, he explained, that each grant is disclosed by number to the public, making every transaction transparent and trustworthy.

But Gillis neglected to explain that studies from two different organizations have uncovered in this federally-funded research cozenage and artifice of exactly the sort “Merchants” espies in climate change doubters. Paper trails indicate that the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other federal agencies solicited climate science research that supported their conclusions, cherry-picked peer reviewers known to be sympathetic to the pro-global warming cause, and overlooked conflicts of interest by assigning research papers to be reviewed by members of the same organizations that produced the research in the first place. In response to concerns such as these, the House of Representatives is considering the Secret Science Reform Act and the Science Advisory Board Reform Act to try to bring transparency to the research these federal agencies use as the basis for their environmental regulations.

But none of this was relevant, apparently, in an evening’s conversation about threats to the integrity of climate science. Perhaps such obstinate belief in the credibility of global warming research should itself be labeled a kind of doubt-denialism.


EPA does something useful

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $5 million in grant funding for clean diesel projects at U.S. ports.

The selected projects in California, Oregon, New Jersey and Texas will improve the air quality for people who live and work near the ports, and reduce emissions of the greenhouse gasses that lead to climate change, EPA said.

“EPA and ports have a shared interest in working together to find practical solutions to reduce pollution for the benefit of workers and communities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a conference hosted by American Association of Ports Authorities, where she announced the grant recipients. “The key to our success, the key to healthier families and strong economic growth, is all of us working together.”

Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions, which contribute to smog and soot that can cause illness, hospitalization, or premature death. Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area. Depending on the type of equipment, new diesel engines are 90% cleaner than the old engines they replace.

The grants are funded through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and are located in areas where communities need the most help with local air quality. Since the start of the DERA program in 2008, EPA has awarded more than 700 grants in 600 communities across the country. And 150 DERA grants have been targeted to improving air quality at or near ports, with about $175M in funding. EPA estimates that every $1 in DERA funding generates up to $13 in health care savings. In addition, every dollar of DERA funding, leverages $2-3 from project partners.

The DERA grant recipients are:

California - The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department will replace a diesel-powered crane with an all-electric crane that produces zero emissions at the San Pedro Bay.

New Jersey - The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection will replace Tier 1 engines on marine vessels with Tier 4 certified engines significantly reducing particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (Nox) and other pollutants. These vessels operate between Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey and terminal locations in New York City.

Oregon - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will retrofit cargo handling equipment with diesel particulate filters and replace 23 drayage trucks with ones powered by certified engines that are model year 2011 or newer at the Port of Portland.

Texas - The Port of Houston Authority will replace 25 drayage trucks with drayage trucks powered by certified engines that are model year 2011 or newer. These drayage trucks operate in the Port of Houston and along the Houston Ship Channel.


University of Western Australia think tank is not a climate consensus centre: Lomborg

Climate action sceptic Bjorn Lomborg says he is surprised by the level of opposition towards a think tank at the University of Western Australia that he says is “not a clim­ate consensus centre”.

Dr Lomborg, a Danish political scientist who has criticised the effect­iveness of climate change reduc­tion strategies, says global development issues will be at the heart of academic research at the proposed Australian Consensus Centre, which has received $4 million in federal funds and is due to open at UWA later this year.

Speaking from the US, Dr Lomborg declined to say who he had approached to propose the centre, which will be modelled on the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Centre, which he runs.

“I’m not going to say specific­ally. I can only do my job if the ­people that I approach know I’m not going to talk about everything that happens. Fundamentally I made a suggestion to make a project, and the final proposal that we sent from UWA was accepted by the commonwealth.”

Dr Lomborg, who has been invited by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to advise the government on development aid spending, said the centre would examine “where Australia’s $5 billion in aid, and the world’s $US140bn ($180.65bn), spent every year can be spent ­better. It’s about the 2.5 billion people who are desperately poor and need access to clean water and sanitation.”

Issues such as global warming “are a problem, but only one of many issues we need to fix”.

UWA’s vice-chancellor Paul Johnson told a closed audience of 150 university staff yesterday that Dr Lomborg was not a climate denial­ist. He said the university had a history of defending its clim­ate change research staff against the most extreme views of climate change deniers.

Academic freedom was at stake, Professor Johnson said: “We should always avoid in universities being forced by pressure to resile from our commitment to academic freedom.  “We must be prepared to engage in difficult discussions.”

He said he was not surprised by on-campus hostility. “Anything to do with climate always involves passionate interest,” he said.

The UWA Staff Association and several heads of school have expressed concern about Dr Lomborg’s appointment, saying he was censured by a Danish scientific committee in 2003 for misleading science in his book The Skeptical Environmentalist.

Professor Johnson said that censure motion “was then itself subject to censure by the Danish ministry”.

He said academic work should always be open to peer review to maintain academic standards, “and that will be applied to the Australian Consensus Centre.”

The director of UWA’s Centre for Social Impact, Paul Flatau, who negotiated the centre proposal with the federal government, told the staff meeting he felt there had not been sufficient discussion of the issue.

Professor Johnson told reporters it was not standard for such proposals to go out for broad discussion, or to be put to the university’s academic board.

He said the centre would go ahead with Dr Lomborg’s involvement. “The university has signed a contract with the government.”

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Dr Lomborg was “a deep believer in climate science and the fact of human impact on climate” but had divergent views about how to tackle it.

“The real point why he’s criticised is it doesn’t fit the narrative of those who want to punish people with higher electricity and gas ­prices,” Mr Hunt told ABC radio.

“He’s saying you can reduce emissions; you just don’t need a massive electricity and gas tax.”



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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance

The US Energy Department prepares a wave of LNG gas permits in the latest move to redraw the world's oil and gas landscape. Obama perhaps thinks natural gas has become too cheap in America so wants to drive the price up by opening export demand for it.  It could also be an attempt to shaft Putin by taking away his markets.  I think that might be the main motive

The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe.

"We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market."

Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest.

“Certainly in this decade, there’s a good chance that we will be LNG exporters on the scale of Qatar, which is today’s largest LNG exporter,” he said, speaking on the margins of the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Texas.

Qatar exports just over 100 billion cubic meters (BCM), though Australia is catching up fast as the offshore Gorgon field comes on stream. It may pull ahead of Qatar later this decade.

Mr Moniz said the surge in US output from shale fracking has already transformed the global market. "We would have been importing a lot of LNG by now. Those cargoes would have gone elsewhere and have in fact had a significant impact in the European market,” he said.

Gas frackers assembled at the world's "energy Davos" in Houston said exports could ultimately be much higher, potentially overtaking Russia as the world's biggest supplier of natural gas of all kinds.

"We're just fifteen years into a 150-year process," said Steve Mueller, head of Southwestern Energy, the fourth biggest producer of gas in the US .

The mile-deep Marcellus basin stretching from West Virginia through Pennsylvania to New York state is driving the explosive growth. Interlocking fractures in the rock make it possible for a single well with advanced technology to extract much more gas than thought possible just five years ago.

Once thought to be in decline, the Marcellus alone produces 113 BCM a year. This is roughly equivalent to Russia's exports to Europe through the Nord Stream, Yamal, and Brotherhood pipelines.

Mr Mueller defiantly sweeps aside those who claim that the US fracking industry is in serious trouble, insisting that drilling costs are coming down so fast that his company - and others - are staying a step ahead of falling prices.

"Rig efficiency was flat for thirty years but since then we've cut by five times. We have set in motion something that you can't deny and is irresistible," he said.

Mr Mueller said it had taken his company 17 days to drill a 2,600 ft well as recently as 2007. It has just drilled a 5,400 ft well in six days. "The new technology is amazing. We have a drill-bit with a chip inside that makes its own changes," he said.

He is continuing to invest heavily and hopes to boost output by up to 10pc annually for the next three years, despite a drop in gas prices to around $2.60 per million British thermal units (BTU). "If it stays around $3, we'll be fine," he said.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects gas prices to rise to $4.88 in real terms by 2020, and $7.85 by 2040.

What is remarkable is that US drillers can produce a third more natural gas today with 280 rigs than they did in 2009 with 1,200 rigs. Total shale output has soared to over 350 BCM from almost nothing a decade ago. It now makes up half of US gas production.

The Obama administration has so far been slow to approve new export terminals for LNG, partly because of concerns that the US would lose its massive advantage in energy and feedstock costs for industry.

Gas sells at for $7 in Europe, and over $10 in North-East Asia, four times more expensive. This cost-gap has been a key driver behind America's so-called "manufacturing renaissance", stoking an investment boom in chemicals, plastics, and glass, and saving the country's steel mills from slow death.

A corridor from Houston to New Orleans has attracted 33 petrochemical plants worth over $1bn each since 2011. The American Chemistry Council expects over $130 billion of industrial projects along this stretch by 2023.

The administration has concluded that the US lead is now so entrenched that there is little to lose from a partial levelling of the global playing field. The expense of freezing gas for liquefaction to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit and shipping it across the Atlantic or Pacific in molybdenum-hulled vessels is enough to maintain a big cost advantage for US manufacturers.

Four LNG terminals with a combined export capacity of 70 BCM are likely to be approved soon by the Energy Department. The front-runner is Cherniere's $18bn terminal at Sabine Pass in Louisiana.

Experts are split over whether North America really can become the world's dominant LNG player. Moody's warned earlier this month that most of the 30 gas liquefaction projects planned in the US and Canada will never get off the ground, chiefly due to the linkage between LNG contracts and the price of crude. "The drop in international oil prices has wiped out the price advantage US LNG projects," it said.

Michael Smith, head of Freeport LNG, said his company will press ahead regardless with plans for a $13bn plant near Houston, and predicted that the US could soon leap-frog all rivals to become the new gas hegemon. "Our projects are very competitive and we will continue to have an advantage over the rest of the world," he said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned at the St Petersburg economic summit last year that US shale gas was abruptly changing the international order, with serious implications for his country. The early effects have forced down global LNG prices, creating a rival source of gas supply in Europe.

Any future American cargoes would further erode Gazprom's pricing power in Europe, and erode the Kremlin's political leverage. The EU already has a large network of import terminals for LNG.

Lithuania has just finished its "Independence" terminal, opening up the Baltic states to LNG. Poland's new terminal should be ready this year.

America's parallel drive for shale oil is equally breath-taking. Scott Sheffield, head of Pioneer Natural Resources, said his company has discovered huge reserves in the vast Permian Basin of West Texas.

"We think the Permian could produce 5-6m barrels a day (b/d) in the long-term," he said. It is a staggering claim. This would be more than Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar field, the biggest in the world.

Ryan Lance, head of ConocoPhillips, said North American oil output could reach 15m b/d by 2020 and 25m b/d over the next quarter century, three times Saudi Arabia's current exports.

A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.

Fracking is still an almost exclusive preserve of North America, and is likely to remain so into the early 2020s. China has large ambitions but the volumes are still tiny, and there is a shortage of water in key areas. Fracking remains mere talk in most other regions of the world.

Lukoil analysts say Russian extraction costs for shale are four times higher that those of US wildcat drillers. Sanctions currently prevent the Russians importing the know-how and technology to tap its vast Bazhenov basin at a viable cost.

John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. “We haven’t seen those stars align yet,” he said.

Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.  Certainly not in Sussex, Burgundy, or Bavaria.


Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures

Christopher Booker

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry

Last month, we are told, the world enjoyed “its hottest March since records began in 1880”. This year, according to “US government scientists”, already bids to outrank 2014 as “the hottest ever”. The figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were based, like all the other three official surface temperature records on which the world’s scientists and politicians rely, on data compiled from a network of weather stations by NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).

But here there is a puzzle. These temperature records are not the only ones with official status. The other two, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama (UAH), are based on a quite different method of measuring temperature data, by satellites. And these, as they have increasingly done in recent years, give a strikingly different picture. Neither shows last month as anything like the hottest March on record, any more than they showed 2014 as “the hottest year ever”.

Back in January and February, two items in this column attracted more than 42,000 comments to the Telegraph website from all over the world. The provocative headings given to them were “Climategate the sequel: how we are still being tricked by flawed data on global warming” and “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest scientific scandal”.

My cue for those pieces was the evidence multiplying from across the world that something very odd has been going on with those official surface temperature records, all of which ultimately rely on data compiled by NOAA’s GHCN. Careful analysts have come up with hundreds of examples of how the original data recorded by 3,000-odd weather stations has been “adjusted”, to exaggerate the degree to which the Earth has actually been warming. Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.

So strong is the evidence that all this calls for proper investigation that my articles have now brought a heavyweight response. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry into just how far these manipulations of the data may have distorted our picture of what is really happening to global temperatures.

The panel is chaired by Terence Kealey, until recently vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. His team, all respected experts in their field with many peer-reviewed papers to their name, includes Dr Peter Chylek, a physicist from the National Los Alamos Laboratory; Richard McNider, an emeritus professor who founded the Atmospheric Sciences Programme at the University of Alabama; Professor Roman Mureika from Canada, an expert in identifying errors in statistical methodology; Professor Roger Pielke Sr, a noted climatologist from the University of Colorado, and Professor William van Wijngaarden, a physicist whose many papers on climatology have included studies in the use of “homogenisation” in data records.

Their inquiry’s central aim will be to establish a comprehensive view of just how far the original data has been “adjusted” by the three main surface records: those published by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss), the US National Climate Data Center and Hadcrut, that compiled by the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (Cru), in conjunction with the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction. All of them are run by committed believers in man-made global warming.

For this the GWPF panel is initially inviting input from all those analysts across the world who have already shown their expertise in comparing the originally recorded data with that finally published. In particular, they will be wanting to establish a full and accurate picture of just how much of the published record has been adjusted in a way which gives the impression that temperatures have been rising faster and further than was indicated by the raw measured data.

Already studies based on the US, Australia, New Zealand, the Arctic and South America have suggested that this is far too often the case.

But only when the full picture is in will it be possible to see just how far the scare over global warming has been driven by manipulation of figures accepted as reliable by the politicians who shape our energy policy, and much else besides. If the panel’s findings eventually confirm what we have seen so far, this really will be the “smoking gun”, in a scandal the scale and significance of which for all of us can scarcely be exaggerated


Amazon rainforest losses impact on climate change, study shows

This was just a modelling exercise

Widespread removal of trees has contributed to a rise in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the potential impact of climate change, researchers say.

Deforestation of the Amazon accounted for 1.5 per cent of the increase in carbon dioxide levels seen since the mid-nineteenth century, the team says.

However, this increased the total amount of carbon found in the atmosphere only very slightly compared with fossil fuel emissions, which account for the vast majority of the increase.

Had this deforestation not taken place, the rainforest would store 12 per cent more carbon in its vegetation, and cover a much larger area than at present, the team adds.

The study is the first to show the extent of Amazon deforestation by determining the impact humans have had on the ability of the rainforest to store carbon.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to grow. This can help offset fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide, reducing the rate of climate change, the team says.

The team made maps to show what size the Amazon would be today if humans had not deforested large areas of it.

High-resolution satellite images have been available only since 2000, so the team made virtual models to work out how the rainforest changed in earlier decades. Researchers used these to study how the loss of trees reduced the rainforest's ability to store carbon.

Destruction of large areas of the Amazon also impacts on the biodiversity of the rainforest and could lead to the loss of many animal and plant species, researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Jean-Fran‡ois Exbrayat, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the research, said: "Our study indicates that the impact of large-scale deforestation on the Amazon carbon balance has been partially offset by ongoing regrowth of vegetation, despite sustained human activity. Overall, our results provide a baseline to better understand the global carbon cycle."


The shonky cost of carbon

I am not sure that Americans will know what a shonk is.  Its origin is unclear but in Australian/British usage it means a fraud or a con-man.  So something shonky is of dubious integrity or worth

A new paper has appeared in Nature Climate Change which puts a social cost of global warming at $200 per ton of carbon dioxide. The authors are Frances Moore and Delavane Diaz of Stanford.

The SCC is of course is a figure that greens can manipulate pretty much to their hearts' content - witness Frank Ackerman's hilarious $1000 figure of a few years back. The entertainment comes in working out what particular dodges have been pulled to hike the figure upwards and the new paper explains that it is picking up on an earlier study by Dell et al, which sought to make revised estimates of the damage that climate change would cause by examining the effect of short-term fluctuations in the weather on economic output.

Everyone involved is admirably open about the fact that this is what they are doing, and the fact that weather damage is something completely different to climate effects. You read that they have taken steps to estimate the difference, but I'm not sure that they are going to convince anyone that what they are doing is anything other than sticking a finger in the air. But then you also read that they are working with warming in 2100 of over 4.5°C; in other words they are using the IPCC's absurdly overegged RCP8.5 scenario. Needless to say, this is described as "business as usual". They are also using the IPCC's GCM-based estimates of climate sensitivity.

At this point you realise that you are being had, and you read no further.


Record Numbers Of Drivers Trading In Electric Cars For SUVs

President Barack Obama promised to put a million more hybrid and electric cars on the road during his tenure, but new research shows drivers are trading them in to buy sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

The auto-research group found that “22 percent of people who have traded in their hybrids and [electric vehicles] in 2015 bought a new SUV.”

This number is higher than the 18.8 percent that did the same last year, but it’s double the number that traded in their electric car for an SUV just three years ago. reports that only “45 percent of this year’s hybrid and EV trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle, down from just over 60 percent in 2012.”

“Never before have loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles fallen below 50 percent,” Edmunds notes.

In recent years, celebrities and politicians have been hyping electric car companies, like Teslas, as a hip way to help the environment and save money on gasoline. The Obama administration and some states even hand out generous tax credits to encourage people to buy EVs.

Buying an electric car can get you a $7,500 federal tax credit. It’s all part of Obama’s plan to get a million electric cars on the road by 2015. But electric cars were much more attractive when gas prices were high and customers could more easily rationalize paying more for an electric car. So far, Obama is still more than 800,000 electric cars short of meeting his 2015 goal.

“That’s the reality of the situation,” Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at, told Detroit News. “They have to push them out at those levels for people to be interested. It really seems like the cachet of EVs and hybrids has faded away.”

“EVs are just not selling; even hybrids and plug-ins are slow,” Caldwell said. “There’s some concern.”

Why are electric car sales faltering? One reason is that gas prices are far lower than they were in 2012. Edmunds notes that when gas prices were $4.67 per gallon in October 2012 it would take five5 years to make up the price difference between “a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460).”

With gas prices now at about $2.27 per gallon, says it would take more than twice as long to save enough on gas to make up the price difference between a Camry LE and a Camry Hybrid.

Electric cars are also facing increased competition from more fuel-efficient vehicles. Aside from market forces, federal fuel efficiency standards have been forcing automakers to increase the miles per gallon of engines.

Electric cars also suffer from issues with battery life. Each hybrid or electric car battery can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars, which only helps tip the economic scale in favor of traditional vehicles.

“It wouldn’t make sense to replace a 12-year old battery with a new battery that’s going to last 12 years, because chances are the car’s not going to last that long,” Eric Ibara with Kelley Blue Book told Detroit News.


Why The Fate Of The World's Climate Is Largely In Australia's Hands (?)

I fairly regularly read the  Australian far-Left publication, "New Matilda".  Not being a Leftist, I like to see the opposite point of view. The opposite point of view gives them the horrors, judging by the way they try to suppress it.

The rave excerpted below is one of their latest.  Their argument is as usual very long-winded but is nonetheless a brilliant example of Leftist over-simplification.  They seem to think that a torrent of words will disguise the shallowness of the thinking. Their argument could be condensed into just one sentence as follows:

"Australian mines supply a significant fraction of the world's coal so Australia should stop doing that to prevent global warming".

That there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 18 years somehow goes unmentioned.  I would be rather surprised if the writer knew what "statistically significant" meant.  But you don't need knowledge to be a Warmist. You just have to have faith in your prophets

Be that as it may, what the article overlooks is that Australia is only  the world's fourth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, and India. And there are also in Africa and elsewhere  mines from which production could easily be ramped up.  And Britain almost floats on coal, though it is rarely mined there these days.  And lignite ("brown coal") substitutes readily for thermal coal -- and Germany has masses of that, which it is already making extensive use of.  The list of alternatives goes on .... Coal is superabundant.  Even such unlikely places as Japan and New Zealand mine some coal.  So if Australia impoverished itself by stopping coal exports, other countries would rapidly take up the slack -- meaning that coal usage would continue much as before.

One really does wonder what Thom Mitchell and his American friend use for brains.  I suspect they just like sounding dramatic. Leftists are big on ill-founded drama.  It seems to give them a desperately-needed feeling of importance

We're told Australia's contribution to global warning is minimal. A report out today proves that's a dangerous lie. Thom Mitchell explains.  As American academic Bob Massey put it, “Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

In its pursuit of a solution to the ‘budget emergency’ Australia is using up the ‘carbon budget’ at a rate incompatible with the global goal of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees, a Climate Council report out today has demonstrated.

While Australia is under increasing pressure to announce an ambitious target to limit emissions at home, the report makes clear that it is our reliance on fossil fuel exports that is doing the real damage.

By actively seeking to prolong the dying revenue stream, which has buoyed the economy through the past decade, the Australian government is doing massive damage to the remaining ‘carbon budget’.

At a recent talk in Sydney, Massey was blunt.  “If your government and mining companies decide to develop all of the coal and gas currently planned, already on the books, our children will be forced to endure a world very different from what we know,” he said.

To avoid such a world, scientists have developed the ‘carbon budget’ which, put simply, is the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit into the atmosphere before temperature rises reach two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

On that basis, if all of Australia’s coal were burnt, it would use up two thirds of the ‘carbon budget’. Effectively, 90 per cent of the continent’s coal must stay in the ground.

Not all of that coal is technologically and economically viable now, but even if we burnt only the nation’s ‘reserves’, a 19 per cent bite would be taken out of the carbon budget.

If we burnt the total ‘resources’ - coal known to exist but not necessarily recoverable at this point - it would constitute a whopping 67.7 per cent of the carbon budget.

Yet despite the increasingly gloomy outlook for the commodity – the price of which has collapsed by around 60 per cent in the last five years - mining companies continue to explore for it and develop new mines. Australian governments are not only approving them, they’re promoting them.



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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