Sunday, January 31, 2016
John Cook, the crook Cook
Shearer's cooks tend to be a rough lot and an old shearer once told me that there are three types of shearer's cook: Cooks, crook cooks and wilful murderers. John Cook is not a wilful murderer.
He has written a number of articles (e.g. here) in which he explores the apparent mystery that a lot of people don't believe that dangerous global warming is going on.
He thinks the science is settled (even though his own research shows two thirds of climate scientists taking no position on global warming) so everybody should believe it. He therefore puts forward various explanations for why some people do not believe it. In effect he treats climate skepticism as a form of mental illness that needs to be diagnosed and cured. Leftists have of course been calling conservatives maladjusted at least as far back as 1950 so Cook is offensive but hardly novel in his approach.
I can find nothing in Cook's writings that gives a reason why one should believe that catastrophic warming is imminent. The known temperature facts are not at issue. There was an overall warming during the 20th century of about two thirds of one degree Celsius and no statistically significant warming in the 21st century. That's what the Warmist data shows and I agree with it. So the warming we did have was trivial and even that has now stopped. I would like Mr Cook to tell me what there is to worry about in that situation.
I live only about 15 minutes from where Mr Cook works so he could even come and tell me in person. I in fact challenge him to do that. What scientific fact have I overlooked? I have not found such a fact so far yet but I am always open to new information. He wants to persuade people of the truth of his beliefs so let him start with me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
He will probably find out, however, that I taught research methods and statistics at a major Australian university for a number of years, so will run like a scalded cat from any contact with me -- JR.
Measuring global temperatures: Satellites or thermometers?
Dr. Roy Spencer
The official global temperature numbers are in, and NOAA and NASA have decided that 2015 was the warmest year on record. Based mostly upon surface Dr_-Roy-Spencerthermometers, the official pronouncement ignores the other two primary ways of measuring global air temperatures, satellites and radiosondes (weather balloons).
The fact that those ignored temperature datasets suggest little or no warming for about 18 years now, it is worth outlining the primary differences between these three measurement systems.
Three Ways to Measure Global Temperatures
The primary ways to monitor global average air temperatures are surface based thermometers (since the late 1800s), radiosondes (weather balloons, since about the 1950s), and satellites measuring microwave emissions (since 1979). Other technologies, such as GPS satellite based methods have limited record length and have not yet gained wide acceptance for accuracy.
While the thermometers measure near-surface temperature, the satellites and radiosondes measure the average temperature of a deep layer of the lower atmosphere. Based upon our understanding of how the atmosphere works, the deep layer temperatures are supposed to warm (and cool) somewhat more strongly than the surface temperatures. In other words, variations in global average temperature are expected to be magnified with height, say through the lowest 10 km of atmosphere. We indeed see this during warm El Nino years (like 2015) and cool La Nina years.
The satellite record is the shortest, and since most warming has occurred since the 1970s anyway we often talk about temperature trends since 1979 so that we can compare all three datasets over a common period.
Temperatures of the deep ocean, which I will not address in detail, have warmed by amounts so small — hundredths of a degree — that it is debatable whether they are accurate enough to be of much use. Sea surface temperatures, also indicating modest warming in recent decades, involve an entirely new set of problems, with rather sparse sampling by a mixture of bucket temperatures from many years ago, to newer ship engine intake temperatures, buoys, and since the early 1980s infrared satellite measurements.
How Much Warming?
Since 1979, it is generally accepted that the satellites and radiosondes measure 50% less of a warming trend than the surface thermometer data do, rather than 30-50% greater warming trend that theory predicts for warming aloft versus at the surface.
This is a substantial disagreement.
Why the Disagreement?
There are different possibilities for the disagreement:
1) Surface thermometer analyses are spuriously overestimating the true temperature trend
2) Satellites and radiosondes are spuriously underestimating the true temperature trend
3) All data are largely correct, and are telling us something new about how the climate system operates under long-term warming.
First let’s look at the fundamental basis for each measurement.
All Temperature Measurements are “Indirect”
Roughly speaking, “temperature” is a measure of the kinetic energy of motion of molecules in air.
Unfortunately, we do not have an easy way to directly measure that kinetic energy of motion.
Instead, many years ago, mercury-in-glass or alcohol-in-glass thermometers were commonly used, where the thermal expansion of a column of liquid in response to temperature was estimated by eye. These measurements have now largely been replaced with thermistors, which measure the resistance to the flow of electricity, which is also temperature-dependent.
Such measurements are just for the air immediately surrounding the thermometer, and as we all know, local sources of heat (a wall, pavement, air conditioning or heating equipment, etc.) can and do affect the measurements made by the thermometer. It has been demonstrated many times that urban locations have higher temperatures than rural locations, and such spurious heat influences are difficult to eliminate entirely, since we tend to place thermometers where people live.
Radiosondes also use a thermistor, which is usually checked against a separate thermometer just before weather balloon launch. As the weather balloon carries the thermistor up through the atmosphere, it is immune from ground-based sources of contamination, but it still has various errors due to sunlight heating and infrared cooling which are minimized through radiosonde enclosure design. Radiosondes are much fewer in number, generally making hundreds of point measurements around the world each day, rather than many thousands of measurements that thermometers make.
Satellite microwave radiometers are the fewest in number, only a dozen or so, but each one is transported by its own satellite to continuously measure virtually the entire earth each day. Each individual measurement represents the average temperature of a volume of the lower atmosphere about 50 km in diameter and about 10 km deep, which is about 25,000 cubic kilometers of air. About 20 of those measurements are made every second as the satellite travels and the instrument scans across the Earth.
The satellite measurement itself is “radiative”: the level of microwave emission by oxygen in the atmosphere is measured and compared to that from a warm calibration target on the satellite (whose temperature is monitored with several highly accurate platinum resistance thermometers), and a cold calibration view of the cosmic background radiation from space, assumed to be about 3 Kelvin (close to absolute zero temperature). A less sophisticated (infrared) radiation temperature measurement is made with the medical thermometer you place in your ear.
So, Which System is Better?
The satellites have the advantage of measuring virtually the whole Earth every day with the same instruments, which are then checked against each other. But since there are very small differences between the instruments, which can change slightly over time, adjustments must be made.
Thermometers have the advantage of being much greater in number, but with potentially large long-term spurious warming effects depending on how each thermometer’s local environment has changed with the addition of manmade objects and structures.
Virtually all thermometer measurements require adjustments of some sort, simply because with the exception of a few thermometer sites, there has not been a single, unaltered instrument measuring the same place for 30+ years without a change in its environment. When such rare thermometers were identified in a recent study of the U.S., it was found that by comparison the official U.S. warming trends were exaggerated by close to 60%. Thus, the current official NOAA adjustment procedures appear to force the good data to match the bad data, rather than the other way around. Whether such problem exist with other countries data remains to be seen.
Changes in radiosonde design and software have occurred over the years, making some adjustments necessary to the raw data.
For the satellites, orbital decay of the satellites requires an adjustment of the “lower tropospheric” (LT) temperatures, which is well understood and quite accurate, depending only upon geometry and the average rate of temperature decrease with altitude. But the orbital decay also causes the satellites to slowly drift in the time of day they observe. This “diurnal drift” adjustment is less certain. Significantly, very different procedures for this adjustment have led to almost identical results between the satellite datasets produced by UAH (The University of Alabama in Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California).
The fact that the satellites and radiosondes – two very different types of measurement system — tend to agree with each other gives us somewhat more confidence in their result that warming has been much less than predicted by climate models. But even the thermometers indicate less warming than the models, just with less of a discrepancy.
And this is probably the most important issue…that no matter which temperature monitoring method we use, the climate models that global warming policies are based upon have been, on average, warming faster than all of our temperature observation systems.
I do believe “global warming” has occurred, but (1) it is weaker than expected, based upon independent satellite and weather balloon measurements; (2) it has been overestimated with poorly adjusted surface-based thermometers; (3) it has a substantial natural component; and (4) it is likely to be more beneficial to life on Earth than harmful.
Challenging Obama's State of the Climate
President Obama used borderline threatening words during his final State of the Union Address — language he directed towards those who are skeptical of his position on man-made climate change:
"Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it".
It is quite peculiar that Obama said “you’ll be debating” all these people. Last time I checked, there has never been a large-scale debate over the likelihood of man-induced, irreversible, catastrophic climate change. Not even once! Ironically, the “science” of global warming has always been presented as “settled” since day one. Al Gore has never participated in a single public debate to defend his wild assertions in either his book or his movie. President Obama hasn’t debated on the topic, either.
If indeed the science does so strongly suggest that the planet will soon be doomed and climate chaos will be ensuing in the not-so-distant future because of fossil fuel consumption, why don’t they just have a big, publicized, end-all debate to persuade the half of Americans and the majority of the rest of the world who don’t believe climate legislation is a top priority? Perhaps it is because there’s not quite so much “consensus” among scientists about climate change as the U.N., the Obama administration and Big Green Inc. would like us all to believe.
The White House has repeatedly emphasized that nothing “poses a greater threat to our children, our planet, and future generations than climate change.” That is a very serious statement. But why hasn’t anyone, such as James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, or UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, or Canadian science broadcaster David Suzuki ever stepped up to the debate plate? Enough crouching behind computer models that have never been accurate and patting each other’s back at fancy conferences in exotic places all over the world that cost a city’s worth of “carbon-footprints.”
What if the greatest threat to our children, our planet and future generations was instead a large centralized government that intimidates its way to control every aspect of life? Maybe we should be more troubled about an all-powerful State that heedlessly hands billions of dollars to crony green organizations and corrupt third-world political leaders, and then taxes the one thing — carbon — that has lifted more people out of poverty than just about anything else in the history of the world.
Carbon is the main component of food and fuel. A carbon tax is far more regressive even than a sales tax because with a sales tax a high fashion dress is taxed more than a discount dress — but they both use the same amount of carbon! So the full weight of carbon taxation falls on the poor. So much for a political party that claims to represent the lower classes or an ideology that helps the economy!
For science to work as it is supposed to work, ideas need to be argued and debated. Hypotheses need to be tested. Theories must continually be sifted, pressed and worked over for any possible error. But for the past decade climate change alarmists have not welcomed debate — they’ve avoided it. However, if the U.N. is wrong and the “doubters” are right, the economic impact of climate policies could be devastating — especially to the poor of the world.
We cannot afford to mess this one up. How much do we really know about the global climate system? I mean, they got something as simple as polar bears wrong! Can we really have faith in what they say about something far more complex?
Until welcomed argumentation and headline debates occur over this very important topic, and climate science is tried by fire and tested by time, I cannot help but distrust nearly everything you say about the matter, Mr. President.
For now, if I must, I’m content to be lonely (even though I’m not).
West Virginia Turns to Prayer as Obama’s ‘Clean Power’ Looms
There’s little separation between church and the fossil fuel industry in West Virginia’s coal country. Still reeling from recent mine shutdowns, the state legislature has set aside Jan. 31 as a “day of prayer for coal miners.”
On Sunday, a congregation of pastors, businessmen, and lawmakers will seek divine intervention in one of the nation’s hardest-hit coal economies. Doubtless, though, many will ask for deliverance from what they consider a man-made crisis.
“West Virginia’s absolutely in dire straits,” Roger Horton, president of Citizens for Coal, the organization that spearheaded the prayer effort, said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Signal. “The point we’re trying to stress is that we need a higher power to change the hearts and minds of those who want to destroy Appalachia.”
The legislators and businessmen who gathered at the 43rd annual West Virginia Coal Symposium here seem to agree and likely will pray that God change Washington.
“The vast majority of the problem comes from President Obama and his EPA’s war on coal,” state Senate President Bill Cole, a Republican, told The Daily Signal.
Cole, who also serves as lieutenant governor and is running for governor, argues that the increased cost of new regulations has priced coal out of the market, persuading consumers to use other energy sources and pushing miners out of their jobs.
An Avalanche of Layoffs
Whether he’s right or not, there’s plenty to pray about in the Mountain State.
The first three weeks of January witnessed an avalanche of layoffs, leaving almost 2,000 coal miners permanently out of work by some estimates. And just recently, one of the largest producers in the state, the now bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources, announced its own bad news. In July, the company will cut another 900 jobs.
But even as the boom in natural gas continues to put new pressure on coal, many West Virginians blame government regulation, not the market, for the downturn.
Under the Obama administration, the past seven years have brought new regulations on coal mining and, critics say, a host of new costs. Now the industry is bracing for the latest and most sweeping regulation issued unilaterally by the EPA: the Clean Power Plan.
The rule requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent before 2030 and gives them until Sept. 6 to submit their plans to do it.
The Clean Power Plan is a key component of Obama’s effort to execute the global climate agenda struck last month in Paris. Proponents say the international compact will substantially clean up the environment by encouraging renewable fuels. Opponents say it will bankrupt the coal industry by imposing new regulations.
On Wednesday, Cole told The Daily Signal that communities in his district are still recovering from existing rules.
“We’ve closed down power plant after power plant and destroyed our own market for coal,” the Senate president and lieutenant governor said. “When you get into those southern coal communities, when coal goes away, it’s devastation and poverty in the worst form.”
Cole points to the “ghost towns” in West Virginia’s McDowell County. Once the leading coal-producing region in the nation, the county ranks as one of the poorest in the country. Without mining, the median household income peaks just above $22,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But it’s not just individual counties that are hurting. The coal market is tightly intertwined with West Virginia’s financial health. Fossil fuel provides more than half of the government’s business income tax and adds billions to the state’s bottom line.
In recent years, as the coal market shifted, West Virginia lost its footing further. The Associated Press reports that the state expects a budget deficit of $284 million for 2016 and another $466 million in 2017.
West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, a Republican, attributes part of that funding gap to “the devastating ripple effect” of every mine shutdown.
“Every time we see a mine close,” Armstead told The Daily Signal, “our men and women are put out of work. That not only impacts them and their families, but it influences all the businesses in that community.”
And although both of the state’s top lawmakers credit their congressional delegation to Washington for bringing attention to the issue, they say the Obama administration has turned a deaf ear.
“It’s very clear that this over-regulation has stifled production [and] has put our people out of work. They recognize that,” Armstead said of the administration.
Rather than attending the Paris climate summit last year, the House speaker said, he wished “Obama would visit West Virginia instead.”
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Obama is making good on promises.
“He’s simply done what he’s wanted to do,” Raney said Wednesday, referring to remarks Obama made as a presidential candidate in 2008. “He said he was going to bankrupt the industry when he was running [for president], and that’s what he’s set out to do.”
The administration continues to “circumvent Congress” with executive action and an unaccountable Environmental Protection Agency, the coal association president said.
Congress last month tried to halt the EPA’s Clean Power Plan using the Congressional Review Act. They failed when Obama vetoed their resolution of disapproval aimed at voiding the new rule.
West Virginia is among 27 states that have mounted a legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan, arguing that without congressional approval, the rule amounts to “a power grab.”
Now before the District of Columbia Circuit Court, that case will be decided this summer but is expected to come before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2017.
Although Raney said “going to court is now our only recourse,” he also sees another last option for coal producers fearful of new regulation: prayer.
“If we have enough sense to get out of the Lord’s way, he often provides a path for us,” Raney said. “Certainly he must be aware of the suffering that’s going on and of how deeply its cutting in the coal fields.”
The declaration of man as pestilence on the planet is adolescent and tedious
It was grimly fitting that in the same week we remember those who perished in the Holocaust, anti-nuclear protesters should spray-paint the legend ‘mans [sic] fault’ on to a dead whale in Skegness. For both the Holocaust and environmental degradation are totems for today’s misanthropes and anti-humanists, for whom man’s presence on the planet is but a pestilence.
It is a spirit epitomised by a parliamentary motion of 2004 that pronounced humanity to be ‘obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal’ and ‘looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the Earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again’. It was signed by three people. One was the late Tony Banks. The other two were John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.
The Holocaust was a grave psychological blow for Western civilization, and while it’s understood by most as a monstrous aberration, there has grown the sentiment that it was actually the reverse, that it was the culmination of the ‘Enlightenment project’, and not the rejection of it. This narrative has been popularised by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, whose book Modernity and the Holocaust (1989) asserted that Auschwitz was the end result of the Enlightenment’s desire to classify, rationalise and ‘to Other’. It was detached, bureaucratic, industrialised slaughter. It was the cool, calculating spirit of modernity that made it possible for cruel things to ‘be done by non-cruel people’.
Postmodernism – or rather, anti-modernism – had its tangible roots in the unfolding shortcomings of Communist states during the 1950s and 1960s and the associated crisis of faith among socialists. Fuelled by the teachings of Herbert Marcuse and his ‘one-dimensional man’ and Theodor Adorno’s ‘administered society’, antimodernism – with its tenets of relativism and subjectivity – blossomed. Modernity was now viewed as oppressive and lethal. Hospitals are no better than prisons, said Michel Foucault. ‘For modernity in its bureaucratic modernity has been discerned everywhere from Auschwitz to McDonald’s’ wrote the sociologist, David Lyon, in 1994 (1).
Bauman’s philosophy that the Holocaust was the Enlightenment writ large filtered down from university seminars in much the same way as Foucault’s theory of omnipotent, ubiquitous invisible power has given birth to Safe Spaces. Edward Said’s writings on ‘orientalism’ have created the notion of subjective, white ‘privileged’ knowledge.
Yet such romantic primitivism is nothing new. In the early-19th century, romantic writers and poets were revolted by industry and modernity – as embodied in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. In the 1920s and 1930s, anthropologists in search of innocent, exotic tribes made a comparable journey. Margaret Mead’s 1928 work Coming of Age in Samoa exemplified this new exoticism, with its discredited accounts of that island’s prelapsarian state and the arcadian condition of its inhabitants.
There is also something age-old afoot here. Man has always had the capacity for cruelty. The Holocaust remains shocking and is regarded as exceptional because of its sheer scale, and because it’s in living memory (it also serves as a moral benchmark in a society no longer sure of its values). Yet otherwise, the Holocaust tells us nothing revealing about human beings. It teaches us no lessons. Bauman wrote that science and technology take us to the gas chamber. Yet ever since neolithic man used twine to attach a flint to a stick and make an arrow, man has employed technology in order to kill other men.
Last week in Kenya, there was found the 10,000-year-old remains of 27 people, including young children and heavily pregnant women, beaten, stabbed and shot with arrows, tied up and thrown into a lagoon. In York a large grave containing 80 men was also discovered, dating back to Roman times. Some bodies were beaten in the head with hammers. Most were decapitated.
Such discoveries, like the Holocaust, expose nothing profound about the human condition. Men, who are tribal by nature, have always killed ‘the Other’. They have always used technology and they always will. If present-day misanthropes feel that modern, Western man is a plague on the planet, then they must hate all humanity throughout the ages.
Today’s misanthropic, ‘back-to-nature’ romanticism is but another adolescent manifestation of the revolt of the civilised against civilisation. Just as teenagers will always rebel against their parents, these types will be forever with us, too.
Ultimately, for all its achievements, such as medicine, symphonies, cathedrals, cities and space travel, humanity is neither to be worshipped or to be reviled. Man just is.
Australia's coal-fired power stations at risk of 'death-spiral' - report
This is mostly nonsense. The idea that "renewables" compete with thermal coal is a laugh. They are just an unreliable luxury of very little actual use. They CANNOT supply predictable power.
Competition from gas may be a problem but gas prices are in flux so we will have to wait and see on that one. Gas prices differ widely in different parts of the world so arbitrage must come into play eventually.
The cheapest electricity in Australia has always come from Victoria's brown coal generators in the Latrobe vallety, but they are hated by Warmists -- and a proposed new one was made unviable by environmental requirements in the Gillard years. Germany is however building a heap of brown coal generators so a return to brown coal in Australia seems likely. It is undoubtedly the cheapest option
Brown coal deposits are frequently close to the surface so big digging machines just scrape it up and feed it onto a conveyer belt to the power station next door, which is very efficient. No miners and no trucks needed
Australia's power sector is at risk of a "utility death spiral" due to its reliance on coal, along with utilities in the US, Japan and Germany, according to a report highlighting the environmental-related risk of coal producers.
Additional pressures on the coal industry is coming from the shift by countries such as China and India to rely on domestic sources for coal, rather than imports, to feed their surging demand for electricity generation.
The report, by the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise, pointed to the emergence of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, along with competition from gas as additional pressures for the sector.
Other issues include water stress, concerns over air pollution, changes to government policies and the challenge of carbon capture and storage technology, the report noted.
A 'death spiral' occurs as new energy sources take market share from coal-fired power stations, forcing stations to close while also undermining the economics of the centralised electricity grid by forcing higher distribution charges, according to the report.
The use of so-called 'sub-critical' coal-fired power stations which are poor converters of energy from coal into electricity, use high volums of water for cooling and release high levels of carbon emissions puts the utilities and coal companies at particular risk in countries such as Australia, according to work by the group.
That risk declines with the use of new generation technology, so-called "super-critical" power stations, which are more expensive to build.
The report comes after US energy giant ExxonMobil this week predicted that global demand for coal would peak in about 2025 and then fall into terminal decline.
In contrast to coal's decline, demand for natural gas would increase by 50 per cent over the next 26 years, ExxonMobil predicted in its 2016 Outlook for Energy report.
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Posted by JR at 1:28 AM