Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Genetically Modified Crops Grown For 20 Years In Australia but Australians haven't turned into mutants yet

But nothing will convince the professional alarmists

Organic farming and genetic modification may not seem like a natural fit, but an independent researcher says a 20-year safety track record should be trusted by everyone, including organic farmers.

Peak industry organisation CropLife Australia commissioned a report into the impact of genetically modified (GM) crops in Australia since their introduction in 1996 showing a 23 percent reduction in herbicide and insecticide use.

The report by agricultural researchers PG Economics also found the more efficient, higher yield GM crops increased farmer incomes by $1.37 billion, and lowered carbon emissions by 71.5 million kg.

Curtin University agriculture biotechnology professor Michael Jones told The Huffington Post Australia the report was the first in-depth look into GM impacts in Australia and should end the debate about its safety.

"There were initially concerns about GM creating increased allergens or super weeds but now that we've got 20 years of scientific investigation we should be comfortable calling it safe," Jones told HuffPost Australia.

"I think the organic farming industry should see GM as perfect, organic crops. Really, all the food we eat is GM, that's what traditional plant breeding and animal breeding is -- it just takes a big longer."

Jones said the everyday person was interacting with GM products daily and fear mongering about the potential for it to cause increased cancer rates or destroy native plants never eventuated.

"Virtually all the cotton we grow in Australia is GM and all the cotton we import from places like Pakistan and India is pretty much GM also.

"If you go into a department store and you buy sheets for your bed or cotton underwear, it's all from GM cotton.

"Similarly if go down to the beach for fish and chips, chances are it's fried in GM cottonseed oil.

"Then we grow almost no soybean and very little maize and the countries we import from about 90 percent GM.

"We've been eating GM for a very long time and it's no problem."

Yet GM Free Australia Alliance spokesperson Jessica Harrison told that Australians felt they didn't believe genetic modification was proven safe and many didn't know whether their processed food had GM ingredients in it.

"Corn is 90 per cent GM in the U.S, and if that's used in Australian-manufactured biscuits or bread, no labelling is required," Harrision said. "The government doesn't believe we deserve to know."

Emeritus professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney Stephen Leeder said the risks of GM food remained an open question. "No one can say with confidence that it has no effect."

"A lot of GM crops are engineered to tolerate 10 times the normal level of herbicides. Those herbicides have been demonstrated to be carcinogenic. Resistance is bred into the weeds so you need new herbicides or higher doses to keep them at bay," he told

But there may be a broader environmental benefit from GM crops compared to conventional farming.

Monsanto Australia New Zealand managing director Tony May told HuffPost Australia he was especially proud of the reduction in chemicals needed for GM crops.

"Reduction in pesticide use is an issue that's very close to my heart because came from a cotton farming background. To reduce amount of pesticides is quite amazing because it cuts down on farmer exposure and also the amount going into the environment."


Mad modellers strike again

SkepticalScience is promoting the Holland and Bruyère (2013) paper "Recent Intense Hurricane Response to Global Climate Change as proof positive that hypothetical human-induced global warming has caused more intense hurricanes". See Dana Nuccitelli’s post New Research Shows Humans Causing More Intense Hurricanes.

The abstract of Holland and Bruyère (2013) begins:

"An Anthropogenic Climate Change Index (ACCI) is developed and used to investigate the potential global warming contribution to current tropical cyclone activity. The ACCI is defined as the difference between the means of ensembles of climate simulations with and without anthropogenic gases and aerosols. This index indicates that the bulk of the current anthropogenic warming has occurred in the past four decades, which enables improved confidence in assessing hurricane changes as it removes many of the data issues from previous eras"

That’s right; referring to Figure 1, Holland and Bruyère (2013) created an index by subtracting the multi-model mean of climate models forced by natural factors (variations in solar activity and volcanic aerosols) from the mean of the simulations that are also forced with anthropogenic factors like manmade greenhouse gases—as if the two types of model simulations and their difference represent reality. They then used that model-based index, with little to no basis in the real world, for comparisons to hurricane activity at various hurricane strengths.

Hurricane activity is influenced by tropical sea surface temperatures. Yet, we know climate models cannot simulate sea surface temperatures over the past 31 years, which is included in the 1975 to 2010 period studied by Holland and Bruyère (2013). Refer to the post here for a model-data comparison of satellite-era sea surface temperature anomalies. And we’ve also discussed for 4 years how ocean heat content data and satellite-era sea surface temperature data indicate the oceans warmed naturally.

Refer to the illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” [42MB]. The models are obviously flawed.

Hurricane activity is also influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). There are fewer Atlantic hurricanes during El Niño years due to the increase in wind shear there. On the other hand, there’s an increase in the intensity of eastern tropical Pacific cyclones during El Niño years. See Table 1, which is from the NOAA Weather Impacts of ENSO webpage.

Does Holland and Bruyère (2013) consider ENSO? No. The words El Niño and La Niña do not appear in the paper, and ENSO appears only once, when they’re discussing the reason for the use of 5-year smoothing.

All variance numbers use the 5-years smoothed annual time series to remove ENSO type variability.

Can climate models simulate ENSO? The answer is also no. Refer to the post Guilyardi et al (2009) “Understanding El Niño in Ocean-Atmosphere General Circulation Models: progress and challenges”.

Guilyardi et al (2009) includes:

"Because ENSO is the dominant mode of climate variability at interannual time scales, the lack of consistency in the model predictions of the response of ENSO to global warming currently limits our confidence in using these predictions to address adaptive societal concerns, such as regional impacts or extremes (Joseph and Nigam 2006; Power et al. 2006)"

The multidecadal variability of the sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO. There are numerous papers that discuss the influence of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation on hurricane activity. In fact, the NOAA Frequently Asked Questions About the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) includes the question Does the AMO influence the intensity or the frequency of hurricanes (which)? Their answer reads:

"The frequency of weak-category storms – tropical storms and weak hurricanes – is not much affected by the AMO. However, the number of weak storms that mature into major hurricanes is noticeably increased. Thus, the intensity is affected, but, clearly, the frequency of major hurricanes is also affected. In that sense, it is difficult to discriminate between frequency and intensity and the distinction becomes somewhat meaningless"

The AMO began its multidecadal rise in temperature in the mid-1970s. See Figure 2. By focusing their analysis on the period of 1975 to 2010, Holland and Bruyère (2013) appear to be, in part, attempting to blame manmade greenhouse gases for an increase in activity that’s already been attributed to the natural variability of the AMO.

Holland and Bruyère (2013) appears to be a flawed attempt to counter the findings of the recent (2012) IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). See the Summary for Policymakers here. The IPCC writes:

"There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities"

Holland and Bruyère (2013) is yet another peer-reviewed study that relies on climate models as if the models represent reality, when climate models clearly do not. Eventually, the climate science community will have to come to terms with this—possibly not in my lifetime at the rate they’re going. And the portrayers of gloom and doom at SkepticalScience like Dana Nuccitelli somehow find papers like Holland and Bruyère (2013) to be credible. Nothing surprising about that.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Dem Congressmen: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Global Warming Skeptics

California congressmen wrote a letter to state attorney general Kamala Harris claiming the freedom of speech “is not designed to protect fraud and deceit” of the likes being spread by oil company ExxonMobil about global warming.

Nineteen Democratic lawmakers told Harris her “investigation as to whether ExxonMobil lied about the truth of climate change and misled investors does not constitute an effort to silence speech or scientific research.

“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not protect companies from defrauding the American people or improperly disclosing information to their shareholders,” lawmakers, including California Reps. Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu, wrote to Harris.

Harris joined attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands in investigating Exxon’s global warming stance based on reporting by liberal journalists.

Reporters with InsideClimate News and Columbia University claim the oil company tried to cover up climate science and fund groups that were opposed to federal energy regulations and skeptical of man-made warming. Harris is now investigating whether or not Exxon misled shareholders about the risks of global warming.

Lieu, Waters and the other Democrats writing to Harris sent their letter in response to an inquiry from Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith. Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, requested documents from state AGs and environmentalists working against Exxon.

“We are supportive of your investigation and believe the Science Committee’s baseless allegations against you are nothing more than part of his continued agenda to assault climate science,” the Democrats wrote. “As you know, recent evidence suggests that leading oil companies, such as ExxonMobil and Shell, confirmed the science of climate change decades ago and even changed their business decisions to adapt to a warming planet.”

Republicans, however, have come out against the Exxon probe, arguing it’s being pushed behind the scenes by activists with an ax to grind. AG investigations into Exxon has also sparked free speech concerns since it has ensnared dozens of conservative think tanks, policy experts and scientists.

Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker joined Harris and others in targeting Exxon. Walker has already subpoenaed a libertarian think and a D.C.-based public relations firm.

Walker’s subpoena targets prominent conservative and libertarian think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Energy Research.

Walker’s also targeting communications with climate scientists who are more skeptical of claims that fossil fuels are causing catastrophic global warming. Walker’s targeting scientists, including Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama, who operates a satellite-based climate dataset, Cato’s Dr. Patrick Michaels, and Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute.

“Exxon is a resident of the state of Texas, and we felt this was an attack on their first amendment rights,” Texas Republican AG Ken Paxton said after he and Alabama’s AG filed court briefs in support of Exxon.

“They have every right to have their opinions on climate change. In my opinion you cross the line when you start prosecuting individuals for disagreeing with you,” he said.

California Democrats don’t seem to care about Exxon’s right to free speech, since they think the company was perpetuating a massive disinformation campaign — all while somehow running one of the world’s largest oil companies.

Democrats wrote the oil industry “began a coordinated campaign of mass deception as to the truth of climate science — spreading doubt and confusion among the public and ultimately sinking climate action in Congress.”


Global warming claims wrong then and now

I may have erred in my opinion on man-made climate change. Over time, folks get set in their ways, and refuse to accept the obvious. Recently, a friend gave me an Associated Press article that ran in the Washington Post on Nov. 2, and it stated, “The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer, and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce department … in Bergen, Norway.

“Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.

“Soundings to a depth of 3100 meters showed the Gulf Stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, while at many points, well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

“Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that, due to the ice melt, the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”

As I said, I may have erred in my previous opinion on man-made climate change, but then again, maybe not. This Associated Press article in the Washington Post is from Nov. 2, 1922. That’s almost a century ago! And you thought the crazy environmental movement was a new phenomenon.

Not only are environmentalists wrong, they are clueless to the real situation and its cause. Take for example coastal cities that were supposed to be uninhabitable within a few years. Let’s have a quiz!

How many cities have sunk into the sea since Nov. 2, 1922? Is it: A) 985 B) 346 C) Zero? The answer is C) Zero.

How can that be? I suspect generations of Democratic mayors and administrations, gang violence, destruction of the family unit by liberal social policies, and drugs have wreaked more havoc on our cities than all the melting glaciers combined.

In defense of the 100-year-old article, it might be accurate. When, in the last 7-14 billion years, was the Earth’s climate not changing? And, if you noticed, the article did not place blame, or even mention, who or what may be the cause. One hundred years ago, people were not so quick to blame mankind or America for every problem real or imagined.

But transport a 21st-century environmentalist back to 1922, and he would be blaming the Ford Model T, the extinction of the passenger pigeon, Pennsylvania coal mines, sulfur dioxide clouds caused by World War I artillery fire, and American manufacturing. Dire environmental predictions of death, disease and deluge never happen, and one might think that all credibility would have been lost by a century of such rubbish.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is the 10th anniversary of Vice President Al Gore’s epic documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” It seems like only yesterday that Al Gore was jetting around the world, lecturing college students about global warming and the imminent collapse of life on Earth because of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

He showed us computer enhancements of a polar bear trying to find an iceberg to rest upon, only to have the small sliver of ice snap under his weight. It was heartbreaking. We were shown Florida being flooded and the North Atlantic currents becoming motionless, potentially leading us into another ice age because of global warming.

Wait a minute! The Earth is heating, and polar bears are drowning, but this may cause Europe and North America to be covered by a two-mile thick sheet of ice?

Trust me, to the 21st-century environmentalist, it makes sense, but Al Gore’s catastrophic predictions will be just as accurate as those in the Washington Post’s 1922 article. So, if you want to buy that property in Florida, you’ve got nothing to worry about, other than the snakes and gators.


Paying a price for global warming and local politics: Ontario’s Liberal government will be judged, and held to account, on its cap and trade program

Times change — and the politics of climate change along with it.

Remember when global warming took the world by storm a decade ago? Back then, Ontario’s Liberal government promised to phase out coal-fired power plants and phase in renewable energy.

The momentum for change slowed when carbon pricing grew politically costly for the federal Liberals in their losing 2008 election campaign, weighed down by their unpopular “Green Shift.” In tough economic times, Queen’s Park also took a hit — and took the hint — putting renewable energy and global warming on ice.

Now, after years of delaying and dithering, time’s up. Rising temperatures, growing political momentum, and declining world oil prices (which ease the impact of carbon fees) have created optimal conditions for action.

Perfect timing for Premier Kathleen Wynne to unveil her Climate Change Action Plan this week. But in politics, as in economics, there is no such thing as a sure thing.

True, the long-delayed plan is getting warm reviews from environmentalists. And it has survived a pummelling from the opposition Progressive Conservatives (who seized on a leaked version of an early PowerPoint), implying the government would somehow phase out natural gas in 14 years.

While that scare story is fading from memory, let’s not forget our recent political history, because public fealty toward the environment is remarkably fickle: Everyone loves to hate the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, but hates paying for reductions.

Mindful of that contradiction, the Liberals are trying to avoid inflicting pain on the public — and themselves. Despite the call from political purists (though not so many environmentalists) for a straightforward carbon tax — what you see is what you pay — the government has learned the lesson of previous eco-taxes that became easy targets for public resentment.

The cap-and-trade scheme that Ontario is now adopting — following the lead of Quebec, California and much of Europe — is virtually invisible and hard to make understandable. That very incomprehensibility makes it more palatable to the party in power, harder for the opposition to pounce on, and tougher for columnists to explain concisely.

There is much to be said in defence of cap and trade in theory — notably that it imposes a hard cap on overall emissions that is ratcheted down in successive years. That means greenhouse gases will be reined in one way or another — unlike the environmental uncertainty of a carbon tax, which merely collects revenue from polluters but doesn’t necessarily shut them down (if they choose to treat it as a cost of doing business).

But in practice, it is the second half of the equation — the “trade” in cap and trade — that is the hard part, wherein polluters buy and sell unused emissions allowances (credits) at auction to meet their assigned targets. It is a messy system — markets always are.

There is good reason to be skeptical about the ability of Ontario’s Liberal government — with its mixed record of mismanagement — to execute, oversee and regulate such a complex scheme. Especially under the stewardship of its all-knowing but ever-erratic environment minister, Glen Murray.

Beyond the obscurities and complexities of cap and trade, the government’s new five-year action plan will attract attention in other areas sure to hit people between the eyes, if not their pocketbooks: Cold cash for global warming as Queen’s Park improves incentives for people who buy pricey electric cars.

Existing rebates of up to $14,000 per electric vehicle will be expanded, and low-income motorists will get incentives to trade in their old gas guzzlers, as the Star’s Robert Benzie reported earlier this week (dubbing it a “cash-for-clunkers” program). There may be sound environmental and economic reasons for giving people a nudge that eases the sticker shock from electric cars. But it will always rub the rest of the voting public the wrong way that their tax dollars are cross-subsidizing someone else’s pricey vehicle.

Those subsidies (and others for home energy audits and conservation) will be covered by the nearly $2 billion collected starting next January as fuel goes up 4.3 cents a litre at the pump and an average $5 comes out of monthly natural gas bills (nope, not being banned, just taxed). The plan purports to take money from one pocket and put it in another, all for the greater good, more or less.

But for all the heavy lifting that went into the plan’s conception, it is in the execution of cap and trade that the Liberals will be judged — and held to account. One more reason, as Ontarians factor in the inexorable gloom of global warming, to be pessimistic.


Prophecy rampant about California water supply

Because there is no actual warming, they have to live in a world of make-believe

Low-elevation snowpack across the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades will disappear in the coming decades if global warming continues unabated, according to a new study. The changes will cause water shortages in the region and dry out forests and grasslands, the study's authors say.

According to the research, the snow line—the altitude above which it snows, and below which it rains—will climb as much as 800 feet in the Colorado Rockies, and 1,400 feet in the Rockies of Idaho and Wyoming by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. The snow line will rise by an average of 950 feet across six Western mountain regions by century's end. The study, by a team of University of Utah scientists, was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month.

A shift of that magnitude means less spring runoff for millions of square miles of watersheds in the lower elevations of the West. The melting of the spring snowpack determines how much water feeds critical reservoirs in 11 Western states. That water helps sustain Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other cities, as well as farms and mountain ecosystems, through hot, dry summers.

Less spring snowpack means water managers will have to capture runoff earlier in the season, and dried up forests, brush and grasslands will increase early season wildfires. Western ski resorts will also be affected, because the snowline will rise above the base elevation of many of them, according to the study.

"We identified an elevation threshold above which precipitation is the main driver of springtime snowpack," said University of Utah climate researcher Court Strong, who led the study. Right now, that line is at about 6,500 feet, but it will rapidly march up the mountain during the coming decades if global warming continues unchecked, Strong said.

Along with melting Arctic ice and vanishing glaciers worldwide, declining snow cover is a powerful gauge of global warming impacts, researchers say.

"Snowpack is one of the most pure forms of a climate indicator," said John Abatzoglou, a University of Idaho geography professor who studies climate impacts but was not involved in the study. "We can see our snowpack, we can see when it decreases, or moves up and down the mountain...It's one the best independent measures when it comes to climate change."

Climate change has already reduced snow cover in the Rockies by 20 percent since 1980, and pushed up the peak of spring runoff by as much as two weeks in parts of the mountain West, recent studies have shown. All global climate models have projected steadily increasing temperatures, and some suggest a slight increase in precipitation, for the region.

But until now, those models have not been able to project changes for individual mountain ranges or valleys. For this study, the authors downscaled global models to account for extreme variations in altitude and other local conditions like winds and regional moisture sources. Their goal was to find out how climate change will affect precipitation and temperature, and how those changes will alter snowpack.  It is one of the first studies to show specific, elevation-based snowpack projections.

The study used data from the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, California's Sierra Nevada, the Cascades in Washington and Oregon and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.

The team embedded a local weather forecasting system, which included 26 years of observed temperature, precipitation and snowpack data, in the global climate model. They telescoped the grid into smaller and smaller cells to capture fine-scale atmospheric processes affecting local climate, including future temperature changes in the Great Salt Lake in Utah and evaporation from urban irrigation, both of which contribute moisture to the air.

That enabled the researchers to look at areas as small as one-and-a-half square miles and make detailed projections about how global warming will affect the snowpack. Existing global climate models measure the Earth's surface in segments of more than 38.6 square miles, bigger than some of the mountain ranges covered by the new study.

"You can't even see the Wasatch Range [in Utah] at that resolution,"  said Strong. Those models work well for flat areas like the Great Plains, but they don't capture climate change impacts in the complex terrain of the mountain West, he said.

The researchers also wanted to know how the changing snow line would affect winter recreation, so they looked at 14 ski resorts in Utah.

Four of them have base areas that sit above 7,300 feet, the elevation identified in the study as the snow line in 2100. That means they will still get snow rather than rain for most of the winter. But the rest, including venues from the 2002 Winter Olympics, sit at base elevations between 5,500 and 7,200 feet. The base areas of those resorts will often see mid-winter rains, and little or no snow, by the end of the century.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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