Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another clunk-headed academic who can't read

Jarrod Gilbert, a New Zealand sociologist no less, says climate denial ought be seen as a crime.  Sociologists are generally far-Left so a bit of Stalinism from one is no surprise.  And in true Stalinist style he is a good Trofim Lysenko too.  Lysenko had the basics of biology wrong and this guy has the sociology of climate science wrong.

How so?  Because his basic "97%" claim shows he can't read.  The paper usually quoted in support of the 97% in fact says that only ONE THIRD of climate scientists supported global warming.  The other two thirds took no position on the matter.

Since Jarrod has such bad eyes, I reproduce the Cook et al. abstract below  and highlight the bit that jarring Jarrod missed.  What a clown! He might one day learn the importance of doing your research before you open your mouth. But he does admit to being a liberal wanker so maybe he won't

"We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research"

There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change. The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.

Since the 1960s, it has been known that heat-trapping gasses were increasing in the earth's atmosphere, but no one knew to what effect. In 1979, a study found "no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible". Since then scientists have been seeking to prove it, and the results are in.

Meta studies show that 97 per cent of published climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by human activities. The American Association for the Advancement of Science compared it to the consensus linking smoking to cancer. The debate is over, yet doubt continues.

For decades, arguments denying the harms caused by smoking were made. A tobacco executive once said: "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."

Such doubts can be highly effective, particularly if they allow people to support agendas that are politically or economically useful to them.

One person who has managed to successfully merge expert and popular opinions is English physicist Professor Brian Cox, whose books and television programmes explain complex scientific phenomena in highly accessible ways. He recently said that ignoring best evidence and turning against experts is "the road back to the cave".

Modern civilisation, he says, has grown not because of gut instinct and guesswork but because of scientific understanding and thinking. "Being an expert does not mean that you are someone with a vested interest; it means you spend your life studying something. You're not necessarily right - but you're more likely to be right than someone who's not spent their life studying it."

If 100 of the best-qualified engineers were asked to assess the structural integrity of a house and 97 of them said it was unsafe, who would listen to the other three engineers and buy the house? Yet that is the foolishness of climate change denial. Furthermore, the basis for these decisions is often arbitrary and variable.

We all believe in the expertise at Nasa when it launches a rocket into earth's orbit then flicks it into space and lands it on a rock, but so many people conveniently ignore the organisation's knowledge and expertise when it confirms humans created climate change.

All of this might be a strange curiosity if the ramifications weren't so serious. Whether it is the erosion of coastal properties, an influx of climate refugees from the Pacific, or the economic impacts on our primary industries from severe weather events, New Zealand must prepare for some significant realities.

The worst of these problems will impact more greatly on generations to come, but to ignore them now is as unconscionable as it is selfish. It ought be seen as a crime.

One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that "capable guardians" are around to deter criminal activity. When it comes to climate change, the capable guardians are educated members of the public who counteract the deniers.

There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that climate change exists ought be shouted down like the charlatans that they are. Or better yet, looked upon with pitiful contempt and completely ignored.

There is no room to sit on the fence and say, "I don't know if it's true". Ignorance of the law excuses no one - and so it is with the laws of science.


Could climate change lead to a WAR? Global warming will increase the risk of armed conflict between ethnic groups (?)

The headline above is just speculation.  The study below was of natural disasters, not global warming.  The authors admit that they cannot link the two

Man-made climate change is expected to increase the risk of natural disasters around the world from severe droughts to more intense tropical storms.

But the impact of these may go far beyond the immediate suffering of those caught up in them.  Researchers believe that climate disasters could increase the risk of armed conflict in countries where different ethnic groups live side by side.

The research, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, suggests that climate-related natural disasters could exacerbate tensions between different ethnic groups.

Dr Carl Schleussner, who led the study, said: 'Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way.'

The researchers found that almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries happen at the same time as climatic problems - even without taking climate change into account.

Dr Schleussner added: 'Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances.

'As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way.'

Previous studies have focused on variables in climate, such as temperature increase. However it was not possible to use this information to see the direct impact it had on societies.

Instead, the new study focuses directly on the economic damage caused by natural disasters, based on data from Munich Re from 1980-2010.

The researchers used computer models to analyse the data, to see how conflict within countries coincided with natural disasters.

Dr Jonathan Donges, who worked on the study, said: 'We've been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalised countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality.

'We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters.'

The researchers used the internal conflict within Iraq as an example. In their paper, they write: 'Although not highly ethnically fractionalised, ethnic identities appear to play a prominent role in the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Iraq.

'It is clear that the roots of these conflicts, as for armed conflicts in general, are case specific and not directly associated with climate-related natural disasters.

'Nevertheless, such disruptive events have the potential to amplify already existing societal tensions and stressors and thus to further destabilize several of the world's most conflict-prone regions.'

However, the results of the study cannot be used to predict the risk in specific states.

Dr Hans Joachim Schnellnhuber, co-lead of the study, said: 'Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries.

'Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts.

'Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.'

Many of the world's most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides.

The researchers hope that their findings can help in the design of security policies in these high-risk areas.

Dr Schellnhuber added: 'Our study adds evidence of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization - peace.'


Oakland Coal Ban Won’t Protect Vulnerable

Good intentions don’t necessarily make good public policy. Yet last week the Oakland City Council unanimously fell into the same tired old “feel good” political trap.

On a 7-0 vote, council members passed an ordinance prohibiting the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke within city limits and then followed up by approving a resolution extending the ban to the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT), a new facility being built on a former U.S. Army base.

Fortunately, the ordinance and resolution will come back for a second reading on July 19, so the City Council has an opportunity to reverse or amend its decision. If the ban is upheld, City Council members will have chosen to sacrifice an opportunity to boost economic development on the mistaken premise that doing so is in the best interest of the public.

City councilman Abel Guillen stated that last week’s vote was meant to “protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable population.” That is a noble goal but who are the vulnerable members of Oakland’s population that the council is trying to protect?

In assessing the health and safety risks of importing coal and petroleum coke, primarily from Utah, and then transshipping it to Asia, the City Council relied on a report by Zoe Chafe, Ph.D. Chafe’s report referred to the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of vulnerable citizens, namely, “children, older adults, people with heart or lung diseases, and people living in poverty.”

The problem in acting to protect Oakland’s “most vulnerable population” is that doing so leads to a contradiction. The council members’ decision pits the interests of one group of vulnerable people against those of others.

“The public” is not a single entity, but rather an aggregation of many individuals, each having his or her own interests and preferences.

Concerns about moving coal and petroleum coke through Oakland’s port facilities certainly can be raised. No one wants to live where a child or elderly parent would have trouble breathing.

On the other hand, no one wants to struggle to feed their family because they can’t find a job. The economic growth that accompanies a project like OBOT, which will create an estimated 2,400 jobs, can help alleviate the problems of poverty faced by members of Oakland’s most vulnerable population.

Terminal Logistics Solutions (TLS), which will operate the $500 million OBOT facility, has indicated that it is determined to comply with the standards prescribed by the California Environmental Quality Act. These standards allow Oakland’s citizens to hold TLS responsible for any air- or water-quality violations.

This means that Oakland can both protect its environment and remain committed to raising living standards—a proverbial win-win option. Instead, City Council members are hung up on creating a feel-good policy that may hurt the very people they think they are protecting.


EPA Plans to Address Pollution 'From Engines Used on Large, Commerical Jets'

The Environmental Protection Agency already sets pollution limits on cars and trucks, and now it plans to do the same thing with new commercial jets.

Invoking the Clean Air Act, the EPA on Monday announced its finding that greenhouse gas emissions from certain types of aircraft engines "contribute to the pollution that causes climate change and endangers Americans' health and the environment."

"These particular GHGs come primarily from engines used on large, commercial jets," EPA said.

The agency is not yet ready to issue emissions standards for aircraft engines, but that will come, now that it has determined that those engines contribute to climate change.

“Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of U.S. efforts to address climate change," said Janet McCabe, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. "Aircraft are the third largest contributor to GHG emissions in the U.S. transportation sector, and these emissions are expected to increase in the future."

The EPA said its endangerment" findings do not apply to small piston-engine planes (often used for recreational purposes) or to military aircraft, including Air Force One.

The new rules are still years away, and any proposed standards would be open to public comment and review before they take effect.

For the record, the EPA announcement came one day after Sen. Bernie Sanders described Republican Donald Trump as "a guy who rejects science, doesn't even believe that climate change is real, let alone that we have to take bold action to transform our energy system."


Has Global Warming Influenced Large-Scale Atmospheric Variability?  No.
Paper Reviewed:

Sardeshmukh, P.D., Compo, G.P. and Penland, C. 2015. Need for caution in interpreting extreme weather events. Journal of Climate 28: 9166-9187.

Introducing their work, Sardeshmukh et al. (2015) note there is great scientific and public interest in discerning the influence (if any) of global warming on extreme weather events, writing that "it is tempting to seek an anthropogenic component in any recent change in the statistics of extreme weather." What is more, they note that, for many people, "the occurrence of any extreme event not previously observed 'within living memory' or 'since records began' (in both cases, about 100 years) immediately becomes a candidate for attribution to global warming."

Sardeshmukh et al., however, are quick to caution that such efforts may well "lead to wrong conclusions if the distinctively skewed and heavy-tailed aspects of the probability distributions of daily weather anomalies are ignored or misrepresented." And it was against this backdrop that they began their study, which involved the development of a protocol to adequately detect and attribute changes in extreme weather events. Thereafter, they tested this protocol in an effort to assess changes "in the observed distributions of daily wintertime indices of large-scale atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic and North Pacific sectors over the period 1872-2011."

With respect to their protocol (see the original paper for details), the authors presented a series of mathematical and statistical procedures that ultimately produced, in their words, "a sharper tool for investigating the statistical significance of observed changes in extremes over the twentieth century and of projected changes over the twenty-first century." And in applying that protocol to two indices of atmospheric variability (North Atlantic Oscillation Index and North Pacific Index), Sardeshmukh et al. report they found "no significant changes either in the mean or in the entire probability density functions of these indices over the last 140 years" despite "an apparent upward trend in the NAO index and a downward trend in the NP index during much of the second half the twentieth century."

In discussing the significance of this finding, Sardeshmukh et al. say it "has important implications for understanding the atmospheric circulation response to global warming, and casts doubt on inferences about this response drawn in studies that focus only on the second half, or other subsets, of the full record."


Hawaii Phasing Out Solar Subsidies For Cost Reasons

Hawaii’s taxpayer support for solar power is set to end in July due to cost and reliability concerns.

The state government repealed its previous programs to boost solar power last October and replaced them with a much more limited subsidy system that caps the total number of users to reduce the cost to the state and minimize power grid damage. That cap will probably be reached this month or in early August. The cap was essential to maintaining the states’ power grid, despite the state’s goal of using only green energy by 2045.

“It comes down to a financial issue,” Democratic state Rep. Chris Lee, the chairman of the state House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, told The Associated Press. “The more distributed generation, the more power that individuals generate themselves, the less of a customer base the utility ultimately has in the long run.”

Hawaii and many other states enacted net-metering subsidies for homeowners with solar panels in 2010, but are now backing away from them. Rooftop solar companies supported these subsidies as a way to encourage solar power and fight global warming. This, however, shifted the costs of maintaining the electrical grid onto households that don’t have solar panels, effectively transferring money from the poor to the rich.

Hawaii gets 3.66 percent of its electricity from solar, a higher portion than any other state, but already has the nation’s highest electricity costs. Last year, solar power only accounted for 0.6 percent of all electricity generated in America, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A 2015 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded rooftop solar subsides are inefficient and costly, and that rooftop solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.

Solar power by itself receives more federal subsidies than all fossil fuel sources combined, according to the EIA. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear, according to EIA data. Solar companies simply cannot maintain their current high levels of growth without government support.

Most state solar subsidies go to rooftop solar panels and include a 30 percent federal tax credit, while industrial scale solar is thus somewhat more efficient per dollar spent. Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems, which cost a minimum of $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because the state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable.

TheDCNF previously used statistical analysis to show that the more pro-green energy policies a state has, the less likely it was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.



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