Monday, August 29, 2016

All Natural… Four New Scientific Publications Show No Detectable Sea Level Rise Effect of CO2

It is widely assumed that sea levels have been rising in recent decades largely in response to anthropogenic global warming. However, due to the inherently large contribution of natural oscillatory influences on sea level fluctuations, this assumption lacks substantiation. Instead, natural factors or internal variability override the detection of an anthropogenic signal and may instead largely explain the patterns in sea level rise in large regions of the global oceans.

Scientists who have recently attempted to detect an anthropogenic signal in regional sea level rise trends have had to admit that there is “no observable sea-level effect of anthropogenic global warming,” or that the “sea level rise pattern does not correspond to externally forced anthropogenic sea level signal,” and that sea level “trends are still within the range of long-term internal decadal variability.”

Below are highlighted summaries from 4 peer-reviewed scientific papers published within the last few months.

1. Hansen et al., 2016

For the convenience of the readers, our basic results are shown in Figure 1. We identified five individual oscillations (upper panel), including a sea-level amplitude of 70 mm (top–bottom [t-b]) of the 18.6-year oscillation caused by the lunar nodal oscillation (LNO) … Together with a general sea-level rise of 1.18 mm/y, the sum of these five sea-level oscillations constitutes a reconstructed or theoretical sea-level curve of the eastern North Sea to the central Baltic Sea (Figure 1, lower panel), which correlates very well with the observed sea-level changes of the 160-year period (1849–2009), from which 26 long tide gauge time series are available from the eastern North Sea to the central Baltic Sea.  Such identification of oscillators and general trends over 160 years would be of great importance for distinguishing long-term, natural developments from possible, more recent anthropogenic sea-level changes. However, we found that a possible candidate for such anthropogenic development, i.e. the large sea-level rise after 1970, is completely contained by the found small residuals, long-term oscillators, and general trend. Thus, we found that there is (yet) no observable sea-level effect of anthropogenic global warming in the world’s best recorded region.

2. Palanisamy, 2016

Building up on the relationship between thermocline and sea level in the tropical region, we show that most of the observed sea level spatial trend pattern in the tropical Pacific can be explained by the wind driven vertical thermocline movement. By performing detection and attribution study on sea level spatial trend patterns in the tropical Pacific and attempting to eliminate signal corresponding to the main internal climate mode, we further show that the remaining residual sea level trend pattern does not correspond to externally forced anthropogenic sea level signal. In addition, we also suggest that satellite altimetry measurement may not still be accurate enough to detect the anthropogenic signal in the 20-year tropical Pacific sea level trends.

3. Hadi Bordbar et al., 2016

The tropical Pacific has featured some remarkable trends during the recent decades such as an unprecedented strengthening of the Trade Winds, a strong cooling of sea surface temperatures (SST) in the eastern and central part, thereby slowing global warming and strengthening the zonal SST gradient, and highly asymmetric sea level trends with an accelerated rise relative to the global average in the western and a drop in the eastern part. These trends have been linked to an anomalously strong Pacific Walker Circulation, the major zonal atmospheric overturning cell in the tropical Pacific sector, but the origin of the strengthening is controversial. Here we address the question as to whether the recent decadal trends in the tropical Pacific atmosphere-ocean system are within the range of internal variability, as simulated in long unforced integrations of global climate models. We show that the recent trends are still within the range of long-term internal decadal variability.

4. Dangendorf et al., 2016

The observed 20th century sea level rise represents one of the major consequences of anthropogenic climate change. However, superimposed on any anthropogenic trend there are also considerable decadal to centennial signals linked to intrinsic natural variability in the climate system. … Gravitational effects and ocean dynamics further lead to regionally varying imprints of low frequency variability. In the Arctic, for instance, the causal uncertainties are even up to 8 times larger than previously thought. This result is consistent with recent findings that beside the anthropogenic signature, a non-negligible fraction of the observed 20th century sea level rise still represents a response to pre-industrial natural climate variations such as the Little Ice Age.


Don’t bee-lieve the latest bee-pocalypse scare

Now wild bee junk science and scare stories drive demands for anti-pesticide regulations

Paul Driessen

As stubborn facts ruin their narrative that neonicotinoid pesticides are causing a honeybee-pocalypse, environmental pressure groups are shifting to new scares to justify their demands for “neonic” bans.

Honeybee populations and colony numbers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere are growing. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the actual cause of bee die-offs and “colony collapse disorders” is not neonics, but a toxic mix of predatory mites, stomach fungi, other microscopic pests, and assorted chemicals employed by beekeepers trying to control the beehive infestations.

Naturally, anti-pesticide activists have seized on a recent study purporting to show that wild bee deaths in Britain have been correlated with neonic use in oil seed rape fields (canola is a type of OSR). In a saga that has become all too common in the environmental arena, their claims were amplified by news media outlets that share many activist beliefs and biases – and want to sell more subscriptions and advertising.

(Honeybees represent a small number of species that humans have domesticated and keep in hives, to produce honey and pollinate crops. Many are repeatedly trucked long distances, to pollinate almond and other crops as they flower. By contrast, thousands of species of native or wild bees also flourish across the continents, pollinating plants with no human assistance.)

The recent Center for Ecology and Hydrology study examined wild bee population trends over an 18-year period that ended in 2011. It concluded that there was a strong correlation between population and distribution numbers for multiple species of British wild bees and what study authors called their “measure of neonic dose” resulting from the pesticide, which is used as a seed coating for canola crops.

The study is deeply flawed, at every stage – making its analysis and conclusions meaningless. For example, bee data were collected by amateur volunteers, few of whom were likely able to distinguish among some 250 species of UK wild bees. But if even one bee of any species was identified in a 1-by-1 kilometer area during at least two of the study period’s 18 years, the area was included in the CEH study.

This patchy, inconsistent approach means the database that formed the very foundation for the entire study was neither systematic nor reliable, nor scientific. Some species may have dwindled or disappeared in certain areas due to natural causes, or volunteers may simply have missed them. We can never know.

There is no evidence that the CEH authors ever actually measured neonic levels on bees or in pollen collected from OSR fields that the British wild bees could theoretically have visited. Equally relevant, by the time neonics on seeds are absorbed into growing plant tissue, and finally expressed on flecks of pollen, the levels are extremely low: 1.3–3.0 parts per billion, the equivalent of 1–3 seconds in 33 years.

(Coating seeds ensures that pesticides are incorporated directly into plant tissue – and target only harmful pests that feed on the crops. It reduces or eliminates the need to spray crops, which can kill birds, bats and beneficial insects that are in the fields or impacted by accidental “over-sprays.” Indeed, numerous field studies on two continents have found no adverse effects from neonics on honeybees at the hive level.)

A preliminary U.S. Environmental Protection Agency risk assessment for one common neonic sets the safe level for residues on pollen at 25 ppb. Any observable effects on honeybee colonies are unlikely below that. Perhaps wild bees are more susceptible. However, at least two wild bee species (alfalfa leaf cutters and miner bees) are thriving in areas where OSR/canola fields are widespread, and the CEH study found reduced numbers of certain wild bees that do not collect pollen from oil seed rape.

Perhaps most important, the CEH authors appear to have assumed that any declines in wild bee numbers were due to neonicotinoid pesticides in OSR fields, even at very low doses. They discounted or ignored other factors, such as bee diseases, weather and land use changes.

For instance, scientists now know that parasitic Varroa destructor mites and phorid flies severely affect honeybees; so do the Nosema ceranae gut fungus, tobacco ringspot virus and deformed wing virus. Under certain circumstances, those diseases are known to spread to bumblebees and other wild bees.

Significant land development and habitat losses occurred in many parts of Britain from 1930 to 1990, causing wild bee populations to decline dramatically. Thankfully, they have since rebounded – during the same period that neonic use was rising rapidly, replacing older insecticides that clearly are toxic to bees! The CEH team also failed to address those facts.

To compensate for these shortcomings (or perhaps to mask them), the CEH researchers created a sophisticated computer model that supposedly describes and explains the 18 years of wild bee data.

However, as any statistician or modeler knows, models and output are only as good as the assumptions behind them and data fed into them. Garbage in/Garbage out (GIGO) remains the fundamental rule. Greater sophistication simply means more refined refuse, and faster computers simply generate faulty, misleading results more rapidly. They also enable emotional fear-mongering to trump real science.

The CEH models are essentially “black boxes.” Key components of their analytical methodologies and algorithms have not been made public and thus cannot be verified by independent reviewers.

However, the flawed data gathering, unjustified assumptions about neonic impacts, and failure to consider the likely effects of multiple bee diseases and parasites make it clear that the CEH model and conclusions are essentially worthless – and should not be used to drive or justify pesticide policies and regulations.

As Prime Minister Jim Hacker quipped in the theatrical version of the British comedy series Yes, Prime Minister: “Computer models are no different from fashion models. They’re seductive, unreliable, easily corrupted, and they lead sensible people to make fools of themselves.”

And yet studies like this constantly make headlines. That’s hardly surprising. Anti-pesticide campaigners have enormous funding and marvelous PR instincts. Researchers know their influence and next grant can depend on issuing studies that garner alarmist headlines and reflect prevailing news themes and imminent government actions. The news media want to sell ads and papers, and help drive public policy-making.

The bottom line is fundamental: correlation does not equal causation. Traffic lights are present at many intersections where accidents occur; but that does not mean the lights caused most or all of the accidents. The CEH authors simply do not demonstrate that a neonic-wild bee cause-effect relationship exists.

The price to society includes not just the countless dollars invested in useless research, but tens of billions in costs inflicted by laws and regulations based on or justified by that research. Above all, it can lead to “cures” that are worse than the alleged diseases: in this case, neonic bans would cause major crop losses and force growers to resort to older pesticides that clearly are harmful to bees.

There is yet another reason why anti-pesticide forces are focusing now on wild bees. In sharp contrast to the situation with honeybees, where we have extensive data and centuries of beekeeper experience, we know very little about the thousands of wild bee species: where they live and forage, what risks they face, even how many there really are. That makes them a perfect poster child for anti-neonic activists.

They can present all kinds of apocalyptic scenarios, knowing even far-fetched claims cannot be disproven easily, certainly not in time to address new public unease amid discussions about a regulatory proposal.

The Center for Ecology and Hydrology study involved seriously defective data gathering and analytical methodologies. More troubling, it appears to have been released in a time and manner calculated to influence a European Union decision on whether to continue or rescind a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

Sloppy or junk science is bad enough in and of itself. To use it deliberately, to pressure lawmakers or regulators to issue cures that may be worse than alleged diseases, is an intolerable travesty.

Via email

An update on Germany's "Energiewende"

Germany is still pursuing its goal of shutting down its nuclear plants but refuses to shut down its lignite plants. It is slashing renewable energy subsidies and replacing them with an auction/quota system. Public opposition is delaying the construction of the power lines that are needed to distribute Germany’s renewables generation efficiently. Renewables investment has fallen to levels insufficient to build enough new capacity to meet Germany’s 2020 emissions reduction target. There is  no evidence that renewables are having a detectable impact on Germany’s emissions, which have not decreased since 2009 despite a doubling of renewables penetration in the electricity sector. It now seems certain that Germany will miss its 2020 emissions reduction target, quite possibly by a wide margin. In short, the Energiewende is starting to unravel.

This post discusses the Energiewende’s main problems under five subheadings, starting with arguably the most problematic:

Germany’s emissions are not decreasing:

Electricity sector emissions decreased between 1990, the baseline year, and 1999 but have remained essentially flat since then. Emissions from other sectors decreased between 1990 and 2009 but have also flattened out since then. As a result Germany’s emissions are about the same now as they were in 2009. The increase in renewables generation over this period has clearly not had the desired effect.

The electricity sector presently contributes only about 45% of Germany’s total emissions. 100% decarbonization of the electricity sector, which is already about 45% decarbonized if we add nuclear, would therefore in theory reduce total emissions by only another 25% or so. Yet Germany’s efforts to cut emissions continue to concentrate on the electricity sector.

The chances that Germany will meet its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets do not look good.

Renewables have not reduced emissions

Since 1990 renewable energy generation has grown by a factor of over ten to the point where it now supplies 30% of Germany’s electricity. One would think that this would have had a visible impact on Germany’s electricity sector emissions, but as shown in Figure 3 it’s difficult to detect any impact at all. Despite the 20% absolute increase in renewables penetration between 1999 and 2014 electricity sector emissions have barely changed over this period, and had it not been for the 2008/9 recession they would probably have increased:

The reason renewables have had no detectable impact is that the added generation has gone towards filling increased demand and replacing nuclear generation rather than generation from gas, coal and lignite, which remains about the same as it was in 1990

Finally, Germany will discontinue direct renewable subsidies for new projects at the beginning of 2017. It will be interesting to see what happens to retail electricity rates as a result.


Germany is a country of contradictions, at least as far as energy is concerned. Germans are in favor of more renewable energy yet oppose building the overhead power lines that are needed to distribute it. They are in favor of deep emissions cuts but also in favor of shutting down Germany’s nuclear plants, which will make the problem of meeting emissions targets far more difficult and costly. The government continues to pursue a nuclear shutdown but is unwilling to shut down Germany’s lignite plants. As a result of these conflicting and counterproductive viewpoints and policies the Energiewende has effectively gone nowhere. Despite the expenditure of many billions of dollars it has failed to achieve any visible reduction in Germany’s emissions or to make a meaningful difference to Germany’s energy mix (renewables still supply only 14% of Germany’s total energy). Its only demonstrable impact has been skyrocketing electricity bills.

And now Germany is discontinuing the direct renewables subsidies that have driven the Energiewende since its adoption in 2000. It might be premature to declare the Energiewende a failure, but things are certainly headed in that direction.

Much more HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The Troubling Science

Michael Hart is a Canadian academic with an impressive list of credentials. He has just put out a book – Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change.

This article covers many of the topics that have been raised here at Blackjay over the last couple of years. It is must-read for anyone with lingering doubts about the supposed urgent need for action on climate change.

For example: Alarm over a changing climate leading to malign results is in many ways the product of the hunger for stability and direction in a post-Christian world. Humans have a deep, innate need for a transcendent authority. Having rejected the precepts of Christianity, people in the advanced economies of the West are turning to other forms of authority. Putting aside those who cynically exploit the issue for their own gain – from scientists and politicians to UN leaders and green businesses – most activists are deeply committed to a secular, statist, anti-human, earth-centric set of beliefs which drives their claims of a planet in imminent danger from human activity.

To them, a planet with fewer people is the ultimate goal, achievable only through centralized direction and control. As philosopher of science Jeffrey Foss points out, “Environmental science conceives and expresses humankind’s relationship to nature in a manner that is – as a matter of observable fact – religious.” It “prophesies an environmental apocalypse. It tells us that the reason we confront apocalypse is our own environmental sinfulness. Our sin is one of impurity. We have fouled a pure, ‘pristine’ nature with our dirty household and industrial wastes. The apocalypse will take the form of an environmental backlash, a payback for our sins. … environmental scientists tell people what they must do to be blameless before nature.”

The interview concludes: it will take a determined effort by people of faith and conscience to convince our political leaders that they have been gulled by a political movement exploiting fear of climate change to push a utopian, humanist agenda that most people would find abhorrent. As it now stands, politicians are throwing money that they do not have at a problem that does not exist in order to finance solutions that make no difference. The time has come to call a halt to this nonsense and focus on real issues that pose real dangers. In a world beset by war, terrorism, and continuing third-world poverty, there are far more important things on which political leaders need to focus.

It may be nitpicking but the one thing I disagree with is his use of the term “humanist” in the final paragraph. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The utopian agenda is certainly not humanist. Any philosophy in which wilderness has greater value than community, in which humans are seen as a “scourge on the planet” a la Attenborough and which supports the dogma and pseudo-science of climate change is certainly not humanist.

But I agree with him about the rest of it.


The Global Effects of Global Warming on Human Mortality

Paper Reviewed: Guo, Y., Gasparrini, A., Armstrong, B., Li, S., Tawatsupa, B., Tobias, A., Lavigne, E., Coelho, M. de S.Z.S.C., Leone, M., Pan, X., Tong, S., Tian, L., Kim, H., Hashizume, M., Honda, Y., Guo, Y.-L.L., Wu, C.-F., Punnasiri, K., Yi, S.-M., Michelozzi, P., Saldiva, P.H.N. and Williams, G. 2014. Global variation in the effects of ambient temperature on mortality. Epidemiology 25: 781-789.

In a study they designed to determine the effects of daily high and low temperatures on human mortality, Guo et al. (2014) obtained daily temperature and mortality data from 306 communities located in 12 different countries (Australia, Brazil, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada) that fell somewhere within the time span of 1972-2011. And what did they learn from this monumental endeavor?

The 22 researchers, hailing from numerous places throughout the world, report that "to obtain an easily interpretable estimate of the effects of cold and hot temperatures on mortality," they "calculated the overall cumulative relative risks of death associated with cold temperatures (1st percentile) and with hot temperatures (99th percentile), both relative to the minimum-mortality temperature [75th percentile]" (see figure below). And despite the "widely ranging climates" they encountered, they report that "the minimum-mortality temperatures were close to the 75th percentile of temperature in all 12 countries, suggesting that people have adapted to some extent to their local climates."

Once again, therefore, it is as clear as it can possibly be made, that essentially everywhere in the world, typical cold temperatures are far more likely to lead to premature human deaths than are typical warm temperatures. And because of this fact, we must be thankful for the post-Little Ice Age warming of the world, which has been predominantly experienced almost everywhere at the cold -- and deadly -- end of the planet's daily temperature spectrum.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Bats Save Billions In Pest Control

And wind turbines kill them by the millions

A secret war is waged above farmland every night.

Just after dusk, high-stakes aerial combat is fought in the darkness atop the crop canopy. Nature’s air force arrives in waves over crop fields, sometimes flying in from 30 miles away. Bat colonies blanket the air with echo location clicks and dive toward insect prey at up to 60 mph. In games of hide-and-seek between bats and crop pests, the bats always win, and the victories are worth billions of dollars to U.S. agriculture.

Bats are a precious, but unheralded friend of farmers, providing consistent crop protection. Take away the colonies of pest killers and insect control costs would explode across farmland. And just how much do bats save agriculture in pesticide use? Globally, the tally may reach a numbing $53 billion per year, according to estimates from the University of Pretoria, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), University of Tennessee, and Boston University.

A 2006 study proposed bats saved cotton growers $74 per acre in pesticide treatments across eight Texas counties. In 2013-2014, graduate student Josiah Maines and his advisor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Justin Boyles, went beyond penciled estimates and ran a concrete field trial to show the relation between bats and corn protection. Funded by Bat Conservation International, Maines’ unique test targeted density of corn earworm in southern Illinois bottomland in Alexander County.

Maines built a canopy system to prevent bats from accessing particular sections of corn at night. The controlled enclosure (65’ by 65’, and 23’ high) was braced by steel structural poles interconnected with steel cables draped by netting. Maines operated the netting like a gigantic shower curtain every day of crop season: Open in daylight and close at night. He kept the vigil over two years, sliding the big curtain at the given dusk hour from May to late September to cut off bat access to earworm moths. The results? Maines was astonished.

He found a 50% reduction in earworm presence in control areas and a similar reduction in damage to corn ears. Not only did bats suppress earworm larvae and direct damage to corn, they also hindered the presence of fungal species and toxic compounds. “Globally, we estimate bats save corn farmers over $1 billion annually in earworm control,” Maines says. “It’s an incredible amount when we’re only considering one pest and one crop. Bats are truly a vital economic species.”

Would producers see greater crop protection with more bat habitat? In general, researchers don’t know how many bats fly over a single acre of farmland at night. Bats are extremely difficult to count during the day. They hide incredibly well in trees, caves, holes in the ground, and buildings. “Future research should look at the tradeoff of forested bat habitat and crop protection. Safe to say, more bats could mean even greater consumption of crop pests,” Maines says.

Paul Cryan, a USGS research biologist at the Fort Collins Science Center, says of up to 45 bat species in the U.S., 41 to 42 eat nothing but insects. “Our U.S. bats are small -- 10 to 20 grams. They have voracious appetites and eat half or all their body weight each night. Pest control value to agriculture is certainly in the billions of dollars per year.”

However, pressing issues surround the future of U.S. bat populations. White nose syndrome (WNS) is a major threat to U.S. bat numbers. The fungal disease affects hibernating bats and has spread halfway across the U.S. since first appearing in New York in 2006. “WNS has killed up to 6 million bats and continues moving,” Cryan says. “I believe farmers would see an immediate impact in insect suppression if overall bat populations were seriously reduced.”

Cryan coauthored a seminal 2011 paper, Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture, suggesting the loss of bats would cost U.S. agriculture at least $3.7 billion per year. “We’re typically scared of the dark, but bats shouldn’t be a part of that association. They’re such a beneficial and important part of the environment and farmland protection.”

Hat tip to the misunderstood bats of agriculture: phenomenal creatures patrolling farmland skies every night in the greatest show never seen.



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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