Monday, January 09, 2017

The usual gullibility from Kristoff of the Times

Kristoff has discovered that a lot of Southern Africa is in drought at the moment and has gone there with photographers to savor it.  He rediscovers that drought kills a lot of people in poor countries.  Australia has tremendous droughts but they don't kill anyone.  Kristoff takes no account of that.

Kristoff is just echoing some crooked science from people at AMETSOC who should know better.  They say that the cause of the drought is El Nino -- which may be true -- but their further claim that the effect was amplified by anthropogenic global warming is pure rubbish.  What they say is:

"Anthropogenic warming contributed to the 2015 Ethiopian and southern African droughts by increasing El Niño SSTs [Sea Surface Temperatures] and local air temperatures, causing reduced rainfall and runoff, and contributing to severe food insecurity."

But how could that be?  Warmer seas give off MORE evaporation that comes down as rain.  Their claim defies basic physics.  So why do they say that?  It's just modelling. You can get anything you want out of modelling -- particularly if you are as crooked as a Warmist.

And I suppose I have to point out again that there was no increase in CO2, during the El Nino period so no temperature increase could be due to it.  The AMETSOC claims are hogwash

TSIHOMBE, Madagascar — She is just a frightened mom, worrying if her son will survive, and certainly not fretting about American politics — for she has never heard of either President Obama or Donald Trump.

What about America itself? Ranomasy, who lives in an isolated village on this island of Madagascar off southern Africa, shakes her head. It doesn’t ring any bells.

Yet we Americans may be inadvertently killing her infant son. Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says.

Trump has repeatedly mocked climate change, once even calling it a hoax fabricated by China. But climate change here is as tangible as its victims. Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs and watch them struggle for life. It’s true that the links between our carbon emissions and any particular drought are convoluted, but over all, climate change is as palpable as a wizened, glassy-eyed child dying of starvation. Like Ranomasy’s 18-month-old son, Tsapasoa.

Southern Africa’s drought and food crisis have gone largely unnoticed around the world. The situation has been particularly severe in Madagascar, a lovely island nation known for deserted sandy beaches and playful long-tailed primates called lemurs.

But the southern part of the island doesn’t look anything like the animated movie “Madagascar”: Families are slowly starving because rains and crops have failed for the last few years. They are reduced to eating cactus and even rocks or ashes. The United Nations estimates that nearly one million people in Madagascar alone need emergency food assistance.

I met Ranomasy at an emergency feeding station run by Catholic nuns who were trying to save her baby. Ranomasy had carried Tsapasoa 12 hours on a trek through the desert to get to the nuns, walking barefoot because most villagers have already sold everything from shoes to spoons to survive.

“I feel so powerless as a mother, because I know how much I love my child,” she said. “But whatever I do just doesn’t work.”

The drought is also severe in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and a related drought has devastated East Africa and the Horn of Africa and is expected to continue this year. The U.N. World Food Program has urgently appealed for assistance, but only half the money needed has been donated.

The immediate cause of the droughts was an extremely warm El Niño event, which came on top of a larger drying trend in the last few decades in parts of Africa. New research, just published in the bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, concludes that human-caused climate change exacerbated El Niño’s intensity and significantly reduced rainfall in parts of Ethiopia and southern Africa.


Renewables investment in UK will fall 95% over next three years – study

A few subsidy cuts and the whole thing falls over in a heap

Investment in windfarms will fall off a “cliff edge” over the next three years and put the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk, a thinktank has found.

More than £1bn of future investment in renewable energy projects disappeared over the course of 2016, the Green Alliance found when it analysed the government’s latest pipeline of major infrastructure plans.

Investment in wind, solar, biomass power and waste-to-energy projects will decline by 95% between 2017 and 2020, it added.

While a slowdown in green energy investment had been expected after ministers cut several subsidy schemes over the last 18 months, the figures lay bare the dramatic extent of the decline.

“This cliff edge needs to be avoided if the UK is to meet its world leading carbon budgets and Paris agreement pledge,” Green Alliance said in its analysis.

Shortly after the EU referendum, the government committed to cutting carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels, but has so far failed to spell out how it will support low-carbon energy, such as offshore windfarms, beyond 2020.

“Renewables will be cheaper than new fossil power stations by 2025 at the latest if we allow companies to build, learn, and cut their costs. But the government has been holding back the final bit of support needed to make renewables subsidy free. It’s also blocked the cheapest renewables from being built,” said Dustin Benton, acting deputy director at Green Alliance, referring to the government ending subsidies for onshore wind. “Unsurprisingly, the result is a 95% fall in investment.”

The thinktank’s analysis found that high carbon infrastructure, which it defines as fossil fuel power stations, airports and road building, was faring little better. For the first time since 2012, high carbon investment had stopped growing, and will be down by two-thirds by 2020.

“The picture of private sector investment is very clear: it is rapidly moving away from high carbon infrastructure. In contrast, public sector high carbon investment is rising, although slowly,” the authors wrote.

RenewableUK, which represents the wind power industry, said the government needed to set out its vision on energy to enable investor confidence.

Emma Pinchbeck, the group’s executive director, said: “The energy sector is changing. The infrastructure pipeline shows that the private sector understands the smart money is on the renewables industry – that is why they are moving from high carbon assets to low carbon ones.”


97% Consequential Misperceptions: Ethics of Consensus on Global Warming

The paper abstracted below sets out the total philosophical inadequacies behind the "97% consensus" claim -- JR

Michelle Stirling


Cook et al (2016) presents a collaborative work by several consensus study authors, who claim a 97% agreement by undefined climate science experts that “humans are causing recent global warming.” The statement illustrates the problem of trying to use a social proof of consensus in place of scientifically defined evidence. The lack of empirical parameters that specifically identify the claimed ratio of human effect versus natural influence, the timescale in question, the level of risk or benefit, and the human activity or causative factor(s) are undefined. The notion of consensus defies the fundamental principle of scientific inquiry which is not about agreement, but rather a continuous search for understanding. This paper evaluates key disparities of Cook et al (2016) and outlines why a claimed consensus is a powerful tool for driving public policy, but an inappropriate and unethical means of conducting scientific inquiry or informing the public.


Media And The Game Of Climate Change Denialism

The recent election campaign brought huge amounts of criticism, disdain and scorn for the so-called ‘main-stream media’ (MSM), split between those with a conspiratorial point of view and others who have (long) complained that the media focuses more on the election as contest rather than discussing policy issues.  Needless to say, part of the problem stems from the public’s love of controversy (Kim Kardashian always gets more clicks than Hillary Clinton), but the complexity of many policy issues has long bedeviled politicians.  Bill Clinton, known as a policy ‘wonk,’ also created the acronym KISS for Keep It Simple, Stupid, while George H. W. Bush, very definitely an intellectual, pioneered the sound bite, that brief comment that could make the nightly news with its short attention span.

Climate change is a perfect example of how the media reduces something complex to “he said, she said” conflict, and discussion of President-elect Trump’s appointees highlight this.  During a recent NPR interview with Christine Whitman, former EPA administrator, about the proposed appointment of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA administrator, she said “He is very definitely a denier of climate change, something that scientists, by and large, overwhelmingly, say is occurring and that humans have a role to play in that.”  The interviewer, David Greene of NPR, remarked that the NPR staff had not been able to find any evidence of him denying climate change (wow, they actually did research!), which fact Whitman waved off.

The next day, there was the reverse.  Former Secretary Abraham remarked, “At this point, no one has the categorical answer to the question of how fast the climate's changing and when we're going to face consequences from that.”  David Greene, oddly, remarked, “I mean, there are a lot of people out there who feel the science is absolutely settled, that humans are causing the climate to change.”  Although he then qualified it with, “there are a lot of questions to be answered as time goes on….”

Abraham’s response to whether or not he ‘believed in climate change science’ was “I believe that the climate is changing. I believe that it is likely that humans are playing a role in that. How fast it's changing is the main issue I think that we have to deduce now.”  To reiterate, this is not climate change denialism, but the media seems to have trouble moving beyond that.

There are many aspects of climate change science which are very important, but hardly discussed by the media.  This is worsened by advocacy groups and websites, which often reduce every question to belief vs denial of anthropomorphic climate change, saying skeptics are like those who don’t believe in evolution.  This is bizarre, since there are numerous debates about evolution, not questioning the underlying science itself but many aspects of it, without being called ‘denialist’.  Nor does anyone think that we can predict the next 50 million years of evolution despite having a good understanding of the last 50 million years.

Yes, those like Senator Inhofe who call climate change a “hoax” are denialists, just like many conspiracy theorists who deny the moon landings, for example.  But applying the ‘denialist’ label to everyone who says parts of the science aren’t settled is the sort of approach taken by religious fundamentalists like the Catholic Church during the Enlightenment, suppressing discussion of scientific theories.

Most mainstream scientists seem to have no problem with acknowledging the uncertainties surrounding climate change science, including the IPCC.  Take this statement from their recent report:   “It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”  “More than half” is better than less than half, but it’s not the same as saying the science is ‘absolutely settled’.  Again, the focus in the media is on whether or not climate change is being caused by people, when the discussion should be on issues like radiative forcing and feedback effects.

Using the Search Engine Who Shall Not Be Named, looking at news in the last 3 months for radiative forcing turns up about 100 hits, mostly small papers (Firstpost, apparently Indian), science web sites ( and environmental organizations, but except for PBS and CNBC, no major media seems to have covered the question.  This is a question of primary importance and there is some uncertainty, to say nothing of that revolving around feedback effects.

From the latest IPCC:  “Radiative forcing (RF) is a measure of the net change in the energy balance of the Earth system in response to some external perturbation. It is expressed in watts per square metre (W m–2); ….The best estimate for WMGHG ERF is the same as RF, but the uncertainty range is twice as large due to the poorly constrained cloud responses.”  The estimate of RF falls in a range of 2.54 to 3.12 watts per square meter, which is relatively narrow, although some of the components, like O3, have wider ranges (0.3 to 0.7).  (Don’t rely on this for the science, I’m just repeating the Technical Summary of the IPCC latest report.)

But the point is that the range of possible temperature changes remains huge, not just from uncertainty about radiative forcing, but feedback effects, economic growth, future policy approaches and so forth.  This is reflected in both the uncertainties regarding emission levels, with projected CH4 emissions ranging from 200 to 700 TgCH4/yr in 2100, and scenarios of expected effects.  The IPCC shows four Representative Concentration Pathways, which yield temperature increases of 0.3 to 1.7 degrees C (RCP 2.6) to 2.6 to 4.8 (RCP 8.5) in the 2081 to 2100 period.  Not only does this demonstrate the uncertainty, but the IPCC itself says “Many impacts [of climate change] can be reduced, delayed or avoided by mitigation.”

To summarize, climate change is real and human activity is partly responsible.  We don’t know how much temperatures will rise, nor the impact of that rise, with great precision or certainty, but the effects could be very serious.  More research will help reduce that uncertainty.  But everyone who says this should not be labelled a denialist, nor should “the science” be considered “absolutely settled”.  The media needs to reflect this nuance in their reporting.

The public debate seems to focus on the extreme views of ‘climate change is a hoax’ to ‘fossil fuels must be left in the ground’ neither of which is a valuable attitude.  Both sides tend to attack the other as motivated by ideology and money, avoiding serious discussions of either the science or best policy approaches.  Maybe for Donald Trump’s inauguration he should invite Anna Nalick to sing “Breathe, just breathe".


Climate Politics in 2016

by DR. CHRISTOPHER ESSEX, a prominent Canadian physicist

Fake news!? Fake news!? I’ll tell you about fake news! For decades, scientists like me have been drowning in it.
At first, it was funny to read about how kittens, redheads and the Loch Ness monster were allegedly affected by climate transmogrification (CT). (The term “climate change” really doesn’t cut it for true activists, does it?) Eventually even the people at Number Watch stopped keeping track of the more than 800 items on their list of things allegedly caused by CT because they were blown over by the scale of the journalistic baloney storm (BS) that fills human news bandwidth on climate.

Initially, rationally minded people could chalk it up to human confusion and misinformation. But after the recent fake news follies of 2016, weighed against the sheer scale of the past absurdities, only the most earnest boy scouts would not see much of it as pure disinformation instead.

Postmodern journalism maintains that the science of climate is like a toothpaste commercial where a consensus of dentists determines what toothpaste you should use. If you support their commercial’s thesis, you are scientific; if you don’t, then you are an enemy of the state, a Republican, or even a Trump supporter. That’s the climate science of postmodern journalism: 100% pure fake news, top to bottom.

One of the greatest achievements of the postmodern mind is the theory that one can control the weather with taxes. Yes, I know!  It sounds so crazy that you just want it to work. I recall weather control schemes like cloud seeding, and of course there are more elaborate ideas in Star Trek, but controlling weather with public policy and virtue—there are no words. Imagine the cure for cancer being increased library fines!  The true accomplishment was not their baloney storm (BS), but the level of cultural fervor that has been aroused through it, leading to titanic global power plays that have kept this zombie theory animated for a decade or two after it should have collapsed under its own weight.

Even though it is stylish to excoriate conservatives with toothpaste-commercial moralizing about science, there is no science in the toothpaste-commercial science consensus picture. There is only politics, money, and power.  The political events of 2016 make plain that the climate arena is a side show in a much larger political struggle that has nothing to do with science.  Some sort of link between climate and power may have been inevitable because death, taxes and weather are all inevitable. Its such a glorious convergence of inevitabilities that rich and powerful increased-government enthusiasts could not pass it up.

And so they didn’t, making CT the mother of all baloney storms (CTBS) extending back decades before 2016. But the shenanigans of 2016 has made clear that something ugly has been done to us in science by people trapped in a political plane, incapable of comprehending that science is orthogonal to it.



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

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