Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Ipsos Mori [British opinion pollsters] are about to publish some research they've done, "Tipping Point Or Turning Point? Social Marketing & Climate Change" Phil Downing, head of environmental research at the company, and one of the report's authors appeared on yesterday's Today program on BBC Radio 4 to discuss the findings:

"I think there are two key headlines that we've found. The first is that concern about climate change on the whole is rising. And we find that very few people, only a very small minority, actually reject out of hand the idea that it is actually changing the climate, that humans have at least some part to play in that."

So what's the problem?

"The more disturbing trend is there's still undecided or a large proportion who are ambivalent about the issue. And we see this filtering through to the number who say that they're not convinced that scientists can successfully model the climate. More frighteningly still that they believe the scientific debate is still raging, err, and the jury is still out."

But you don't need to be a global warming denialist, or even a sceptic to be part of the 56% of us who are unconvinced of science's current ability to successfully model the climate. Take for example, Kevin E. Trenberth's recent article on Nature's Climate Feedback blog:

"There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess. ... Even if there were, the projections are based on model results that provide differences of the future climate relative to that today. None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate. In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of theIPCC models."

And Trenberth is no 'sceptic'. He maintains that global warming is happening, and humans are causing it. He concludes:

"... the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate. But we need them. Indeed it is an imperative! So the science is just beginning. Beginning, that is, to face up to the challenge of building a climate information system that tracks the current climate and the agents of change, that initializes models and makes predictions, and that provides useful climate information on many time scales regionally and tailored to many sectoral needs."

Downing's research apparently fails to accommodate the complex and nuanced debate that evidently does exist. Furthermore, it seems that the public are far more sophisticated than he gives them credit for. Worse still, however, it is his own ignorance of the science, the debate, and his underestimation of the public that causes him to be 'disturbed' and 'frightened'. He then needs to invent reasons as to why the public don't see things the way he wants them to.


Gore the saviour

Al Gore is the archetypal twenty-first-century moral entrepreneur. His campaign to save the planet from man-made climate change is packed with moral messages that indict sin and outline the path towards individual redemption. His project - which he characterises as a `generational mission' no less, and which continues with the big Live Earth concerts this weekend - has taken on the tone of a crusade, which promises salvation to those who are prepared to rise to his `genuine moral and spiritual challenge' (1).

Gore has adopted the style and manner of a man with a calling. His admirers treat him with the kind of reverence usually reserved for holy leaders. `Answer the call', demands one of his supporters, noting that: `Al Gore is asking you to make a commitment to help solve the climate crisis.' (2) Gore effortlessly interlaces his demands for a reduction in pollution with the language of eschatology. Disavowing any political ambition, he asserts that `this is not a political issue' but a `moral issue, one that affects the survival of human civilisation' (3). Gore writes of a `universal threat', which is cosmic in scale.

In interviews, Gore frequently gives the impression that he believes he is something of a prophet, whose warnings were, until recently, ignored by a feckless public. Although not quite the Ten Commandments, his `Seven-Point Pledge', issued last month, is shot through with a sense of divine imperative. This is more than just a pledge card. The organisers of Live Earth insist that `individuals who embrace this pledge sign up to a crusade for saving the world'. Underpinned by a powerful apocalyptic outlook, The Pledge exhorts all who sign up to adopt a righteous lifestyle. The Pledge followers undertake to reduce their personal CO2 emissions and to plant trees, amongst other things.

This is as close as you will get to a truly global collective worship. The pop and rock performers `who answered our call. span all genres and generations', notes Live Earth founder and executive producer Kevin Wall. The organisers modestly describe Live Earth as a `monumental music event that will bring together more than two billion people to combat the climate crisis'. The moral integrity of this carbon-neutral international gig is guaranteed by what they call a `Green Event Standard'. Apparently `all electricity that powers the shows will be from renewable sources, either through utility-supplied renewable energy, biodiesel generators, or renewable energy credits'. And those handful of incorrigible pop stars who still fly will have their air travel `offset through carbon credits'.

It is hard to ignore the high moral tone of Gore's missives. In his own words, he has a `compelling moral purpose'. He never misses an opportunity to spread his aura of sanctimony. And yet, curiously, his moral crusade depends for its legitimacy on the authority of science. There is very little that is transcendental about Gore. Revelation for him comes through science rather than supernaturally revealed truths. His crusade, he says, is aimed at preventing a catastrophe that is foretold by Scientific Truths. In his dogmatic worldview, today's categories of good and evil, of virtuous behaviour and improper behaviour, are rooted in truths revealed by science.

However, it would be wrong to see Gore as a man who is fervently committed to science. Rather, he is in the business of politicising science, or more accurately, moralising it. In Gore's world, science is not so much about testing out hypotheses and carrying out experiments; instead, under the Gore narrative, scientific evidence gives way to scientific (inconvenient) truths. Such science has more in common with the art of divination than of experimentation. That is why the science is always seen as having a fixed and unyielding, and thus unquestionable quality. Frequently, Gore and others will prefix the term science with the definite article `the'. So Sir David Read, vice-president of the Royal Society, recently said that `the science very clearly points towards the need for us all - nations, businesses and individuals - to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change' (4).

Unlike `science', this new term - `The Science' - is a deeply moralised and politicised category. Today, those who claim to wield the authority of The Science are really demanding unquestioning submission.

Gore has effectively become a celebrity world ruler. `Celebrity culture' is often decried for the insidious influence that it has on public life. But those who criticise celebrity culture are very selective in whom they choose to attack. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and the British glamour model Jordan are easy targets for newspaper columnists. Such celebs are assailed for the opportunistic manner in which they embrace a worthy cause one day, only to drop it the next as they move on to another headline-grabbing media event.

There has also been a cynical commentary about aging rock stars re-inventing their fading careers by associating themselves with fashionable causes like Darfur or world poverty. This commentary overlooks a powerful trend at play here: today, the celebrity has become the cultural gatekeeper to public life. And this is a significant development that Gore clearly understands.

Gore has successfully harnessed the appeal of celebrity culture to boost his moral crusade. Through his clever use of the media, he has cultivated a role as a prophet superstar. He's a regular at major media events and his phenomenally successful film - An Inconvenient Truth - shows that he is capable of attracting large audiences in his own right. In adopting the celebrity entertainment format, he has developed a multimillion-dollar global brand. Live Earth represents a defining moment in the evolution of celebrity culture. This ambitious initiative targeting an audience of billions is seeking to displace the traditional public sphere with a format that brings together a new form of collective worship and old-style entertainment. Is it any wonder that, in America, Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House speaker Nancy Pelosi, those representatives of the old elected public sphere, said they were `proud' to be among the first to sign `The Live Earth Pledge'?

As the prime celebrity crusader of the twenty-first-century, Gore has become an object of envy amongst his celebrity rivals. Bob Geldof, whose Live Aid and Live 8 concerts in 1985 and 2005 earned him the authority to lecture democratically elected leaders in both Africa and the West, clearly resents being overshadowed by Gore. `We are all fucking conscious of global warming', he said when asked if there was any need for Live Earth. Still, whatever Geldof thinks, Gore is at least for now the toast of the entertainment industry. As the Celebrity of the Celebrities, he is well placed to serve as the moral conscience of the media and therefore to exercise a striking amount of influence over Western cultural life.


Journalists have warned of climate change for 100 years, but can't decide weather we face an ice age or warming

It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of "geologists." Only the president at the time wasn't Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn't warning about global warming - it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age.

The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each prediction carried its own elements of doom, saying Canada could be "wiped out" or lower crop yields would mean "billions will die."

Just as the weather has changed over time, so has the reporting - blowing hot or cold with short-term changes in temperature. Following the ice age threats from the late 1800s, fears of an imminent and icy catastrophe were compounded in the 1920s by Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan and an obsession with the news of his polar expedition. As the Times put it on Feb. 24, 1895, "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again."

Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth's surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning "the earth is steadily growing warmer."

After a while, that second phase of climate cautions began to fade. By 1954, Fortune magazine was warming to another cooling trend and ran an article titled "Climate - the Heat May Be Off." As the United States and the old Soviet Union faced off, the media joined them with reports of a more dangerous Cold War of Man vs. Nature.

The New York Times ran warming stories into the late 1950s, but it too came around to the new fears. Just three decades ago, in 1975, the paper reported: "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable."

That trend, too, cooled off and was replaced by the current era of reporting on the dangers of global warming. Just six years later, on Aug. 22, 1981, the Times quoted seven government atmospheric scientists who predicted global warming of an "almost unprecedented magnitude."

In all, the print news media have warned of four separate climate changes in slightly more than 100 years - global cooling, warming, cooling again, and, perhaps not so finally, warming. Some current warming stories combine the concepts and claim the next ice age will be triggered by rising temperatures - the theme of the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

Recent global warming reports have continued that trend, morphing into a hybrid of both theories. News media that once touted the threat of "global warming" have moved on to the more flexible term "climate change." As the Times described it, climate change can mean any major shift, making the earth cooler or warmer. In a March 30, 2006, piece on ExxonMobil's approach to the environment, a reporter argued the firm's chairman "has gone out of his way to soften Exxon's public stance on climate change."

The effect of the idea of "climate change" means that any major climate event can be blamed on global warming, supposedly driven by mankind. Spring 2006 has been swamped with climate change hype in every type of media - books, newspapers, magazines, online, TV and even movies.

One-time presidential candidate Al Gore, a patron saint of the environmental movement, is releasing "An Inconvenient Truth" in book and movie form, warning, "Our ability to live is what is at stake."

Despite all the historical shifting from one position to another, many in the media no longer welcome opposing views on the climate. CBS reporter Scott Pelley went so far as to compare climate change skeptics with Holocaust deniers. "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel," Pelley asked, "am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" he said in an interview on March 23 with CBS News's PublicEye blog. He added that the whole idea of impartial journalism just didn't work for climate stories. "There becomes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible," he said.

Pelley's comments ignored an essential point: that 30 years ago, the media were certain about the prospect of a new ice age. And that is only the most recent example of how much journalists have changed their minds on this essential debate.

Some in the media would probably argue that they merely report what scientists tell them, but that would be only half true. Journalists decide not only what they cover; they also decide whether to include opposing viewpoints. That's a balance lacking in the current "debate." This isn't a question of science. It's a question of whether Americans can trust what the media tell them about science.

Much more here


One of Britain's biggest engineering companies has banned staff from travelling on bicycles or motorbikes after declaring them too dangerous. Jacobs Babtie advises local authorities on sustainable transport projects - including how to get more people to switch from four wheels to two. It has told staff at its 36 offices across Britain that they must drive or use public transport. They can use bicycles only if they are working away from roads, such as on canal towpaths.

In an e-mail to all employees, a copy of which has been obtained by The Times, the company's health and safety manager says: "It's patently obvious that if you are struck by a wayward vehicle when you are on a bicycle or motorbike you are going to be more severely affected than if you were in a car. The reason for this policy is to protect our employees from other vehicles on the road.

There will be a few limited exceptions when employees will be permitted to travel by bicycle, but that would be when that mode of transport is required to undertake the job, for example, carrying out surveys along river banks and tow paths."

The ban on cycling on company business has infuriated several staff, who have been cycling without any serious safety incidents for years. They believe the ban is partly the result of conditions in the company's insurance policy. The e-mail acknowledges that staff are unhappy about the ban and admits it "could be construed as being at odds with our environmental policy and the requirement to be environmentally responsible".

It also acknowledges the concerns among employees that the company will lose important contracts because the ban "will not please our environmentally friendly clients".

One of Jacobs' biggest customers is Transport for London, which has a target of achieving a fivefold increase in the level of cycling by 2025, and this weekend will host the opening races in the Tour de France. TfL paid Jacobs o6 million last year for various projects, including monitoring the impact of the congestion charge and measuring how many people have switched from driving to walking or cycling. On its website, Jacobs states: "In the area of cycling, we can offer expert resources at every stage from cycle policy and promotion through to the detailed design and implementation of cycle schemes."

Jenny Jones, the green transport adviser to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, said TfL should consider cancelling its contracts with Jacobs. She said: "It is hypocritical to offer advice on promoting cycling but at the same time ban your staff from using bikes. If Jacobs does not understand how important cycling is to TfL, we need to ask whether they are the right sort of company to work with."

A TfL spokesman said: "We find the attitude of Jacobs bizarre and we will be urging them to rethink this decision. TfL is committed to encouraging Londoners to get on their bikes whenever and wherever possible. Our serious investment in growing cycling has seen journeys by bike on soar by 83 per cent since 2000. The number of number of cyclists killed or seriously injured has fallen by 28 per cent since the mid to late 1990s." In Britain, 146 cyclists were killed last year compared with 203 in 1996.

Kevin Mayne, the director of the Cyclists Touring Club, said: "Banning cycling on health and safety grounds is ironic; forcing people off their bikes and into cars just reduces their fitness and increases the danger they pose to other road users. Jacobs' policy shows a complete lack of understanding of transport risk assessment. For TfL and local authorities to pay a company which bans cycling for advice on sustainable transport is like asking the lunatics to help run the asylum."

A US medical study found that people who cycled regularly beyond their mid30s lived on average two years longer. The British Medical Association has said that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh risks.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety said that Jacobs should give its employees training in how to be safer cyclists rather than banning them from cycling.



By Joan Feynman


If solar variability affects human culture it most likely does so by changing the climate in which the culture operates. Variations in the solar radiative input to the Earth's atmosphere have often been suggested as a cause of such climate change on time scales from decades to tens of millennia. In the last 20 years there has been enormous progress in our knowledge of the many fields of research that impinge on this problem; the history of the solar output, the effect of solar variability on the Earth's mean climate and its regional patterns, the history of the Earth's climate and the history of mankind and human culture. This new knowledge encourages revisiting the question asked in the title of this talk. Several important historical events have been reliably related to climate change including the Little Ice Age in northern Europe and the collapse of the Classical Mayan civilization in the 9th century AD. In the first section of this paper we discus these historical events and review the evidence that they were caused by changes in the solar output. Perhaps the most important event in the history of mankind was the development of agricultural societies. This began to occur almost 12,000 years ago when the climate changed from the Pleistocene to the modern climate of the Holocene. In the second section of the paper we will discuss the suggestion (Feynman and Ruzmaikin, 2007) that climate variability was the reason agriculture developed when it did and not before.

1. Introduction

Three types of information need to be compared to address the subject assigned to me by the organizers of this conference, the history of the Sun, the history of climate, and the history of human culture. All of these fields are now going through a "Golden Period" of development, and studies of the connections between them are in their infancy. The pictures of their interconnections can now only be drawn with broad strokes. In this paper, we are interested in effects of climate change on human life, in particular the effects of a variable Sun. Modern man developed in East Africa about 130,000 years ago and spread to the rest of the world beginning sometime about 55,000 years ago. We will not be concerned with any solar changes that took place before the exit from Africa.

A major source for the radiative history of the Sun comes from radioactive 14C and 10Be produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere (Beer et al., 1994). The intergalactic cosmic rays reach the Earth after having been modulated by the solar wind. In general, the faster the solar wind and the larger its magnetic field, the lower the change in radiocarbon I"14C (Stuiver and Braziunas, 1988). The history of I"14C for the last 1200 years is illustrated in Fig. 1 taken from the cited paper. Higher I"14C indicates a less active Sun. For an estimate of the history of solar activity for the last 11,000 years see Solanki et al. (2004).

Information on past climates is available from historical records and can also be found by the study of the records of the Earth's climate imprinted in a variety of climate proxies. Perhaps the best known of these "data banks" are the polar ice cores from Greenland. These ice cores contain proxy records of diverse climate variables. For example, the oxygen isotopes in snow characterize temperatures (Grootes and Stuiver, 1997 and Cuffey and Clow, 1997), while sea salt blown from the ocean reflect atmospheric winds. The records from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) (Mayewski et al., 1997) have been analyzed extensively to describe past climate (Meeker et al., 1997). A large number of other Climate Proxy Records (CPR) of various types have been collected from wide spread regions of the globe. Examples of CPR include ice cores from the Antarctica and high-altitude mountain glaciers, and sea sediment cores (Peterson et al., 2000). Many CPR have been intercalibrated to obtain well-dated records of tracers of worldwide climate change (De Angelis et al., 1997 and Hughen et al., 2000).

There are now many empirical and modeling studies that demonstrate that changes in the solar output are associated with widespread changes in climate (Lean and Rind, 2001) and climate patterns (Ruzmaikin et al., 2004). The development of quantitative models and a physical understanding of all the underlying mechanisms involved is currently a rapidly developing field of study. Information on human cultures come from historical and archeological studies and studies of the genetics of humans, animals and plants.....

4. Discussion

In Section 2, we showed two examples of the stresses that relatively small climate variability presented for well-established cultures. In these cases evidence was given that the variations were part of a worldwide response pattern and that they were associated with the Sun. In Section 3, we demonstrated that there were very large continuous climate variations throughout the Pleistocene. From the Holocene experience we can speculate these changes must surely have interfered with early domestication where they occurred. In both Greenland and the Caribbean our data show that the changes continued throughout the glacial and interglacial periods before the Holocene. They also occurred in both the Greenland ice sheets and the ice-free Caribbean. We also know that temperatures are now organized in hemisphere-wide strongly correlated patterns (Quadrelli and Wallace, 2004). Climate modeling shows that although there were differences in the glacial and interglacial patterns, in both those periods large strongly correlated patterns existed (Toracinta et al., 2004). It is therefore not such a stretch of the imagination to hypothesize that the rapid variations in temperature seen in Greenland and the Caribbean were part of such patterns. There is less evidence that they were solar driven during the Pleistocene, but apparently smaller climate variations were solar driven during the Holocene, and the Sun must also have varied in the same manner during the Pleistocene.

In summary there is considerable evidence that climate variations in response to low frequency solar variations have had major effects on cultures during the last 1500 years. We also hypothesize that the large climate variations in the same frequency range may have had a role in inhibiting the development of agriculture during the Pleistocene and it was their marked decrease in amplitude that allowed agriculture to develop independently almost simultaneously in multiple regions of the world when the Holocene began at the end of the YD.

FULL PAPER at Advances in Space Research


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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