Friday, July 13, 2007


An email below from John A [] of Climate Audit:

Jonathan Foley's response to Reid Bryson fascinated those of us who understand logic: "There is a huge mountain of evidence and scientific theory and publications, all out there in the public arena, and Reid comes along and has some other idea, but he provides no evidence. You just have to take his word for it," said Jonathan Foley, a climatologist at UW-Madison who directs the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. "If he could come up with any evidence for his hypothesis, anything that would back up what he is saying, and he could publish it, he would win the Nobel Prize," Foley said. "Everyone would be thrilled if he were right. Global warming is a major, major global crisis and it would be fantastic if Reid were correct. But sadly he is not."

How does Foley propose that Reid Bryson should prove the negative? Shouldn't there be a Nobel Prize given for demonstrating the anthropogenic global warming is real? Where is this "huge mountain of evidence"? Several expeditions have failed to find this mythical place. I'm willing to bet that Foley's Mountain consists of the following materials:

1. Multiproxy studies of climate change in the past 2000 years. Unfortunately every one of these studies is composed of equal parts of bad data, bad methodology, cherry-picking (automated and manual) and failure to report adverse statistical tests. None of them stand up to scrutiny, which is why their authors scramble to hide them from that scrutiny.

2. Climate models - these unverified and untestable computer games are supposed to show climate change into the future far beyond the reckoning of economic models that are supposed to underpin them. As Kevin Trenberth recently admitted, none of them can predict regional changes in climate and furthermore there is no way to tell the likelihood of whether any of them are correct on any timescale.

3. A supposed "scientific consensus" so weak that the slightest criticism from 87-year-old Emeritus Professors can send believers scurrying for the nearest reporters' microphone to denounce them. Have I missed anything?

Truth in Global Warming: Mr. Dingell's inconvenient tax

This week's prize for honest liberalism goes to Michigan's John Dingell, who is having fun with his fellow Democrats while also making a useful point about the politics of global warming. The venerable Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee--first elected in 1955--has announced that he plans to introduce as early as this week a new tax on carbon emissions.

Now, that's the way to clear a Capitol Hill hearing room. Americans are already miffed at paying $3 a gallon for gasoline, a fact that has the Members assailing oil companies on a daily basis. So the last thing Democrats seeking re-election want to do is pile on another dollar or two a gallon in taxes--especially in the name of "saving the planet" from the speculative danger of global warming 50 or 100 years from now. Their voters have to deal with the more immediate danger of missing the mortgage payment.

Mr. Dingell knows all this. His point is to force his colleagues--and the voters--to be more honest about the cost of their global-warming posturing. It's one thing to pay 100 bucks to hear Madonna at the "Live Earth" concert, or impress your girlfriend by wearing an "I reduced my carbon footprint" T-shirt. It's quite another to accept that energy prices would have to rise by many multiples to make even a degree's worth of difference to the world's climate. "I sincerely doubt that the American people will be willing to pay what this is really going to cost them," Mr. Dingell said on C-SPAN last week.

That's why most politicians prefer policy artifice that disguises the cost of raising energy prices. These policy tricks include higher automobile mileage standards and a "cap and trade" regime for swapping "credits" for carbon emissions. These schemes shift the direct costs onto businesses, which then pass them along indirectly to unwitting consumers. These policies still amount to taxes on energy use, but they allow politicians and green lobbyists to pretend that you can "save the world" for the price of a concert ticket.

They also impose more costs on some industries than others--the most notable losers being U.S. auto companies and their workers around Detroit. Mr. Dingell is sore, and rightly so, that the cost of indulging Nancy Pelosi's well-to-do San Francisco environmentalists on global warming would fall disproportionately on his blue-collar constituents.

As it happens, neither cap and trade nor higher fuel mileage standards would reduce emissions all that much, if at all. Most of Europe has been busting through its carbon limits under the Kyoto Protocol, while the mileage mandates imposed in the U.S. in the 1970s didn't stop Americans from purchasing SUVs and trucks. The only thing that has slowed those sales is $3 gasoline--thus the policy logic of Mr. Dingell's tax proposal.

Regarding such a tax, Democrats already have some hard political experience. In 1993, Vice President Al Gore convinced Bill Clinton to propose an energy tax on BTU (British thermal units) usage. That would have added about 12 cents a gallon to the price of gas. House Democrats walked the plank and passed it, only to have Senate Democrats kill it. As much as anything else, that vote cost Democrats control of the House in 1994. Now Mr. Gore has embraced the carbon tax once again--though we still haven't heard him endorse a direct tax on gas or consumers.

Speaking for ourselves, we don't favor a carbon tax. In theory, such a tax might make sense if it were offset by lower taxes on income tax rates and capital investment--which would be a net plus for economic growth. However, there's not a chance in melting Greenland that the current Congress would offset any new carbon taxes; it would merely pocket the extra revenue to permanently increase the government's share of GDP.

If Congressional Democrats are really serious about global warming, they'd nonetheless have the courage of their professed convictions: Take the Dingell honesty test and vote to raise carbon taxes. We suspect along with Mr. Dingell, however, that keeping Senate and House seats is going to trump saving the planet.


Human activity good for biodiversity

Contradicting a fundamental Greenie tenet

Beneath the stout oak trees and plentiful animal life of the Tron‡ais forest in central Franceprized for providing wood barrels for some of the best winesthere lies a less visible bounty. Archaeologists in recent years have dug up an abundance of ancient Roman settlements, previously hidden by earth and forest cover.

Yet these agricultural operations, which collapsed along with the empire, have left a lasting mark on the wildlife above: it's much more diverse in their immediate vicinity than further off, researchers have found. The difference, they say, is largely attributable to Roman fertilization practices.

The findings are one of several recent studies indicating that farmers of times past worldwide, from New England to the Amazon rainforest, have left similar legacies of increased biodiversity.

But while previous research had found such effects lasting for hundreds of years, the Tron‡ais studies indicate they can persist strongly after almost two millennia, according to scientists.

The discoveries should prove useful in managing biodiversity and developing conservation policies, researchers said; they can even serve as a guide to archaeologists, who can use local wildlife diversity as a clue to help pinpoint ancient settlements.

But beyond the practical uses, Etienne Dambrine, lead author of a paper describing the findings, wrote in an email that he hopes the revelation of such intimate links between history and nature "may make people dream." Dambrine, of the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Champenoux, France, and colleagues detailed their findings in the June issue of the research journal Ecology.

The reason the increased biodiversity around ancient settlements lasts so long, they wrote, may be that the human activity modifies the soil sets up chemical cycles that become selfsustaining. At Tron‡ais, such cycles persisted despite a long history of human exploitationand overexploitationof forest resources up to the present.

The Ecology study focused on plant life. It found that the number of plant species increased on average by 50 percent near settlements. More recent, unpublished work is also revealing greater biodiversity among animals along with plants, Dambrine said.

The 11,000 hectare (26,000 acre) forest, with sandy soils, contains 108 known Roman settlements, most discovered in the past two decades, according to Dambrine and colleagues. The settlements are dated to between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago and are among hundreds of Roman settlements believed to lie in French forests.

Dambrine and colleagues studied 10 of the Tron‡ais settlements, and found an average of 25.3 plant species in plots within 100 meters (109 yards) of them. By comparison, there were 16.8 species in equalsized plots further off, they reported.

The increase in species richness was found especially among various flowering and other shrubs, researchers said, plants whose soil requirements are consistent with the types of fertilizers the Romans used.

"Latin authors repeatedly mention the need for regular fertilization after plowing, using ashes or animal manure," they wrote. "This fertilization involved a transfer of mineral elements from remote areas, probably forests, to the cultivated areas surrounding the farms, through cattle grazing and fuel wood collection. Domestic garbage, including some broken ceramics, was redistributed with manure and ashes."

The chemical changes resulting from such activity were "possibly irreversible," they added. Thus "understanding present patterns of biodiversity requires the investigation of landuse history on a much longer time scale than previously thought."


Powerlines might help frogs

SCIENTISTS are trying to figure out if clearings created for powerlines through rainforests may be helping frogs survive a deadly disease. In laboratories, scientists have noticed the potentially fatal fungus chytrydiomycosis is not nearly so deadly at temperatures of about 37C. But once the temperature drops to about 25C, the fungus becomes more potent. The fungus had proved deadly to higher altitude species. Chytrydiomycosis is believed responsible for three species being wiped out but might be to blame for at least six extinctions.

"The idea is to look at small-scale but intensive disturbance to the frogs habitat and monitor how it affects them," said Lin Schwarzkopf, of James Cook University's school of marine and tropical biology. There are no cases of population declines due to the disease in frogs that live in lowland rainforests. The project will examine why this could be. "Higher, more variable temperatures and light levels and lower humidity seem to protect frogs from the disease," Professor Alford said. "Small clearings being made for power line towers are likely to increase the exposure of frogs to such conditions, which could reduce their vulnerability to the disease. "Our monitoring of the frogs will determine if the areas disturbed by tower construction are used by frogs and how."


Global warming zealots are stifling scientific debate

By Ian Plimer, emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia

TONIGHT'S airing of The Great Global Warming Swindle and the associated discussion on ABC TV should be a hoot. The ABC has structured the panel to try to get their preferred political position aired. The panel composition will minimise scientific discussion. It contains journalists, political pressure groups and those who will make a quid out of frightening us witless.

Three scientists with a more rational view to the doomsday hype were invited to appear on the panel and have now been uninvited as they do not dance to the drumbeat of disaster. There is a VIP section of the audience with loopy-left greens and social commentators. We have the Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (BAMOS), which was in such a hurry to publish a critique of The Great Global Warming Swindle that it contains schoolboy howlers and a lack of logic intertwined with politics.

What makes it even more amusing is that BAMOS did not criticise Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. If this Hollywood fiction film claims to be supported by science, then why did it perpetuate a well-documented scientific fraud? There is no panel discussion when the ABC TV religiously promotes the popular political view on global warming. Why is there a panel for an alternative view?

Science is married to evidence, scepticism and dissent. This evidence is from experiment, measurement, observation and calculation. Scientists hotly debate the methods of acquisition of evidence. Once the evidence is validated, a scientific theory is offered as an explanation. This theory must be in accord with all previous validated data and can be changed with new data. Science has no consensus, science is anarchistic as it submits to no authority, and the latest scientific view is only transitory. Science is apolitical, and when it has submitted to political pressure in the past, it has been at great human cost. Noise, political pressure or numbers of converts does not validate a scientific concept. When the president of the Royal Society says the science on human-induced global warming is settled, one is reminded of a previous president who said it was impossible for heavier-than-air machines to fly!

Since the beginning of time, climate has always changed. It has warmed and cooled faster than any contemporary change. Nothing happening at present is unusual. The atmospheric carbon dioxide content in the past has been hundreds to thousands of times the current figure and the world did not end. Quite the contrary - life thrived. Computer models are models, albeit primitive. They are not predictions, they are not scenarios. They don't do clouds. They don't do turbulence. They don't do unseen submarine emissions of greenhouse gases. They deal only with greenhouse gas emissions from volcanos in times of little volcanic activity. They don't do starbursts, which have probably given us the greatest climate changes on Earth. They don't do variations in cosmic ray fluxes, which produce clouds in the lower atmosphere. They don't do mountain building, plate tectonics and closing or opening of seaways, which have profound effects on climate.

If the conclusion that humans are changing climate by carbon dioxide emissions requires the omission of validated astronomical, palaeontologic and geological evidence, then the popular view of humans causing climate change is not science
. We are seeing a revival of a form of zealous Western politics intertwined with poor theology, poor economics and poor logic.

If humans have contributed to the slight warming in the 20th century, then all theories of past climate changes need to be evaluated and discarded. This has not happened. Why is it that previous global warmings have been faster and greater than the warming that started after the Little Ice Age? Is it no surprise that the planet has become warmer after the Little Ice Age? Is it no surprise that the driver of climate has been, is and will be that great ball of heat in the centre of our solar system? If evidence from the past is used, then one can only conclude that the slight warmings and cooling in the 20th century cannot be due to carbon dioxide.

Groups like BAMOS and the IPCC deny, minimise or ignore significant recent climate changes that gave us the Roman Warming, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age. Both history and archaeology show that in previous warmings, temperatures were far higher than at present. Populations and the economy thrived. Previous coolings led to famine, depopulation and social disruption. History shows that it is dangerous to ignore history.

The Renaissance gave us a system where criticism, logic, scepticism and an alternative view based on evidence were valued. It was in this environment that democracy thrived. We are now reaping the rewards of dumbing down the education system and live at a time when it is a politically correct duty to suppress alternative views. The best way to understand climate is to critically and sceptically evaluate the evidence presented to us over a very long period of time by the heavens and the Earth beneath our feet.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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