Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What they didn't tell you about that shipwreck

You'd never read this in the mainstream media: The owner of MS Explorer that sank, leaving a huge carbon footprint at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean Friday is an acolyte of teensy-weensy carbon footprint crusader Al Gore. G.A.P. Adventures CEO and Explorer owner, Bruce Poon Tip and Gore have similar ideals, "filling their schedules with speaking engagements on environmental change to educate global audiences." And that's straight off of In fact, as recently as last April, both Poon Tip and Gore gave presentations at the Green Living Show in Toronto. "I expressed my admiration for Mr. Gore's commitment and leadership which spans more than 20 years," commented Poon Tip. "I also invited him aboard our legendary polar expedition ship, the MS Explorer to visit the Arctic."

The legendary polar expedition ship."had at least five faults at its last inspection," according to Greenpeace spokeswoman Bunny McDiarmid. "Maritime records show the MV Explorer has completed more than 40 cruises to the ice, but has lately been suffering maintenance and safety problems."

Maintenance and safety problems never kept the MS Explorer from setting out for the Antarctica two weeks ago. Good thing Gore was otherwise occupied when 154 passengers and crew had to be rescued at sea when their eco-cruise ship struck ice in the Antarctic Ocean and started to sink early Friday morning. (None of the eco warriors aboard MS Explorer were identified in weekend media coverage). Twelve Canadians-10 tourists and two expedition guides on the eco-adventure cruise-spent anxious frigid hours in lifeboats once they were evacuated from the Explorer. In addition to the 12 Canadians were travelers from the United States, Britain, Australia, France and several other countries on board the ship.

There was little mention in the mainstream media that the passengers were comprised of eco warriors or that they had spent thousands of dollars to see ice at a much closer range than they ever dreamed. Making it a Thanksgiving Day to remember, the polar cruise came with that sinking feeling of a miniature Titanic. Passengers and crew aboard the Canadian cruise liner waited in frigid temperatures for some two hours before pick up in a part of the ocean with no land in sight.

How the vessel sustained a "fist-sized hole" is a mystery taken down to the ocean floor. The 38-year-old vessel was sold by Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) to G.A.P Adventures in 2004. A&K has since acquired Explorer II, now called "Minerva". A well-known ship in marine circles, the 75-metre Explorer was built in 1969 and was specifically designed with a reinforced double hull to withstand ice and other environmental challenges.

Near the South Shetland Islands, the ship began to take on water and a distress call was made. The Explorer's pumps managed the incoming water while passengers and expedition staff were gathered in the ship's lecture hall and informed of the emergency. All eco warrior passengers had received evacuation training on their first day at sea, and news reports indicated that nobody panicked when things started to go wrong.

As the Los Angeles Times described it: "The first cruise ship built to ply the frigid waters of Antarctica became the first to sink there Friday. The red-hulled Explorer struck ice, taking water as 154 passengers and crew members scrambled to safety aboard lifeboats and rafts. The ship later went to the bottom." According to one blogger who plans an Antarctica trip, "apparently, most (Explorer passengers) did not have wallets or passports with them," adding in a Note to Self: "Wear identification belt at all times."

Passengers and crew were taken to a Chilean military base on King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, from which they were flown home yesterday. Meanwhile, Greenpeace believes tourism in Antarctica should be strictly limited because of the fate of MS Explorer, but the silence is deafening from Poon Tip and Gore about the huge carbon footprint left on the ocean floor.


We are set on a course of 'planet saving' madness

Christopher Booker comments from Britain

The scare over global warming, and our politicians' response to it, is becoming ever more bizarre. On the one hand we have the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change coming up with yet another of its notoriously politicised reports, hyping up the scare by claiming that world surface temperatures have been higher in 11 of the past 12 years (1995-2006) than ever previously recorded.

This carefully ignores the latest US satellite figures showing temperatures having fallen since 1998, declining in 2007 to a 1983 level - not to mention the newly revised figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 1930s had four of the 10 warmest years of the past century, with the hottest year of all being not 1998, as was previously claimed, but 1934.

On the other hand, we had Gordon Brown last week, in his "first major speech on climate change", airily committing his own and future governments to achieving a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 - which is rather like prime minister Salisbury at the end of Queen Victoria's reign trying to commit Winston Churchill's government to achieving some wholly impossible goal in the middle of the Second World War. Mr Brown's only concrete proposal for reaching this absurd target seems to be his plan to ban plastic bags, whatever they have to do with global warming (while his government also plans a near-doubling of flights out of Heathrow).

But of course he is no longer his own master in such fantasy exercises. Few people have yet really taken on board the mind-blowing scale of all the "planet-saving" measures to which we are now committed by the European Union. By 2020 we will have to generate 20 per cent of our electricity from "renewables". At present the figure is four per cent (most of it generated by hydro-electric schemes and methane gas from landfill). As Whitehall officials privately briefed ministers in August, there is no way Britain can begin to meet such a fanciful target (even if the Government manages to ram through another 30,000 largely useless wind turbines).

Another EU directive commits us to deriving 10 per cent of our transport fuel from "biofuels" by 2020. This would take up pretty well all the farmland we currently use to grow food (at a time when world grain prices have doubled in six months and we are already face a global food shortage). Then by 2009, thanks to a mad gesture by Mr Blair and his EU colleagues last March, we also face the prospect of a total ban on incandescent light bulbs. This compulsory switch to low-energy bulbs, apart from condemning us to live in uglier homes under eye-straining light, is in practice completely out of the question, because, according to our Government's own figures, more than half Britain's domestic light fittings cannot take them.

This year will be remembered for two things. First, it was the year when the scientific data showed that the cosmic scare over global warming may well turn out to be just that - yet another vastly inflated scare. Second, it was the year when the hysteria generated by all the bogus science behind this scare finally drove those who rule over us, including Gordon "Plastic Bags" Brown, wholly out of their wits.



By Andrew C. Revkin

For two decades, scientists and environmental campaigners have been on an ongoing quest for imagery and analogies sufficiently jarring to focus public attention on global warming and motivate a climate-friendly change in how we get and use energy. In 1988, James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who, through much of his career, has pressed elected officials to limit greenhouse gas emissions, constructed "loaded" cardboard dice for a Senate hearing, to illustrate that we were, in essence, tipping the climate system toward ever higher odds of unpleasant events like droughts and flooding rains. Last month he went a lot farther, directly invoking imagery from the Holocaust in discussing how warming would cause a mass of biological extinctions.

The statement came in testimony Dr. Hansen gave on Oct. 22 before the utilities board of his native state, Iowa. He pressed the case for forbidding the construction of new coal-burning power plants unless and until technologies were developed to capture and store the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. The full text of the testimony is at Dr. Hansen's Columbia University home page,'s the relevant section:
"Coal will determine whether we continue to increase climate change or slow the human impact. Increased fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, compared to the pre-industrial atmosphere, is due 50% to coal, 35% to oil and 15% to gas. As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels. Recently, after giving a high school commencement talk in my hometown, Denison, Iowa, I drove from Denison to Dunlap, where my parents are buried. For most of 20 miles there were trains parked, engine to caboose, half of the cars being filled with coal. If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains - no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species."

The statement reprises language Dr. Hansen used earlier in the year. This time, he was excoriated in a letter from Kraig R. Naasz, the president of the National Mining Association, who demanded an apology for miners and railroad workers. That letter is also posted on Dr. Hansen's home page, along with Dr. Hansen's response.Mr. Naasz wrote:
"The suggestion that coal utilization for electricity generation can be equated with the systematic extermination of European Jewry is both repellant and preposterous". "Your advocacy on behalf of global warming is ill served by an invidious comparison that manages not only to trivialize the suffering of millions but undermines your credibility as a rational observer of a complex phenomenon."

Dr. Hansen response on this point was:
"There is nothing scientifically invalid about the above paragraph. If this paragraph makes you uncomfortable, well, perhaps it should." "The only additional required explanation, clearly stated in my testimony, is that coal-fired power plants that capture and sequester the CO2 are consistent with preserving creation, life on the planet as we know it, but the required technology is not yet ready. Until technology is ready, there should be a moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants in developed countries. Developing countries must phase out such construction within a decade. Realization that all coal-fired power plants without actual carbon capture will have to be "bull-dozed" in the next several decades, in all countries, should serve as an effective brake on new construction of coal-fired power plants during the next few years in all countries. For better understanding, I recommend a more careful reading of my testimony."

This all lay dormant until the last few days, when bloggers and others critical of Dr. Hansen's portrayal of the dangers of global warming posted fresh complaints on the Web. I sent the query below this morning to Dr. Hansen to explore his Iowa statement and reactions. As soon as I have a response, I'll post it.
Hi Jim, It would be nice if we lived in a world where, when faced with an environmental problem, reporters only have to discuss risks delineated by science and the range of societal responses. But sometimes we have to write about language, too. I need to ask you a few questions about your framing of the climate challenge. I saw your Iowa testimony when you distributed it by email last month but I didn't have time to read all the way through. Now, many people opposing greenhouse-gas restrictions are the warpath over your reference to death trains and crematoria in your argument for freezing coal-plant construction to avoid dangerous human-driven warming. Your letter back to the coal rep says:
"There is nothing scientifically invalid about the above paragraph. If this paragraph makes you uncomfortable, well, perhaps it should."

As I said above, we live in a world where science is not the only thing that matters. Here are my questions:

1) I assume you chose your language carefully. I see you've been quoted before describing coal trains as death trains. Were you concerned that Holocaust survivors and relatives of victims might take offense?

2) Have you received complaints from any yet? Have you received support from any?

3) Do you think that this kind of metaphor is the only thing that can jog the public or officials to change?

4) Some say that whatever you think about the dangers of global warming, this kind of language inevitably becomes the issue, distracts from the real questions, and could in fact further polarize or paralyze discourse. Is there any merit to their view?

5) This is a quirky question, but necessary: Who is the victim of of the mass murder you framed in your testimony - nature or people? Nature has endured many "natural" mass extinctions and stresses as conditions on Earth have changed, so it'll doubtless endure this human-caused assault in time. Is your concern about what we humans lose in a world with less biological diversity, or about the insult itself?


Meteorologist Craig James explains the real CO2 sequence

In response to the many comments I have received recently questioning my position on global warming, I'd like to offer this summary:

There are several possible causes for warming and cooling of the atmosphere on a global scale. Periodic astronomical cycles, such as the Milankovitch Cycles, solar variations, volcanic activity, the shift in phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), plus many others certainly all play a huge role. I have written about the natural oscillation of the oceans and their affects on temperatures in several posts on this site. Of course the mainstream emphasis today is on increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. If I conducted a survey asking people whether the temperature rises first and then CO2 levels increase, or vice-versa, I'm sure we could all guess the prevailing opinion is that CO2 levels increase first. I think it is very important for everyone to understand, this is not the case.

I am not doubting that humans have been responsible for an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and that this CO2 increase may have contributed to some of the warming we have experienced by a process known as positive feedback. But it does seem as if the climate models overstate this positive feedback and several others such as those for water vapor. A close inspection of the temperature and CO2 records shows that the warming we see now should be much greater if CO2 was the dominant factor. To illustrate this, let me repost one of my previous articles called "Does the Earth Have a Temperature Regulator".

It seems to me as if there hasn't really been much attention given to the fact that CO2 increases occur AFTER the temperature begins rising and therefore cannot be the initial cause of global warming. Even the most vocal proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) acknowledge this fact. The web site Real Climate states:
From studying all the available data (not just ice cores), the probable sequence of events at a termination goes something like this. Some (currently unknown) process causes Antarctica and the surrounding ocean to warm. This process also causes CO2 to start rising, about 800 years later. Then CO2 further warms the whole planet, because of its heat-trapping properties. This leads to even further CO2 release.

They are well aware that CO2 does not cause the initial warming but they say it does amplify the warming once underway. The interesting thing to me though is what causes the warming to stop, even though CO2 is still RISING?

Take a look at this chart (above) from the Vostok ice core record over the last 460,000 years.

The second chart is a close up of the last 18,000 years (since the last glacial maximum).

The third chart is of the last 200 years, encompassing the industrial revolution.

The charts were all taken from this web page. Notice on all three charts the recent rapid rise in CO2 on the right hand side of the chart WITHOUT an equivalent rise in the temperature.

There was a rise in temperature but you would expect it to be more if the response was linear. This seems to be good evidence that the temperature response to rising CO2 levels is logarithmic, not linear. A subsequent doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will not produce the amount of temperature increase the first doubling did. But what is even more interesting to me can be seen on the first chart going back 460,000 years. There are five warm periods, or interglacials, on the chart. The current one has lasted the longest. Every time the temperature has warmed to more than 2 degrees Celcius above the mid 20th century benchmark (the 0 degree line) for a significant time, cooling followed. It appears that if the +2C threshold is exceeded for some period of time, a new glacial, or cooling, phase follows. According to the authors of the web site where I got the chart:

A linear trend line fitted to the temperature data would indicate that the critical +2C level would be reached in about 40 years. But we don't know that the trend is linear.

I think it is logarithmic, not linear or exponential as the authors suggest, meaning it will take much longer than 40 years to reach the +2C threshold. But once it reaches that threshold, what makes the temperature start to fall again, especially if CO2 levels are still rising? Does the earth have a built in temperature regulator? Does melting of the Arctic ice slow down the thermohaline circulation enough to initiate a new ice age? Or is the "iris effect" real as described in this article? Whatever it is, there certainly seems to evidence from the Vostok ice core, which the AGW people accept, that the Earth will again regulate itself to prevent any runaway global warming."

Will the increasing levels of CO2 override the historical pattern of a +2C threshold? I can't find an answer to that anywhere. Also, if you look again at the long term chart above, you will see that the ice ages do not begin every 100,000 years as the Milankovitch Cycles would predict. Wikepedia states:
The Milankovitch theory of climate change is not perfectly worked out; in particular, the largest observed response is at the 100,000 year timescale, but the forcing is apparently small at this scale, in regard to the ice ages. Various feedbacks (from carbon dioxide, or from ice sheet dynamics) are invoked to explain this discrepancy.

Another issue I want to emphasize has come about because of all of the concern regarding the low Arctic sea ice extent measured this fall. I can't state this strongly enough. THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN ARCTIC AIR TEMPERATURES AND ARCTIC SEA ICE!

Here (above) is a graph of Arctic air temperatures since 1880.

The second chart is a graph of Arctic Sea Ice extent since 1900. The air temperatures in the Arctic were warmer in 1940 than now. The sea ice extent began to diminish in 1950 as air temperatures were going DOWN. If there is no correlation, there can be no causation. Also, never once mentioned in the mainstream media is the fact that the southern hemisphere sea ice extent was at a record MAXIMUM this year.

It seems to me the argument that the current rise in CO2 is solely responsible for the changes we have seen over the past several decades ignores much of the historical record and places an unwarranted confidence in computer model forecasts, which those of us who forecast weather know all to well, are NOT reality. I do think I am open to being convinced otherwise, but as of yet, I haven't seen the smoking gun that would do so.


Chris de Freitas: Don't blame me for the heat

(Dr Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland)

Greenpeace spokeswoman Susannah Bailey's attack on branches of the New Zealand business sector, which she accuses of continuing to plead grey on global warming, misses the key point.Political action on climate change is not a game to be played and won or lost, and Greenpeace does us a disservice by encouraging that view. Little does the public realise the debate over climate change usually conflates issues of science and politics.The robustness or otherwise of the science underpinning the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the key to assessing the risk from human induced climate change issue. But seldom if ever are the uncertainties of the science discussed.

Seldom if ever is the question asked: Where is the evidence for catastrophic climate change from human action? Rather than search for the evidence, groups like Greenpeace defer to authorities, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a political entity which appears to have a monopoly on wisdom in global warming matters. Rather than debate the issues, they attack those who disagree, using defamatory labels. Yet the opposite of scepticism is gullibility.

The fanatical name calling and personal attacks expose the strong ideological elements that drive global warming alarmist thinking. It's as if the depth of passion is overcompensation for doubt and uncertainty. Why else would environmentalists squander so much effort trying to discredit individuals and organisations who disagree? Few scientists are willing to put their head above the parapet, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that, to paraphrase Voltaire, it is dangerous to be right when the authorities are wrong.

Moreover, vote counting is a risky way to discover scientific truth. Scientific validity is not determined by a show of hands. Pronouncements from Greenpeace or the IPCC do not and cannot change the facts. No one doubts humans affect climate. The debate is whether the effects are "dangerous". There is no hard evidence that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put there by human activities are causing or will cause dangerous change to global climate.

The Earth's surface has warmed slightly over the last 150 years, but research shows that floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes have not increased in frequency.The climate facts are well established and well recorded, but often ignored when it comes to global warming catastrophism:

* There have been four periods of global warming in the past 1500 years.
* Data clearly show the Earth cooled during a recent 35-year period despite the continuing rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
* In recent times, global temperature has been steady since 1998, despite the continuing rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
* Average global sea level rise has shown no acceleration over the past 300 years.
* And it is an uncontroversial fact that all climate models are unreliable, so their output is not evidence of anything.

Recent climate change is within natural variation, and although this in no way confirms that it is due to natural variation, climate history clearly demonstrates that natural variation can explain the moderate climate change we have seen up until 1998.

One could argue that we should take the observed net 0.6C warming trend over the past 100 years seriously, but by itself it looks rather benign, and may even be beneficial.

Even if the signatories to the Kyoto protocol meet their commitment, the climate science community is unanimous on the view that its impact on global warming would be imperceptible. The fact is that the Kyoto targets are not based on science. Taking into account the economic costs, the Kyoto Protocol could be worse than doing nothing.It fails to establish long-term goals based on science, it poses serious and unnecessary risks to national economies, and it is ineffective in addressing climate change because it excludes major parts of the world.

There is a desperate need for balanced reporting to redress widespread misunderstanding of climate change and the role of human activities.



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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