Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wisdom from Ecuador

I have just put up here (PDF) a 2002 paper from Ecuador that uses data from over 13,000 temperature sites worldwide -- covering the years from 1702 to 1990. They note that the world population has doubled from 1952 to 1990, yet they find no statistically significant acceleration of global warming over that period. They therefore conclude that the effect of humankind on global warming up to 1990 is effectively zero. They conclude by saying "contrary to popular belief, the data support the view that human activity has had no significant effect on global warming up to the year 1990"


An email from Will Alexander [alexwjr@iafrica.com]:

I have just received the press release distributed by NASA on 11 July titled "What's Wrong with the Sun? (Nothing)". I have no wish to join the debate regarding NASA's activities in this whole climate change issue, but I have several questions. The most important is why is it that the solar physicists of NASA with all the funds and technology at their disposal, failed to appreciate that it is the double sunspot cycle that is of interest, not the single 11-year cycles?

In our paper published in June last year my co-authors and I demonstrated that a synchronous linkage exists between the double sunspot cycle and the multiyear hydrometeorological processes. These in turn are synchronous with the acceleration and deceleration of the sun as it moves along its trajectory through galactic space. Why are the NASA solar physicists not aware of this?

On Monday 7 July my article "Likelihood of a global drought in 2009-2016" was published in the South African monthly magazine Civil Engineering, which has more than 8,000 readers.

I do not operate a website, but anyone who would like copies of the two publications can send me an email requesting them. They are "Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development" by Alexander W.J.R., Bailey F., Bredenkamp D.B., van der Merwe A. and Willemse N published in June 2007, and "Likelihood of a global drought in 2009-2016" by Alexander W.J.R. published in June 2008.

In my article, I predict that there is a 20 per cent likelihood of a global drought equivalent to the Dustbowl Drought of the 1930s occurring during 2009 to 2016. NASA's activities have an effect of suppressing this information, which is based on analyses of real data and not on postulations by climate change scientists. My article includes a methodology that anybody who has access to continuous annual data sets exceeding 60 years in length, can use to evaluate this likelihood. It requires no more than high school mathematics and a laptop computer.

Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered

From Physics & Society: July 2008, Volume 37, Number 3

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions probably caused more than half of the "global warming" of the past 50 years and would cause further rapid warming. However, global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC's models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity:

1. Radiative forcing deltaF;
2. The no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter kappa and
3. The feedback multiplier f

Some reasons why the IPCC's estimates may be excessive and unsafe are explained. More importantly, the conclusion is that, perhaps, there is no "climate crisis", and that currently-fashionable efforts by governments to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions are pointless, may be ill-conceived, and could even be harmful.

More here

Don't laugh: Global warming is going to increase kidney stones

The "reasoning" below is that kidney stones are more prevalent in warmer areas of the USA and that they are therefore caused by warmth. That's just epidemiological speculation, however. People in some warmer parts of the USA do get more kidney stones but is that BECAUSE OF the warmth? Bacteria are being increasingly implicated in kidney stone formation so it could (for instance) be due to differing prevalence of bacteria in the areas concerned. Note also that kidney stone prevalence is high in the Great Lakes area, which is not exactly the warmest part of the USA

More Americans are likely to suffer from kidney stones in the coming years as a result of global warming, according to researchers at the University of Texas.

Kidney stones, which are formed from dissolved minerals in the urine and can be extremely painful, are often caused by caused by dehydration, either by not drinking enough liquid or losing too much due to high heat conditions. If global warming trends continue as projected by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the United States can expect as much as a 30 percent growth in kidney stone disease in some of its driest areas, said the findings published in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The increased incidence of disease would represent between 1.6 million and 2.2 million cases by 2050, costing the US economy as much as one billion dollars in treatment costs.

"This study is one of the first examples of global warming causing a direct medical consequence for humans," said Margaret Pearle, professor of urology at University of Texas Southwestern and senior author of the paper. "When people relocate from areas of moderate temperature to areas with warmer climates, a rapid increase in stone risk has been observed. This has been shown in military deployments to the Middle East for instance."

The lead author of the research, Tom Brikowski, compared kidney stone rates with UN forecasts of temperature increases and created two mathematical models to predict the impact on future populations. One formula showed an increase in the southern half of the country, including the already existing "kidney stone belt" of the southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The other showed that the increase would be concentrated in the upper Midwest. "Similar climate-related changes in the prevalence of kidney-stone disease can be expected in other stone belts worldwide," the study said.


Seeing Red Over "Green" Taxes

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is about to get raked over the coals in parliament over his latest greenmail scheme. The proposed "green" change to road taxes will subject a huge number of Britons to a massive tax increase - retroactively - for driving cars with larger engines. British MPs are furious.
The Treasury admitted on Wednesday that almost half of all drivers will be hit with significant rises in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on cars with larger engines. Less than 20 per cent will be better off because of tax cuts on cars with lower emissions.

But only last month in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister told David Cameron, the Tory leader, that if he looked at the VED plan, "he will see that the majority of drivers will benefit from it." George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, has said that Mr Brown "misled" parliament, and called on the Prime Minister to explain his remark...

..The plans - against which The Daily Telegraph has campaigned - are especially controversial because they are effectively back-dated, applying to cars that are already on the road. Treasury figures slipped out in a parliamentary answer show that of the 21.9 million cars that will be on British roads by 2010/11, 43 per cent - or 9.4 million - will pay higher VED in real terms than they do now. Another 39 per cent - 8.4 million - will be left no better off. Just 18 per cent - 4.1 million - will actually benefit.

Of the 9.4 million who will be worse off, 1.18 million motorists will be dragged into the highest two tax bands, where the annual cost is upwards of $800.

How bad is it? Well, even Greenpeace is saying the scheme gives "green" taxes a bad name. Just a quick prediction here. The scheme will get changed before it take effect and Gordon Brown will be gainfully unemployed when he next faces the voters.



El Gran Lider Kevin Rudd has no policy ideas that might actually improve the lot of Australians generally so he constantly resorts to tokenism. And global warming is the BIG bit of tokenism for him. There is no pretence that his proposed climate policies will make any discernible difference to the climate so the only rationale is that Australia will be "setting an example" for India and China. That India and China are likely to be influenced by Australians cutting their own throats is laughable, however. The Indians and the Chinese will cetainly be laughing. Nonetheless, Don Quixote Rudd seems set on his nonsense so there is much discussion of the policies concerned. Two current articles below

Climate cure more costly than the disease

DEMOCRACY, as Arthur Balfour said, is government by explanation: but the explanations must be good ones. The Garnaut report was to explain the basis for the Government's climate change policy. Unfortunately it leaves open more questions than it answers. This is because the encyclopedia Garnaut and his team have produced does everything except what it was supposed to do: cost a target for greenhouse emissions reductions. That, we are told, will come later, with the delay being due to difficulties in the modelling of emissions reductions and their economic costs.

That a delay would occur is hardly implausible. But given that the primary purpose was to present those estimates, why didn't Garnaut simply delay the completion of his report? Surely the public, having ordered the steak, would hardly find it satisfactory to be served only the vegetables, with a promise that the steak would come with dessert?

The failure to present any estimates of the cost of emissions reductions is important because it makes the report unbalanced. Working on the principle that a risk perceived is a risk indeed, the damage climate change could cause is explained at length, but there is no corresponding discussion of the costs and risks involved in action to prevent climate change from occurring.

The absence of costings lets the report off the hook. Since it doesn't weigh up the probable costs and benefits to Australia of alternative policy options, it isn't forced to grapple either with the likelihood of effective international agreement actually being reached or with the consequences of implementing an ETS if it isn't. As these risks, and the costs of going ahead regardless, are not properly weighed in the balance, the report too often reads like a call to arms, rather than objective policy analysis.

This feature of the report is accentuated by its one-sided presentation of material. Nowhere is this clearer than in the report's discussion of the harm climate change could do the living standards of future generations of Australians. Estimating the extent of that harm is fraught with judgments and assumptions, and some will think the report understates the costs, while others will think the opposite.

But what is important about the report's estimate is the one thing the report never mentions: which is that it is hardly a huge number. If one accepts the report's estimates of the real income loss consequent on adverse climate change, then fully offsetting that income loss would require putting aside each year an amount that would be about 0.7 per cent of Australia's GDP in 2008, and which would decline to less than one-third of 1 per cent of GDP by mid century. This assumes a real global rate of return on investment globally of 6 per cent, which is reasonable by historical standards and consistent with the strong economic growth projections set out in the report.

Given a government committed to a budget surplus in the order of 1.5 per cent of GDP over the economic cycle, this level of saving could be achieved with little or no sacrifice to consumption. Indeed, one could readily double the report's estimate of the loss (say, to even more fully reflect non-monetary losses) without that conclusion being in any way undermined. This is important not only because it puts the issue in perspective, but especially because it sets a ceiling on the acceptable costs of an ETS.

Any ETS that costs us more than the precautionary savings set out above would be difficult to justify, as it would impose a larger sacrifice than needed to preserve future living standards. Indeed, given the risk that our own abatement efforts will have little consequence, and that global agreement will not be reached or will prove ineffective, the amount we should be willing to spend on an ETS ought to be even lower than that ceiling, thereby freeing up some income for the precautionary saving we will need should harmful climate change occur. The report could and should have explained this much, but it doesn't. Nor does it explain as directly as would have been desirable the consequences of its preferred approach to allocating permits globally, which is on a per-capita basis.

Australia will continue to have a very small share of world population and hence, under a per-capita allocation, would obtain a small share of global emissions permits. At the same time, our comparative advantage means that we should specialise in emissions-intensive industries, such as agriculture, minerals and energy. Given per-capita allocation of emissions permits, to do so we would have to buy permits from overseas, which would partly transfer to foreigners the gains from our resource endowment.

Perhaps this wealth transfer is desirable; but it is no less desirable for the public to understand that such a wealth transfer would occur, potentially on a very significant scale, were the report's recommendations accepted.

This tendency to understate problems with the preferred approach is also apparent in the report's treatment of the transition to an ETS. The report acknowledges that there may be a case for a "slow and low" start, with a capped emissions price being set for a two-year period. What it does not explain is why the uncertainties that make such a gradual start sensible would be materially reduced after merely two years. By the end of 2012, it will still not be clear whether an effective global regime will come into place; and even the response of the Australian economy to an ETS will remain highly uncertain, as the adjustment processes will take many years to work. In the meantime, new shocks will emerge, as the world economy itself continues to change.

All of these uncertainties are best dealt with by retaining a capped carbon price that reflects the benefits of abating later rather than now. Such a capped price would ensure that even after 2012 the costs of any abatement do not exceed the benefits, which especially in the near term, are likely to be very modest. Yet this too the report does not confront, other than by assuming that uncertainties will melt away.

Finally, there are the instances where there is at least the semblance of partisanship. Garnaut's response to calls from the Opposition for the fuel excise to be reduced should an ETS be imposed is a case in point. Any such reduction, he suggests, would send the wrong signal to developing countries, especially those which continue to heavily subsidise fuel consumption, and would in any event be economically unjustified.

However, there is no more virtue in unduly taxing a commodity than there is in unduly subsidising it: both distort relative prices and reduce efficiency. Fuel prices are already trebly taxed: by the excess mark-ups arising from the OPEC cartel, by the fuel excise and by the GST. Compounding the distortion by adding a fourth tax, without adjusting the others, would be both inefficient and inequitable.

In short, this is a report that costs the problem, but says little or nothing about the costs of its proposed solution. As for its proposed solution, it does not even seek to systematically compare it with alternatives: rather, it acts as if the only options were complete inaction on the one hand, or its version of an ETS on the other. And for all of its 500-plus pages, it is at times uncomfortably thin on analysis, appealing to fears and hopes rather than likelihoods and realities.

Yet the policy decisions the report calls for are of huge consequence: they cannot be made on the basis of romanticism and generous impulses. To claim those decisions must be made immediately is as reckless as it is nonsensical: rather, what is needed is a far more careful testing of the facts. That the Opposition has been debating these issues is therefore hardly worrying; what would be terrifying is if the Government were not to. For without such a full debate, the greatest threat to Australia's future prosperity will lie not in the climate, but in ourselves.


PM's $5bn green gamble against Treasury advice

By Piers Akerman

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd is set to announce a controversial $5 billion scheme to slash carbon emissions. The plan, which will call for carbon to be captured and stored in forests and oceans, will be outlined in the Government's discussion paper on its planned emissions trading scheme to be released tomorrow, Treasury sources said. But the same sources said the Rudd Government would be going against Treasury advice if the expensive scheme to store carbon in the seabed or in deeply submerged subterranean strata went ahead.

They said Treasury had warned against announcing such a proposal because the carbon sequestration technology was largely untried. "This is another theoretical approach to a problem," one source said. "Not only is it very costly, no one knows whether it is a realistic storage solution for carbon emissions. "The Rudd Government appears determined to proceed, however, even though Treasury asked that, at the minimum, it refrain from taking such action until after next year's UN summit on climate change in the Danish capital Copenhagen meeting, when it will be seen what measures other developed nations may take." The use of so-called "carbon sinks" can take the form of storing carbon in plants and soils, oceans or buried in deep rock deposits.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is on the record as saying there are good arguments for implementing carbon sequestration. Mr Ferguson said sequestration would encourage investment and commercialisation of the technology, which was a safe way to allow continued carbon-based power generation with reduced environmental impact. His draft sequestration legislation sets up a framework for access to Commonwealth waters, defined as beginning three nautical miles offshore, as well as multiple-use agreements allowing the continuation of other commercial activities such as fishing and oil drilling. He said Commonwealth body Geoscience Australia had identified numerous sites where greenhouse gases could be stored. And he nominated high-carbon emission areas of Victoria, Western Australia and southern and central Queensland as having "adequate storage capacity nearby".

The carbon storage row comes after Mr Rudd previously ignored Treasury advice, and that of three other ministries, when he pushed ahead with the Government's FuelWatch program. In Opposition, he was critical of the Howard Government for ignoring Treasury and pledged that his government would be more receptive to advice from its bureaucrats.

Treasury is not the only body concerned at the possible effects of the Government's Green Paper on climate change. Australia's largest trade union, the Australian Workers Union, has released a report that predicts 15,000 jobs could be lost in the aluminium sector alone if the penalties contained in the ETS drive the industry offshore. AWU national secretary Paul Howes said regional communities and economies would be crippled at a potential cost of up to $1.12 billion. "We know, by keeping good jobs in industries like aluminium smelters and refineries here in Australia, we are actually helping in the battle against greenhouse gases," he said.

Environmentalists, however, say that Australians would not suffer if the aluminium sector closed and the industry went offshore to more modern plants. Climate Institute chief John Connor told the ABC yesterday that many foreign aluminium smelters were more efficient.

Farmers also expressed their concern that the discussion paper might pick an "arbitrary" date for the inclusion of agriculture in an ETS.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson will cut short his week-long holiday to lead the Opposition's response to the Government's climate change Green Paper.



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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