Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Greenhouse gas levels hit record high as temperature falls

Greenhouse gas levels rose to record highs in 2007, leading to a 1 per cent increase in the overall global warming effect, the World Meteorological Organisation says. Carbon dioxide rose 0.5 per cent from 2006 to reach 383.1 parts per million, while nitrous oxide levels were up 0.25 per cent, according to latest WMO statistics. Methane, meanwhile, increased 0.34 per cent, surpassing the highest level recorded in 2003.

``Using the NOAA Annual greenhouse gas index, the total warming effect of all long-lived greenhouse gases was calculated to have increased by 1.06 per cent from the previous year and by 24.2 per cent since 1990,'' said the WMO. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen 37 per cent since the 18th century, the WMO said.


A new satellite predicts at least 23 years of global cooling

Several Canadian environmental scientists agree that the new Jason satellite indicates at least a 23-year cycle of global cooling ahead. Count me in! This oceanographic satellite shows a much larger than normal persistent Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Cooler PDO phases usually last 21 to 25 years, so we should be quite chilly as a planet until at least 2030, maybe longer.

Remember, I have another cycle of intense global warming, as I mentioned at our March 2, 2007 climate seminar at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, due by 2031 to 2038, when all of my major cycles 'collide in chaos.' These alternating natural climatic cycles defy the so-called "climate consensus" that human-emitted carbon dioxide was responsible totally for the recent cycle of global warming that began in the late 1970s and peaked in 1998.

The Earth's previous warming phase from 1915 through 1939, which peaked in 1936 during the infamous Dust Bowl Days, was almost as warm as the recent cycle of global warming. Yes, I said, global warming. I'm a firm believer in frequent climate changes. I also favor cutting down sharply on air pollution, particularly in the urban 'heat islands.'

The last cooler cycle of global temperatures occurred from late 1939 to early 1976, peaking (or bottoming) in 1973. The harsh winters during World War II helped the U.S. and its allies defeat the Germans and later assisted our G.I.s in the Korean War due to extremely heavy snows and subzero temperatures north of the 38th Parallel.

In the past 10 years, especially the past couple of years, the Earth's climate has begun to cool, even though CO2 emissions have soared on a worldwide scale. How many years of declining temperatures will it take to finally break up Al Gore's 'global warming consensus'? Only time will tell -- probably when all the money runs out.

As we expected, a parade of Pacific storms marched across North Idaho and the rest of the Inland Empire during the first 13 days of this November. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, a whopping 2.49 inches of precipitation had been gauged this month compared to just 0.57 inches in all of October and only 1.48 inches total since late August. A record 0.83 inches fell Nov. 7, breaking the record rainfall total for the date of .81 inches in 1980.

The normal rainfall during an entire November is 2.97 inches, when averaged over the past 113 years of daily weather record-keeping that began in 1895. In November 2007, we gauged 2.61 inches of moisture at my station on Player Drive in the northwestern corner of Coeur d'Alene, along with a slightly below normal 6.3 inches of snow, all of which fell after Thanksgiving.

But, as I stated last week, between the end of November 2007 and the end of the snowfall season on June 30, 2008, we received an all-time record 172.9 inches of snow in town, some four feet more than the previous record of 124.2 inches in 1915-16, nearly a century ago.

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Scientists urge caution on global warming

Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation. While the new Obama administration promises aggressive, forward-thinking environmental policies, Weather Channel co-founder Joseph D'Aleo and other scientists are organizing lobbying efforts to take aim at the cap-and-trade bill that Democrats plan to unveil in January.

So far, members of Congress have not been keen to publicly back the global cooling theory. But both senators from Oklahoma, Republicans Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, have often expressed doubts about how much of a role man-made emissions play. "We want the debate to be about science, not fear and hypocrisy. We hope next year's wave of new politics means a return to science," said Coburn aide John Hart. "It's the old kind of politics that doesn't consider any dissenting opinions."

The global cooling lobby's challenge is enormous. Next year could be the unfriendliest yet for climate skeptics. Already, House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) has lost his gavel, in part because his peers felt he was less than serious about tackling global warming.

The National Academy of Sciences and most major scientific bodies agree that global warming is caused by man-made carbon emissions. But a small, growing number of scientists, including D'Aleo, are questioning how quickly the warming is happening and whether humans are actually the leading cause. Armed with statistics from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center, D'Aleo reported in the 2009 Old Farmer's Almanac that the U.S. annual mean temperature has fluctuated for decades and has only risen 0.21 degrees since 1930 - which he says is caused by fluctuating solar activity levels and ocean temperatures, not carbon emissions.

Data from the same source shows that during five of the past seven decades, including this one, average U.S. temperatures have gone down. And the almanac predicted that the next year will see a period of cooling. "We're worried that people are too focused on carbon dioxide as the culprit," D'Aleo said. "Recent warming has stopped since 1998, and we want to stop draconian measures that will hurt already spiraling downward economics. We're environmentalists and conservationists at heart, but we don't think that carbon is responsible for hurricanes."

D'Aleo's organization, the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, is collaborating on the campaign with the Cooler Heads Coalition, a subgroup of the National Consumer Coalition with members including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Center for Policy Analysis and Citizens for a Sound Economy.

More than 31,000 scientists across the world have signed the Global Warming Petition Project, a declaration started by a group of American scientists that states man's impact on climate change can't be reasonably proven. If the project gains traction, it might give skeptical lawmakers an additional weapon to fight cap-and-trade legislation to curtail greenhouse gases - a move they worry could damage the already fragile economy. At the least, congressional aides say, it could caution additional lawmakers from rushing into a hasty piece of legislation.

Many Hill skeptics have varying opinions on whether the earth's temperature is warming more slowly than some environmentalists predict and how much man is actually contributing to it. Inhofe's staff has been steadily compiling a list of global cooling findings. And aides report that they have received countless e-mails from scientists worldwide supporting the theory. While Inhofe hasn't indicated that he will move forward with the information anytime soon, his aides continue to compile it.

Republicans aren't the only ones who are wary of hastily passing a greenhouse gas bill. Ten Democrats wrote to Senate leaders earlier this year, citing economic concerns as a key reason why they didn't vote for the Senate's cap-and-trade bill. And despite Democrats' pickups in the Senate this fall, several of the new Democrats are from conservative, energy-producing states and may not be supportive, either.

But congressional aides say it could be a long wait before lawmakers are comfortable pushing science that contradicts the global warming theory. And until the lobby gains traction, skeptics plan to continue pushing their ideas by arguing for protection of the economy, where they hope to meet middle ground with global warming supporters. "Never underestimate the ability of Congress to offer nonsolutions to problems that do not exist," said Marc Morano, communications director for the Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "We could spend weeks arguing the mounting scientific evidence refuting man-made warming fears," he added, "but it's the economic arguments that have the most immediate impact."

At the Cato Institute, senior fellow Patrick Michaels, a contributing author of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said most of Washington is already too deeply entrenched in the global warming mantra to turn back. "You can't expect the scientific community to now come to Washington and say this isn't a problem. Once the apocalypse begins to deliver research dollars, you don't want to reverse it," said Michaels. "Washington works by lurching from crisis to crisis."

Despite the growing science, the world's leading crusader on climate change, Al Gore, is unconcerned. "Climate deniers fall into the same camp as people who still don't believe we landed on the moon," said the former vice president's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider. "We don't think this should distract us from the reality."



A former state premier who was a prominent minister at federal level quit Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) on Tuesday after receiving a reprimand over critical remarks that "breached party solidarity. "Wolfgang Clement ended 38 years of membership in the centre-left party that co-rules in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives after calling the rebuke "inappropriate and wrong."

The outspoken former minister, had outraged many within the party by publicly questioning the energy policies of the SPD leader in the state of Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, just days before a closely-fought election in January. Ypsilanti narrowly lost to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), leading to criticism that Clement's remarks had cost her victory.

Clement, who as economics and labour minister under former SPD chancellor Gerhard Schroeder helped pushed through unpopular pro-market reforms, initially offered an apology for the strong emotions his comments had raised, but stood his ground on the issue.

The SPD in his home state of North Rhine-Westphalia instituted measures to expel him for breaching party solidarity, but the party's mediation committee on Monday issued an admonishment instead. Clement said in a statement Tuesday that the party's action violated the principle of free of expression.

In earlier remarks, the former premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and "super minister" in the Schroeder cabinet in the years 2002-05 said he had not sought to undermine the Hesse SPD. But he insisted Germany could not renounce nuclear and coal-fired power stations, as called for by Ypsilanti.

Clement left politics when Schroeder lost office at the end of 2005, taking a senior post with power generation company RWE. He is closely associated with Schroeder's Agenda 2010 programme, which was never popular with the SPD's left-wing.



The UK's Climate Change Bill, which commits future governments to cut CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, is about to receive Royal Assent but at what cost? Peter Lilley MP asks why ministers failed to mention that the legislation could cost each family in the UK up to 10,000 pounds

Can you spare 10,000 pounds for a good cause? The government thinks you can - despite the recession. Parliament passed the Climate Change Bill, which is set to receive Royal Assent in the coming days, which will force you to cough up.

This legislation binds future British governments to introduce unilaterally, even if other countries do not follow suit, massive spending programmes which could cost up to 200bn pounds; that's 10,000 from every family in the country.

I'm not talking about rescuing the banks. That involved loans which we should eventually get back. This is real money in taxes and lost incomes - money you will never see again.

Hold on! I hear you exclaim. No-one asked us if we could afford 10,000. We haven't heard anything about a 200 billion package. That's enormous. That's right; it is enormous and you didn't hear anything about it. That is the scandal. Neither Parliament nor most of the media bothered to discuss the cost of one of the most immense projects ever adopted in this country. Indeed, Parliament wafted it through without even discussing its cost and with only five votes against.

In my experience, our biggest mistakes are made when Parliament and the media are virtually unanimous and MPs switch off their critical faculties in a spasm of moral self-congratulation. That is what happened with this Bill.

We all want to save the planet from overheating, just as we all want to save the financial system from meltdown. We accept that both rescues may cost us a lot. But a healthy democracy should at least debate the cost, compare it with the likely benefits (or costs of doing nothing) and consider whether we can achieve the same ends at less cost.

Had MPs or commentators bothered to read the government's own estimates of the potential costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill - the Impact Assessment - they would have found some extraordinary things. Admittedly, on this occasion government failed to publish copies of the assessment in the normal way so it took a little effort to obtain. Apparently, I was the only MP to obtain a copy.

The contents of the Impact Assessment are astounding. Whereas it puts the Bill's potential cost as up to 205bn, it says the maximum benefits of this massive expenditure is 110bn pounds.

I am all in favour of taking out an insurance policy, as the government describes it, against the threat of global warming. But would you insure your home with a company if they charged premiums which could be double the value of your house? There must be a better insurance policy than this.

Moreover, the government admits that their estimate of the "maximum" cost is far from being the real maximum since it omits three huge items. First, the Impact Assessment admits that it is "unable to capture transition costs which could be 1.3% to 2% of GDP in 2020". Second, they make the fantastically optimistic assumption that all businesses will know and instantly adopt the most cost efficient technologies to achieve carbon savings. Third, the assessment "cannot capture trade and competitiveness impacts"; in particular, the "relatively high risks of the transfer of productive capital to countries without carbon policies".

In other words, if we pursue the policies in the Climate Change Bill unilaterally, without others doing the same, we could end up driving UK business abroad without reducing carbon emissions because they will still be spewing forth carbon.

Yet this bill legally binds future British governments unilaterally to spend billions of pounds on trying to prevent climate change even if other countries do not follow our lead. There is a case for Britain taking the lead, but the bill should surely only become binding if a critical mass of other countries follow our lead; we cannot save the planet single-handed....

The oddest thing about the government's cost/benefit analysis is that it contradicts the Stern Review. Sir Nicholas Stern concluded that the cost of preventing climate change would be small relative to the benefits. Yet the Impact Assessment reveals that the costs could dwarf the potential benefits. The Stern Review was much criticised for resorting to unprecedented means to inflate the benefits artificially. In particular, he used an astonishingly low discount rate thereby giving a huge weight to benefits that will not accrue until centuries ahead. In fact, half the benefits he expects will not occur until after the year 2800!

Ministers have admitted to me that their Impact Assessment rejected Stern's dubious figures and used conventional discount rates. Yet they still quote Stern's conclusions to justify their Bill and never mention their own more recent calculations.

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A controversial United Nations report claiming "atmospheric brown clouds" generated by Asia are harming the world's climate, agriculture and health has created a storm of controversy in India, which has slammed it as part of Western pressure on Asia's efforts to counter global warming. The brown cloud was more pointedly called the "Asian brown cloud" in an earlier United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report in 2002, before protests from India and China led it to be changed to the politically-correct "atmospheric brown cloud".

The updated version of the 2002 UN report, released on November 13, says three kilometer-thick brown clouds of soot, particles and toxic cancer-causing chemicals, primarily hovering over the Persian Gulf and Asia, are the latest major threat to global health, food supplies and the environment. "I expect the atmospheric brown cloud to be now firmly on the international community's radar as a result of the report," declared Achim Steiner, under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP.

Steiner can revise his expectations, as so far the report has only raised controversy. India's scientific community have said the atmospheric brown clouds over Asia are a seasonal, temporary phenomena which may look bad, but have none of the catastrophic implications mentioned in the UN report.

The Indian government has also unceremoniously trashed the UN report, pointing fingers at UNEP's credibility, with India's Science and Technology minister Kapil Sibal describing the latest brown cloud report as "propaganda," according to a Press Trust of India news agency article from November 21. Sibal said India's scientists have examined the issue and have dismissed the report's claims that burning of fossil fuels in Asia has caused the brown haze. He pointed out that India's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 1.2 tonnes compared to 23 tonnes in the US and 10 tonnes in European countries. Sibal, also one of India's senior lawyers, said, "For anybody who says India and China are responsible for this, I can only say, we certainly are not."

The Indian government even attributed motives to the UN report. "It is a way of getting at India and China," an unnamed environment ministry official was quoted as saying in the Times of India, India's largest-circulated English daily. "We say that the developed world is primarily responsible for global warming, so the West has latched on to the brown cloud formation to target us on traditional fuels. But these fuels are not the only reason why brown clouds are formed," the official said.

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


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