Wednesday, April 29, 2009

British court rules that environmentalism is a religion

A former executive of a top property company has been told he can claim at a tribunal that he was sacked because of his "philosophical belief in climate change".

In the landmark ruling Tim Nicholson was told he could use employment law to argue that he was discriminated against because of his views on the environment. The head of the tribunal ruled that those views amounted to a philosophical belief under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations, 2003. The case is the first of its kind and could open the way for hundreds of future claims to be made in the same fashion, the newspaper reported.

Mr Nicholson, 41, was made redundant while head of sustainability at Grainger plc, Britain's biggest residential property investment company, in July last year. He is now suing his former employers for unfair dismissal, arguing that his beliefs on the environment prompted clashes with other senior executives at the firm, and led to his sacking.

Mr Nicholson told the tribunal that he clashed with other executives over the way it adopted its policies on the environment and corporate social responsibility. He said he tried to get the company to act in a more environmentally responsible way, but was obstructed by senior company executives. Mr Nicholson said that his frustrations were exemplified by an occasion when the company's chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, "showed contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions by flying out a member of the IT staff to Ireland to deliver his BlackBerry that he had left behind in London."

At a pre-hearing review at an employment tribunal in London, tribunal head David Sneath ruled on a point of law that: "In my judgment, his belief goes beyond a mere opinion." The full employment tribunal is now set to take place from June 4. Grainger might consider an appeal against the ruling, the company's lawyer said.


Global warming alarmists out in cold

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

IT'S snowing in April. Ice is spreading in Antarctica. The Great Barrier Reef is as healthy as ever. And that's just the news of the past week. Truly, it never rains but it pours - and all over our global warming alarmists.

Time's up for this absurd scaremongering. The fears are being contradicted by the facts, and more so by the week. Doubt it? Then here's a test.

Name just three clear signs the planet is warming as the alarmists claim it should. Just three. Chances are your "proofs" are in fact on my list of 10 Top Myths about global warming. And if your "proofs" indeed turn out to be false, don't get angry with me. Just ask yourself: Why do you still believe that man is heating the planet to hell? What evidence do you have? So let's see if facts matter more to you than faith, and observations more than predictions.


Wrong. It is true the world did warm between 1975 and 1998, but even Professor David Karoly, one of our leading alarmists, admitted this week "temperatures have dropped" since - "both in surface temperatures and in atmospheric temperatures measured from satellites". In fact, the fall in temperatures from just 2002 has already wiped out half the warming our planet experienced last century. (Check data from Britain's Hadley Centre, NASA's Aqua satellite and the US National Climatic Data Centre.)

Some experts, such as Karoly, claim this proves nothing and the world will soon start warming again. Others, such as Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University, point out that so many years of cooling already contradict the theory that man's rapidly increasing gases must drive up temperatures ever faster. But that's all theory. The question I've asked is: What signs can you actually see of the man-made warming that the alarmists predicted?


Wrong. The British Antarctic Survey, working with NASA, last week confirmed ice around Antarctica has grown 100,000 sq km each decade for the past 30 years. Long-term monitoring by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the same: southern hemisphere ice has been expanding for decades.

As for the Arctic, wrong again. The Arctic ice cap shrank badly two summers ago after years of steady decline, but has since largely recovered. Satellite data from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre this week shows the Arctic hasn't had this much April ice for at least seven years. Norway's Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre says the ice is now within the standard deviation range for 1979 to 2007.


Wrong. A study released this month by the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre confirms not only that we've had worse droughts, but this Big Dry is not caused by "global warming", whether man-made or not. As the university's press release says: "The causes of southeastern Australia's longest, most severe and damaging droughts have been discovered, with the surprise finding that they originate far away in the Indian Ocean.

"A team of Australian scientists has detailed for the first time how a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole - a variable and irregular cycle of warming and cooling of ocean water - dictates whether moisture-bearing winds are carried across the southern half of Australia."


Wrong. The alleged "record" temperature Melbourne set in January - 46.4 degrees - was in fact topped by the 47.2 degrees the city recorded in 1851. (See the Argus newspaper of February 8, 1851.) And here's another curious thing: Despite all this warming we're alleged to have caused, Victoria's highest temperature on record remains the 50.7 degrees that hit Mildura 103 years ago. South Australia's hottest day is still the 50.7 degrees Oodnadatta suffered 37 years ago. NSW's high is still the 50 degrees recorded 70 years ago.

What's more, not one of the world's seven continents has set a record high temperature since 1974. Europe's high remains the 50 degrees measured in Spain 128 years ago, before the invention of the first true car.


Wrong. If anything, the seas are getting colder. For five years, a network of 3175 automated bathythermographs has been deployed in the oceans by the Argo program, a collaboration between 50 agencies from 26 countries. Warming believer Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, reluctantly concluded: "There has been a very slight cooling ..."


Wrong. For almost three years, the seas have stopped rising, according to the Jason-1 satellite mission monitored by the University of Colorado.

That said, the seas have risen steadily and slowly for the past 10,000 years through natural warming, and will almost certainly resume soon. But there is little sign of any accelerated rises, even off Tuvalu or the Maldives, islands often said to be most threatened with drowning.

Professor Nils-Axel Moerner, one of the world's most famous experts on sea levels, has studied the Maldives in particular and concluded there has been no net rise there for 1250 years. Venice is still above water.


Wrong. Ryan Maue of Florida State University recently measured the frequency, intensity and duration of all hurricanes and cyclones to compile an Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index. His findings? The energy index is at its lowest level for more than 30 years.

The World Meteorological Organisation, in its latest statement on cyclones, said it was impossible to say if they were affected by man's gases: "Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point."


Wrong. Yes, in 1999, Professor Ove Hoegh-Gulberg, our leading reef alarmist and administrator of more than $30 million in warming grants, did claim the reef was threatened by warming, and much had turned white. But he then had to admit it had made a "surprising" recovery.

Yes, in 2006 he again warned high temperatures meant "between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef could die within a month". But he later admitted this bleaching had "minimal impact". Yes, in 2007 he again warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were bleaching the reef. But this month fellow Queensland University researchers admitted in a study that reef coral had once more made a "spectacular recovery", with "abundant corals re-established in a single year". The reef is blooming.


Wrong. Poor snow falls in 2003 set off a rash of headlines predicting warming doom. The CSIRO typically fed the hysteria by claiming global warming would strip resorts of up to a quarter of their snow by 2018. Yet the past two years have been bumper seasons for Victoria's snow resorts, and this year could be just as good, with snow already falling in NSW and Victoria this past week.


Are you insane? Tsunamis are in fact caused by earthquakes. Yet there was World Vision boss Tim Costello last week, claiming that Asia was a "region, thanks to climate change, that has far more cyclones, tsunamis, droughts". Wrong, wrong and wrong, Tim. But what do facts matter now to a warming evangelist when the cause is so just?

And so any disaster is now blamed on man-made warming the way they once were on Satan. See for yourself on the full list, including kidney stones, volcanic eruptions, lousy wine, insomnia, bad tempers, Vampire moths and bubonic plagues. Nothing is too far-fetched to be seized upon by carpetbaggers and wild preachers as signs of a warming we can't actually see.

Not for nothing are polar bears the perfect symbol of this faith - bears said to be threatened by warming, when their numbers have in fact increased.

Bottom line: fewer people now die from extreme weather events, whether cyclones, floods or blinding heatwaves.

Read that in a study by Indur Goklany, who represented the US at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: "There is no signal in the mortality data to indicate increases in the overall frequencies or severities of extreme weather events, despite large increases in the population at risk."

So stop this crazy panic. First step: check again your list of the signs you thought you saw of global warming. How many are true? What do you think, and why do you think it? Yes, the world may resume warming in one year or 100. But it hasn't been warming as the alarmists said it must if man were to blame, and certainly not as the media breathlessly keeps claiming.

Best we all just settle down, then, and wait for the proof -- the real proof. After all, panicking over invisible things is so undignified, don't you think?



In 2004, NASA scientists started looking forward to a new solar minimum. In 2005, it began. At this time most scientists expected the new solar cycle 24 to begin in late 2006 or early 2007 with a following ramp up in solar activity. But 2006 and 2007, according to NASA data, passed without any sign of a new solar cycle. During this time, the sun remained unusually quiet. Then, in early 2008, scientists finally found what they were waiting for -- a single sunspot with a reversed magnetic polarity. As a switch in magnetic polarity usually presages an increase in sunspot activity building up to a new solar maximum, scientists around the world proclaimed the new solar cycle had finally begun.

Now, nearly two months later, NASA observations show the sun is still unusually quiet. Day after day, the sun displays few, if any, sunspots. Even coronal holes are curiously absent. The long solar minimum now stretching into its third year coupled with curiously low solar activity even for a solar minimum is causing some scientists to speculate if the sun is entering a period of anemic activity like the most recent Dalton Minimum.

According to Wikipedia, the Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity stretching from 1790 to 1830. Like other long period solar minimums such as the Maunder Minimum and the Sporer Minimum, it resulted in crop failures, lower than average global temperatures, and little ice age conditions in the Northern Hemisphere.

If the sun is entering a new period of very low activity it would presage a 30 year or more drop in global temperatures. Some scientists are already beginning to speculate that just this sort of thing may be occurring now. According to Astronomer David Whitehouse, "It's something we must take seriously because what happened in the 17th century is bound to happen again some time. Recent work studying the periods when our Sun loses its sunspots, along with data on other Sun-like stars that may be behaving in the same way, suggests that our Sun may spend between 10 and 25 per cent of the time in this state. Perhaps the lateness of cycle 24 might even be the start of another Little Ice Age."


Episodes of relative global warming

(The paper below shows that variations in solar activity correlate with temperatures on earth -- funnily enough -- JR)

By C. de Jager and S. Duhau


Solar activity is regulated by the solar dynamo. The dynamo is a non-linear interplay between the equatorial and polar magnetic field components. So far, in Sun-climate studies, only the equatorial component has been considered as a possible driver of tropospheric temperature variations. We show that, next to this, there is a significant contribution of the polar component. Based on direct observations of proxy data for the two main solar magnetic fields components since 1844, we derive an empirical relation between tropospheric temperature variation and those of the solar equatorial and polar activities. When applying that relation to the period 1610-1995, we find some quasi-regular episodes of residual temperature increases and decreases, with semi-amplitudes up to 0.3 °C. The present period of global warming is one of them.

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Volume 71, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 194-198

Warmism fading in Australia

By William Kininmonth, a former head of the National Climate Centre and a consultant to the World Meteorological Organisation. Kininmonth agrees that there is a global warming effect but points out reasons why it has to be trivial. The temperature rise across the 20th century was certainly trivial -- about a half of one degree Celsius. It takes acute imaginitis and a lot of statistical jiggery pokery to extrapolate that to a huge rise in the 21st century

The science of global warming is claimed to be too complex for the public to comprehend and judge. We are continually being told to take and act on the advice of the consensus of IPCC experts; the dissenters are no more than paid mouthpieces of industry or worse. Nevertheless, the public and their representatives are showing innate common sense.

The Australian Senate is poised to reject the "cap and trade" legislation designed by the Rudd Government to implement the Orwellian carbon pollution reduction scheme; it is unlikely the US Senate will ratify similar legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions any time soon, despite the rhetoric of Barack Obama; and the UN's post-Kyoto dreams of global industrial regulation are destined to fail in Copenhagen later this year.

Economist John Quiggin appears so concerned at the direction of events that he claims "mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs" (The Australian Financial Review, April 23).

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and isinto its third print run in as manyweeks. The public is receptive to an expose of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

In an interesting slant on logic, Robert Manne, writing in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, takes the position it is not what citizens should believe that is important but who they believe. Needless to say, he favours the UN's IPCC and its so-called consensus over those such as Plimer who question the anthropogenic global warming science.

What is often forgotten is that the UN established the IPCC in 1988 only because of the then raging scientific debate over the veracity of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. The debate has continued because the dire predictions violate fundamental scientific laws and the real science cannot be suppressed.

Recognition of the essential flaw in the dangerous global warming hypothesis predates the IPCC and has been there for the world to see in the title of a paper published in 1966 by CSIRO division of meteorological physics former chief Bill Priestley: "The limitation of temperature in hot climates by evaporation."

Seventy per cent of the Earth's surface is made up of ocean and much of the remaining surface is transpiring vegetation. Evaporation and the exchange of latent energy from the surface is a strong constraint to surface temperature rise. It is not rocket science that water from a canvas bag is cool even on the hottest days.

Furthermore, the surface temperatures of the warmest tropical oceans seldom exceed 30C and for millions of years the underlying cold sub-surface waters have provided a powerful thermal buffer to warming. The suggestion of anthropogenic global warming exceeding a tipping point and leading to runaway or irreversible global warming is a violation of conservation of energy principles.

Computer models are the essential tool for prediction of future climate. Since the IPCC fourth assessment, several independent analyses of the characteristics of the various models have been published in the scientific literature. These analyses reveal serious defects. As the Earth warmed during the 1980s and '90s, it was observed that the convective overturning of the tropics (the Hadley circulation) increased. In contrast, the overturning of the computer models is portrayed to decrease as increasing carbon dioxide generates global warming.

Separately it is found that the computer models underspecify (by a factor of three) the important rate of increase of evaporation with projected temperature rise, meaning that the models underspecify rainfall increase and exaggerate the risk of drought. The same evaporation problem causes an exaggeration of the temperature response to carbon dioxide, but the exaggeration is a model failure and not reality.

The greenhouse effect is real, as is the enhancement due to increasing carbon dioxide concentration. However, the likely extent of global temperature rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide is less than 1C. Such warming is well within the envelope of variation experienced during the past 10,000 years and insignificant in the context of glacial cycles during the past million years, when Earth has been predominantly very cold and covered by extensive ice sheets.

Fundamental science has always identified that it is quixotic to attempt regulation of climate through management of carbon dioxide emissions. The pity is that community leaders have been beguiled by the mystery of powerful computers and have failed to critically assess the predictions within the context of Earth's history. Plimer's authoritative book provides the excuse and impetus to re-examine the scientific fundamentals and redress that failure.


Greenies and the supply side of the housing bubble

Environmental activists have blamed every conceivable ill in society on global warming – from the spread of disease to increased risks of forest fires to environmental despoliation and the retreat of glaciers. If you read the "enviro" literature, you'll be hard-pressed to find any problem worldwide that might not be exacerbated by the Earth's changing temperature. I dismiss most such claims, or at least treat them skeptically, given that the goal of the alarmists is obvious: to scare humanity into ceding more of our freedom and our money to the politicians, government administrators and activist groups that promise to save us.

Yet there is one massive and ever-present problem that environmentalists have not yet tied to global warming: the global financial meltdown, which has threatened the world economy much the way supposedly melting polar ice is supposedly shrinking polar bear habitats. This is one crisis, however, that might actually be directly tied to global warming. I exaggerate a bit. Actually, theoretic man-made global warming didn't cause the housing bubble, but land-use policies implemented, in part, to fight global warming, do have a direct link to the housing bubble, the subsequent deflation of that bubble and all the wreckage that has followed.

This is the largely untold story of the ongoing economic crisis. It's not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. We've all been reading about the main causes of the economic bust. It's elementary economics, really. Science-fiction writer Jerry Pournelle puts it in simple terms: "I've been telling you for years: you can't pump money into the housing market, and keep lowering the interest rates, without creating a bubble; and eventually the bubble will burst." Cheap money and loosened home-lending standards, pushed by politicians who wanted to make homeownership affordable even to people who clearly were not financially ready to buy and maintain a house, created an unnatural demand for housing. Demand went up, and prices soared. All Ponzi schemes come to an end, and now you've got wide choices among Southern California houses that cost not much more than a decent luxury car.

We know that. But let's look more closely at what happened. For example, answer this question: Why did prices go up when demand shot up? That's easy. Demand exceeded supply. Now for the follow-up question: Why didn't supply keep up with demand? It takes awhile to build houses, and government restrictions on land use made it far more difficult for that new supply to be built as demand soared.

In reality, the housing bubble did not get particularly inflated in many parts of the country. The bubble was almost exclusively a feature in big urbanized markets, and not just any big, urbanized markets. The bubble was inflated mainly in those metropolitan areas – i.e., San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, etc. – that embrace Smart Growth, the trendy and widely implemented idea that government should limit suburban growth (sprawl, as it is pejoratively called) and insist that new growth be crammed into urban growth boundaries.

"'Easy money,' by itself, does not explain what caused the unprecedented housing bubble in California," writes Wendell Cox, a former Los Angeles transportation planner and a well-known housing and transportation consultant who battles the Smart Growth folks for Heritage Foundation and other market-oriented think tanks. "If 'easy money' were the sole cause, then similar house price escalation relative to incomes would have occurred throughout the country. Take, for example, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. These are the three fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the developed world … . Since 2000, these metropolitan areas have grown from three to 15 times as fast as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose. … This is where the demand would have been expected to produce the bubble. But it did not. House prices remained at or near historic norms and average house prices rose one-tenth that of the California coastal metropolitan areas."

I heard Cox last week at the American Dream Coalition conference in Bellevue, Wash. (I spoke on local Smart Growth initiatives, and Cox offered a presentation via satellite from Paris). He noted that even economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agrees that land rationing causes home-price increases. In fact, it's so obvious, I'm surprised a liberal Nobel Prize winner, as Krugman is, would recognize as much.

Don't get caught up in the politics of it, though. Think economically, in terms of any product you choose. Let's say money became available to virtually anyone to buy a new car, but that carmakers weren't able to build many new cars to fulfill the demand. Car prices would go up and up. The same thing would happen with anything. Remember the short-lived bubble for – it's hard to believe, but true – "scarce" Beanie Babies?

I looked at home-price data for some decent-size Midwestern cities over the period of bubble and bust that we experienced in California. The trend line was shocking – prices went up steadily but modestly year after year. In California markets, the prices spiked and then fell. In California, there wasn't enough supply – and it takes too many months to get approvals to fill the demand.

Certainly, some of the California markets that experienced the biggest bust, such as the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and the high desert, are not Smart Growth havens. But, as Randal O'Toole, a land-use expert for the Cato Institute, explained to me, these are markets that served as the blow-off valve for the highly restrictive Bay Area and Southern California urban markets. In other words, average folks couldn't afford homes in restrictive Orange County and Los Angeles, so they moved out to places such as Perris and Moreno Valley. Those are among the communities particularly hard hit by the bust.

California and other progressive states have been pushing tough land-use rules for years and for myriad reasons. But there's no doubt that global warming concerns have provided recent impetus for stringent restrictions. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law last year Senate Bill 375, a "Smart Growth" bill that withholds transportation funds from localities that do not embrace limits on suburban development. That was a follow-up to Assembly Bill 32, designed to battle global-warming-related emissions. In fairness, we shouldn't blame global warming hysteria entirely for these problems, but it deserves a good share of the blame.

Global warming might someday harm the polar bear. But the policies politicians have implemented to deal with this issue have had a good bit to do with the financial suffering Americans are facing today. Next time someone complains about the ill effects of global warming, add this one to the list.



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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