Monday, August 24, 2009

Britain backpedalling?

Carbon targets may be too tough, says former deputy PM

Targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions may have to be watered down to get a deal at the critical Copenhagen climate summit, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott warns today.

Prescott, who brokered the Kyoto deal on climate change a decade ago and is heavily involved in the current negotiations, risked the wrath of green campaigners by saying it was time for a "plan B" if agreement could not be reached between the main parties.

That could involve accepting a longer timetable for cuts in carbon emissions that are supposed to be achieved by 2020 and then by 2050, he suggested, arguing that it was more important to get a deal "on the principles" of how high-carbon lifestyles are tackled worldwide.

"I am saying you had better start preparing in your minds for plan B as well as plan A," he said. "A lot of people fear that if you moved away from those targets you would get the NGOs screaming and shouting, 'you have sold out', but I had to ignore them to get the deal at Kyoto."

He explained that if it were not possible to "dot the i's and cross the t's" of targets, then the summit could agree to flesh out the details later so long as the principles of a deal to shift towards low-carbon lifestyles were clear. He insisted that common ground could be found despite resistance to targets among developing countries, but there could be "conflict" over the timetable, adding: "We might not be able to get it by 2020 or by 2050 but [we should] agree the principles."

Prescott, who remains an envoy on climate change for the Council of Europe, has been shuttling between Washington and China talking to key players in the negotiations. This week he will launch a new website,, designed to promote the idea of a fairer settlement on climate change for developing countries and to encourage the public to lobby politicians. He will follow it up with a tour of schools in the autumn.

He supports the idea of targets based on emissions per head, rather than per government – which would be easier for highly populous but relatively underdeveloped countries such as China and India to meet, but tougher on the US – arguing that "social justice" needs to be built into the deal.

Prescott, who has become an unlikely star of the blogosphere, hopes to use his mastery of social media to galvanise public support for a global warming deal. He has already used Facebook to build a campaign to curb bankers' bonuses and last week used Twitter to torment the Conservatives over MEP Daniel Hannan's outbursts against the NHS.

Asked what he was doing personally to reduce his carbon emissions, he said he was considering solar panels for his roof and a home wind turbine.


Tony Blair: Vagueness is the solution

I think this qualfies as a classic example of a good old British "fudge"

World leaders must not get bogged down in 'precise percentages' when they negotiate a successor the Kyoto climate change treaty in Copenhagen, Tony Blair has said. Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Mr Blair said leaders should trust in new technologies to put the world on a path to a greener future.

The former British prime minister called for a "realistic and practical" deal to be struck at the UN Summit in Copenhagen this December that would unleash the potential of green technology to solve the problem of global warming. "We need to get an agreement that sets the world on a new path of sustainable consumption without getting obsessed with precise percentages," he said.

Mr Blair, who is working with the non-profit Climate Group to push for an agreement in December, welcomed recent reports that China is considering setting targets that will see its carbon emissions peak in 2030. However he predicted the key to success in keeping climate change below the UN's benchmark 2C would come down to as yet unforeseen developments in greener cars, buildings and power-stations. "It is impossible to predict now what might happen in 10 or 20 years time," he added, [Wisdom is dawning!] "the important thing is that we reach an agreement that allows China and India, the US and EU to come to a common position - though with varying obligations. "If we reach an agreement that sets the world on this new sustainable path then I think that we can see emissions peak more quickly than many people think."

Mr Blair added that China was now leading the way in some areas of green technology and investment and urged leaders of the developed and developing worlds to get away from a "binary approach" to climate change. "We must get away from seeing climate change as an East versus West issue. There are huge business opportunities in green technology whether you are in London or California, China or India."

Preliminary rounds of negotiations have shown that developing and developed world nations are still a long way apart when it comes to the "precise percentages" on cutting emissions.

China and India continue to call for a 40pc reduction in greenhouse gasses below 1990 levels by 2020 from the developed world, while European and US negotiations say 13 to 17 per cent is the best they can offer.

Acknowledging that negotiations would be tough - and get tougher as the December deal for a deadline approached - Mr Blair said that there had nonetheless been a significant change in attitudes towards climate change since his term in office. "I expect China will come out with its position, America will come out with its position and so on ...[but] the agenda for [Copenhagen], I think, is on a completely different level of credibility than previous negotiations."


Something’s Fishy With Global Ocean Temperature Measurements

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

In my previous blog posting I showed the satellite-based global-average monthly sea surface temperature (SST) variations since mid-2002, which was when the NASA Aqua satellite was launched carrying the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E). The AMSR-E instrument (which I serve as the U.S. Science Team Leader for) provides nearly all-weather SST measurements.

The plot I showed yesterday agreed with the NOAA announcement that July 2009 was unusually warm…NOAA claims it was even a new record for July based upon their 100+ year record of global SSTs.

But I didn’t know just HOW warm, since our satellite data extend back to only 2002. So, I decided to download the NOAA/NCDC SST data from their website — which do NOT include the AMSR-E measurements — to do a more quantitative comparison.

From the NOAA data, I computed monthly anomalies in exactly the same manner I computed them with the AMSR-E data, that is, relative to the June 2002 through July 2009 period of record. The results (shown below) were so surprising, I had to go to my office this Saturday morning to make sure I didn’t make a mistake in my processing of the AMSR-E data.

As can be seen, the satellite-based temperatures have been steadily rising relative to the conventional SST measurements, with a total linear increase of 0.15 deg C over the 7 year period of record versus the conventional SST measurements.

If the satellite data are correct, then this means that the July 2009 SSTs reached a considerably higher record temperature than NOAA has claimed. The discrepancy is huge in terms of climate measurements; the trend in the difference between the two datasets shown in the above figure is the same size as the anthropogenic global warming signal expected by the IPCC.

I have no idea what is going on here. Frank Wentz and Chelle Gentemann at Remote Sensing Systems have been very careful about tracking the accuracy of the AMSR-E SST retrievals with millions of buoy measurements. I checked their daily statistics they post at their website and I don’t see anything like what is shown in the above figure.

Is it possible that the NCDC SST temperature dataset has been understating recent warming? I don’t know…I’m mystified. Maybe Frank, Chelle, Phil Jones, or some enterprising blogger out there can figure this one out.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The Big Global Warming Debate

Editorial by S. Fred Singer

Don’t get taken in by stories of penguins and polar bears, hurricanes and heat waves, floods and famines. There is really only one key question: Is the cause of current climate changes primarily natural or is it human- caused? In particular, is there really any appreciable Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)? Aside from its scientific importance, the question has great significance for policy. If climate change is natural, if there is no appreciable AGW, then there is little we can do about it.

We’d better just adapt -- as humans have been doing for many millennia.

Climate is always changing warming or cooling on many time scales. So the overall warming of the 20th century could well be natural. On the other hand, the growing level of human activity, esp. generation of energy by fossil-fuel burning, has increased levels of atmospheric greenhouse (GH) gases, esp. carbon dioxide (CO2). So an anthropogenic cause is also plausible. How to decide? That’s the essence of the climate debate.

The opposing positions are clear-cut but difficult to reconcile. The UN-sponsored IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) claims it’s mostly anthropogenic. The independent NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) says climate change is mostly natural, as it always has been.

The IPCC appeals to a scientific consensus (wrong!), to recent climate change as being unusual (not so!), to ice shrinking and glaciers melting (tells nothing about the cause!), to a positive correlation between increases in CO2 and temperature (frequently negative!), and to agreement between observations and climate models. But the NIPCC claims that observations disagree with GH models; therefore models have not been validated and cannot be relied on to predict future climate. This disagreement is where current debate focuses -- as it should.

If the NIPCC is correct and climate change is mostly natural, then this means that carbon dioxide contributes insignificantly to Global Warming and is therefore not a 'pollutant.' This fact has not yet been widely recognized, and irrational GW fears continue to distort energy policies and foreign policy. All efforts to curtail CO2 emissions, whether global, federal, or at the state level, are pointless -- and in any case, ineffective and very costly.

However, there are still two interesting scientific questions calling for a solution:

· Why do observations and models disagree? Why do GH models call for substantial warming trends, while the data do not and even show cooling, as since 1998?

· And if GH gases are really ineffective, as NIPCC claims, what exactly is causing climate to change on a time scale of decades and centuries?

But if the IPCC is correct, and some adjustment of observations and models could bring them into agreement, then there are still two further hurdles before one can justify any drastic policies of mitigation, aside from common-sense energy conservation.

· Is a warmer climate really worse than the present one? Economic analysis and historic evidence both indicate that, on the whole, a warmer climate is beneficial--and so are higher levels of atmospheric CO2 that feed agricultural crops and forests.

· Can practical and economically acceptable mitigation schemes really have much effect on climate or even on atmospheric GH gas levels?

These are the issues that politicians need to debate before rushing ahead with ill-considered legislation. Maybe the best policy is to abstain and do nothing. Remember the maxim of physicians: Above all, do no harm!

SEPP Editorial #26-2009 (8/22/09)


BOOK REVIEW of "Why We Disagree About Climate Change by Mike Hulme. Review by Joe Bast

More than a few people will be tempted to buy this book based on the promise, implicit in its title, that it examines the ideas and motives of both sides in the global warming debate. But that is not what this book is about. It is the musings of a British socialist about how to use global warming claims as a means of persuading “the masses” to give up their economic liberties.

That the author, Mike Hulme, is a scientist who helped write the influential reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other government agencies makes this book even more disturbing.

Narrow-Minded Outlook

Hulme frankly admits his perspective is colored by his politics—“democratic socialist”—and it soon becomes apparent that the only disagreements about climate change he’s aware of are those occurring between the left (people who think like him) and the far left, people he describes as “eco-anarchists,” “eco-socialists,” and “eco-authoritarians.”

Opposition from centrists, conservatives, libertarians, and non-ideological scientists who dispute his alarmist spin on the complicated data of global warming merit hardly any mention.

Warming Gospel in Doubt

The notion that science can be determined by government agencies proclaiming to speak on behalf of entire scientific communities might be passively accepted in Old Europe, but it is jarring for an American reader. Opinion polls show two-thirds of us do not believe global warming is manmade, and more than 30,000 American scientists (including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s) have signed a petition saying there is no convincing scientific evidence that human activity will cause catastrophic global warming.

A group of scientists called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced an 880-page rebuttal of the latest IPCC report containing more than 4,000 references to peer-reviewed science. I edited that work.

There is a debate taking place about global warming in America, and it is not the one described by Hulme as being between those who favor “cap and trade” and those who favor even more radical changes in political, social, and economic behavior. Rather, it is about how much of the warming of the late twentieth century was natural and how much was manmade, whether the consequences of that warming were on balance positive or negative, and whether anything should be or could be done to prevent or delay future warming. This debate—the real public policy debate—is entirely missing from Hulme’s book.

Ideological Agenda

Convinced that the scientific debate is over and he won, Hulme devotes most of his attention to finding ways to overcome “barriers other than lack of scientific knowledge to changing the status of climate change in the minds of citizens—psychological, emotional, and behavioural barriers.” He attempts to explain the public’s failure to respond to his calls for action in terms of popular theories of irrational group behavior, such as anchoring, fear of change, and so on. He lacks the power of introspection that would have led him to understand the fountains of his own irrational beliefs.

The real purpose of this book isn’t revealed until far into it. “The idea of climate change,” Hulme writes at page 326, “should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us.”

According to Hulme, climate change can do a lot: “Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.”

In other words, socialists like Hulme can frame the global warming issue to achieve unrelated goals such as sustainable development, income redistribution, population control, social justice, and many other items on the liberal/socialist wish list.

Knowingly Telling Lies

Like the notorious Stephen Schneider, who once said, “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts one might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest,” Hulme writes, “We will continue to create and tell new stories about climate change and mobilise them in support of our projects.”

These “myths,” he writes, “transcend the scientific categories of ‘true’ and ‘false’.” He suggests that his fellow global warming alarmists promote four myths, which he labels Lamenting Eden, Presaging Apocalypse, Constructing Babel, and Celebrating Jubilee.

It is troubling to read a prominent scientist who has so clearly lost sight of his cardinal duty—to be skeptical of all theories and always open to new data. It is particularly troubling when this scientist endorses lying to advance his personal political agenda.

Read this book if you want insight into the mind of a scientist who has surrendered all moral authority to speak truthfully about global warming. Avoid it if you are looking for a book that explains why we disagree about climate change.


Major Australian conservative political party totally rejects any Warmist laws

The rural and regional-based National party invariably forms part of a coalition with the Centre-Right "Liberal" party in government but tends in general to be farther Right. There are however many global-warming skeptics in the Liberal party too

Before we go north of the Tweed, however, let's duck down to Canberra where at the historic Hyatt Hotel, the Nationals yesterday wound up their peak federal council meeting.

And very successful it was too. In the words of the party's federal director Brad Henderson, in his report to conference: "A new treatment of our logo, new website, in our annual report and with a new visual identity our contemporary new look tells Australians that we are changing."

What that "changing" meant became clear as the weekend progressed. In danger of dying a demographic death the Nationals have decided to rededicate themselves to their base.

Again in Henderson's words: "The nub of the changes that we are making is about more assertively advocating the interests of regional Australia."

The trouble is that in doing so they will henceforth not only be seeking to differentiate themselves from Labor but from the Liberals and Turnbull too.

Henderson in his report was clear about this. This new course, he said, "will require protection from bad or clumsy policy because regional Australia has the most to lose from policies like Labor's emissions trading scheme."

The possessive noun "Labor's" as applied to the emissions trading scheme is cursory, of course. What the Nationals really mean is that they are opposed to any ETS: a position the Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce made clear yesterday morning when interviewed on the Nine Network.

Asked by Laurie Oakes whether the Nationals at the conference had decided they wouldn't vote for an emissions trading system under any circumstances, Joyce replied: "That is correct."

Translated, that is a one-finger salute to Turnbull. In other words, no matter what amendments or concessions he manages to negotiate with the Rudd government before the ETS comes back before the Senate in November, the Nationals won't be having a bar of it.

And what's more, said Joyce, making policy not so much on the run as at a gallop, if the Coalition does win government at the next election they'll be dismantling whatever ETS is in place anyway.



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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