Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jim Hansen is not alone: More Warmist "adjustments" to pesky data

The high-quality Argo data has been embarrassing Warmists because it shows the ocean as cooling. So what to do? Say that the sensors showing most cooling are "bad" and discard their data. Then combine the data from the remaining sensors with data known to show too much warming and -- hey presto! -- you have got rid of that pesky ocean cooling! Relevant excerpt below

When scientists mistrust their data, they do they same thing you do when you think your watch is off: they check another clock. To diagnose the problem in the Atlantic, Willis needed to compare ocean temperature measurements from multiple sources. The first source he turned to was sea level data from satellite altimeters.

Because water expands when it absorbs heat, and contracts when it cools, sea level is physically connected to heat content in the upper ocean. Satellite altimeters measure sea surface height with radar. The radar sends a pulse of energy toward the Earth’s surface and listens for the echo. The time delay and intensity of the echo reveal the altitude of the sea surface.

Willis also had ocean-based data sets, including temperature profiles from the Argo robot fleet as well as from expendable bathythermographs, called “XBTs” for short. XBTs are the equivalent of a disposable razor. A temperature sensor is spooled out behind a ship by thin copper wire. It sinks, making measurements at increasing depths, transmitting them back to the ship via the wire until the line snaps and the sensor sinks to the bottom of the ocean, discarded.

The devices are manufactured to free-fall through the water at a known rate; scientists infer the depth of the temperature measurements by the time lapsed after the sensor hits the water. They have been used by the U.S. Navy and oceanographers since the 1960s.

“Basically, I used the sea level data as a bridge to the in situ [ocean-based] data,” explains Willis, comparing them to one another figuring out where they didn’t agree. “First, I identified some new Argo floats that were giving bad data; they were too cool compared to other sources of data during the time period. It wasn’t a large number of floats, but the data were bad enough, so that when I tossed them, most of the cooling went away. But there was still a little bit, so I kept digging and digging.”

The digging led him to the data from the expendable temperature sensors, the XBTs. A month before, Willis had seen a paper by Viktor Gouretski and Peter Koltermann that showed a comparison of XBT data collected over the past few decades to temperatures obtained in the same ocean areas by more accurate techniques, such as bottled water samples collected during research cruises. Compared to more accurate observations, the XBTs were too warm. The problem was more pronounced at some points in time than others.

The Gouretski paper hadn’t rung any alarm bells right away, explains Willis, “because I knew from the earlier analysis that there was a big cooling signal in Argo all by itself. It was there even if I didn’t use the XBT data. That’s part of the reason that we thought it was real in the first place,” explains Willis.

But when he factored the too-warm XBT measurements into his ocean warming time series, the last of the ocean cooling went away.


Climate deal must consider forests: Putin

A GLOBAL warming pact to be agreed next month in Copenhagen must take into account the carbon dioxide absorption potential of Russia's sprawling forests, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says. "Are we ready to support Denmark's efforts in the post-Kyoto period? We are ready to do this,'' Putin said on Monday at a press conference with visiting Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen. "But there are two conditions: all countries must sign it. And Russia will insist that the capacity of its forests for absorbing carbon dioxide must be taken into account.''

Mr Putin's conditions highlighted another impediment on the already difficult path to reaching an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is due to take place in Copenhagen from December 7-18.

The demand spells out a position previously adopted by Russia under the Kyoto Protocol, whose current pledges expire at the end of 2012. Russia and other countries demanded big concessions on forestry in 2001 when Kyoto's complex rule book was being negotiated. They argued that forests are a bulwark against global warming as trees absorb carbon dioxide - the principal greenhouse gas - through the natural process of photosynthesis.

The issue of how much forested land should be offset against emissions targets by rich countries turned out to be a major stumbling block for completing Kyoto. The treaty eventually took effect in February 2005 after a long delay by Russia in ratifying it.

Many green activists say the forestry rules are a potential loophole, enabling polluting countries to statistically write off their emissions yet not reduce them in real terms.


Britons least concerned about climate change

Despite (or because of?) their fanatically Warmist government

Britain is less concerned about climate change than any other country in the world, according to a new survey. The annual Climate Confidence Monitor found the number of people worrying about global warming worldwide has fallen by eight per cent to just over a third in the last year as the economic downturn kicked in.

Just fifteen per cent of people in Britain worry about climate change and how the world responds to the problem, the lowest figure for any of the 12 countries surveyed. The figure is down from 26 per cent last year. In the US 18 per cent of people said global warming was one of their biggest concerns followed by 22 per cent in Australia. In general people in developing countries are more concerned about climate change, with more than half of people in Mexico citing the issue as a major problem and 42 per cent in Brazil and India.

Britain was also the most pessimistic about the world's ability to tackle climate change, with almost half believing nothing can be done compared to 38 per cent worldwide.

However, people still believe that action should be taken. On average, almost half of people say they are taking some action to reduce their carbon footprint such as switching off lights, walking rather than driving or recycling. This is a rise of seven per cent since 2007.

In the run up the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, nearly two thirds of people in the world think a global deal to cut emissions is important. The US, the world's second largest emitter, was the only country where less than half the population thought world needed to take action compared to 86 per cent in Brazil and 75 per cent in China - the world's biggest emitter.

The report, that has been running for three years, questions 1,000 people in each country. HSBC, that commissioned the study, said despite the recession people remain concerned about climate change and are more determined than ever to do something to tackle the problem.

Lord Stern, the former World Bank economist who first warned the British Government about climate change, said the meeting in Copenhagen was a chance for people from all countries to make a difference. "With just over a month to go before Copenhagen, this is a clear call from the global population for a strong and effective deal," he said. "Rich and developing countries must act together to create an agreement that will lay the foundations for a future era of dynamic low-carbon growth.”



The climate change bill that has been moving slowly through the Senate faces a stark political reality when it is read in committee this week: with Democrats deeply divided on the issue, unless some Republican lawmakers risk the backlash for signing on to the climate change legislation, there is almost no hope for passage.

For all the effort of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to keep Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as his most visible GOP ally, key Republicans are making their opposition clear. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee who was initially seen as one of the only Republicans who might consider backing the majority, is now helping lead the opposition. He wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson twice this summer to ask for a more detailed economic analysis of the House-passed climate bill, and he has joined the other six Republicans on the committee in boycotting the climate bill markup scheduled for Tuesday. "Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?" he asked during a hearing last week. "Wouldn't it be smarter to take our time and do it right?"

Like the bill adopted by the House, the legislation favors a cap-and-trade system that would issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lower the amount of emissions allowed, and let companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs. The bill has deeply divided Democrats. With states in the Midwest, South and Rocky Mountain West dependent on fossil fuels for energy, many senators are worried about the legislation's impact on industry and consumers.

So Democratic leaders, with the support of the Obama administration, are trying to enlist at least half a dozen Republicans by offering amendments to speed along their top priority - building nuclear power plants.

Graham has suggested provisions on nuclear power and offshore oil drilling could win his support for a cap-and-trade climate bill; Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, has established a bipartisan working group of 17 Senate offices that is close to producing a detailed amendment aimed at speeding the construction of U.S. nuclear reactors.

But it remains unclear if that approach holds currency in the current era of political polarization. One of the top Republicans that Democrats hope to enlist in this effort - Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, whom Graham and Kerry recently buttonholed on the Senate floor - has voiced skepticism about the bill Kerry had authored along with Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "A tepid nuclear title isn't enough to get her to support a bad climate bill," said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Boxer.


The Eco-Apocalypse Craze

As I pointed out in a recent article on Quadrant Online, apocalypticism has a firm grip on Western Civilization, reaching fever-pitch on many occasions over the last 2500 years. Critically, in the 20th century, apocalypticism assumed a secular guise, as various cultural historians have observed, “evoking world destruction and transformation through ecological disaster … and technological breakdown”, with both religious and secular versions “converging upon the belief that the [world] is about to undergo a staggering transformation, in which long-established institutions and ways of life will be destroyed” (Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, 1992, p.336).

As a further example of such doom-laden prophecy, here is the latest sermon on the impending eco-apocalypse, according to James Lovelock, “the closest thing we have to an Old Testament prophet”, as the Sunday Times observed in its review (19 February 2009) of his latest Jeremiad, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning (2009). According to Lovelock, in the next few years we will face an abrupt leap in average global temperatures of 9 degrees Celsius, leading to the collapse of global civilization and the virtual extinction of humanity in an orgy of violence that Lovelock gloatingly dismisses as a “massive natural cull of humanity”.

Quite quickly, “the earth's landmasses will be largely destroyed by flood and drought, and most of the world's seven billion inhabitants will not survive”, while those who do will struggle for life amidst billions of rotting corpses backing in the sun of a “desert world” that stretches across the globe. Such a prospect might be expected to appall most people but the reviewer just remarks that, “all this should make for a bleak read [but] the effect is strangely exhilarating” - such is the morbid fascination with the eco-apocalypse in our culture.

There is some hope, with fortuitously located island nations like Britain and Australia serving as life boats in this ocean of misery, although some crucial decisions will have to be made – not democratically, for democracy is a luxury that the world cannot afford, but by ruthless, environmentally aware warlords who rise to the top amidst the chaos. They will determine who is kept aboard and who is jettisoned, with evolutionary theory dictating that the old, the sick, and the infirm will have to go, along with those who choose to accompany them as helpers, in a last fleeting expression of human compassion, while the rest surrender to the ruthless amorality of natural selection.

Because “genocide by tribal mobs is as natural as breathing”, human beings will embrace various forms of Green fascism and eagerly agree to the suspension of constitutional rights, convinced that blind obedience is the only way to survive and that their free will and personal autonomy must the surrendered to a self-selected elite of omnipotent environmental scientists and the strutting self-righteous Green politicians who exist to implement their dictates – a species that Australia possesses in abundance.

As a fundamentally religious thinker, Lovelock claims that the earth should be properly known as ‘Gaia’, the Earth Goddess, because she is allegedly a living organism - indeed ‘the largest living being on the planet’ (because she is the planet!) – and ‘she’ operates according to scientific laws that dictate that humanity is an evolutionary dead end – a sort of sentient stool - that will be excreted by Gaia as she continues to ensure her own homeostatic well-being through her manipulation of various environmental parameters, as she has done for millions of years in the past and will continue to do for millions of years after humanity’s apparently well-deserved demise.

Not long ago, most people would have thought that such ideas were best left to bad science fiction, but no longer. Indeed, it is a measure of the corruption of science amidst the moral panic of global warming that Lovelock’s ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ has now been elevated to the status of a scientific theory, which Tim Flannery – one of Australia’s own eco-apocalyptic prophets – assures us means that it has “been tested and is considered true” (“A Great Jump to Disaster”, New York Review of Books, 19 November 2009). Consequently, in 2006 Lovelock was awarded the the Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London, for opening up a “whole new field of Earth Science study”, apparently some sort of geo-theology.

Moreover that Lovelock feels confident in making such dire predictions on the basis of experiments conducted on a “simple” computer model, while this impending catastrophe is made all the more sinister and irrefutable by his insistence that just “before the jump to a desert world, the climate will briefly become cooler again”, which means that “a cold summer, or even a series of them, is not proof that global heating has ended”. In other words, global cooling – like we are currently experiencing - will only be confirmation that global warming is real and is accelerating towards ‘the final jump’ into the eco-apocalypse.

Such extreme claims, and the invocation of allegedly ‘scientific’ arguments that cannot be falsified, because even negative observations confirm their predictions, is further evidence that the global warming panic and its projected catastrophic effects is a fundamentally religious phenomenon and signals the emergence of an eco-fundamentalist cult that follows a 2500-year old pattern in predicting an apocalypse according to which the world and all human civilization will shortly come to a catastrophic end.

The vital question that we now face is whether our politicians really believe this type of hysterical nonsense or whether some have the courage to step back from the brink of eco-apocalyptic hysteria to insist that Australia’s national interests are best served by a rigorously skeptical attitude towards what is emerging as one of the greatest moral panics the world has faced since the witch-craze of the middle ages.


Australia: Carbon tax will light a slow fuse

A FORM of carbon tax such as the emissions trading scheme cannot reduce global emissions unless there is agreement for a similar level of tax across all economies. That aside, the government's immediate issues are how to spend the money the tax raises, including how to avoid compensating the privatised brown coal generators for losses the tax causes.

Naturally, to ensure re-election, the Rudd government wants as much of the revenue as possible to go to voters. But the government is constrained because the tax would cripple firms that are unable to pass on all its costs. Twenty-five per cent to 35 per cent of the revenues raised are, therefore, to flow to the emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries. This has kept those firms quiet by cushioning the effects of the carbon tax on their existing assets.

That the carbon tax means nobody will again build an aluminium smelter, a steelworks or any other facility that makes use of Australian low-cost energy is not their worry. Nor, apparently, is it a concern of governments, all of which seem to envisage a dreamy, new low-energy economy that jettisons domestic consumption of our coal reserves and, eventually, our gas reserves.

Other business users also will be losers from the higher priced electricity brought about by the ETS tax. Higher energy costs will undermine the profits of all firms and even destroy some businesses. But the damage to relatively low energy users will be less easily traced to the government imposition.

The other major loser industry comprises carbon-based electricity producers. These provide 85 per cent of Australia's electricity. The ETS tax hits the brown coal generators hardest, followed by black coal generators. Notwithstanding the government's fantasy about new low-cost power generation technologies emerging, there is no alternative to the present supply profile, so it's more than likely we will see few generator departures.

Indeed, the compensation offered to the coal power stations is contingent on them remaining online when the only way the government can meet its stated carbon reduction goals is if they close down.

That aside, as with energy-intensive industries, the government has made it impossible for any firm to again build a base load power station in Australia without giving it a cast-iron carbon tax indemnification. As with the energy-intensive industries, the proposed tax will impose substantial costs on the existing generators. The most vulnerable are Victoria's privately owned brown coal generators.

Though Canberra refuses to publish its own estimates of the cost to the generators' shareholders, these are unlikely to differ from the $8billion to $10bn estimated by commissioned studies for the Victorian government and for the generators themselves.

Canberra is keen to avoid paying these costs to businesses it has already demonised as producing dirty energy. Its process has been to play the tough cop, soft cop game. The tough cop, Labor's consultant Ross Garnaut, argued that the generators should get no compensation on the (incorrect) basis that there was no tradition for such provision in Australia. Uncharacteristically, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong played the soft cop and offered $3.5bn in compensation.

The Coalition is arguing for $10bn in compensation, though an unknown amount of that is to go to the state-owned black coal generators in NSW and Queensland.

The issues are perceptions of "sovereign risk" on all future foreign investment and whether a hardline approach will mean distress sales and low maintenance causing power outages. The latter is an open question but has belatedly become a concern of the Brumby government since brown coal provides 96 per cent of Victoria's supplies.

With regard to sovereign risk, it is argued that the investors bought these facilities more than five years after the 1990 Kyoto Protocol writing was on the wall, and any business risk of expropriation by regulatory taxation should have been built into their decision frameworks. The generators would maintain that the state government sales documents contained no indication that a future government would impose a new discriminatory tax on the assets being sold, thereby reducing their value. Nor did the opposition at the time indicate such likelihood.

If the sale was by a private enterprise that withheld information about the imposition of post-sale measures, that would significantly devalue the assets and the buyers would have legal recourse.

In fact, the generators have a better case to be compensated than emission-intensive industries, at least those built or bought in the past 15 years, since the emission-intensive industries were not bought from the government, a related branch of which is now imposing a discriminatory tax on them.

This haggling over compensation is vital to present investors and of concern also to the government, which could see some depletion of its election-buying pot of new taxes.

For the Australian economy the stakes are far greater. The planned carbon tax regime (and opposition to nuclear generation) makes significant new power plant investment impossible. This lights a slow fuse under the economy's growth potential.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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