Thursday, April 15, 2010

'Climategate' scientists criticised for not using best statistical tools

Lord Oxburgh has allowed limited criticisms, which is good of him, considering that he is also the head of the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, a lobby group for global warming legislation, and an advisor to Climate Change Capital, which aims to cash in on the $45-trillion market in the coming low-carbon economy

Climate change scientists at the centre of an ongoing row over man-made global warming have been criticised for being "naive" and "disorganised".

An independent inquiry said the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia was "ill prepared for being the focus of public attention" when sceptics began to question their figures on climate change.

As well as taking issue with the researchers' record keeping, the panel of experts said better statistical methods should have been used to interpret the "messy" data on world temperatures.

However, there was no evidence of "deliberate scientific malpractice", meaning the conclusion that mankind is causing global warming is probably correct.

The independent panel said any exaggeration of the extent of global warming was made by other organisations, including public bodies and governments, that took the information produced by academics but failed to inform the public about the uncertainties.

Supporters of the scientists called for an immediate apology from sceptics for trying to use the so-called "climategate" scandal as a basis for questioning the whole science of climate change. But sceptics insisted there are still question marks over the extent of man-made global warming.

Thousands of emails were stolen from the CRU at the end of last year. One email referred to a "trick" to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, prompting claims that scientists were willing to manipulate the data to exaggerate the extent of global warming.

The scandal led to a public outcry, casting doubt over climate change just as the United Nations was meeting in Copenhagen to try to agree a deal to stop global warming.

Lord Oxburgh, a former academic and head of Shell, was asked to look back at 20 years of research by CRU in order to check the scientific methods were sound. In a detailed review of 11 scientific papers he found "absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever". "Whatever was said in the emails, the basic science seems to have been done honestly and fairly," he said.

Lord Oxburgh said any exaggeration of the extent of global warming happened when the data produced by CRU was presented to the public by various organisations, including the UN body in charge of climate change the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that went on to advise Governments around the world. The IPCC has also been criticised for incorrectly claiming the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

"I am sure that they [public bodies including the IPCC] took the uncertainties into account making policy but in the way some of this has been presented to the public, it has not," he said.

The statistical methods used by the scientists could also have been improved, according to the panel. Professor David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the review panel, said improved techniques developed by computers over recent years could have been used.

"I think that CRU perhaps did not use the most advanced statistical tools. But it's not clear to me that that, had they done, that they would have drawn different conclusions," he said.

However Professor Hand did say that "inappropriate methods" were used by a separate university to draw up the infamous "hockey stick" graph showing the rise in global temperatures over more than 1,000 years. Again, he said the basic shape of the graph would not have been changed but the rise in temperature during the 20th century compared to the past was exaggerated.

Overall Prof Hand said the scientists at CRU were to be commended for making clear there are uncertainties in the extent of global warming – although that does not change the overall trend. "There is no evidence of anything underhand – the opposite, if anything, they have brought out into the open the uncertainties with what they are dealing with," he said. [They did? When? Only after their emails were published]

Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, said the report was a great relief to the individuals involved including the head of the CRU at the time Prof Phil Jones. "This has been a horrendous experience for Phil Hones and a turbulent time for CRU," he said. "We have had months of vilification against our most precious asset of scientific integrity which, as this report confirms yet again, was totally unjustified."

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, called for an apology from the sceptics. "I think those so-called sceptics who have attempted to undermine the credibility of climate change science on the basis of the hacked emails now need to apologise for misleading the public about their significance.”


Global warming makes you sneeze??

Since there has been no global warming for at least 10 years, this would not be a worry even if there were something in it

Allergy sufferers like to claim — in between sniffles — that each spring's allergy season is worse than the last. But this year, they might actually be right.

Thanks to an unusually cold and snowy winter, followed by an early and warm spring, pollen counts are through the roof in much of the U.S., especially in the Southeast, which is already home to some of the most allergenic cities in the country. A pollen count — the number of grains of pollen in a cubic meter of air — of 120 is considered high, but in Atlanta last week the number hit 5,733, the second highest level ever recorded in the city. (See a 1992 TIME cover on why allergies are nothing to sneeze at.)

The bad news is that in a warmer world, allergies are likely to get worse — and that's going to cost sufferers and the rest of us. A new report released on Wednesday by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) found that global warming will likely increase pollen counts in the heavily populated eastern section of the country and that the effect of climate change could push the economic cost of allergies and asthma well above the current $32 billion price tag. "The latest climate science makes it clear that allergies could get much worse," says Amanda Staudt, a climate scientist at NWF and the author of the report. "I really think this should be a wake-up call."


Promises, promises

New GE LED bulb will last 17 years -- or will they? Twisty globes have not lived up to their lifetime claims

GE’s Appliances & Lighting division announced that it plans to release a new 9-watt LED bulb — a replacement for 40-watt general service incandescent bulbs – that will last for 17 years.

The new "Energy Smart" LED bulb puts out 450 lumens--about the same output as a 40-watt incandescent--while consuming 9 watts and will be available for purchase this fall or early 2011.

Because of their relative energy efficiency and durability, LED lights are expected to start replacing other technologies more rapidly this year.

The new “Energy Smart” LED bulb provides “the instant full brightness of an incandescent or halogen bulb” and solid-state design with no filament to break, GE said. The bulb contains no mercury feels cooler to the touch than compact fluorescents and, of course, far cooler than incandescent bulbs, according to the company.

LED lights tend to give off light in a specific direction, which is why they are often used for spot lighting. The GE light has a shape that looks like fingers wrapped around a traditional bulb and is designed to disperse light. Prototypes of the bulb will be fitted with an LED lamp from LED component manufacturer Cree.

The bulb is rated for 25,000 hours which, if used four hours a day, means it will last for 17 years. The other advantages of LED bulbs are that they don't need to warm up to give off full light, are cooler than incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs, and do not contain mercury.

"This is a bulb that can virtually light your kid's bedroom desk lamp from birth through high school graduation," John Strainic, global product general manager of GE Lighting, said in a statement. He added that the bulb is designed to satisfy consumers who are reluctant to move from incandescent bulbs because they like the light quality.

GE plans to demonstrate prototypes of the bulb, outfitted with Cree XLamp XP-G LEDs, at two upcoming trade shows in Frankfurt, Germany and Las Vegas.

Retailers will set the product’s pricing, but it is expected to be in the range of $40 to $50, GE said.


Emanations from Royal Society less than lordly

Hot air being used to lift a hot-air balloon. Since hot air is invisible, it is essential to mention it when present, else it goes unnoticed while lifting the insubstantial into the heavens. Deep, huh?

There’s little of royalty attached to recent climate change missives emanating from the Royal Society. Did I call them missives? I meant to say emissions.

Professor Keith A. Hunter, FNZIC, FRSNZ, Vice-President, Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of New Zealand, issued a statement on 7 April entitled Science, Climate Change and Integrity.

He means to support the hypothesis that human activity is dangerously warming the world’s climate. He uses whole sentences and impeccable syntax, but the evidence he cites is wrong. The package is lovely but the contents rotten.

There are now several of our prominent public scientists who are unaware it is not sufficient merely to tog themselves out in the royal or other esteemed branding — they must actually live up to it and, before all else, speak the truth.

The senior scientists who’ve made misleading public statements about global warming include Peter Gluckman, David Wratt, James Renwick, Brett Mullan, Andrew Reisinger and Jim Salinger.

Their cheeks are smooth and their mouths are smiling but their breath stinks.

Hunter’s statement has been ripped apart by the chairman of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, Barry Brill, in a remorseless list of rebuttals and by a knowledgeable and tenacious Ian Wishart at the Briefing Room.

Together they give Professor Hunter nowhere to hide. His egregious statement has no leg to stand on and he can only withdraw it and apologise.

Though he raises points that are worth debating, nobody can accept his statement as the last word on the subject, and this for two reasons: he has no relevant expertise and his statements are demonstrably incorrect. If I made similar statements, I would expect nobody to accept them without challenge. Why should he?

That Hunter presents his statement under the imprimatur of the Royal Society does not imbue it with authority but debases the Society. A mud pie made by the King is still just a mud pie.

Professor Hunter should be ashamed of this shoddy piece of research. The lowliest undergraduate would do better than he.

One of the few parts I can agree with is Professor Hunter’s admission that “science is never settled”. As Barry Brill says after dismantling Hunter’s reasoning:

"For not only does he destroy a popular, but tragically incorrect, canon of the warmists, but also he opens the door to a dialogue where none has existed. It will be with a sense of anticipation that we put our fact-based arguments over the very existence of dangerous human-caused global warming to the gatekeepers of our public science academies and at last expect their reasoned response."

I echo the Coalition’s call for the Royal Society to “publicly distance itself from Professor Hunter’s deeply flawed statement, and withdraw it from their website.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Islamic Greenies?

Since both want to destroy modern Western civilization, this makes sense

The climate change conundrum has become a talk-shop between politicians of economy-driven developing and developed countries. Prominent British scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock in a recent interview with The Guardian daily quipped that humans were too stupid to stop climate change and suggested democracy be temporarily suspended.

British Muslim environmentalist Fazlun Khalid believes the answer lies in faith.

The founding director of the non-governmental organization Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), also recognized as one of 15 leading eco theologians in the world alongside the Dalai Lama and the Pope, said recently that “the best way to mobilize people to take action [on climate change] is through their faith”. “Because they believe,” he said.

Sitting in a coffee shop in Bogor, the septuagenarian talked to The Jakarta Post about why faith can motivate people to protect the environment, Islam’s view of humans’ place in the environment, and why he became interested in the politics of environment and conservation.

Khalid visited Indonesia earlier this month to speak at an international conference on climate change – attended by Muslim community representatives from 17 countries, from April 9 to 10. The conference aimed to establish the Muslim Association for Climate Change Action (MACCA).

Khalid said the environmental crisis we faced was rooted in our “competing nation state” model locked into a capitalistic economic paradigm, which encourages a consumer culture and in turn sets no limits on growth.

There are two forces working against each other in the environmental debate, Khalid said. A consumerist force — best described as everyone wanting access to education and a good life, which drives the exploitation of natural resources and will ruin the environment — and morality. “The pull [from morality] is not strong enough,” he said.

Even though scientists have warned about the danger of global warming to the earth and future generations, people still need to be motivated to take action. “That [motivation] comes from your faith,” he said.

“There is a very strong need to raise Muslim awareness, Muslim consciousness to this issue,” he said, adding that Indonesia had enormous potential given how religious its population is.


Is the U.S. Killing 'Green' Jobs?

More cold water on Obama hot air

Solar-cell manufacturing in Frederick, Maryland, dates back to the mid-1970s. BP Solar, one such company, was so profitable it was in the middle of building a $97 million expansion to create more jobs in the solar panel industry. Now the BP Solar building is being demolished and 320 people in Maryland are unemployed.

What happened? The answer is, the federal government got involved and destroyed the free market generated profitability of the making of solar panels.

Here’s how: the Obama Administration has spent billions of dollars to create “green jobs.” Through his tax incentives and credits for those businesses that manufacture renewable energy products, he created a glut in the marketplace. With so many businesses now producing solar panels (most of them overseas in anticipation of a booming U.S. market), the cost of panels has been nearly cut in half, making it impossible for businesses like BP Solar to stay in business in the U.S. In an effort to create green jobs, hundreds of green jobs that had been around for 30-plus years were lost. Ironic isn’t it?

Because companies like BP Solar can’t survive in the U.S. anymore, due to the market being over-inflated with far too many subsidized companies creating a surplus of solar panels, they move to where business is more cost effective. Places like China, India, Mexico and Poland, where less overhead, lower labor costs and fewer taxes make for a friendlier business environment.

Businesses in the U.S. pay huge corporate and property taxes, as well as absorb skyrocketing energy costs. Even if the government subsidized BP Solar, like it has done with so many other green industries, it would not have been enough.

Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government flatly states, “The market is no longer sustainable because of the glut caused by the overproduction of solar panels. This is a problem unless the government plans to subsidize these companies forever.”

Not only is the U.S. hard on businesses to begin with, but by meddling in the free market, the federal government has made conditions far worse — for everyone.

“320 jobs. That is absolutely absurd,” says Audrey Scott, former Secretary of Planning for the Ehrlich Administration, about the number of jobs lost at BP Solar. “In the Western part of the state jobs are a very critical issue. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.”

You can lay some of the blame of the closing of BP Solar on the State of Maryland’s laws and regulations. Other businesses have left the state and moved to Pennsylvania or elsewhere to more business-friendly environments.

“Maryland is very anti-business and that is one of our issues,” Scott says. “What our government is doing here in Maryland at the present time is getting in the way of the job creation. The regulations and the horrendous atmosphere and environment for jobs and for business here in Maryland are just unacceptable.”

Sound familiar? While Maryland’s drop in 2007 to 47th worse business tax climate, according to a nonprofit Tax Foundation report played a big role in BP Solar’s decision to close, the overall business climate in the U.S. contributed to the shutdown as well. It’s not only solar panels that are being manufactured overseas, it’s other renewable energies as well — even by those companies that received “help” from the federal government.

For example, of the $2 billion already spent on wind power alone, funding the creation of enough new wind farms to power 2.4 million homes over the past year, nearly 80 percent of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines. And wind energy is just another industry receiving some of money spent on this “green” initiative. There are still billions more dollars being spent by the federal government on this initiative.

Obama’s method of subsidizing these renewable energy companies and interfering in free market environments is not original. Spain is a good example of a country that has done exactly what Obama is trying to do. An Institute of Energy Research (IER)-commissioned study coming out of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid by Gabriel Calzada found that, for every green job created, 2.2 jobs in other sectors have been destroyed. Furthermore, Spain’s government spent $758,471 to create each green job and used $36 billion in taxpayer money to invest in wind, solar, and mini-hydro from 2000-2008. The country’s unemployment rate is currently at 19.4% and is nearing insolvency.

Does the U.S. really want to continue down this same path?

It is time to learn from the mistakes of others before it is too late. America is next in line to becoming insolvent, as ALG News has previously reported.

“It is lunacy to expect top-down, Soviet-style economic planning to work in America,” says Wilson. “It has failed all over the world. We need to let markets work. Before the government got involved, 320 Americans were profitably building solar panels in Maryland. Now, they are unemployed.”

When walking the streets of Frederick, Maryland, you sense sadness and frustration. Peoples’ hopes are replaced with despair. Maybe if the federal government would have left the free market system alone, BP Solar might have had a chance and continued to produce solar panels and more jobs.



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