Friday, May 21, 2010

Greenie people hatred again

Kevin McCracken says in the article excerpted below that population growth in Africa is a bad thing and that population shrinking in the West can be managed. The first part seems rather racist and I certainly make no judgement on the matter. Africa's problems are for Africa only, as far as I can see. McCracken certainly makes no effort to show otherwise.

McCracken justifies his second assertion with the extraordinarily unscholarly comment that "There is research around that suggests" it to be so. One would certainly hope for some clearer indication of where the research concerned is to be found.

Nonetheless, I don't doubt that population shrinkage in the developed countries can be managed. Japan is already doing a good job with a large elderly population and trivial levels of immigration.

What McCracken simply does not answer is that the developed countries produce most of the innovations that improve people's lives and that it is only a tiny minority of even those populations that do the innovating. And shrinking such populations must surely shrink the numbers of those precious innovators. In some inscrutible way, McCracken seems to think that population growth in Africa answers that argument.

But the point and purpose of McCracken's very unscholarly and illogical article becomes clear if one realises that he is just another Greenie people-hater. He is in fact a former dean of Environmental and Life Sciences at Australia's Macquarie University.

While it is good to see the important issue of global population trends getting attention in the mainstream national press, one would wish for a more accurate and balanced discussion of the topic....

With the global population growth rate now down from the alarming levels of the 1960s and '70s and the apocalyptic demographic prognostications from those days not having come to pass, the "population bomb" is widely seen as having been defused. However, additional billions will still be added to the world's population in coming decades. Next year global population numbers will reach 7 billion, with another 2 billion likely being added by mid-century.

Being concerned about this expansion is not necessarily the "pervasive misanthropism" or the seeing of children as a "nuisance" that Devine alleges, but simply regard for the wellbeing and quality of life of current and future generations.

The reported claim from Feder that the population explosion of the past 200 years has fuelled "every human advance from the Industrial Revolution to the computer age" grandly simplifies the complex causal webs of the developments to which he alludes. Population has certainly been a factor, but far from the whole story.

Almost all of the projected 2 billion or so population increase between now and mid-century will be in less developed countries. For many of these countries Feder's reported "people are the ultimate resource" line is drawing a very long bow. The more than 60 million extra people Pakistan is projected to have by 2025 are certainly not going to make that country's future development any easier; likewise the projected gain of 52 million in Nigeria over the same period, 35 million in Ethiopia, 31 million in Bangladesh, and so on. Less developed countries that have succeeded in reducing their fertility rates are generally in a far better position to realise the potential and wellbeing of their citizens than those still experiencing high population growth rates.

Most developed nations face significant demographic ageing and, in cases, population decline over coming decades, but stronger evidence than that is needed of the article's claimed looming "demographic winter".

For interest groups and individuals wedded to economic expansion driven by population growth the threat is perhaps "self-evident". But not necessarily to others. There is research around that suggests that population ageing need not be a "crisis". More sympathetic attitudes of employers towards older workers, for example, would see workforce participation rates go up. Productivity gains in turn hold scope for covering expanding "grey population" health and welfare needs.


Nero was hotter than Al Gore

National Academy of Science study: Ancient times were warmer

The planet has never been warmer than it is right now, if you believe what global warming alarmists have to say. Mankind's selfishness in producing "excessive" amounts of carbon dioxide has set us on a path toward global cataclysm, they insist. The problem with this tale is that it neither fits with the historical record nor with a growing body of scientific evidence.

The alarmists must imagine that 50 years before the birth of Christ, men like Julius Caesar spent their summers strolling the streets of Rome wearing sweaters to guard against catching a chill - instead of abandoning the sweltering capital in favor of temperate seaside villas. A study published in the March 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science casts further doubt on the warmist premise by concluding that the sun beat down more harshly on the Caesars than it did on anyone else in the past 2,000 years.

Instead of using tree rings as a proxy for air temperature, the study's authors extracted data from sea shells preserved in deep sedimentary layers, using them as a proxy for sea temperature in the North Atlantic over the course of two millennia. According to the study, the "reconstructed water temperatures for the Roman Warm Period in Iceland are higher than any temperatures recorded in modern times." The heat lasted from approximately 230 B.C. to 140 A.D. After that, temperatures rose and fell over time with a second peak taking place during the better-known Medieval Warm Period.

The researchers confirmed their temperature estimates against records of human settlement patterns and descriptions found in Norse sagas and other historical writings. People settled in the region when it was warm; cold spells coincided with descriptions of famine.

These facts will not sit well with the climate-change theocracy. In order to sell the notion that global warming is a consequence of industrialized society, the fundamental article of the warmist faith must be that modern times are the hottest on record. Much like the ancient Romans, today's environmentalists believe extreme weather conditions are not a phenomenon with natural causes, but rather a portent of Mother Earth's displeasure with the choices made by the people. Whereas the ancients offered animal sacrifice to appease her wrath, the modern pagan offers carbon credits.

The punishment for failure to render carbon sacrifice is environmental disaster, according to the alarmist movement's high priest, Al Gore. The following easily could be a passage from his book "Earth in the Balance" describing the consequence of failure to act on climate change: "Either the scorching sun burns up your fields, or sudden rains or frosts destroy your harvests, or a violent wind carries away all before it." Inconveniently for Mr. Gore, the Roman poet Lucretius expressed those sentiments around 50 B.C. That's because weather back then was just as hot - or hotter - and as extreme as it is today.

Other studies from around the world confirm the existence of Roman and Medieval warming periods, where no source of "greenhouse gases" existed aside from the horses and cows of the time. For that reason, we encourage our senators to stab their daggers into the heart of cap-and-trade and all other legislation being promoted in the name of climate-change fiction.


The British folly continues

David Cameron last week renewed his promise to cut the U.K. government's carbon emissions by 10% in the next 12 months, and is now taking suggestions on how to achieve that. Here's a thought: How about cutting the central government itself by 10%? That's about the only way the new Prime Minister can simultaneously reduce government emissions and the cost of government.

If, on the other hand, the government's plans for shrinking its emissions involve similar measures as its plans to "green" the private sector, Mr. Cameron might ask himself whether, with a budget deficit of 12% of GDP, he can afford this particular boondoggle.

It's fashionable to profess that "greening" the economy can be accomplished at no cost, so great are the benefits of efficiency gains and renewable energy. But the history of civilization, from start to finish, can be seen as one long drive to make more efficient use of available resources. If something can be done more efficiently, at least outside of the public sector, someone is probably already doing it. And if they're not, it's because the costs outweigh the benefits. This is for the simple reason that "greening" the private economy requires subsidies, or heavy-handed regulation, or both. But government can't subsidize itself, so Mr. Cameron's quest is certain to cost taxpayers more than they get back in the form of more-efficient government energy use.

Take the Government's plans for the private sector. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats emitted many tons of carbon during their campaign speechifying about reinvigorating British industry and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs with a "green economy." Their proposals include the Lib Dems' promise of a "green, £3.3 billion economic stimulus package that will create 100,000 jobs." But if the past two years of Keynesian stimulus have taught us anything, it's that governments are bad enough at creating jobs, even when not burdened by the additional hurdle of ensuring that those are "green" jobs.

Meanwhile, the Tories and Lib Dems both want to offer handouts to homeowners for "energy improvement measures." Mr. Clegg's Lib Dems, in particular, argue that the U.K. version of "cash for caulkers" will "create jobs and cut carbon emissions." But just as breaking someone's window to make work for the glazier doesn't add to total economic output, a flurry of spending on boilers and windows that don't need replacing is more likely to destroy value than generate it.

The Tories have also touted "Britain's first Green Investment Bank," which would use public funds as seed money to finance "new green technology start-ups." To paraphrase Pee-Wee Herman, these must be the start-ups that are so promising, private financiers forgot to invest.

We would have thought that after Gordon Brown's tenure, Britain had had enough of hiding spending by calling it "investment," regardless of the expected returns. But when it comes to fighting climate change, Westminster isn't alone in ignoring the costs when tallying up the benefits of going green. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change inspired such creative bookkeeping in a 2007 report that said industry could cut carbon pollution by up to 14% per year between now and 2030—at a net cost of zero. The fallacy in the IPCC's analysis is to conflate the energy efficiency gains that occur naturally, because they do pay for themselves, and to assume a similar win-win equation for government-mandated "improvements."

Richard Tol, an environmental economist with Dublin's Economic and Social Research Institute [and a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council] and himself a contributor to the IPCC's reports, tells us that this confusion about the costs and benefits of energy efficiency has been known to researchers for decades, and was highlighted to the report's authors prior to publication. "These are big sins of omission—though not commission," says Mr. Tol, who adds that the current trend is for energy efficiency to improve at a rate of about 20% per decade, absent government intervention.

Instead of U.N.-grade accounting, Mr. Cameron & Co. might instead look to Spain, where the government did indeed create thousands of "green jobs" with subsidies to the solar industry that totaled €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2008. But most of those jobs vanished just as quickly after crisis-hit Madrid slashed the handouts. Spanish taxpayers will never see a return on their "investment."

With all due respect to Chris Huhne, the Government's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, it's not hard to predict a similar fate for many of the British Government's "investments." If Mr. Cameron really wants to improve the government's energy efficiency, it might be easier to start by killing the cabinet department devoted to climate change altogether.


Senate briefing from official U.S. Climate authority (NCDC) is "adjustment"-rich

Well, the Kerry Lieberman cap and trade fiasco has brought Tom Karl to give a Senate briefing last week. Predictably, they couldn’t wait to spring more adjustments du jour on the hapless Senators, claiming once again, everything analysis-wise the government does is ‘robust’ (used several times). But ‘robustness’ just isn’t convincing enough anymore. The new catch phrase is shown below:


What’s the most interesting thing about this PowerPoint? It reads like a skeptics refutation handbook. NCDC reacted.

The key word above is “adjusted”. Comparing adjusted data to adjusted data will almost guarantee an agreement.

Here’s some other slides of interest.

The urbanization signal, easily dispensed with thanks to homogenization.

This slide above is part of the “nothing matters and we can adjust for everything” meme. Now they are using Hansen’s night lights method. Heh. The rural trend they present is different than what I’ve seen.

Of course, airports don’t matter. Naw. Never, even when they don’t bother to remove the base measurement errors at airports, even when pointed out. Like movie directors, I’m sure they are thinking: “we can fix that in post production”.

Yes, I’m being sarcastic here. Yes, I think most of this shown to the Senate is based on self fulfilling adjustments and a need to keep bureaucracy alive.

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

Americans know the drill

The people support offshore oil exploration. The politicians should listen

The amount of energy America's economy consumes is rising, and oil is a significant portion of its generation. But the domestic production of American oil is falling, and that means that imports must increase each year, which is why increasing the amount of our offshore drilling is a critical component of our energy future.

But on April 20 an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico caused a leak of about 210,000 gallons a day--nearly five million gallons by now--into the ocean, and it may be several weeks or longer before it is capped and the leakage controlled. The current Gulf spillage is already almost half of the spillage from the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska which amounted to about 11 million gallons, so it is a serious pollution problem.

The explosion has emboldened those who want America to stop drilling for oil and other petroleum products. But it is important that policy makers in Washington resist their calls--first, because if we do not obtain oil our economy will suffer, and second, because overall industry spills are kept at a very low amount. The Mineral Management Service two years ago calculated that only about one barrel is spilled for every 157,000 produced, a rate of less than 0.001%.

The cause of the explosion needs to be understood so that we can improve the thousands of other platforms we have off the coast of America, to make sure they do not explode, kill workers and pollute our coastal waters.

But we need to increase the quantity of America's oil production so that we can energize our growing country and reduce the importation of foreign oil. Our nation's total energy requirements--oil, coal, natural gas, electricity--are increasing. From 1980 to 2008, America's annual energy usage increased from 78 quadrillion to 99 quadrillion British thermal units. It is estimated to increase to 111 quadrillion BTUs by 2030.

Yet while energy needs are increasing, annual domestic oil production is declining, from 3.1 billion barrels in 1980 to 1.8 billion in 2008. To make up for these decreases, we have dramatically increased imports, from 483 million barrels in 1970 to 1.9 billion in 1980 and 3.6 billion in 2008. Back in 1970, U.S. oil production accounted for 88% of our consumption, while today it is only 34%. Imports now account for just under two-thirds of the oil we use. More than one-quarter of our foreign oil comes from two potentially unstable countries: Saudi Arabia (15%) and Venezuela (11%).

So there is no question that America needs to drill for more oil, both onshore and offshore. Unfortunately some of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and World Wildlife Foundation, want to curtail offshore drilling. Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) is introducing legislation that would halt currently planned offshore drilling expansion on America's Outer Continental Shelf, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) wants to ban it off of California's coast. The White House is thinking about that sort of policy change too.

Shutting down offshore oil drilling would seriously hurt our economy, and not just from the lost jobs directly and indirectly attached to offshore exploration and production. Oil is the lifeblood of our economy. Limiting or reducing a significant portion of our homegrown oil supply would be both an economic setback and a national security risk.

Our oil situation is analogous to where we stand with electricity, where we are decades away from significant supplies from solar power, wind turbines or totally clean coal. Hybrid and plug-in technology (really battery technology), has vastly improved automobile mileage, and useful transportation alternatives will someday be with us, but not soon enough to immediately diminish our need for further oil production or large enough to reduce the 66% of our oil that comes from foreign countries.

We have to convince our federal government that eliminating offshore oil drilling is the wrong approach, that we do need the oil, since the current drilling limitations are rapidly pushing us into the control and possible limitation of our energy needs by the foreign governments that provide so much of our oil. As USA Today recently editorialized: "Decades of refusal to expand domestic drilling . . . has left the nation addicted to foreign oil. . . . This is an invisible, slow-motion disaster" that transfers our dollars and leaves us vulnerable to political instability overseas.

The American people agree. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll last week, 60% of participants support allowing more offshore drilling, while just 34% oppose it. That is the right approach to maintaining America's energy future.


Crisis in New Zealand climatology

The warming that wasn't

The official archivist of New Zealand’s climate records, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), offers top billing to its 147-year-old national mean temperature series (the “NIWA Seven-station Series” or NSS). This series shows that New Zealand experienced a twentieth-century warming trend of 0.92°C.

The official temperature record is wrong. The instrumental raw data correctly show that New Zealand average temperatures have remained remarkably steady at 12.6°C +/- 0.5°C for a century and a half. NIWA’s doctoring of that data is indefensible.

The NSS is the outcome of a subjective data series produced by a single Government scientist, whose work has never been peer-reviewed or subjected to proper quality checking. It was smuggled into the official archive without any formal process. It is undocumented and sans metadata, and it could not be defended in any court of law. Yet the full line-up of NIWA climate scientists has gone to extraordinary lengths to support this falsified warming and to fiercely attack its critics.

For nearly 15 years, the 20th-century warming trend of 0.92°C derived from the NSS has been at the centre of NIWA official advice to all tiers of New Zealand Government – Central, Regional and Local. It informs the NIWA climate model. It is used in sworn expert testimony in Environment Court hearings. Its dramatic graph graces the front page of NIWA’s printed brochures and its website.

Internationally, the NSS 0.92°C trend is a foundation stone for the Australia-New Zealand Chapter in the IPCC’s Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. In 1994, it was submitted to HadleyCRUT, so as to influence the vast expanses of the South Pacific in the calculation of globally-averaged temperatures.

The Minister of Research Science and Technology, the Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, has finally become alarmed at the murky provenance of the NSS. The Government has directed and funded a 6-month project to produce a new national temperature record, with published data and transparent processes. The replacement record is to be the subject of a scientific paper, which is to be peer-reviewed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Hon Rodney Hide, a climate sceptic who is a Minister in the current Government and leader of the junior coalition partner, the ACT Party, has called upon his ministerial colleagues to formally repudiate the NSS and to withdraw all publications and formal papers which are based on the spurious warming trend of 0.92°C. The Government has not yet responded to this challenge.

New Zealand is a small country, with a strong tradition of open Government, and is not an easy place to keep secrets. The acceptance of the NSS for so long offers evidence of the dictum: “you can fool all of the people some of the time..” But if that can happen in New Zealand, how much greater is the probability that similar shenanigans could be happening in larger, more complex, jurisdictions?


The New Zealand Meteorological Service, with its forebears, has been measuring and recording our weather since 1861. In 1992, it published a booklet containing a detailed history of all its weather stations, along with 140 years of climate data. In that year, NIWA came into being and has now published most of the Met Service data online.

In 2007, the then Prime Minister announced her party’s intention that New Zealand should lead the world in fighting climate change, and aim to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2025.

Earlier in 2007, NIWA produced a web page, followed by a printed brochure, with a graph showing that New Zealand had already warmed by an amount far in excess of global averages. The web page claimed a temperature increase of 1.1C during the 144 years of Met Service records, and a 0.92°C trend during the 20th century.

These are remarkable claims. They came out of the blue and do not accord with any written histories, or the personal impressions of our older generations. They don’t square with “hottest day” records held in provinces and city archives. They were not accompanied by big changes in rainfall or winds or sea levels. In these claims, NIWA is a very lonely orphan.

Global warming during the 20th Century was 0.6C, with a margin of error of +/-0.2C. The Southern Hemisphere warming was less than half that level. But New Zealand warming, according to NIWA, was almost twice the global average - and with no error margins mentioned.

Referring to the NIWA web page, one finds that this major warming trend is the product of a single study involving only 7 temperature stations - out of the 238 stations which currently report to NIWA. In response to a request under the Official information Act, NIWA has disclosed that this study was undertaken as part of a student’s thesis some 30 years ago.

NIWA has no record of how the NSS came to be in their computers. The only reasonable inference is that the student himself, one Jim Salinger, must have added it when he became NIWA’s Principal Scientist many years later.

How do we know the NSS is wrong?


First, we know what New Zealand’s average temperature was in 1867. The predecessor of the Royal Society of New Zealand (The New Zealand Institute) made a formal minute in 1868 of:

“Tables, which form the most reliable data for judging of the Climate of New Zealand, are extracted from the Reports of the Inspector of Meteorological Stations, for 1867”. The mean annual temperature was 55.6F - the equivalent of 13.1C.

Now consider this extract from NIWA’s “Climate Summary for 2005”:

The national average temperature of 13.1°C made 2005 the fourth warmest year nationally since reliable records commenced in the 1860s.

No change whatever in 138 years! In fact, if 2005 was warmer than most 21st century years, New Zealand has obviously experienced some cooling during the past century or so.

Secondly, the University of California Libraries has a booklet “Climate and Meteorology of New Zealand” prepared by Lt-Colonel DC Bates for the “New Zealand Official Year Book 1920” (also available on the web). This sets out the mean temperature records for the seven-station series over the 56-year period from 1863 to 1919 - showing the average over that period as being 12.67C.

The author, who was the Dominion Meteorologist, claims that “Wellington, the Capital City, has a mean climate for the whole Dominion”. WellingtonĘžs mean temperature over the period 1863-1919 was 12.94C.

The NSS graph directly contradicts this official contemporary record.

Thirdly, the there are the Met Service records themselves. Their data have been downloaded and graphed in a document by the New Zealand Science Coalition entitled “Are We Feeling Warmer Yet?” Some excerpts from that document:

“Straight away you can see there’s no slope—either up or down. The temperatures are remarkably constant way back to the 1850s. Of course, the temperature still varies from year to year, but the trend stays level—statistically insignificant at 0.06°C per century since 1850.

Putting these two graphs side by side, you can see huge differences. What is going on? Why does NIWA’s graph show strong warming, but graphing their own raw data looks completely different? Their graph shows warming, but the actual temperature readings show none whatsoever!”

It turned out that NIWA had undertaken some internal and undisclosed adjustments to the Met Service data: “About half the adjustments actually created a warming trend where none existed; the other half greatly exaggerated existing warming. All the adjustments increased or even created a warming trend, with only one (Dunedin) going the other way and slightly reducing the original trend.

The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming..”

So the NIWA warming trend was revealed as entirely man-made, and all within NIWA’s own office. There was no external peer-review. To this day there hasn’t even been an internal review or any form of quantity control. There is no documentation. Since November, the ACT party has been trying to obtain details and/or justification for these extraordinary adjustments - but forty Parliamentary Questions later, we still don’t have that information.

There is a fourth basis for knowing this SSS is wrong. NIWA have said that they regularly send their station data to the compilers of the three international temperature series - HGCN, NASA and HadleyCRUT. These three operate independently and make their own adjustments if they believe any station data is suspect or unrepresentative. Although HadCRUT has followed some of NIWA’s adjustments, none of the international series show New Zealand as having warmed substantially prior to 1975.

In the case of HGCN, whose computer code is publicly available, there is no material New Zealand warming during the last 100 years, except for the increase arising when Campbell Is was dropped from the dataset.

The fifth reason for rejecting this NIWA series is that the Met Service itself had considered but rejected the option of adjusting its own records, at the very time that young Jim Salinger was a student. Mr Jim Hessell, probably New Zealand’s most senior meteorologist, found the raw data from many New Zealand stations to be so flawed as to be quite unreliable. Writing in the New Zealand Journal of Science (1980) Mr Hessell concludes:

“A systematic analysis of all New Zealand climatological stations with sufficient length of record reveals that no important change in annual mean temperatures since 1930 has been found at stations where the above factors [shelter, screenage and urbanization] are negligible. Neighbour station comparisons support these findings.”

When views differ, it is is customary to prefer the judgment of the experienced practitioner over that of the student. It is certainly sensible to prefer a peer-reviewed paper published in a reputable journal (which has never been challenged) over that of an unpublished private document - especially where obvious conflicts of interest arise.

Sixthly, and finally, the notion that New Zealand would suffer global warming at twice the Global rate has been rejected by the Minister of Climate Change Issues himself. In November, the Hon Dr Nick Smith assured Parliament (and I quote from Hansard):

“What Dr Wratt has consistently said is that, because New Zealand is surrounded by oceans, all the modelling indicates that the temperature impacts of climate change are most likely to be less for New Zealand than for other parts of the globe.”

So the NSS claims New Zealand has warmed much more than the global average, while the NIWA climate chief cites the theory that our warming should be one-third less than the global average. They can’t both be right.

If the NSS is right, then not only Nick Smith and David Wratt are wrong. Mr Jim Hessell is wrong, the 1920 Dominion Meteorologist is wrong, the Royal Society is wrong, HGCN, NASA and HadCRUT are wrong, and the Met Service records are wrong.

So we have six very good external reasons why this SSS should be regarded as wrong, and formally repudiated by the Government.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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