Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Endgame for the DDT ban approaches

It was only DDT that originally brought bedbugs under control. Absent DDT they have now bounced back. Once New Yorkers find that out ....

At first May thought that her husband had heat rash. “We were staying at a smart hotel in Cape Cod. Then I developed these hive-like welts on my back and legs.” May (not her real name; she is terrified of giving me that) is middle class, in her late fifties and lives on the Upper West Side, New York, in a well-maintained four-room apartment. When she and her husband returned to the city, one doctor prescribed antihistamines, surmising the couple had reacted to shellfish. She called a dermatologist. “He took one look and said, ‘You both have bedbug bites’. My husband turned our mattress over and we saw them. That’s when — no joke, no exaggeration, however ridiculous it may sound — our nightmare began.”

The infestation would last five months and cost May and her husband $15,000 to treat.

The cockroach has scuttled in retreat. Bedbugs have become New York, indeed America’s, latest bug noire. These tiny, yellowish creatures (which grow to 4-5mm long), fiendishly difficult to eradicate and understand, have become an obsession for landlords, renters, pest-control experts and scientists. Why do they feed so hungrily on human blood? Why have they proliferated? Why are they so hardy? How can you eradicate them?

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite” now has a particularly hollow ring to it: we are almost powerless to stop them. There has been a 71 per cent increase in bedbug infestations since 2001, according to the US National Pest Management Association. In 2004, there were a reported 537 complaints and 82 “violations” (verified infestations) for bedbugs in New York; in 2009, there were 10,985 complaints and 4,084 verified infestations. “That’s just the reported cases,” says Jeremy Ecker, of Bed Bug Inspectors, a firm that uses two specially trained dogs to sniff out the bugs in apartments before advising occupants and pest exterminators on the best action. “The problem is everywhere, it’s growing and it’s mostly invisible because of people’s embarrassment. People are too ashamed to say anything. If they admit to having bedbugs they’re frightened of losing their apartment, of being asked not to go into work, of getting rid of their possessions. We see people in extreme distress.”

May says: “We were terrified of our landlord finding out. He could have used it to throw us out or make life difficult.” Landlords also embrace ignorance if they find out about an infestation, wary of accepting the costly responsibility of tackling bedbugs that have colonised an entire building, or of frightening off potential renters. May describes five months of hell: from seeing the blackish blotches (her and her husband’s dried blood and/or bedbug faeces) on the mattress, then constant vacuuming and washing of laundry and clothing, bagging up clothes and household items, vacuuming books, picture frames, wall sockets, throwing furniture and possessions away, sleeping on an air mattress in clothes she would immediately bag up the next morning for laundry . . .

A female bedbug (official name Cimex lectularius) can reproduce 400 offspring so this was not an hysterical overreaction: to eradicate bedbugs requires ruthless planning, “even before the exterminators come in”, May says.

It seems laughable that the hokey-sounding bedbug could cause such havoc — and indeed, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Health Department says: “Anyone who has had an infestation knows that it can stressful and unpleasant but while bedbugs are a nuisance, they do not present a health risk or spread disease.”

But they are far from dismissable creatures, according to those who have suffered them and the scientists researching them. “It’s a plague, an epidemic,” says a National Pest Management Association spokeswoman — and although her organisation represents pest exterminators this is not a fear-generating marketing campaign.

“It would not be extreme or hysterical to call this a pandemic,” says Tim McCoy, a bedbug research scientist at Virginia Tech University. “We haven’t reached the halfway point in bedbug numbers, they’re still on the rise.”

They show no respect, says Ecker, of class or creed: “We’ve inspected the fanciest apartments on the Upper East Side and one-room studios downtown. Doesn’t matter how big or clean or small or dirty your place is, bedbugs will make themselves at home.”

Bedbug blogs simmer with debate, advice and commiseration. And they have become a political issue. Michael Bloomberg, New York’s Mayor, has approved the creation of a bedbug “advisory board” to “evaluate, study, identify and develop appropriate strategies” against the blood-sucking menace.

Earlier this month Linda B. Rosenthal, a New York State Assembly member for the Upper East Side and Hell’s Kitchen districts, renewed her demand for legislation that would force building owners to disclose a five-year history of bedbug infestations to renters. She also proposed the city offer a tax credit of up to $750 per person to those whose homes have been affected by bedbugs. “The whole city is afflicted,” says Rosenthal says. “The cost of dealing with bed bugs is exorbitant and while $750 won’t cover it, it will help. It would be much better if the health department put out clear advice on how to rid an entire building of bedbugs, rather than leaving to it individual landlords.”

The problem is about to become international (it is already, but under-publicised). Experts agree that the prime method of bedbug transmission is travel: you go somewhere —like May to a hotel — sleep on an infested bed and pass the bugs on. Bedbugs also nestle in clothing and suitcases. Experts are split on whether they “jump” from person to person on public transport. But they can live on train and cinema seats, on furniture, and take over buildings by burrowing in crevices, nooks and crannies.

New York and other metropolitan centres are bedbug paradises: high populations, high numbers of apartments, people always on the move. Bedbug infestations in London and the Midlands have increased threefold in the past decade. The National Pest Management Association will soon publish a report revealing bedbug infestation figures across the US — and also some choice international findings: 90 per cent of pest-control companies it surveyed in Europe had dealt with bedbug infestations, a spokeswoman reveals.

When it comes to their vampiric feeding, Tim McCoy —who like Jeremy Ecker, lets them sup his blood for research —notes that sometimes you can feel them, sometimes not. But, he says, they scent people emitting CO2 and heat and scuttle from up to 15ft feet away for their grub. The most horrible and noticeable thing about a fully grown, fully fed bedbug is that it is bright red, after drinking the blood of its human host.

Some, such as McCoy, do not react to the bites; many others, such as May and her husband, do. “The bedbugs seemed to congregate near the bed, the couch, the netted seating on the office chairs,” she says. “You imagined them crawling on you. I saw one on my husband’s back. We tried to exterminate them ourselves and realised we couldn’t.”

Forget the many products on the market or exterminators making claims of being able to turf them out of your house easily and cheaply. The only effective treatment, McCoy says, is a series of expensive, extreme-heat treatments — at around 49C (120F) — administered by expert exterminators. Despite calls for extreme pesticides such as DDT and Propoxur to be relegalised, McCoy thinks both may prove ineffectual. “Use the wrong chemicals in the wrong way and you could damage yourself and your home.”

“It took me so long to get back into my own bed,” says May says. “We are clean, normal people — and this, emotionally, took us to the brink. Living the way we did, having to rid ourselves of things, clean, keep it secret: this was as bad as going through divorce, losing a job. We are ordinary, middle-class New Yorkers. When it was over it was like, ‘Can we come out of the air-raid shelter now?’”

For the moment, the scientific mystery of bedbugs’ fortitude endures. McCoy says that the pest’s level of resistance “is off the charts. Spray the most extreme chemical on them and they topple over as if they’re giggling, then they get up again. We also don’t know why they can go so long — two months — without a blood meal, or how they find their way back to their host.”

The biggest mystery is the origin of this pandemic. The bedbug was all but eradicated in the US by the 1950s with the use of strong pesticides. “We think travel to and from the Third World bought them back to the US; then the use of softer treatments (such as against the flea) may have helped them to flourish,” McCoy says. “Other theories are unproveable but, for example, we’ve seen them on the walls of organic-reared chicken sheds. Some foreign workers are married to other foreign workers in hotels and, well, is that how they got into hotels? We don’t know.”

The bedbug isn’t dangerous to human health, so US bodies such as the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health won’t fund research, McCoy says. He and May — scientist and sufferer — both warn: remain vigilant. They check the headboards of the hotel beds they sleep in, lift mattresses, shine torchlights into crevices, and vacuum those crevices. For two years after her infestation, May took a magnifying glass to check each dot and speck in her apartment: “It was always something else, but I was wounded. I know it sounds crazy. I’m not, and I’m not alone.”

McCoy says we should remember that “it is just a bug, there is no quick-fix and it will be expensive, but you can deal with it”. He is sure of one thing: “One day we will find a way of understanding and dealing with bedbugs. Then the cockroach will rise again.”


The great 2007 Arctic ice crunch wasn't

It was just another instance of Green/Left data selectivity

By Steve Goddard

I generated an animation of 2007 sea ice thickness from the US Navy’s PIP database, and noticed something remarkable. Watch the video below, particularly inside the red square – the animation runs from May through October, 2007. The color scale on the left indicates the thickness of the ice. Watch:

At the beginning of May, ice thickness was about three metres in the center of the red square. By mid-June it was getting thicker, and by early September it was close to five metres thick! During the notorious summer of “record melt” which we have been told about ad nauseum, the ice thickness near the most affected area increased by 60%. What could have caused this? Simple – the ice was compacting to the north as it was pushed by southerly winds. It lost area – while it gained thickness.

The NSIDC news from September, 2007 touched peripherally on this idea, without actually mentioning the critical point.

The region over Siberia experienced fairly low pressure during the same time period. Winds blow clockwise around high-pressure areas and anticlockwise around low-pressure areas. The combination of high- and low-pressure areas thus fostered fairly strong winds over coastal Siberia that were partly from the south, pumping warm air into the region and also contributing to a warming Arctic. At the same time, these winds from the south acted to push ice away from the coast and into the central Arctic Ocean, further reducing ice extent in the coastal areas

A good analogy would be shoveling the snow off your driveway. As you push the shovel forwards, the area of snow decreases – but the thickness of the snow increases in front of the shovel.

Now on to 2010. Note in the images below that ice in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas is thicker this year than it was on this date in 2007. In some locations it is as much as 5 metres thick in 2010.

May 27, 2007 Ice inside the vulnerable square (where much of the anomalous 2007 “melt” occurred) was 0.5 to 3 metres thick

May 27, 2010 Ice inside the vulnerable square is 0.5 to 5 metres thick

The AGW chameleon changes it’s colours constantly. It complains about area and extent when convenient, and about thickness when convenient. I am coming to the conclusion that the 2007 melt was more of a marketing event than a climatological event. The graph below gives a feel for just how much of a non-event it was. 2007 was 1.5 standard deviations off the 30 year extent trend, but apparently a lot of the supposedly “melted” ice just crumpled up into more survivable thick ice.

One of the ice experts must have known this. Surprising that it took the “breathtakingly ignorant” WUWT to point it out.

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

The Missing Climate Model Projections

Roy W. Spencer points out that the lack of balance vitiates the climate model predictions

The strongest piece of evidence the IPCC has for connecting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to global warming (er, I mean climate change) is the computerized climate model. Over 20 climate models tracked by the IPCC now predict anywhere from moderate to dramatic levels of warming for our future in response to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In many peoples’ minds this constitutes some sort of “proof” that global warming is manmade.

Yet, if we stick to science rather than hyperbole, we might remember that science cannot “prove” a hypothesis….but sometimes it can disprove one. The advancement of scientific knowledge comes through new hypotheses for how things work which replace old hypotheses that are either not as good at explaining nature, or which are simply proved to be wrong.

Each climate model represents a hypothesis for how the climate system works. I must disagree with my good friend Dick Lindzen’s recent point he made during his keynote speech at the 4th ICCC meeting in Chicago, in which he asserted that the IPCC’s global warming hypothesis is not even plausible. I think it is plausible.

And from months of comparing climate model output to satellite observations of the Earth’s radiative budget, I am increasingly convinced that climate models can not be disproved. Sure, there are many details of today’s climate system they get wrong, but that does not disprove their projections of long-term global warming.

Where the IPCC has departed from science is that they have become advocates for one particular set of hypotheses, and have become militant fighters against all others.

They could have made their case much stronger if, in addition to all their models that produce lots of warming, they would have put just as much work into model formulations that predicted very little warming. If those models could not be made to act as realistically as those that do produce a lot of warming, then their arguments would carry more weight.

Unfortunately, each modeling group (or the head of each group) already has an idea stuck in their head regarding how much warming looks “about right”. I doubt that anyone could be trusted to perform an unbiased investigation into model formulations which produce very little warming in response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

As I have mentioned before, our research to appear in JGR sometime in the coming weeks demonstrates that the only time feedback can be clearly observed in satellite observations — which is only under special circumstances — it is strongly negative. And if that is the feedback operating on the long time scales associated with global warming, then we have dodged the global warming bullet.

But there is no way I know of to determine whether this negative feedback is actually stabilizing the climate system on those long time scales. So, we are stuck with a bunch of model hypotheses to rely on for forecasts of the future, and the IPCC admits it does not know which is closer to the truth.

As a result of all this uncertainty, the IPCC starts talking in meaningless probabilistic language that must make many professional statisticians cringe. These statements are nothing more than pseudo-scientific ways of making their faith in the models sound more objective, and less subjective.

One of the first conferences I attended as a graduate student in meteorology was an AMS conference on hurricanes and tropical meteorology, as I recall in the early 1980’s. Computer models of hurricane formation were all the rage back then. A steady stream of presentations at the conference showed how each modeling group’s model could turn any tropical disturbance into a hurricane. Pretty cool.

Then, a tall lanky tropical expert named William Gray stood up and said something to the effect of, “Most tropical disturbances do NOT turn into hurricanes, yet your models seem to turn anything into a hurricane! I think you might be missing something important in your models.”

I still think about that exchange today in regard to climate modeling. Where are the model experiments that don’t produce much global warming? Are those models any less realistic in their mimicking of today’s climate system than the ones that do?

If you tell me that such experiments would not be able to produce the past warming of the 20th Century, then I must ask, What makes you think that warming was mostly due to mankind? As readers here are well aware, a 1% or 2% change in cloud cover could have caused all of the climate change we saw during the 20th Century, and such a small change would have been impossible to detect.

Also, modelers have done their best to remove model “drift” — the tendency for models to drift away from today’s climate state. Well, maybe that’s what the real climate system does! Maybe it drifts as cloud cover slowly changes due to changing circulation patterns.

It seems to me that all the current crop of models do is reinforce the modelers’ preconceived notions. Dick Lindzen has correctly pointed out that the use of the term “model validation”, rather than “model testing”, belies a bias toward a belief in models over all else.

It is time to return to the scientific method before those who pay us to do science — the public — lose all trust of scientists.


Dr. Martin Hertzberg: Climate change beyond our control

Scientists with a theory search diligently for data that might contradict the theory so that they can test its validity or refine it. Propagandists with a theory carefully select only the data that agrees with the theory and dutifully ignore any data that might contradict it.

How else to explain Baxter Pharr's claim for “overwhelming and simple” evidence for human-caused global warming? He states: “Over the past 600,000 years, every time the fossil record shows an increase in CO2 concentration in the Earth's atmosphere there is a corresponding increase in global temperatures.”

The record he cites is the Vostok ice-core data, but he fails to ask the obvious question. When global temperatures increased and the CO2 concentration increased, where did all that CO2 come from during the hundreds of thousands of years before any significant human emission of CO2? That is a question dutifully ignored by the propagandists Pharr cites.

The same data also show that temperature changes preceded CO2 changes by 600 to 1,000 years indicating that it was the temperature changes that caused the CO2 changes, not the reverse. That is another critical piece of data the propagandists ignore: As oceans cool during glacial cooling, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As oceans warm during interglacial warmings, they emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

The ocean contains 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere and it is its average temperature and the solubility of CO2 in sea water that controls the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Current human emission of CO2 is of trivial significance in determining its atmospheric concentration

It has been known for almost a hundred years that the cause of those long-term cycles of cooling and warming are the variations in the Earth's orbital parameters: changes in its orbital ellipticity around the Sun, changes in its obliquity, and the precession of its axis of rotation. Shorter term variations over hundreds of years such as the Medieval Warm Period (considerably warmer than today) and the Little Ice Age, are caused by variations in Solar activity. Changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are about as significant for weather as a few farts in a hurricane!

Pharr's also regurgitates the claim that CO2 concentration at 390 parts per million “are at their highest level in over 1 million years.” That claim is a fraudulent concoction of the IPCC. For example, direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 from 1936 to 1944 averaged over 410 parts per million.

In our current system for generating electricity from coal, natural gas and nuclear energy, we have absolutely no dependence on foreign sources. Our problem is imported petroleum for the transportation sector of our economy. Despite the commercials of environmental lobbyists, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will not produce a single drop of the petroleum currently needed for that sector.

Our present system for the production of electricity “ain't broke, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” The nation has real problems such as the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch Coal mine in West Virginia and the recent explosion and oil spill in the Gulf. Coal mine safety and pollution of the Gulf are critical problems that need to be addressed and solved.

The Kerry-Lieberman proposal of carbon emission control, on the other hand, is chasing a phantom: the entirely non-existent problem of human caused global warming/climate change. Implementation of such legislation will waste hundreds of billions of dollars and do serious damage to the nation's infrastructure and its economy. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows that it will have absolutely no effect on the world's weather, which is well beyond human influence or control.


Types of AGW skeptics

Lubos Motl reflects on an article by Roger Harrabin

Roger Harrabin wrote a pretty interesting BBC report from the fourth Heartland climate conference in Chicago: Climate sceptics rally to expose 'myth'

You shouldn't be shocked that the text is far from impartial. The myth is written in quotation marks while Harrabin himself complains that the vegetarians have been underrepresented, among other bizarre attempts to attack the skeptics.

But otherwise, he offers some meaningful insights into the sociology of climate change - and to the internal diversity of the climate realists in particular. You should see Bob Carter's report which is even more sensible but I will stay with Harrabin's text.

First, he has correctly figured out that "left and right wing thinkers are uniting over climate change skepticism" (it's the description of the audio box). Of course, skeptics are correct and their arguments are supported by impartial objective evidence rather than political dogmas.

So it shouldn't be shocking that you will find left-wingers as well as right-wingers among climate skeptics.

But the difference between these two groups can't disappear, anyway. Steve McIntyre turned out to be a key example of a "climate pacifist". Many people in the audience were disappointed to hear that Steve McIntyre doesn't want the hockey stick graph to be described as "fraud" and the players in the ClimateGate should only be treated as people who are wrong about something, not as evil people who did something bad.

Needless to say, a vast majority of participants disagreed with this statement much like I did (although they were almost certainly more surprised than I was because they don't follow every detail of these events in the same detail as your humble correspondent: Steve has been consistent about these attitudes at least for a few years, although arguably not from the beginning). But McIntyre has also offered the political explanation of his attitudes:

"As a Canadian, he said, he was brought up to believe that governments should govern on behalf of the people - so if CO2 were reckoned to be dangerous, it would be the duty of politicians to make laws to cut emissions."

I completely disagree with this "straightforward" conclusion, too. Even if CO2 were found to be dangerous for the global mean temperature, a rational comparison of costs and benefits would still have to take place, and a competition between possible ways how to attack the problem would have to follow.

In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that the result of this analysis would be that there should exist laws to cut the production of CO2. Even if one CO2 doubling led to 5 °C of warming, as the insane upper ends of the IPCC intervals suggest, it would still be counterproductive for the industry to be regulated away in the coming decades. The problems caused by this warming would still be smaller than the costs of the elimination of the appropriate portion of the industries.

Moreover, there would almost certainly exist geoengineering methods to compensate for the impact of CO2 that would be vastly cheaper than the CO2 regulation. And a task for sane governments would be to help these methods to materialize - and to fight against anti-civilization tendencies that want to undermine the economy and the sources of income for the government itself.

In this sense the debate is not a "left vs right" debate. The suppression of the industry would be a bad decision for the capitalist economies much like the socialist economies - and all the grey hybrids in between. This is about a careful evaluation of costs and benefits and an impartial comparison of the alternatives - and Steve McIntyre is simply not doing that.

Because of all these reasons, Steve may be viewed as a part of the irrational and pro-government problem who just happened to discover that something is seriously wrong with the basic pillars of the system but who failed to deduce the appropriate conclusions. His not-so-right-wing politics is arguably the main cause behind this failure.

Needless to say, Steve wasn't the only person with similar political leanings. For example: "Sonia Boehmer Christiansen, the British-based climate agnostic (her term), brought to a juddering halt an impassioned anti-government breakfast discussion with a warning to libertarians that they would never win the policy argument on climate unless they could carry people from the Left with them."

Oh, really? Do people from the Left possess a universal veto power? Is it really them who ultimately decides - or should decide - about every policymaking question? We've had this arrangement for 40 years and thank you very much, I don't want it anymore. I prefer to execute anyone who represents a credible threat of a return to these "good old times" when the left-wingers may decide about everything. [Motl is a Czech and the Czechs escaped from Communist rule only a couple of decades ago so one can understand his bitterness about Left-wingers]

Whether some policies will reflect the libertarian thinking or not will depend on the results of political competition which are a priori unclear, not on predetermined assumptions that the leftists can decide about anything and everything. One doesn't have to "carry people from the Left with us". It's enough to convince voters that the left-wing attitude to most of these policy questions is wrong.

At any rate, Christiansen's statement helps to show the vast pre-existing bias and arrogance of the leftists - and she's just an "agnostic". Be sure that the typical left-wing AGW alarmists are even more self-confident about the assumption that the eternal power belongs to them.

She also said: "Governments needed taxes, she said - and energy taxes - were an efficient way of gathering them."

Oh, really? It's a sensible law in many civilized countries that the taxation of all sectors has to be fair - i.e. the tax rate should be uniform. And how important energy consumption is in this big picture? In the U.S., energy consumption represents about 14 percent of the GDP and the figure was close to 6 percent in 1999. So energy taxes are not an important source of taxes. On the other hand, attempts to suppress energy production could be devastating for all other sectors that are the main sources of the government money.

The energy sector has been reduced to a small fraction of the GDP because of technological progress and it's important for the modern society that it is so. There are many other sectors whose importance has dropped, if counted as the percentage of GDP. Food is important but it's a small part of GDP in the developed countries simply because people may be expected to do much more than just to survive and because only a small part of the people have to work in agriculture and the food industry. In the same way, the Internet connectivity is extremely important for the modern society - but it's relatively cheap, too. You don't want to artificially make any of these things expensive.

In the Czech Republic, the social democratic party distributed billboards that promise to confiscate the money of ČEZ, the main electric utility that may be considered very profitable these days, and use them for 13th or 14th pensions. Well, believe me, you can't get too far with these policies. As Margaret Thatcher said, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. The Czech Republic may eventually face some genuine problems after these socialist scumbags win the parliamentary elections that will take place in a week. Let's hope that the victory won't be enough for them to form the government.

Roy Spencer is both a sensible guy and a guy who doesn't share most of these left-wing preconceptions. He's also a Christian, so quite naturally, many of us might disagree about some of his ideas concerning the origin of life. ;-)

But I agree with many other statements by Roy Spencer. For example, many climate auditors would criticize the CRU data of Phil Jones for their being disorganized. Roy Spencer said that he could have similar problems with presenting the data he was using or producing 20 years ago - and I could probably say the same thing.

However, billions of dollars have gone into this or similar climate research and it's just bad that much of the basic data have been lost or became unusable. In some sense, it's the fault of the politicians and managers who were generously distributing money into the climate research. They have just donated the money to the wrong people. They should have given a much higher fraction to honest workers and their IT support who would guarantee that the basic straightforward data and calculations are kept and calculated properly and that they may be available whenever they're needed.

There are good reasons to think that this hasn't been a mistake but a part of the design.

Roy Spencer also said that the UAH and CRU recent temperature data broadly agree and one is unlikely to gain much by "auditing" just one of them. I agree with this, too. I don't understand the point of many of these "audits". The key questions are not whether 1934 was by 0.02 °C or 0.05 °C warmer in the U.S. than 1998. The key question is whether these approximately known effects - warming rates comparable to 0.8 °C per century whose non-negligible portion is due to CO2 - matter for the society. And it's primarily a political question so the main reason why people disagree about this question is that their political attitudes differ.

Various climate scientists explicitly said that they didn't come to the conference because they were afraid of the pressure from their home institutions and of isolation. That's how it works - the AGW alarmists de facto control the thinking and travel plans of many/most people in these institutions in the same way as the Orwellian totalitarian regimes did in the past.

Richard Lindzen has declared that the MIT is looking forward to his retirement - the retirement of someone who is arguably the best Earth scientist at the MIT. This fact itself proves how much the institution has been contaminated by people who care about very different things than quality science.

At the end of the article, Harrabin discusses the talk of Christopher Monckton who is, according to Harrabin, "not a scientist at all". I actually disagree with this proposition. He may have gotten into the discipline through less conventional channels but these days, despite some occasional imperfections, he's almost surely a better scientist than the average AGW alarmists who are paid as climatologists.

He's learned a lot, he understands the basic principles of science as well as the big picture and many (although not all) details, and he is incredibly skillful in the art of organizing the insights. Lord Monckton also has some political attitudes and they may be inconvenient for many people, namely the leftists, but he knows how to separate these issues. And Monckton's inconvenient politics simply can't reduce the value of his scientific conclusions and propositions, even though there is probably a "political consensus" in the Academia that his political opinions are not welcome.

This "consensus" says much about the Academia and it is not pretty.


The woolly world of Britain's centre/Left energy boss

No one can explain how Britain cuts emissions by four fifths without closing down virtually all of the economy, writes Christopher Booker

Two events last week led me to muse on the links between the man who is now our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, and the extinction of the woolly mammoth. A team of scientists suggest in Nature Geoscience that the sudden extinction of the mammoths some 12,000 years ago, as the world emerged from the last ice age, may have had a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate. They argue that the emission by these giant herbivores of nine million tons a year of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than CO2, was so significant that their disappearance led to a sharp drop in global temperatures, and the world temporarily froze over again in the re-glaciation known as the Younger Dryas.

This is a theory so batty one scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. If that comparatively tiny amount of methane was so powerful, how did the world manage to remain so cold during the million years of ice ages when eructating megafauna were abundant? Clearly those scientists were so carried away by the obsession with climate change that they hadn’t the slightest idea what they were talking about. But even more is this true, it seems, of the man now in charge of Britain’s energy policy.

Last week Mr Huhne was virtually the only politician in Europe imploring Brussels to stick to its latest proposal, that the EU should raise its target for cutting CO2 emissions in the next 10 years from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. As the EU faces its worst ever economic crisis, other countries, led by France and Germany, are horrified. They cannot imagine how they could afford even a 20 per cent cut.

But Britain already stands alone as the only country in the world committed by law – the 2008 Climate Change Act – to cutting its emissions in the next 40 years by a staggering 80 per cent, at a cost estimated by Mr Huhne’s energy department at £18 billion every year until 2050. (The ministry claims that this would amount to £404 billion, but it can’t do its sums properly: 40 times 18 is not 404 – the total is £734 billion.) The fact is that there is no one in the world, least of all Mr Huhne, who can explain how we could cut our emissions by four fifths without shutting down virtually all our existing economy.

What carries this even further into the higher realms of lunacy is that such a Quixotic gesture would do nothing to halt the world’s fast-rising CO2 emissions, already up 40 per cent since 1990. This point is made very forcefully in a new book, Climate: The Great Delusion (Stacey International), by a much-respected French engineer, Christian Gerondeau.

As this convert from global warming orthodoxy to hard-headed scepticism explains, it is now more obvious than ever that the developing countries, led by India and China (the world’s largest CO2 emitter), haven’t the slightest intention of cutting back their emissions. China plans to build a new coal-fired power station every week until 2030. Each year it now adds more to global CO2 emissions than the entire contribution made by Britain (which is responsible for less than 2 per cent of the world total).

There is no way, Gerondeau argues, for us to prevent the world’s CO2 emissions from doubling by 2100. Fortunately, he goes on to explain why this will have remarkably little effect on climate: he has come to agree with all those eminent scientists who believe that this is largely shaped by natural factors beyond our control, such as the sun and ocean currents. Whatever little Britain chooses to do is thus quite irrelevant.

We can choose to commit economic suicide if we wish (and as our politicians, who voted all but unanimously for the Climate Change Act, seem agreed we should). But the fast-growing economies of China and India will sail on regardless, their added emissions making our own contribution look wholly insignificant.

No one is more committed to all these delusions than the man Mr Cameron has made responsible for our energy policy. Mr Huhne’s opinions on climate change, wind turbines and the rest are as remote from any practical reality as those of the scientists who came up with that fatuous little theory about mammoths.

Global warming may have played a part in the extinction of the mammoths. We might hope it will soon also be responsible for the political extinction of our woolly-minded energy minister - before he closes down our economy for no sane reason at all.



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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