Thursday, October 28, 2010

British climate sceptics launch campaign to overturn green targets

Climate sceptics, including a number of high profileTory backbenchers, are launching a campaign to overturn the Coalition's green targets. Climate Sense, a loose affiliation of `climate sceptic groups', are calling for the Climate Act, that commits the UK to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 to be repealed.

Philip Foster, a retired Church of England Reverend who is leading the campaign, said the legislation will cost taxpayers œ480bn over the next 40 years because of the cost of new technologies like wind farms.

He said Tory backbenchers John Redwood, David Davies and Christopher Chope have agreed to attend the launch of `Climate Fools Day' in the House of Commons. Labour MP Graham Stringer, who is a member of the Science and Technology Committee, also supports the campaign. Johnny Ball the television presenter is expected to attend the launch.

"There is no evidence that human input has anything to do with global temperatures," Rev Foster said. "Therefore we should not be wasting any money on climate change through things like this legislation."

The group, made up of Copenhagen Climate Challenge, Weather Action and the Campaign Against Carbon Capitalism, have also written a letter to the Prince of Wales on behalf of climate sceptics. It asks the Prince, who has accused sceptics of "peddling pseudo science", to prove climate change is happening and is signed by 166 scientists including David Bellamy.

However Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said the group misunderstood the point of science, which is to disprove theories.

He said the UK legislation was overwhelmingly backed by Parliament and is leading the world. "Nobody thinks climate change is not a problem. The discussion has moved on to what is the best way of tackling the problem and making a transition to low carbon growth," he said. "These guys are a remnant group of dinosaurs trying to argue something while frankly the public and political debate has moved on."

The ten challenges sceptics have asked 'supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change' to prove:

1. Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries.

2. Humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide and other `greenhouse gases' (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate.

3. Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate.

4. Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities.

5. The incidences of malaria and other infectious diseases are now increasing due to recent climate changes;

6. Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past.

7. Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in polar regions, is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions.

8. Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes.

9. Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency.

10. Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of global surface temperature trends.


If the temperature doesn't go up, crooked Warmist "scientists" will "ADJUST" it up

Caught red-handed by amateur checker

Western Australia (WA) covers 2.5 million square kilometers (1 million square miles, about a third as big as the USA). The average of all WA stations over one month last year was adjusted up by as much as a gobsmacking 0.5 degrees due to a database "bug" - which contributed to August 2009 being the hottest August on record?! That's one heck of a bug!

Could it get worse? Unbelievably, GISS seems to have lost data for key WA locations that an unpaid volunteer found easily in the BoM online records. GISS only has to maintain copies of records for sixteen stations in WA* which have temperatures current to 2010, but in seven of them they are missing data, and it affects the results. Are they random errors? No, shock me, six errors are upwards: in one case making the spring 2009 average temperatures for Kalgoorlie-Boulder 1.1 C degrees warmer!

But with no-one auditing our BoM or NASA's GISS, and no team jointly receiving raw data or regulating standards in either agency, temperatures recorded in the field could potentially be listed in official records as being quite different, and who would know? It's left up to volunteers like Chris Gillham [see below], a freelance journalist and web designer in Perth, to run a sharp eye over the data. Chris has been tracking WA data for the last two years and his site, Average Temperature Trends Across Western Australia, has methodically, neatly exposed some major flaws.

Just how much can we trust any of the pronouncements coming out, and how significant are any of the "records", even if the adjustments are fair, unbiased and justified? The whole database is surely not "high quality" when bugs of that magnitude are running rampant and data goes missing that professionals can't find, but people who are not "paid to find warming" dig up without much trouble.

New questions about reliability of GISS and BoM data
Guest Post by Chris Gillham

Fresh doubts have emerged about the reliability of temperatures within the Goddard Institute of Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis database with revelations that missing data errors have appeared for various months in the 2009 records of Australian locations, even though the correct mean temperatures are available from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

In turn, the BoM data itself has seen adjustments that might leave researchers wondering about claims that Australia has suffered record high temperatures over the past 12 months.

A BoM database bug: Oops, half a degree?

On September 1 last year, the BoM posted mean min and max temperatures on its website for the month of August 2009 at all its recording stations in Western Australia (2.5 million square kilometres).

However, on November 17 the mean temperatures for all WA recording stations were adjusted upward by as much as .5 C for August 2009.

When questioned about the adjustments, the BoM confirmed it had suffered a database bug and the upward shift was a consequent correction for August 2009, which the bureau says was the hottest August ever recorded in Australia.

GISS is "missing"data

The GISS database shows that in the following month, September 2009, there is missing data (999.9) at three Western Australia recording stations: Esperance | Kalgoorlie-Boulder | Perth Airport

Despite the missing September data and as is evident in their tables, GISS has calculated the Spring (S-O-N) mean temperatures at those three locations as 17.5 C, 20.5 C and 17.7 C respectively.

Trouble is, the data isn't "missing". A quick search of the BoM website reveals the September 2009 mean temperatures were:

13.2 C at Esperance

13.9 C at Kalgoorlie-Boulder

13.9 C at Perth Airport

This in turn means the Spring mean temperatures were actually 16.6 C at Esperance (not 17.5 C), 19.4 C at Kalgoorlie-Boulder (not 20.5 C) and 17.2 at Perth Airport (not 17.7 C).

The GISS database records for Eucla show missing data for December 2009, but the BoM records once again are available and show the mean temperature was in fact 21.6 during that month. The GISS has calculated the Summer 2009/10 (D-J-F) mean at Eucla as 22.8 C, but with the accurate BoM December data included it turns out to be 22.7 C.

Based on evidence available from the GISS and the BoM websites, it appears several WA locations with records current to 2010 have small to significant upward data adjustments.

Wait, there's more!

I've detailed the BoM bug adjustments and the GISS missing data adjustments.

While researching the GISS adjustments, I noticed yet another odd data shift that left me wondering about the reliability of temperature recordings. I had listed the 2009 monthly mean temperatures on October 4, 2010, for Kalgoorlie-Boulder, but when I returned to the GISS website database the following day, October 5, I found that every month in 2009 for that location had been shifted up by .1 C.

This means the newly adjusted GISS record shows Kalgoorlie-Boulder's average mean for Spring 2009 was 20.6C, not 20.5 C anymore, so this historic mining town's seasonal temperature record is now 1.2 degrees higher than the reality of the BoM records.

These inexplicable adjustments to domestic and international datasets raise questions about the reliability of record temperatures reported in Australia over the past year and the reliability of official records used by researchers to try to accurately gauge temperature trends.


Today's Climate Horoscope - from MIT

I've just read the latest climate horoscope at the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung website, which delivers them almost daily.

The latest one comes from the fortune tellers and scryers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by psychic Paul O'Gorman, now available at the PNAS here.

The latest horoscope foretells that (later) in the 21st century, summers will be stickier and grittier, and winters will be stormier - this according to visions and images delivered by crystal balls and gazings into MIT scrying pools.

Apparently MIT diviners made contact with the spirits of 1981 to 2000, so writes the HAZ, and felt the unsettling vibes of mystic energy of atmospheres past, and the energy intensity of past climatological storms. MIT's assortment of sophisticated scrying instruments, made of silicone and crystal, all delivered similar predictions for the 21st century - forebodings all confirmed by their climate tarot punch cards. The bad vibrations and ill spirits foretell one thing only: doom!

The 21st century

The northern hemispheric middle latitudes will be haunted by severe meteorological storms between the autumn and spring equinoxes, becoming especially intense before and after the winter solstices.

"I see storms and doom!"

For periods surrounding the summer solstices, crushing doldrums will beset northern middle latitude regions. Stagnate atmospheres will cause pollutants, and the evil spirits they harbor, to accumulate in ever higher concentrations above cities, bringing misery to non-believers.

Be forewarned! The degree of misery about to haunt the middle latitudes in the end will depend on the amount of ice surrounding the magnetic North Pole at the fall equinoxes.

The southern hemisphere will be visited by other misfortune, so say the MIT instruments of clairvoyance, and the diviners who gaze into them. There, ruthless storms will occur year-round, from solstice to solstice, from equinox to equinox.

Careful though, as other celestial alignments may impact the fortune tellers' predictions. These predictions may change as they depend on what parts of the atmosphere are heavily impacted. If the earthly layer of the atmosphere energizes, then other currents and eddies come into play.

In the northern hemisphere, however, the heavenly layers of the atmosphere shall warm, and this will act to calm the air mass energy.

Come back tomorrow for more predictions!


In Obama's Chicago, stimulus weatherization money buys shoddy work, widespread fraud

Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.

The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)

The findings are grim. "Our testing revealed substandard performance in weatherization workmanship, initial assessments, and contractor billing," the inspector general report says. "These problems were of such significance that they put the integrity of the entire program at risk."

Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. "We found that 14 of the 15 homes.failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments," the report says. In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans -- like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, "contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed." The report calls billing problems "pervasive," with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing. And the department found "a 62 percent final inspection error rate" when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.

The work was not just wasteful; it was dangerous. Department inspectors found "heat barriers around chimneys that had not been installed, causing fire hazards." They found "a furnace [that] had not been vented properly." The found "a shut-off valve that had not been installed on a gas stove." And they found "carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers had not been installed as planned."

And then there was fraud. At ten of the 15 homes visited, Department inspectors found examples in which "a contractor had installed a 125,000 BTU boiler, but had billed CEDA for a 200,000 BTU boiler costing an estimated $1,000. more." Another contractor "billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed." And another "installed 12 light bulbs but had billed CEDA for 20." (The Department found that CEDA paid almost three times the retail price for each light bulb.) "Billing issues appeared to be pervasive," the report concludes.

The report is in the hands of Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been pushing hard for more accountability in the spending of stimulus money. Grassley has complained about this specific program before, and is not happy with the new assessment. "I am concerned that the Department of Energy and state WAPs are failing to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the massive amounts of taxpayers dollars spent on weatherization projects," Grassley writes in a new letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. After Grassley earlier expressed concerns about weatherization, the Department assured him that the program had "turned the corner" and "made great strides" in cleaning up its operations. "In light of this report, it is clear that the Department's efforts have been inadequate," Grassley writes.


In Britain, energy firm set to shelve gas storage plans unless government helps

Centrica has effectively shelved its £1.5bn plan to build two gas storage facilities in the North Sea and Irish Sea unless the Government finds a way to subsidise the proposal.

The energy company would have increased Britain's storage capacity by a third, with the proposed Baird project containing 1.7bn cubic metres of gas and the smaller Bains project in the east Irish Sea holding 570m cubic metres.

However, sources described the economic climate as "extremely challenging".A final investment decision is due to be taken early next year, but it is understood that under the current circumstances, the projects would not be sanctioned.

Partly because of the rising availability of gas in shippable liquid form and a glut of supplies on the world market, the spread between winter and summer gas prices has narrowed. This is currently at 10p, when companies need a price of more like 25p to make the projects economically viable.

One of the Coalition's key aims is to increase Britain's gas security as the country becomes increasingly reliant on imported gas. Around 80pc of supplies will have to come from abroad by 2020.


Is Wind the Next Ethanol?

One "Renewable" Energy Source Follows another's History of Failure

Repeating past mistakes seems to be a recurring theme in federal policy, and nowhere more so than on energy issues. Much of the Obama administration's "clean energy economy" and "energy independence" agenda is a virtual repeat of the follies of the 1970s. Back then, failed attempts by Washington to pick winners and losers among alternative energy sources and energy-using technologies led to taxes, regulations, and subsidies that exacerbated the very concerns they were supposed to address.

Indeed, one of the Reagan administration's greater-though lesser-remembered-economic successes was the repeal of much of this government meddling beginning in 1981. Reagan's turn away from energy central planning and toward free markets brought down energy costs and helped launch a long period of economic growth.

This decades-old lesson may be lost on younger politicians, bureaucrats, and activists who may be unaware that their energy policy ideas are proven failures from the age of disco. But the same cannot be said of efforts to enact a federal renewable electricity standard (RES), which would be a near-exact repeat of a blunder that was launched just a few short years ago-the renewable fuels mandate. The requirement that ethanol be added to the nation's gasoline supply has quickly proven to be an economic and environmental failure. Congressional proposals mandating wind and other renewable sources of electricity show all the signs of becoming a similar flop, but with far more serious implications.

The True Cost of Ethanol

It should come as no surprise that the renewable fuels mandate has raised the cost of driving. After all, if ethanol were cost-competitive with petroleum-derived gasoline, it would have caught on without government intervention. In the 2005 energy bill, Congress mandated refiners to add 4 billion gallons of biofuels to the gasoline supply in 2006- mostly ethanol derived from corn, with the rest from non-corn renewables like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. The 2007 energy bill increased the mandate to 13 billion gallons in 2010, more than tripling mandated biofuels use over the last five years. The new mandate increases each year and will reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, with 15 billion gallons coming from corn and 21 billion from non-corn renewables. The mandate comes on top of several tax breaks and subsidies for ethanol, including a 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit. This tax credit expires at the end of 2010 and Congress is currently debating whether to extend it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, these measures cost $1.78 for each additional gallon of gasoline displaced -- on top of the higher cost to drivers

The government assistance is so generous that ethanol production has actually exceeded the mandated levels in recent years. Domestic corn growers and ethanol producers also benefit from protectionist tariffs that limit the amount foreign ethanol-mostly sugar-based ethanol from Brazil-that can compete in the American market.

The mandate took effect on January 1, 2006, and has boosted the cost of driving ever since. Over this period, ethanol has been both more and less expensive than gasoline, but per-gallon price comparisons tell only part of the story. Ethanol contains a third less energy per unit volume than petroleum-derived fuels. In other words, you cannot go as far on ethanol as you can on the same amount of gasoline. Therefore, using ethanol lowers fuel economy. In addition, the logistical costs of mixing ethanol into the fuel supply are considerable. Ethanol cannot be transported via pipeline and must be shipped by more expensive means from the Midwest to the rest of the country.

The costs also hit us at the supermarket checkout. The diversion of a third of the nation's corn supply from food to fuel use raised the price of corn and related items like corn-fed meat and dairy.

Ethanol proponents have long claimed that technological breakthroughs and economies of scale would bring down the costs over time, but there is scant evidence that this is happening. On the contrary, the above-mentioned logistical challenges and food-versus-fuel tradeoff show no signs of resolution and will likely worsen as the mandate ratchets up.....


The story is much the same with wind power, the most common renewable source of electricity, as well as lesser-used ones like solar. Wind has long been a beneficiary of generous and overlapping tax breaks and subsidies, especially a production tax credit created under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and currently set at 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour. Overall, subsidies for wind and other renewable electricity sources are more than 10 times higher per unit energy output than coal, which provides nearly half the nation's electricity, and natural gas and nuclear power, which provide most of the rest

Without this tilting of the playing field, wind would be significantly more expensive than coal, $149.30 per megawatt hour versus $100.40, according to conservative estimates from the Energy Information Administration

Despite all this help, wind and other renewables comprise only about 3 percent of the electricity supply (excluding hydroelectric which provides 6 percent). This low market penetration explains the current push by wind proponents for a federal mandate. Congressional proposals vary, but they typically require ramping up the non-hydroelectric renewables requirement to 15 to 25 percent of electric generation over the span of a decade or so. Most recently, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 (S. 3813), introduced in the Sentate by Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), is pegged at 15 percent renewable electricity by 2021.

With ethanol, direct cost comparisons of wind energy with its conventional counterparts tell only a part of the story. Just as integrating ethanol into the overall motor fuel supply creates many logistical problems, so does integrating renewable electricity into the grid. For one thing, the most desirable sites for wind are often remote mountain ridges or sparsely populated plains, thus requiring thousands of miles of new transmission lines to bring the electricity into metropolitan areas where it is needed. One study estimates that a 20-percent renewable electricity standard would require $80 billion in transmission line investments, with ratepayers likely picking up the tab. And that assumes such transmission line projects could overcome the many regulatory and legal challenges to them and actually get built.

Even more significant are the costs that stem from wind energy's intermittent and unreliable nature. Simply put, the wind does not always blow, and when it does is difficult to predict and impossible to control. Given the constant need for electricity and the fact that peak demand-hot summer days-is often a time when the wind is still, a mandate for increased renewable electricity is, for all practical purposes, also a mandate for additional non-renewable backup capacity, chiefly natural gas. Not only must the non-wind part of the system be sufficient to carry the entire load, it must be operated in an inefficient manner-ready to ramp up whenever the wind dies down, then throttled back when it picks up-in order to accommodate wind. This intermittent use is far less efficient than constant use of those same non-renewable sources.



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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