Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Perspective on climate history badly needed

An email from physicist James Marusek []

Over the centuries, mankind has experienced tremendous rainfalls and massive floods, monster hurricanes and typhoons, destructive tornadoes, parched-earth droughts, strong gales, flash floods, great snowfalls and killer blizzards, lightning storms sent down from the heavens, blind dense fogs, freezing rain, sleet, great hail, and bone- chilling cold and even an occasional mudstorm or two and in-between, periods of warm sunshine and tranquility.

And WE ARE STILL HERE. We are perhaps a little battered and bruised from the wear. But there is nothing new in the weather to fear because we have been there before. We have learned to cope. We have developed knowledge, skills and tools to reduce the effects of weather extremes.

Today, every time a heat wave or a great flood occurs (such as those in Russia and Pakistan this year), voices arise claiming this is more proof of man-made global warming. I wonder to myself if these voices are intentionally ignorant of historical weather extremes or just dishonest.

Early meteorologist and historians have documented weather for many centuries. Recently, I have compiled several of these accounts into “A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events” and published this document on the Impact website here . This chronology covers the years 0 to 1900 A.D. (When downloading the file, please be a little patient. This is a master resource and the 6.5 MB file may take a few minutes to access.)

Why is a chronological listing of weather events of value? If one wishes to peer into the future, then a firm grasp of the past events is a key to that gateway. This is intrinsically true for the scientific underpinnings of weather and climate.

SCOTUS takes on global warming case

The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit – filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts – targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a “public nuisance.” It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants’ greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years.

What makes the lawsuit unusual is that it is an attempt to fill a vacuum in US environmental policy on how best to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. The issue is a source of substantial controversy and a political hot potato, particularly at a time of high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that it raised sensitive policy questions best left to the political branches. But a federal appeals court in New York reversed that decision, allowing the lawsuit to move forward.

The power companies are now asking the US Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court and dismiss the lawsuit.

“The ramifications of this [appeals court] holding, if it is allowed to stand, are staggering,” wrote Peter Keisler in a brief on behalf of the six power companies. “This litigation seeks to transfer to the judiciary standardless authority for some of the most important and sensitive economic, energy, and social policy issues presently before the country.”

The lawyer added: “Virtually every entity and industry in the world is responsible for some emissions of carbon dioxide and is thus a potential defendant in climate change nuisance actions under the theory of this case.”

In a brief filed on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Obama administration said that Congress had empowered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions from power plants through the Clean Air Act. The brief said the EPA has taken “several actions” under the CAA to address greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA has adopted greenhouse gas emission standards for certain motor vehicles and is currently “evaluating whether and how to add greenhouse gases to the new source performance standards that apply to power plants,” the brief said.


Sen. James Inhofe Warns Against EPA Activity, Attacks on Capitalism in Video Message to Cancun Summit

Without the leadership of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the leading skeptic on the science of man-made global warming in the U.S. Senate, anti-energy legislation may well have become a reality. He is the indispensable in the fight against “cap and trade” schemes aimed against America’s free enterprise system. Below is the full-text of his video address to the U.N. global warming/climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico:

“Hello, I’m Jim Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma and top watchdog of the Obama Administration’s global warming agenda.

“I had hoped to join you in Cancun tonight, but we had votes that I could not miss and given that EPA is busy trying to implement cap-and-trade through the backdoor, I felt it was important to keep watch in Washington. You see, the Obama Administration is trying to achieve administratively what it could not legislatively. Cap-and-trade is now as dead as a doornail, as the American people rejected it at the ballot box on November 2nd. But that hasn’t stopped the Obama EPA. So it’s our mission now to stop EPA and its job-killing agenda.

“We have come a long way since the last UN Climate meeting last year when President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Lisa Jackson, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and dozens of lawmakers made their way to Copenhagen to tell the world that cap-and-trade was going to pass the United States Senate. Yet the truth was it had no chance of passing. To deliver that message, I traveled to Copenhagen as a one-man truth squad. I was only on the ground for about 2 hours, perhaps the most enjoyable 2 hours of my life, but the message I delivered was clear; under no circumstances will Global Warming Cap and Trade legislation ever pass the United States Senate. The reporters and diplomats didn’t like it. They hated me for telling the truth. But here we are: I was right and they were wrong.

“The fact is, nothing is going to happen in Cancun this year and everyone knows it. I couldn’t be happier and poor Al Gore couldn’t be more upset: it has been widely reported that he is “depressed” about Cancun.

“But let me be clear: despite our success over the past year, global warming alarmists will continue to push their agenda. For example, some leaders in Cancun are stepping up their attacks on capitalism and United Nations officials are saying they need to do more to ‘spread the wealth around.’ All of this is more of the same.

“Remember it was French President Jacques Chirac, who said in 2000 that Kyoto Protocol was the ‘first component of an authentic global governance.’ And Margot Wallstrom, the European Union’s former Environment Commissioner, who said in 2001 that Kyoto is about ‘trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world.’”


Some reasons why mathematical models cannot predict the future

The article below is directed at practice in economics but climate science has followed in those footsteps

At the end of this week we will know who will play for the national championship of major college football. Will it be Oregon? Auburn? Boise State? Texas Christian University, or another team? We won’t know until a mathematical equation tells us.

That’s correct. A mathematical algorithm determines who plays for the Bowl Championship Series trophy. True, the teams that play will have had outstanding seasons, and maybe had there been a playoff the same two teams would have reached that final game. It’s something we never will know, but there are some things we can know about the use of mathematics.

A mathematical formula never would have placed Butler University within one rimmed-out shot of beating Duke University in the NCAA basketball finals last April. A mathematical formula never would have given us Boise State’s exciting overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago, complete with a hook-and-ladder play for a touchdown and a Statue of Liberty play to score the winning points.

Predicting the Economy’s Future

Likewise, a mathematical formula cannot tell us what the U.S. economy (or any other economy) is going to do next year; nor can an algorithm tell us exactly how much revenue a new tax will collect, no matter what the Congressional Budget Office and Paul Krugman tell us. (A computer spits out the results, but it only operates according to the formula someone programmed into it.)

I am not denigrating mathematics per se; there is a place for math. However, there are legitimate reasons that using math in the way economists currently use it will result in failure. The first is that our economic future is not based on risk for which there can be understood probabilities. No, what we face is something entirely different: We face uncertainty, which economists like Frank Knight and Ludwig von Mises understood as a range of outcomes that are unknown until they happen.

The second reason is that economists cannot place entrepreneurial insight into an equation. Entrepreneurship is not quantifiable; one cannot subject it to probabilities or mathematical rigidity.

For example, laws of probability could not tell us that two college dropouts would invent a personal computer, build it in a garage, and then have the entrepreneurial vision to turn that invention into a line of products under the name Apple. Furthermore, one cannot put the freedom of enterprise (that quickly is disappearing in this country) into an equation and then predict an iPod or iPhone with it.

Economists once understood this point, but the lure of mathematics was too great. Paul Samuelson at mid-century wrote that unless economics adopted the mathematical analysis of the physical sciences, economists would not be true scientists, which would place their work into the undesirable category Mises called “metaphysics.” While Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Murray Rothbard pointed out the folly of trying to fit the square peg of economic analysis into the round hole of math, other economists derided them and declared that mathematics should dominate economics because it “fits the market test. (I deal with the “market test” issue in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics [pdf].)

There are legitimate reasons why a math formula could not have seen Butler almost win the NCAA championship and why no mathematical economist could have foreseen Apple. An algorithm can be based only on what we already know and by definition cannot deal with uncertainty. It cannot predict an injury to a key player, a critical missed foul shot, a slip by a defender, or a fingertip catch in the end zone. In fact, none of us can know these things – until they happen.

The popular 1960s cartoon The Jetsons featured futuristic home computers that looked like, well, 1960s mainframes. The creators could not have envisioned what actually would exist just a few decades later, not hundreds of years in the future. Likewise, the algorithm, although useful in building rockets and bridges, cannot tell us what we need to know in economic analysis – or give us a national collegiate champion in football.


The original Moonbat is freaked by the savage Northern winter

In a typical Green/Left flight of ego, he thinks God must be against him. See below. But he is certainly right about the way Warmists such as Al Gore are followed around by freezing weather. It hasn't yet occurred to Monbiot that maybe the weather is real and the temperature statistics are "fudged".

Incidentally, he starts out with a lie when he says "the rest of the world cooks". I live in subtropical Queensland in Australia and am at the moment experiencing the Southern summer. But, far from "cooking", the weather here has been unusually cool for a summer. And, geographically, Queensland is not an insignificant place. It's about the size of western Europe

CancĂșn climate change summit: Is God determined to prevent a deal?
While the rich parts of the world are covered in snow and ice, the rest of the world cooks

Is the divine presence a Republican? Or is He/She/It running an inter-galactic fossil fuel conglomerate? As His name doesn't feature on the exxonsecrets site, the Congressional funding database or any of the other sponsored denier lists, we'll never know, but whatever the explanation may be, the Paraclete appears to be as determined as any terrestrial corporate frontman to prevent a successful conclusion to the climate talks.

How do I know? Because every time anyone gets together to try to prevent global climate breakdown, He swaths the rich, densely habited parts of the world with snow and ice, while leaving obscurer places to cook.

The UN's World Meteorological Organisation has just reported that 2010 is likely to be one of the three warmest years on record. Combining the WMO's database with the temperatures measured by the US agencies Nasa and NOAA gives this year a ranking so far of equal first or equal second. But you'd scarcely believe it if you live in northern Europe or parts of the US, where (alongside a few anomalously hot ones) we've been hit by a series of freakishly cold weather events.

During the climate talks in Copenhagen last December, a band of hideous weather was aimed with surgical precision at Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Russia and the US. Everything above and below this band was unseasonally hot: in the case of the Arctic, 7.5C above the monthly average. As we don't live in the Arctic, we didn't notice, but the cold weather in London, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen was missed by no one. To prove that it was no accident, the man upstairs ensured that the entire tract of sea between the UK and Denmark was anomalously warm, even as people stuck in the endless queues outside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen were fainting from the cold.

(You can see the whole picture on Nasa's site, where you can scan global temperature anomalies month by month.)

As if more proof of intent were needed, take a look at the Met Office data for the UK. Had the talks in Copenhagen taken place in September, October or November 2009 – all of which were anomalously warm – the people of this country would have needed little persuading that life was hotting up. But the moment December comes along, the map goes powder blue – meaning an anomaly of between -1.5 and -2.5C. The cold snap was accompanied, as is traditional at this time of year, with an outpouring of moronic articles insisting that a month or two of cold weather in one region invalidated a 150-year record of, er, global warming. Dumb as they were, they hardly helped the climate talks towards a successful resolution.

(I found the pages I wanted with the help of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which is a very useful resource.)

Now He's at it again. Last week, just before the resumption of last year's failed climate talks, the UK recorded its lowest temperature for 25 years, just down the road from where I live. No one missed the fact that Powys, Wales, was struck by an Arctic -17C, but scarcely anyone was aware that, on the same day, Narsarsuaq in Greenland was basking in a thoroughly unseasonal +12C.

Now, as the talks begin in CancĂșn, there's scarcely an adult in this country who hasn't had the corny thought that we could do with a bit of global warming. Just look out of the window, Monbiot, the dolts who clutter my inbox insist, and tell me where your global warming is now. OK, with the caveat that weather isn't climate, it's in Narsarsuaq, currently still basking in +6C, expected to rise to +10 on Saturday. And probably in many other parts of the world as well.

But, perhaps in the throes of one of His Old Testament rages, He would rather you didn't know. God, alongside half the corporate world and many of its most powerful legislators, has declared war on the climate talks.


The great warming scare turns into a greater joke

Comment from Andrew Bolt in Australia

THE great global warming scare is dying not with a bang, or even a whimper. Try a great horse laugh.

Right now, 20,000 activists, politicians and carpetbaggers are meeting in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. They are there for the latest United Nations conference on how to make everyone else cut the emissions caused by, for instance, flying a population the size of a small city to a Mexican beach.

These are the emissions we’re told are heating the world so dangerously that Europe is now gripped by one of the coldest winters of a generation.

Indeed, it’s so bad that Vicky Pope, a warming pundit from Britain’s Met Office, was trapped in London by the snow that the Met’s climate models failed to predict, and so couldn’t fly to Cancun to explain how very hot the world in fact was.

This kind of thing dogged the UN’s climate mega-summit in Copenhagen a year ago. The heavens dumped 10cm of snow on the city in one night, while blizzards threatened to shut airports in Washington, forcing US Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fly home early while she could.

It’s driven prominent warming propagandist George Monbiot to sigh that God is on the side of Big Oil: “Every time anyone gets together to prevent global climate breakdown, He swathes the rich, densely habited parts of the world with snow and ice . . .”

Or, in our case, with torrential rain that our own warmist Bureau of Meteorology didn’t see coming, either, having predicted a drier spring.

Never mind. Fresh off their jets, and cooled by the tropical resort’s airconditioners, the Cancun evangelists are learning of cheery plans to put the rest of us on rations to restrict our use of such things as planes and coolers, and salsa bands flown in from Acapulco. Indeed, Prof Gary Egger from our Southern Cross University is to tell the summit that he’s got $390,000 from the Gillard Government to test the first such ration scheme on Norfolk Island.

To put the Cancun warmists in the right spirit, the UN’s top official there, Christiana Figueres, introduced them to a new god of this neo-pagan faith, the ancient Mayan jaguar goddess Ixchel. “May she inspire you,” Figueres cried to the crowd, which says it has science on its side.

Meanwhile, back home, we’re counting the cost of this green frenzy. The Queensland Government, for example, has just mothballed its $1.13 billion desalination plant, which it was persuaded to build by warmists who swore warming would dry the rain.

As then premier Peter Beattie explained, the “likely impact of climate change” included “lower than usual rainfall” and dams would not do.

But now Brisbane’s dams are full to overflowing, and Victoria’s own $5.7 billion desal plant, also built by a government claiming “we cannot rely on this kind of rainfall like we used to”, has been delayed for months by rain.

Other countries are also tempering the madness. Spain last week slashed the lavish subsidies for solar and wind power that was driving it broke.

France at the same time put a cap on solar power to cut costs, and Germany said it might also cut solar subsidies, as NSW did this year to save $2.5 billion.

But how did we ever succumb to the madness? Actually, WikiLeaks may help you to understand, having now published leaked US diplomatic cables revealing Big Government finances whole nations to give in to the warming faith.

In February this year, an ambassador from the Maldives told US deputy climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing that if the US handed over “tangible assistance”, other nations would realise “the advantages to be gained by compliance” with the accord agreed to at the Copenhagen summit. He mentioned a figure of $50 million.

Does the Maldives Government really believe warming will drown its island nation? You’d think not, given it’s building a brand new airport right by the sea, so even more tourists can fly in.

The US cables also show that Ethiopia agreed to back the accord, but wanted a personal assurance from President Barack Obama that he’d deliver aid, while Saudi Arabia asked for US aid to “take the pressure off climate change negotiations”.

Dutch climate negotiator Sanne Kaasjager even “drafted messages for embassies in capitals receiving Dutch development assistance to solicit support (for the accord)”.

It’s man-made, all right, this climate of opinion—made by an army of salvation seekers, rent seekers and pleasure seekers, now doing the samba in Cancun while we sandbag towns from the floods they told us not to expect again in this strangely, madly over-heated world.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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