Monday, February 07, 2011

Al Gore Explains 'Snowmageddon'

And gets rebutted

If the planet is warming, why is a third of America locked in a deep freeze, with record-low temperatures as far south as the Mexican border, where the thermometer in Ciudad Juarez plummeted Wednesday night to a bone-chilling 9-below zero?

Self-proclaimed planetary climate czar Al Gore thinks he has answer. "As it turns out, the scientific community has been addressing this particular question for some time now, and they say increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming," Gore wrote in a blog post.

The Nobel Prize-winning former vice president was responding to a question posed by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who wondered on air why global warming was such an urgent science policy priority when the New York City area had become a “tundra” this winter.

Gore also indicated that he believes a rise in global temperatures is creating “all sorts of havoc,” from hotter dry spells to colder winters and ever more violent storms. This is even endangering certain species of animals and leading to forest fires and floods.
But not surprisingly, some climate-change skeptics are a bit hot under the collar over Gore’s “scientific” explanation.

“Gore’s statement actually indicates a deeper problem -- lack of precise predictions,” said Dr. William M. Briggs, a statistician and climate scientist. His research shows that there are no increased weather problems because of global warming, Briggs told

“He’s saying that anything bad that happens must be because global warming caused it. Activists like Gore are great at identifying events after the fact as being caused by global warming, but terrible at predicting them beforehand,” Briggs said.

Meteorologist Art Horn agreed, noting the extensive history of devastating weather over the millennia -- none of which he connects with global warming. “If one actually studies the history of weather over the last 2,000 years, you see massive storms, amazing heat, brutal cold waves, devastating droughts, terrible floods and disastrous hurricanes -- none caused by global warming,” he told “Gore has no appreciation for large natural variability in weather,” Horn said.

Other scientists were quick to leap to Gore's support, arguing that the extreme cold weather is a logical, expected outcome for our warming planet. “It’s not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming,” meteorologist Jeffrey Masters told “There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming with plenty of opportunities for snow.”

The contretemps over global warming and winter weather -- and the bickering among scientists about man's effect on the climate -- has had a profound impact on public opinion around the globe. A January poll by Rasmussen Reports indicates that Americans are still more inclined to believe global warming is primarily caused by long-term planetary trends, although the gap narrowed a bit this month. But Americans don't blame global warming for this winter’s weather.

Skepticism is very clearly increasing overseas; a poll released this week by the Office for National Statistics in the U.K. indicated that the number of climate skeptics there had nearly doubled during the last four years. The proportion of people who said they were “not very concerned” about global warming now numbers more than one in five, the U.K. government said.

But many still argue that global warming is real, and the ultimate cause of the wretched weather. One environmental consultant pointed to an article that detailed a polar bear's nine-day swim to find an ice raft for refuge -- due to global warming’s impact on the environment of Alaska.

Others take a less anecdotal approach, and say that pure science supports Gore's global-warming argument. “It’s basic atmospheric physics,” said Meg Wilcox, a spokeswoman for Ceres, a national network of investors and environmental organizations. “Warmer air holds more moisture. This fact is apparent when you see water vapor hanging in the air after turning off a hot shower. When warm air holding moisture meets cooler air, the moisture condenses into tiny droplets that will fall as precipitation, rain or snow, depending upon atmospheric conditions.”

Warm air meets cold air seems simple enough. So why can't scientists agree? If it all seems confusing and contradictory, other experts say, the real blame lies not with the climate, or with science, or even scientists or former politicians, but with the incompetent media for failing to provide critical context for readers.

“The last 2,000 years is full of incredible weather events that dwarf what we see today,” said Horn. “Nature isn't cooperating with the global warming camp and theory.”

He points to a New York Times story from the 1970s, which said the planet was getting so cold that humanity was in danger of starving to death. The article argued that the world’s weather would soon be so frigid that it could no longer permit the cultivation of crops for food. The Times’ headline on August 8, 1974, was simple enough: “Climate changes Endanger World’s Food Output.”

“First we were told the world was cooling. Then it was getting hotter,” Dan Gainor, a spokesman for the Media Research Center, tells “Then cooling again. Then hotter. Now it’s just climate change -- so they can’t be wrong no matter what change occurs.”


The inverted reality of Warmism

The best you can say of it is that they assume what they have to prove

We keep seeing statements like the one above (by the learned Meg Wilcox) in the press – explaining the snow.
“It’s basic atmospheric physics,” said Meg Wilcox, a spokeswoman for Ceres, a national network of investors and environmental organizations. “Warmer air holds more moisture. This fact is apparent when you see water vapor hanging in the air after turning off a hot shower. When warm air holding moisture meets cooler air, the moisture condenses into tiny droplets that will fall as precipitation, rain or snow, depending upon atmospheric conditions.”

This is a nice theory, but the air is unusually cold, not unusually warm. Temperatures are far below normal. Are warmists actually as ignorant (and clueless) as they pretend to be? Extensive snow cover comes during cold winters, not warm ones. It doesn’t snow in Texas during warm winters.


Green Jobs Are Not Evergreen Jobs

After receiving at least $43 million in aid from the state of Massachusetts, Evergreen Solar announced last month that it would be closing its manufacturing plant in Devens, Mass., laying off its 800 workers and moving its manufacturing operations to China.

Warning: These are the "green jobs" that President Obama has touted as part of his "winning the future" agenda.

The problem isn't that Obama wants to direct federal dollars toward research for alternative energy. It is in the national interest to have affordable options when oil sources are depleted. The problem is that Obama thinks that green jobs are the answer to the anemic economy recovery. And he clings to that belief in the face of contrary evidence.

Last May, the president came to solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra in Fremont, Calif., to celebrate a new plant -- creating 3,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent workers. President Obama exclaimed, "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." Within months, Solyndra, which has yet to turn a profit, announced that it was canceling the expansion.

At best, you can describe Obamaland's choice of venue as bad advance work. Michael El-Hillow, Evergreen Solar's chief executive, explained in a statement the reason for his company's move: "While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint."

Evergreen is -- this month anyway -- the third-largest solar panel manufacturer in the United States. The Massachusetts plant opened in 2008 with much fanfare and generous taxpayer assistance. But just one year later, The New York Times reported, company suits were talking to Chinese officials, who could offer cheaper labor -- average monthly wages below $300 as opposed to $5,400 in the Bay State -- sweetheart loans and other incentives.

Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser saw Evergreen leave Massachusetts and opined in The New York Times that while he believed investing in green technology, "(I)t always was a mistake to think that clean energy was going to be a jobs bonanza." And: "We shouldn't pretend that cheaper solar energy will end up employing millions of our less-skilled citizens."

This leaves American solons with two choices: Keep feeding the meter -- or cut your losses. The high cost of subsidizing wind and solar power should seal the deal. According to the California Energy Commission, the cost of photovoltaic solar electricity is about 26 cents per kilowatt hour, as opposed to 13 cents for electricity powered by natural gas.

With the unemployment rate at 9 percent, Washington should be looking to create jobs that aren't going to run to China. Or, as Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, told The New York Times, "If the president really were serious about job creation, he would be working with us to develop American oil and gas by American workers for American consumers."

American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Steven F. Hayward likes to ask people which state has the lowest unemployment rate. The answer is North Dakota, with an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. "The reason is they've had a huge oil and gas boom," Hayward explained. They've tripled their oil output.

As the price of oil spills over the $100-per-barrel mark, Washington ought to reconsider the "green jobs" approach. As Hayward noted, "Brown energy creates jobs and prosperity."


GE Gets Exemption From Backdoor Cap & Trade

You won't find a more naked example of the corruption inherent in crony capitalism than Comrade Obama's symbiotic relationship with GE, which used its control of MSNBC to create a pro-Obama megaphone conspicuous even among the liberal media for the servility of its partisan propaganda. The devotion of GE/MSNBC talking heads and executives has been reminiscent of groveling toadies in fascist and communist regimes.

In return, Obama has pushed green energy boondoggles from which GE stands to make massive fortunes at the cost of affordable energy for the public. He has appointed CEO Jeffrey Immelt head of his economic advisory board. Now this:

Last month, the Obama EPA began enforcing new rules regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from any new or expanded power plants.
Nasty Pelousy managed to ram these new rules through the House as Cap & Trade. But they are so onerous, pointless, and economically destructive that they couldn't get through the Senate, despite Democrat control. So Obama is imposing them through the unaccountable EPA bureaucracy instead.

However, as the unions granted exemptions from ObamaCare can tell you, rules don't apply to Obama's friends. The Washington Examiner quotes subscription only Environment & Energy News:

The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to "grandfather" projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Why the sudden reasonableness toward Avenal Power Center, despite Obama's promise to make energy prices skyrocket by choking off supply? Probably because it plans to use turbines purchased from GE.

The bigger Big Government gets, the more essential it is to have the right friends if you expect to be allowed to do anything constructive.


Climate education in British schools: a mess of pottage, a porridge of propaganda?

The politicization of Geography teaching seems to be killing off the subject

Indoctrination in schools is illegal in the UK (e.g. section 406 of the Education Act of 1996). Education ought to teach children about their world. But there are those who see the young as so many potential footsoldiers for their cause, little Trojan horses to fill with propaganda to carry back into their homes and into their futures. All to save the planet of course, so who can object to that?

Of course, they are not 'saving the planet'. First of all, 'the planet' is not in danger, and secondly, crippling our economies physically, and our children mentally, are not pathways to robust societies ready to tackle whatever challenges the future may bring them, environmental and otherwise. They are pathways to poverty and dependency.

Geography is an obvious target for proselytising on 'climate change'. It does not seem to be thriving as a subject in schools in the UK.

'In a speech at Charterhouse School, Surrey, Prof Woodhead cited the example of geography, where the curriculum has been focused on turning children into "global citizens" at the expense of an objective study of the earth.

"I think there is a difference between education on the one hand and propaganda on the other - and I think this is one of the main reasons why schools are starting to abandon GCSEs in such numbers," he said.

"Politicians seem to have this belief that schools and teachers can solve the evils of the world. Simply dump all the deeply intractable social problems on to the curriculum and let the schools sort it out. Schools should be teaching children what they don't know, not attempting to create citizens of the future who are active and responsible." '


'Geography lessons 'not good enough in half of schools'

Children’s knowledge of capital cities, continents, world affairs and the environment is in sharp decline because of poor geography lessons, inspectors warned today.

In a damning report, Ofsted said teaching in the subject was not good enough in more than half of English state schools. Geography – traditionally a cornerstone of the curriculum – is often undermined by a lack of space in school timetables after being edged out by exam practice and other subjects such as citizenship.

Many primary teachers lacked specialist geographical knowledge, the watchdog said, meaning classes often descended into a focus on superficial stereotypes. The subject had practically “disappeared” in one-in-10 primaries.

In secondary schools, classes were often merged with history to form generic “humanities” lessons that focused on vague skills instead of geographical understanding.

Ofsted said the decline severely reduced children’s ability at all ages to grasp key geographical issues, identify countries or capital cities and even read maps properly.'

['Ofsted' is a government agency in the UK: 'Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We regulate and inspect to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages.']

How come so many teachers have apparently stopped teaching in order to become facilitators for producing ill-informed agitators? The same malaise has also affected the BBC, an organisation turning into an international laughing stock because of its blinkered, biased approach on climate and its wish to campaign for 'the cause' rather than 'merely' broadcast news, information, and honest investigative journalism.

The scientific case for alarm over CO2 is fragile and has been widely dismantled, not least by Nature herself refusing to follow the purposeful computer models equipped with magical powers for CO2. The political case is also faltering, not least due to the absurdities of the IPCC leadership and publications, and to simple-minded bandwagoning by politicians in many countries running out of steam (see for example, the absence of 'climate change' in the recent State of the Union address in the USA, and several opinion polls showing the declining credibility of eco-alarmism). So will the educational system be the final redoubt for this whole sorry business?

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Australia: Green tape makes the poor poorer

An extreme illustration of what a shortage of building land leads to can be seen in the house pictured below. It is a former workman's cottage in an inner Western suburb of Sydney, is infested by termites, has no floor and is uninhabitable. It has just sold for $800,000

According to English humourist Auberon Waugh, the urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women.

Perhaps Julia Gillard recognised this in abandoning the cash-for-clunkers scheme. Designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this was to give new car buyers a $2000 rebate to scrap pre-1995 cars.

Premature scrapping of serviceable older cars creates a used-car shortage, and this raises the prices of used cars that are mainly bought by younger and poorer people. Giving cash for clunkers would have allowed politically powerful people to parade a phony environmental sensitivity while getting others to pay the cost.

It is not the only example of such hypocrisy. Self-selected political elites also use environmental concerns to prevent housing developments. Even though urban land comprises only 0.5 per cent of Victoria, and even less for Australia as a whole, regulations restrict city growth.

This creates housing land shortages, increases the cost of land for housing and inflates new house costs.

People without their own homes lose out. But existing homeowners benefit from increased house prices and can therefore have much to gain from supporting planning restraints in the name of environmentalism.

Last week, the think-tank Demographia released price data for detached housing in 325 housing markets in seven countries. Prices in Melbourne and the rest of Australia were, except for land-starved Hong Kong, the highest among the countries examined.

The analysis showed that to buy the average Australian house in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth required 7.1 years of the average household's income (nine years for Melbourne). For comparable US cities, it is 3.3 years, and in Britain, where houses are smaller, 5.1 years. For the sample of 82 world cities with populations over one million, Melbourne's house prices are the 79th highest (Sydney's are 81st).

Demographia demonstrated that government planning restraints creating a scarcity of housing land were the overwhelming cause of Australia's high prices.

Self-proclaimed housing experts have denied that high housing prices in Australia result from our planning and regulatory system. Some have said high prices in Australian capital cities are seen in all seaside cities. Yet house prices in US coastal cities like Houston and Tampa are a third of Melbourne's. Inland Bendigo's house prices are actually double those of Houston, the world's space research centre.

Some said high Australian house prices stem from low interest rates making them more affordable. Yet interest rates are far lower in Britain, the US and Canada, but houses are cheaper.

Others blamed high house prices on demand pressures from immigration. But low house prices in cities like Houston, Dallas and Atlanta are accompanied by far higher immigration levels than in Australian cities.

The Demographia analysis shows the high Australian house costs are overwhelmingly caused by the high costs of land. For a block on the Melbourne outskirts planning regulations, on my reckoning, add $80,000 to the cost of a new house.

Government intrusion in our lives reduces overall prosperity and often the poor face particularly adverse impacts.



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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