Thursday, March 31, 2011

Warmists jittery about Berkeley project

They say that the Muller team findings will make "no difference" to the temperature record but are clearly critical nonetheless. They are so defensive that now they even say that thermometer readings are irrelevant! -- LOL!

An effort by a handful of UC Berkeley scientists to reexamine temperature data underlying global warming research has landed in the center of a national political debate over government regulation.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study is led by physicist Richard Muller, a longtime critic of the scientific consensus on climate change, who plans to testify on the effort Thursday before the House Science Committee in the latest of several congressional inquiries on climate science since the GOP majority was seated.

The Berkeley project's biggest private backer, with $150,000, is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch are the nation's most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs on fossil-fuel burning, the biggest contributor to planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Temperature data from tens of thousands of weather stations across the globe, many of which have incomplete records, are "very contentious," Muller said in an interview. "The skeptics are raising legitimate concerns."

Leading climate scientists, however, say the three most in-depth temperature studies agree on the overall severity and pace of global warming. They worry that the Berkeley effort, and the hearing Thursday, will add to public confusion on a topic that is as politically polarized as it is scientifically complex.

Muller said Koch and other contributors will have no influence over the results. "We have no prejudice, no preconception of what we are going to get," he said, adding that the Koch donation was less than the $188,587 contributed by the federal Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where Muller is a senior scientist.

"Global warming is a serious problem," Muller said in a lecture at UC Berkeley last week. "But people simply don't believe the story anymore because the story was exaggerated.... Not a single polar bear has died because of receding ice."

The Berkeley study comes as efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles are under attack in Congress. The Supreme Court in 2007 said the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but Republicans and coal-state Democrats, citing uncertainty over the science, are sponsoring legislation to thwart that effort.

Temperature data were the focus of the so-called 2009 Climategate controversy, in which opponents of greenhouse gas regulation alleged that leaked emails from a British climate laboratory showed manipulation of weather station records. Five U.S. and British government and university investigations have refuted the charges.

The Berkeley effort is hardly new. Over the last two decades, three independent scientific groups have analyzed international data from thousands of weather stations. Using different combinations of stations and varying statistical methods, all have come to nearly identical conclusions: The planet's surface, on average, has warmed about 0.75 degrees centigrade (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century.

Scientists involved in those studies said they would welcome new peer-reviewed research, but they contend that Muller is violating scientific protocol by publicizing his project, underway for months, before it produces any vetted scientific papers.

"I am highly skeptical of the hype and claims," said Kevin Trenberth, who heads the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a university consortium. "The team has some good people but not the expertise required in certain areas, and purely statistical approaches are naive. I suspect they have an agenda."

The Koch donation, to many, confirms those suspicions. "Why would a scientist accept funding from an organization with no interest in advancing the science?" asked Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Muller said his team would submit to peer-reviewed journals data that "measure the warming with more precision than in the past." He acknowledged that his study could find that issues raised by skeptics have only a "marginal effect" on temperature estimates. "Don't expect any huge surprises," he warned. "The surprises may be in the fine tuning."

Muller and many of those who question the temperature data are drawn to the "urban heat island" phenomenon, maintaining that gauges may be registering latent heat from asphalt, concrete and other urban features. Over time, some weather stations that once recorded temperatures in rural areas have been surrounded by cities and suburbs.

The Berkeley project is analyzing information from 39,000 stations —five times as many as the other groups, Muller said — and will address the fact that temperature data have been recorded at varying times of day.

The project also will put its calculations on the Internet in a "transparent" way, Muller said. Other scientists, he said, "put homogenized data online. They don't put up the [software] tools that get you from the raw data to the homogenized data. How do they pick the [weather station] sites? That involves human judgment."

Peter Thorne, a leading expert on temperature data at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said the three main data sets by the NOAA, NASA and Britain's Hadley Centre adjust for the heat island effect, as well as for measurements at different times of day. Muller's use of 39,000 weather stations, he said, "will make next to no difference" in the final result.

Thorne said the data and computer code for the NASA analysis have been publicly online for five years, while NOAA's data and code have been online for three years. Most of the British center's data are online, except for information shared on a confidential basis by commercial groups, and the code is available, he said.

Thorne said he was unsurprised by the Berkeley project's focus on temperature data. "For those who wish to discredit the science, this record is the holy grail," he said. "They figure if they can discredit this, then society would have significant doubts about all of climate science."

But temperature is only one indicator of global warming, Thorne said. "Even if the thermometer had never been invented, the evidence is there from deep ocean changes, from receding glaciers, from rising sea levels and receding sea ice and spring snow cover. All the physical indicators are consistent with a warming world. "There is no doubt the trend of temperature is upwards since the early 20th century. And that trend is accelerating."


Another Warmist retreat

Something else left out of the "models"

Some cheerful news on the climate change front today, as US government boffins report that ice breaking off the Antarctic shelves and melting in the sea causes carbon dioxide to be removed from the environment. This powerful, previously unknown "negative feedback" would seem likely to revise forecasts of future global warming significantly downwards.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) which funded the iceberg study, describes the results as having "global implications for climate research".

"These new findings... confirm that icebergs contribute yet another, previously unsuspected, dimension of physical and biological complexity to polar ecosystems," says Roberta Marinelli, director of the NSF's Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program.

A team of NSF-funded scientists examined the effects on an area of the Weddell Sea of a large (20 mile long) berg moving through, melting as it went and diluting the salty sea water - also adding key nutrients carried from the land. They found that after the iceberg had passed, levels of CO2 had plunged and much more chlorophyll was present. Chlorophyll is the substance in green plants which lets them suck in nasty CO2 and emit precious life-giving oxygen: in the Weddell Sea it was present in phytoplankton, tiny seagoing plantoids which are thought to account for half the carbon removed from the atmosphere globally.

The scientists say that more and more icebergs are set to be found in the seas around the Anatarctic as more ice breaks off the shelves attached to the peninsula which reaches up from the polar continent towards South America. This should mean more phytoplankton and thus less CO2.

The iceberg team consider that the increased number of bergs coming from the western Antarctic is the result of warming temperatures in the region, though recent research from British boffins has suggested that in fact other factors may be in play - at least in the case of the Pine Island Glacier, one of the major sources of sea ice in that area.

If the phytoplankton-boosting effect of the bergs is as big as the NSF appears to be suggesting, however, it would seem that any carbon-driven temperature rise could be at least partly self-correcting.

Increased iceberg shedding would seem likely to be seen mainly or only around the western peninsula: antarctic sea ice shelves elsewhere are actually growing, not shrinking, and at such a rate as to outweigh the peninsular losses. The past three decades have seen the south-polar ice sheets grow by 300,000 square kilometres overall.

The NSF study was originally published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part II (subscription required). It was flagged up more recently in Nature Geoscience's top picks (again, subscription link). The NSF also has a statement here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Scientist Predicts New Ice Age

On the heels of the pronouncement by one of the gurus of global warming that any decrease in the earth’s temperature could be a thousand years away, another scientist has stepped forward with the warning that a new Ice Age could be right around the corner.

Professor Tim Flannery, the head of Australia’s Climate Change Commission, sparked the latest scandal in the global warming community when he recently declared, "If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow, the average temperature of the planet's not going to drop for several hundred years, perhaps over 1000 years."

As reported previously for The New American, Prof. Flannery has endeavored to ameliorate the effects of his comment by claiming that temperatures would begin to drop by the end of the century, but his millenarian prognostications served to highlight the ineffectiveness — even insignificance — of the proposed draconian reductions in the world’s industrial activity.

However, if George Kukla is correct, the cooling which Flannery and his cohorts desire may be coming in spades. Kukla, a retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University, believes the Earth is no overdue for an Ice Age. An article by Terrence Aym (“Prepare for new Ice Age now says top paleoclimatologist”) at sets forth some of Kukla’s argument:
The "Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages dating back millions of years. Cold, glacial periods affecting the polar to mid-latitudes persist for about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials," Kukla says.

Co-author of an important section of the book "Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales," Kukla asserts all Ice Ages strat [sic] with a period of global warming. They are the the harbingers of new Ice Ages. Actually, he explains, warming is good. Ice Ages are deadly and may even kill millions.

Can Mankind stop it? No. Just as humanity cannot affect the long term climate of the planet, neither can it stop an Ice Age from happening. The climate is primarly [sic] driven by the sun.

Kukla has been warning of the possibility of new Ice Age for some time, and the cycle which he and other scientists believe may drive the process of climate change has been observed since at least the 1920s. Eleven years ago, Kukla gave a brief summary of his view on the cause of climate change for an article published by the Columbia University News:
In fact, the geologic record reveals that Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages dating back millions of years. Cold, glacial periods affecting the polar to mid-latitudes persist for about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials. The Holocene is just another interglacial that is more than half over, Kukla said.

It turns out that this ongoing cycle of glaciation closely matches cyclic variations in Earth's orbit around the sun, leading many researchers to conclude that orbit drives glaciation. This correspondence between orbit and climate is called the Milankovich cycle, after the scientist who analyzed and popularized it in the 1920s.

"I feel we're on pretty solid ground in interpreting orbit around the sun as the primary driving force behind ice-age glaciation. The relationship is just too clear and consistent to allow reasonable doubt," Kukla said. "It's either that, or climate drives orbit, and that just doesn't make sense."

Kukla claims that 116,000 years have passed since the last Ice Age; therefore, if the theory is correct, Earth would be overdue for global cooling.

Of course, Kukla is not the only advocate of a theory of a new Ice Age; the difference between him and some very prominent promoters of the theory is that his model does not recognize any connection between such an event and human activity. Obama’s science ‘czar,’ John Holdren, coauthored a book with Paul Ehrlich in 1971 predicting that “global over-population was heading the Earth to a new ice age unless the government mandated urgent measures to control population, including the possibility of involuntary birth control measures such as forced sterilization.” Now, the doom and gloom crowd have completely reversed their assessment of the disaster which they claim will soon befall the human race, but the “solution” remains the same: Devastate the human species.

As the global warming theory has withered under public scrutiny in the aftermath of the Climategate and Glaciergate scandals, the theory’s proponents have been dashing around looking for a way to push their agenda. Last year, Holdren tried to adjust the language of the climate change debate by promoting a new terminology of “global climate disruption.” The cultivated ambiguity of Holdren’s new phraseology permits virtually any anomalous weather activity to constitute “proof” of their theory—rendering the theory incapable of being falsified, which is usually a fine indicator of pseudoscience.

Thus, Kukla’s theory of a new Ice Age is utterly different from the Holdren/Ehrlich’s “new Ice Age” of the 1970s, or the “global warming” scare which has predominated in the circles of scientific apocalypticism in recent decades. If Kukla is right, the Ice Age will come according to its own schedule, and there’s nothing that the human race can do about it—except, of course, for enjoying the brief warming that precedes the big chill.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Tree ring data unreliable

The guys below are tree ring experts and even though they are Warmists, they have to admit how difficult it is to draw any firm conclusions from such data

Tree rings are a good place to start thinking about how climate researchers get information about past climates. In certain cases, trees can live for many hundreds of years and in an extraordinary case, like the bristlecone pine, thousands of years! Each year trees add growth rings, which can indicate what sort of growing season the tree experienced. Interestingly these rings are more than a temperature indicator, they also tell the researcher about moisture and cloudiness as well.

Dendrochronology is the study of climate change as recorded by tree growth rings. Each year, trees add a layer of growth between the older wood and the bark. This layer, or ring as seen in cross section, can be wide, recording a wet season, or narrow, recording a dry growing season. Because the rings are basically recording a good growing season or a bad growing season, they are indirectly recording more than just moisture. They also document temperature and cloud cover as they impact tree growth as well. This record of annual summer information is very important when you consider that certain types of trees grow slowly over hundreds and hundreds of years, and therefore contain a record of as many years of climate and climate change.

There are limitations to this research though. Trees in the temperate zone only record the growing season, so the winter season, no matter how dramatic, will not be seen in the ring record. Interestingly, trees in tropical regions grow year round and therefore show no real obvious annual growth rings. Therefore climate data from equatorial areas is difficult to piece out and use. The record is limited geographically in another way too. Trees do not grow in all places on Earth, therefore we don’t have a tree ring record of climate change for each region and ecologic niche globally. (No trees in polar regions, high in the mountains, in the ocean!!!)

In order to know more about climate over an even longer period of time, in some cases thousands of years, it is possible to look at dead trees of an unknown age that are still well preserved. One can correlate their rings to the rings of a living tree (whose age you know), and get a longer record of climate through time. An amazing example of this is the tree ring chronologies established by looking at bristlecone pines through time. Not only are bristlecone pines the longest lived trees on earth, they also live in a place where, even when they do die, they are well preserved over hundreds or thousands of years. We can therefore look at a living bristlecone, take its ring record , then look at a dead tree and see where the rings match up. In this way, scientists have established a ring record that records climate signals for over 9,000 years into the past.

Dendrochronology is currently still in its scientific infancy – there are many problems in the use of tree rings, particularly because the growth of tree rings can be impacted by many issues - not just rainfall amount, temperature, and cloud cover – but also by wind, soil properties, disease, or even pollution. These issues can certainly impact tree ring growth and cloud the scientific record. Fortunately, scientists are gaining new insight in the reading and use of tree rings, and hope that they can be used to help understand whether global warming has any precedent in the ring record of the past 1,000 years.


‘Ozone hole’ shenanigans were the warm-up act for ‘Global Warming’

Dr. Wil Happer of Princeton wrote
“The Montreal Protocol to ban freons was the warm-up exercise for the IPCC. Many current IPCC players gained fame then by stampeding the US Congress into supporting the Montreal Protocol. They learned to use dramatized, phony scientific claims like “ozone holes over Kennebunkport” (President Bush Sr’s seaside residence in New England). The ozone crusade also had business opportunities for firms like Dupont to market proprietary “ozone-friendly” refrigerants at much better prices than the conventional (and more easily used) freons that had long-since lost patent protection and were not a cheap commodity with little profit potential” (link).

Even James Lovelock agrees. James Lovelock formulated the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment. He later became concerned that global warming would upset the balance and leave only the arctic as habitable. He began to move off this position in 2007 suggesting that the Earth itself is in “no danger” because it would stabilize in a new state.

James Lovelock’s reaction to first reading about the leaked CRU emails in late 2009 was one of a true scientist.
“I was utterly disgusted. My second thought was that it was inevitable. It was bound to happen. Science, not so very long ago, pre-1960s, was largely vocational. Back when I was young, I didn’t want to do anything else other than be a scientist. They’re not like that nowadays. They don’t give a damn. They go to these massive, mass-produced universities and churn them out. They say: “Science is a good career. You can get a job for life doing government work.” That’s no way to do science.

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done.

Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science. I’m not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It’s the one thing you do not ever do. You’ve got to have standards.”

On a March 2010 Guardian interview, Lovelock opined
“The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing...We do need skepticism about the predictions about what will happen to the climate in 50 years, or whatever. It’s almost naive, scientifically speaking, to think we can give relatively accurate predictions for future climate. There are so many unknowns that it’s wrong to do it.”

Will Happer further elaborated
“The Montreal Protocol may not have been necessary to save the ozone, but it had limited economic damage. It has caused much more damage in the way it has corrupted science. It showed how quickly a scientist or activist can gain fame and fortune by purporting to save planet earth. We have the same situation with CO2 now, but CO2 is completely natural, unlike freons. Planet earth is quite happy to have lots more CO2 than current values, as the geological record clearly shows. If the jihad against CO2 succeeds, there will be enormous economic damage, and even worse consequences for human liberty at the hands of the successful jihadists.”


The ozone hole has not closed off after we banned CFCs. See this story in Nature about how the Consensus about the Ozone Hole and Man’s Role (with CFCs) May Be Falling Apart.

The size of the hole has hardly changed since 1990
“As the world marks 20 years since the introduction of the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, Nature has learned of experimental data that threaten to shatter established theories of ozone chemistry. If the data are right, scientists will have to rethink their understanding of how ozone holes are formed and how that relates to climate change. Markus Rex, an atmosphere scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, did a double-take when he saw new data for the break-down rate of a crucial molecule, dichlorine peroxide (Cl2O2). The rate of photolysis (light-activated splitting) of this molecule reported by chemists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California1, was extremely low in the wavelengths available in the stratosphere - almost an order of magnitude lower than the currently accepted rate.

“This must have far-reaching consequences,” Rex says. “If the measurements are correct we can basically no longer say we understand how ozone holes come into being.” What effect the results have on projections of the speed or extent of ozone depletion remains unclear.

Other groups have yet to confirm the new photolysis rate, but the conundrum is already causing much debate and uncertainty in the ozone research community. “Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really been blown apart,” says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. “Until recently everything looked like it fitted nicely,” agrees Neil Harris, an atmosphere scientist who heads the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. “Now suddenly it’s like a plank has been pulled out of a bridge.”


Yet like the cultists whose spacecraft didn’t arrive on the announced date, the government scientists find ways to postpone it and save their reputations (examples “Increasing greenhouse gases could delay, or even postpone indefinitely the recovery of stratospheric ozone in some regions of the Earth, a Johns Hopkins earth scientist suggests” here and “Scientists Find Antarctic Ozone Hole to Recover Later than Expected” here.
“The warmers are getting more and more like those traditional predictors of the end of the world who, when the event fails to happen on the due date, announce an error in their calculations and a new date.”

Dr. John Brignell, Emeritus Engineering Professor at the University of Southampton, on Number Watch (May 1) PDF

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Three articles below

How big an effect on world temperature will Australia's proposed carbon tax have?

Lord Monckton has been kind enough to give me the straight answer that Flannery et al will not - and his answer explains exactly Flannery's embarrassed silence:

Q. What is the central estimate of the anthropogenic global warming, in Celsius degrees, that would be forestalled by 2020 if a) Australia alone and b) the whole world cut carbon emissions stepwise until by 2020 they were 5% below today's emissions?

Answer a). Australia accounts for (at most) 1.5% of global carbon emissions. A stepwise 5% cut by 2020 is an average 2.5% cut from now till then. CO2 concentration by 2020, taking the IPCC's A2 scenario, will be 412 parts per million by volume, compared with 390 ppmv now. So Man will have added 22 ppmv by 2020, without any cuts in emissions. The CO2 concentration increase forestalled by almost a decade of cap-and-tax in Australia would thus be 2.5% of 1.5% of 22 ppmv, or 0.00825 ppmv. So in 2020 CO2 concentration would be 411.99175 ppmv instead of 412 ppmv.

So the proportionate change in CO2 concentration if the Commission and Ms. Gillard got their way would be 411.99175/412, or 0.99997998. The IPCC says warming or cooling, in Celsius degrees, is 3.7-5.7 times the logarithm of the proportionate change: central estimate 4.7. Also, it expects only 57% of manmade warming to occur by 2100: the rest would happen slowly and harmlessly over perhaps 1000 years (that's the real meaning of Flannery's 1000-year point, and it doesn't do him any favours).

So the warming forestalled by cutting Australia's emissions would be 57% of 4.7 times the logarithm of 0.99997998: that is - wait for it, wait for it - a dizzying 0.00005 Celsius, or around one-twenty-thousandth of a Celsius degree. Your estimate of a thousandth of a degree was a 20-fold exaggeration - not that Flannery was ever going to tell you that, of course.

Answer b) . Mutatis mutandis, we do the same calculation for the whole world, thus:

2.5% of 22 ppmv = 0.55 ppmv. Warming forestalled by 2020 = 0.57 x 4.7 ln[(412-0.55)/412] < 0.004 Celsius, or less than four one-thousandths of a Celsius degree, or around one-two-hundred-and-eightieth of a Celsius degree. And that at a cost of trillions. Whom the gods would destroy .

If you'd like chapter and verse from the IPCC's documents and from the peer-reviewed for every step of this calculation, which takes full account of and distils down the various complexities and probabilities Flannery flannelled about, you'll find it in this paper.

A cautionary note: the warming forestalled will only be this big if the IPCC's central estimate of the rate at which adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes warming is correct. However, it's at least a twofold exaggeration and probably more like fourfold. So divide both the above answers by, say, 3 to get what will still probably be an overestimate of the warming forestalled.


Greenie thinking converts an otherwise decent man into a Fascist

EVERY Australian family should be limited to just two children to curb the population explosion, controversial millionaire Dick Smith says. He called for a China-like quota on the number of kids, warning the growing burden on our resources was like "a plague of locusts".

Likening high-rise apartments to chicken coops, the former Australian of the Year thanked property developers at an Urban Taskforce population debate in Sydney for "not lynching" him after he attacked their drive for profits and called for an end to the growth addiction.

"It's either going to be forced on us or we are going to plan to stabilise," Mr Smith said. "I would like to see Australia stabilise at 24 to 25 million. I don't see it by force I see it by saying to parents, it's best to have two kids. I see us having an immigration intake of 70,000 per year."

Unaffordable land prices left generations of children stuck in apartments, he said. "We descended from hunter gatherers - not from termites," Mr Smith said. "We are putting our kids into high-rise because we are running out of land, because people want and need to live close to the city. We pay $50 million a year for free range eggs for our bloody chooks to be free range - what about our kids? I was a free range kid. I had a backyard. We are starting to lose that now, and it's only driven by the huge population increases."

Population growth had to slow to allow housing to become affordable again, he said, warning bad handling could lead to a recession.

Mr Smith called for an end to "stealing resources" from future generations. "We have to decide - are we like locusts that breed to huge numbers and then die off? Or are we like the majority of other magnificent natural creatures in this country which have lived in balance for millions of years?" he said.

" We have to decide we're going to live in balance or breed up and die off. There are people who say we will get to 9.1 billion and one enormous catastrophe will wipe out most of the people and if that's going to happen enjoy the advantages now. That might not happen."

Mr Smith said the economic system was built on "perpetual exponential growth". "We are completely addicted to growth. It's like the religion of capitalism but it is a false God," he said

MacroPlan economist Brian Haratsis called Mr Smith alarmist and "using scare tactics" He said population debate in Australia had been stolen by "anti-growth people with a Green sentiment". "We can triple the population of Australia if we want to and we wouldn't use much land. You only have to jump in a plane to Sydney and fly to Perth and what do you see? Not much."

Mr Haratsis said a population of 40 million was inevitable and that "the only choice is if we want a really big Australia of 40 million to 80 million".


Dam good invention the answer to our dry land's problem

I HAVE a brilliant idea for water management in Australia. What this dry continent needs is a way of storing and reticulating water to vast numbers of people in cities. I have come up with an invention that I call a "dam".

Let's build these "dams" outside each major city so that water might be stored and drawn down upon when needed. It's so simple and so cheap I cannot believe that no one in government or the bureaucracy has thought of it before. It sure would save a lot of money.

There are by my count six desalination plants either recently completed or under construction in Australia.

These things can cost in excess of $5 billion plus financing and operating costs. A "dam" on the other hand can store and deliver vastly more water at a cost of say $2bn. There, I've just saved the taxpayer $3bn and that's on a single project.

Of course, my idea for a "dam" is not new; I have nicked it from history. The last dam built to supply Sydney was the Tallowa completed in 1976 when the metropolitan population was 3.1 million.

Some 35 years later Sydney's population has expanded by 1.5 million, or 48 per cent, and there's no plan to add another dam for at least another decade, if ever.

This is extremely odd. I do not recall a conversation let alone a furious public debate about the management of Sydney's, or any other major Australian city's, water future.

At what point over the last three decades was a decision made that no new dams should be built and that future water supplies should be based on more expensive options such as desalination plants and/or pipelines?

Other cities are in much the same position: Melbourne has added 1.2 million since the completion of the Thomson Dam in 1984 and Brisbane has added 1 million since the Wivenhoe was completed also in 1984.

I have never understood the anti-dam lobby's argument that "why build a dam when it will never fill?" So, if this was the case and we had two dams both at 20 per cent capacity then doesn't this deliver twice the water security of one dam at 20 per cent?

I do understand that the construction of a dam will have a detrimental environmental impact. But environmental impact statements articulate the negatives. They never properly account for the positives associated with a dam.

And, yes, there are positives. More water for an urban population allows householders to develop gardens which attract birdlife and contribute more generally to what environmentalists call "the urban forest". I'm all for urban forests -- let's deliver the water these forests need to flourish and in so doing deliver quality of life to millions.

Do environmental impact statements incorporate the health costs of old people struggling with "bucket back" caused by watering restrictions? What about the psychological impact on those who fret about not having enough water for their gardens? No, not relevant?

Another dam has not been built in Brisbane's Lockyer Valley since the Wivenhoe which in turn was partially a flood mitigation device following the 1974 floods. How much water would have been retained by a second dam had it been built in say the late 1990s or early 2000s? What degree of calamity might have been averted by the existence of such a dam?

Surely flood mitigation is a positive impact of a dam. And what is the response of those whose influential water reports of the 1990s and the 2000s argued that we cannot rely on regular rainfall in the future to fill dams? Do these experts now concede that they got it wrong? If you got it wrong then why should we rely on your advice that we should not build dams in the future?

I might add that my argument in support of dams is not entirely in the interests of the property industry. Which do you think the property industry would prefer if it was purely self-interested: a desalination plant costing $5bn or a dam at $2bn?

The Australian people are indebted to the anti-dam lobby for forcing behavioural change with regard to water usage over the past 30 years: we have evolved a long way from water profligacy. But there comes a point in a city's growth when practical and hard-headed decisions need to be taken.

We haven't built a dam to service Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane for a generation. We've had a dam-building hiatus and we've moderated our water usage, now it's time to build cost-efficient dams.

Or at the very least let's have a conversation about the subject rather than allowing various levels of government to solely pursue less efficient and more expensive alternatives such as pipelines and desalination plants.

There may well be a place for these "insurances" against another decade-long drought in the future, but we also need to be considering dams as a way of delivering baseload water supplies for our biggest cities in the 21st century.



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


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New paper asserts atmospheric water vapour modulates incoming solar energy and is a negative feedback

Semi-retired physicist Dr. Daniel M. Sweger has been a research scientist at NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology], where he was active in a variety of research areas, including cryogenic thermometry, solid state and nuclear physics, and molecular spectroscopy.

His new paper, Earth’s Climate Engine (876 Kb PDF) is now available for discussion. From the Executive Summary:

"… While models can be useful, the results must be compared to actual measurements, i.e. data. Data is the language of science, but little has been done in that regard with the climate change models.

It is the premise of the author that water vapor is the dominant influence in determining and understanding global climate. Water vapor is much more abundant in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and its physical properties make it more important as well. During daylight hours it moderates the sun’s energy, at night it acts like a blanket to slow the loss of heat, and it carries energy from the warm parts of the earth to the cold. Compared to that, if carbon dioxide has any effect it must be negligible. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of water vapor on climate.

Detailed calculations and analysis of data from several locations clearly demonstrate that the effect of water vapor on temperature dominates any proposed effect of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, it is clear from the data presented that water vapor acts with a negative feedback on temperature, not a positive one. That is, the data demonstrate that increasing the level of water vapor in the atmosphere results in a decrease of temperature, not an increase as predicted by the climate models. In essence, atmospheric water vapor acts as a thermostat.

These results call into question the validity of using the results of the current general climate change models, particularly as the basis for policy decision making."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Global warming is creating perfect crop conditions

The article below uses "global warming" rather provocatively -- deliberately, I think. There has been no recent warming. What is actually assisting crop growth is higher levels of CO2 -- but that is anathema to Warmists also

The news media are flush with stories claiming global warming is crushing global crop production. According to the media, global warming is putting the hurt on two of our favorite indulgences – coffee and beer. For the more globally conscious (or less caffeinated/less inebriated) among us, the media are also focusing attention on an alleged African corn crisis. A look at facts rather than alarmist speculation, however, shows global warming is strongly benefiting nearly all global crops, including coffee, beer barley, and African corn.

Without a doubt, global warming is affecting global crop production. The tremendous improvement in global crop production and worldwide growing conditions during recent decades is one of the most important yet least reported news events of our time. As the earth continues to recover from the abnormally cold conditions of the centuries-long Little Ice Age, warmer temperatures, improving soil moisture, and more abundant atmospheric carbon dioxide have helped bring about a golden age for global agricultural production.

During the past decade, which alarmists claim is the warmest in recent history, record per-acre yields have been recorded for nearly every important U.S. crop. During the past five years alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, record per-acre yields have been registered for barley, beans, canola, corn, cotton, flaxseed, oats, peanuts, potatoes, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflowers, and wheat.

Global crop yields have also registered spectacular growth as global temperatures have warmed. Global grain harvests have nearly tripled since 1961. As is the case in the U.S., nearly every important global crop has attained record productivity during the past five years, including the Big Three corn, rice, and wheat crops.

Indeed, while the media claim global warming is threatening our morning coffee, farmers are preparing to harvest a record global coffee crop. While the media claim global warming is jeopardizing our beer bellies by harming barley production, U.S. farmers in 2009 netted their highest ever barley yield per acre. Claims that global warming is harming African corn production are the most ridiculous of all.

During the past decade, African nations have registered record harvests in a variety of crops, including corn and rice. Moreover, the modestly warming climate is stimulating more frequent and abundant rainfall which, together with more atmospheric carbon dioxide, is greening the African continent.

A March 2009 study in the peer-reviewed Biogeosciences reported the Sahel region of the southern Sahara Desert was growing greener, sending the Sahara desert into retreat. According to the study, “satellite sensors have recently shown that much of the region has experienced significant increases in photosynthetic activity since the early 1980s.” According to the study, more abundant rainfall was the most likely cause, more than compensating for higher evaporation rates due to modestly rising temperatures.

A July 2009 National Geographic News article confirmed the Biogeosciences study. “Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent,” National Geographic News reported.

“Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall. If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities,” National Geographic News explained. “This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago,” the article noted.

A January 2007 study in the peer-reviewed science journal Geology explained the greening of Africa in a longer-term context. According to the study, much of Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”

While alarmists cry about global warming and crop devastation, consumers in the real world have never had such an abundance of plenty.


Union of Soviet Socialist Europe to ban cars from cities by 2050

Cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years..

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a "single European transport area" aimed at enforcing "a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers" by 2050. The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU's list to cut climate change emissions is a target of "zero" for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU's future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto "alternative" means of transport. "That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres," he said. "Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour."

The Association of British Drivers rejected the proposal to ban cars as economically disastrous and as a "crazy" restriction on mobility. "I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum," said Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the BDA. "If he wants to bring everywhere to a grinding halt and to plunge us into a new dark age, he is on the right track. We have to keep things moving. The man is off his rocker."

Mr Kallas has denied that the EU plan to cut car use by half over the next 20 years, before a total ban in 2050, will limit personal mobility or reduce Europe's economic competitiveness. "Curbing mobility is not an option, neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win," he claimed.

Christopher Monckton, Ukip's transport spokesman said: "The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can spend trillions and ban people from their cars. "This sort of greenwashing grandstanding adds nothing and merely highlights their grandiose ambitions."


There He Goes Again: Mann Claims His Hockey Stick was Affirmed by the NAS

Spinmeister Michael Mann has fired off a reply to the editor of a newspaper which published an article critical of his work, again claiming his hockey stick graph, one of the most thoroughly discredited papers of the modern age, was affirmed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS):

"...the National Academy of Sciences, affirmed my research findings in an exhaustive independent review published in June 2006 .."

The NAS report did nothing of the sort, and in fact validated all of the significant criticisms of McIntyre & McKitrick (M&M) and the Wegman Report:

Mann never mentions that a subsequent House Energy and Commerce Committee report chaired by Edward Wegman totally destroyed the credibility of the ‘hockey stick’ and devastatingly ripped apart Mann’s methodology as ‘bad mathematics’. Furthermore, when Gerald North, the chairman of the NAS panel -- which Mann claims ‘vindicated him’ – was asked at the House Committee hearings whether or not they agreed with Wegman’s harsh criticisms, he said they did:

CHAIRMAN BARTON: Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?

DR. NORTH [Head of the NAS panel]: No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.

DR. BLOOMFIELD [Head of the Royal Statistical Society]: Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.

WALLACE [of the American Statistical Association]: ‘the two reports [Wegman's and NAS] were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.’

Mann uses the 5 rules of propaganda in his defense, including the rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations [e.g. the NAS gave my hockey stick a clean bill of health].

More HERE (See the original for links)

Australian Warmist says carbon reduction might take 1,000 years to have any effect on temperature

But now trying to backpedal from what he clearly said in a moment of foolish frankness when pushed on the issue

TONY Abbott has leapt on a declaration by Tim Flannery - Julia Gillard's hand-picked salesman for action on climate change - that emissions abatement is a 1000-year proposition to renew his attacks on Labor's proposed carbon tax.

And Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has distanced himself from Professor Flannery's concession last week that even if all carbon emissions stopped today, it would take 1000 years for the atmosphere's average temperatures to drop. While Professor Flannery, a paleontologist who is also the Prime Minister's chief climate change commissioner, has expanded on his comments to insist the need for action in climate is urgent, his admission in a radio interview on Friday has compromised Labor's sales pitch on its carbon tax.

In the radio interview, Professor Flannery said: "If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow, the average temperature of the planet's not going to drop for several hundred years, perhaps over 1000 years."

In a letter to the editor of The Australian, submitted on Sunday, he expanded on the comments, saying his observation was not "an argument for complacency". But yesterday, as the role of the carbon tax in Labor's massive loss in the NSW election dominated federal political exchanges, Mr Abbott quoted Professor Flannery as he ridiculed the tax as "the ultimate millenium bug".

"It will not make a difference for 1000 years," the Opposition Leader told parliament. "So this is a government which is proposing to put at risk our manufacturing industry, to penalise struggling families, to make a tough situation worse for millions of households right around Australia. And for what? To make not a scrap of difference to the environment any time in the next 1000 years."

Mr Combet said through a spokeswoman that the Gillard government believed in the science of climate change and was determined to act. Asked whether Mr Combet backed Professor Flannery's comment, the spokeswoman said: "Professor Flannery is an independent person who leads an independent commission."

In his letter to The Australian, Professor Flannery wrote that if all major emitters adopted a similar level of effort to reach a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, and continued to "decarbonise" after that date, the global temperature rise would be capped at 2C later this century and that temperatures would begin to drop by the end of the century. "What we do in this decade will be crucial in determining whether we have a world we can live in at the end of the century."

Yesterday, Professor Flannery said he feared Mr Abbott had "quite wilfully misrepresented" his statements by failing to mention the letter. "I am extremely disappointed with the Leader of the Opposition," he told The Australian. "It is not responsible to delay action - that would cause future action to be more expensive. If nobody acts, we are in danger of seeing temperatures spiralling out of control . . . it is urgent we act this decade to lower emissions or we risk temperatures rising 4C this century."

He said both sides of politics had only eight years and nine months to deliver on the bipartisan commitment to lower Australia's carbon emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. This would require "calm deliberation of the best measures of achieving the best outcome for our country".


Time for rethink if climate cause is already lost: our energies may be better directed into planning for it

Writing from Australia, Peter Van Onselen does not dispute Warmist theory but asks what a rational response to it would be in the light of present-day realities

STOP and consider the following. In the next 20 years, China is expected to build 50,000 skyscrapers. That's the estimate from consultancy firm McKinsey's. It's a staggering figure.

I first heard this statistic at a recent In the Zone conference at the University of Western Australia.

The conference, co-sponsored by The Australian, focused on the economic reality that Western Australia is part of a region that will be the engine room of global growth in coming decades, and the opportunities that presented.

It's a time zone that takes in 70 per cent of the world's population and much of the expected development in the years ahead. The figures translate to 2500 skyscrapers each year, more than 200 every month, almost 50 a week.

Even for a country the size of China, with a population of more than 1.2 billion and an economic growth rate averaging more than 9 per cent for the past 20 years, it is hard to comprehend.

The definition of a skyscraper generally includes buildings more than 80m tall and can include residential and office towers. In the case of China's rapid development, it's a mix of the residential buildings needed to house the flood of migrants from rural areas into already overcrowded cities, and office blocks built to accommodate expanding financial centres. Two consequences are immediately apparent.

With that kind of development, it is no wonder the spot price for iron ore (the core material in the manufacture of steel) is so high, and with that, Australia's economic miracle is tied to development in China. Second, how can the world seriously expect to curb man-made climate change when development is so rapid?

The 50,000 skyscrapers in 20 years statistic is China's alone. Presumably there are at least fractional numbers of similar developments planned in other emerging economies. And then there is India, which many commentators say is likely to surpass China's economic expansion in the future. If that happens, these figures are just the beginning.

All up, the extent to which the underdeveloped world develops in coming decades means coal and iron ore will continue to be extensively used, and attempts to curb human-induced climate change will become more frivolous.

All the skyscrapers will need amenities and electrical power.

The issue of how to clean up energy use is made all the more real in the wake of Japan's disasters. Its nuclear reactor problems have set back nuclear energy as an alternative to dirty power for decades.

Although the move to renewables will continue, most experts accept there is no foreseeable point in time at which wind or solar power will be able to provide enough base-load power to support global cities. That means we will continue to pollute the atmosphere at a rapid rate as we develop.

It may be time to acknowledge that attempts to curb human-induced climate change are futile, and we would be better placed putting our energies into planning for it if, or when, it happens.

The fact Tim Flannery has admitted carbon abatement will take 1000 years to reduce temperatures is a sure sign we are trying to turn Titanic before hitting the iceberg without enough time to do so. (I suppose the counterargument is that, despite slow progress, we should still act quickly now because otherwise things will be much worse in future - and not just in 1000 years's time, but much sooner. If you're about to crash your car you should hit the brakes, even if some damage is unavoidable. But will China hit the brakes?) I think science will find a way to solve most of our problems. We should give it the best chance to do so.

We should support policies and funding structures that enable research and innovation. That means a competitive tax system that backs entrepeneurialism, an education revolution that does more than pacify parents by letting them know what's going on in schools, more funding for research universities, and government interference in the private sector kept to a minimum.

Australia will benefit from China's growth, but the environment won't be unaffected.

Facing up to this reality is the surest way we can grow while planning for any negative environmental effects that follow.



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


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Warmist response to "hide the decline"

Here it is. Rebuttal follows:
What does "hide the decline" refer to?

Phil Jones' email is often cited as evidence of an attempt to "hide the decline in global temperatures". This is incorrect. The decline actually refers to a decline in tree-ring density at certain high-latitude locations since 1960. However, Muller doesn't make this error - he clearly understands that global temperatures have been rising in recent decades as indicated by the instrumental record.

Tree-ring growth has been found to match well with temperature, and hence tree-ring width and density is used to plot temperature going back hundreds of years. However, tree-rings in some high-latitude locations diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. This is known as the "divergence problem". Consequently, tree-ring data in these high-latitude locations are not considered reliable after 1960 and should not be used to represent temperature in recent decades.

The expected deception above:

1). MOST if not all, the tree ring data used by Briffa and Jones was from "certain high-latitude locations". The impression created above that those records were of minor importance is therefore the reverse of the truth. They were central to the entire temperature reconstruction.

2). If the tree ring data diverge totally from the thermometer data over one time period, how do we know that they are a valid measure of temperature at all? We do not. They could well have diverged in earlier periods too. Yet it is precisely tree rings that Jones & Briffa rely on to portray earlier temperatures.

The "decline" did desperately need to be hidden -- as it shows that the entire temperature record for pre-thermometer days is based on an invalid measuring instrument and may therefore in fact be no record of pre-thermometer temperatures at all. And given the clash between Mann's hockeystick and known history, that doubt firms into a certainty.

Green eggs for Easter?

Sounds nauseating! (As well as pointless)

The White House announced Monday that this year’s Easter Egg Roll will be “more environmentally friendly,” including eggs made with wood certified by an environmental activist organization and packaging “to minimize waste and environmental impact.”

The press release issued by the White House states that the eggs will be produced in the United States from hardwood “certified” by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit organization with a presence in 50 countries and a mission “to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.”

The “greener” packaging for the eggs – available in purple, pink, green and yellow – is made from paperboard certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The paperboard “uses no wood fibers from controversial sources” and the printed carton the egg comes in can be recycled. The packaging is also decorated with vegetable oil-based inks and water-based coatings.


Are environmentalists an obstacle to clean energy production?

The Obama administration has set a target of having 80 percent of America’s electricity come from “clean energy sources” by 2035, but ironically one of the biggest obstacles to this goal could come from within the environmental movement itself.

From coast to coast, efforts to build everything from wind farms to solar plants has run afoul of local environmental groups and the “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) phenomenon. Pro-environmental journals, such as the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, as well as business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have each cataloged this trend.

“Often, many of the same groups urging us to think globally about renewable energy are acting locally to stop the very same renewable energy projects that could create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Bill Kovacs, senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote in the introduction of the group’s recent “Project, No Project” report. “NIMBY activism has blocked more renewable projects than coal-fired power plants by organizing local opposition, changing zoning laws, opposing permits, filing lawsuits, and using other long delay mechanisms, effectively bleeding projects dry of their financing.”

Recent examples include environmentalist lawsuits seeking to block construction of a solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert due to threats to the endangered desert tortoise and environmentalists suing to block the construction of a 75-wind turbine project in Nevada due to threats to local wildlife.

Rob Mrowka, an ecologist for Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity, told The Ely Times of Ely, Nev., that a green energy project’s location sometimes outweighs considerations such as climate change.

“We’ve got environmentalists out there who are fighting with environmentalists over whether or not they want renewable wind power or they want to save the chicken,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe told The Daily Caller regarding Oklahoma environmentalists and their effort to block construction of wind farms because of how it could negatively affect prairie chickens.

Inhofe then charged that the environmentalists want to stop all energy production regardless of its source. “They don’t want us to exploit any of our resources, so then we have to go to the Middle East, and that causes the price of oil to go up, supply and demand,” Inhofe said.

The senator believes an apparent hostility to energy production lies behind the effort to push cap and trade through using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations targeting carbon emissions by farmers, manufacturers and power plants.

Inhofe’s legislation barring the EPA from regulating carbon emissions will come to the floor in the coming week. Similar legislation co-sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, and Energy & Power subcommittee chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican, passed the House earlier this month.

Whitfield told TheDC that using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions only serves to encourage environmental lawsuits and aid environmental groups with fundraising. “I don’t believe they are being consistent when it comes down to reality,” Whitfield said.

The Environmental Defense Fund sought to rebut accusations that environmentalists have been hypocritical on green energy and sought to push the focus back on Inhofe and Whitfield.

EDF spokesman Tony Kreindler told TheDC that groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individuals such as Inhofe have little credibility in criticizing environmentalists for being “hypocrites” on green energy.

“Every year they do what they can to hold up legislation that would make green energy more economical,” Kreindler said. “For one, the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill in the Congress last year that would have leveled the playing field between fossil fuels and cleaner fuels, and any attempt to put together similar legislation along those lines in the Senate. “To my knowledge, they have never supported any green energy bill in the Congress.”


Climate alarm is mass hysteria

The most vexing barrier to engaging in honest debate about climate change is that most climate change zealots have embraced their ideology absent any research that questions the one-sided dogma of Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" in all its incomprehensible glory.

Al Gore says the world is doomed because of man-made global warming. Then, with like-minded grant-hungry climatologists (including chief cheerleader Dr. James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and social-engineering, left-wing politicians shilling for the cause, the lockstep media pushes this agenda down the throats of mankind, ever mindless of even one iota of contrary fact or opinion.

While our planet undeniably heats and cools in periods of fluctuation ---- think 9th century Medieval Warm Period and 17th century Little Ice Age, for example ---- there is absolutely no scientific evidence that any of history's climate fluctuations have been due to man's influence.

In fact, scientists can no more accurately predict long-range future climate shifts than they can predict earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or drought; in the same way science cannot definitively account for past ice ages, meteor strikes or the Big Bang. Theories, yes; facts, no.

I have tried to learn both sides of the argument and am convinced beyond a doubt that Gore and his ilk are foisting history's greatest fraud upon mankind.

I'm not alone. There are countless highly respected scientists and climatologists who refute the "findings" of the climate change lobby. One, Dr. Roy Spencer, is an undisputed expert in climate research, a former senior scientist for climate studies at NASA and co-developer of the original satellite method for monitoring global temperatures.

In his book, "The Great Global Warming Blunder," Spencer writes, "… at some point in the future we will realize that the fear of catastrophic climate change was the worst case of mass hysteria the world has ever known."

When a climate change zealot embraces an ideology without performing even a minuscule amount of counter investigation, the value of his or her opinion is worthless


Former Leftist voters in the Australian State of NSW 'spooked' by carbon tax

Leading to a landslide loss for the Left in the recent election

JULIA Gillard's carbon tax may have saved two high-profile NSW ministers from a Greens' assault in inner Sydney, but the move exacerbated the revolt against the 16-year-old Labor regime in its own heartland.

In western and southern Sydney, mining areas and long-established industrial towns, factory workers, two-car families and low-income households swung more heavily against Labor than the NSW average.

Echoing their federal leader Tony Abbott, incoming Coalition MPs in NSW argue that traditional Labor voters were spooked by the prospect of job losses, higher petrol prices and rising household power bills from a carbon tax.

"The people of Bathurst sent the federal Labor government a strong message on Saturday: they are opposed to a carbon tax," victorious Nationals Paul Toole told The Australian.

Mr Toole secured a 36.6 per cent swing, the state's highest, to win the seat, three hours' drive west of Sydney. The electorate is home to coalminers, factory hands, power workers and farmers, and takes in regional towns such as Bathurst and Lithgow.

"An electorate dependent on mining and manufacturing was worried about job losses and that a rise in petrol and electricity costs would severely affect their quality of life," he said. "There are many rural communities in Bathurst, too, fearing a threat of higher fuel prices under a carbon tax."

The swing in 14 manufacturing seats lost by the ALP on Saturday was 21.4 per cent, compared with the state-wide movement of 17 per cent, with some of the highest voter shifts recorded in outer-Sydney factory hubs such as Smithfield, Riverstone, Mulgoa and Camden.

After the 2007 NSW poll, Labor held 27 of the top 30 seats ranked by proportion of manufacturing workers; that number is now 13, with Labor seats such as Wollongong, south of Sydney, and Toongabbie, in the city's northwest, now on tiny margins.

Last week, BlueScope Steel chairman Graham Kraehe warned that a carbon price could be a "tipping point" for the steel industry, which could fail to survive in Australia in 20 years under the wrong carbon pricing plan. In the NSW steel-belt, the swing against Labor was 24.5 per cent in Wollongong and 17.3 per cent in nearby Keira.

During the campaign, Barry O'Farrell was aided by Mr Abbott and drive-time radio announcers in raising the prospect of higher petrol prices and inadequate compensation for families from the Prime Minister's carbon tax, which is scheduled to begin in July next year.

The anti-Labor swing was even higher in the 20 seats that have the highest proportion of households with two or more cars. Labor lost 10 seats in these car-dependent electorates, with an average swing of 22 per cent.

Commuter electorates far from Sydney's CBD, such as Riverstone (30 per cent) in the north and Menai (27.5 per cent) in the south, recorded particularly large swings against Labor.

But in inner-west electorates, Labor sources say the carbon tax played a significant role in shoring up support among progressive voters who had lost heart with the party's inaction on climate change.

In Marrickville, retained by Labor's Carmel Tebbutt, the swing against the outgoing health minister was only 5.3 per cent.

"Hard-core Labor voters were looking for a reason to stick with Labor and Carmel's personal appeal and Gillard's carbon tax certainly helped," says a Labor insider. "As did the Greens candidate's mistakes."

In Balmain, the voter shift away from Verity Firth appeared to be even less than in neighbouring Marrickville, but it may not be enough to stave off defeat for the former education minister in a seat with a 3.5 per cent margin that has become a three-horse race in a tricky count.

These inner-urban voters, who have the highest rates of public transport use in NSW and very low levels of car ownership, and tend to live in smaller homes, seemed less perturbed about the threat of higher petrol and power costs.

The federal Opposition Leader told a special sitting of parliament yesterday that Labor's "toxic carbon tax" would add $500 to household power bills.

"Nothing could be more calculated to have sabotaged the NSW Labor government's re-election campaign than this utterly maladroit intervention by . . . a Prime Minister who wants to inflict a toxic tax on the people of Australia - a tax which is not only toxic to families' standard of living and not only toxic to jobs in manufacturing industries but utterly toxic to the re-election campaign."

Ms Gillard yesterday rejected the idea that Labor's heavy defeat in NSW was due to a backlash against the looming carbon tax.

"Let's just be a little bit practical about this; we're talking about a state election after 16 years," she said. "I think NSW voters had made up their mind a long time ago and I don't think that they made up their mind on the basis of events in the last few weeks."


Australian Climate Commission shirks debate

Bob Carter reports on the expected wriggling

Last Friday night, five of Australia’s six Climate Commissioners participated in the Commission’s first public consultation meeting in Geelong. They were Tim Flannery, Will Steffen, Lesley Hughes (all scientists), Roger Beale (environmental policy analyst) and Gerry Hueston (businessman); Commissioner Susannah Elliott (science communication) was not in attendance.

Australia already has an expensive federal Ministry of Climate Change, so why do we also need a new Climate Commission? Good question. The terms of reference of the Climate Commission are to:

* Explain the science of climate change and the impacts on Australia.

* Report on the progress of international action dealing with climate change.

Explain the purpose and operation of a carbon price and how it may interact with the Australian economy and communities.
Interestingly, only one of these terms of reference concerns science. Of course, if there is no science problem then by definition there is no economic or political problem. So the inclusion of two economic and political terms of reference indicates that the government’s view is that “the science is settled” – which won’t surprise anyone.

Similarly unsurprising, but nonetheless disappointing, is that all five of the Commissioners who attended the Geelong meeting manifested an alarmist view of global warming and its speculated human cause – industrial carbon dioxide emissions --- rather than presenting as even-handed dispensers of scientific and technical truth.

The scientific background to the Geelong meeting is this. Within the bounds of error, average global temperature hasn’t increased since 1995 (15 years) and temperature has actually been falling slightly since 2001 (10 years). Meanwhile, over the last ten years atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased by 5%.

The conclusion is obvious. More carbon dioxide is not causing dangerous warming. Indeed, and despite it being an undoubted greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide emissions are not currently producing any measurable (as opposed to theoretical) warming at all.

There thus being no established scientific problem, about half of what the Climate Commissioners had to say in Geelong (about carbon dioxide taxes and related industry, employment and social issues) can be put aside – for it concerned non-solutions to a non-problem in aid of which has been proposed a non-justifiable new tax.

This leaves as the key issue the matter of what the Commissioners had to say about the scientific evidence for dangerous global warming. Perhaps they were going to share with us some new evidence or insights?

No such luck. What the audience got instead was a mish-mash of misinformation, much of it derived from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and discussion of which signally failed to distinguish between the undoubtedly real problems associated with natural climate change and the hypothetical problems that might or might not result from human-caused warming - should such ever manifest itself.

To begin with, the Commissioners consistent use of the word “carbon” when “carbon dioxide” was meant, and “climate change” when “dangerous global warming caused by human-carbon dioxide emissions” was meant, indicated the degree to which their views are aligned with the Greens’ carefully honed propaganda view of the world. Using this type of prejudicial language in any discussion on global warming is a litmus test for a lack of balance and perspective by the perpetrators.

Here is a small selection of some of the other incorrect technical statements, and their implications, that were made by the commissioners.

Assertion: Human-caused global warming is continuing, and we are in danger of seeing it augmented by positive feedback loops.

Reality: There is no direct evidence that the mild warming that occurred between 1979 and 1998 was mostly, or even measurably, a result of human carbon dioxide emissions, despite the pseudo-scientific assertion to that effect by the IPCC.

Second, there has been no global warming at all for the last 15 years despite, the operation throughout of the self-same feedback loops.

Assertion: Industrial carbon dioxide emissions are currently ~300 billion tonnes annually and they need to be limited to ~700 billion tonnes in future to stabilize the temperature at no more than 2 deg. C above the pre-industrial temperature.

Reality: There is no evidence that a 2 deg. C warming (which would take the planet back to about the temperature levels of the Climatic Optimum that occurred about 10,000 years ago) would be damaging for the environment, or for human activities in any substantial way that we couldn’t adapt to.

And, even should natural global warming resume in the future, as it very well may as part of a continuing bounce back from the hostile conditions of the Little Ice Age, there is no certainty that restricting carbon dioxide emissions will do anything to halt the rise. First, because of the diminishing warming effectiveness of every increment of carbon dioxide that is added to the atmosphere, and second because the assumed efficacy of limiting emissions to 700 billion tonnes is a projection of computer models that are known to be faulty.

Assertion: The Great Barrier Reef has experienced about 7-10 bleaching events since 1979. No bleaching events are known before this, and the events result when the ocean temperature SST rises about 1 deg. above the summer long term temperature. If we keep going, the reef will bleach every year by 2030.

Reality: Bleaching events on coral reefs are caused less by regional ocean warming per se than they are by the localised warming that occurs in areas and times of low wind conditions.

Bleaching events have been reported since 1979 because it is only after that date that a network of scientific observers was established on the reef. There is no evidence that any of these events was due to human activity, and to suggest that no similar natural events occurred before 1979 is silly.

In any case, the sea surface temperature of the Great Barrier Reef shows no change over the last 30 years, and the speculation that the reef will bleach every year by 2030 doubtless represents the projection of another of those legendary, and legendarily wrong, computer models.

In his introductory remarks to the Geelong meeting, Commission Chairman Tim Flannery stressed that his commission was independent from government direction, and was “determined not to deliver political spin”. Professor Flannery added that Australia “needs a clear, level-headed debate on the core issues” of the global warming matter.

Using those statements as criteria, how well did the Commission’s performance at Geelong stack up? Readers have probably instantly judged the answer to that question for themselves, but here’s my take.

First, and remembering that THE core issue is the scientific evidence regarding global warming, while Professor Flannery may want a clear debate, some of his commissioners deny that any debate exists, or has for 20 years; collectively, their attitudes also seem aimed at continuing to prevent one. Second, most of the examples of commissioners’ arguments discussed above may not represent “political spin” but they most certainly represent “scientific spin” of the most egregious type.

In essence, Australia’s new Climate Commissioners are simply peddling long discredited arguments about global warming that have been made for 15 years by the IPCC, all of which are carefully crafted to demonize human carbon dioxide emissions. Most of these arguments carry a political overtone, and most are espoused also by Australia’s current government, which makes it a little difficult to see how Professor Flannery is going to be able to exercise his Commission’s claimed independence.



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


Monday, March 28, 2011

Under the Cloak of ‘Climate Change’ childhoods are being sacrificed for political gain

'When asked to choose the 3 biggest threats to the world from a list of 9, the most common answer is terrorism, chosen by more than half (59%), followed by climate change (49%).' -- Extract from the results of a BBC survey of some 329 schools, with 24,000 respondents aged 11 to 16 years, published 24 March, 2011

So, if the survey has been well-conducted, approximately half of secondary-school children in the UK regard 'climate change' as one of the biggest threats facing the world. How can that be, given that nothing at all unusual has happened to any weather phenomena, including air temperatures, rainfall, storminess etc, and nor to commonly associated phenomena such as polar ice extents?

The answer, of course, is clear enough: very successful lobbying and publicising of the results of computer models programmed to give CO2 a large effect as a driver of climate using positive feedbacks. Given that CO2 levels have been rising, and are confidently expected to rise further, there is clearly the makings of a good scare story here.

However, neither the atmosphere itself nor many leading climate scientists, have been sufficiently convinced by these stories to, in the case of the atmosphere, display unusual behaviour, and in the case of the scientists, display alarm. Yet many others are alarmed, or find it convenient to act as if they are for the sake of political and other advantages. Finance houses, political parties, environmentalists, and development organisations have all seen substantial boosts to their incomes and/or their influence thanks to the widespread publicity given to such as the IPCC.

Many well-intentioned individuals and groups have no doubt been persuaded to 'do something' by all of this, and are even trying to get schoolchildren involved in political actions.

One such group is Norwich Education and Action for Development (NEAD), whose Windmill Project was reported upon this week in the Norwich Evening News

The headline, and the activities described look innocent enough. Since our climate has always changed and is no doubt still changing, children should be taught about it as part of their nature or geography or science studies. Who would not want that? The changes however are quite slow and hard to detect amidst the within-year variation, and so it is unlikely that this topic ought to be a major part of any curriculum for such a young age group. The problem though is that they may be being misled about climate risks, and that these in turn may be scaring them, and leading them into political roles which seem utterly unsuited to their tender years. On the NEAD site, one can find phrases such as this one:
'Most importantly, children are offered information about some of the solutions to problems related to climate change. This will give children the power to make informed decisions and allow them to move towards behavioural and attitudinal change.'

Primary school children have been visited by this group in the past. Although their teaching materials are not available to non-members on their site, my concerns that they may be the usual alarmist stuff are not allayed by listening to this song sung and partly composed by children at a NEAD event at a school in October last year:
'The Norfolk Flood Blues'

It is quite hard to make out all the words, but it seems to begin with stamping of feet in time to the music, while chanting
'Rain Flood Rain Flood Rain Flood Rain Flood ...'

Later on, I think I heard these phrases (please email corrections or confirmations about these!):

'Water in my home, Water in my bed'
'It's destroying everything'
'I feel doomed. I feel scared.'

I looked up the UK Met Office site to see what weather records I could find for East Anglia, the region in which Norwich lies. Records were available for Lowestoft, a coastal town less than 20 miles from Norwich. I extracted monthly rainfall, monthly sunshine hours, and monthly mean maximum and mean minimum temperature values for the 30 years 1980 to 2010, and used these to produce the plots shown below. Can you see any grounds for alarm in them?

The pupils will have some difficulty in discerning ‘climate change’ in such a display, dominated as it is by within-year variation. Throughout this period, CO2 levels grew, along with increasingly agitated pleas and warnings from people who ought to have known better, such as James Hansen who in 1986 was warning of mean global temperature rises of several degrees by the year 2010. Since the computer models suggest the temperature rises will be greater away from the equatorial regions towards the poles, a naive observer might well have expected more action in the Lowestoft data by now. Could it be that the models are also useless for predicting such things?

Mercifully, the NEAD people do not seem deranged like those who produced the film ‘No Pressure’, whereby children of non-compliant parents were portrayed as being violently destroyed, ‘pour encourager les autres’. I suspect that NEAD attracts many good people, but people who have been misled by the IPCC, and by others. There are further grounds for concern about NEAD: first, is it really a charity, second, is it at risk of crossing the line re political indoctrination in schools, and third, will campaigning around climate change really help the world's poor in the long run?


Disturbing Imagery Of The Permanent Drought In California

Climate models run on the world’s largest supercomputers predicted this drought.


CO2 Causes More Precipitation And Less Precipitation

Jeff Masters [of Weather Underground] has been telling us that more CO2 causes more precipitation – due to larger amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere. Now we find out that more CO2 also causes less precipitation due to a drier atmosphere. From Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution we read:
Cutting carbon dioxide helps prevent drying

Recent climate modeling has shown that reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would give the Earth a wetter climate in the short term. New research from Carnegie Global Ecology scientists Long Cao and Ken Caldeira offers a novel explanation for why climates are wetter when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are decreasing. Their findings, published online today by Geophysical Research Letters, show that cutting carbon dioxide concentrations could help prevent droughts caused by global warming.

Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.

As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to suppress precipitation. Similarly, a decrease in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to increase precipitation.

The results of this study show that cutting the concentration of precipitation-suppressing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase global precipitation. This is important because scientists are concerned that unchecked global warming could cause already dry areas to get drier. (Global warming may also cause wet areas to get wetter.) Cao and Caldeira’s findings indicate that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide could prevent droughts caused by climate change.

“This study shows that the climate is going to be drier on the way up and wetter on the way down,” Caldeira said, adding:”Proposals to cool the earth using geo-engineering tools to reflect sunlight back to space would not cause a similar pulse of wetness.”

The team’s work shows that carbon dioxide rapidly affects the structure of the atmosphere, causing quick changes precipitation, as well as many other aspects of Earth’s climate, well before the greenhouse gas noticeably affects temperature. These results have important implications for understanding the effects of climate change caused by carbon dioxide, as well as the potential effects of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

“The direct effects of carbon dioxide on precipitation take place quickly,” said Cao. “If we could cut carbon dioxide concentrations now, we would see precipitation increase within the year, but it would take many decades for climate to cool.”


The dismal record of prophecy

Andy Revkin Points To The End of The Line For The IPCC And Its ilk
Beginning in the 1980s, [University of Pennsylvania Professor Philip] Tetlock examined 27,451 forecasts by 284 academics, pundits and other prognosticators. The study was complex, but the conclusion can be summarized simply: the experts bombed. Not only were they worse than statistical models, they could barely eke out a tie with the proverbial dart-throwing chimps. [...] The least accurate forecasters, [Tetlock] found, were hedgehogs: “thinkers who ‘know one big thing,’ aggressively extend the explanatory reach of that one big thing into new domains” and “display bristly impatience with those who ‘do not get it,’ ” he wrote. Better experts “look like foxes: thinkers who know many small things,” “are skeptical of grand schemes” and are “diffident about their own forecasting prowess.”

So there we have it…experts of the “big thing” called “climate change”, aggressive (to the point of hiding declines, preventing publication of competing ideas, inserting unsubstantiated critiques in the IPCC report, etc etc) and definitely “impatient” with us little humans wondering aloud about their certitudes (any post at RC, Connolley, Deltoid, Romm, etc etc keeps confirming this point).

Note how none of the above can be defined as “gross negligence” or “conspiracy”, and yet despite all the whitewashing by the Climategate inquiries, there is a scientific consensus, and the best of our scientific knowledge demonstrates, that all that bunch, and pretty much all the bigwigs around the IPCC, they ARE “least accurate forecasters”. QED.

For more discussion about “wrongology”: here and here. Read also here a critique-essay by Tetlock himself, listing a set of criteria suggested by David Freedman, author of Wrong: Why Experts* Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them as signs of claims we should be “especially wary of”
* dramatic (“claiming to have invented the psychological equivalent of the telescope qualifies”)

* a tad too clear-cut (“devoid of qualifications about when propositions do and do not hold”)

* doubt free (“portraying findings as beyond reasonable doubt and one’s measure as 100 percent pure”)

* universal (“implying that one is tapping into powerful unconscious forces that, hitherto unbeknownst to us, drive all human behavior”)

* palatable (“likely to appeal to one’s favorite ideological constituencies”)

* receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (“widely covered in the mass media and millions have visited the website”)

* actionable implications (“claims about what employers now need to do to guarantee true equality of opportunity in workplaces”)

Let me now make a statement that is dramatic, very clear-cut, doubt-free, universal, palatable (to most of my readers), yet likely media-ignored and hardly actionable: the “scientific consensus” on climate-change (rather, the unscientific stuff that constitutes the IPCC–led propaganda bandied about as “scientific consensus”), scores 7 out of 7 on the Freedman scale and therefore should lie at the bottom of anybody’s trust level:
* dramatic (having reached the computational power needed to project future climate just as CO2 emissions got to a previously-unknown “dangerous” level)

* a tad too clear-cut (with climate change almost completely due to a “thermostat” called CO2)

* doubt free (the IAC spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the absurd IPCC policy of underplaying uncertainties)

* universal (everybody will feel the (bad) consequences of climate change, and everybody is guilty of it)

* palatable (as it happens, the usual evils of capitalism and freedoms are the underling cause of climate change)

* receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (shall I really comment this?)

* actionable implications (every ha’penny worth of a politician understands how many things can be pinned upon the bandwagon called “climate change”)

And I find one sentence by Tetlock as especially relevant to the climate debate: "Whatever may be the merits of the underlying science in the peer-reviewed literature, in the public forum, the ratio of pseudoexpertise to genuine expertise is distressingly high."

Yes, I might be wrong. On the other hand, I am not asking for billions of dollars for dubious research, have never attempted to restrict anybody’s liberty, don’t use the ‘net to show off my superiority complex, do let almost every comment free on this website, etc etc)

SOURCE (See the original for links)

The "experts" are regularly wrong: Some notable examples

Sunday Book Review: ‘Future Babble’ by Dan Gardner (March 27, 2011)

“The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded.” H.G. Wells, 1946

George Edward Scott, my mother’s father, was born in an English village near the city of Nottingham. It was 1906. We can be sure that anyone who took notice of George’s arrival in the world agreed that he was a very lucky baby. There was the house he lived in, for one thing. It was the work of his father, a successful builder, and it was, like the man who built it, correct, confident, and proudly Victorian. Middle-class prosperity was evident throughout, from the sprawling rooms to the stained-glass windows and the cast-iron bathtub with a pull-cord that rang a bell downstairs. A maid carrying a bucket of hot water would arrive in due course.

And there was the country and the era. Often romanticized as the “long Edwardian summer,” Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century was indeed a land of peace and prosperity, if not strawberries and champagne. Britain led the world in industry, science, education, medicine, trade, and finance. Its empire was vaster than any in history, its navy invincible. The great and terrible war with Napoleon’s France was tucked away in dusty history books and few worried that its like would ever come again.

It was a time when “Progress” was capitalized. People were wealthier. They ate better and lived longer. Trade, travel, and communication steadily expanded, a process that would be called, much later, globalization. Science advanced briskly, revealing nature’s secrets and churning out technological marvels, each more wonderful than the last, from the train to the telegraph to the airplane. The latest of these arrived only four years before George Scott was born, and in 1912, when George was six, his father gathered the family in a field to witness the miracle of a man flying through the air in a machine. The pilot waved to the gawkers below. “Now I’ve seen it,” George’s grandmother muttered. “But I still don’t believe it.”

And the future? How could it be anything but grand? In 1902, the great American economist John Bates Clark imagined himself in 2002, looking back on the last hundred years. He pronounced himself profoundly satisfied. “There is certainly enough in our present condition to make our gladness overflow” and to hope that “the spirit of laughter and song may abide with us through the years that are coming,” Clark wrote. The twentieth century had been a triumph, in Clark’s imagining. Technology had flourished, conflict between labour and capital had vanished, and prosperity had grown until the slums were “transformed into abodes of happiness and health.” Only trade had crossed borders, never armies, and in the whole long century not a shot had been fired in anger. Of course this was only to be expected, Clark wrote, even though some silly people in earlier generations had actually believed war could happen in the modern world — “as if nations bound together by such economic ties as now unite the countries of the world would ever disrupt the great industrial organism and begin fighting.”

At the time, Clark’s vision seemed as reasonable as it was hopeful, and it was widely shared by eminent persons. “We can now look forward with something like confidence to the time when war between civilized nations will be as antiquated as the duel,” wrote the esteemed British historian, G.P. Gooch, in 1911. Several years later, the celebrated Manchester Guardian journalist H.N. Norman was even more definitive. “It is as certain as anything in politics can be, that the frontiers of our modern national states are finally drawn. My own belief is that there will be no more wars among the six Great Powers.”

One day, a few months after H.N. Norman had declared the arrival of eternal peace, George Scott fetched his father’s newspaper. The top story was the latest development in the push for Irish home rule. Below that was another headline. “War Declared,” it read.

It was August 1914. What had been considered impossible by so many informed experts was now reality. But still there w as no need to despair. It would be “the war to end all wars,” in H.G. Wells’s famously optimistic phrase. And it would be brief. It has to be, wrote the editors of the Economist, thanks to “the economic and financial impossibility of carrying out hostilities many more months on the present scale.”

For more than four years, the industry, science, and technology that had promised a better world slowly ground millions of men into the mud. The long agony of the First World War shattered empires, nations, generations, and hopes. The very idea of progress came to be scorned as a rotten illusion, a raggedy stage curtain now torn down and discarded.

In defeated Germany, Oswald Spengler’s dense and dark Decline of the West was the runaway best-seller of the 1920s. In victorious Britain, the Empire was bigger but the faith in the future that had sustained it faded like an old photograph left in the sun. The war left crushing debts and the economy staggered. “Has the cycle of prosperity and progress closed?” asked H.G. Wells in the foreword to a book whose title ventured an even bleaker question: Will Civilisation Crash? Yes to both, answered many of the same wise men who had once seen only peace and prosperity ahead. “It is clear now to everyone that the suicide of civilization is in progress,” declared the physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer in a 1922 lecture at Oxford University. It may have been “the Roaring Twenties” in the United States — a time of jazz, bathtub gin, soaring stocks, and real estate speculation — but it was a decade of gloom in Britain. For those who thought about the future, observes historian Richard Overy, “the prospect of imminent crisis, a new Dark Age, became a habitual way of looking at the world.”

My grandfather’s fortunes followed Britain’s. His father’s business declined, prosperity seeped away, and the bathtub pull-cord ceased to summon the downstairs maid. In 1922, at the age of fifteen, George was apprenticed to a plumber. A few years later, bowing to the prevailing sense that Britain’s decline was unstoppable, he decided to emigrate. A coin toss — heads Canada, tails Australia — settled the destination. With sixty dollars in his pocket, he landed in Canada. It was 1929. He had arrived just in time for the Great Depression.

A horror throughout the industrialized world, the Great Depression was especially savage in North America. Half the industrial production of the United States vanished. One-quarter of workers were unemployed. Starvation was a real and constant threat for millions. Growing numbers of desperate, frightened people sought salvation in fascism or communism. In Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens was filled to the rafters not for a hockey game but a Stalinist rally, urging Canadians to follow the glorious example of the Soviet Union. Among the leading thinkers of the day, it was almost a truism that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism were archaic, discredited, and doomed. Even moderates were sure the future would belong to very different economic and political systems.

In 1933, the rise to power of the Nazis added the threat of what H.G. Wells called the “Second World War” in his sci-fi novel The Shape of Things to Come. Published the same year Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, The Shape of Things to Come saw the war beginning in 1940 and predicted it would become a decade-long mass slaughter, ending not in victory but the utter exhaustion and collapse of all nations. Military analysts and others who tried to imagine another Great War were almost as grim. The airplanes that had been so wondrous to a young boy in 1912 would fill the skies with bombs, they agreed. Cities would be pulverized. There would be mass psychological breakdown and social disintegration. In 1934, Britain began a rearmament program it could not afford for a war that, it increasingly seemed, it could not avoid. In 1936, as Nazi Germany grew stronger, the program was accelerated.

A flicker of hope came from the United States, where economic indicators jolted upward, like a flat line on a heart monitor suddenly jumping. It didn’t last. In 1937, the American economy plunged again. It seemed nothing could pull the world out of its death spiral. “It is a fact so familiar that we seldom remember how very strange it is,” observed the British historian G.N. Clark, “that the commonest phrases we hear used about civilization at the present time all relate to the possibility, or even the prospect, of its being destroyed.”

That same year, George Scott’s second daughter, June, was born. It is most unlikely that anyone thought my mother was a lucky baby.

The Second World War began in September 1939. By the time it ended in 1945, at least forty million people were dead, the Holocaust had demonstrated that humanity was capable of any crime, much of the industrialized world had been pounded into rubble, and a weapon vastly more destructive than anything seen before had been invented. “In our recent history, war has been following war in ascending order of intensity,” wrote the influential British historian Arnold Toynbee in 1950. “And today it is already apparent that the War of 1939—45 was not the climax of this crescendo movement.” Ambassador Joseph Grew, a senior American foreign service officer, declared in 1945 that “a future war with the Soviet Union is as sure as anything in this world.” Albert Einstein was terrified. “Only the creation of a world government can prevent the impending self-destruction of mankind,” declared the man whose name was synonymous with genius. Some were less optimistic. “The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded,” moaned H.G. Wells.

Happily for humanity, Wells, Einstein, and the many other luminaries who made dire predictions in an era W.H. Auden dubbed “The Age of Anxiety” were all wrong. The end of life was not at hand. War did not come. Civilization did not crumble. Against all reasonable expectation, my mother turned out to be a very lucky baby, indeed.

Led by the United States, Western economies surged in the postwar decades. The standard of living soared. Optimism returned, and people expressed their hope for a brighter future by getting married earlier and having children in unprecedented numbers. The result was a combination boom — economic and baby — that put children born during the Depression at the leading edge of a wealth-and-population wave. That’s the ultimate demographic sweet spot. Coming of age in the 1950s, they entered a dream job market. To be hired at a university in the early 1960s, a professor once recalled to me, you had to sign your name three times “and spell it right twice.” Something of an exaggeration, to be sure. But the point is very real. Despite the constant threat of nuclear war, and lesser problems that came and went, children born in the depths of the Great Depression — one of the darkest periods of the last five centuries — lived their adult lives amid peace and steadily growing prosperity. There has never been a more fortunate generation.

Who predicted that? Nobody. Which is entirely understandable. Even someone who could have foreseen that there would not be a Third World War — which would have been a triumph of prognostication in its own right — would have had to correctly forecast both the baby boom and the marvellous performance of post-war economies. And how would they have done that? The baby boom was caused by a post-war surge in fertility rates that sharply reversed a downward trend that had been in place for more than half a century. Demographers didn’t see it coming. No one did.

Similarly, the dynamism of the post-war economies was a sharp break from previous trends that was not forecast by experts, whose expectations were much more pessimistic. Many leading economists even worried that demobilization would be followed by mass unemployment and stagnation. One surprise after another. That’s how the years unfolded after 1945. The result was a future that was as unpredictable as it was delightful — and a generation born at what seemed to be the worst possible time came to be a generation born at the most golden of moments.

The desire to know the future is universal and constant, as the profusion of soothsaying techniques in human cultures — from goats’ entrails to tea leaves — demonstrates so well. But certain events can sharpen that desire, making it fierce and urgent. Bringing a child into the world is one such force. What will the world be like for my baby? My great-grandfather undoubtedly asked himself that question when his little boy was born in 1906. He was a well-read person, and so he likely paid close attention to what the experts said. George Edward Scott was a very lucky baby, he would have concluded. And any intelligent, informed person would have agreed. Thirty-one years later, when my grandfather held his infant daughter in his arms, he surely asked himself the same question, and he, too, would have paid close attention to what the experts said. And he would have feared for her future, as any intelligent, informed person would have.

My great-grandfather was wrong. My grandfather was wrong. All those intelligent, informed people were wrong. But mostly, the experts were wrong.

They’re wrong a lot, those experts. History is littered with their failed predictions. Whole books can be filled with them. Many have been.

Some failed predictions are prophecies of disaster and despair. In the 1968 book The Population Bomb, which sold millions of copies, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich declared “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” But there weren’t mass famines in the 1970s. Or in the 1980s. Thanks to the dramatic improvements in agriculture collectively known as “the Green Revolution” — which were well underway by the time Ehrlich wrote his book — food production not only kept up with population growth, it greatly surpassed it.

Ehrlich thought that was utterly impossible. But it happened. Between 1961 and 2000, the world’s population doubled but the calories of food consumed per person increased 24 per cent. In India, calories per person rose 20 per cent. In Italy, 26 per cent. In South Korea, 44 per cent. Indonesia, 69 per cent. China had experienced a famine that killed some 30 million people in the dark years between 1959 and 1961, but in the 40 years after that horror China’s per capita food consumption rose an astonishing 73 per cent. And the United States? In the decades after The Population Bomb was published, fears that people would not get enough to eat were forgotten as American waistlines steadily expanded. The already-substantial consumption of the average American rose 32 per cent, and the United States became the first nation in history to struggle with an epidemic of obesity.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter called for the “moral equivalent of war” to shift the American economy off oil because, he said, the production of oil would soon fail to keep up with demand. When that happened, oil prices would soar and never come down again — the American economy would be devastated and the American dream would turn brown and die like an unwatered suburban lawn. Eight years later, oil prices fell through the floor. They stayed low for two decades.

A small library could be filled with books predicting stock market crashes and economic disasters that never happened, but the giant of the genre was published in 1987. The hardcover edition of economist Ravi Batra’s The Great Depression of 1990 hit the top spot on the New York Times best-seller list and spent a total of ten months on the chart; the paperback stayed on the list for an astonishing nineteen months. When the American economy slipped into recession in 1990, Batra looked prophetic. When the recession proved to be mild and brief, he seemed less so. When the 1990s roared, he looked foolish, particularly when he spent the entire decade writing books predicting a depression was imminent.

In 1990, Jacques Attali — intellectual, banker, former adviser to French president Fran├žois Mitterrand — published a book called Millennium, which predicted dramatic change on the other side of the year 2000. Both the United States and the Soviet Union would slowly lose their superpower status, Attali wrote. Their replacements would be Japan and Europe. As for China and India, they “will refuse to fall under the sway of either the Pacific or the European sphere,” but it would be hard for these desperately poor countries to resist. Catastrophic war was “possible, even probable.” However, Attali cautioned, this future isn’t quite chiselled in stone. “If a miracle were to occur” and China and India were to be “integrated into the global economy and market, all strategic assumptions underpinning my prognostications would be overturned. That miracle is most unlikely.” Of course, that “miracle” is precisely what happened. And almost nothing Attali predicted came true.

Even economists who win Nobel Prizes have been known to blow big calls. In 1997, as Asian economies struggled with a major currency crisis, Paul Krugman — New York Times columnist and winner of the Nobel in 2008 — worried that Asia must act quickly. If not, he wrote in Fortune magazine, “we could be looking at a true Depression scenario — the kind of slump that 60 years ago devastated societies, destabilized governments, and eventually led to war.” Krugman’s prescription? Currency controls. It had to be done or else. But mostly, it wasn’t done. And Asia was booming again within two years.

Pessimists have no monopoly on forecasting flops, however. Excited predictions of the amazing technologies to come — Driverless cars! Robot maids! Jet packs! — have been dazzling the public since the late nineteenth century. These old forecasts continue to entertain today, though for quite different reasons. And for every bear prophesying blood in the stock markets, there is a bull who is sure things will only get better.

The American economist Irving Fisher was one. “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau,” the esteemed economist assured nervous investors. “I do not feel there will soon be, if ever, a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as they have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months.” That was October 17, 1929. The market crashed the following week. But that crash was none of Britain’s concern, the legendary John Maynard Keynes believed. “There will be no serious consequences in London resulting from the Wall Street Slump,” Keynes wrote. “We find the look ahead decidedly encouraging.” Shortly afterward, Britain sank with the rest of the world into the Great Depression.

Another bull market, this one in the late 1990s, produced a bookshelf full of predictions so giddy they made Irving Fisher sound like Eeyore. The most famous was the 1999 book Dow 36,000 by James Glassman and Kevin Hassett. “If you are worried about missing the market’s big move upward, you will discover that it’s not too late,” Glassman and Hassett wrote. Actually, it was too late. Shortly after Dow 36,000 was published, the Dow peaked at less than 12,000 and started a long, painful descent.

Paul Ehrlich can also take consolation in the fact that many of the optimists who assailed his writing were not much better at predicting the future. “The doomsayers who worry about the prospect of starvation for a burgeoning world population” will not see their terrible visions realized, Time magazine reported in 1966. The reason? Aquaculture. “Rand experts visualize fish herded and raised in offshore pens as cattle are today. Huge fields of kelp and other kinds of seaweed will be tended by undersea ‘farmers’ — frogmen who will live for months at a time in submerged bunkhouses. The protein-rich underseas crop will probably be ground up to produce a dull-tasting cereal that eventually, however, could be regenerated chemically to taste like anything from steak to bourbon.” The same Rand Corporation experts agreed that “a permanent lunar base will have been established long before A.D. 2000 and that men will have flown past Venus and landed on Mars.”

Herman Kahn, a founder of the Hudson Institute and a determined critic of Ehrlich, was similarly off the mark in a thick book called The Year 2000, published in 1967. It is “very likely,” Kahn wrote, that by the end of the century nuclear explosives would be used for excavation and mining, “artificial moons” would be used to illuminate large areas at night, and there would be permanent undersea colonies. Kahn also expected that one of the world’s fastest-growing economies at the turn of the millennium would be that of the Soviet Union.


Choose your prophet: Twenty years or 1000?

Climate scientist and warmist Andy Pitman on Thursday: "If we could stop emissions tomorrow we would still have 20 to 30 years of warming ahead of us because of inertia of the system.

Climate Commissioner and warmist Tim Flannery on Friday: "If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years


Australian Power generator tells academic climate adviser to get real and to take into account asset-destruction effects of a carbon price

ELECTRICITY producers have called on the Gillard government's chief climate change adviser to drop "undergraduate rhetorical devices" and develop "real world" policy about power generation that doesn't damage the economy.

One of Australia's biggest electricity generators, InterGen, has challenged Ross Garnaut to change his position on not compensating power companies for asset value destruction under a carbon tax. Brent Gunther, managing director of InterGen, which produces 16 per cent of Queensland's electricity, has declared that Professor Garnaut's arguments have "missed the point" about financial damage to companies under a carbon price.

He joins several senior business figures in speaking out against the carbon tax proposed to start on July 1 next year.

Mr Gunther says, in an article published in The Australian today, that Professor Garnaut's position on compensating power companies under the Rudd government's carbon pollution reduction scheme would have resulted in "major damage to the national electricity market" and was a "prescription that will end up damaging the Australian economy".

Professor Garnaut "needs to deliver real-world solutions, not high-level principles that assume away problems", Mr Gunther writes.

Professor Garnaut will release another major discussion paper on electricity generation and the carbon tax tomorrow, but signalled last week he had not changed his position from 2008, when he argued there were no grounds for compensation for electricity generators.

He said that, although assistance to emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries was needed to avoid unfair competition between Australian emitters and those in countries without a carbon price, this should not be confused with providing support for loss of profits or asset value.

"Any fall in asset value stemming from the internalisation of the carbon externality (through pricing carbon) creates no greater case for compensation than other government reforms to reduce other externalities, such as the introduction of measures to discourage smoking, control the use of asbestos or phase out lead in petrol" Professor Garnaut said.

Mr Gunther says the comments suggest Professor Garnaut's discussion paper tomorrow will be a "prescription based on a simplistic and superficial understanding of the power sector - a prescription that will end up damaging the Australian economy".

The InterGen chief also says that asset value losses for electricity companies raise the prospect of state governments having to direct "a power station to keep operating if things ever got bad".

In 2009, as a result of Professor Garnaut's recommendations, the Rudd government indicated it would provide $7.3 billion over 10 years to the power sector for the impact of an emissions trading scheme.

This was after commissioning a report from investment bank Morgan Stanley that highlighted generators would be unable to pass on to consumers the impact of a carbon price on their asset losses.

"At a time when the economic debate in Australia is starting to refocus on how to enhance productivity, the importance of the national electricity market should never be underestimated," Mr Gunther says.

He says the energy sector wants to "develop a solution", as did Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson.

Last week in parliament, Mr Ferguson, said: "A highly efficient energy-driven system has been the key to the Australian economy.

"The Australian energy market is actually held up as the most efficient in the OECD world.

"It is estimated that over $17bn of capital is required for powerhouse generation assets - that is, refinancing, capital expenditure and new build over the next five years."



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