Monday, April 25, 2011

The Climate Tort Goes Down

Even liberal Justices can't abide this theory

How unconvincing is the green legal doctrine of the climate tort? So much so that not a single Justice seemed persuaded when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments last Tuesday-even some of the liberals questioned the theory with Scalia-like vigor.

In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, a group of state attorneys general are suing five utilities, claiming their carbon emissions are a "nuisance" under common law. Boiled down, they're asking the Court to give judges the power to create climate policies-and weigh their costs and benefits-that would ordinarily be fashioned by the politically accountable branches.

But don't take our word for it. "I mean, even just reading that part of your complaint, it sounds like the paradigmatic thing that administrative agencies do rather than courts," Justice Elena Kagan told New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood. "Now what," chimed in Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "the relief you're seeking seems to me to set up a district judge, who does not have the resources, the expertise, as a kind of super-EPA."

Later, Justice Kagan, President Obama's second nominee to the High Court, asked, "General, do you think that you have a federal common law cause of action against anybody in the world?" After all, everyone contributes to global warming. "Obviously the greatest benefit to reduce global warming would be, of course, to shut down the power plants, right?" as Chief Justice John Roberts put it. Should the courts have that power too-but extended over the entire economy?

Or "can the courts set a tax?" wondered Stephen Breyer. Ms. Underwood claimed that such a policy wouldn't "abate the nuisance," to which Justice Breyer acidly replied, "Oh, this will. This is addressed to that. It says abate the nuisance, here's how you're going to do it. You're going to put a $20 a tax ton on carbon, and lo and behold, you will discover that nuisance will be abated."

It's heartening to see the Justices reaffirm their faith in the democratic process, especially after a 2006 case that the Obama Administration has used to justify its autocratic choice to impose carbon regulation via the Environmental Protection Agency. But even the proponents of the climate tort have been open about their bad faith. The point of this and other lawsuits has merely been to harass industry and coerce business into supporting a carbon crackdown, no matter what elected representatives decide.

While the Court could dismiss the judicial encroachment of the climate tort in a number of ways, the good news for the economy is that it appears to be toast.


CO2 gets a reprieve: Ozone hole dominates shifting S. Hemisphere climate

Maybe it does but it fluctuates wildly from year to year -- like the natural phenomenon it is -- so making any predictions from it would be ambitious.

The sudden emergence of an ARCTIC hole mentioned below is amusing. Stick that in your chlorofluorocarbons

Climate policymakers and scientists need to look beyond global warming emissions of carbon dioxide and take the loss of stratospheric ozone into account, researchers said on Thursday.

The stratospheric ozone layer, which shields Earth from solar ultra-violet radiation, has thinned over the South Pole over the last half-century.

This depletion of ozone has shifted the Southern Hemisphere's climate so that dry areas in the subtropics now see about 10 percent more precipitation in summer than they used to, scientists reported in the journal Science.

"Ozone is now widely believed to be the dominant agent of climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, so this actually means that the international agreements regulating climate change cannot be confined to dealing with carbon dioxide," said the study's lead author, Sarah Kang of Columbia University. "They also need to consider ozone," Kang said by telephone.

Carbon dioxide emissions from natural and human-made sources, notably the burning of fossil fuels, is the most frequently cited target of policymakers aiming to curb climate change caused by humans.

However, the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere due largely to commercial and industrial use of chemicals containing chlorofluorocarbons has a powerful impact on large swaths of the Southern Hemisphere, the researchers found.


The stratospheric ozone layer typically absorbs ultra-violet radiation, warming the air below. With the opening of the ozone hole over the South Pole due to chlorofluorocarbon pollution, there was severe cooling instead of warming, which eventually caused a southern shift in the winds that whip from west to east around Antarctica.

As this band of winds moved toward the pole, a corresponding dry belt in the subtropics also moved southward, the researchers showed. This left room nearer the equator for a band of increased summer precipitation.

Most of this change is driven by the ozone hole, with a smaller contribution from increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the study found.

Earlier this month, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization reported record loss of the protective ozone layer over the Arctic, which unlike that in the Antarctic, is not an annual occurrence.

The 40 percent loss of ozone over the Arctic came despite the "very successful" 1987 Montreal Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals including chlorofluorocarbons and halons, WMO said on April 5.

The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, but have been phased out. However, they can linger for decades in the atmosphere, so it will take several decades more before their concentrations drop to pre-1980 levels, WMO said.


Remember the scary "single most-important finding in climate science last year": "a sharp decline" in phytoplankton? Never mind

The MSM was awash with alarmist reports last year that global warming had caused "a sharp drop" in ocean phytoplankton since the 1950's, with one newspaper stating "the single most-important finding in climate science last year was a 40 percent decline in the ocean's phytoplankton caused by global warming." A new paper published in Nature finds that multiple data sets instead show an increase in ocean phytoplankton over the past eight decades. Don't hold your breath for any retractions of the alarmist claims in the MSM, nor any stories reporting the good news.
Is there a decline in marine phytoplankton?

By Abigail McQuatters-Gollop et al.

Arising from D. G. Boyce, M. R. Lewis & B. Worm Nature 466, 591-596 (2010); Boyce et al. reply

Phytoplankton account for approximately 50% of global primary production, form the trophic base of nearly all marine ecosystems, are fundamental in trophic energy transfer and have key roles in climate regulation, carbon sequestration and oxygen production.

Boyce et al. compiled a chlorophyll index by combining in situ chlorophyll and Secchi disk depth measurements that spanned a more than 100-year time period and showed a decrease in marine phytoplankton biomass of approximately 1% of the global median per year over the past century.

Eight decades of data on phytoplankton biomass collected in the North Atlantic by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey, however, show an increase in an index of chlorophyll (Phytoplankton Colour Index) in both the Northeast and Northwest Atlantic basins, and other long-term time series, including the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT)8, the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series (BATS)8 and the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) also indicate increased phytoplankton biomass over the last 20-50 years.

These findings, which were not discussed by Boyce et al., are not in accordance with their conclusions and illustrate the importance of using consistent observations when estimating long-term trends

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

Models all wrong: East Antarctic Ice Sheet is getting thicker from the bottom up

Inclusion of these newly found processes is essential to produce robust predictions of future ice sheet change

Scientists have always thought that the vast majority of ice contained in the Antarctic ice cap was formed from frozen precipitation. Recent research has revealed that this is not totally correct. Over a large fraction of East Antarctica, the deepest part of the ice sheet contains ice that did not originate as surface snow but developed when subglacial meltwater was frozen onto the underside of the ice sheet. The amount of ice involved is much larger than the estimated volume of Antarctic subglacial lakes and may even exceed the volume of all glaciers on Earth outside of the two polar ice sheets. Current computer models predict that subglacial water escapes toward the ocean. These new findings indicate that water from areas of basal melting actually migrate to areas of basal freezing, something not accounted for by current ice sheet models. To scientists' surprise, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is getting thicker from the bottom up.

In a Science report published online March 3, 2011, Robin E. Bell et al. little is known about processes at the base of the ice sheets. In "Widespread Persistent Thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by Freezing from the Base," researchers report that, although the surface accumulation of snow remains the primary mechanism for ice sheet growth, beneath the research site known as Dome A, 24% of the base by area is frozen-on ice. In some places, up to half of the ice thickness has been added from below. The unexpected thickness of these bottom layers of ice was detected using radar imaging during the International Polar Year 2007-2009.

The exact mechanisms for the formation of this refrozen ice depends on the location. According to Bell et al., the freeze-on at valley heads is primarily the result of conductive cooling over static bodies of water. Along the valley walls, ice is primarily the result of the hydrologic potential forcing water up steep valley slopes. But these processes are not mutually exclusive: individual packages of frozen-on ice could well have been produced by a combination of the two mechanisms. The authors speculate that the creation of bottom ice is widespread and has been going on since the beginning of persistent glaciation more than 30 million years ago.

In East Antarctica, basal freeze-on has continued in the same locations through the last glacial-interglacial transition and has probably been a persistent process since East Antarctica became encased in a large ice sheet 32 million years ago. The simple geometry of the subglacial topography and the stable ice flow in the Dome A region have enabled us to image this process for the first time. Although the surface accumulation, surface slope, and bed morphology vary distinctly on the northern and southern sides of Dome A, throughout the area almost a quarter of the ice sheet base consists of ice freeze-on from the bottom. Widespread freeze-on can change the rheology and modify the flow of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Inclusion of these basal processes is essential to produce robust predictions of future ice sheet change.

The addition of hundreds of meters of ice to the base of an ice sheet deforms the overlying ice, causing uplifted sections on the glacier's surface. This changes ice sheet stratigraphy and may affect the surface accumulation by changing the slope of the surface. The thickest package of frozen-on ice the researchers found was 1110 m, located at the downflow end of a 20-km-long valley. The internal layers in the covering ice are deformed upward over 410 m at the valley head. The shape of the surface actually reflects the shape of the accreted ice body and not the underlying bedrock.

Aside from changing accumulation rates and ice-flow dynamics, this discovery has implications for those trying to extend the ice core record farther back into time.

"the widespread melt required to support the freeze-on process may have destroyed the ice containing the ancient paleoclimate records," Bell et al. state. "Without the inclusion of basal processes, simple models of ice sheet temperatures cannot accurately predict the location of the oldest ice." Knowledge gathered from the deepest ice cores may need revision.

The implications of the research are clear. Bell and colleagues summed the situation up this way: "Widespread freeze-on can change the rheology and modify the flow of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Inclusion of these basal processes is essential to produce robust predictions of future ice sheet change." Tulaczyk and Hossainzadeh are even more to the point:

The discovery of thick, widespread accreted ice layers changes in fundamental ways our understanding of the Antarctic ice sheet. Further mapping and modeling of these ice bodies is necessary to aid the ongoing search for the oldest ice on Earth. New models of subglacial water generation, flow, and freezing will have to be developed to account for this large internal mass and heat redistribution within the ice sheet

These scientists are saying that the new findings fundamentally change our understanding of ice sheets and their inclusion in new models is essential. Basically, this means all of the model predictions of how fast ice is melting and moving to the sea, in both Antarctica and Greenland, need to be revised. It turns out that all those model based predictions of an icy Armageddon, with glacial ice racing to the ocean at ever increasing rates, were not based on reality.

This discovery shows the danger of basing estimates of future conditions on model output, be it ice flow or climate change. As fodder for research models are fine, but as a foundation to base public policy on they are horrid. The public, media and politicians need to understand that models are not fact, they are at best imperfect representations of a poorly understood reality.

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

Lobbyists who cleared 'Climategate' academics funded by British taxpayers and the BBC

A shadowy lobby group which pushes the case that global warming is a real threat is being funded by the taxpayer and assisted by the BBC. The little-known not-for-profit company works behind the scenes at international conferences to further its aims.

One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called "Climategate emails", producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.

Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.

Set up with the backing of Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, and run by a group of British MPs and peers the organisation, Globe International, started life as an All Party Group based in the House of Commons.

It is now run as an international climate change lobbying group flying its supporters and experts club class to international summits to push its agenda. Last year, it said, it spent around £500,000 flying its supporters to these meetings.

It has also paid out at least £75,000 on travel for prominent UK politicians, including for its former presidents Elliot Morley [corr], the ex-Labour environment minister now facing jail for expenses fraud, and Stephen Byers, the former Labour cabinet minister who was suspended from the Commons after he was filmed describing himself a "cab for hire" when offering to lobby his parliamentary contacts for cash.

Now Globe is planning a mass lobby of the United Nations Rio 2012 summit in Brazil, where world leaders will discuss climate change, by holding a World Summit of Legislators in the city to coincided with the event.

Next week the group's current President Lord Deben, the former Tory Cabinet Minister John Gummer, is due to launch a major report on climate change policy alongside Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary.

Globe has also recently held behind-closed-doors meetings with William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and other senior Coalition ministers.

Last year two prominent experts linked to Globe were drawn into the controversy over emails leaked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit.

Lord Oxburgh, the organisation's director, was called in to head an internal inquiry into the leaked emails which included one infamous message referring to a "trick" to "hide the decline" in global temperatures.

The peer's investigation cleared the scientists of malpractice. But critics claimed the report was a whitewash and Lord Oxburgh also failed to declare his involvement with Globe before he began his investigation.

Meanwhile Bob Ward, from the Grantham Institute, which works alongside Globe, praised a second inquiry by former civil servant Muir Russell, which also cleared the climate researchers. He said it had "lifted the cloud of suspicion" and demonstrated that "the integrity of climate science is intact."

Globe International's work is paid for with donations from multi-millionaire backers and through partnerships with other environmental groups.

Globe also confirmed last night that it received direct funding from the Department of Energy and the Department of International Development (DfID). including a grant of £91,240 provided by DfID since the Coalition came to power last year.

More cash from DfID is filtered through the Complus Alliance - a "sustainable development communications alliance" of broadcasters based in Costa Rica which is also supported by the BBC World Service Trust, the Corporation's independent charity. Complus, which was awarded DfID cash last year and in 2006, says it has an "ongoing relationship with Globe" helping it run "shadow negotiation" teams at international summits of world leaders.

A spokeswoman for Complus said: "The BBC is a founding member not a funding member. They can make in-kind contributions, like organising events, supporting logistics, sharing content." She added that Complus did not fund Globe but work with them on "convergent objectives".

Last night a DfID spokesman confirmed the department had given Complus £250,000 in total to provide research, advocacy and communications work on the impact of climate change.

Last night Globe's general secretary Adam Matthews said: "Globe is not a lobbying organisation. It is an international group of legislators. It was set up by the legislators themselves. "We facilitate them coming together to discuss environmental issues. Our members have multiple views - some quite sceptical on some aspects of the climate change debate." "We are funded by the World Bank, the EU, international parliaments and Governments, including the UK Government. The coalition Government contributes to our work through DFID."

Globe International, registered as a not-for-profit firm under the name The Global Legislators Organisation Ltd, makes minimal disclosures about its finances to Companies House. Last year it declared a £500,000 loss, but still managed to fly a number of key supporters to summits and international conferences.


Retired Anchorman Apologizes for Presenting Both Sides of Global Warming Debate

“For those of you who are confused [about global warming], you’re forgiven. It’s my fault.” So hysterically said retired Minneapolis anchorman Don Shelby during a speech at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Tuesday:
After spending 32 years in front of the camera as an anchorman and investigative reporter for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Don Shelby wanted to apologize to people about climate change....

Shelby was speaking at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Tuesday on what he called “The most important story since journalism began — global climate change.” His speech served as the kick-off for a two-day sustainability fair sponsored by UMD’s Office of Sustainability.

The TV newsman’s mea culpa about having misreported climate change came after of years of treating the story the same as he would any other, requiring the views of two opposing parties, Shelby told the packed lecture hall of the chemistry building.

But, he said, climate change is not a pro or con issue; it’s a scientific fact. And journalists who work to “balance” a story present an inaccurate picture when they give equal weight to sources promulgating inaccurate facts.

“If I report a story on abuse of children, I don’t go out and interview an abuser on the up-side of child abuse,” he said as an example of how an effort to balance can go too far.

Yes, global temperatures rising by about one degree Celsius in the past 160 years as we came out of a solar minimum, radically increased the population, and replaced grasslands and forests with cities, skyscrapers, concrete and asphalt is akin to abusing a child.

There's therefore only one side to the story as to why the planet got hotter, and reporting the other far more logical one is like letting a child-abuser explain why beating kids is okay.

This is what passes as critical thinking in journalism today. And this man was speaking to a group of college students filling their minds with the same lack of objectivity.

Scarier still, for 32 years Shelby reported to the citizens of Minneapolis and St. Paul on television and radio. Makes you wonder what other biases the Emmy Award-winning "newsman" has been sharing all those years if he's willing to stand up in front of an audience and claim he was misrepresenting this issue.

Having never lived in Minnesota and therefore not the slightest bit familiar with Shelby, I have no idea what his political leanings are beyond this bizarre mea culpa concerning global warming.

For a clue, at his My Space page, Shelby lists one of his heroes as the perilously liberal Charles Kuralt, and claims the person he'd most like to interview is Osama bin Laden.



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


No comments: