Saturday, April 16, 2011

A ludicrous disregard for sampling by a Warmist

Dick Lindzen recently observed, as he often has, that there is no obvious trend in Arctic or Antarctic ice cover. This provoked a shriek of vituperative rage from a Warmist site -- a site which in its header quotes Leonardo Di Caprio as an authority on climate. Ya gotta laugh: An eminent climatologist is wrong about the climate but a Hollywood actor is right! You couldn't make it up. The reality contact of these guys is so poor that they obviously don't realize how mad they sound to all but true believers.

Unlike a lot of Warmist writing, this diatribe did however quote one piece of evidence that Lindzen is wrong -- which is most refreshing. A Warmist article with more than abuse and vague generalizations about "the science" is rare.

So I thought that I would have a look at the research paper cited. The paper could however be a textbook case of how NOT to extract generalizations. It covers two unbelievably short time periods, which is exceedingly uninformative. Any student of statistics knows that in a random sequence you do get "runs". In a series of coin tosses, for instance, you may get a series of "heads" for a short period. But if you extend your series you find that you get runs of tails too -- so that overall there is no trend. You need a long series before you can extract reliable generalizations.

And the article abstracted below is clearly in the "ungeneralizable" category. The author compares, for instance, 2002–2003 with 2007–2009. And to add insult to injury, the trend is not the same in the two periods concerned! So which do you generalize from? What a crock!

Rather saddeningly, however, the article appeared in a prestigious academic journal. As we have often seen before, the pox of Warmism destroys intellectual standards.
Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE

By I. Velicogna

We use monthly measurements of time-variable gravity from the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite gravity mission to determine the ice mass-loss for the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets during the period between April 2002 and February 2009. We find that during this time period the mass loss of the ice sheets is not a constant, but accelerating with time, i.e., that the GRACE observations are better represented by a quadratic trend than by a linear one, implying that the ice sheets contribution to sea level becomes larger with time.

In Greenland, the mass loss increased from 137 Gt/yr in 2002–2003 to 286 Gt/yr in 2007–2009, i.e., an acceleration of −30 ± 11 Gt/yr2 in 2002–2009.

In Antarctica the mass loss increased from 104 Gt/yr in 2002–2006 to 246 Gt/yr in 2006–2009, i.e., an acceleration of −26 ± 14 Gt/yr2 in 2002–2009. The observed acceleration in ice sheet mass loss helps reconcile GRACE ice mass estimates obtained for different time periods.


California 2011: With Only 3 Months Gone By, Already 69 Companies Flee Its Green Regulation Hell

Read here. California politicians and bureaucrats are committed to driving businesses out of California with onerous green regulations. As it turns out, companies are literally responding by fleeing to other states.

There are states that still welcome businesses without the constant politically correct harassment and regulatory overkill. Hmmm....Texas is one state that comes to mind for some reason.

Why is California now easily the least attractive state in terms of operating a business? Watch this video and it becomes very obvious that fanatical green regulators are literally destroying the business environment.


UN Caught Scrubbing Embarrassing Climate Refugee Prediction

You might remember the other day I pointed out how the UN predicted 50 million climate refugees by 2010, a prediction that came up laughably short of the mark by only around 50 million. Well, if you go to that post and click on the link to the UN page making that claim… something funny happens. You get this:

Of course the great thing about the UN is that even though they are a dishonest-to-evil club for dictators they are also clumsy. Apparently no one at the U.N. knew there was such a thing as a google cache.

As Charles Johnson can tell you, it is very hard to truly make something disappear down the memory hole.

I will be putting up screen shots of the google cache (and the full “page not found” screen cap) under the fold, in case someone at the U.N. grows a brain.


British government solar project cancelled

An ambitious plan to put solar panels on schools, hospitals and other public buildings has been cancelled in an embarrassing climb-down for the Government.

Buying solutions, the Government quango responsible for taking forward major new projects, wanted to install solar panels on the roof of town halls, army bases and other land or buildings owned by the public. The scheme was considered value for money because the Feed in Tariff (FIT), that pays those who install panels to generate electricity, offered a good return.

However following changes to FIT, which mean larger solar installations will not earn so much money, the project was pulled.
Solar companies say the Government have ‘shot themselves in the foot’ by reducing the green subsidy for medium sized projects like schools and hospitals.

An ongoing consultation proposes reducing subsidies for any solar panel project more than 50 kilowatts, the equivalent of panels on 20 houses.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change insist that FITs had to be reduced to stop large solar farms taking all the money before households could cash in. But solar companies claim medium-sized projects on schools, hospitals and community centres are also losing out.

Katie Moore, co-founder of the Solar Club, a community whose members are planning to invest in a solar project, said she was in contact with the Government last year after proposing to put panels on a navy base. However following the review of FITs she was told that the solar project was no longer going ahead. She suspects the reduction in tariffs for medium-sized projects was the cause.

“The Government were withdrawing from their own project,” she said. “If the government estate can’t do it – and they know more than us – then how are other medium-sized projects expected to make money?”

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office admitted that Buying Solutions was looking at the possibility of installing solar panels across the government estate. However the idea was never taken up. “They realised it was not going to work,” she said. “It turned out it was not viable.”


"The end of fish": Another false prophecy

THIS Lent, many ecologically conscious Americans might feel a twinge of guilt as they dig into the fish on their Friday dinner plates. They shouldn’t.

Over the last decade the public has been bombarded by apocalyptic predictions about the future of fish stocks — in 2006, for instance, an article in the journal Science projected that all fish stocks could be gone by 2048.

Subsequent research, including a paper I co-wrote in Science in 2009 with Boris Worm, the lead author of the 2006 paper, has shown that such warnings were exaggerated. Much of the earlier research pointed to declines in catches and concluded that therefore fish stocks must be in trouble. But there is little correlation between how many fish are caught and how many actually exist; over the past decade, for example, fish catches in the United States have dropped because regulators have lowered the allowable catch. On average, fish stocks worldwide appear to be stable, and in the United States they are rebuilding, in many cases at a rapid rate.

The overall record of American fisheries management since the mid-1990s is one of improvement, not of decline. Perhaps the most spectacular recovery is that of bottom fish in New England, especially haddock and redfish; their abundance has grown sixfold from 1994 to 2007. Few if any fish species in the United States are now being harvested at too high a rate, and only 24 percent remain below their desired abundance.

Much of the success is a result of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was signed into law 35 years ago this week. It banned foreign fishing within 200 miles of the United States shoreline and established a system of management councils to regulate federal fisheries. In the past 15 years, those councils, along with federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations and commercial and sport fishing groups, have helped assure the sustainability of the nation’s fishing stocks.

Some experts, like Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center, who warns of “the end of fish,” fault the systems used to regulate fisheries worldwide. But that condemnation is too sweeping, and his prescription — closing much of the world’s oceans to fishing — would leave people hungry unnecessarily.


'Eco-friendly' biofuels may do more harm than good

The comments below are not unusual but the fact that they come from a mass-circulation British newspaper seems significant -- particularly as the NYT has recently said much the same. Methinks I see a fad dying

The drive for ‘eco-friendly’ biofuels has backfired and may be contributing to climate change, says a report. Plant-based fuels have pushed up food prices, increased deforestation and threatened endangered animals, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics found.

The think-tank said their spread has led to ‘near slavery conditions’ on sugar plantations in the developing world and may have increased greenhouse gas emissions. Its report branded the UK’s biofuel policies ‘unethical’ and called for guidelines to ensure future ‘green’ fuels do more good than harm.

Most green biofuels come from maize, sugarcane, palm oil and rapeseed oil. By law, at least 5 per cent of petrol and diesel sold on British forecourts must be biofuel by 2013 compared with 3 per cent now.

Switching to biofuels was supposed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and prevent man-made climate change. But the report shows their speedy introduction has been a disaster. Clearing rainforests for biofuel crops in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia has forced people off their land and threatened orangutans. Ploughing has released carbon dioxide that would otherwise have been locked away in the soil.

In the U.S., turning farmland over to maize for fuel has cut supply of other crops and raised food prices.


Australia's proposed carbon tax dead on its feet

The Prime Minister's political judgment is woeful. Conservatives get the steelworkers on their side

THE Gillard government's plans to put a price on carbon have suffered a body blow, with key unions demanding exemptions for industry that are unacceptable to the Greens. With his own job under threat from a hostile membership, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, demanded yesterday that the steel industry be given a complete exemption from the carbon scheme and that there be generous compensation for the aluminium, cement and glass sectors.

Mr Howes issued the demand after a fiery crisis meeting with nine union branch secretaries from across Australia. It is understood Mr Howes, who is up for re-election before the next federal election, faced being dumped if he did not issue the demands. The AWU is influential in the Right faction of the ALP and was instrumental in Julia Gillard's coup against Kevin Rudd last year.

Immediately after Mr Howes's announcement, he was backed by the powerful Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which influences the party's Left. The loss of support from the industrial wing of the party leaves the government stuck between the unions and the Greens, whose support is critical.

The government is negotiating with the Greens to put a price on carbon and one key sticking point is the level of compensation for trade-exposed industries. The other is the starting price for a tonne of carbon. As a starting point, the government was proposing the same generous levels of industry assistance devised under the emissions trading scheme negotiated with Malcolm Turnbull. The Greens derided this as "backroom deals for rent seekers" and want less compensation this time.

As well as exempting steel altogether, Mr Howes wants the compensation for aluminium, cement and glass to be "at least" as generous as that negotiated under the old scheme.

If the Greens vote for this, they would be signing on to a weaker scheme than the one they blocked in 2009 because, in part, they felt the compensation was too generous.

The Greens climate change spokeswoman, Christine Milne, was unhappy with the unions' backdown but said she would confine her negotiations to the multi-party climate change committee which meets again next week. "Conducting negotiations is not well served by threats to withdraw support if you don't get your way," she said. "Paul Howes should follow the example of many of his colleagues in the union movement who, like us, see the tremendous jobs potential in building a new clean economy."

The unions stuck with the Rudd government during the original ETS process and, until yesterday, had been rock solid with the Gillard government. But the steel sector, which is a big exporter, has been crying foul for weeks, saying it is already under pressure from the high Australian dollar and high input costs caused by rising prices for ore and coking coal.

This week the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, challenged the industry, saying a carbon price of $20 would add just $2.60 to the price of a tonne of steel.

But Mr Howes sided with the steel makers yesterday. "We think there is a special case to be made for steel," he said. "Steel is going through a hard time at the moment, not because of carbon pricing. "When the dollar sits at 1.05, all export-based industries are under a huge amount of pressure. But there is no solid argument we shouldn't be making steel in this country."

Tony Maher, from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said Mr Howes has "got a very good argument and I would urge the government to consider it". "The economic circumstances of today are not those of two years ago."

Mr Combet refused to exempt steel. He said current economic circumstances were already being factored in and steel would again be in line for generous compensation. "A very significant level of assistance has been proposed," he said. "This assistance will be designed to stop 'carbon leakage' of jobs overseas and is the subject of continuing discussion with the steel industry and other industries."

One source said the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, had undermined Mr Howes by whipping up worker resentment during recent visits to BlueScope at Port Kembla, and OneSteel in Victoria. Mr Abbott welcomed Mr Howes's stance yesterday.



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