Friday, August 05, 2011

A most unscientific doctor

In the article excerpted below Cindy Parker is trying to inject global warming alarm into the nation's medical practitioners. "So what?", you may ask. Warmists spew their tripe everywhere. It gets them attention, which they crave.

This lady is, however worse than most. As you see from her Introduction to the article, she KNOWS that the actual amount of warming so far is less than ONE degree Celsius. And we all experience temperature changes in the course of a typical day that are many times greater than that. We cope perfectly well every day with temperature changes much greater than one degree Celsius. So she knows that any "Greenhouse" effect is totally trivial -- with effects on health that would have to be undetectable. She is a crook. As she is a doctor (an MD forsooth) she should have a grasp of scientific basics but she ignores those basics.
American Family Physician, August 1 2011 Vol. 84 No. 3

Slowing Global Warming: Benefits for Patients and the Planet

Parker C L


Global warming will cause significant harm to the health of persons and their communities by compromising food and water supplies; increasing risks of morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases and heat stress; changing social determinants of health resulting from extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and expanding flood plains; and worsening air quality, resulting in additional morbidity and mortality from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Vulnerable populations such as children, older persons, persons living at or below the poverty level, and minorities will be affected earliest and greatest, but everyone likely will be affected at some point. Family physicians can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stabilize the climate, and reduce the risks of climate change while also directly improving the health of their patients. Health interventions that have a beneficial effect on climate change include encouraging patients to reduce the amount of red meat in their diets and to replace some vehicular transportation with walking or bicycling. Patients are more likely to make such lifestyle changes if their physician asks them to and leads by example. Medical offices and hospitals can become more energy efficient by recycling, purchasing wind-generated electricity, and turning off appliances, computers, and lights when not in use. Moreover, physicians can play an important role in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by advocating for enforcement of existing air quality regulations and working with local and national policy makers to further improve air quality standards, thereby improving the health of their patients and slowing global climate change.


Global warming is an occurrence that is well documented, with average global surface temperatures now 1.5øF (0.83øC) higher than at the start of the industrial revolution.1 Since the 1970s, each decade has been warmer than the previous, and the 2000 through 2009 decade was the warmest on record.

More on Salby

Andrew Bolt reports:

Professor Murry Salby, chair of climate at Macquarie University, has unleashed on global warming alarmism in a lecture this week to the Sydney Institute.

Salby has worked at leading research institutions, including the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, Princeton University, and the University of Colorado, and is the author of Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics, and Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate, due out in 2011.

Salby's argument is that the usual evidence given for the rise in CO2 being man-made is mistaken. It's usually taken to be the fact that as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increase, the 1 per cent of CO2 that's the heavier carbon isotope ratio c13 declines in proportion. Plants, which produced our coal and oil, prefer the lighter c12 isotope. Hence, it must be our gasses that caused this relative decline.

But that conclusion holds true only if there are no other sources of c12 increases which are not human caused. Salby says there are - the huge increases in carbon dioxide concentrations caused by such things as spells of warming and El Ninos, which cause concentration levels to increase independently of human emissions. He suggests that its warmth which tends to produce more CO2, rather than vice versa - which, incidentally is the story of the past recoveries from ice ages.

I've summarised this from just a rushed hearing of his lecture, not having access to his notes or the charts he produced on the evening. His findings, he says, have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication, so more will follow.

Some other highlights of his talk:

He said he had an "involuntary gag reflex" whenever someone said the "science was settled".

"Anyone who thinks the science of this complex thing is settled is in Fantasia." The climate models used by global warmists suggest we should have twice the warming we've actually seen recently.

Podcast here

Judith Curry comments: If Salby's analysis holds up, this could revolutionize AGW science. Salby and I were both at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the 1990?s, but I don't know him well personally. He is the author of a popular introductory graduate text Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics. He is an excellent lecturer and teacher, which comes across in his podcast. He has the reputation of a thorough and careful researcher. While all this is frustratingly preliminary without publication, slides, etc., it is sufficiently important that we should start talking about these issues.

Arctic 'tipping point' unlikely to tip

Admits the BBC

Scientists say current concerns over a tipping point in the disappearance of Arctic sea ice may be misplaced. Danish researchers analysed ancient pieces of driftwood in north Greenland which they say is an accurate way to measure the extent of ancient ice loss.

Writing in the journal Science, the team found evidence that ice levels were about 50% lower 5,000 years ago. They say changes to wind systems can slow down the rate of melting. They argue, therefore, that a tipping point under current scenarios is unlikely.

While modern observations by ship and by satellite give us a very accurate picture of the recent state of the ice, historic information is limited. The ice comes and goes without leaving a permanent record.

But a Danish team believes it has found an indirect method that gives a clear picture of the ice loss dating back 11,000 years.

Dr Svend Funder from the Natural History Museum of Denmark led several expeditions to inhospitable regions of Northern Greenland. On these frozen shores the Danish team noticed several pieces of ancient driftwood. They concluded that it could be an important method of unlocking the secrets of the ancient ice.

"Driftwood cannot float across the water, it has to be ferried across the ocean on ice, and this voyage takes several years, which means that driftwood is actually a signal of multi-year sea ice in the ocean and it is this ice that is at risk at the moment" said Dr Funder.

Carbon dating was used to determine the age of the wood. And figuring out its origins also yielded important information.

"It's so lovely that drift wood from Siberia is mainly larch and from North America is mainly spruce. So if we see there was more larch or spruce we can see that the wind system had changed and in some periods there was little spruce and in other periods there was lots," he said.

As well as the driftwood, the scientists mapped beach ridges for 500km (310 miles) along the coast. This proved that at one time the waves had reached the shore unhindered by the ice.

Dr Funder and his team say their data shows a clear connection between temperature and the amount of sea ice. The researchers concluded that for about 3,000 years, during a period called the Holocene Climate Optimum, there was more open water and far less ice than today - probably less than 50% of the minimum Arctic sea ice recorded in 2007.

But the researcher says that even with a loss of this size, the sea ice will not reach a point of no return. "I think we can say that with the loss of 50% of the current ice, the tipping point wasn't reached."

The idea of an Arctic tipping point has been highlighted by many scientists in recent years. They have argued that when enough ice is lost it could cause a runaway effect with disastrous consequences.

"I don't say that our current worries are not justified, but I think that there are factors which will work to delay the action in relation to some of the models that have been in the media.

"I think the effect of temperature and global warming may cause a change in the general wind systems which maybe will delay the effects of the rapidly rising temperatures a little bit."

The researchers are now set to examine DNA from the fossils of polar bears to try and find out how the animals fared when the temperatures were higher and there was much less ice.


The absurdities of consensus

By Australian economist Professor Judith Sloan

I belong to one of those professions for which there is supposedly a 'consensus' - on using a carbon dioxide tax or an emissions trading scheme as the most efficient means of reducing the growth of emissions.

To suggest that more information is required, because the proposition may be more a half-truth than a truth, is not allowed. It is a case of being in or out, being with it or not with it.

When filling out the survey conducted by the Economic Society of Australia dealing with this topic and other economic statements, I found myself circling the 'do not know/no opinion' option in most cases. Without additional facts, it was simply not possible to reach a definitive conclusion, let alone agree or disagree strongly.

Notwithstanding this significant qualification to the methodology, much has been made of the so-called 'consensus' among Australian economists on the carbon tax. Indeed, this idea of 'consensus' is being used as a political weapon to disparage anyone in the profession who dares to express an alternative point-of-view.

The clear message is that if you are not part of the 'consensus', you are an idiot and no-one should listen to anything you say. Well, count me out of the 'consensus', because bald statements about complicated policy issues should never generate only binary possibilities - agree or disagree.

The then secretary of the Treasury, Ken Henry, last year tried to corral Australian economists into some sort of phoney 'consensus' about the proposed mining tax, the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). While enjoying the contest of ideas within the economics profession, he declared that, "I think there are occasions on which economists might, at least for a period, put down their weapons and join a consensus."

But why, Ken? It was a complete dud, both in theory and particularly in terms of implementation. Not only were the assumptions on which the proposed RSPT - a Brown tax - completely unrealistic, its application to existing projects meant that there was no way that the impost would only be taxing resource rents. (To be slightly technical, quasi-rents would almost certainly have been taxed as well.)

The bit I really liked about the proposed tax - note my ironic tone - was that the Government would not actually be ponying up its 40 per cent share of expenditures of mining projects - after all, the fiscal position was getting pretty tight - but rather would provide companies with an IOU that would be inflated annually by the risk-free long-term bond rate.

The companies could then use these IOUs, so the argument went, to secure project finance at this rate and without any transaction costs. So even though the Government didn't feel as though it was in position to hand over the cash to the companies at the time, financial institutions could be 100 per cent confident that the Australian Government would pay its full obligations in the future. Go figure.

And when a senior economics journalist asked Ken Henry to explain how the imposition of this tax would not affect the incentives for mining companies to invest, he was handed two pages of algebra. Some consensus, Ken.

A necessary accessory of 'consensus' in the professions has, for some time, been the multi-signed letter, printed in the quality mainstream media. An early high-water mark for the global economics profession was the 364 economists in the UK who signed a letter in 1981, stating that there was "no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence" for the budgetary policy of the Thatcher government. Indeed, the letter contained a warning of a potential threat to "social and political stability".

As events panned out, these eminent economists - one is the current governor of the Bank of England - turned out to be wrong - dead wrong, in fact. Inflation was controlled, interest rates fell, the exchange rate adjusted, the budget was brought back into balance and, after a lag, the rate of unemployment fell. Investors began to believe that the UK government would stick to its guns (and resist the idiotic advice of the economists) and the British economy experienced a period of remarkably strong growth.

One of those economists who signed the letter, Professor Steve Nickell, now says that he did not agree with all the content of the letter but signed because it was "the only game in town". I guess that's what happens if you want to be on the 'right' side of the 'consensus' divide.

Like-minded Australian economists have also developed an affection for the multi-signed letter. There was one assembled to support the RSPT, one endorsing the Labor Government's stimulus spending and one to support the carbon tax. Not surprisingly, there is a fair overlap in the names on these letters.

Presumably, the principal purpose of these letters is to support the Labor Government in its bold, daring but correct policy initiatives, by lending the authority of a group of wise economists of renown to the cause. Indeed, the letter supporting the stimulus spending (which bravely mentioned the spending on roof insulation and the BER) ended with this little homily: "We hope that the economic achievements of the Australian Labor Government will be recognised by the population."

Of course, the more the merrier when it comes to these letters. The 50 who signed the stimulus letter was perhaps a bit disappointing and the numbers for the other two letters was lower again. Even so, it is important to create the illusion of 'consensus' within the profession because then those who have not got with the program can easily be labelled as imbecilic and out-of-date.

Perhaps the most extreme example of a fracturing of a consensus within the economics profession is occurring now in the United States, even though the possibility of a federal government default has been averted for the time being.

In the one corner are the Keynesians, typified by Paul Krugman, who regard any cuts to government spending as a guaranteed route to higher unemployment, double-dip recession and possibly depression. In the other corner are the economists who argue that the stimulus spending has failed, that there is no alternative to reducing the deficit and paying off the debt. Only in this way can there be a crowding in of private sector spending which will ultimately provide the basis for a sustainable economic recovery.

The surprising thing about this whole consensus thing is that anyone should ever have thought it could apply to economists. By reputation, they are one of the most divided professions and jokes abound on this very point. But the real issue is this: most public policy issues are complicated and nuanced. It is not possible to reach definitive and simple conclusions - it all depends - and we should not kid ourselves otherwise.


Heat waves pushes Texas power grid into red zone

The only new generators that the Greenies will let them build are windmills and there is little wind in Texas in the summer so the windmills are useless just when they are most needed

The Texas power grid operator has scrambled this week to meet soaring electricity demand in the face of a brutal heat wave, and residents of the second most populous U.S. state are one power plant shut-down away from rolling blackouts.

Power demand for Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc, or ERCOT, which runs the power grid for most of the state, hit three consecutive records this week as Texans cranked up air conditioners to escape one of the hottest summers on record.

The grid operator on Thursday cut power to some big industrial users, and businesses and households face a repeat of the rolling blackouts they faced in February, when a bitter cold snap interrupted power supplies.

Though ERCOT has done a good job balancing supply and demand, "You always have to expect the unexpected can happen," said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). "A unit can shut. The wind may not blow."

Ice storms in February crippled dozens of power plants, forcing ERCOT to impose rolling blackouts for hours as electric supplies dropped below demand for the juice.

Now a protracted heat wave with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) for several weeks in a row in many cities has stretched power supplies to the limit.

Power usage in ERCOT reached its highest level ever on Wednesday at 68,294 megawatts, almost 4 percent over last year's peak.

The Texas grid faces at least one more day of extreme stress before temperatures cool a bit over the weekend. Temperatures in Houston, the state's biggest city, should return to near normal levels in the upper 90s over the weekend, according to

The state's biggest power generators, including units of Energy Future Holdings, NRG Energy, Calpine Corp and others, have been running flat out to cash in real-time prices that have hit the $3,000/MWh cap in recent days.

But the state's reserve margins have been running razor thin. On Wednesday ERCOT came within 50 megawatts of interrupting flows to industrial customers. That's equal to the output of about 25 industrial-scale windmills.

With record-breaking demand came record-breaking prices. Prices for Thursday power topped $400 per megawatt hour, the highest in at least a decade. Friday's power prices approached $600. Real-time prices also hit the $3,000 market cap over the past few days.

ERCOT has about 73,000 MW of natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear and wind generating facilities, but not all of that capacity is available all the time.

Texas has the most wind power in the country, but the wind does not blow during the summer. Ercot said it got about 2,000 MW from wind during the peak hour on Wednesday. Those wind farms can produce about 9,000 MW when all turbines are spinning.

Moreover, the ERCOT power grid is a virtual island with only a few small transmission links to neighboring electric grids, making it tough for Texas to pull energy from neighboring states in times of need.


Australia's Carbon tax scheme is doomed to fail

Gary Johns

POLITICIANS never admit they do not have a solution to a problem. Call it "yes we can!" syndrome. As a consequence, some have vowed to decarbonise their economies to save the environment from climate change.

The Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus reminded the audience at a luncheon this week of the boast of former communist rulers of Czechoslovakia, "we control the wind and the rain!" Such hubris is alive and well.

Those nations headed down the carbon abatement path have asked economists to seek the most cost-effective means of doing so. The predictable answer was to price emissions. The trouble is it cannot succeed. A paper by David Campbell and others, After Copenhagen: The Impossibility of Carbon Trading, tells why.

The Kyoto Protocol carbon trading scheme has failed because while there may be a loose cap on emissions for developed countries, without a cap on all other countries the trade between the two is uncapped, so there is no overall emissions reduction. To illustrate, at the end of the Kyoto's first commitment period 2012, the increase in China's emissions will be in the order of 1000 per cent of the total reductions the developed countries were to make under Kyoto.

Further, the promises made after Copenhagen have no legal basis and refer to reductions in carbon intensity, which almost certainly will mean growth in absolute emissions. Any promises made are less credible than Kyoto itself, which was not credible. Pray tell us then, Prime Minister, what is the point of your carbon tax?

Forget about whether Australia is at the head of the pack on carbon pricing, it is, in fact, at the back end of a failed abatement experiment. And neither Australia's physical contribution to carbon abatement nor its "moral leadership" can help. China, India, Brazil and myriad others need to raise the standard of living of their people or risk political instability. (War and insurrection can damage the environment too.) So these countries will never agree to carbon reductions sufficient to allow the world to stay within the 2C limit we are told is essential. They have each given economic development explicit priority over reduction of emissions.

Speculation the Chinese will pursue a 40 per cent reduction by 2020 and commence an emissions trading scheme is about as credible, and indeed would be as destructive, as any of Chairman Mao's five-year plans. Consider these numbers. In 2006, China had 350 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation capacity. It plans to install an additional 600 gigawatts (plus transmission and distribution systems) by 2030. To put this into context, in 2008, the entire coal-fired power generation capacity of the US was 313 gigawatts (31 per cent of total US power generation capacity). By 2030 China plans to install additional coal-fired power generation capacity equal to almost 200 per cent of existing US capacity.

China is responsible for more than half of the growth in global emissions. And since 500 million Chinese live on less than $2 a day, it is pretty clear what China will be doing for the next 50 years. China has signed multiple 25-year contracts to purchase LNG from Australia and elsewhere. It is building more coal-fired power stations than the world has ever seen and, despite the fact that it is one of the world's biggest producers, it is importing coal, such is the appetite for energy. These power stations will operate for decades, well past Australia's romantic target of reducing emissions 80 per cent by 2050.

Last week former British prime minister Tony Blair said: "It is absolutely clear the world will move away from carbon dependence." Not quite.

As the Campbell paper says, Britain's policy under the Climate Change Act 2008 requires rates of "decarbonisation" of the national economy that "are impossibly costly to achieve. Nevertheless, that what is being pursued is impossible does not mean that immense costs may not be run up in the course of the doomed effort."

If politicians swallow their pride and ask a different question of the economists, they get a very different answer. Bjorn Lomborg did so some years ago. "If the global community wants to spend up to $250 billion per year over the next 10 years to diminish the adverse effects of climate changes, and to do the most good for the world, which solutions would yield the greatest net benefits?"

Numerous Nobel Prize-winning economists agreed on a priority list showing the most and least effective ways of reining in temperature increases. They concluded the most effective use of resources would be to invest in:

* Researching solar radiation management technology

* Technology-led policy response to global warming designed to develop green technology faster

* Researching carbon storage technology

Cutting emissions now is too expensive and politically infeasible. Cutting in the future when the technology is available is cheaper and feasible. As for abatement, as Campbell says, "action in pursuit of the impossible is irrational".



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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