Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parts of Britain suffer coldest summer for nearly two decades

Global cooling!

Much of Britain suffered the coldest summer for almost two decades, Met Office statistics show.

As Britons return to work today after a soggy Bank Holiday weekend, official weather data reveals that average temperatures were significantly down on recent years.

The UK’s average temperature from June 1 to August 15 was only 57F (13.9C) – the lowest for 13 years.

For central England the average was 59F (15C), making it the coolest summer since 1993.

Helen Waite, a Met Office forecaster, said: “The average temperature for central England this summer has been just 15C – this sort of temperature is normally typical of September. “Generally speaking, you would expect to see temperatures of at least 17C for this time of year.”


Global Warming Hysteria over Hurricane Irene

It’s a parody. It must be. A normal hurricane, not huge as these things go and the first to hit the USA in three years, takes an unusual–but certainly not unprecedented–path up the East Coast’s most populated areas, and the hysterics start screaming about global warming. From hysteria central, aka, the New York Times:
The scale of Hurricane Irene, which could cause more extensive damage along the Eastern Seaboard than any storm in decades, is reviving an old question: are hurricanesgetting worse because of human-induced climate change? The short answer from scientists is that they are still trying to figure it out. But many of them do believe that hurricanes will get more intense as the planet warms, and they see large hurricanes like Irene as a harbinger.

Harbinger? Ludicrous. The gist of the story is that there is disagreement among the climate modelers, who don’t have a good record of accuracy in any event. And no one can say Irene was “caused” by global warming. But why let a good storm go to waste?

Please. The reason I even exist, or better stated, the event that set the wheels in motion for my eventual birth, was the big hurricane of 1938–much larger than Irene at a Category 3– that did far more damage than this Category 1.

My mother and her family lived in Rhode Island. The storm so freaked them, they decided to see what California was like. So, they visited, liked what they saw, and moved. That’s when my mother met my father, after he took a temporary job where she worked while on leave from the army. And the rest, as they say, eventually became my history.

Back to Irene and global warming, is it any wonder people increasingly roll their eyes as every weather event is turned into GWH?


Salon Says Global Warming Is The Culprit

FEMA disaster declarations set a record in 2011. The right cries socialism, but global warming is the real culprit.
We can leave it to residents of Vermont to decide whether the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene qualifies as “routine” or not, but there’s also another explanation: 2011 has been a banner year for disasters, period. By mid-year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011 was already one of the most extreme — and costly — years on record. And that was before Hurricane Irene.

The first rule of being a leftist reporter is to never do any actual research. Andrew Leonard has no idea what he is talking about.


How Washington pays Big Green to sue the government

Two insistent senators have found that even the Government Accountability Office can't get at all of the millions of federal tax dollars that Big Green lawyers are paid to sue the American government.

Multiple federal laws allow individual citizens to sue certain agencies for failing to enforce the law. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not only a favorite target of such suits, it has practically become a partner with Big Green in "sweetheart" deals prearranged to expand agency power by settling legal challenges brought by the outside groups -- allegations of inadequate air pollution controls, for example -- that courts wouldn't likely approve, but then become case law in closed-door settlements that are never made public.

Outraged at the endless stonewalling by EPA officials that they had grilled in hearing after hearing, the top Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee -- Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., -- requested that the GAO audit all the money flowing from the U.S. Treasury into the pockets of environmental lawyers during the last 15 years, 1995 to 2010.

The Washington Examiner obtained a copy of the resulting GAO report, "Environmental Litigation: Cases against EPA and Associated Costs over Time," which the senators will release today. The most significant thing about the 55-page report is what it doesn't tell us.

The report devotes more than a dozen busy pages to tables of payments. But it doesn't highlight the fact that just one plaintiff, Earthjustice (with 2010 assets of $39.2 million, according to its latest available Internal Revenue Service Form 990), received 32 percent of all attorneys' fees paid to EPA litigants. That's $4.6 million for one group's legal fees.

Nor does it highlight that the Natural Resources Defense Council (2010 assets of $232.3 million) and the Sierra Club (2010 assets of $67 million) combined to take 41 percent of all the attorneys' fees in EPA lawsuits.

Throw in the 43 other Big Green plaintiffs -- including such multimillion-dollar operations as the Center for Biological Diversity and National Wildlife Federation -- and they gobbled up 82 percent of the payoff pie, leaving 7 percent awarded to industries such as Western Fuels Association, and 5 percent for state agencies.

These percentages are not in the GAO report, which is long on tables and short on analysis. Inhofe and Vitter assigned their staffs to dig out these connections.

Even though this GAO study is the first time the federal government has released such information, the report is disturbingly short on data, covering the defect with detail. The GAO is careful to explain that when the EPA becomes a defendant in a lawsuit, the Department of Justice provides EPA's legal defense.

There are, according to the report, an average of about 155 such cases each year, or a total of about 2,500 cases between 1995 and 2010.

But in the very next sentence, the GAO tells us that the Justice Department spent at least $43 million, or $3.3 million annually, to defend EPA in court during 1998 through 2010. Nobody asked about 1998.

It gets worse: "Treasury paid about $14.2 million from 2003 through 2010 -- about $1.8 million per year to plaintiffs in environmental cases, paid from the Department of the Treasury's Judgment Fund."

Eager lawyers won't notice that 2003 time shrinkage because they will focus on "the Treasury's Judgment Fund" -- a permanent indefinite appropriation available to pay judgments against the government, as well as settlements resulting from lawsuits.

That phrase is so riveting because it contains records of critical Big Green money secrets, and the U.S. Treasury Department does not publish its Judgment Fund payment data. The revelations here are significant, even if truncated.

Then GAO drops its bomb: "EPA paid approximately $1.4 million from 2006 through 2010 from its own appropriations -- about $280,000 per year." That's only four years of records.

The GAO is telling Inhofe and Vitter that they spent the last year -- since June 2010 -- failing to find three years of Justice Department legal payouts, eight years of Treasury Department Judgment Fund payouts and 11 years of EPA appropriation payouts.

They simply can't find it. Why this lack of transparency and accountability? Aside from poor record keeping and the usual uncooperative bureaucratic turf jealousies, the agency databanks are incomplete, decentralized, aging and incompatibly formatted. That's the real message of this audit.

Still, the flawed but indispensable GAO Environmental Litigation report is a warning. It shows that our nation is seriously deficient in keeping track of the money it spends on Big Green, which resonates with our larger budget crisis.

The Environmental Litigation report covers only the EPA, not federal lands, energy, fisheries, or anything else. There is a whole vast federal bureaucracy yet to deal with.

Sens. Inhofe and Vitter have shown the way. Let the audits begin.


Climate Science and Corruption

Russell Cook

IPCC Censorship: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Vice-Chair (Vice President) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, objected to Fred Singer participating in a seminar on global warming / climate change that was to be held at SEII Foundation Universitaire in Brussels. A google translation of part of the letter van Ypersele sent follows:

You should know that Mr. Fred Singer is a person whose scientific integrity leaves much to be desired. Its (sic) activities are financed disinformation by the lobbies of fossil fuels..... , and it is scandalous that such a person may be associated, directly or indirectly, to SEII and the University Foundation.

Having never heard of IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele before, but having written several online articles here and elsewhere on the apparently unsupported accusations that skeptic scientists are corrupted by fossil fuel industry funding, I decided to see what other connections were to be found between Mr. van Ypersele and the people surrounding what I call the '96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists. It seems every time I look into this, I find anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan and his associates at the enviro-advocacy group Ozone Action, which later merged into Greenpeace USA in 2000.

My first guess is that Mr. van Ypersele might be a recent addition to the IPCC, so I simply plugged his name into an internet search along with one of the two names from my June A.T. article, which was about people associated with the long-term smear accusation who also turned out to be recent IPCC report reviewers. Sure enough, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is on the same list of 2007 Reviewers of the IPCC WGIII Fourth Assessment Report as the two in my article. That probably doesn't mean much, it is a rather huge list.

Perhaps not helping matters in Mr. van Ypersele's favor is that the same two people are on the list of participants at the Bonn, Germany 1999 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP5). In the UNFCCC meeting the following year in The Hague, no less than eleven people from Ozone Action, including Ross Gelbspan, were participants.

The plot thickens considerably when we first read the line in the official IPCC bio for Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, which says he "...was a Lead Author for the WGII contribution to the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC and was elected in 2002 Vice-Chair of its Working Group II." You'd think he would want to minimize any ties with enviro-activist groups at that point, but then we read in this Greenpeace paper, "Report commissioned by Greenpeace and written by Jean-Pascal van Ypersele and Philippe Marbaix, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. July 2004.

On the 2nd page - let me repeat the above points for emphasis - IPCC Lead Author Jean-Pascal van Ypersele's Greenpeace-commissioned paper starts with a fictional account of an out-of-control global warming disaster 40 years into the future, and then states:

"I have long dreamed of drafting an inventory on the potential impacts of climate change in Belgium, as has been done for Europe or for several of our neighbours. Greenpeace's request has given me the chance to make a start on this....We assume full scientific responsibility for the result and would like to thank Greenpeace for not having interfered at all in the content of our paper....

I hope that this report will be food for thought. This is our only planet - we do not have a spare."

Could anyone dare imagine a more breathtaking example of hypocrisy? An IPCC Lead Author commissioned to write a paper for an enviro-activist group while claiming no influence from them is now a top ranking IPCC leader repeating an old unproven accusation insinuating that mere association with fossil fuel industry funding renders skeptic scientists completely untrustworthy, and he demands such skeptics should be silenced.

Add this to Al Gore latest efforts to try equating skeptics with Civil Rights-era racists, and the ever-growing appearance of an impending implosion for the entire global warming crisis is much harder to miss now. In the parlance of current internet talk, this is fast becoming an "Epic Fail."


Krugman Fails Climate Science 101

Economist Paul Krugman took to the pages of The New York Times on Sunday in order to regurgitate Sierra Club talking points regarding global warming and to castigate the Republican Party for being “anti-science.” As Roger Simon noted, like just about everybody else writing about the issue, Krugman doesn’t bother to explain or understand the science or the nature of the robust scientific debate that has been going on for some time. Instead, he relies on the Left’s preferred method for analyzing scientific issues: a moistened finger held up to the wind.

Krugman’s central thesis is that theory that mankind is causing catastrophic climate change has to be true, because “97 to 98 per cent of scientists” agree that it’s true. You’ll see the “97 to 98 per cent” number appearing quite often now. It’s become a key talking point of the alarmist crowd, as they struggle to regain relevance in a world that has a harder and harder time taking them seriously. But where does that amazing number come from? It arises from a 2009 survey that two University of Illinois researchers conducted. 10,257 Earth scientists responded and, much to the U of I professors’ chagrin, the results were far from satisfying to the alarmist crowd.

Many of the respondents indicated that they believe that natural forces are much more important than mankind's paltry contributions to climate trends. Some questioned the validity of the models that have been used to predict massive forcing attributable to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. All in all, it wasn’t the kind of response that the researchers were looking for when they were trying to prove consensus.

So, the professors decided that 10,180 of the scientists who responded weren’t qualified to comment on the issue because they were merely solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists, astronomers and the like. Of the remaining 77 scientists whose votes were counted, 75 agreed with the proposition that mankind was causing catastrophic changes in the climate. And, since 75 is 97.4% of 77, “overwhelming consensus” was demonstrated once again. See Laurence Solomon’s marvelous analysis of the survey for more details.

This attempt to silence dissent across scientific disciplines is a sad and troubling feature of the global warming alarmist movement. As a scientist and a skeptic, I often hear alarmists tell me that I’m not qualified to opine on global warming because I’m merely a chemist. I’m not a climatologist, so my vote should not count.

Now, having specialized in air quality work for the past thirty years, having run many dispersion models (related to, but not the same as, climate models) and knowing a fair bit about thermodynamics, I’ll flatter myself to think that I know a whole lot more about the issue than 99% of the people writing about it in the mainstream media.

And yet, people like Krugman feel no shame when they speak authoritatively about an issue they don’t understand in the slightest. I’ll make Mr. Krugman a deal: I won’t write about exchange rate instability if he will take a pass on atmospheric science.

There is no question that carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” play a role in the complex climate system that is planet earth. No scientist denies that. But the stupefyingly oversimplification that leftists like Krugman cling to – that global warming is wholly and directly caused by our use of fossil fuels – is about as idiotic as saying that unemployment rates in Arkansas determine growth in national GDP. The global warming question is, in fact, five distinct questions:

1. Is the planet’s climate changing?

2. If so, is the rate of change cause for concern?

3. If so, can human activities contribute to the rate of change?

4. If so, is the degree to which human activities contribute to the rate of change significant compared to other forces?

5. If so, is it wiser to attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that it is to adapt to the changing climate?
Only if one answers all five questions in the affirmative can one justify further reductions in fossil fuel use. When one considers how scientists answer those questions, we find that the number who would answer every one with an unqualified “yes” hardly represents any sort of consensus at all.


Another dodgy assertion: Global plant die-off

A study on plant productivity that said drought and global warming were killing off plants worldwide is now being questioned by scientists, according to research published Thursday.

In the study published in the journal Science last year, researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana used NASA satellite data to show that productivity declined slightly from 2000-2009.

Those findings contradicted previous studies from the 1980s and 1990s that showed warmer temperatures in some parts of the world were driving longer growing seasons and greater plant growth around the globe.

Having more plants on Earth would be good news because it would help offset greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing more carbon dioxide.

While Running noted at the time that the findings came as "a bit of a surprise," the study raised concerns about global food security, biofuels and our understanding of the carbon cycle.

The new questions about the study, published in Science on Thursday, are posed by scientists at Boston University in the United States and the Universities of Vicosa and Campinas in Brazil.

A press release distributed to reporters by Boston University said their study is "refuting earlier alarmist claims that drought has induced a decline in global plant productivity."

Statements included by the researchers describe Zhao and Running's model as "erratic," "poorly formulated," and showing no "trends that are statistically significant."

However, scientists who were not involved in either paper said this was an excellent example of the scientific process at work, and should not be cast otherwise.

"The Boston University press release - using the term 'alarmist' - speaks of a university trolling for media as distinct from a university seeking to communicate excellence," Andy Pitman, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said in an email to AFP.

"Those involved in this exchange of views are all well respected and excellent scientists. What is going on here is the scientific method. Zhao and Running publish a paper. Others attack it. Others defend it. Over time we determine who is right. Perfectly legitimate science."

Pitman, who has seen the study but was not involved in it, said the new analysis points to a smaller trend of plant loss but still shows declines over large swaths of territory in southeast Asia and China.

"This does not mean that there has been no decline, or that Zhao and Running's results were wrong, rather it highlights how strong research groups can reach different conclusions when using different assumptions," Pitman said. "That opens up a rich vein of future research."

One of the key issues raised by critics was how the Zhao and Running study found a 0.34 percent reduction in the southern hemisphere's plant productivity, offset slightly by a 0.24 percent increase in the northern hemisphere, for a net decline of 0.1 percent over a 10-year period.

"This is the proverbial needle in a haystack," Simone Vieira, co-author and researcher at the State University of Campinas, Brazil, said in a statement. "There is no model accurate enough to predict such minute changes over such short time intervals, even at hemispheric scales."

Lead author Arindam Samanta, a graduate of Boston University who is now at Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, said the initial study's model was based on data from a decade when temperatures were on the rise. "Their model has been tuned to predict lower productivity even for very small increases in temperature. Not surprisingly, their results were preordained," said Samanta.

According to NASA scientist Compton Tucker, who also reviewed the data, key questions to be resolved are whether the first study was accurate and whether its findings could be replicated over a longer period. "It's just like studying the stock market for a few years versus 30 years," Tucker told AFP.

"Most people think you need a record of about 30 years of whatever data you are using in order to indicate a trend." He said the publication of questions on the initial research should help advance knowledge in the area. "This is science, where you take one step forward and two steps back," he said.



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: