Friday, October 21, 2011

Berkeley Earth recalculates global mean temperature, gets misinterpreted

It's the CAUSE of the slight warming of the last century that matters (natural or man-made?)

Lubos Motl

It is not true that the Berkeley group has found relevant evidence for the core questions in the AGW debate

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature led by Richard Muller - a top Berkeley physics teacher and the PhD adviser of the fresh physics Nobel prize winner Saul Perlmutter, among others - has recalculated the evolution of the global mean temperature in the most recent two centuries or so, qualitatively confirmed the previous graphs, and got dishonestly reported in the media.

Some people including Marc Morano of Climate Depot were predicting that this outcome was the very point of the project. They were worried about the positive treatment that Richard Muller received at various places including this blog and they were proved right. Today, it really does look like all the people in the "BEST" project were just puppets used in a bigger, pre-planned propaganda game.

In the video above, Andrew Revkin says that a "skeptic confirms substantial recent global warming". This is not a truly valid proposition because Richard Muller is no skeptic: realizing that Michael Mann has made things that can't be tolerated in science is nice and it may make you a heretic among some hardcore believers but it's not enough for you to be a genuine climate skeptic.

However, you find much worse responses in the media than Revkin's loaded headline. For example, the Guardian chose this title: "Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics' concerns"

This is just a complete lie. Doubts about the validity of the surface temperature record constitute something like 1% of the issues that climate skeptics as a community have ever raised and not a very important one. Similarly, the Economist writes: "The heat is on: A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming"

I admire the immense and diverse work that Anthony Watts and others have been doing for years and I do realize that the verification of the surface temperature record has probably been Anthony Watts' greatest hobby or his loveliest pet project but I, for one, have never paid any significant attention to the one-by-one analyses of individual weather stations, doubts about the corrections that were applied (I have always considered the adjustments, the most accurate ones you can apply for any systematic change, to be legitimate and much better than no adjustments), and similar things. Anthony's network of volunteers has been cute and impressive but it couldn't guarantee that its implications would be far-reaching. I didn't believe in such far-reaching implications so I have almost never mentioned it on my blog. And you may say the very same thing about most climate skeptics; in this sense, Anthony Watts is an exception whether or not he is the key figure behind the world's most influential climate blog. Many years ago, I made calculations that led me to a strong enough belief that the imperfections of the weather stations either can't be large to matter, or they largely average out because the errors come with both signs.

So among the hundreds if not thousands of articles about the climate on this blog that were written between 2004 and 2011, you will probably not find a single article that seriously suggests that the global mean temperature didn't change (or cooled down) in the recent 100 years - although I wouldn't be quite 100% sure about the "overall warming figure" and I am not 100% sure now, either. (The overall global temperature change since 1900 could have been 0.7 ñ 0.2 øC where the error may be viewed as a "statistical one" if you compare different figures from different teams so the possibility that it was negative is simply nonzero, a 3.5-sigma effect, if you wish.)

But this is just not what the bulk of this controversial topic has been and is all about. The bulk of the topic is all about the analyses of the causes of the temperature change (there are lots of natural drivers that determine at least a significant portion of the temperature change and that are capable to beat any effect of CO2 and have done so many times in the past, even over 30-year periods), the evaluation of the importance of the temperature change (it is not important: as Ivar Giaever likes to say, the thermometer data show that the absolute temperature in the recent century was remarkably stable, within 0.25%, and such tiny changes of the averaged temperature are negligible relatively to noise and make no visible impact and surely not a dangerous one), and the search for rational responses to it (the most rational response is no mitigation at all and preparations for adaptation to any possible change of the weather, under business-as-usual).

More here

Thousands of Brits dying because they can't afford heating bills... and green taxes are adding to the burden

More than 2,700 people are dying each year in England and Wales because they cannot afford to keep their homes warm, according to an official study.

The spiralling cost of gas and electricity combined with the impact of green taxes is putting health and lives at risk, researchers found.

The study concluded that green taxes on household power bills are `regressive' and have a disproportionate impact on poorer households.

The warning of the dangers to health comes from social policy expert Professor John Hills, of the London School of Economics, in a study commissioned by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne.

On the policy of adding green taxes to bills, Professor Hills said: `Those energy and climate policies that lead to higher prices will largely have a regressive impact.'

He highlighted a government study which found that the poorest one-fifth of households would see their income fall 0.8 per cent as a direct result of green taxes and the move to renewable energy, while the richest fifth would break even.

Professor Hills said: `Whether this regressive outcome, which would tend to increase fuel poverty, occurs depends on both more recent developments, such as the Warm Home Discount, and decisions yet to be taken.'

The Warm Home Discount of œ120 off electricity bills is currently being offered to around 600,000 of the poorest households.

Green taxes designed to meet a œ200billion bill to switch to wind, wave, solar and nuclear power currently add around œ100 to annual bills.

However, this figure is set to rise sharply in the next few years and will hit the poor, particularly pensioners on fixed incomes, harder than most.

Recent inflation-busting increases in energy tariffs have pushed average annual bills up by œ175 to a record high of œ1,345.

The figure for deaths is higher than the number killed on the roads and has brought demands for urgent government action.

Professor Hills's interim report found: `Most dramatically, the UK has a higher rate of ``excess winter deaths'' than other countries with colder climates.

`Even if, at a conservative estimate, only a tenth of ``excess winter deaths'' are due to fuel poverty, that means 2,700 people are dying each year in England and Wales, more than die on the roads.' However, his report conceded that the true number of premature deaths linked to the cold could be considerably higher at around 5,400. It said: `Health impacts caused by exposure to cold tend to relate to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

`Low temperatures are also associated with diminished resistance to infections and the incidence of damp and mould in the home.

`These effects are most important for the youngest children and increase for the most elderly.' Professor Hills found that poor pensioners and families are having to spend an extra œ1.1billion a year in total on heat because they often live in poorly-insulated, cold and draughty homes.

He said they do not have the money to pay for home insulation, double-glazing and gas efficient boilers at the same time as covering other essentials.

`People with hard-to-heat properties may trade off other necessities to keep warm, at the most dramatic facing a choice of ``heat or eat'', with some evidence of reduced food spending at times of the very lowest temperatures by pensioners with the lowest incomes,' he said.

Derek Lickorish, chairman of the Government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, described the death figures as a disgrace and said they `should set an alarm bell ringing very loudly'.

He stressed it is important to find new ways to finance a move to green energy, other than what amounts to adding charges to everyone's bill.

`Urgent action must start today to mitigate the impact of high energy bills including reviewing the way in which costs are recovered through energy bills to decarbonise our energy,' he said.


Environmentalists are dab hands at Astroturfing (creating fake grassroots support)

Here's an interesting item from an environmentalist group opposing the Pebble Mine project in Alaska. They're running a road show, not in Alaska, but in mainland cities to try and stir up the masses. Here's a bit from their blog post about Monday's Seattle event.
Monday night marked the kick off of the Save Bristol Bay Road Show in Seattle at the classic Leif Erikson hall in Ballard. Nearly 300 Washington residents including fishermen, Alaska Natives, and sportsmen turned out to watch the award-winning film, Red Gold, and get engaged in the campaign to stop Pebble mine.

I met countless commercial fishermen last night who live in Washington but make their income from fishing in Bristol Bay - I think every one of them signed a thank you letter to Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray for their support of the fishing industry.

.On the up side, plenty of people won great prizes in our gear giveaway and maybe you were one of the lucky ones who got a gift card to The Fly Shop or a cedar plank for cooking salmon. Congratulations to Maren Chapman who won an Orvis fly rod and reel worth $500.

What they fail to mention that all those `Road Show' attendees were asked to sign letters to Sens. Murray and Cantwell in exchange for entry into the prize drawing. The Facebook pictures of the event spill the beans on that scam.

"Folks signed letters to Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray,which entered them in the gear giveaway."

The caption reads: "Folks signed letters to Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray,which entered them in the gear giveaway."

For the anti-Pebble crew this kind of faux populism is par for the course, as the entire operation (to the tune of tens of millions of dollars ([example 1, example 2]) is financed by Robert Gillam, CEO of McKinley Capital Management, the richest man in Alaska.

The Save Bristol Bay Road Show is heading to many of the #Occupy cites this month and will surely be attended by the #OWS types, who will be blissfully unaware that the whole campaign is being funded by one of the %1.


Laframboise on the IPCC

by Judith Curry (A recovering Warmist)

I've finished reading Donna Laframboise's book "The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert: An Expose of the IPCC."

Reviews are pouring in at 38 out of 46 reviewers give it 5 stars. Peter Gleick gives it 1 star, stating "This book is a stunning compilation of lies, misrepresentations, and falsehoods about the fundamental science of climate change. " It is difficult to believe that Gleick has read the book from the statements in his reviews; the book is not about the science of climate change. Rather, it is about the IPCC as an institution: the use of graduate students, WWF and Greenpeace sympathizers as IPCC authors; the use of gray environmentalist literature in IPCC (especially WG2); lack of conflict of interest oversight; the review process and the process producing the executive summaries; etc.

The book is well written with ample documentation (numerous hyperlinks in the kindle version). The target audience is the broader public, and the "spoiled child" metaphor provides a readable narrative for her arguments about the IPCC. Most (not all) of this material I've seen before, but Laframboise's narrative makes a clear and compelling case regarding problems with the IPCC. Notably, she covers distinctly different ground from Montford's book "The Hockey Stick Illusion." Her final chapter is entitled "Disband the IPCC." She makes a good case for this.

As a student of the IPCC since December 2009 (yes I was defending the IPCC until that point), I've looked at many of these issues myself. I've made some of the same points raised in this book. Here are some comments on passages from the text that struck me in some way, and provide a flavor of the parts of the book that I think are most significant:
"In the grown-up world, whenever important decisions and large amounts of money are involved conflict-of-interest mechanisms are firmly in place. . . well into the 21st century [the IPCC] saw no need to even discuss conflict-of-interest.

A quote from Mark Twain: " . . . people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."

"We all made the mistake of believing the IPCC was a gem of an organization simply because it is connected to protecting the environment."

"How can a young man without even a Masters degree become an IPCC lead author? Good question. . . Rather than recruiting real experts like Reiter the IPCC enlisted young, inexperienced, non-experts instead."

A quote from an IPCC lead author: "There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient competence to do anything useful."

A quote from a team member from a developing country: "The team members from the developing countires (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process."

Laframboise attributes these appointments to UN diversity goals. I suspect that the UN's objective is to obtain "buy in" from the developing countries for the UNFCCC policies.

"Rather than keeping its distance from those whose careers have been associated with activism, the scientific establishment now honors, celebrates and promotes such people."

"The research bodies that fund climate modeling teams don't appear to have taken any precautions against groupthink. Nor has the IPCC subjected climate models to rigorous evaluation by neutral disinterested parties. "

"It turns out that few people understand how the IPCC makes some of its most important decisions."

A quote from an IPCC participant: "After being [either a lead author or a coordinating lead author] several times, I still have no idea how I was selected. This is unacceptable."

`[The IPCC] feels no need to look under the hood- and discourages its expert reviewers from doing so."

A quote from an IPCC insider: "As far as I can tell, there is no data quality assurance associated with what the IPCC is doing."

Statement from Pachauri: "everything that we look at and take into acount in our assessments has to carry the credibility of peer-reveiwed publications, we don't settle for anything less than that."

From Laframboise's Citizen Audit: "Of the 18531 references in the 2007 Climate Bible we found 5,587 - a full 30% - to be non peer-reviewed."

"It would appear that the relationship the IPCC has with its expert reviewers borders on the abusive. FIrst it asks these people to volunteer their time in good faith. Then it gives its authors the right to dismiss their input with nothing more than a single word: "rejected." While expert reviewers are expected to comply with the IPCC's deadlines, this organization feels no need to respect such deadlines itself. Instead, it nonchalantly adds in, after the fact, arguments and source materials these reviewers had no opportunity to asses."

"People who know people at the IPCC have their yet-to-be-published work taken into account, but researchers without these sorts of connections are out of luck."

"But a problem surely arises when journals are run by IPCC insiders themselves."

"This is a circular, incestuous process. Scientists make decisions as journal editors about what qualifies as peer-reviewed literature. They then cite the same papers they themselves played midwife to while serving as IPCC authors."

"What's happened here is that the cart was put before the horse. The UN didn't wait around for climate science to mature. They'd already decided that human-generated emissions were dangerous. Back in 1992, 154 nations endorsed this premature conclusion when they became signatories to the UNFCCC. . . The fourth edition of the Climate Bible, which contains the strongest yet still speculative and qualified language, appeared 15 years later."

"One day the IPCC may come to be seen as a textbook case of how badly things can go wrong when political amateurs are recruited and manipulated by UN-grade political operatives."

"Honestly. The IPCC was established by politicians, its experts are selected by politicians, and its conclusions are negotiated by politicians. A predetermined political agenda has been part of the landscape for the past 20 years. For [anyone] to whine that people who disagree with the IPCC are motivated by politics is the equivalent of someone who has lived by the sword complaining that they might die by it."

More here

US Senate confirms bright Green commerce secretary

He founded the Natural Resources Defense Council so a bigger enemy of commerce would be hard to find

The US Senate on Thursday confirmed businessman John Bryson as commerce secretary, replacing Gary Locke, who left the post to become the US ambassador to China.

Lawmakers voted 74-26 to approve Bryson one week after the US Congress approved long-stalled free trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

President Barack Obama had nominated Bryson on May 31 in a move seen as part of an effort to soothe his White House's testy ties with the US private sector and spark export-led jobs growth.

The White House has said Bryson, an environmental advocate who helped to form the Natural Resources Defense Council, has the ability to promote job creation, economic growth and sustainable development.

Bryson was chairman and chief executive of power company Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, from 1990 to 2008, and sits on the board of Boeing and the Walt Disney Company.

Obama has said Bryson's experience will be vital to his goal of seeking to double US exports in the next four years, part of his efforts to rescue the battered US economy.


Ya gotta laugh: Warmists now say warming will bring more floods to Australia

When Australia was in drought the Warmists warned of more drought. Maybe we will have wet droughts!

Australia can expect more frequent devastating floods like those in Queensland this year, and the world is facing decades of unprecedented hardship as a result of climate change, according to the chief scientific adviser to the British government.

"We are facing what I believe will be unprecedented difficult times over the next 20 to 40 years," Professor Sir John Beddington warned. He was speaking as chairman of a panel of scientists launching a major international report about the effects of climate change on people.

The report predicts that migration will increase markedly; that millions will move into, rather than away from, environmentally vulnerable areas; and millions more will be affected but not be able to move.

According to the head of the school of geography and the environment at Oxford University, Professor David Thomas, the cities most affected would include Singapore, Shanghai, Calcutta, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and the towns and villages of the Vietnamese delta.

Australia would experience rising sea levels too but "it will respond differently because of its different economy", he said.

The report says that by 2060, up to 179 million people will be trapped in low-lying coastal floodplains subject to extreme weather events such as floods, storm surges, landslides and rising sea levels, unable to migrate because they are too poor or ill-equipped, or because they are restricted by political or geographic boundaries.

Two-thirds of the world's cities with populations of more than 5 million are at least partially located in coastal zones, including rapidly growing urban centres in Asian and African "mega-deltas", the report said.

Other large cities would suffer water shortages, with 150 million people already living in cities where water is limited.

"Cities need to be more strategic about their location," said Neil Adger, a professor of environmental economics and program leader at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Migration and Global Environmental Change is the result of a two-year peer-reviewed project by 350 specialists in 30 countries. It was released yesterday by Foresight, part of the British Government Office for Science, which sits within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Speaking after the launch, Sir John told the Herald that Australia should not expect the La Nina phenomenon that triggered the Queensland floods to be a once-in-a-generation event. The next one could not be predicted but it would return much more frequently than in the past.


Tax flaw: Australian power bills may rise 20% under carbon tax

ELECTRICITY generators have written to all senators warning that unless the carbon tax laws are amended consumers could face power price rises of 20 per cent in the first year rather than the 10 per cent increase on which the government has calculated its household compensation.

The Energy Supply Association is angry the government plans to force immediate payment for forward-dated emission permits, rather than the deferred payment allowed under the former Rudd government's emissions trading scheme.

The generators' association delivered its warning as the Treasury secretary, Martin Parkinson, said he and his colleagues might have to "make a choice with their feet" should the Coalition win office and direct them to dismantle the carbon trading scheme.
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Also, the Coalition warned yesterday that the government's $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will help fund green investment, would "be a honeypot to every white shoe salesman imaginable".

The opposition finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, said the fund would be spent on "all sorts of wild and wacky proposals that the banks would not touch in a fit".

Mr Robb said he was referring to "those energy companies who have been critical but who have strong interests in renewables and could potentially be major beneficiaries of these subsidies." The opposition would scrap the fund.

The Energy Supply Association says the change from deferred payment means some cash-strapped generators will not be able to afford to nail down their carbon price liability by entering into forward contracts with retailers and big industrial companies and instead power prices will rise as they try to manage their financial risk.

"Our members need to begin purchasing forward permits . if they can't afford to they won't be able to lock in a future price for carbon . and that means prices will rise," said the association's interim chief executive, Clare Savage.

Modelling by the economic consultancy ACIL Tasman found that even a 5 per cent reduction in forward electricity contracts could lead to an additional 10 per cent price rise for households and 15 per cent for big electricity users.

"And that's in a single year," Ms Savage said. "You could have two years in a row of that, which would dwarf the carbon price impact.

"It is the Senate's job to fix obvious errors and in our view there is an obvious error in these bills. We have drafted an amendment and . just 20 words and they could fix this problem."

Dr Parkinson secretary has worked on three versions of the scheme for three prime ministers, heading the secretariat that drafted John Howard's emissions trading scheme, running Kevin Rudd's Climate Change Department and helping draw up the Gillard government's scheme as Treasury head.

Asked in a Senate hearing yesterday whether he would assist a government elected on a policy of rescinding the carbon tax he had helped build, the Treasury secretary said as a public servant he would serve the Australian people through the government of the day.

"Everybody has a choice in front of them," he said. "If they are not prepared to implement the policies the government chooses to pursue, and that government has been democratically elected, then they essentially have to make a choice with their feet."

On the issue of payment for permits, Ms Savage said the government had "its head in the sand" and the Coalition was not advocating the industry's proposed changes either.

The government is proposing to auction 15 million forward-dated pollution permits in 2012-13, and the electricity generators say they would like to buy 10 times more than that but do not have the working capital to pay for the impost immediately.

The Senate will vote on the carbon tax laws next month.

The government is offering loans to generators struggling to find the cash to buy future permits but the generators have criticised the measure because the loans are above commercial rates.

Businesses have also been warning about price rises due to the financial risks caused by the Coalition's promise to repeal the carbon tax. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said yesterday those claims were coming from companies who could profit from carbon pricing.

Dr Parkinson said the choice about staying in his job might not be his to make. "Whether I was secretary of the Treasury would be a matter for the prime minister of the day," he said.



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