Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Time" magazine has a logic all of its own

Ya gotta laugh! They point out how bad global cooling has been and conclude that therefore global warming will be bad too. The obvious conclusion that the effect of warming might be the opposite of cooling doesn't penetrate their robot brain

According to a new study, climate change has played a significant role in several of the crises of pre-industrial Europe and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere over the course of the 300 years.

A team led by David Zhang of the University of Hong Kong collected as much data as they could find about climate, demography, agro-ecology, and the economy from the years 1500 to 1800 in Europe and found that these variables yo-yoed up and down along with the weather. The investigators used a number of criteria to confirm that the relationship was causative and not merely associative: there had to be a strong and, importantly, consistent relationship between variable and effect; the cause had to precede the outcome; and the researchers had to be able to predict the effect based on the cause. To make all these connections, Zhang's team used robust correlation and regression models as well as simulations of alternating periods of harmony and crisis in the areas for the earlier periods in which data wasn't as easily available.

While numerous civilizations did experience the same ups and downs as global temperature over the centuries, the immediacy of the cause and effect varied. Sometimes the response to temperature change was almost instantaneous, while others time it took five to 30 years before the impact was fully felt. And as is the case with everything in the environment, a change in one area often triggered a cascade of changes in others. Take for example the cooling that occurred from 1560 to 1660—a century within the 300-year era known as the Little Ice Age: plants couldn't grow as much or for as long, so grain prices soared, famine broke out, and nutrition sank. Poor diet means poor growth even for survivors, and the late 16th century saw a decline in average human body height by 0.8 inches. As temperatures rose again after 1650, human height crawled back up too. Before it did, however, sky-high grain prices and accompanying real wage declines brought social problems more pressing than height.

“Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, and political reforms followed every decline of temperature, with a one- to 15-year time lag,” the scientists wrote, adding that many such disturbances escalated into armed conflicts. “The number of wars increased by 41% in the Cold Phase.”

There were more peaceable responses too. Poorly fed or otherwise deprived people tend to decamp from where they're living and move somewhere else, and migration rates increased in this era along with social disturbance. The problem was, in these cases the relocation wasn't the hearty westward-ho kind of 19th century America, when well-fed settlers could live off the land (and the buffalo) while they sought new homesteads on the frontiers. Rather, migration among the hungry or unwell often leads to epidemics. It may be too much to lay the great European plagues of 1550 to 1670 entirely at the door of global cooling, but dramatic climate shift and resultant poor health surely played a role. It was around 1650 as well that European population collapsed, bottoming out at just 105 million people across the entire continent. Wetter countries with more fertile land or those with stable trading economies tended to do better in this eras of hardship, but no one was spared.

The idea that climate change is a foundational instigator of human catastrophe is not a new one, though it remains one of the most contentious ones out there . Scientists sometimes trip over themselves with hurried reassurances that no single event can be attributed entirely to global warming – and that's true. But it's also true, as Zhang and his team have shown, that the health of the climate is at least one of the biggest players on the field. That's a fact we'd do well to remember, as our own era continues to confront some of the same natural pressures as cultures of long ago.


Some more of that peculiar Warmist logic

Warmists blame recent Arctic Ice Loss on global warming. Big catch: It isn't warming!

“Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in new research,” reports an Associated Press (AP) article in the San Francisco Chronicle. “The impact is significant and yet only a piece of the ongoing and accelerating response to warming of the Arctic,” Dr. Robert Bindschadler, emeritus scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Center, told the AP.

The Canadian team’s research confirms MIT scientists‘ recent finding that the Arctic is shedding ice much faster than forecast by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), published just four years ago (2007). Which of course is taken to mean that global warming ‘is even worse than scientists previously believed.’

Not so fast, say climatologists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, editors of World Climate Report (WCR). Paradoxically, more-rapid-than-projected Arctic ice loss is additional evidence that IPCC climate models are too “hot” — that is, overestimate climate sensitivity and forecast too much warming.

In IPCC climate models, decline of Arctic sea ice is treated as both a consequence of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations and as an important “positive feedback” that amplifies the direct GHG warming effect. Al Gore popularized this explanation in An Inconvenient Truth, noting that as Arctic ice melts, less solar energy is reflected back to space and more absorbed by the oceans.

But, as WCR points out, if the IPCC models’ climate sensitivity estimates were correct, then the greater-than-expected positive feedback from greater-than-expected Arctic ice loss should be producing greater-than-expected global warming. Yet, despite the extra unanticipated warming influence from accelerating ice loss, the world is warming more slowly than IPCC models project.

Far from being a portent of doom, greater-than-projected ice loss, coinciding as it does with smaller-than-projected warming, indicates that actual climate sensitivity is less than model-estimated sensitivity.

Similarly, argues WCR in a related post, had IPCC models properly accounted for the planet’s recovery from the cooling effect of aerosols blown into the atmosphere by the Mount Pinatubo volcano eruption, they would be projecting even more warming than they do now. Yet model current projections already exceed the observed warming of the past 10-15 years.

The relevance to the survival of civilization and the habitability of the Earth? WCR explains:
The reason that all of this is important is that climate models which produce too much warming quite possibility are doing so because they are missing important processes which act to counteract the warming pressure exerted by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations—in other words, the climate sensitivity produced by the climate models is quite possibly too high.

If this proves to be the case, it means that there will be less future warming (and consequently less “climate disruption”) as greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as a result of our use of fossil fuels.

Evidence continues to mount that this is indeed the case.


That pesky medieval warming confirmed yet again -- and it was warmer than now at times

Ever wonder how climate change in the past could ever have been posible without CO2 changes? Some people, like Prof. Michael E. Mann, think it wasn’t possible and that climate was always steady back then. Mann even fabricated a hockey stick chart to precisely show that – until 1850 that is. Then man got smart, industrialized, and everything went to hell.

Well, there’s yet another temperature reconstruction out there showing once again Michael Mann was wrong, and that the climate often went to hell in the past too.

The latest proxy reconstruction comes from a German peat bog and goes back 2000 years. And in case you haven’t guessed it by now, temperatures were all over the place. So much so, that the researchers themselves even express they can’t believe their own results.

A new paper by Moschen et al appearing ain the journal Climate of the Past presents a high resolution reconstruction of local growing season temperature (GST) anomalies at Dürres Maar, Germany over the last two thousand years.

In 2007, a 5.5 m long core was recovered from the centre of Dürres Maar peat bog in the mountainous West Eifel Volcanic Field in southwestern Germany.

According to the paper’s abstract
The temperature reconstruction is based on the Sphagnum δ13Ccellulose /temperature dependency observed in calibration studies. Reconstructed GST anomalies show considerable centennial and decadal scale variability. A cold and presumably also wet phase with below-average temperature is reconstructed between the 4th and 7th century AD which is in accordance with the so called European Migration Period marking the transition from the Late Roman Period to the Early Middle Ages. At High Medieval Times above-average temperatures are obvious followed by a temperature decrease.

I got a copy of the paper from a source, who wrote: “The ex-hockey team will hate it”. The paper’s Figure 6 tells quite the story. Indeed there was a lot of climate change in the past when CO2 was more or less stagnant. Look at the huge variations 1000 years ago! Obviously natural factors truly do exist. The Medieval Warm Period is shown again to be just as warm, if not warmer than today.

As reader DirkH points out in a comment, even the researchers have great difficulty coming to terms with their own results.


Bursting the Big Green Bubble

Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter boasted that Colorado is at the “epicenter of America’s New Energy Economy” and that it would be a “lasting legacy” to our children and all future generations.

This past spring, Ritter, now paid $300,000 to direct Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy, took to the stage in a national debate to defend the motion, “Clean energy can drive America’s economic recovery.” He bragged about the 57 pieces of legislation he signed to create the “New Energy Economy,” but that wasn’t enough to convince the audience.

Another green zealot State Representative Max Tyler also claimed clean energy to be an economic panacea. In a March 2010 Denver Post guest editorial Tyler wrote that his bill (HB10-1001) to increase Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) for investor owned utilities such as Xcel Energy from 20 to 30 percent within the next decade would “create thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of jobs in the New Energy Economy” without “increasing energy costs.”

He also wrote that the higher RES would “stabilize or even lower” energy costs and “help us continue to balance our state budget”

Both men are wrong.

Energy rates continue to climb. Xcel customers have endured a 21 percent rate increase over the last six years with another 20 predicted over the next six, thus reducing consumers’ purchasing power. Continuing the trend of budget shortfall, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects Colorado’s 2012 budget shortfall to be $450 million, 6.2 percent of the state’s general fund.

And the jobs? They never materialized. Colorado’s unemployment rate has hovered between 8.3 and 9.3 percent sometimes above and sometimes below the national average. Of course, if we spend millions of dollars on any one sector of the economy, some jobs will be created, but at a cost that diverts capital resources away from other possibly more productive sectors.

According to a 2009 study from Stanford University Energy Modeling Forum, “analysis…concludes that the advantages of increased jobs from renewable energy are vastly over-stated at costs prevailing today. It will require dramatic break-through in costs if renewable energy is to become a job generator.”

The study concludes with this resounding rebuke of “green job” creation policies:

“Green power, however, does not appear to be a game changer on the job front. When job creation is compared to the cost of each power source option, green jobs are sometimes more and sometimes less than conventional energy jobs. More importantly, strategies that subsidize these investments will be shifting the country’s scarce resources from sectors that would create more jobs (as well as economic value). This conclusion applies even for an economy in a deep recession and where policy wants to stimulate employment.”

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) recently discovered this to be true as well despite Tyler’s and Ritter’s best efforts.

An interim report from July 2011 details CDLE’s attempt to quantify “green” jobs. Their estimates—based on methods they freely admit are “highly dependent” on subjective measures, prone to self-selection bias, and a “broad definition of what constitutes a green job”—yielded just 61,239 results, or just 2.8 percent of the workforce.

A similar July study by Brookings Institution put Colorado at 2.2 percent, or roughly 51,000 jobs, 20th in the country.

Of those green jobs identified in the survey results, “most,” according to CDLE, actually “pre-date the green economy.” The survey provides no relevant data for this claim, but introduces doubt as to the nature of any perceived growth (relative to other survey results). Why? Preexisting jobs repurposed for the green economy are not job “creations.” A single job in the utility industry having been transformed into a green job—say coal to wind—is still a single job, as no net job increase has occurred in the overall job market.

Brookings’ national estimate of 2.7 “clean economy” jobs, for example, counts more than 350,000 public mass transit and 380,000 waste management jobs, most pre-existing the advent of a “green economy.”

These differing methodologies and definitions of green jobs in the surveys studied have not yielded a clear picture of when the green economy began, what the number of existing green jobs are, how much growth has occurred over time, and, most importantly, any unintended externalities of the green job growth.

A 2007 Pew study stretching all the way back to 1998 concluded that there were 17,000 clean energy jobs in the state at the time, an increase of approximately 2,700 jobs in nine years. Brookings, measuring from 2003-2010, estimated 16,250 jobs were added over seven years, an annual average of 5.6 percent.

The CDLE survey isn’t helpful here either. As a point-in-time survey, the results “cannot be interpreted to determine any relative growth or decline in the number or quality of jobs in Colorado over a period of time.”

But compared to a 2007 American Solar Energy Society estimate commissioned by the Governor's Energy Office (along with Xcel Energy and Red Rocks Community College) that claimed more than 91,000 green jobs, the CDLE report actually would indicate a loss of 30,000 jobs, for a four-year decline of 30 percent, or an annual job loss of 9.2 percent.

That’s not good news for Ritter, who came into office in 2007 and exited earlier this year.

Colorado isn’t the only state suffering a green industry malaise. The jobs haven’t materialized anywhere on the scale promised in recent years. Already three years into his 10-year plan for 5 million new “green collar” jobs, Obama would need to add hundreds of thousands of jobs per year in this sector alone to reach his goal.

The CDLE reported statistics consistent with other states that had completed green jobs reports in 2009. Oregon and Michigan both showed 3 percent each, Washington clocked in at 3.3 percent, and Kansas bottomed out with 1.5 percent of the total workforce classified as “green.” Missouri fared slightly better, boasting a green jobs total of 4.8 percent.

For comparison, the survey cited a Pew research study, also conducted in 2009, whose findings showed approximately 770,000 green jobs (clean energy and green economy) nationwide.

Even the more generous “green goods and services” definition provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics could only muster 2.15 million green jobs. With the total number of jobs in the U.S. economy standing at roughly 139 million, that’s a paltry 1.5 percent. Brookings’ pegged the total slightly higher, at 2 percent.

Even small, state-subsidized growth in the green jobs sector has been tempered by expensive taxpayer-footed failure elsewhere. One of the president’s most highly touted projects, California-based Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer, terminated 1,100 employees despite a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company is now the center of a political firestorm focusing on “sweetheart” financing for political cronies, an FBI raid, Congressional hearings, the examination of the entire solar industry’s economic viability, and the nature of the DOE loan program itself.

Another high-profile failure—Evergreen Solar—received $58 million in state subsidies from the state of Massachusetts in 2007, but laid-off 800 workers in March 2011 and filed for bankruptcy just last month.

These aren’t merely companies that went out of business as part of a competitive marketplace. Their government-issued subsidies were not enough to prop up potentially questionable “investments” of taxpayers’ money in firms that might not fit the definition of a going concern. As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey said, “government doesn’t pick winners and losers. They pick losers in order to create the perception that they are competitive with the winners.”

It’s one thing for venture capitalists to risk their own treasure, it’s another for governments to dole out millions in subsidies on risky ventures simply to artificially raise employment growth in ideologically desirable sectors.

Other solar technology manufacturers that received tens of millions in taxpayer subsidies have closed up shop or moved to China. Most recently, Colorado-based Advanced Energy laid off 5 percent of its work force and moved part of its production to China in order to be more profitable.

Congress, which has been doling out taxpayer money for job creation in the green industry, can’t define what constitutes a green job. In testimony in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) recently questioned Dr. Keith Hall, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, on what counts as a “green job.” One example was a bus driver (see that Brookings report mentioned earlier). Hall acknowledged that any job in mass transit is considered a “green job.” So a bus driver in 2008 was just a bus driver. In 2011, that same bus driver is now a green job even though no new net job was actually created.

Actual green job creation—not just job transformation—has cost the taxpayers plenty. In Seattle, a $20 million “Weatherize Every Building” program promised 2,000 jobs, delivering just 14. That’s $1.4 million per job.

Ironically, in a piece by Investor’s Business Daily, the very federal regulations supported by labor unions and green activists (such as the Davis-Bacon and National Environmental Policy acts), have stalled any green jobs surge, according to the DOE.

As The New York Times concluded on August 18, 2011, “Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show.”

It appears we can add one more government record—the CDLE green jobs report—to that pile. If Colorado is the “epicenter” then the rest of America should run away fast from anyone trumpeting the New Energy Economy.


Commerce Secretary Defends 'Green' Investments Using Gambler's Logic

Discussing the risks of the government’s new $12 million bet on “green” technologies, the acting Commerce Dept. secretary sounds like she’s quoting from the Big Book Of Gambling Clichés. Problem is, she’s playing with our money.

Last week, acting Commerce Sec. Rebecca Black announced six new government grants totaling $12 million for six new green technology centers that the administration is betting will turn out to be “winners.”

Asked about one of the losers - a $535-million federal loan guarantee to the Solyndra company that makes solar panels, but which recently filed for bankruptcy – Sec. Black defended future green gambles using variations of gambling clichés.

“You Gotta’ Play To Win”:

“The U.S. can’t afford to not be a major winner in this race,” Blank said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. “That necessarily means that there’s going to be some capital investment by the U.S. government.

“You Gotta’ Bet Big To Win Big” and “You Win Some, You Lose Some”:

“Make no mistake, that when you’re in a new innovation race of the sort that we are with every other advanced country in the world you are always out there on the cutting edge,” she said, “and that involves both big returns but sometimes involves some risks [of failure] as well.”

“These are winners that we think are going to produce what they promise,” she said.

“There’s No Such Thing As A Sure Thing”:

“But it is new technology and that means that there is sometimes risks.”

It reminds me of one of those corporate-sponsored “Casino Night” events. They hand you chips when you walk in the door, and if you’ve got any left over at the end of the night, you can trade them in for prizes. If you don’t, you’re no worse off than when you came in.

Same here. The government places bets on “green” technologies with our taxes dollars, and if they don’t’ win, you and I are stuck with the tab.

Notice that there’s one important gambling adage that didn’t seem to make it into Sec. Black’s comments: you don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose.


A very smoggy blog -- and a resolute enemy of free speech

At first glance, DeSmogBlog.com sounds impressive. Its "About" page tells us it:

* produces articles that get routinely mentioned in "the world's most popular news blogs"

* has won a "Leadership in Communication" award

* was voted Canada's "Best Group Blog"

* is well-regarded by prominent international news outlets that quote it favorably and seek its assistance in developing news stories

James Hoggan, its founder, is chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation. Its operations manager, Kevin Grandia, has "been trained by Al Gore."

DeSmogBlog describes itself as "the world’s number one source for accurate, fact based information regarding Global Warming misinformation campaigns." It takes the position that "An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming...and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame." (Einstein didn't think majority opinion decided scientific disputes, but that's another discussion.)

DeSmogBlog alleges that those who doubt global warming theory are part of a "a well-funded and highly organized public relations campaign" that is "trying to confuse the public, to forestall individual and political actions that might cut into exorbitant coal, oil and gas industry profits."

In this comic-book view of the world, environmental issues aren't complex matters involving imperfect tradeoffs, limited resources, and inadequate technologies. Nor is it necessary to consider ideas from multiple perspectives in order to understand them thoroughly.

In the DeSmogBlog universe, good guys and bad guys are readily identifiable and the way forward is clear. Although DeSmogBlog implies that its concern is with industry lobbying efforts, in reality anyone who disagrees with its perspective gets slimed. Satirist Rex Murphy, for example, is called "resolutely stupid" because his bracing commentaries on global warming contrast with the DeSmogBlog point-of-view.

Insults are one thing. Asserting that others have no right to speak is quite another. As demonstrated below, DeSmogBlog trashes free speech on every page of its website.

Rather than being hard to find, this black-and-gold sidebar is ever-present on the DeSmogBlog site:


Paragraph 1: Just prior to accusing others of undermining democracy, DeSmogBlog arbitrarily redefines it. The need for free and open debate gets supplanted. Rather, accuracy of the information available to the electorate is held up as the principle upon which democracy "is utterly dependent."

Tyrants in Iran and elsewhere demand that media coverage be truthful and accurate. What they really mean is: it must not offend the authorities. Any society that says accuracy is more important than free speech, is a society in which democracy has left the building.

Paragraph 2: Strike 2 against freedom of expression is this breathtaking statement: "Free speech does not include the right to deceive." DeSmogBlog contends that people who express alternative points-of-view are deliberate liars. (In an especially Orwellian turn of phrase, it adds that they also "subvert the public awareness.")

As John Stuart Mill observed 150 years ago, "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still."

Mill points out that people who want to suppress the views of others "are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind...To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty."

Paragraphs 3 & 4: Folks with whom DeSmogBlog disagrees are accused of "creating confusion" in the minds of the public - which it considers too gullible to sort wheat from chaff. In Strike 3 against free speech, DeSmogBlog accuses the media, government officials, and business leaders of permitting these "fringe players" to mislead the masses. The implication is clear: DeSmogBlog advocates the silencing of non-mainstream points-of-view by elite members of society.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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