Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will the Warmists ever give up their deluded beliefs?

You would be forgiven for thinking these stunning vistas lay deep in the heart of Antarctica. But they are, in fact, what has become of the European landscape as temperatures plummet to nearly -40C - the coldest snap in decades. Rivers, lakes, beaches and even seas have been iced over by a Siberian freeze, creating some incredible sights, but also more tales of tragedy.

Frozen river Neckar in Southern Germany -- more pix at link

Thousands enjoyed a day out on the frozen Lake Pfaeffikersee, near Zurich, Switzerland, today, while ice anglers looked more like Eskimos as they braved the conditions on a Polish reservoir.

But in southern Kosovo, nine people were killed when an avalanche hit the village of Restelica, officials said on Sunday, adding to more than 500 killed in snow and bitter cold across the Continent in the past two weeks.

In Poland, the interior ministry said 20 people had died in the past 24 hours because of the freezing weather, bringing the toll there so far this year to at least 100.

Temperatures have plummeted in parts of Europe close to minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) in the coldest February snap the region has seen in decades. Meteorologists say it could last till the end of the month.

Kosovo's government ordered schools to remain closed for another week with more snow expected. Police said many inhabited areas were completely cut off.

In neighbouring Montenegro the government imposed a state of emergency late on Saturday after snow blocked roads and railways across most of the country. Three people have died so far. More than 50 people have been stranded on a train in Montenegro's north for more than two days as emergency crews struggle to rescue them.

In the mountain town of Zabljak in Montenegro's north, snow was 2.3 metres deep, while authorities have banned all private traffic in the capital Podgorica, where snow is almost a metre (three feet) deep and more is forecast on Sunday.

More than 2,000 industrial businesses have been idled to limit the strain on coal-fired power plants and hydropower plants, which were struggling because of the buildup of ice.

The government also ordered the closure of all schools and non-essential businesses until February 20.

Port authorities for Serbian sections of the Danube, Sava and Tisa rivers halted navigation due to a heavy buildup of ice.

For the first time in decades, parts of the Black Sea has frozen near its shores, while the Kerch Strait that links the Azov Sea and the Black Sea has been closed to navigation.


Britain's National Trust comes out against 'public menace' of wind farms

The National Trust is now "deeply sceptical" of wind power, its chairman said as he launched an outspoken attack on the "public menace" of turbines destroying the countryside.

For years the conservation charity has been a supporter of renewable energy, including wind, to reduce carbon emissions and help fight global warming.

But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Simon Jenkins warned that wind was the "least efficient" form of green power, and risked blighting the British landscape.

Is the National Trust right to turn against wind farms?
Yes, wind farms are a blight on the countrysideYes, there are more efficient forms of green powerNo, all forms of renewable energy should be promotedNo, it should give its support but only where they will produce maximum energy

He said “not a week goes by” without the charity having to fight plans for wind farms that threaten the more than 700 miles of coastline, 28,500 acres of countryside and more than 500 properties owned by the Trust. “Broadly speaking the National Trust is deeply sceptical of this form of renewable energy,” he said.

At the moment the Trust is fighting against at least half a dozen plans to build wind farms or turbines that could damage the view from a stately home or stretch of countryside, including a massive offshore farm in the Bristol Channel and plans by the Duke of Gloucester to install a wind farm on his property.

Louise Mensch, the Tory MP and author, is backing the fight against turbines near Lyveden New Bield, Northants which she fears could “destroy one of the finest examples of Elizabethan gardens in England”

In the past the Trust, that now has four million members, fought plans for one of Europe’s largest wind farms in mid Wales and the National Trust for Scotland has spoken out against turbines marching over the hills.

The official position is to support renewable energy, including wind, although only in places where the turbine will produce the maximum amount of energy and “with regard to the full range of environmental considerations”.

The landowner already has 140 renewable energy projects installed on castles and farmland around the country, including a few small individual turbines.

The Trust’s climate change target to cut energy use by 50 per cent by 2020 will go beyond national targets and could save more than 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 4,500 cars off the road.

But Sir Simon said most of the renewables will be hydroelectric plants, especially in Wales, as the Trust has access to many miles or rivers and properties that were once water mills. An Archimedes screw is being installed at Morden Hall Park, London similar to the hydroelectric plant installed by the Queen in Windsor Castle.

Also biomass - the burning of plant matter - will cut oil use to virtually zero as the Trust has acres of woodland that needs to be managed anyway. Woodchip boilers have been installed in draughty castles around the country and some even have solar panels on the roof.

“We are doing masses of renewables but wind is probably the least efficient and wrecks the countryside and the National Trust is about preserving the countryside,” said Sir Simon, a former national newspaper editor.

His view is a blow to the Government who have already installed more than 3,500 turbines and are planning to complete 800 this year alone.

The Government can ill-afford another clash with the Trust - which has more members than all the major political parties combined - following its prominent role in the widespread revolt against the coalition's unpopular planning reform proposals.

Ed Davey, the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has come out strongly in support of wind, opening the world’s biggest offshore wind farm off Cumbria last week. The Lib Dem minister said wind power will ensure energy security as fossil fuels run out, cut carbon emissions and provide jobs.

RenewableUK, the main lobby group for the wind industry, think by 2020 there could be as many as 10,000 turbines onshore and 4,300 offshore.

However campaigners argue that wind turbines ruin the landscape and are less efficient than other forms of electricity because more back up is required for when the wind is not blowing.


British Wind industry's extensive lobbying to preserve subsidies and defeat local resistance to turbines

How Warmism rots the brain: The 15 biggest windmill owners will between them receive almost £850 million in subsidies

The full extent of lobbying by Britain's wind industry to preserve subsidies while getting thousands of new turbines built can be revealed. The intensive lobbying – both to construct wind farms and to maintain generous subsidies – comes amid growing unease over an industry adding to the burden on household electricity bills.

Analysis of UK wind farms shows that the 15 biggest owners will between them receive almost £850 million in subsidies that are added on to household electricity bills.

It comes after the disclosure last week that 101 Tory backbench MPs had written a letter to David Cameron demanding he slash the subsidies.

An investigation shows how the wind energy industry has:

* employed lobbying firms to fight against Government plans to cut a near £1 billion a year subsidy

* drafted in eco-activists to drum up support for wind farm projects in the face of local opposition

* defeated a Tory election pledge that could have triggered local referendums on wind farms before they are built

A separate study by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a think tank opposed to onshore wind farms, shows that 7,000 turbines are on course to be built onshore across the UK by 2020, helped by a 70 per cent success rate on wind farm planning applications.

REF expects the total consumer subsidy paid out by 2030 to amount to a staggering £130 billion.

Dr John Constable, Director of REF, said: "The government's own data shows that in spite of its unpopularity the wind industry is in fact having an easy time in planning, with the vast majority of schemes being forced on unwilling local populations.

"Very high subsidy levels have resulted in an overheated market and a rush of development that is inappropriate and environmentally damaging, as well as being extremely expensive for the consumer."

RenewableUK, the trade body for the wind industry, said it had a roster of four lobbying firms while appointing a fifth last month to "help with media support".

The four main lobbying companies are Bellenden Public Affairs, Four Communications, Edelman and Citigate. A fifth – Hill+Knowlton – works on media strategy.

RenewableUK has fought to resist attempts to drastically cut the wind energy subsidy, paid out through the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme that is added on to household bills.

The Government, following a consultation, is looking at cuts of between five and 10 per cent, which prompted RenewableUK's chairman Andrew Jamieson to declare in its most recent newsletter to members: "Thanks to the highly effective way in which RenewableUK engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on key issues, the proposals do not appear as bad as originally feared."

A RenewableUK spokesman said: "We knew the consultation was coming out so we did work in advance of it."

In October, a flagship Conservative policy, which would have required local referendums on large-scale projects such as wind farms and housing estates, was quietly abandoned after intense lobbying by RenewableUK.

The trade body had warned of the "slow death" of the onshore wind industry if the referendums pledge had not been dropped from the Localism Bill, which was then going through parliament.

A RenewableUK briefing document subsequently sent to members stated: "Following a great deal of coordinated work with a number of other organisations and Peers with a development interest, RenewableUK has been successful in ensuring that planning applications and wider planning policy are not subject to referendums."

A RenewableUK spokesman said: "We saw a slow death of the onshore wind industry had that gone ahead which is why we were campaigning so hard to get it struck out."

While lobbying is taking place nationally, developers are also employing lobbying tactics on the ground to get wind farms built.

Energy companies have taken to hiring eco-activists, who run non-corporate, amateur-looking stalls proclaiming the virtues of renewable energy in order to produce hundreds of letters in support of planned wind farms. The stalls, typically in provincial towns generate hundreds of identical letters in support of a wind farm, often some distance away.

One anti-wind farm group, fighting a development in Norfolk, said an analysis of letters of support for a scheme by Renewable Energy Systems (RES), part of the Sir Robert McAlpine Group, showed that not a single letter had come from within a six mile radius. Some letters came from addresses more than 30 miles away.

Barry Cox, who is fighting the six-turbine farm at Jack's Lane, near Fakenham, said: "They [RES] should not be allowed to bamboozle the unsuspecting, by going for numbers collected miles away from the local villages. "They might just as well offer the views on Jack's Lane held by residents of Inverness."

An RES spokeswoman said: "Providing opportunities for people to comment on the wind farm has included two street canvassing activities in the nearest centres of population to the site, including King's Lynn, which resulted in more than 730 letters of support. "Many of these support letters used standard wording but all were signed by real people who supported wind and wanted to send the letters."

A Manchester-based company Pendragon Public Relations runs a pro-wind farm campaigning arm called Yes2Wind, which is hired out to developers seeking to build wind farms.

Yes2Wind boasts a specially designed computer software package Express Support, which enables "community members to quickly and easily generate their own individual, personalised support letters"

Alex Doyle, managing director of Pendragon, said: "We are trying to balance out the opposition. We are pro-wind and we put those arguments forward on behalf of the individual developers. "One of the difficulties is a lot of people who are supportive tend to shrug their shoulders and not actually take any action that will make themselves heard."

He said Yes2Wind's computer programme, which generated individual letters, was not a quick option and took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete so that letters reflected the genuine views of members of the public.

Yes2Wind often hires a freelance eco-activist Jeff Rice, from Derbyshire, to manage its stalls. Mr Rice, who was convicted of trespass on the roof of the Palace of Westminster in 2009 as part of a mass Greenpeace protest, is also hired out directly by energy companies, including Renewable Energy Systems. RES is estimated to earn £15 million a year alone through consumer subsidies.

Mr Rice said people supporting local wind farms were often too intimidated to speak up for a scheme. "We do get quite a lot of harassment," said Mr Rice, "Anti-groups can be quite aggressive."

He said letters were often identical because people were in a hurry and had no time to stop and compose their own letters. He added: "We are trying out best to make sure the letters are reasonably local within a few miles of a project. We do try and do that. If people are too far away we will stop them doing a support letter."


The perversion of science by the Royal Society and its Canadian counterpart

When Lord Robert May — a distinguished British population biologist — told a journalist: “I am the president of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over,” he was risking the reputation of the venerable institution he headed.

Presidents of national science academies are not meant to engage in ex cathedra statements, but to promote objective research. However, according to a devastating report this week from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Royal Society — former home to Newton and Darwin — has adopted a stance of intolerant infallibility over climate science and, even less appropriately, over policy.

The report, Nullius in Verba: The Royal Society and Climate Change, by Andrew Montford, is important to Canada not merely because of the continued threat of climate alarmism, but because the Royal Society of Canada has twice attached its name to intensely political statements from its British counterpart.

The phrase “Nullius in verba,” the Royal Society’s motto, means “on the word of no one” and implies that science should always be determined by objectivity rather than the say-so of any “authority.” For ordinary folk like us, however, (including lazy and/or crusading journalists, and even scientists in other specialities) authority is all we usually have to go on, which explains the catastrophists’ relentless emphasis on the “consensus” of those 2,000-plus weighty “experts” who craft the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC.

The burden of allegedly “settled” climate science lingers at every policy level, from electricity bills boosted by outrageously expensive wind and solar energy, to vast schemes to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to developed countries for a climate crime that was likely never committed.

Mr. Montford identifies Bob May as the man who started the society’s campaigns of radical advocacy and media manipulation. This approach continued under his successor, cosmologist Martin Rees, while current president, Nobel geneticist Paul Nurse, has continued to castigate skeptics.

Of pivotal importance to public opinion was action taken by the society in 2001, when promoters of catastrophic man-made climate change were focused on the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report — whose star exhibit was the so-called “Hockey Stick Graph,” which purported to show a thousand years of constant temperatures followed by a Nike swoosh upwards in the 20th century — and efforts to ratify Kyoto. The society took the lead in organizing a total of 17 national science academies to issue an editorial statement, which appeared in the journal Science. Lord May made it clear that he was particularly eager to counter skepticism expressed by U.S. President George W. Bush.

The 2001 statement, supported by the Royal Society of Canada, made the dubious statement that “It is now evident that human activities are already contributing adversely to global climate change.” It backed the IPCC as “the world’s most reliable source” on climate science, and demanded action on Kyoto.

Ironically, the IPCC has since been sharply criticized by a report from the InterAcademy Council, the representative body of national science academies, and more recently been lacerated by two dedicated Canadian researchers, economist Ross McKitrick and blogger Donna Laframboise. Meanwhile another independent Canadian researcher, Steve McIntyre would, along with Prof. McKitrick, break the Hockey Stick.

The 2001 editorial claimed that there was much that could be done to “reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases without excessive cost.” That obviously wasn’t true because it didn’t happen. Emissions reductions were trivial; costs were enormous.

The president of the Royal Society of Canada who signed this document, Dr. Bill Leiss, told me that he consulted with RSC science members before adding the society’s name. He also suggested that signing such documents is “the sort of things national academies do for each other.” However, another former head of the RSC, who did not want to be identified, suggested that the society had no mechanism for validating such support, and said that he disagreed with signing such documents.

In 2005, the RSC signed another multi-academy political document designed to pressure the G8 ahead of its meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland. The same year, the British Royal Society issued a misleading pamphlet rebutting skeptics, which Mr. Montford describes as “a low point in the society’s history.” Worse, it pressured the media not to publish dissenting views.

Towards the end of his term of office, Lord May characterized those who questioned the official science of climate thus: “On one hand, you have the entire scientific community and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.” He pointed to the existence of a climate change “denial lobby,” funded by the “hydrocarbon industry.” Successor Sir Martin Rees came out strongly in support of the U.K. government-sponsored Stern review on climate change, whose economic assumptions were widely ridiculed. He also presided over a campaign against Exxon Mobil.

In 2010, by then Lord Rees was replaced by Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel geneticist, who tried to bury the significance of the 2009 release of embarrassing internal emails between prominent IPCC scientists known as “Climategate,” claiming that it was “the greatest scientific scandal that never happened.” (Former RSC head Dr. Reiss suggested to me that there was no Climategate unless one was an “ideologue.” He also denied — as far as he knew — that there had been any halt to the trend in global warming. The latest official figures suggest it has been stalled for 15 years.)

The Royal Society of Canada has recently, with the help of Dr. Leiss, produced a well-regarded and well-balanced report on the impact of the oil sands (although it was inevitably ignored by radical environmentalists) and another on marine issues. However, by linking itself with politicized statements, it risks its own reputation.

As for its British equivalent, Mr. Montford concludes that “Each year that temperatures refuse to rise in line with the nightmare scenarios trumpeted by one president after another, the risk grows that the society becomes a laughingstock.”

Unfortunately, perverting science to promote draconian and poverty-inducing global controls is hardly a laughing matter.


Met Office global forecasts too warm in 11 out of last 12 yrs

And it's the BBC -- a great chapel of the global warming religion -- that says so, albeit with some attempted exculpations

Global temperatures fell quite sharply in January, according to the UAH satellite measure. The anomaly of -0.093C below the 30 year running mean equates to approximately +0.16C above the more standard 1961-1990 time period.

As regards 2011 as a whole, according to the Met Office, 2011 was the 12th warmest year in their 150 years of global temperature records with an anomaly of 0.346C. This compares to their 2011 forecast of 0.44C.

Although this discrepancy is within the stated margin of error, it is the 11th year out of the last 12 when the Met Office global temperature forecast has been too warm.

In all these years, the discrepancy between observed temperatures and the forecast are within the stated margin of error. But all the errors are on the warm side, with none of the forecasts that have been issued in the last 12 years ending up too cold. And, in my opinion, that makes the error significant.

Some scientists who I have spoken to suggest that one of problems is the lack of observations in the Arctic, which is known to have warmed faster than other parts of the world.

They point out that if proper account was taken of this area of the world, then the overall observed global temperature would be higher, a point acknowledged by the Met Office when I spoke to them earlier this week. In short, it could be that the observations are wrong, with computer predictions right all along.

Climate sceptics, however, say that the real reason why the computer predictions are systematically too warm is because they don't properly take into account some of the natural processes that are occurring, such as weak solar activity, which may be holding back global temperatures.

But in recent research conducted by the Met Office and Reading University, the possible cooling exerted by a less-active sun was found to have only a small effect on global temperatures.

This year, the Met Office is predicting an anomaly which is 0.44C above the long term average.

Whatever the reason for the ongoing 'warm bias' in Met Office global temperatures, their forecast for the first half of this decade, published in early 2010, that half the years between 2010 and 2015 would be hotter than the hottest year on record (with an anomaly of 0.52C set in 1998) is already looking in doubt.


Ethanol subsidy expires

Congress finally did something right. Or rather it did nothing at all, which was just the right thing to do in these wasteful circumstances. It let the ethanol tax credit expire after 30 years.

That's 30 years during which this wasteful, destructive, wrong-headed and (for some parts of the world) near-calamitous handout cost the American taxpayer more than $20 billion in subsidies.

Misguided from the first, the consequences of this brilliant idea -- use food for fuel! -- became worse every year. Even if it came wrapped in green slogans about saving the planet by avoiding fossil fuels. And as an Extra Added Bonus, make making the country energy-independent, too!

But a bad idea doesn't get any better because it's marketed as The Latest Thing. (See the Solyndra scandal.)

Wherever there is a federal subsidy involved, questions should be raised, suspicions aroused. The ethanol subsidy turned out to be a great boondoggle but an awful idea: a massive, long-term handout that was worse than useless. It was actively destructive, raising food prices around the world by driving up the price of corn, distorting the free market, and diverting a perfectly good foodstuff into an increasingly unneeded source of fuel.

Coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, wind ... almost anything makes more sense than using food for fuel.

It's hard to think of another government giveaway that has had so deleterious, not to say indecent, effect on the world's poor, the global economy, and the planet's economy and environment, not to mention a simple rational order of priorities.

Why subsidize the production of a dirty fuel that's not needed? Such subsidies encourage deforestation that the planet cannot afford, and stick the cost to taxpayers and consumers. The ethanol subsidy belongs in any gallery of Congress' greatest follies. And now it's mercifully gone. Let's just hope it stays gone.

Who killed the ethanol subsidy at last? An unlikely coalition of environmentalists and budget balancers sick of crony capitalism. They joined forces to kill this monster.

At last, conservatives and conservationists found common ground -- as they should more often.

This boondoggle was ended not by doing anything about it but by doing nothing, nothing at all, which is a beautiful thing after three decades of doing all too much.

The news that nothing had happened, that this huge tax break had simply been allowed to lapse, came like a glimpse of a pure, undefiled canvas in the place of some huge snarl of paint that a Jackson Pollock wannabe might sell to an all-too-gullible world.

Ethanol was going to be the answer to all our problems when, like so many panaceas, it proved the source of a multitude of them.

By raising corn prices, the ethanol lobby hurt meat and poultry producers, food companies, the food stamp program and shoppers in general.

Seldom have so few profited at the expense of so many. Not to mention the cost to the natural environment, which had to bear the brunt of still more pesticides, soil erosion, pollution and all the other ills the planet is subject to in an industrial age. Agribusiness applauded; the rest of us were stiffed.

But the ethanol lobby isn't through with us yet. Now it wants the government to further subsidize the manufacture and distribution of the pumps, tanks and other gizmos needed to make gasoline with higher and higher concentrations of the grain-based fuel. These people need to be stopped before they do even more damage.

Here's the good news: The long-entrenched ethanol subsidy has been replaced by just one great big, beautiful blank. And all because Congress did ... nothing.

Nothing whatsoever, praise the Lord.

Contrary to our president, there are times when the country could use a do-nothing Congress.



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


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeff Rice, the so-called eco-warrior and convicted criminal, has it seems sold his soul to the giant energy firms.

He is now lobbying on behalf of Force 9 Energy via a so-called Lobby Group called Yes2wind, who at a glance look like a Green group promoting wind turbines, but when one looks more closely at yes2wind they are nothing of the sort.

Yes2wind and Mr Rice travel up and down the country manning the Yes2wind stall, primarily gathering signatures, more often than not against massive local opposition, to aid Force 9 Energy's wind turbine planning applications with local councils.

yes2wind are not a Green group, but are owned by a PR company called Pendragon, and they are employed directly by Force 9 Energy do do this underhand and sneaky work with an unsuspecting public. When manning this stall, at no time unless challenged do they reveal that they are actually employed by the developer, the energy companies.

Disgraceful behaviour.