Sunday, March 04, 2012

A credulous economist

And in calling him credulous I am putting the most favourable spin on his words. I am referring to a recent article in the NYT by Prof. Nordhaus in which he claims to refute the climate skeptics.

I reproduce the first two parts of the article below. Each part has a large hole in it.

1). Quite aside from the issue of what smoothed graphs hide (Adequately covered by Steve Goddard), we see that the Nordhaus graph shows a temperature rise for the last 130 years of less than one degree Celsius. Yet Nordhaus uses this to support alarmism! I would have thought that it shows that we live in a era of exceptional temperature stability. Projecting it forward would yield a rise of little more than one degree by the year 2100, which is often portrayed as Armageddon year by Warmists. It's an absurdity. We experience much greater temperature changes than that in a single day, let alone seasonal variations. If the trend in the Nordhaus graph continues we will not even notice it.

2). In the second part he quotes the corrupt and politicized IPCC as Gospel and finds -- surprise! -- that natural influences cannot reproduce the known 20th century temperature changes. Yet there has been in the scientific literature for some years now an article showing one natural influence that tracks the historical temperature record very well. See the aricle immediately following the Nordhaus effusion below. Why did Nordhaus ignore that? It has been very widely publicized and the theory behind it was even confirmed recently at the CERN "Large Hadron Collider" in Geneva. Is Nordhaus credulous, ignorant or simply dishonest? I leave that judgment to others

I guess I could go on to look at other points in his article but I think that what we have seen so far would make that superfluous

1). The first claim is that the planet is not warming. More precisely, “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now.”

It is easy to get lost in the tiniest details here. Most people will benefit from stepping back and looking at the record of actual temperature measurements. The figure below shows data from 1880 to 2011 on global mean temperature averaged from three different sources. We do not need any complicated statistical analysis to see that temperatures are rising, and furthermore that they are higher in the last decade than they were in earlier decades.

One of the reasons that drawing conclusions on temperature trends is tricky is that the historical temperature series is highly volatile, as can be seen in the figure. The presence of short-term volatility requires looking at long-term trends. A useful analogy is the stock market. Suppose an analyst says that because real stock prices have declined over the last decade (which is true), it follows that there is no upward trend. Here again, an examination of the long-term data would quickly show this to be incorrect. The last decade of temperature and stock market data is not representative of the longer-term trends.

The finding that global temperatures are rising over the last century-plus is one of the most robust findings of climate science and statistics.

2). A second argument is that warming is smaller than predicted by the models:

"The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause."

What is the evidence on the performance of climate models? Do they predict the historical trend accurately? Statisticians routinely address this kind of question. The standard approach is to perform an experiment in which (case 1) modelers put the changes in CO2 concentrations and other climate influences in a climate model and estimate the resulting temperature path, and then (case 2) modelers calculate what would happen in the counterfactual situation where the only changes were due to natural sources, for example, the sun and volcanoes, with no human-induced changes. They then compare the actual temperature increases of the model predictions for all sources (case 1) with the predictions for natural sources alone (case 2).

This experiment has been performed many times using climate models. A good example is the analysis described in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (for the actual figure, see the accompanying online material4). Several modelers ran both cases 1 and 2 described above—one including human-induced changes and one with only natural sources. This experiment showed that the projections of climate models are consistent with recorded temperature trends over recent decades only if human impacts are included. The divergent trend is especially pronounced after 1980. By 2005, calculations using natural sources alone underpredict the actual temperature increases by about 0.7 degrees Centigrade, while the calculations including human sources track the actual temperature trend very closely.

In reviewing the results, the IPCC report concluded: “No climate model using natural forcings [i.e., natural warming factors] alone has reproduced the observed global warming trend in the second half of the twentieth century.”


Sorry folks, cosmic rays really are in charge

Nigel Calder

On this blog and others, most comments about my previous post “Yet another trick of cosmic rays” have been friendly. Thank you. But some people still want to dismiss all the meticulous experimental, observational and theoretical work of Henrik Svensmark and his colleagues in the Danish National Space Institute by saying there is simply no link between cosmic rays and the climate.

Having written two books on the subject, and still engaged with it, I could in rebuttal flood this post with evidence of many kinds, on time scales from days to millennia or longer. I’ll content myself with just one pair of graphs spanning 50 years. They’re from a 2007 report by Svensmark and the Institute’s director, Eigil Friis-Christensen, and they’re based on a European Space Agency project called ISAC. The carbon dioxide boys and girls would die for a match of cause and effect of this quality.

Cosmic ray intensity is in red and upside down, so that 1991 was a minimum, not a maximum. Fewer cosmic rays mean a warmer world, and the cosmic rays vary with the solar cycle. The blue curve shows the global mean temperature of the mid-troposphere as measured with balloons and collated by the UK Met Office (HadAT2).

In the upper panel the temperatures roughly follow the solar cycle. The match is much better when well-known effects of other natural disturbances (El NiƱo, North Atlantic Oscillation, big volcanoes) are removed, together with an upward trend of 0.14 deg. C per decade. The trend may be partly due to man-made greenhouse gases, but the magnitude of their contribution is debatable.

From 2000 to 2011 mid-tropospheric temperatures have remained pretty level, like those of the surface, despite the continuing increase in the gases – in “flat” contradiction to the warming predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Meanwhile the Sun is lazy, cosmic ray counts are high and the oceans are cooling.


Windmills come before people

Before windmills are built, the builder puts up towers to gather data on how much wind there is in that location. The towers can kill

The death of a 58-year-old crop duster on Jan. 10, 2011, was one of those random tragedies—and like many others, it could have been prevented. The 26,000-hour commercial pilot was killed when his Rockwell S-2R hit an unmarked meteorological evaluation tower (MET) while he was treating a field in Contra Costa County, Calif. Witnesses confirmed that he made a reconnaissance pass before beginning the application, but the tower was bare metal, unpainted, and not marked by any lights, flags, or other warning devices. The NTSB quoted an article by the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) which observed, “The fact that these towers are narrow, unmarked, and grey in color makes for a structure that is nearly invisible under some atmospheric conditions.” According to the witnesses, he made no apparent attempt to avoid it before the impact.

The tower had been erected in April 2009 “for wind resource measurements.” It stood 197 feet, 8.25 inches tall, and four sets of guy wires extended up to 184 feet from its base. In the permit application filed with Contra Costa County, its operator noted that its height was “lower than the 200-foot threshold set by the FAA, and thus meets FAA regulations.”

True enough, as far as it went—but the permit was only valid through August 2009, after which the operator was required to remove it within 30 days. The permit also offered the option of applying for a one-year extension, which the operator did not do. So although this “nearly invisible” tower should have been dismantled a year and a quarter earlier, it was still standing, and the county didn’t follow up.

This is at least the third time in eight years that a pilot has been killed in a collision with an unmarked meteorological tower, which the NAAA notes also pose hazards to “emergency medical services (EMS) operations, Fish and Wildlife, animal damage control, aerial fire suppression, and any other low-level flying operation.” Just five days before the accident the FAA had issued a request for comments on its proposed guidelines for voluntarily marking these structures, which included painting the towers themselves in alternating bands of orange and white and marking the guy wires with flags, balls, or high-visibility sleeves. Many of the 460 comments they received specifically referred to this accident. After reviewing submissions from individual operators and groups including NAAA, the Helicopter Association International, the Experimental Aicraft Association, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and both the American and California Wind Energy Associations, the FAA issued a revised version of its recommendations on June 24—but these recommendations remain voluntary.

Individual states have been more assertive. Wyoming and South Dakota, for example, both require METs to be marked. Wyoming also maintains an online database of their locations, something the FAA insists is not feasible on a national level. While talk of additional regulation goes against most pilots’ grain, the increasing interest in developing wind power can be expected to lead to the assessment of “wind resources” in more locations, most of them rural. Pilots living in those areas might want to know what their states do to make sure those who have to fly down low have a fair chance of coming home again. Private landowners may also choose to require markings as a condition for siting towers on their property.

Aerial application is essential work, and tricky enough at the best of times. Handling heavy aircraft at low altitudes, minimizing the time and fuel lost during turns, it’s a little much to expect even the most expert pilots to watch out for uncharted obstructions that can’t be seen.


It's Happening: 5 Coal-Fired Power Plants Shutting Down

At the close of 2012, the EPA dictated a politically calculated--oops, I mean, for the sake of the public welfare, issued a--huge new stack of emissions regulations aiming to force coal-fired power plant operators to choose between installing pollution control equipment, switching to cleaner natural gas, or shutting down their plants. Which is good, because in 2008, President Obama did promise to bankrupt the coal industry... so, that's at least one promise he's kept, right?
Edison International (EIX) plans to shut down at least two aging coal-fired power plants in what could be a growing wave of retirements as low natural-gas and electricity prices and stricter pollution rules make many of these facilities unprofitable.

Edison will shut down its two Chicago coal-fired power plants -- one this year and one by 2014 -- rather than install pollution-control equipment to comply with state pollution limits, the company said. Edison said it also would likely shut down a third coal plant in Waukegan, Ill., and possibly others. ...

Companies are increasingly announcing plans to shut down aging coal plants as the cost of installing pollution-control equipment can exceed the value of the plant.

The Sierra Club estimates that these regulations are preventing a lot of premature deaths (I'm not sure how they think they know that), but Sen. Pat Toomey is not pleased:

But Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said that as many as 315 people could lose their jobs.
"I am dismayed by the news that hundreds of Pennsylvanians will lose their jobs because of this impending wave of federal regulations. While I fully support sensible, existing power plant regulations to protect our air, the cumulative effect of these new rules, which are some of the costliest in the EPA's history, is overwhelming."

And while the Obama administration can certainly hope and dream that the ensuing energy vacuum will be filled by the bounteous sources of wind, solar, and other greenie endeavors, you can bet that more 'necessarily skyrocketing' electricity prices are what's for dinner.


Obama Backed Solar Company Slashes 70 Percent of Workforce

See if this sounds familiar. A solar energy company with a principal investor who is a huge supporter Barack Obama and Democrat causes got a Department of Energy loan for hundreds of millions of dollars. The President publicly claims the company will “create whole new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America.” However, fourteen months later the company is bleeding financially, laying off hundreds of workers, shutting down production to retool, and complaining that it is all China’s fault.

No, it is not Solyndra. The company is Abound Solar; winner of a $400 million DOE loan in December, 2010. Abound was to make solar panels at its Longmont, Colorado facility and build a second plant in Indiana. Obama used part of a regular weekly radio address in 2010 to praise Abound who he said would “create 2000 construction jobs and 1500 permanent jobs.” Barely a year later, Abound Solar is a skeleton of Obama’s fertile imagination. The workforce is being slashed by 70%, 280 workers. The anticipated Indiana plant is nowhere to be found.

Company executives say competition from Chinese low-cost manufacturers has negatively impacted business forcing them to sell their solar panels below the cost of production. Was China not in the solar panel market 14 months ago? Did nobody notice?

So, how did Abound convince the Obama Administration to approve a $400 million loan? Just as Solyndra and other companies that received millions and billions for green projects were connected to campaign contributors and administration officials, one of the main investors in Abound – Pat Stryker - is a big Democrat financier. The following is courtesy of Joel Gehrke and the Washington Examiner. What Gehrke failed to mention is that billionaire Stryker is also a founding member of the "Gang of Four" who invested millions in what became known as the Colorado Model, a largely covert political strategy that reversed the political power in Colorado and became embraced by the Democrat Party.
“Pat Stryker, founder of Bohemian Companies (an Abound Solar investor, as the Sunlight Foundation first observed), donated $50,000 to support President Obama's 2009 inauguration and bundled another $87,500 for the event, Stryker also gave $35,500 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, according to FEC reports, and another $5000 to the Democratic White House Victory Fund in 2008.”

“In addition to supporting Democratic candidates, Stryker also provides significant financial backing to third-party groups that support Democratic candidates.”

“For instance, FEC reports show Stryker donated $145,000 in 2010 to America's Families First Action Fund (AFFAF) and $75,000 to ‘Women Vote’ operation organized by the pro-choice group, Emily's List. the Washington Post reported in October 2010 that AFFAF had spent almost $6 million during that cycle on behalf of Democratic candidates only. ‘Women Vote’ is a similarly partisan effort by Emily's List to ‘turn out women voters for our pro-choice Democratic women candidates and every Democrat on the ticket.’ “

Barack Obama played Investor-in-Chief with $80 billion borrowed dollars as part of his Economic Stimulus boondoggle. Pretending he was the smartest guy in every room, Obama and his administration rejected warnings of industry analysts, sound business practices, and common sense, blindly throwing huge amounts of money at anything remotely “green” to satisfy his personal obsessions and placate contributors and friends. As I wrote earlier this week, with the Obama Administration, Green has become the color of rotten corruption.
In the real world, an investment banker with such consistently flawed – even corrupt - judgment would be fired – and investigated. That should be the case in politics, too. November can’t come soon enough.


Polish report: shale gas extraction not harmful

A scientific study in Poland has found that shale gas extraction at one site produced some toxic refuse but that the waste was reused and didn't harm the environment.

The report was presented Friday by the Polish Geological Institute, which carried out its study last year when a company, Canadian Lane Energy, began test drilling near Lebien, in northern Poland.

Poland has some deposits of shale gas and is hoping to exploit them to cut its dependence on Russian natural gas. It hopes to repeat what has happened in the United States, where large shale gas discoveries in the past 10 years have given the country independence in the gas sector.

It is still unclear, however, how much shale gas there is in Poland, and the process of extracting it has come under fire by environmentalists.

In hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technology developed in the United States, large quantities of pressurized water and some chemicals are used to break underground rocks and release gas trapped in them. Most of the water remains underground, but some returns to the surface and is toxic.

"Cases of leakage and water contamination in the U.S. show that this is not a safe technology," Katarzyna Guzek of Greenpeace told The Associated Press.

The report said the procedure at the site it studied produced some highly toxic liquid and some solid refuse, but that it was all either reused or utilized. Laboratory studies found no pollution to surface or ground water, soil or air, it said.

"Soil, air, water _ the studies show that all these elements of the environment are safe if exploration of shale gas is conducted in accordance with legal regulations," the study said.

Guzek said the study was carried out at the start of exploration in Poland and does not reflect dangers from a long-term activity.

Lane Energy is among more than a dozen international companies that have obtained licenses to explore for shale gas in northern and eastern Poland.


Greenie people-hatred marches on

In the good ol' ZPG days, they used projected resource shortages as an excuse for population control. Now it's that Jim-dandy All-purpose "Global Warming" that they are using

During a discussion series on Monday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., speaker and activist Kavita Ramdas argued that contraceptives should be part of a strategy to save the planet, calling lower birth rates a “common sense” part of a climate-change reduction strategy.

At the event, titled “Women’s Health: Key to Climate Adaptation Strategies,” Ramdas pointed to studies conducted by health consultants at the for-profit Futures Group, the government-funded National Center for Atmospheric Research and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, in Austria, to connect contraception with climate change.

Ramdas told The Daily Caller that the research shows “empowering women to time their pregnancies” and avoid unwanted births would reduce carbon emissions between 8 to 15 percent globally.

“It is common sense that when women are able to plan their pregnancies, populations grow more slowly and as a result so do greenhouse gas emissions,” she explained. “Providing access to contraception and preventative health should be one of the many effective strategies used to fight climate change.”

Ramdas is also executive director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University.

Global warming activists argue increasing greenhouse gas emissions, partly resulting from unsustainable population growth, is resulting in “environmental devastation” such as frequent severe weather events and rising sea levels.

The United States and other countries with high levels of emissions, Ramdas told TheDC, have the potential to make the biggest impact by making contraception more accessible. She said every child in America absorbs, on average, 40 percent more of the earth’s resources than children in other countries.



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