Friday, July 27, 2012

Britain's brainless Met Office

An interesting correspondence below -- forwarded to me. Among other things, they can't even spell such simple words as "truly" or "huge". I start with an email to them:

Dear Met Office,

You may know of the late Mr Norman Holdsworth, who was a senior Met Office weather forecaster for decades. He served at Cyprus ; Aberporth, Wales and Bracknell.

Norman was a lovely man.... a real gentleman of high intellect. He always used to tell me that he never believed in the twin falsehoods........"global warming" and "climate change".

Since he's died, we have had four successive winters in the UK, with long spells of severe weather.

So where is the EVIDENCE for anthropomorphic "global warming" ........ now dubbed "climate change" to try and dupe people even further?

Could you please supply PROOF that there has been global warming over the last 10 years ?

Yours faithfully,

L J Jenkins,

The Met reply below

Dear L J Jenkins,

The evidence for climate change is vast and if you wish to truely understand the physical forces at work you will need to be prepared to do a certain amount of reading to gain this. There are hugh amounts of scientific research available in the public domain. However as a good overview, I would refer you to the web site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at and the Met Office Hadley Centre publications which can be found here (in particular the one titled "Evidence"):

The Met Office Hadley Centre is the UK’s national centre for climate change research. Partly funded by DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) and Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the Hadley Centre provides in-depth information to the Government and advise them on climate change issues using expert scientific evidence. Our climate scientists undertake studies of the global climate using similar, though more extensive, models of the atmospheres, as are used for the prediction of weather conditions.

In its Fourth Assessment Review, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that there is unequivocal evidence from observations that the Earth is warming. It further stated and that most of the observed warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations. By “very likely”, the IPCC means a 90% probability or greater. This broad climate change message has also been strongly supported by the world’s top Academy of Sciences, including the Royal Society in the UK and the National Academy of Sciences in the USA.

In view of this, the Met Office firmly believes that climate research has captured the essential aspects of what is causing our planet to warm. It is now time to look at strategies for adaptation and mitigation; better defining uncertainty and improving regional detail in climate models. This is where our efforts will and should be directed.

Trish Lamb,

Climate Science Enquiries Coordinator

If Trish had another brain, she'd be lonely

Another broken hockey stick: New paper finds ocean temps were warmer during multiple periods over past 2700 years & current warming within natural variability

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds that sea surface temperatures [SSTs] in the Southern Okinawa Trough off the coast of China were warmer than the present during the Minoan Warm Period 2700 years ago, the Roman Warm Period 2000 years ago, and the Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period 1400 years ago.

According to the authors, "Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean [sea surface temperature] in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years."

In addition, the paper shows the rate of warming in the Minoan, Roman, Medieval, and Sui-Tang dynasty warm periods was much faster than in the current warming period since the Little Ice Age. The paper finds "A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation," which corroborates other papers demonstrating that the climate is highly sensitive to tiny changes in solar activity.

The paper adds to the peer-reviewed publications of over a thousand scientists showing that the current warm period is well within the range of natural variability and is not unprecedented, not accelerated, and not unusual in any respect.


Sea surface temperature variability in southern Okinawa Trough during last 2700 years

By Weichao Wu et al.


Most of the temperature reconstructions for the past two millennia are based on proxy data from various sites on land. Here we present a bidecadal resolution record of sea surface temperature (SST) in Southern Okinawa Trough for the past ca. 2700 years by analyzing tetraether lipids of planktonic archaea in the ODP Hole 1202B, a site under the strong influence of Kuroshio Current and East Asian monsoon. The reconstructed SST anomalies generally coincided with previously reported late Holocene climate events, including the Roman Warm Period, Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, Current Warm Period, Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age. However, the Medieval Warm Period usually thought to be a historical analogue for the Current Warm Period has a mean SST of 0.6–0.8°C lower than that of the Roman Warm Period and Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period. Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean SST in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years. A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation.


IPCC seeks to influence UK FOI laws

For much of the year, the House of Commons Justice Committee has been conducting a post-legislative review of the Freedom of Information Act, its work taking place in the face of a concerted effort by the bureaucracy to push it into accepting the idea that the Act should be neutered.

The review has now ground to a conclusion, and the news is, on the whole quite good. For example, from the recommendations comes the welcome news that the committee favours a tightening of the legal ramifications for breaches of the Act.
The summary only nature of the section 77 offence means that no one has been prosecuted for destroying or altering disclosable data, despite the Information Commissioner’s Office seeing evidence that such an offence has occurred. We recommend that section 77 be made an either way offence which will remove the limitation period from charging. We also recommend that, where such a charge is heard in the Crown Court, a higher fine than the current £5000 be available to the court. We believe these amendments to the Act will send a clear message to public bodies and individuals contemplating criminal action.

However, one of the other recommendations is less obviously welcome, with the committee concluding that England and Wales adopt the Scottish approach to research data. This allows exemption under two different grounds - a narrow one and a broad one. The narrow exemption is for data held for future publication, the narrowness coming from the requirement that the publication date cannot be more than 12 weeks in the future. The broader, and therefore much more worrying, exemption is for data held as part of an ongoing research programme. I'm not sure that this doesn't allow those who would rather their research was not examined by outsiders simply to say that they are still using the data and that it cannot therefore be disclosed.

The whole of the university sector seems to have been keen to get a much broader exemption in place. One submission of evidence, from Universities UK is a particularly interesting case in point, which shows that those champions of openness, the IPCC, have also been taking an interest.
[...] evidence of commercial partners being put off working with UK institutions is largely anecdotal. However, in a case involving the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) recently settled by the Information Commissioner for drafts of a published paper, the University of East Anglia highlighted that:

In another matter, we recently received exactly such representations from the IPCC TSU [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Technical Support Unit] based in Geneva, Switzerland in which they explicitly noted that release of such material would “[...] force us to reconsider our working arrangements with those experts who have been selected for an active role in WG1 AR5 [Working Group One, Fifth Assessment Report] from your institution and others within the United Kingdom.”


US Green Building Council: An unchecked taxpayer-supported monopoly

Something called the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) enjoys de facto authority over government green building standards. Many would be surprised, however, to learn that it is not a government agency.

Rather, the USGBC is a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that sets the standards for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. For those unfamiliar, LEED is the dominant certification program used for measuring building sustainability and energy efficiency.

Technically, LEED is a voluntary program. But because a reported 400 U.S. cities and localities, 39 states and virtually the entire federal government currently require builders to meet LEED standards, USGBC effectively operates as a taxpayer-subsidized monopoly – one whose standards increasingly seem driven by ideology and influence rather than sound science and economic common sense.

For evidence of that, look no further than LEED v4, the USGBC’s proposed fourth generation changes to its green building standards.

Representing a dramatic departure from the USGBC’s stated goal of promoting energy efficiency through “consensus-based decision-making” that includes all affected stakeholders, LEED v4 seeks to discourage the use of commonly used building materials and products that ironically are utilized today in energy-efficient buildings. On the proposal’s chopping block? Literally hundreds of proven and prevalent building products that include most PVC piping, foam insulation, heat reflective roofing and LED lighting, just to name a few.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) mandates that all new federal buildings and renovations to existing buildings be certified to LEED “Gold" standards at a minimum. Therefore, if approved and adopted in its current form as the sole green building standard by GSA, LEED v4 could lead to an outright ban on manufacture of those products as builders, architects and others would be coerced into avoiding their use altogether.

To add insult to injury, the arbitrary changes to the LEED standards, some of which are based on regulations put forth by the European Union, are being made without sound science to support them and without any substantive input from leaders and experts in the manufacturing and building industries that would be most affected. The costs of the changes would be felt in the form of good-paying U.S. jobs, American competitiveness and increased costs to taxpayers at a time when our nation’s struggling economy can least afford it.

With LEED certification per building costing up to $27,500, it’s easy to see how the USGBC took in over $100 million in revenue in 2009 - much of that coming from the pockets of taxpayers. Due to LEED’s existing standards and short-sightedness, consumers and taxpayers already pay as much as a 20 percent premium on wood certified by the program, with dubious environmental benefits. Given those alarming costs, it’s high time for Congress to use its influence over the GSA to put an end the USGBC’s stranglehold on the market.

Fortunately, LEEDv4 has begun to raise the ire of bipartisan groups in Congress. Some 56 members of the House, led by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R–KS) and 18 Senators led by Mary Landrieu (D–LA) and David Vitter (R–LA), recently wrote GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini objecting to the changes and stating the agency should reconsider the USGBC’s LEED rating system should the proposed changes occur. In addition, at a July 19 House Government and Oversight Committee hearing, Congressional leaders raised concerns over the restrictive and arbitrary LEED process and the high costs the proposed changed will impose on American manufacturing and other sectors vital to U.S. economic recovery.


Making the nation’s buildings “greener” or more energy-efficient may be a worthwhile goal, but any effort to do so must be driven by the free and competitive market. We already witness too many government policies picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Remember Solyndra? For the federal bureaucracy to allow a third-party environmental group to do so is appalling.

Given USGBC’s agenda and arbitrary actions, it is reckless to empower that organization to dictate a government-sanctioned standard.

The process for the adoption of the proposed LEED v4 standards is not scheduled to conclude until next year. But with the GSA and other federal agencies currently reviewing which building standards to adopt moving forward, Congress must turn up the heat now to force GSA to replace LEED with a building certification system that is fair, open, based on unimpeachable science and uses consensus-based standards. In other words, one that is cognizant of its impact on jobs, the economy and taxpayers.

The era of the taxpayer-supported USGBC monopoly must end.


Skeptic Magazine Needs to be More Skeptical of Man-Made Global Warming

I have been taking potshots at "Skeptic" for years, including writing to them -- but their Leftism overwhelms critical thought. All that they are skeptical about is magic and superstition -- in which they include religion -- JR

A quarterly magazine called Skeptic published a cover story a few weeks back by Donald Prothero titled “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” That struck us here at The Heartland Institute as rather strange.

Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media. And we have two immense volumes of peer-reviewed literature and the videos of many conferences to prove it.

So if the very name of your magazine is Skeptic, shouldn’t readers expect you to carefully examine the spoon-fed doctrines of the likes of Al Gore, Michael Mann, the UN’s IPCC, etc., and be … well … skeptical of “doctrine”especially in light of the Climategate scandal? Alas, no.

Skeptic magazine, as the headline of the cover story makes clear, is not skeptical of global warming. Like the Roosters of the Apocalypse who allow group-think and ideology to trump their scientific judgment, Skeptic refuses to take serious the mounting and even overwhelming scientific case against man-made global warming. It’s amusing and ironic, then, that the Skeptic article begins with a quote from Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman:

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Yet the fact is: Reality, and scientific observation of nature, tells the truth about the climate — and man is not causing a climate catastrophe. Skeptic Magazine is the one regurgitating public-relations lies disguised as a hard-boiled look at the climate debate and grounded in real science.

Feynman has posthumously become a bit of a YouTube star for his one-minute explanation of the scientific method. The video below, from a lecture at Cornell in 1964, blows up Skeptic magazine’s idea of what science is.


In one minute, Feynman lays out how the scientific method works: Theories are constantly proposed, questioned and tested. Only after a theory goes through many exhaustive rounds of scientific examination — using observational data — can a “guess” become a “law” of science. And even then, a well-founded scientific “law” laid down by the smartest people in history is temporary. Just ask Newton.

Men and women who couldn’t hold Feynman’s briefcase have for years told us that the science is “settled”: Human activity is causing a catastrophic climate disaster — no matter that their computer model predictions haven’t come true, violating the scientific method and becoming the decades-later butt of Feynman’s presentation.

Yet Skeptic magazine, of all publications, dedicated a nine-page cover story to carrying water for public-relations hacks — propagandists — and not the kind of real, observable science that should be its hallmark. But let’s not completely condemn Skeptic. It still has the fact that there is no solid evidence for Bigfoot in its favor.

Christopher Monckton — Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, good friend of Heartland, advisor to Lady Thatcher, and one of the most learned “laymen” experts on climate science — gives that Skeptic article a hearty vivisection. Skeptic refused to publish it, so we share it here. There’s a short version and a long version of his reply, and they are both devastating.

Lord Monckton starts it off with his typically cheeky and refreshing in-your-face style:

Be skeptical, be very skeptical, of Skeptic magazine’s skepticism of climate skeptics. The latest issue has, as its cover story, a Climate Change Q&A, revealingly subtitled Climate Deniers’ Arguments & Climate Scientists’ Answers.

The article, written by Dr. Donald Prothero, a geology professor at Occidental College, opens with the bold heading How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.

Anyone who starts out by using the hate-speech term “Climate Deniers” – laden with political overtones of Holocaust denial – cannot expect to be taken seriously as an objective scientist.

Despite this promise of “Climate Scientists’ Answers”, only four peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists are cited among the 41 references at the end of the article.

And the implicit notion that “Climate Deniers” are non-scientists while true-believers are “Climate Scientists” is also unreasonable. Many eminent climate scientists are skeptical of the more extremist claims made by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC. We shall cite some of their work in this response to the Professor’s unscientific article.

His reply to the Skeptic article contains tons of scientific research — with no fewer than 42 citations in the footnotes. A taste of the truth:

1. Is “global warming” occurring at anything like the predicted rate?

No, it isn’t, say the skeptics. Predictions of doom have repeatedly failed.

Sea level: Aviso Envisat data show sea level rising in the eight years 2004-2012 at a rate equivalent to 1.3 inches (3 cm) per century. What is more, sea level in 2011-2012 was lower than in each of the previous seven years:

Sea-ice extent: Growth in Antarctic sea-ice extent almost matches the decline in the Arctic over the past 30 years, so that global sea-ice extent shows little change since the satellites have been watching:

When the data doesn’t match the hypothesis, it’s not science. It’s propaganda.


Environmental justice: A new movement to restrict your movement

When most people talk about President Obama's influence on America, they mention reforming health care, repealing "don't ask, don't tell" or ending the war in Iraq.

But a nearly unknown executive order could have a greater impact on the future of America than all of those things combined, potentially giving the federal government power to control every project in the country.

The obscure memorandum of understanding, based on a long-forgotten executive order signed by President Clinton in 1994, marries the issues of environmentalism and social justice. The federal government can use the laws from one to control the other.

Seventeen federal agencies signed the Aug. 4, 2011, memorandum — a clear indication of its widespread implications. By signing it, “Each Federal agency agrees to the framework, procedures, and responsibilities” of integrating environmental justice into all of its “programs, policies, and activities.”

This integration was the topic of the State of Environmental Justice in 2012 Conference held April 5 in Crystal City, Va. The low-key conference featured speakers who are key players in the movement, offering a rare glimpse into how the federal government intends to use this new tool as an instrument of power and control over the lives of every American.

Environmental justice has already stopped transportation projects in their tracks by using Title VI, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial "discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Mr. Obama explicitly suggests using Title VI to achieve environmental justice in his memorandum.

“This is all about integrating environmental justice into the transportation decision-making process,” said conference speaker Glenn Robinson, director of the Environmental Justice in Transportation Project at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

The president had taken steps to integrate environmental justice into transportation even before he wrote the memo. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation to create the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

This partnership, according to the "Environmental Justice and Sustainability Reference Deskbook," “marks a fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing, and environmental policies, programs and spending” to include environmental justice concerns.

James Cheatham, director of the Office of Planning at the Federal Highway Administration, is listed as an environmental justice contact in this book, which EPA published in December 2010. At the conference, he explained that the movement's early focus on transportation was no accident.

“Transportation is that vital link that moves our economy one way or another,” he said.

But what do civil rights have to do with transportation projects? When combined with environmentalism, they can stop almost anything.

Last year, an environmental justice claim prevented the state of Virginia from installing express toll lanes to help alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 395 in Arlington County. The county alleged that the state had violated a series of laws that Mr. Obama suggested as enforcement tools for environmental justice.

First, emissions from vehicles operating in the toll lanes would have violated the Clean Air Act. And, since the lanes would have run mostly through a low-income minority community, they also violated Title VI by discriminating against residents who live there.

The lanes also would have violated the National Environmental Policy Act, according to Arlington County Attorney Stephen A. MacIsaac.

“What NEPA requires is a study of traffic impacts, air quality impacts and impacts on disadvantaged and minority communities … and we felt like that wasn't an adequate review,” Mr. MacIsaac said.

Mr. MacIsaac insisted that the county's lawsuit did not allege racial discrimination, even though traffic studies projected that mostly affluent white people would use the HOT lanes, which he referred to as “Lexus lanes.”

But conference speaker Sharlene Reed, community planner at FHWA, suggested conferees adopt exactly that strategy for filing project-stopping lawsuits.

“If environmental justice is looking at minorities and low income," she asked, "can you actually afford to utilize this road, or are you being disadvantaged as a result of them having a price associated with it?”

Like Mr. Cheatham, Ms. Reed is listed as an environmental contact in the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership. She helped develop "EPA's Action Development Process: Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action," published in July 2010.

All told, the HOT lanes lawsuit cost Arlington County taxpayers about $2 million, Mr. MacIsaac said. Fearing a long, expensive court battle, the Virginia Department of Transportation dropped Arlington from the project and began an intensive environmental review.

Arlington County government considers this a victory, but James Corocan, head of the chamber of commerce in neighboring Fairfax County, has a different take on it.

“It's businesses and citizens that are going to pay for this government's decision not to move forward with the HOT lanes,” Mr. Corocan said. “It's a shame for Arlington, because other areas are going to leave them behind when it comes to moving traffic around. … When businesses are looking at where do they want to locate, obviously access is key.”

He said he had talked to several Arlington business leaders who would have welcomed HOT lanes in their county.

Paul Driessen, senior policy fellow at the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise, said one of the dangers of environmental justice is that it gives the federal government power to make decisions that should be made by the people affected by them.

“There's a huge element within the environmental community, … within the various government agencies and so forth, of desire to control what people can or can't do,” Mr. Driessen said.

Mr. Driessen said he lamented the fact that environmental regulations placed “so many controls” over “free markets that have advanced us in so many ways. We're really holding back entrepreneurship. People are not investing because they don't know what the next round of regulations is going to do.”

But conference speakers lauded the use of Title VI in this way.

“File a complaint under the Title VI Administrative Enforcement Process if you cannot get the results that you want in other ways,” advised Marc Brenman, a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mr. Brenman recounted how he did just that to stop a train route from being extended from downtown Oakland, Calif., to Oakland International Airport. He alleged that the project violated Title VI because it better served whites than minorities since the trains would pass by so many low-income minority neighborhoods along the way.

And, as environmental contractor Alexander Bond reminded the group, there are plenty of other laws people can use the same way as Title VI.

“The American Disabilities Act, the National Restorative Preservation Act for some visually impaired people, … [there is] lots of room built into this process for bringing environmental justice to the table,” said Mr. Bond, a senior associate at energy and environmental contractor ICF International in Fairfax.

Mr. Corocan disputed environmentalists' claims that HOT lanes would worsen air quality in Arlington, since the same number of cars will be on the road anyway, only now they will travel at a slower pace. That, if anything, will increase pollution.

David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, did not find this surprising at all. Environmental justice claims very rarely have anything to do with actually helping anyone, he said.

“They're not thinking about economic consequences to the everyman, but they're pushing environmental justice not in my opinion as a way to help a minority community but as a way to play the race card and make their arguments harder to fight,” Mr. Almasi said.

Another thing that makes environmental justice hard to fight is the vague terms EPA uses to define it, according to Mr. Driessen.

“The EPA's agenda is so broad, it's used to advance any new regulation that they have conceived of over this little bit in the past administration,” he said.

Conference speaker Eloisa Reynault, transportation, health and equity program manager at the American Public Health Association, described public health and transportation as issues married by environmental justice.

Ms. Reynault said the combined cost of four chronic problems — traffic deaths and injuries, obesity, lack of physical activity, and air pollution — cost taxpayers an estimated $478 billion per year. She assured conferees that environmental justice could offset those costs by addressing health and safety issues "connected to transportation."

She said that while "car travel is sedentary travel," getting to the bus or train stop often requires walking. She also asserted that a lack of public transit in low-income communities causes greater air pollution and, in turn, more lung disease. Another example? Car accidents, since minorities are often "overrepresented" in traffic fatalities and injuries.

Under these definitions, members of a low-income or minority community could file a Title VI complaint by claiming that lack of access to public transportation made them fat and sick — and win.

The wide scope of environmental justice also makes it easier for government offices to share funds to achieve it.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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