Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

Low levels of Arctic ice at the moment are far from a "record"

Some data that Jim Hansen can't "adjust": USS Skate surfacing at the North Pole, March 17, 1959


Desperate tactics by anti-GM propagandists

On my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog, I called this  "study" a fraud the day it came out in the press.  Like so many Greenies, anti-GM propagandists tend to be devoid of ethics or honesty.  Anything to advance their addled "cause".  They are desperate to appear wiser than anybody else

Last week saw an outrageous abuse of scientific ethics which deserves wider coverage and denunciation in case it becomes widespread.  French scientists based at Caen had a paper published in the journal "Food and Chemical Toxicology."  The paper concerned the effects on rats who were fed supplements of the herbicide Roundup or a crop genetically modified to tolerate high levels of Roundup.

Unusually, as Arstechnica reports, journalists who wanted advance copies were obliged to sign an agreement not to show the findings to any outside experts before publication.

This unprecedented step meant that the usual process of peer review and assessment which is basic to science was thwarted.  Usually scientific journalists contact outside experts in advance of publication to see what validity the new study has, and to comment on any weaknesses they might see.

In this case they were prevented from doing so, and the initial coverage lacked the analysis that customarily puts such papers in context. Following that initial coverage, the experts found much at fault in the survey.

"The authors used a strain of rats that is prone to tumors late in life. Every single experimental condition was compared to a single control group of only 10 rats, and some of the experimental groups were actually healthier than the controls. The authors didn't use a standard statistical analysis to determine whether any of the experimental groups had significantly different health problems."

Some of them were completely dismissive of any value the report might claim to have.

One called the work "a statistical fishing trip" while another said the lack of proper controls meant "these results are of no value." One report quoted a scientist at UC Davis as saying, "There is very little scientific credibility to this paper. The flaws in the test are just incredible to me."

The point is that the scientific authors deliberately prevented these flaws from being revealed at the time of publication.  They had a field day of uncritical coverage, and violated all the ethics of scientific research to achieve that.  The result is that for years to come anti-GM zealots will cite their findings without any of the criticism that undermined them.

As they say, a lie can be halfway round the world before truth gets its boots on.


Sea Level Fall Defies Climate Warnings

Because we have been having something like Noah's flood??

Global average sea levels fell by 5mm last year, presenting an inconvenient fact in a climate change narrative that warns of severe long-term threats to coastal settlements.

The 5mm decline was almost twice the rate of the 3mm-a-year average increase recorded over the past 20 years and three times the 130-year average rise rate of 1.7mm a year.

A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters and reported by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science yesterday claims to have found the answer to why sea levels fell, not rose.   And, according to the paper, the retreat is only temporary.

The research, led by NASA scientist Carmen Boening from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California University of Technology, has blamed the unexpected sea level fall on the weather pattern that also caused chaos on land. The switch to a strong La Nina weather pattern, which was responsible for the big wet that flooded large parts of Australia, northern South America, and Southeast Asia in 2010 was also to blame for the shrinking oceans, the paper said. Put simply, the water had moved from the oceans to the land as rainfall.  [Hey! what about the drought?]

Scientists used a combination of satellite and land data to match the decline in ocean mass, which explained the sea level drop, to an equivalent increase in land-based water storage.

This was done by measuring changes in gravity on the earth.

The paper said the temporary shift of water from the ocean to land was closely related to the transition from El Nino conditions in 2009-10 to a strong 2010-11 La Nina, which affected rainfall patterns worldwide.

The greatest changes in gravity occurred in areas where the rainfall increase had been greatest because of La Nina.

In addition, the total amount of land-based water storage linked up closely with the fall in sea levels. Sea levels eventually returned to the long-term trend of a gradual rise as the water moved from land back into the sea through natural processes.

The most recent findings were in line with historical data, which showed sea levels had fallen below trend during other periods of transition to a La Nina weather pattern.

Between 1992 and this year sea levels have contracted below the upward trend in 1993-1994, 1996-97, 1999-2000 and 2007.

John Church, from CSIRO’s Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, said the latest data showed the global average sea level rise had returned to the two-decade trend of 3.1mm a year at the beginning of this year. And despite Australia playing a leading role in the average sea level decline for 2010-2011, Dr Church said the regional story was one of continued sea level rises.

Data maps published by CSIRO showed sea levels had risen particularly strongly in Northern Australia between 2002 and 2012, he said.

Projected sea level increases vary greatly and take account of thermal expansion, changes in glacier mass and changes in ice sheets and ice-sheet flow.

Most recent predictions have argued that a rise in sea levels of more than two metres as predicted by some models is “physically untenable”.

A rise of 80cm over the next century, at the top of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections, is considered more plausible.


British Wind farms given £34m to switch off when the wind is strong

Wind farm operators were paid £34million last year to switch the turbines off in gales.  Two days last week saw householders effectively hand £400,000 to energy firms for doing nothing.

The arrangement compensates wind farms for the National Grid’s inability to cope with the extra energy produced during high winds.

The exact structure of the payments is mired in secrecy – even though families have to carry the cost in the form of higher power bills.  Hidden payments discovered by the Mail show that wind farms are given much more money than previously thought.

It was always known the National Grid made ‘constraint payments’ – cash given to operators to temporarily shut down their turbines when electricity supply outstripped demand.

But what was not made public were details of so-called ‘forward trades’, in which the National Grid agrees a pay-out when the weather is expected to be stormy.  The money is paid out even before a turbine shuts down.

Limited information about the forward trade deals is published in an obscure section of the National Grid website – and in a format that even energy experts have struggled to interpret.  The National Grid has admitted £15.5million was paid out to energy operators in the form of conventional constraint payments in 2011-12 in England and Scotland.

But for the first time it has emerged that an even greater sum – £18.6million – was paid out in forward trades. It means the total payments for that year were £34.1 million, far higher than previously reported.

Lee Moroney, of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: ‘The UK electricity market needs to become very much more transparent.

‘Wind farms are already heavily subsidised and it is only right that all payments made to wind farms to reduce output are in the public domain, so that consumers, who ultimately bear these costs, are able to judge whether the charges are reasonable.’

Murdo Fraser, a member of the parliament in Scotland, where many wind farms are sited, said: ‘Why have the authorities been so anxious not to release this information? Is it because they feared this would undermine any remaining public confidence in renewable energy policy?  ‘People will wonder if they were trying to cover up the truth.

‘The revelation that vast sums are being paid to wind power developers will just lead to more and more people questioning government policy.’

Details of which energy firms scooped the money is kept secret because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

Although the figures cover all forms of power generation, including coal and gas, energy experts say the overwhelming majority relates to wind energy.

On Monday and Tuesday last week, when it was exceptionally windy, the National Grid said it paid £16,118 in compensation.  But only when prompted by the Mail did it admit the true figure – including forward trades – was £387,000.

Yesterday National Grid spokesman Chris Mostyn said: ‘We have a number of tools available to help us balance the network minute by minute and keep the lights on, and constraint payments are just one of those tools.  ‘Our incentives are set by the regulator to operate the network as cost-effectively as possible, and it currently makes up less than 1 per cent of the average domestic bill.

‘We are always working with the industry to improve and develop the way we operate the Grid, as well as investing millions of pounds in the coming years to help move the power to where it’s needed.’

Up to 32,000 wind turbines could be built in England and Wales over the next 40 years to meet government targets. Many of the existing sites are owned by foreign firms which have made record profits in recent years.


Gas prices high? Here’s part of the reason

Are you paying a lot at the gasoline pump these days? Here’s part of the reason.

The 1990 Clean Air Act passed by Congress created minimum standards for gasoline nationwide that created a demand for boutique fuels. The purpose was to reduce emissions of dangerous chemicals, but lately seems to be doing more harm than good, according to Steven F. Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute.

Creating an artificial demand for ethanol additives  added to the problem because states had created their own specialized standards under the act. The result is between 45 and 70 different blends of gasoline in the 50 states. The 34 states using some type of specially blended gasoline is one reason prices rise during summer when driving picks up increasing demand.

Also, the disparate fuel standards arbitrarily foisted on the market, segmented and undermined domestic competition among refiners of the fuel. That brought higher prices for specialized fuels and had the additional market distortion of discouraging foreign imports, skewing supply even more.

The bottom line is that these two effects alone tack on 10 cents to 15 cents per gallon, which adds to other costs at the pump. The government, here to help, brings with it a bill to be paid.


Obama Never Admits Green Failure

Marita Noon

If he succeeds in his run for a second term, President Obama doesn’t intend to tone down his efforts to push for green energy. Instead of learning from his mistakes, he plans to “do more.”

During his recent sit down with Steve Kroft for the interview that aired on 60 Minutes, the President was asked about green energy—though the clip was omitted from the program that the American public saw.

Kroft: “You said one of your big campaign themes was that green energy, the green economy, was going to be a tremendous generator of jobs and that has not turned out to be the case, yet.”

Obama: “We have tens of thousands of jobs that have been created as a consequence of wind energy alone. Is that enough? Absolutely not. Can we do more? Yes. … This is still an industry in its infancy. … Has it all paid off yet? Absolutely not. But I am not going to cede those new jobs, the jobs of the future, to countries like China or Germany that are making those same investments.”

One could argue that the $80 billion, plus, in stimulus funds that were designated for green energy projects have “paid off”—just not for the American tax payer.  During the summer, with the help of researcher Christine Lakatos, I produced a series of reports on the Obama green-energy, crony-corruption scandal. Through those reports, we profiled a series of companies and showed how people with political connections to the Obama Administration had a return on their green energy investment that “paid off” at rates greater than anything available on Wall Street. Each report detailed the players involved, their connections to the White House and/or other high-ranking Democrats, such as the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and powerful Senator Diane Feinstein—something we can expect “more” of in his green-energy, green-economy emphasis during an Obama second term.

No, President Obama is not going to “cede.” He will not admit failure; he’ll do more. We can expect more failure— à la Solyndra, which is only the most well-known green energy, stimulus fund failure.

Here, in a new series of reports, Lakatos and I will expose the various failures of Obama’s green-energy expenditures: projects that have gone bankrupt (approximately 19), those that are heading that way (approximately 20), and the jobs he says he has created (at an average cost of $6.7 million per job)—all while raising energy costs, serving as a hidden tax on all Americans.

More HERE  (See the original for links)



Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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