Sunday, March 31, 2013

Climate "wisdom" from  Eugene Robinson

Some excerpts from his half-digested "facts" below.  Even if he has got all of the facts concerned exactly right, however, NONE of them can reflect global warming.  Why?  Because even Jim Hansen and Rajendra Pauchauri now concede that there has been NO global warming for over 15 years.  Something that does not exist cannot cause anything!  Is that too profound for Mr. Robinson?

So what is wrong with Mr Robinson?  Why is he purveying a totally wrong picture of global climate? I am going to  be charitable.  I don't think he is a crook who set out to mislead.  I think he is just dumb

All right, now can we talk about climate change? After a year when the lower 48 states suffered the warmest temperatures, and the second-craziest weather, since record-keeping began?

Apparently not. The climate-change denialists — especially those who manipulate the data in transparently bogus ways to claim that warming has halted or even reversed course — have been silent, as one might expect. Sensible people accept the fact of warming, but many doubt that our dysfunctional political system can respond in any meaningful way.

And Sandy was part of a pattern. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 was “the second most extreme year on record,” with 11 weather-related disasters including hurricanes Sandy and Isaac as well as swarms of killer tornadoes across the Great Plains and the Ohio Valley.

The year was also exceptionally dry; by July, about 61 percent of the country was experiencing conditions that qualify as “drought.” On a cheery note, the situation was not as bad as the Dust Bowl droughts of the 1930s. Less happily, the lack of rainfall in 2012 exacerbated wildfire activity. “The Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colo., destroyed nearly 350 homes and was the most destructive fire on record for the state,” NOAA reported.

Hurricanes striking where they don’t usually strike, fires burning where they don’t usually burn, drought everywhere — these anomalies begin to add up. Scientists have long told us that one impact of climate change will be increased volatility, and unpredictability, in weather events. This appears to be what we’re getting.

Twenty-year hiatus in rising temperatures has climate scientists puzzled

They're not ready to give up their faith yet but are getting more and more apologetic and tentative

DEBATE about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from the sceptical fringe to the mainstream.

In a lengthy article this week, The Economist magazine said if climate scientists were credit-rating agencies, then climate sensitivity - the way climate reacts to changes in carbon-dioxide levels - would be on negative watch but not yet downgraded.

Another paper published by leading climate scientist James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the lower than expected temperature rise between 2000 and the present could be explained by increased emissions from burning coal.

For Hansen the pause is a fact, but it's good news that probably won't last.

International Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri recently told The Weekend Australian the hiatus would have to last 30 to 40 years "at least" to break the long-term warming trend.

But the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.

Research by Ed Hawkins of University of Reading shows surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range projections derived from 20 climate models and if they remain flat, they will fall outside the models' range within a few years.

"The global temperature standstill shows that climate models are diverging from observations," says David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.  "If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change," he says.

Whitehouse argues that whatever has happened to make temperatures remain constant requires an explanation because the pause in temperature rise has occurred despite a sharp increase in global carbon emissions.

The Economist says the world has added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010, about one-quarter of all the carbon dioxide put there by humans since 1750. This mismatch between rising greenhouse gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now, The Economist article says.  "But it does not mean global warming is a delusion."

The fact is temperatures between 2000 and 2010 are still almost 1C above their level in the first decade of the 20th century.

"The mismatch might mean that for some unexplained reason there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-2010.  "Or it might mean that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period."

The magazine explores a range of possible explanations including higher emissions of sulphur dioxide, the little understood impact of clouds and the circulation of heat into the deep ocean.

But it also points to an increasing body of research that suggests it may be that climate is responding to higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before.

"This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy," the article says.

There are now a number of studies that predict future temperature rises as a result of man-made carbon dioxide emissions at well below the IPCC best estimate of about 3C over the century.

The upcoming IPCC report is expected to lift the maximum possible temperature increase to 6C.

The Research Council of Norway says in a non-peer-reviewed paper that the best estimate concludes there is a 90 per cent probability that doubling CO2 emissions will increase temperatures by only 1.2C to 2.9C, the most likely figure being 1.9C.

Another study based on the way the climate behaved about 20,000 years ago has given a best guess of 2.3C.

Other forecasts, accepted for publication, have reanalysed work cited by the IPCC but taken account of more recent temperature data and given a figure of between 1C and 3C.

The Economist says understanding which estimate is true is vital to getting the best response.

"If as conventional wisdom has it, global temperatures could rise by 3C or more in response to a doubling of emissions, then the correct response would be the one to which most of the world pays lip service; rein in the warming and the greenhouse gases causing it," the article says.

"If, however, temperatures are likely to rise by only 2 degrees Celsius in response to a doubling of carbon emissions (and if the likelihood of a 6 degrees Celsius is trivial) the calculation might change," it says.

"Perhaps the world should seek to adjust to (rather than stop) the greenhouse-gas splurge.

"There is no point buying earthquake insurance if you don't live in an earthquake zone."

According to The Economist, "given the hiatus in warming and all the new evidence, a small reduction in estimates of climate sensitivity would seem to be justified." On face value, Hansen agrees the slowdown in global temperature rises can be seen as "good news".

But he is not ready to recalculate the Faustian bargain that weighs the future cost to humanity of continued carbon dioxide emissions.

Hansen argues that the impact of human carbon dioxide emissions has been masked by the sharp increase in coal use, primarily in China and India.

Increased particulate and nitrogen pollution has worked in the opposite direction of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Another paper published in Geophysical Research Letters on research from the University of Colorado Boulder found small volcanoes, not more coal power stations in China, were responsible for the slowdown in global warming.

But this did not mean that climate change was not a problem.

"Emissions from volcanic gases go up and down, helping to cool or heat the planet, while greenhouse gases from human activity just continue to go up," author Ryan Neely says.

Hansen's bottom line is that increased short-term masking of greenhouse gas warming by fossil fuel particulate and nitrogen pollution represents a "doubling down" of the Faustian bargain, an increase in the stakes.

"The more we allow the Faustian debt to build, the more unmanageable the eventual consequences will be," he says.

The Enviro’s War on Workers

Susan Sarandon has emerged from her crypt to join forces with radical environmentalists opposing hydraulic fracturing natural gas and oil production in New York.

Daryl Hannah, an actress who is more famed for hanging out with Kennedys than for anything she has done on screen, chained herself to the White House in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Mayor of Seattle speaks at rally opposing the transportation of coal from the Rocky Mountains to Pacific Ocean ports.

What do these three events have in common?

They reveal that the environmental left will pull every lever at their disposal to stop the development of energy in the United States no matter the harm they do to workers and the economy.

When NBC News has a story titled, “Energy boom begins ripple through U.S. economy,” that details how hydraulic fracturing in just North Dakota and Texas is changing America’s economic landscape.

Men and women, who previously were settling for temporary jobs in Obama’s “New Normal” economy are now finding careers because of the availability of inexpensive domestic energy.  And not just in those states where the energy is being produced but in places like Maryland where suppliers create products needed for the growing energy industry.

The NBC report states, “Marlin Steel Wire [a Maryland company], for example, has expanded its payroll and invested in high-tech equipment to keep up with a steady pick-up in orders from other U.S. manufacturers. Orders are rising, said owner Drew Greenblatt, because his customers are receiving a widening discount in the price of natural gas and electricity.”

Greenblatt goes on to connect the dots for those who are  too busy chaining themselves to fences to listen, “That’s making U.S. companies that used to be at a price disadvantage now uniquely positioned to win contracts they never won in the past — or haven’t for a while.  Everyone talks about what’s going on in North Dakota, but it’s filtering down now to conventional factories throughout America.”

NBC goes on to highlight an employee at the company who now has what he calls a “career” rather than a series of temporary jobs.

Yet, so-called environmentalists are raising millions of dollars to oppose the expansion and development of the very technology that is making a resurgence of the American manufacturing sector and the good, high paying jobs it creates possible.

Liberal New York Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to block this development of this job creation engine that would drive down his citizens electricity costs while accelerating the reinvigoration of the manufacturing sector and the jobs it creates in his state all to woo the enviro crazies to support his presidential dreams.

Environmentalists have done the almost impossible with the Keystone XL pipeline, bringing together the head of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trade Union with energy industry leaders in support of the jobs and positive energy independent future that the pipeline represents.

The AFL-CIO affiliated union even issued a statement praising the passage of a Senate budget amendment urging approval of the pipeline saying, “The overwhelming support for Keystone in the U.S. Senate has served to send another strong signal to President Barack Obama that Keystone enjoys wide swaths of support throughout the nation, and that it is well past time to green-light.”

And seventeen Democrat Senators joined all of the Senate Republicans in urging approval of the Pipeline in a dramatic show of bi-partisan support.  A bi-partisan support rooted in an acknowledgement that energy development creates high paying jobs for American workers.

And the enviros continuing almost hysterical war on coal, even going so far as to oppose the sale of low sulfur U.S. coal to countries that currently burn higher sulfur coal which generates more pollution.  Operating under an almost a zombie-like trance, environmentalists seek to deny U.S. miners, railroaders, dock workers and merchant mariners work.  And incredibly by doing so, they actually hurt the world’s environment.

Is there any wonder why the effete environmental movement typified by the perpetually arrested Robert Kennedy, Jr., is being viewed as opposing the American worker?

In fact, the only thing that the environmental movement seems to be accomplishing is to fracture the always uneasy Democratic labor-environmental coalition.  And while it did not stop Obama’s re-election, the largest fissure in this coalition yet occurred during his campaign, when his EPA’s aggressive war on coal resulted in his losing the endorsement of the United Mine Workers union. The administration’s emphasis on “green jobs” — always a fiction — was intended to counter this coming rift. All it did was delay it.

The truth is that the environmental lobby and the liberal left actively work to destroy blue collar jobs in a deliberate attempt to offshore all environmental costs from the United States, as well as the wealth that is created when our nation builds and creates things.

They have declared a war on the American worker, and their worst nightmare is happening before their eyes.  American ingenuity born in the free markets that encourage profit has unleashed a rapidly burgeoning energy independence.

An energy independence that Obama and his minions have actively opposed through their refusal to allow the development of resources on federal lands, which has the potential to create a new American century.

An American century where we build things, dream and create new products and more economical ways to produce them, and where American workers not only have jobs, but have careers, not just pay stations until the next thing comes along.

The only thing standing in the way of this new American century is a massive, foundation money fueled, environmental lobby that would rather see an American worker unemployed on food stamps than getting dirty producing something.

But they can be beaten, when the American worker sees a brighter future for themselves, their children and their country.  As the energy economic boom takes root and the malaise of despair that has driven millions of American workers to leave the workforce lifts, the radical environmental left’s war on workers will not only be defeated, but will utterly discredit those who embrace it.

As we see the increasingly desperate attempts for attention by the environmental faithful as they see the wheel of the free market throwing their movement into the ash-heap of history, our nation’s politics will be transformed.

The left’s big government governing coalition ground to dust, all because some very smart people figured out how to turn rock into oil and natural gas.

In the end, if the enviros war on workers is defeated, America’s economic greatness will re-emerge with the heroes being the innovators and risk takers who believed in an energy future that the rest of the world scoffed at.

The rest of the world will scratch their heads wondering how it all happened without government leading the way, never realizing that the only way this new American century could ever happen is in spite of government not because of it.

And this is the American story.  Not one of government rules and regulations, but one of smart people empowered to follow their visions by a free market system that rewards risk taking in a natural selection of competing ideas, technologies and processes.

America can once again be a place that the middle class thrives as people work hard in meaningful careers producing personal wealth beyond the imaginations of prior generations.

But only if America chooses to reject the environmental scarcity vision and their war on workers.

British Warmist organization a flop at weather forecasts

Some basic philosophy of science:  If your theory is wrong, you won't get the results you predict

Those of us caught in downpours in our shorts or left peeling soggy sausages off the barbecue could probably have told them all along.

The Met Office finally admitted yesterday that the forecasts it gave of ‘dry’ weather last year were ‘not helpful’.

But the organisation’s chief scientist still insisted two-thirds of its long-term forecasts are ‘very helpful’ – without specifying quite what that means for the other third.

In its official guidance to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Met Office said that last April was likely to be ‘drier than usual’.

Instead, of course, it turned into a washout that spilled over into the rest of 2012 – which became the wettest year since records began.

So while the long-term forecast suggested a national drought that was going to get worse, tens of thousands actually found themselves facing widespread flooding. The embarrassing admission came to light thanks to a Freedom of Information request.

An internal document revealed that forecasters had said at the end of March that they expected ‘drier than average conditions for April to June, with April driest’.

But in a report sent later to Defra’s chief scientist, the Met Office admitted: ‘Given that April was the wettest since detailed records began in 1910, and the April May June quarter was also the wettest, this advice was not helpful.’

The Met Office has been so embarrassed by its errors in the past that it stopped issuing long-term forecasts to the public.

Instead, it continues to give ‘probability’ guidance for coming months to Government departments such as Defra which need to plan.

But last year, it seems, its forecast did nothing to help anyone.

Yesterday, Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo insisted that in almost two-thirds of cases their long term ‘probabilistic’ predictions were ‘very helpful’.

She said of last year’s forecast: ‘In March we were facing really very serious pressures on water resources – a major drought that had been going on for a couple of years. I thought I was right to emphasise the risk of dry conditions continuing as a precautionary principle.’

Still, Professor Sligo was not deterred from making a few predictions for those shivering their way through the Easter weekend.

She suggested better weather would arrive – but not until May.  She said: ‘We certainly see the cold weather continuing at least for the next few days, and potentially into the middle of April. Our monthly forecast looking at April slightly favours cold conditions continuing.

‘Beyond that, I think, into the summer, it’s much more difficult to predict. I think we’re expecting a return to normal conditions into May and then June.’

In the short-term, forecasters say most parts of the country can expect dry and bright spells until Tuesday, although temperatures will remain very low.

The £9million bonus bonanza dished out to British green energy bureaucrats

Bureaucrats in charge of the Government’s controversial green policies have benefited from a multi-million-pound bonus bonanza since the last election.

The total amount of performance-related handouts given to civil servants at the Department for Energy and Climate Change has almost tripled since Labour’s final year in office to £9million.

One official received a bonus of £12,000, while others received payments of more than £7,000, to reward them for their work promoting renewable power such as wind farms.

Last night MPs lambasted the department for handing out so much at a time when consumers’ energy bills were going up as a result of the very green policies they are working on.

Last year, the DECC admitted that its green policies – which will fund a new generation of wind farms and nuclear reactors – will add an average of £95 to gas and electricity bills.

A separate parliamentary question has revealed more questionable expenditure at DECC, where more than £7.6million has been paid out over the last two years in pay-offs for staff who have left the department. It means 141 people leaving have pocketed an average of £54,595 each. 

And earlier this month, the Daily Mail revealed that the department has gone on a recruitment spree since the last election, with staff numbers soaring by more than a quarter since May 2010. 

Now, thanks to a series of parliamentary questions by the Tory MP Priti Patel, it has emerged that the department – headed by Lib Dem Ed Davey – has also been spending millions on bonuses.

In 2011/12, the latest year for which figures are available, some £9,072,483 was spent on bonuses and other payments on top of salary. 

This is a 156 per cent rise on the £3,538,274 total in 2009/10, Labour’s last full year in office.  The figures show that 1,062 staff received bonuses and other payments. The 20 top payments included one payout of £12,000, five of £10,000, and 14 payouts of £7,500. 

To make things worse, the independent Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government on energy policy has had its own bonus spree, with taxpayer-funded bonuses increasing by 43 per cent over the past four years. The highest was £15,000.

Miss Patel said: ‘Families will be shocked to see their taxes being used to fund a dangerously expensive and excessive bonus and entitlement culture among bureaucrats who are already handsomely paid. 

‘Not only are officials at DECC detached from reality as they plan to destroy our landscape with wind turbines and drive up energy costs with their green energy fantasies,  they also have no concept of the need to make savings  in Whitehall.’ 

A spokesman for DECC said the extra payments included, as well as bonuses, overtime and other superannuation costs.

She said: ‘We are working very hard to ensure energy bills are as affordable as possible.  ‘The Department focuses bonuses on its best performers. We believe performance awards help drive high performance towards achieving important policy objectives.’

With or Without Pipeline Canadian Oil Heads to US

 Marita Noon 

Environmentalists mistakenly think that blocking the Keystone pipeline will prevent crude oil, derived from Canada’s oil sands, from being extracted and from being conveyed into the US to be refined into gasoline, asphalt, and other products that are important to the transportation and manufacturing sectors. Their ultimate goal is to stop all development of the Canadian resource.

The oil spilled, as a result of a train derailment on Tuesday, highlights their misguided efforts.

News flash: Canada is developing their abundant oil sands and the crude oil is already being shipped to the United States—albeit in a more costly and less safe mode.

Early Wednesday morning, 14 cars of a 94-car mixed-freight train, derailed near Parker Prairie, MN. The Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) train was carrying oil from Western Canada to Chicago—though CPR does ship to refiners along the Gulf of Mexico, the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada. Of the 14 cars, one ruptured and, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, spilled as much as 26,000 gallons of crude oil (a car can contain 550 barrels of oil and trains often carry 80-150 cars). Two other cars had some leakage—though due to the frozen ground, “there’s no threat to ground or surface water” and there were no injuries.

The CPR train carrying Canadian oil to the US is part of a growing trend, as producers and refiners have turned to railroads to make up for a lack of pipeline capacity. It is estimated that, as Canadian production rises, “rail shipments of western Canadian crude had leapt about 150% to roughly 150,000 barrels a day in the last eight months.” The Wall Street Journal recently stated: “Pipeline or not, lots of Canadian crude oil is headed to the US.” It reported that, this year, more than 200,000 barrels a day will be shipped to the Gulf Coast refining hub, and called the increased use of railroads “an end run around the much-delayed pipeline”—which would more than quadruple capacity to 830,000 barrels a day. 

The March 11 article says: “Some oil industry executives and analysts, meanwhile, have raised concerns about rail accidents involving carloads of crude oil.” Despite, a decade-long drop in accident rates, Tuesday’s derailment/spill highlights Keystone’s importance—though a Keystone approval could hurt Obama supporter Warren Buffet’s recent purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad that carries about 25% of the Bakken’s oil and “can ship higher volumes from North Dakota or Alberta in the future.”

The use of rail for Canada’s “stranded” crude oil is not new. Calling it a “pipeline on rails,” in February 2011, the Globe and Mail reported: “Although pipelines continue to carry the overwhelming majority of Canada’s oil production, both Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. have begun using their rail networks to deliver crude.” Rail does offer several advantages for transporting Canadian crude. As the National Post, in 2009, points out: “Geopolitically, the rail option opens up the world markets for producers but also allows Canadian oil producers to bypass protectionism as well as the fickleness of environmental politics south of the border.” Oil crossing the international border via rail doesn’t require State Department approval.

Pro-pipeline pressure on the Obama administration is mounting. During the weekend’s Senate budget votes, 17 “moderate and conservative Democrats sided with Republicans on the Keystone pipeline.” Addressing the vote, the Wall Street Journal states: “The Senate vote is symbolic since the budget outline lacks the force of law. Still, the vote reflects the growing bipartisan consensus that a private investment creating tens of thousands of jobs trumps the scare tactics of environmentalists.”

Worry over “contamination from spills” is one of the “scare tactics” used by environmentalists to oppose the Keystone pipeline—yet pipelines are universally accepted as safer than transport by rail or truck (trucks bring the crude oil from the drilling site to the rail terminals).

Another “scare tactic” is to debunk the law of supply and demand; the ability of more resource to lower prices at the pump. On my own Facebook page, a “friend” posted the following: “My question, which neither you nor anyone else has answered is: If producing more oil here lowers prices as Marita says it will, why are we exporting it and why are prices so high?” From Bloomberg Businessweek, here’s an explanation. In short, Edward Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup Global Markets, predicts that due to increased supply “$90 will be the new ceiling for oil prices rather than the floor it’s been in recent years.” The North American supply, he says, will result in a steep drop in oil imports “from OPEC’s biggest West African members” and “those barrels will have to find another home. The surplus African oil could end up competing with Mideast suppliers for customers in India, China, Europe, and Korea. As the global competition heats up, oil prices the world over will probably drop.”

In a few weeks, the State Department will be holding a pipeline hearing, a “listening session,” in Grand Island, NE. News reports state: “The meeting will give the public a chance to weigh in on the environmental impact of the proposed project.” Four State Department reviews have given the pipeline environmental clearance and, most recently, acknowledged that Canada will continue to extract its rich resource as “the oil sands are absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians,” and “pipeline or not, lots of Canadian crude oil is headed to the US”—though now coming via a “pipeline on rails.” As Wednesday’s little spill spotlights, those who really care about the environment support the Keystone pipeline. (Those unable to attend the April 18 hearing, can submit comments by emailing:


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


Friday, March 29, 2013

Politics, Fraud & $$$

An Interview with climatologists Art Horn and Joe D' Aleo

It’s the cold, not global warming, that we should be worried about

No one seems upset that in modern Britain, old people are freezing to death as hidden taxes make fuel more expensive

A few months ago, a group of students in Oslo produced a brilliant spoof video that lampooned the charity pop song genre. It showed a group of young Africans coming together to raise money for those of us freezing in the north. “A lot of people aren’t aware of what’s going on there right now,” says the African equivalent of Bob Geldof. “People don’t ignore starving people, so why should we ignore cold people? Frostbite kills too. Africa: we need to make a difference.” The song – Africa for Norway – has been watched online two million times, making it one of Europe’s most popular political videos.

The aim was to send up the patronising, cliched way in which the West views Africa. Norway can afford to make the joke because there, people don’t tend to die of the cold. In Britain, we still do. Each year, an official estimate is made of the “excess winter mortality” – that is, the number of people dying of cold-related illnesses. Last winter was relatively mild, and still 24,000 perished. The indications are that this winter, which has dragged on so long and with such brutality, will claim 30,000 lives, making it one of the biggest killers in the country. And still, no one seems upset.

Somewhere between the release of the 1984 Band Aid single and Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, political attention shifted away from such problems. The idea of people (especially old people) dying in their homes from conditions with which we are all familiar now seems relatively boring. Much political attention is still focused on global warming, and while schemes to help Britain prepare for the cold are being cut, the overseas aid budget is being vastly expanded. Saving elderly British lives has somehow become the least fashionable cause in politics.

The reaction to the 2003 heatwave was extraordinary. It was blamed for 2,000 deaths, and taken as a warning that Britain was horribly unprepared for the coming era of snowless winters and barbecue summers. The government’s chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism” in terms of the number of lives that could be lost. Such language is never used about the cold, which kills at least 10 times as many people every winter. Before long, every political party had signed up to the green agenda.

Since Sir David’s exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat. It is horribly clear that we have been focusing on the wrong enemy. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes. Fuel prices have doubled over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food – and government has found itself a major part of the problem.

This is slowly beginning to dawn on Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He has tried to point the finger at energy companies, but his own department let the truth slip out in the small print of a report released on Wednesday. The average annual fuel bill is expected to have risen by £76 by 2020, it says. But take out Davey’s hidden taxes (carbon price floor, emissions trading scheme, etc) and we’d be paying an average £123 less. His department has been trying to make homes cheaper to heat, and in a saner world this would be his only remit: to secure not the greenest energy, but the most affordable energy.

By now, the Energy Secretary will also have realised another inconvenient truth – that, for Britain, global warming is likely to save far more lives then it threatens. Delve deep enough into the Government’s forecasts, and they speculate that global warming will lead to 6,000 fewer deaths a year, on average, by the end of the decade. This is the supposed threat facing us: children would be less likely to have snow to play in at Christmas, but more likely to have grandparents to visit over Easter. Not a bad trade-off. The greatest uncertainty is whether global warming, which has stalled since 1998, will arrive quickly enough to make a difference.

It’s daft to draw any conclusions from this freakish, frozen spring. But in general, the computer-generated predictions do not seem as reliable as they did when Al Gore was using them to scare the bejesus out of us. A few weeks ago, scientists at the University of Washington found that man’s contribution to global warming may have been exaggerated – by a factor of two. The natural cycle of heating and cooling, they discovered, plays a far bigger role than they had imagined. Mr Davey’s fuel bill taxes may do nothing for the planet. But they will certainly lead to poorer, colder homes and shorter lives.

Our understanding of climate science may be weak, but our understanding of basic medicine is not. Low temperatures increase blood pressure and weaken the immune system, making everyone more vulnerable to bugs. For the elderly, this can be fatal. People don’t actually die of frostbite, as the Norwegian video teasingly suggested. They die of flu, or thrombosis, or other conditions they would not have acquired if their house had been warmer. Far fewer Scandinavians die in winter, because they have worked out how to defeat the cold: keep the heating on; insulate houses. It really is that simple.

So what’s stopping us? For years, various government schemes have sought to insulate lofts or upgrade boilers, but nowhere near quickly enough. When MPs looked into this three years ago, they heard from a Mr P of Cornwall. “The offer of a boiler is very much appreciated,” he said. “We hope that we will still be alive when we get the visit about the end of February.” With someone dying of the cold every seven minutes during winter, that may not have been a joke. The modest insulation scheme has been hit by cuts, while the mammoth winter fuel payment scheme continues untouched. The word “fuel” is, of course, redundant: it’s a simple bung, paid to all pensioners – who are more likely to vote.

I once drank a winter fuel allowance. It had been paid to a self-made millionaire who was appalled that people like him were being written a cheque, and he had used it to buy a magnum of claret in protest. He was a major philanthropist, but wanted to make the point to his lunch guests: the winter fuel payment is a scandal, whose very existence suggests that government is not serious about helping people make it through winter.

No one would wear a wristband or pin on a ribbon for the elderly victims of the cold – and yet freezing weather kills more than diabetes or breast cancer. The cause of death is perhaps too familiar, and the remedy too obvious, to attract much attention. If the money for winter fuel payments was instead used to help insulate homes, we might – like Norway – be able to joke about winter. As things stand, dying of the cold remains a horribly British disease.


Climate Models Are So Flawed They Fail History

 The alarmists want to place the world in servitude to the models that are predicting global warming. But those models can't even reconstruct the past.

A researcher at Sweden's University of Gothenburg analyzed climate models to see how closely their predictions fit with history, in this case, precipitation in China from 1961 to 2000. What Tinghai Ou found should crimp the alarmists' plans to establish regimes that punish and limit man's use of fossil fuels.

"Only a few climate models were able to reproduce the observed changes in extreme precipitation in China over the last 50 years," says the university's Department of Earth Sciences.

Ou himself said that the "results show that climate models give a poor reflection of the actual changes in extreme precipitation events that took place in China" during the period he examined.

"Only half of the 21 analyzed climate models were able to reproduce the changes in some regions of China," he said. "Few models can well reproduce the nationwide change."

Ou's work is important. If the models can't get the past right, how can they be trusted to predict future climate?

Seems more like guesswork than solid science to us.

Further evidence of the climate models' flaws was offered on March 16 by the London Daily Mail, which published a chart that "reveals how (the United Nations') '95% certain' estimates of the earth heating up were a spectacular miscalculation."

The Daily Mail charted the earth's actual temperatures against the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections of both 75% and 95% certainty. The lines track closely until recent years, at which point the line representing the observed temperatures "is about to crash out of" the boundaries of the lowest projections.

In other words, while the forecasts — to a supposed 95% certainty, which covers a lot of variation — show global temperatures climbing rather sharply from 1990 on, real temperatures haven't followed the rise.

That the climate models have defects and are severely limited shouldn't be a surprise. Four years ago NASA climate modeler Gavin Schmidt acknowledged that the "chaotic component of the climate system ... is not predictable beyond two weeks, even theoretically."

Despite the sobriety of Schmidt and many others, the alarmists keep coming with their predictions of a grim future caused by man's use of fossil fuels. Pay no further attention to them.


The biggest fight over renewable energy is now in the states

Nowadays, a huge chunk of the action on clean energy in the United States is happening at the state level. Some 29 states and Washington D.C. have renewable energy standards requiring electric utilities to get a portion of their power from sources like wind or solar.

Those state-level standards have played a big role in doubling the amount of renewable-energy capacity in the United States in the past four years. And current standards are projected to add some 76,750 megawatts of new renewable power capacity by 2025 — enough, in theory, to power 47 million homes.

Yet those state laws are now facing a fierce backlash from both conservative advocacy groups and fossil-fuel interests. ”At least twenty-two of the 29 state renewables standards have been attacked by legislators or regulators in the last year,” writes Herman Trabish of GreentechMedia. He’s got a comprehensive new analysis that breaks down these challenges by the numbers. That includes:

Serious challenges to state laws. State renewable standards have faced the prospect of being weakened or repealed outright in Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and Wisconsin, among other places.

For example, Kansas currently has a standard that requires utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from sources like wind by 2020. Recently, Republicans in the state legislature proposed a bill that would give power companies more time to comply. Among other things, the lawmakers argued that electricity bills have surged 37 percent since 2008. (The bill ultimately failed in committee.)

In November, my colleague Juliet Eilperin reported that many of these repeal efforts were being coordinated by the libertarian Heartland Institute and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC has even crafted model legislation, the Electricity Freedom Act. Both groups argue that the renewable standards are costly to consumers, since wind and solar are often more expensive than coal or natural gas.

There’s also fossil-fuel money associated with these repeal efforts. “In many cases,” Eilperin wrote, “the groups involved accept money from oil, gas and coal companies that compete against renewable energy suppliers.”

Attempts to weaken renewable laws through a “hydro loophole.” Trabish notes that hydro-loophole fights have transpired in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Maine. This is a more subtle legislative maneuver to loosen the clean-energy standards.

Take Washington. The state already gets 66 percent of its electricity from hydropower. And, in 2006, voters approved a law requiring utilities to get an additional 15 percent of electricity from new renewable sources. But one Republican lawmaker is now pushing a modification that would allow utilities to satisfy the requirement through existing hydropower — a tweak that would significantly curtail the impact of the original law.

While this hydropower tweak is unlikely to pass in Washington, a similar bill just passed the Montana state house, and could reach the governor’s desk for the second year in a row (it was vetoed by Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer last time around).

Legal challenges and other attacks. There’s a lawsuit against Colorado’s renewable standard (30 percent by 2020) charging that the rule violates the Commerce Clause. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, conservative lawmakers are trying to pull the state out of RGGI, the regional cap-and-trade system for electric utilities, which could undermine the state’s renewable market.

You can read a full list of the challenges in the GreentechMedia report here. It notes that renewable standards have largely been left alone in deep-blue states such as California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey.


Let’s lose LOST

When Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech at the Ross Sea Conservation Reception on March 19, he suggested that we should have called our planet Ocean rather than Earth. He went on to outline an international environmental agenda centered around the oceans that we can expect to be the hallmark of his time in office. Saving the oceans will be the new rallying cry of the green movement and their political and corporate allies. We can therefore expect a new attempt soon to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This would be a disaster for America.

Kerry was forthright in his argument. He said:

    “[I]t is clear that we have an enormous challenge ahead of us as we face the extraordinary excess that we see with respect to each of those issues that I talked about: energy policy that results in acidification, the bleaching of coral, the destruction of species, the change in the Arctic because of the ice melt, and the change in the krill, the population of whales. The entire system is interdependent, and we toy with that at our peril.”

In a recent study Iain wrote for the National Center for Policy Analysis, “LOST at Sea,” he notes that UNCLOS — also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, or LOST — has been advanced at different times as the solution to all of these issues. This is because the convention includes provisions that require governments to take measures to “minimize to the fullest possible extent” the release of substances “harmful” to the oceans. It also establishes a tribunal — a permanent court — to police the treaty.

As Iain argues in the paper, anyone who knows the tactics of the environmental movement should realize that this would be manna from heaven for global warming alarmists. The release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels has been blamed for ocean acidification, coral bleaching, species loss, ice melt and virtually every other ill that greens have claimed is befalling the oceans.

If LOST is ratified, under the U.S. Constitution it has the force of law. The environmental movement would therefore be able to use the treaty, U.S. courts, and the UNCLOS tribunal to force the U.S. to minimize emissions of carbon dioxide.

Since the treaty does not take economic cost into account, and the U.S. is the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide (despite rapid emissions decreases caused by technological advances such as the development of fracking), such a requirement could amount to the forced deindustrialization of the United States. Economic disaster, mass unemployment, and vastly increased poverty would result.

Nor should we be sanguine that the tribunal will be presided over by impartial or even competent justices. As Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute noted, appointment to the tribunal seems to have been used as a “dumping ground” for “frustrated politicos,” many of them from undemocratic regimes where political power is arrived at by often unsavory means.

This should not be surprising given the convention’s history. It was drafted during the Cold War, and intended by the Soviet Union as a means of support for its satellite states in the developing world. By declaring the world’s oceans “the common heritage of mankind,” it provided a mechanism by which any development of subsea resources outside a nation’s 200-mile zone would help subsidize those regimes.

Indeed, the purpose of the treaty was so transparent that President Reagan refused to sign the treaty. It has failed to garner enough support to make it to the Senate floor every time it has been suggested since, even after the Clinton administration negotiated some amendments in 1994.

The treaty, however, contains other provisions relating to international navigation and more traditional “freedom of the seas” principles. That is why many current and former naval officers support the ratification of the treaty. Many corporations do as well, falsely believing the treaty will give them more certainty in planning exploration in areas such as the Arctic Ocean. In my NCPA study, I outline exactly why all these arguments are mistaken.

In short, there is no economic case for the United States to ratify LOST.  It uses the failed socialist economic theory to govern the ocean floors, it has proven unable to resolve disputes, it subsidizes dangerous regimes, it does not establish meaningful property rights and thus fails to provide certainty for developers, and because it requires technology transfers, it suppresses research and development.  Indeed, as designed it amounts to a scheme for transferring wealth from the poor in developed countries with ocean coastlines to wealthy oligarch’s in developing countries with no ready access to the world’s oceans.

It is, however, the threat of environmental extremism given new teeth that provides the biggest reason to reject the treaty. We rejected the Kyoto Treaty for good reason. This is the Kyoto Treaty with a court attached. Secretary Kerry has told us what he wants. We may choose to call our planet Ocean, but we should not let our people drown in a tidal wave of foolishness.


Climate change: an elite affectation

Rupert Darwall’s history of the idea of global warming shows how the belief in an impending manmade apocalypse emanated from the top of wealthy Western societies

‘If all man can offer to the decades ahead is the same combination of scientific drive, economic cupidity and national arrogance, then we cannot rate very highly the chances of reaching the year 2000 with our planet still functioning and our humanity securely preserved.’ - Barbara Ward, Only One Earth, 1972.

Long before there was climate change, there was environmentalism. As Rupert Darwall explains in his new book, The Age of Global Warming: A History, environmentalism had for decades proposed that humans were a blight on the planet. ‘During the course of the twentieth century’, he writes, ‘mankind’s relationship with nature underwent a revolution. At the beginning of the last century, human intervention was regarded as beneficient and a sign of the progress of civilisation. By century’s end, such interventions were presumed harmful unless it could be demonstrated they were not.’

Darwall spends the opening chapters of his book explaining the history of these ideas, from Thomas Malthus onwards. The notion that there were insuperable natural limits has been ever-present over the past 200 years or so, though the popularity of such ideas has ebbed and flowed. The Malthusian idea that population growth would outstrip the ability to produce food was quickly shown to be nonsense. But other forms of limits were postulated instead. In 1865, for example, William Stanley Jevons - the ‘foremost economist of the day’, notes Darwall - declared in The Coal Question that the mineral that had powered the Industrial Revolution would start to run out and become very expensive.

Jevons dismissed - as many greens do today - the idea that science would come to the rescue. ‘A notion is very prevalent that, in the continuous progress of science, some substitute for coal will be found, some source of motive power, as much surpassing steam as steam surpasses animal labour’, wrote Jevons. As Darwall notes, Marx and Engels were among the harshest critics of both Malthus and Jevons. He quotes Engels’ optimistic response to Malthus from his 1844 essay, The Myth of Overpopulation: ‘What is impossible for science?’

In fact, Jevons had massively underestimated the importance of oil and overestimated the need for coal. Darwall offers Jevons as a case study in the failings of forecasts. If even the finest minds of the day can be so spectacularly wrong, why should we accept any long-term forecast? The trouble is such forecasts cannot be tested against empirical reality. For Darwall, following Karl Popper, true science must create testable propositions that could falsify it. It is only by surviving such critical attacks that scientific theories can gain our trust. Thus, the notion that we should act on forecasts - before the results of the experiment are in, as it were - is absurd.

Yet while environmentalist ideas floated around the elites for many years, they were never really mainstream. Capitalism’s success in raising living standards meant that economic growth and technical progress were seen as the way forward - crucially, by both left and right on the political spectrum.

Things really started to change in the 1960s. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, with its narrative of chemicals causing cancer and pesticides destroying nature, was a big hit. It reflected a rejection of modern society, even better expressed in the work of a former Coal Board chief economist, Fritz Schumacher. His nonsensical ‘Buddhist economics’ in Small is Beautiful (1973) appealed to a certain strand of society that was weary of industrial society, despite its many benefits, and he developed a cult following. ‘Man is small and, therefore, small is beautiful’, wrote Schumacher - or as Darwall mocks him, the Sage of Surrey. This belittling of humanity, so soon after the moon landings, shows how the ongoing tension between enchantment and disenchantment with modern society is a recurring theme.

However, what really matters is the rise of environmentalism as an elite political project. Darwall argues the crest of the first modern wave of environmentalism came in 1972, which saw the publication of the Club of Rome’s doom-mongering computer projections of inevitable collapse, under the title The Limits to Growth, and the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.

Which brings us back to Barbara Ward - the most famous person you’ve never heard of, as Darwall calls her. A former assistant editor at The Economist who later taught economics at Harvard, Ward befriended high-profile economist JK Galbraith and became a confidante of US president Lyndon Johnson. Ward was a player in high places, both in the West and in the newly independent countries of the developing world. She was friends with a number of the new African leaders, including Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta and Kenneth Kaunda, and it was Ward’s involvement that persuaded Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to speak in Stockholm.

Ward believed that ‘the market alone cannot begin to accomplish the scale of readjustment that will be needed once the concept of unlimitedly growing wealth, mediated to all by a “trickle down” process, ceases to be a rational possibility for tomorrow’s world economy’. It was Ward - along with the Canadian conference organiser, Maurice Strong - who helped to forge a ‘political compact between First World environmentalism and Third World development aspirations’, as Darwall describes it. Further economic growth in the West would harm the environment, it was suggested, but growth in the developing world was good for the environment. This blatant piece of eco-diplomacy later became summed up in the concept of ‘sustainable development’. As Darwall argues, ‘sustainable development was the political fiction environmentalism needed to buy developing nations’ neutrality’. Such a fiction couldn’t survive the tensions created when the developing world started developing in earnest.

Nevertheless, having apparently united the world in concern for the environment, these early greens then saw the issue dropped off the global agenda. For Darwall, the moment that precipitated this change was the start of the Yom Kippur war in October 1973. Having failed to destroy Israel - in part, thanks to American support - the Arab oil-producing nations took their revenge by imposing huge hikes in the price of oil overnight. Suddenly, the notion of energy shortages seemed all too real. (In fact, US government energy policies created shortages where other countries merely had higher prices, argues Darwall.)

This inspired US president Jimmy Carter to decide that the energy crisis would be one of the major themes of his presidency. The trouble for Carter, as Darwall notes, was that ‘he saw limits where his fellow countrymen did not’. His energy plan was based on the false premise that energy supplies were running out. But world oil production actually jumped from 58.5million barrels per day in 1973 to 66million barrels per day by 1979. Even domestically, the US had plenty of supplies. ‘In April 1977’, writes Darwall, ‘shortly before Carter launched his energy plan, the Energy Research and Development Agency concluded that America’s natural gas reserves could be expected to exceed its total energy needs well into the twenty-first century’.

The depletionist idea that resources were running out kept being contradicted by ever-increasing supply. The Malthusian notion that there were too many people - most famously revived by Paul Ehrlich in the late 1960s - proved to be a wildly inaccurate scare story, too. For environmentalism to thrive, to get beyond endless international talking shops, it needed a killer issue that could not be so easily dismissed. That issue came along, at last, in the shape of global warming.

The idea that human activity might be changing the climate was not new. As early as the 1820s, explains Darwall, Jean-Baptiste Fourier had speculated about whether the atmosphere might enhance the temperature of the Earth. In 1859, the Irish scientist John Tyndall was able to declare that ‘the atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet’.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius argued that the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity must also have an effect, suggesting that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations would increase temperatures by between five and six degrees Celsius. However, the import of this finding was understood in a rather different way by Arrhenius than by modern greens. According to Darwall: ‘Arrhenius thought that burning fossil fuels would accelerate a virtuous cycle in preventing a rapid return to the conditions of ice age, removing the need for a forced migration from temperate countries to Africa.’ This was a view shared by Guy Stewart Callendar, a British scientist who argued in 1938 that carbon dioxide was responsible for two thirds of the warming trend seen over the previous 180 years.

Roger Revelle, Al Gore’s favourite scientist, had noted in the late Fifties that humanity was conducting a ‘large-scale geophysical experiment’ that ‘may yield far-reaching insight into the processes determining weather and climate’. But this was still not seen as necessarily problematic.

Global warming crept on to the agenda - just - at the 1972 Stockholm conference. But it warranted only half a page in the final agreement. Governments should be ‘mindful’ of potential atmospheric effects and set up remote monitoring stations to keep an eye on any changes. Global warming was very far from being centre stage. The UN-commissioned Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, published in 1987, mentions the risk of global warming in numerous places but the alarm bells were still not ringing.

The turning point was evidence given by NASA scientist James Hansen in June 1988 to the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: ‘The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now.’ Hansen made headlines, but it was the intervention of UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher that gave the issue high-profile political credibility. By then the longest serving G7 head of state, Thatcher gave a speech to the Royal Society in September 1988, warning: ‘We are told that a warming of one degree centigrade per decade would greatly exceed the capacity of our natural habitat to cope.’ That might well have been so. But as Darwall notes, Thatcher was implying that global temperatures would be two degrees higher by 2010 - a much faster rate of warming than even the IPCC has ever suggested.

Now the bandwagon was rolling. By 1992, US president George HW Bush thought the issue important enough to appear at the Rio Earth Summit, which created the framework for climate-change talks that produced the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and all the subsequent jamborees in Bali, Cancun, Copenhagen, Durban and the rest. Since then, Western politicians and royalty, the management of giant corporations like BP and the offspring of the rich and powerful, like Zac Goldsmith and Robert F Kennedy Jr, have declared the importance of tackling climate change again and again.

The most high-profile of those banging the drum on this issue has been Al Gore. The US vice president under Bill Clinton in the Nineties - and a hair’s breadth from the White House himself in 2000 - has long been an avowed environmentalist. His book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit was published in 1992. Darwall describes it as ‘one of the most extraordinary books by any democratic politician seeking high elective office, for it constitutes an attack on Western civilisation and a fundamental rejection of two of its greatest accomplishments - the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions’. Gore would, of course, go on to win both an Oscar - for his error-strewn lecture, An Inconvenient Truth - and the Nobel Peace Prize, shared with the IPCC, in 2007.

A comment made by Gore in an interview in June 1992 is indicative of the importance of climate change to these elites. ‘The task of saving the Earth’s environment is going to become the central organising principle in the post-Cold War world’, he said.

While environmentalism is certainly an obsession of many rich people, and a natural fit for many conservatives, one of the major factors that Darwall cites in the rise of environmentalism is the collapse of the left. But interestingly, this is not the usual argument about disillusioned ex-Communists turning from red to green, although such people have indeed often been the brains behind the development of these ideas. Rather, it was the collapse of a left-wing opposition to eco-notions about lowering growth that was crucial. Darwall notes the strong tradition on the left, from Marx onwards, in support of the need to increase the material wealth of society.

That tradition was still important in the 1960s and 1970s to the UK Labour Party’s ‘foremost intellectual’, Tony Crosland. Darwall quotes Crosland’s damning assessment from 1971 of environmentalism and the class bias behind it: ‘Its champions are often kindly and dedicated people. But they are affluent and fundamentally, though of course not consciously, they want to kick the ladder down behind them… We must make our own value judgement based on socialist objectives: and that objective must… be that growth is vital, and its benefits far outweigh its costs.’

For all the talk of using environmentalism - made urgent by global warming - as the Big Idea to drive the global agenda, the wheels were always likely to come off this particular bandwagon. The unholy compromise between developed and developing countries made back in 1972 was never going to last. Its last stand was the Kyoto Protocol, where developed nations agreed to make cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions while developing countries did not. As it goes, the US never ratified the deal. Indeed, when Clinton and Gore negotiated it, they already knew that Congress would never pass it. Moreover, the terms of the deal meant that the collapse of the old Soviet Bloc, along with Britain’s entirely coincidental ‘dash for gas’, would account for more than the cuts required. In fact, even in spite of these enormous free passes, the unambitious Kyoto targets were barely met. Talk is cheap; cutting emissions is not.

The follow-up to Kyoto, however, had to be a global deal where everybody - including the big new economies like China, India and Brazil - agreed to reduce their emissions, or at least accept limits on their rise. This was never going to wash. Things came to a head at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009. Despite the presence of almost all the world’s major leaders, including US president Barack Obama, only the most basic and meaningless deal between the US and the BASIC countries - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - could be cobbled together, a deal which bypassed the rest of the conference entirely. Since then, the best that has been achieved at subsequent shindigs has been to keep the process going. There is no prospect of a replacement for Kyoto being in place before 2020.

All of this is just one aspect of Darwall’s book, the writing of which has occupied ‘half of my marriage’, he notes. He also engages with the uncertainties of climate science and the disastrous attempts by some scientists, scientific academies and the IPCC to cover up that uncertainty. He also offers blow-by-blow accounts of the big environmental conferences, reinforcing the point that there was never any prospect of the developing world giving up on growth. Reining in development in the name of the planet was always a rich man’s fancy. The Age of Global Warming should certainly become a touchstone for anyone interested in examining this issue seriously.

The elitist idea of environmentalism could only become dominant because of the exit of working-class politics from the Western political stage and the shrivelling of the political voice of the mass of Western populations. The failure of socialist and social-democratic parties meant there were no longer critics of environmentalism from the left. The declining membership of all political parties deprived the bulk of the population of an important means to hold politicians to account. To criticise the science and politics of global warming now meant you were a lackey of big business or some kind of ‘flat Earther’ who denied the importance of science. What remains is weariness of the modern world among those - from the middle classes upwards, and most particularly among the elites - who can afford such self-indulgence.




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


Thursday, March 28, 2013

We don't have enough data to make predictions yet

That is the basic message in the journal article below by Carl Wunsch et al.  -- in which he points out how short are the timespans over which important datasets have been gathered

Predicting climate change is a high priority for society, but such forecasts are notoriously uncertain. Why? Even should climate prove theoretically predictable—by no means certain—the near-absence of adequate observations will preclude its understanding, and hence even the hope of useful predictions. Geological and cryospheric records of climate change and our brief recent record of instrumental observations show that the climate system is changeable on all time scales—from a few years out to the age of the earth. Major physical, chemical, and biological processes influence the climate system on decades, centuries, and millennia. Glaciers fluctuate on time scales of years to centuries and beyond. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide has been emitted through fossil fuel burning, and it will be absorbed, recycled, and transferred amongst the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere over decades to thousands of years.

As in most scientific problems, no substitute exists for adequate observations. Without sufficient observations, useful prediction will likely never be possible. Models will evolve and improve, but, without data, will be untestable, and observations not taken today are lost forever. The great difficulty facing scientists trying to understand and predict the system is the extremely limited duration over which even marginally adequate observations of the climate system exist.

The thermometer was not invented until the early 17th century. Atmospheric observations did not approach global coverage until the end of the Second World War. Oceanic observations became marginally adequate on a global scale only in the early 1990s. Mass-balance data for the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers began in the early 21st century. Paleo data do provide records for some variables (e.g., global average CO2 concentrations from ice cores), but are rough proxies having only limited precision and spatial coverage for the space and time scales of interest.

Few scientists would expect to understand any but the most trivial physical phenomenon without having observed its variation on all-important time scales. Oceanic surface waves have dominant periods not much different than one second. A suggestion that such a phenomenon could be understood from one second or less of observations would be greeted with ridicule. Scientists trying to understand the climate system are faced with the difficult problem of making sense of physical phenomena whose time scale exceeds both professional and human life spans. Proposals for geoengineering must include an understanding of their influence on a system that retains memories of induced disturbances for thousands of years. Who would claim to understand the impact of a major perturbation to the climate system based upon 10 years of data?

Understanding of climate change is a problem for multiple generations. One generation of scientists has to make provisions for the needs of successor generations, rather than focusing solely on its own immediate scientific productivity. Today’s climate models will likely prove of little interest in 100 years. But adequately sampled, carefully calibrated, quality controlled, and archived data for key elements of the climate system will be useful indefinitely.

This intergenerational problem must be faced by any entity—government or otherwise—hoping to eventually provide accurate forecasts of climate change. Weather forecasting and national weather services are often invoked as the analogue for climate problems. But long-duration observations require a very different approach than do those of near-term interest, such as in weather prediction. Many examples exist where attempts to use weather data as records of climate have proved ambiguous at best and useless at worst, because of inadequate calibration, poor documentation of calibrations, temporal gaps, and undocumented and/or poorly understood technology changes. The use of radiosonde humidity sensors is a case in point: Technology changes and differences among nations seriously compromise the use of such weather data for climate studies (1). Thompson et al. (2) show how difficult the interpretation is of such a seemingly simple data set as sea surface temperature.

Government agencies can do a reasonable job in satisfying the immediate needs of the public, e.g., in forecasting hurricane trajectories. But governments have not done well in sustaining long-term observations. For example, the iconic time series of CO2 observations at Mauna Loa, HI, was funded in 2-year increments for decades and was nearly terminated many times by shortsighted program managers (3).

Designing, maintaining, and coping with the technical evolution of climate observations is an extremely difficult problem requiring deep insight into the nature of the problem, and of the available and potentially available technologies. It cannot be sensibly done within a system funded year-by-year; it requires an agency with a long view—decades and beyond—a requirement that is alien to governments. Yearly budget battles put all programs at risk: Having a climate observing system started by one administration and disassembled by another, one political cycle later, is fatal.

In many cases—describing and understanding decadal variability in the ocean, for example—an honest scientific assessment would acknowledge the need for far longer observational records than are now available or obtainable by any individual. In today’s institutions with their short-term time horizons, young scientists interested in such phenomena cannot take on long-term problems. But if society does not find ways to support scientific careers directed at such problems, then we will never understand the fundamentals of this critical subject. What to do?

A few examples exist of comparatively long-lived, nominally focused organizations (universities, a few banks, some religious foundations). Although their true intellectual continuity is highly debatable, they do suggest the possibilities for the creation of a useful intergenerational climate-study infrastructure. Some components of astronomy and perhaps, uniquely, the Rothamsted Research agricultural station in the United Kingdom, are conceivable analogues. Elsewhere (4), we have outlined a possible approach, one that requires a private endowment to sustain the best scientists and engineers willing to devote a portion of their time to overseeing the data streams that future generations of scientists will need. Other means may exist to sustain scientifically and technically competent organizations over decades and longer. Methods must be found—perhaps in public, private, national, and international institutional partnerships—that can isolate core observations from the vagaries of year-to-year government funding decisions and that can provide oversight of calibrations, management of shifting technologies, and understanding so as to avoid obsolescence and quality loss.

Without confronting the problem as an intergenerational one, climate forecasts and our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change will remain rudimentary and inadequate for the challenges that lie ahead.


Friends Of The Earth?–No Friends Of Us

Outgoing UK Chief Scientist, John Beddington, was in the news yesterday, warning us of all the climate catastrophes that were going to hit us.  The Daily Telegraph reported on his speech, but tacked onto the end of the article was this comment.

"Responding to Sir John’s comments, Craig Bennett, policy and campaigns director for the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats the planet faces – and unless we urgently act to cut emissions we face an economic and environmental catastrophe.

“From droughts and floods to snow storms, Britain is increasingly battered by extreme weather.

“Ministers must listen to Professor Beddington and other leading scientists and slash UK emissions – starting with an amendment in the Energy Bill to decarbonise the power sector by 2030.”

Such a policy would be hugely damaging to the country, and it is inconceivable that they do not realise this. This shows exactly where the FOE stand.

They hate this country, its history and traditions,its industryand institutions, its capitalist systems and prosperity, and the people who live on these islands.

If they want to hold such extreme views, that is their prerogative. Fortunately for them, Britain is still a free country.

But why do the media continue to give the FOE and their ilk column inches to publicise their extreme agenda?


U.S. and China waste billions on solar panel race

What happens when China and the United States clash in a subsidy-fueled solar panel arms race? The world gets a lot more solar panels than anyone wants to buy, manufacturers go bankrupt, and taxpayers get stuck with the tab.

Will the recent bankruptcy of subsidized Chinese solar giant Suntech Power cause the Obama administration to tone down its argument that we need to match China's solar policy?

"As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we," President Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union. This is a typical refrain in Obama's industrial policy.

In a 2010 address at Georgetown calling for more green energy subsidies, Obama said "the countries that lead the 21st-century clean energy economy will be the countries that lead the 21st-century global economy. I want America to be that nation. I want America to win the future."

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John Kerry, now Obama's secretary of state, has sounded the same note for years, saying in 2011: "[W]e should be thinking about competing with China to win the next energy revolution. Why? Because the race is on to put the right policies in place so hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying renewable energy jobs will be created here, and not in China."

There's some interesting economics and rhetoric going on here. On one level, the Obama-Kerry line is not so different from the 1970s-vintage liberal view that America needs to emulate Asia and Europe. But that sort of talk doesn't fly with the average American swing-state voter, and so Obama has turned the rhetoric on its head: We can't let China or Europe beat us at solar panels!

But this skips a question that needs asking: Why should we want to win the solar panel-making race? If China wants to sell us subsidized solar panels, why should we begrudge them that? And if solar panel factories need subsidies in order to survive, doesn't that signify that this industry doesn't add value to the economy?

This month's Suntech Power bankruptcy is the latest piece of evidence that the solar arms race is not one worth winning.

Suntech, enjoying a $16 billion market capitalization at one point, declared bankruptcy for its main operating unit. Suntech's problem was the same problem facing the whole industry: Materials costs are going up, and solar panel prices are going down. The diagnosis is easy: overproduction. The cause is obvious: oversubsidization.

Suntech, like all Chinese solar panel makers, has enjoyed generous subsidies from the Chinese government. The Obama administration has chipped in, too, awarding a $2.1 million tax credit to reward Suntech for opening a manufacturing facility in Arizona.

But Suntech's subsidies didn't stop there. In 2010, Suntech was the first beneficiary of Arizona's Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, getting a $1.5 million credit. The city of Goodyear, Ariz., awarded $500,000 to Suntech for worker training, bringing the U.S. total to $4.1 million in subsidies. Last week, Suntech announced it is closing the Arizona plant -- its only U.S. factory -- and laying off all the workers there.

For a solar company, subsidies lie around every corner.

The Energy Department hands out taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for the manufacture of solar panels and other renewable energy equipment. Solar manufacturer Solyndra famously got a $537 million loan guarantee before going bankrupt.

Uncle Sam, through the Treasury and Energy departments, also gives out Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits -- $2.3 billion in Obama's first term.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank in 2010 launched Solar Express to expedite taxpayer-backed financing for solar exports. Ex-Im that year awarded $455.7 million in loan guarantees to First Solar in Canada so that it could buy Ohio-made solar panels from itself.

Then there are straight-up federal grants. SolarWorld (which also got Solar Express Ex-Im financing and Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits, plus plenty of Oregon subsidies) pocketed $2.4 million in Renewable Energy Research and Development Grants. DOE has given out $5 billion in those.

Treasury has given $4 billion in Section 1603 grants (named for their section in the 2009 stimulus bill) to property owners who install solar panels. Throw in the Production Tax Credit that Congress just renewed, and boatloads of state-level subsidies, and you've got tens of billions in U.S. subsidies for solar power.

If you subsidize something, you get more of it. So even though installing solar panels is also subsidized, supply has far outstripped demand. The result is a string of solar company bankruptcies and solar factory closings.

Maybe Suntech's collapse will cure Obama of his China envy, and he will realize the solar race isn't worth the entry fee.


£286 green tax on average British energy bills: But ministers insist 'efficient appliances' will SAVE us money

Families will be paying almost £300 a year in green energy taxes by 2020. The levy will more than double until a quarter of each power bill goes on wind, solar, nuclear or home insulation schemes.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisted last night that households will be better off thanks to the benefits of electricity-saving initiatives.  But families will be able to claw the money back only if they buy more efficient domestic appliances and boilers.

The average power bill is now £1,267 – with £112 of that going on green taxes, including an £18 wind farm subsidy.   By 2020, green taxes will have risen by more than 150 per cent, ensuring each family contributes £286, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

It reckons that by then households will be saving £452 a year by taking up schemes to lower energy use and by switching to more efficient kettles, fridges and TVs.

The ministry also hopes smart meters, which track energy consumption, will alter consumer behaviour and lower consumption.

But John Constable, of the charity Renewable Energy Foundation, said: ‘DECC is clearly embarrassed by the terrifying costs of its ever-growing range of green policies, and is covering up with a whitewash of wildly optimistic assumptions about energy efficiency.

‘If electricity prices increase by a third, as DECC admits they will, it is vanishingly unlikely that better dishwashers, kettles, and fridges, even assuming households can afford them, can cancel out the increases and deliver lower bills.’

Mr Davey said his projected savings would mean that households would end up paying £166 less than if the green policies had not been introduced in the first place.

‘Global gas price hikes are squeezing households,’ he added. ‘We are doing all we can to offset these global energy price rises and, while we have more to do, this new study shows that our policies are putting a cushion between global prices and the bills we all pay.

‘The analysis shows our strategy of shifting to alternatives like renewables, and of being smarter with how we use energy, is helping those that need it most save money on their bills.

‘The poorest who take advantage of the help that is available through the initiatives we have on offer stand to make the highest savings, from the warm home discount to our new regulation on energy firms to force them to improve the energy efficiency of fuel poor households.’

DECC claims ‘the large majority of households’ will benefit and even those that do not add insulation or take advantage of energy rebates will be £15 better off.

Caroline Flint, Labour’s energy spokesman, said last night: ‘The Government’s underhand attempt to mask the real impact of its policies on families’ energy bills is shameful.

‘At a time when hard-pressed families and pensioners are seeing their incomes squeezed, only this out-of-touch Government could expect people to fork out thousands of pounds on new TVs, fridge freezers and washing machines just to save a few pounds every few months on their energy bill.’

DECC admitted green policies had added £22 to household bills over the past two years.

Household energy consumption has fallen since 2005, with gas usage dropping by a fifth and electricity demand down by 11 per cent.

The drop is partly attributed to energy efficiency measures, but is also a result of belt-tightening, both of which the Government expects to continue.

By 2020, DECC estimates that householders will have replaced 12million boilers with more efficient models.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘The Government must ensure that the savings to consumers they have estimated will flow from their energy policies, become a reality. That will require more transparency and scrutiny of their plans and more practical help for people to make their homes energy efficient.

‘Effective competition in both the wholesale and retail energy markets will also help keep prices in check, but the Government’s plans for reform don’t yet go far enough to give people confidence that the price they are paying for their energy is a fair one.’

Under European climate change targets, around a third of our electricity will have to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2020.

Mr Davey said: ‘The analysis underlines the importance of pressing ahead with the range of steps we’re taking to decarbonise and insulate our economy from excessive reliance on imported gas.’
Meanwhile, green taxes on business will double, the Treasury admitted last night.

Total green taxes – including only those mainly designed to change behaviour – will rise from £2.5billion to £5.6billion by the time of the 2015 election.

They are then forecast to carry on rising to £5.9billion by 2017/8.

The figures released to Parliament include the cost of the climate change levy, the aggregates levy, the landfill tax and the EU’s environmental trading scheme.

They also include the new carbon price floor – a price per ton of carbon emitted. Analysts warn that because it only applies in the UK it will force energy intensive firms to move abroad.

The combined cost of the measure and the climate change levy is due to rocket from £600million this year to £2.4billion in 2015/6.

But the figures do not include other ‘revenue raising’ measures, which are sometimes credited with having a ‘green’ effect, such as fuel duty.

The Treasury said green taxes would rise as a proportion of total taxation from 0.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

Economic Secretary Sajid Javid said the Coalition was ‘on track’ to meet a commitment to increase the proportion of revenue from green taxes.


Climate-change skeptics challenge DNREC projections on sea-level rise

Warmist Mann: Trust me, after sea levels rose only 8 inches over the last 113 years, we should expect them to rise 39 inches over the next 87 years

Depending on who you talk to, Delaware's current work on sea-level rise (SLR) is either ground-breaking research that will be emulated by other states, or a set of exaggerated projections based on faulty assumptions and poor science.

Some climate-change professionals say the state's work on assessing and adapting to the threat of rising seas is leading the charge among states that are beginning to grapple with the anticipated effects of climate change.

But detractors contend that the official forecast for three feet or so of sea-level rise by the end of the century is overblown and is the result of a failure by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to do a legitimate scientific analysis of SLR.

They accuse DNREC of ignoring evidence from a leading global climate-change report that suggests oceans will rise much less than Delaware's official forecast - which officials say could result in up to 11 percent of the state's land mass being lost to rising seas by 2100.

The skeptics were out in force in Georgetown on Monday night when about 200 people attended a meeting titled "The Truth About Climate Change - It's Not What You've Been Told," organized by Delaware's free-market think-tank, the Caesar Rodney Institute, and the Positive Growth Alliance, a Sussex County-based group that champions low taxation and limited government.

David Legates, a University of Delaware climatologist and a member of Caesar Rodney's advisory board, argued that the official projection for sea-level rise by the end of the century is within a normal tidal range of plus or minus three feet, and that any rise around the Delaware coast is occurring not because the oceans are rising but because the land is subsiding.

Adjusted for land subsidence since 1970, sea-level rise is "virtually none," said Legates, a former state climatologist who who was asked by former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in 2007 to discontinue using that title when discussing public policy because his views on climate change were at odds with those of her administration. He stepped down as state climatologist in 2011.

The DNREC projection is inconsistent with global SLR forecasts from the widely quoted United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), Legates argued. He said the Delaware projections have been greater than those in successive IPCC reports in 1995, 2001 and 2007, and argued there's no evidence that sea-level rise is accelerating.

Legates, a long-time critic of global warming theory, said DNREC imposed a "settled" range of SLR forecasts on its Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee - a 24-member group representing government, academia, business, the environmental community, and private citizens - without discussion.

He argued that the committee's forecast reflects its lack of scientists. "The scientists are missing," he said.

Legates also criticized government efforts to reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, saying they won't lessen the likelihood of storms such as Hurricane Sandy, or stop the subsidence of the Delaware coastline, which is resulting in local sea-level rise of about twice the global rate.

"Anything we do with C02 isn't going to make hurricanes and nor'easters disappear," he said. "If you are going to address CO2, you are not going to stop the land sinking."

Susan Love, a planner with DNREC's Coastal Programs unit, and a leader of its SLR work, dismissed Legates' claim that the committee has no scientists. She said the panel includes Chris Sommerfield, an oceanographer from the University of Delaware; Rick Perkins, a toxicologist from the Department of Heath and Social Services; Chad Tolman, a retired DuPont chemist, and Bob Scarborough, who holds a PhD in climatology.

She also rejected Legates' assertion that there has been almost no sea-level rise in Delaware since 1970 after allowing for the effects of land subsidence. Data reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show sea-level rise of 3.2 millimeters a year at Lewes and 3.46 millimeters a year at Reedy Point, Love said.

"The observed data indicates that his claim is incorrect," she wrote in an email.

Love acknowledged that DNREC's SLR forecasts are higher than those of the 2007 IPCC report which she said reduced its projections because of uncertainty about the effect of melting ice on global ocean levels. DNREC based its own assessment on IPCC and several other reports including those that took melting ice into account, and the department's forecasts have since matched others, she said.

DNREC's assessment is based on IPCC and several other reports
including those that took melting ice into account, as well as on the subsidence that is causing seas along the mid-Atlantic coast to rise at about twice the global rate, she said. The department's forecasts have since matched others.

"Recent national and regional reports indicate that Delaware's SLR scenarios are on target and are also similar to those in adjacent states," Love said.

But she said Legates is correct in arguing that there is no evidence that the rate of sea-level rise in Delaware is accelerating.

And she said she "wholeheartedly" disagrees with Legates' assertion that reducing carbon emissions wouldn't influence sea-level rise in Delaware.

"Global climate change is what will drive Delaware's future sea levels," she said. "Any actions that can be taken at a local, state, national or international level to decrease carbon inputs and decrease the effects of climate change will have tremendous benefit for Delaware's coastal residents and coastal resources."

More criticism of DNREC's work came from Willie Soon, an astrophysicist and consultant to the Caesar Rodney Institute, who told the Georgetown meeting that the state's projections are based on "bad science".

He argued that sea level has been rising at 3.2 millimeters a year since 1980, or about a foot over 100 years, roughly a third of the rate that is the state's central projection.  "DNREC's projection is completely impossible," said Soon.

He argued that measurement of sea level by satellite, as cited by some SLR studies, was too inexact to be credible, and said oceans are getting saltier, rather than more diluted, as would be expected if polar ice caps were melting as many climate scientists report.

"If you dig very, very deep, you will find that the explanation is that we don't know," he said....

Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, said Delaware's SLR projection is based on good science and is consistent with many other projections.

"Two meters of global sea-level rise by 2100 is not out of the question," said Mann, a prominent advocate of measures to curb carbon emissions. "One meter is a good mid-range estimate of what we might expect given business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions."


Electric car drivers could overload power grid, admits French energy chief

France's under pressure power grid could struggle to cope if growing numbers of electric car owners all recharge their batteries when they sit down for dinner, the industry said today.

The warning comes after French car-maker Renault launched its long-awaited electric car Zoe this month at a price on a par with petrol models, making it the first electric vehicle with mass-market potential.

The government, meanwhile, has been encouraging the technology with generous subsidies.

But this comes in a country with a power grid that is already extremely sensitive to spikes in demand because of its high reliance on electric heating.

Though the prospect of a fleet of hundreds of thousands of electric cars remains some distance off, France needs to consider how it will cope when cold winter evenings prompt households to turn on the heaters, lights and electric gadgets at the same time.

Olivier Grabette, head of R&D at French power grid RTE, said: 'If it's badly managed, it could prompt power surges, which would cost a lot in peak production, CO2 emissions and would also necessitate the construction of relatively costly infrastructure.'

Grabette said that under the 'ambitious' scenario of a fleet of two million electric vehicles by 2020, total French annual electricity consumption would rise by 1 to 3 per cent.

'It's not huge in terms of energy,' Grabette said. 'But if all these vehicles charge at peak times, even with slow car chargers, it could add between 3 and 6 gigawatts (GW) of peak demand, which would be felt if it comes at the wrong moment.'

Data last year from U.S. eco-town Mueller, in Texas, showed that owners of electric cars typically plugged in their vehicles when home electricity use spiked, causing potential problems for the grid.

The heavy reliance on electrical heating in France was instigated by successive governments to absorb surplus nuclear power. Its 19 nuclear power plants make France Europe's biggest electricity exporter and ensure generally steady power supplies.

However, it lacks flexible capacity - usually generated by gas, coal or oil-fired plants - to meet peak evening demand during cold snaps.

Peak demand has hit record highs in each of the past 10 winters. In February last year demand at one point hit more than 102 GW and pushed the network to its limits, obliging France to import a record 9 GW.

RTE and other state agencies identified the problem in a 2011 report and recommended car chargers that take up to eight hours to recharge a vehicle. Though quick chargers do the job in about 30 minutes, these draw more energy than a dozen electric hot-water heaters.

There is also the problem of a geographical concentration of cars drawing power from quick chargers; at supermarkets, motorway service stations or business districts, for instance.

'The issue is not the total number of vehicles, it's how they will spread - and we think they will spread in clusters,' said Laurent Schmitt, Smart Grid vice-president at French engineering company Alstom.

'You can have only 1,000 cars, (but) if 500 of these are connected to the same building, you'll have a problem with this building and the neighbourhood around it,' he said.

The key could be off-peak charging via 'smart grids' able to communicate with chargers that can then be operated remotely.

'There could be a problem, if we're not careful, in terms of peak capacity,' said Bruno Dobrowolski, in charge of the electric vehicle programme at ErDF, the electric distribution arm of state-owned utility EDF. 'That's why smart charging is necessary.'

French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, the first Renault client to be handed the keys of a Zoe, has appointed a committee to advise on the expansion of the charger network.

Renault's decision not to provide chargers compatible with home sockets, thereby requiring Zoe owners to buy 'Wall-Box' chargers, could soften the impact. In Britain, Renault will subsidise the cost when the car is launched there in June.




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