Thursday, March 27, 2014

Climate change: the debate is about to change radically

As many Warmists now acknowledge, there is no point in trying to stop global warming;  all we can do is adapt to whatever arises

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due out next week. If the leaked draft is reflected in the published report, it will constitute the formal moving on of the debate from the past, futile focus upon "mitigation" to a new debate about resilience and adaptation.

The new report will apparently tell us that the global GDP costs of an expected global average temperature increase of 2.5  degrees Celsius over the 21st century will be between 0.2 and 2 per cent. To place that in context, the well-known Stern Review of 2006 estimated the costs as 5-20 per cent of GDP. Stern estimates the costs of his recommended policies for mitigating climate change at 2 per cent of GDP – and his estimates are widely regarded as relatively optimistic (others estimate mitigation costs as high as 10 per cent of global GDP). Achieving material mitigation, at a cost of 2 per cent and more of global GDP, would require international co-ordination that we have known since the failure of the Copenhagen conference on climate change simply was not going to happen. Even if it did happen, and were conducted optimally, it would mitigate only a fraction of the total rise, and might create its own risks.

And to add to all this, now we are told that the cost might be as low as 0.2 per cent of GDP. At a 2.4 per cent annual GDP growth rate, the global economy increases 0.2 per cent every month.

So the mitigation deal has become this: Accept enormous inconvenience, placing authoritarian control into the hands of global agencies, at huge costs that in some cases exceed 17 times the benefits even on the Government's own evaluation criteria, with a global cost of 2 per cent of GDP at the low end and the risk that the cost will be vastly greater, and do all of this for an entire century, and then maybe – just maybe – we might save between one and ten months of global GDP growth.

Can anyone seriously claim, with a straight face, that that should be regarded as an attractive deal or that the public is suffering from a psychological disorder if it resists mitigation policies?

The 2014 Budget recognised reality, with the Government now introducing special measures to keep energy prices low for energy intensive firms – abandoning what little pretence remained that it was attempting to prevent climate change by limiting energy use so as to limit CO2 emissions. The new IPCC report – though it remains as robust as ever in saying that there will be climate change and its effects will be material (points that relatively few mitigation policy sceptics deny) – has a marked change of focus from the 2007 report.

Whereas previously the IPCC emphasised the effects climate change could have if not prevented, now the focus has moved on to how to make economies and societies resilient and to adapt to warming now considered inevitable. Climate exceptionalism – the notion that climate change is a challenge of a different order from, say, recessions or social inclusion or female education or many other important global policy goals – is to be down played. Instead, the new report emphasised that adapting to climate change is one of many challenges that policymakers will face but should have its proper place alongside other policies.

Quite so. It has been known since the late 1970s that there would be material warming during the 21st century and we will need to adapt to it. At present, though, in the UK we still carry the legacy of a panoply of enormously expensive but futile policies that were designed to be pieces of a global effort to mitigate that is just not going to happen.

Our first step in adapting to climate change should be to accept that we aren't going to mitigate it. We're going to have to adapt. That doesn't mean there might not be the odd mitigation-type policy, around the edges, that is cheap and feasible and worthwhile. But it does mean that the grandiloquent schemes for preventing climate change should go. Their day is done. Even the IPCC – albeit implicitly – sees that now.


Do Skeptics ‘Reposition’ Warming as ‘Theory’ or Do Alarmists ‘Reposition’ Fear as ‘Fact’? Revisiting an Urban Legend

How many times have you heard climate activists claim skeptics are just latter-day “tobacco scientists?” Google “tobacco scientists” and “global warming,” and you’ll get about 1,110,000 results. With so much (ahem) smoke, surely there must be some fire, right?

Al Gore helped popularize this endlessly repeated allegation. In An Inconvenient Truth (p. 263), he contends that just as tobacco companies cynically funded corrupt scientists to cast doubt on the Surgeon General’s report linking cigarette smoking to cancer, so fossil fuel companies fund “skeptics” to create the appearance of scientific controversy where none exists.

Here’s the pertinent passage:

The misconception that there is serious disagreement among scientists about global warming is actually an illusion that has been deliberately fostered by a relatively small but extremely well-funded cadre of special interests, including Exxon Mobil and a few other oil, coal, and utilities companies. These companies want to prevent any new policies that would interfere with their current business plans that rely on the massive unrestrained dumping of global warming pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere every hour of every day.

One of the internal memos prepared by this group to guide the employees they hired to run their disinformation campaign was discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan. Here was the group’s stated objective: to “reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact.”

This technique has been used before. The tobacco industry, 40 years ago, reacted to the historic Surgeon General’s report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer and other lung diseases by organizing a similar disinformation campaign.

One of their memos, prepared in the 1960s, was recently uncovered during one of the lawsuits against the tobacco companies in behalf of the millions of people who have been killed by their product. It is interesting to read it 40 years later in the context of the global warming campaign:

“Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing controversy.” Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company memo, 1960s

There’s just one problem with this tale of corruption and intrigue — much of it is false and all of it is misleading. Let’s examine the flaws in this urban legend, going from minor to major.

First, Gore’s alleged source, Ross Gelbspan, is not a Pulitzer Prize winner. Gelbspan’s 1997 book, The Heat Is On, supposedly exposes how fossil fuel companies and conservative politicians collude to ”confuse the public about global warming.” The jacket of the book describes Gelbspan as a “Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist.” But former JunkScience.Com blogger Steve Milloy searched the list of Pulitzer journalists, and found that Gelbspan was not among them. Gelbspan later claimed only to have conceived, directed, and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer in 1984.

Second, Gelbspan was not the source of Gore’s story. Gore discussed the leaked documents in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance (p. 360), which was published five years before Gelbspan’s book. So how did Gore find out about it? Blogger Russell Cook notes that the documents were first “reported in a 1991 New York Times article which claimed they came from an unnamed source at the Sierra Club.”

Why did Gore credit Gelbspan with breaking the story? Who knows! Maybe because information sourced to “Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter” sounds credible even if the reporter neither won a Pulitzer nor broke the story.

Third, Gore gives the false impression that ExxonMobil and other oil companies were part of the “group” behind the “disinformation campaign” supposedly revealed in the memo that Gelbspan supposedly “discovered.”

The memo was one of several documents drafted by an ad hoc group calling itself Information Council for the Environment. ICE was a project of Southern Company (an electric utility) and Western Fuels Association (a non-profit supply cooperative of consumer-owned electric utilities). No oil companies were involved.

Fourth, the documents are not an adopted plan to ”reposition” global warming but a proposal to “test market” the effectiveness of such messaging.

The actual objectives of the project were to:

1) Demonstrate that a consumer-based media awareness program can positively change the opinions of a selected population regarding the validity of global warming.

2) Begin to develop a message and strategy for shaping public opinion on a national scale.

3) Lay the solid groundwork for a unified national electric industry voice on global warming.

The plan was never developed, much less implemented. As the 1991 New York Times article reported, different members of the electric utility industry took different positions on climate change:

The utility industry is divided on the question of global warming. Two California utilities, Southern California Edison, the nation’s second-largest utility after the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and the Los Angeles Water and Power Department, the largest municipal company, volunteered in May to cut their carbon-dioxide emissions by 20 percent in the next 20 years. Most of the savings, they said, would come from efficiency improvements in lighting, motors and cooling that would pay for themselves.

The Arizona Public Service Company, which serves Flagstaff, declined an invitation to participate in ICE. Mark De Michele, president and chief executive, did not reply to repeated phone calls seeking comment. But he told The Arizona Daily Sun in May, “The subject matter is far too complex and could be far more severe than the ads make of it for the subject to be dealt with in a slick ad campaign.”

The Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group based in Washington that also helped organize the ICE campaign, takes the position that because of the possibility that climate change is a real threat, steps should be taken to cut carbon-dioxide output if those steps are justifiable for other reasons — for example, saving money through higher efficiency or reducing the output of sulfur dioxide from power plants. That chemical causes acid rain.

Some of the advertising messages test-marketed in Flagstaff, Ariz., Bowling Green, Ky., and Fargo, N.D., were goofy. From the Times article:

In Bowling Green, an ad showed a cartoon horse in earmuffs and scarf and said, “If the Earth is getting warmer, why is Kentucky getting colder?” Another, with a cartoon man bundled up and holding a snow shovel, appeared in Minnesota and substituted “Minneapolis” for “Kentucky.”

Did any skeptical scientists endorse those messages? No. As the Times reported, Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, and Sherwood Idso, the ICE science advisory panel, ”said in telephone interviews that the salient element in two of the ads, that some areas might be getting cooler, did not contradict the theory of global warming.” The article also reported that Balling and Michaels “have both asked to have their names removed from future mailings.”

Indeed, as Gelbspan acknowledged in his book, “Michaels has insisted that he dissociated himself from the ICE campaign when he learned of what he called its ‘blatant dishonesty.’” When Balling and Michaels pulled out, the ICE project collapsed. So much for the grand fossil-fueled conspiracy.

Fifth, there is no shame in repositioning as theory that which is not fact.* The “repositioning” memo is dated May 15, 1991 — four and a half years before the IPCC famously concluded, in November 1995, that the ”balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” Note too that the IPCC’s iconic formulation is not an assertion of what is demonstrably true, only an assessment of what the “balance of evidence” “suggests.”

From 1979 to 1991, two of the three main data sources — satellites and radiosondes (weather balloons) — showed no warming or even a slight cooling trend in the bulk atmosphere (troposphere). It was the land record that was the odd man out. Given that radiosondes were calibrated to measure global temperature and the satellites were specifically designed for that purpose, while the surface network was designed to measure agricultural weather, which should objective scientists trust least?

In 1998, the Remote System Sensing (RSS) team led by Frank Wentz discovered an orbital decay-induced spurious cooling in the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) satellite record. The UAH scientists corrected their record, the balloon record was also revised, so all three records showed a warming trend. Only at that point did global (as distinct from urban or local) warming become a “fact” — a trend confirmed by multiple independent observations. But then, irony of ironies, global warming plateaued in the RSS record, and “the pause” has persisted for 17 and a half years.

Even today, calling anthropogenic global warming a ”fact” – meaning conclusively demonstrated – would still be an exaggeration.

A study published last year by Benjamin Santer and colleagues in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, alluding to the IPCC’s iconic attribution statement, proudly proclaimed “clear evidence for a discernible human influence on the thermal structure of the atmosphere.” Since 1979, the middle atmosphere has warmed (albeit less than predicted) while the stratosphere has cooled. This observed pattern matches the model-predicted vertical structure (“fingerprint”) of anthropogenic climate change.

Why is that evidence of anthropogenic warming? If the Sun were responsible for global warming, the stratosphere should also get warmer. But if warming is due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the troposphere, then the stratosphere should cool because more upwelling heat is trapped in the layer beneath it.

Santer et al., however, chose their words carefully — perhaps artfully. A “discernible human influence” can include the cooling effects of manufactured substances, chiefly hydroflourocarbons, that destroy ozone in the troposphere. Ozone is itself a greenhouse (heat absorbing) gas. So some significant part of stratospheric cooling could be due to ozone depletion rather than to greenhouse gas emissions trapping more heat in the troposphere. A study cited by the Santer team, led by one of its co-authors, acknowledges that possibility:

In the mid and upper stratosphere the simulated natural and combined anthropogenic responses are detectable and consistent with observations, but the influences of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances could not be separately detected in our analysis.

Sixth, when read in context, “reposition as theory, rather than fact” refers not to anthropogenic warming per se but to the prediction “that higher levels of carbon dioxide will bring a catastrophic global warming.” For example, an ICE document quotes then University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels: “I am one of many scientists who believe the vision of catastrophic global warming is distorted.”

The key climate science question for policymakers and citizens is not whether anthropogenic global warming is real but whether, in Al Gore’s words, climate change is “a planetary emergency — a crisis that threatens the survival of civilization and the habitability of the Earth.” The climate alarm narrative was not a “fact” in 1991 and certainly is not today.

Mounting evidence indicates that the climate is substantially less sensitive (reactive) to greenhouse gas emissions than “consensus” science had assumed. The oft-asserted link between warming and extreme weather continues to elude researchers. More importantly, the climate trilogy of terror – ocean circulation collapse, rapid ice sheet disintegration, and runaway climate change (the methane “bomb”) – has far less scientific plausibility today than it did in 1991.**

Gore and other climate campaigners have been trying for decades to reposition fear as fact. Their j’accuse directed at skeptics is Orwellian.


Mudslides & Global Warming

There is no natural phenomenon these days that is not somehow linked to a (non)warming world. Slate's Eric Holthaus wasted no time blaming the recent devastating mudslide in Oso, Washington, on the side effects of global warming. “One of the most well-forecast and consequential components of human-caused climate change is the tendency for rainstorms to become more intense as the planet warms,” he writes. “As the effect becomes more pronounced, that will make follow-on events like flooding and landslides more common. But we don't have to wait for the future. This is already happening.” Yet according to the Associated Press, “A scientist working for the government had warned 15 years ago about the potential for a catastrophic landslide in the fishing village where the collapse of a rain-soaked hillside over the weekend killed at least 14 people and left scores missing.” Holthaus admits in the same article that the “disaster occurred in an area known for its landslides.” But like all alarmists, he just couldn't resist provoking the debate.


UK Prime Minister: Fracking Must Start By End Of Year

Britain has a "duty" to embrace fracking in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, David Cameron has said, as he accused opponents of shale gas exploration of not "understanding" the issue properly.

The Prime Minister said that Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea should be a "wake up call" and that European countries must become less reliant on Russian gas.

There is growing concern that European leaders are unable to put sufficient pressure on Mr Putin over the crisis in Ukraine because they are so dependent on Russia for energy supplies.

Asked whether it is now "our duty to ensure that we are more energy independent by embracing fracking", the Prime Minister said: "Yes I think it is. Something positive should come out of this for Europe which is to take a long hard look at its energy resilience, and its energy independence."

"Britain is not reliant on Russian gas to any extent, it's a few percentage points of our gas intake," Mr Cameron said. "But the variety around Europe is very, very wide. Some countries are almost 100 per cent reliant on Russian gas so I think it is something of a wake up call and I think action will be taken."

Fracking, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in the USA.

Ministers are hoping that it could do the same in the UK. However, the process led to protests last year in West Sussex.

Barack Obama this week used a summit in the Netherlands to press Mr Cameron and other European Union leaders to impose tougher sanctions on Russia over Mr Putin's aggression in Ukraine.

Officials believe that Britain can learn from the speed with which America has embraced fracking.

Mr Cameron said: "Why has it taken so long in the UK and Europe as compared to the US? We can ponder that or alternatively we can just do what this Government is doing which is to roll up the sleeves, simplify the process, make the permissions easier, getting on with some wells moving."

However, in comments that risk angering opponents of fracking, Mr Cameron said that there is a "lack of understanding" about how shale gas exploration works.

"A lot of people think that the process of fracturing shale goes forever and ever rather than having a process and then you release the gas and then you take the gas off," Mr Cameron said.

"There's a lack of understanding about the nature of what actually happens and how much it has in common with the ways that we extract gas in the world today."

He added: "When I look at a lot of the concerns expressed, I think a lot of them are based on concerns and people worrying about things but I think when you actually look at them all and go through at all the issues, I think there's a really good answer to all the questions. "

He said that there will be some shale gas wells "up and running" in the UK by the end of this year.

A study backed by the British Geological Survey this week warned that shale gas exploration could be dangerous and lead to water contamination because wells may leak underground.


US Republicans Pressure Obama On Natural Gas Exports To Europe

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is ramping up pressure on President Obama to fast-track natural-gas exports to reduce Europe's dependence on Russia.

During a briefing with Republican leadership on Tuesday, Boehner hit the administration and Senate Democrats for opposing "common-sense measures."

"President Obama is in Europe today. I hope he uses this as an opportunity to discuss how we can help the Europeans reduce their dependence on Vladimir Putin," Boehner said.

"Expediting the approval of U.S. natural-gas exports would send a clear signal that Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe will not continue. And just as important, it would create more American jobs and help more Americans as they face the squeeze of not enough jobs and not enough increase in wages," he added.

Republicans aren't backing down on natural-gas exports, and have found some allies in a few Senate Democrats.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) both affirmed their support of sending more liquefied natural gas overseas during Landrieu's first hearing as chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.


The carbon dioxide level is dangerously LOW

By: David Archibald

The following has been excerpted from Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century will be Nasty, Brutish, and Short by David Archibald:

The United States is needlessly penalizing itself and squandering its resource endowment, all because of the big lie that carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming. The Chinese, in contrast, merely pay lip service to that big lie. The only reason they are making a token effort on the “global warming” front is to encourage Western countries to continue hobbling their own economies. One can be forgiven for thinking that there must be some truth in the global warming notion given how much noise its advocates have made. But as with most causes promoted by leftist ideologues, the truth is exactly the opposite to their claim. The fact of the matter is the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere remains dangerously low at four hundred parts per million. In fact the more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the better for all forms of life on planet Earth.

Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stood at 286 parts per million. Let us round this number to 300 parts per million to make the sums easier. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases ensure that the planet is 30°C warmer than it would otherwise be if they were not in the atmosphere, so the average temperature of the planet’s surface is 15°C instead of -15°C. Water vapor is responsible for 80 percent of that effect, and carbon dioxide for only 10 percent, with methane, ozone, and so forth accounting for the remainder. So the approximately 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide is good for 3°C degrees of warming. If the relationship between carbon dioxide concentration and temperature were arithmetic—in other words, a straight linear relationship—then adding another 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide would result in one degree of warming. We are adding 2 parts per million to the atmosphere annually, or 100 parts per million every fifty years. At that rate, humanity would fry.

Thankfully, the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature is logarithmic, not arithmetic. The first 20 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provides 1.6°C of warming, after which the effect drops away rapidly. From the current level of 400 parts per million, each addition of 100 parts per million adds only 0.1°C of warming. By the time we have dug up all the rocks we can economically burn, and burned them, we may reach 600 parts per million in the atmosphere. So perhaps we might add another 0.2°C of warming over the next two centuries. That warming will be lost in the noise of natural climate variation. So much for the problem of global warming! As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is tuckered out. On the positive side of the ledger, it is very beneficial as aerial fertilizer. The carbon dioxide that mankind has put into the atmosphere to date has in fact boosted crop yields by 15 percent. This is like giving the Third World countries free phosphate fertilizer. Who could possibly be so heartless as to deny under- developed countries that benefit, at no cost to anyone?

The real threat is dangerously low levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Earth has been in a glacial period for the last 3 million years, including some sixty separate glacial advances and retreats. The current Holocene interglacial period might last up to another 3,000 years before the Earth plunges into another glaciation. Carbon dioxide is a gas highly soluble in water, and its solubility is highly temperature dependent. The colder the planet is, the more carbon dioxide the oceans absorb. During glaciations the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has fallen to as low at 180 parts per million. It needs to be stressed that plant life shuts down at 150 parts per million, as plants are unable to operate with the partial pressure differential of carbon dioxide between their cells and the atmosphere. Several times during the last 3 million years, life above sea level was within 30 parts per million of being extinguished by a lack of carbon dioxide. The flowering plants we rely upon in our diet evolved 100 million years ago when the carbon dioxide level was four times the current concentration. For plant life, the current amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is near starvation levels

And unfortunately, the carbon dioxide that human beings are pumping into the atmosphere will not be there for very long. There is fifty times as much carbon dioxide held by the oceans as there is in the atmosphere. As the deep oceans turn over, on an eight-hundred-year cycle of circulation, they will take the carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere down into Davy Jones’s Locker, where it will be of no use to man, beast, or plant life. Agricultural productivity will rise for the next two centuries or so, along with the atmospheric carbon dioxide level, after which it will fall away. By the year 3000 AD, the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide level will be only a couple of percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Life above sea level will therefore remain dangerously pre- carious because of the low carbon dioxide level.

“Global warming” is an irrational belief whose proponents demonstrate no interest in examining scientific evidence that may prove their beliefs incorrect. As a simple cult, it has failed to progress much beyond the concept of original sin, apocalyptic visions, sumptuary laws, and the selling of indulgences. Wind farms are the temples of this state-sponsored belief system. This cult doesn’t extend to building aged-care homes, hospitals, or anything much for the common good. Instead it degrades the fabric of society by misdirecting human effort. Its true believers can hardly be blamed; the global warming cult is not much different from any of the other end-of-the-world cults that have preceded it. Society’s opprobrium should be saved for the gatekeepers who have failed in their duty to protect the public from the depredations of the global warming rent-seekers and charlatans. The boards and executive staffs of a number of learned societies across the Western world have embraced this cult against the wishes of the majority of their members…idso positive CO2

The fact that the world has not warmed since 1998 (in defiance of the global warming scare) hasn’t dented cult members’ faith. Arguing scientific evidence with them is pointless. It will take something far worse than a return of the frigid winters of the 1970s to create doubt in their minds. That something worse is coming. Millions of people may have to endure many harsh years before this pernicious cult is vanquished. And until the global warming myth is exploded, the security of the United States—and thus of the world—is also at risk.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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