Friday, April 18, 2014

Amusing:  Lewandowski revisited

Stephan Lewandowski has written two papers designed to show climate skeptics as nutters.  The first was accepted for publication in a good journal but not actually published and the second was published but then withdrawn.  Both papers have however been readily available on the internet for some time.  The second paper was largely designed to refute the many substantial criticisms of the first.

A major criticism of the first paper is that many of the statements Lewandowski gathered could have been the work of "trolls", impostors or other people not giving sincere responses over the internet.  Now that the second paper has been withdrawn on ethical grounds by the journal which first published it, my curiosity about the whole affair was revived and I read the second paper as located on Lewandowski's  university site.

My chief curiosity was not about ethical issues.  I expect dishonesty from the Green/Left  -- witness the "Climategate" emails, for instance.  Rather I was interested in the central issue of data integrity. How do they answer the challenge that their data was not a true sample of skeptical thinking?

And their answer is pathetic.  They raise the "faking" issue at some length and conclude:  "Finally, without a priori specification of what constitutes faked responses, the scamming hypothesis is in principle unfalsiable: there exists no response pattern that could not be considered "fake""

Precisely, one would think.  There is no way of rejecting the "fakery" hypothesis because there is no way of detecting what is fake.  So the data could indeed be substantially faked.  Therefore there is no guarantee that it is not fake.  The study is simply inconclusive.  It proves nothing because the genuineness of the responses cannot be guaranteed.

Faked responses are a big issue in questionnaire and other psychological research.  I battled with that issue for 20 years in my own psychological research.  There are ways of minimizing the problem -- all of which I used -- but in the end I concluded that there was no solution to the problem and that survey research is largely useless for its intended purpose.  For that reason, I have now spent another 20 years or so devoting my attention to history instead (e.g. here and here).  History has its problems but it is my view that it tells us a lot more about human behaviour than psychology does.  And the history of Warmism is of an unending stream of failed predictions.

But in any case the whole Lewandowski enterprise is a huge  example of one of the informal fallacies of logic:  The "Ad hominem" fallacy.  Even if he could prove his claim that skeptics are unduly suspicious, it would not mean that they were wrong.  But Warmists rarely argue on the science.  Abuse of skeptics and appeals to authority is their "modus operandi"  --  as we skeptics repeatedly observe in our encounters with Warmists.

Climate Vacuum Cleaner

That all the earth's grasslands and forests are already a great CO2 vacuum cleaner the Warmists seem to have forgotten.  Do they intend to duplicate all of our grasslands and forests?

Just when we thought the UN couldn't get any more ridiculous in its climate change warnings and prescriptions, they exceed our expectations. According to UPI, the third report in a series from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "suggests vacuuming up vast amounts of CO2 from the skies and storing it underground" as a "viable solution for mitigating the greenhouse gas effect in the short term."

That would have to be quite a Dirt Devil. But they're serious, they insist, that something must be done. IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri says, "The high speed mitigation train needs to leave the station very soon and all of global society would need to get on board."

Uniformity or bust, that's the climate alarmists' way. But if you'll pardon the pun, we think this idea sucks.


Some Answers to Global Warming Propaganda

George Reisman comments on NY Times Article "Political Rifts Slow U.S. Effort on Climate Laws"

On April 15, the National (print) edition of The New York Times published an article titled "Political Rifts Slow U.S. Effort on Climate Laws." The article was inspired by the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and naively and uncritically accepted the findings of that report as true.

It's remarkable that the author of this article, and the authors of the IPCC report that inspired it, can be concerned about the destructive effects on food production and other essentials of human well-being that will allegedly result from global warming, but do not give the slightest thought to the destructive effects on human well-being of forcibly imposing drastic reductions in CO2 emissions. These emissions are a by-product of such things as the use of tractors and harvesters in food production and of refrigerators and freezers in food preservation. They are the result of people driving automobiles, lighting, heating, and air conditioning their homes, and using electricity to power their machinery and appliances. In short, CO2 emissions are a by-product of producing and enjoying the material goods that distinguish a modern standard of living from that of the Third World.

Preventing government imposed reductions in the use of fossil fuels is not something that is merely in the narrow self-interest of the oil and coal industries. Rather it is in the self-interest of the hundreds of millions of average people who vitally depend on the products of these industries.

Perhaps there will someday be economical substitutes for fossil fuels. Until then, substantially reducing the use of fossil fuels means imposing the certainty of a drastic decline in the standard of living of the average person in order to avoid what is at most the possibility of some seriously bad weather.

And if we need such things as massive sea walls to avoid such effects of that bad weather as the flooding of coastal areas, we had better be sure that we have the largest possible modern industrial base available to construct them.

It’s equally remarkable that those who fear global warming have given virtually no consideration to non-destructive ways of dealing with it, assuming that the threat is real in the first place. Why aren’t major prizes being offered for the development of low-cost, effective methods of removing large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere? For example, is it beyond us to develop plant species that will absorb vast multiples of the CO2 that plants normally absorb? Why is the only possible solution thought to be the destruction of modern economic life?

If global warming is a real threat, why haven’t politicians the world over made the negotiation of treaties for free immigration a top priority? If it’s a serious threat, and people will not willingly deal with it by committing economic suicide in the form of depriving themselves of the massive amounts of energy that would be lost through such measures as imposing a 70 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, then preparations should be starting now to allow for the future migration of hundreds of millions of Indians and Chinese into what will then be an inhabitable Siberia. The United States, Mexico, and the countries of Central America, should likewise be negotiating for free immigration into what will then be an inhabitable central Canada. Greenland should be declared open to all comers. Whatever the problems it may cause, global warming, if it really comes, will also be accompanied by vast new economic opportunities if not blocked by government migration barriers.

Or are we to fear that the “sin” of enjoying a modern standard of living must end in nothing less than a version of hellfire and brimstone—in the form of the recreation on Earth of the climate conditions on the planet Venus?

If so, what is the proof? Is it the direct observation of another planet Earth that turned into a Venus? Or is it strings of assumptions and inferences? And how can the Earth have had ice ages accompanied by more than10 times the CO2 that it is supposedly on track to experience now?


Europe’s New Energy Policy: More Coal, More Gas, More Shale, More wind

 Europe is stitching together a patchwork of measures that could reduce its natural gas imports from Russia by over a quarter by the end of the decade as a result of the Ukraine crisis, halting Moscow's tightening grip over the region's energy.

Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region has chilled political relations between Russia and the European Union, prompting governments across the bloc to look at ways to cut demand, find alternative supplies and switch to other fuel sources such as coal and renewables.

Reuters calculations suggest these steps could slash imports from Russia by around 45 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2020, worth $18 billion a year, equivalent to a quarter of what Russia currently supplies.

Past hopes of loosening Moscow's grip have been dashed, not helped by Germany's decision to give up on nuclear power, with Russia's share of EU supplies rising 10 percentage points to over a third since 2010, and before the current crisis Russia's gas share in Europe was expected to remain stable at current levels.

The crisis in Ukraine has shaken policymakers awake across Europe's capitals, and several emergency meetings over energy security have been held in the past weeks.

"We are serious about reducing our energy dependency ... We need a new way to do energy business," said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who represents EU governments in Brussels.

At the forefront of these plans are Germany and Italy, Russia's biggest gas clients in the EU, but also Poland.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in late March that "energy policy will have to be newly considered".

Germany is Europe's biggest gas user and Russia's most important customer, using over 80 bcm of gas a year and meeting around a third of its demand through imports from Gazprom, a share that has steadily risen over the past 20 years.


Germany's most immediate plans to reduce Russian gas imports are to ramp up alternative supplies and reduce demand through improved energy efficiency.

Germany already has something of a mountain to climb, having shut down 7 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power in response to the nuclear meltdown disaster in Japan in 2011, with plans by 2022 to shut down its remaining nine reactors, which generate 12 GW, according to the World Nuclear Association.

There appears to be no prospect of Germany reconsidering its nuclear withdrawal.

The majority of the lost capacity is planned to be filled by coal and renewable facilities.

Between 2014 and 2015, German utilities plan to connect almost 6 GW of new hard coal power capacity to the grid and 2.7 GW of new offshore wind installations.

It only plans to add 0.5 GW of new natural gas, and with several older gas stations being retired, there will be a net decline in gas use.

Similar efforts are being made in Italy, which uses over 70 bcm of gas a year and is the EU's second biggest importer of Russian supplies.

The Ukraine stand-off has already put a question mark over the future of the 2,400 km (1,500 mile) South Stream pipeline project, which will pump Russian gas to Italy later this decade.

"The developments of the Ukraine crisis could put at risk the construction of South Stream," Italy's Industry Minister Federica Guidi told parliament in late March.

The head of Italian oil and gas company Eni had already warned a week earlier that the Gazprom-led project was in jeopardy.

Minister Guidi said the government had plans to reduce energy consumption via efficiency measures by 20 percent this decade, and that it would remove red tape to expand its import capacity of non-Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well as complete the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) gas corridor that will bring 10 bcm of Azeri gas to Italy towards the end of this decade.

Guidi also said it wanted to attract investors to look for oil and gas in Italy by simplifying the permitting process.

Many Mediterranean countries are hoping to repeat the success of Israel and Cyprus in finding offshore gas.

Almost 1 trillion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas has already been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin, enough to supply Europe with gas for over two years.

Although most of the Mediterranean gas riches will end up in higher-paying Asia, Turkey and Egypt, some could also go to the EU.

Analysts also said the global LNG market would have more supplies available for Europe towards the end of the decade.

"Europe might be just lucky enough that the global LNG market rebalances towards the end of the decade," said Massimo Di-Odoardo, senior analyst at energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie.

"There are currently around 150 bcm of LNG projects under construction globally, and we don't believe there is enough additional LNG demand outside Europe. This means that a lot of the LNG from the Atlantic and Middle East now being diverted to Asia will eventually come back to Europe," he added.


The urge to reduce Russia's energy grip is particularly keen in central Europe, where memories of Soviet dominance are still fresh and almost all gas is supplied by Russia.

Poland plans to start a 5 bcm per year capacity LNG terminal by next January to import gas from overseas countries such as Qatar and, later this decade, the United States and Canada, where a shale gas production boom has led to a supply glut.

"Poland will never be subject to any blackmail in this respect," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said last month.

Since 2009, when Russia supplied over 91 percent of Poland's gas, Poland has doubled the capacity of a pipeline link with Germany and built a new link to the Czech Republic.

Despite these steps and efforts to explore for shale gas, Poland still relies on Russian imports for roughly two thirds of its annual gas usage of 15 billion cubic metres.

Tusk said his government had therefore approved a new shale gas bill that would help encourage investors by reducing red tape and regulatory hurdles.

Poland also has plans to use more of its large domestic lignite coal reserves.

Other countries in the Baltic region are also planning to begin LNG imports soon.

Finland and Estonia, who both import all their gas needs from Russia, signed an agreement in late February to build two LNG terminals on either side of the Gulf of Finland and a pipeline connecting the two countries.

Lithuania, another Baltic country that relies entirely on Russian imports, also plans to introduce a floating LNG facility that will allow imports of 2-4 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year from 2015.

Deeper into southeastern Europe, where Russia's grip is also tight, U.S. energy major Exxon Mobil and OMV Petrom plan to produce 6.5 bcm of natural gas from Romania's Domino field by 2020.


The IPCC, the Police & Greenpeace

Greenpeace isn’t anti-establishment anymore. Now it’s just another arm of the authoritarian, UN green machine

Here in Berlin yesterday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final section of its new climate report. While excluded from witnessing the important, four-day meeting that preceded it, journalists were invited to attend a press conference. So long as they were prepared to behave like trained circus animals, that is.

Let it never be said that UN bodies don’t thrive on bureaucracy. You’d think it might be a straightforward matter for a journalist such as myself who’d completed the appropriate paperwork, submitted the right documents, and been officially accredited for a UN climate event in Warsaw last November to gain access to yesterday’s proceedings. But no.

As page two of this IPCC document explains, even reporters who’d jumped through all the press accreditation hoops two weeks ago in order to attend the Working Group 2 press conference held in Yokohama, Japan had to start at the beginning again in order to get through the door yesterday:

"The IPCC operates its own registration and accreditation system, which is based on the media accreditation guidelines of the United Nations… Media representatives wishing to attend the Berlin press conference must register separately for this event even if they have already registered for the Working Group II press conference in Yokohama that was held on 31 March."

It was the job of the large gentleman in the photograph above to prevent non-UN-approved people – including random members of the public who also happened to be staying at the Berlin Estrel Hotel and Convention Centre – from trespassing on this carefully controlled, stage managed event.

IPCC press conferences are strictly off-limits to the great unwashed. Chairman Pachauri’s claim that:

"The IPCC is a totally transparent organization…Whatever we do is available for scrutiny at every stage"

is so much nonsense.

There’s nothing friendly or cuddly about the United Nations, its organizations, or its events. Had anyone been foolish enough to challenge the large gentleman above, some of the numerous police officers on the premises would no doubt have quickly come to his aid.

In any case, while the press conference was taking place, Greenpeace was starved for attention. For the committed souls in the photograph below, taking turns holding signs at the side of a roadway is perhaps equivalent to religious services on a fine Sunday morning.

It’s important to observe that this was not a protest. There on the street, as automobiles whizzed past, Greenpeace was delivering the exact same ‘clean energy now‘ fantasy message that IPCC officials, supported by security personnel and police (and sponsored by the powerful, affluent, and influential German government) were delivering inside.

Greenpeace isn’t anti-establishment anymore. As Patrick Moore explains in Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, it sold its soul long ago.  Now it’s just another arm of the authoritarian, UN green machine.


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