Tuesday, April 01, 2014

An apologetic tone this time

The latest IPCC report has got a lot of publicity wordwide.  In Australia, the most Leftist newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, had a real blast today with 3 articles derived from the UN report.

What is notable, however, is the apologetic nature of the coverage.  They admit we have heard all this before and admit it is exaggerated.  They clearly have no hope of new converts to Warmism.

One such article is given below and there is another one  here

In the lobby of the Sydney aquarium where the Australian launch of the UN’s latest climate change report was released on Monday is a terrifying great white shark.

The beast measures 7.5 metres long with a razor-toothed mouth so big it could easily swallow a human whole. It looks at least as big as the fibreglass monster used in the movie Jaws.

Thankfully, the aquarium shark is only a model. In real life, the biggest great white ever reliably measured was 6.4 metres. That’s still a whopper; the average mature specimen is four to five metres.

Why make a ridiculously outsized model for an aquarium? For effect, of course, to get the paying public in. Give ‘em a good scare.

Some of the authors of part of the latest climate report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have done something similar:

“In short, human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival.”

They might be able to argue the threat to well-being and health, but human survival? A temperature rise, even at the extreme end of projections, of four to five degrees Celsius, does not plausibly threaten homo sapiens with extinction.

The three scientists who wrote this summary for the website The Conversation are Anthony McMichael of ANU, and Colin Butler and Helen Berry of the University of Canberra. They contributed to the report’s chapter on health effects of climate change.

Presumably they’re trying to help the cause of addressing climate change, using outlandish fears to attract attention. More likely they will undermine it by scaremongering.

The two scientists who conducted the report’s Australian launch on Monday, both lead authors of the official IPCC report, would not defend the extinction claim.

One, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of Queensland University’s Global Change Institute, politely described it as “extreme.”

A credible advocate of action, the Climate Institute’s John Connor, used the same word – “extreme” – when asked what he thought of the claim of the possible extinction of humanity.

Perhaps the three are frustrated by the pace of official action to limit carbon emissions. That’s understandable. The carbon concentration in the global atmosphere hit 400 parts per million last year, the highest in millions of years, according to ice core samples, and continues to rise at an average pace of two parts per million a year.

“We are on an inexorable march to 450 ppm and much higher levels” remarked a NASA scientist and program manager, Michael Gunson. “These were the targets for stabilisation suggested not too long ago. The world is quickening the rate of accumulation of CO2, and has shown no signs of slowing this down.”

The only serious way carbon output can be prudently managed is by the world’s governments.

Global government action has to catch up with change in the planet. But hysteria and exaggeration from concerned scientists won’t help. It will only damage their cause.

The three scaremongers undercut the work of the other scientists, the 309 lead authors and the other 433 contributing authors of Monday’s report.

The overall thrust of the IPCC report is credible and resists overreach.

It projects, for instance, that an extra two degrees of warming could lead to the loss of 2 per cent of global GDP, rather than the 5 per cent forecast by one of the earlier estimates, that of Britain’s Nicholas Stern.

And there’s certainly no need to exaggerate the dangers. The world is on a carbon trajectory for 4 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels.

This will pose “large risks to global and regional food security,” the IPCC warns, and “compromise normal human activities like growing food or working outdoors for some parts of the year.”

And it’s not all about the future; many effects are already upon us. In its annual report on world climate, the World Meteorological Organisation pointed to unusual weather events from Cairo’s first snowfall in a century to the widest US tornado on record.

Every continent, including Antarctica, saw some sort of record-breaking weather. The WMO said no single event could be attributed directly to climate change:

“But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result” of man-made climate change, said the organisation’s secretary general, Michel Jarraud.

Its report included, for the first time, a separate sub-section on Australia. It pointed out that national 12-month temperature records were set for the periods ending in three consecutive months last year – in August, another in September, and a third October, topped off by a new record for the calendar year 2013.

These record Australian temperatures were notable because they occurred during a phase of the El Nina cycle that normally brings cooler conditions, not hotter.

Drawing on the work of Sophie Lewis and David Karoly of Melbourne University’s Centre of Excellence on Climate System Science, the report simulated conditions for 13,000 different climate years considering natural factors only.

They found Australia’s record hot 2013 would have been “virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.”

The world’s people need to know the science, so they can demand action from the world’s politicians. For scientists to scaremonger just gives recalcitrant politicians an easy way to laugh them off.

There’s no good reason to jump the shark.


A more cautious report

There is still great uncertainty about the impacts of climate change, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released today. So if we are to survive and prosper, rather than trying to fend off specific threats like cyclones, we must build flexible and resilient societies.

Today's report is the second of three instalments of the IPCC's fifth assessment of climate change. The first instalment, released last year, covered the physical science of climate change. It stated with increased certainty that climate change is happening, and that it is the result of humanity's greenhouse gas emissions. The new report focuses on the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to them. The third instalment, on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions, comes out in April.

The latest report backs off from some of the predictions made in the previous IPCC report, in 2007. During the final editing process, the authors also retreated from many of the more confident projections from the final draft, leaked last year. The IPCC now says it often cannot predict which specific impacts of climate change – such as droughts, storms or floods – will hit particular places.

Instead, the IPCC focuses on how people can adapt in the face of uncertainty, arguing that we must become resilient against diverse changes in the climate.

"The natural human tendency is to want things to be clear and simple," says the report's co-chair Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. "And one of the messages that doesn't just come from the IPCC, it comes from history, is that the future doesn't ever turn out the way you think it will be." That means, Field adds, that "being prepared for a wide range of possible futures is just always smart".

Here New Scientist breaks down what is new in the report, and what it means for humanity's efforts to cope with a changing climate. A companion article, "How climate change will affect where you live", highlights some of the key impacts that different regions are facing.

What has changed in the new IPCC report?
In essence, the predictions are intentionally more vague. Much of the firmer language from the 2007 report about exactly what kind of weather to expect, and how changes will affect people, has been replaced with more cautious statements. The scale and timing of many regional impacts, and even the form of some, now appear uncertain.

For example, the 2007 report predicted that the intensity of cyclones over Asia would increase by 10 to 20 per cent. The new report makes no such claim. Similarly, the last report estimated that climate change would force up to a quarter of a billion Africans into water shortage by the end of this decade. The new report avoids using such firm numbers.

The report has even watered down many of the more confident predictions that appeared in the leaked drafts. References to "hundreds of millions" of people being affected by rising sea levels have been removed from the summary, as have statements about the impact of warmer temperatures on crops.

"I think it's gone back a bit," says Jean Palutikof of Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who worked on the 2007 report. "That may be a good thing. In the fourth [climate assessment] we tried to do things that weren't really possible and the fifth has sort of rebalanced the whole thing."

So do we know less than we did before?
Not really, says Andy Pitman of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. It is just more rigorous language. "Pointing to the sign of the change, rather than the precise magnitude of the change, is scientifically more defensible," he says.

We also know more about what we don't know, says David Karoly at the University of Melbourne. "There is now a better understanding of uncertainties in regional climate projections at decadal timescales."


British government's secret bid to make climate report more alarmist

British officials were last night accused of ‘political interference’ in a crucial report on international climate change.   The economic impact of global warming was ramped up in the final draft by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Shortly before authors wrote the final version, a British Government official passed scientists a note complaining about an earlier, more moderate draft.

The official, from Ed Davey’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, said the economic section of the report was at best an ‘under-estimate’ and at worst ‘completely meaningless’.

The final document, published today in Japan, increases the predicted economic impact of global warming.

Critics said the suggestion of political interference by the Coalition, which set out to be the ‘greenest government ever’, was alarming.

Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘It is always the same with climate change. If the facts don’t suit them, they change it to suit them.   ‘A Government official interfering with an independent scientific report is ridiculous. What you want … is what the independent scientific community thinks – not what people want them to say for their political purposes.’

The IPCC report is the first comprehensive analysis in seven years of the global consequences of climate change. It warns that the world is ‘ill-prepared’ and that the effects are ‘already occurring on all continents and across the oceans’.

Rising temperatures, droughts and heatwaves will threaten food supplies and human health, while hundreds of millions of people will be hit by coastal flooding, it finds.

The report, by more than 300 authors, informs policy decisions of governments around the world.

But one of its contributors has accused the IPCC of being too ‘alarmist’ – and demanded his name be withdrawn. Professor Richard Tol, an economist at the University of Sussex, said the drafts had been changed to make the findings more ‘apocalyptic’. He said colleagues ‘drifted too far to the alarmist side’ and were likening climate change to the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’.

His section of the report, based on 18 economic studies, predicted in early drafts that global warming of 2.5C would cut economic output by between 0.2 and 2 per cent a year – much less than previous estimates of up to 20 per cent.

But the final IPCC report labels his predictions ‘incomplete estimates’. It states: ‘Losses are more likely than not to be greater … than this range.’

Britain, among other nations, lobbied for this highly significant change. On Friday, before final drafting discussions, the British government submitted a note faulting the draft.

It said: ‘The quoted figures of 0.2 to 2 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] are at best an under-estimate, and at worst completely meaningless.’

Other governments including Belgium, France and Norway also complained. But Chris Field, co-chair of the IPCC writers, last night dismissed criticism of the last-minute alteration and said the final report gave a ‘much clearer picture’.

Despite praising Professor Tol as a ‘wonderful scientist’, Professor Field of Stanford University, added: ‘There were a couple of meaningful errors in the way Richard had done his analysis.’

Mr Davey said: ‘The science has spoken … This evidence builds the case for early action … We cannot afford to wait.’ A DECC spokesman said climate change impacts could be ‘catastrophic’, adding: ‘These cannot be underestimated and the UK Government, as well as other countries, are seeking to make sure this is understood the world over.’

But Professor Gordon Hughes, an environmental economist at Edinburgh University, said: ‘The IPCC has been a political body ever since it started … this is political interference.


James Lovelock: environmentalism has become a religion

Scientist behind the Gaia hypothesis says environment movement does not pay enough attention to facts and he was too certain in the past about rising temperatures

The 94 year-old scientist, famous for his Gaia hypothesis that Earth is a self-regulating, single organism, also said that he had been too certain about the rate of global warming in his past book, that "it’s just as silly to be a [climate] denier as it is to be a believer” and that fracking and nuclear power should power the UK, not renewable sources such as windfarms.

Speaking to the Guardian for an interview ahead of a landmark UN climate science report on Monday on the impacts of climate change, Lovelock said of the warnings of climate catastrophe in his 2006 book, Revenge of Gaia: "I was a little too certain in that book. You just can’t tell what’s going to happen."

“It [the impact from climate change] could be terrible within a few years, though that’s very unlikely, or it could be hundreds of years before the climate becomes unbearable," he said.

Lovelock's comments appear to be at odds with dire forecasts from a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday, which leaked versions show will warn that even small temperature rises will bring "abrupt and irreversible changes" to natural systems, including Arctic sea ice and coral reefs.

Asked if his remarks would give ammunition to climate change sceptics, he said: "It’s just as silly to be a denier as it is to be a believer. You can’t be certain."

Talking about the environmental movement, Lovelock says: "It’s become a religion, and religions don’t worry too much about facts." The retired scientist, who worked at the Medical Research Council, describes himself as an "old-fashioned green."

Lovelock reiterated his support for fracking for shale gas, which has been strongly backed by David Cameron and the government but vigorously opposed by anti-fracking activists and local people at sites from Salford to Balcombe in West Sussex.

“The government is too frightened to use nuclear, renewables won’t work –because we don’t have enough sun – and we can’t go on burning coal because it produces so much CO2, so that leaves fracking. It produces only a fraction of the amount of CO2 that coal does, and will make Britain secure in energy for quite a few years. We don’t have much choice," he said.


94% of Electricity in 2013 Came from sources Greenies don't like: Reactors, Dams and Fossil Fuels

Ninety-four percent of the electricity generated in the United States in 2013 came from nuclear reactors, dams, and fossil fuels--including petroleum, natural gas, other gases, and coal--according to a new report from the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration.

Only 0.2 percent of U.S. electricity during the year came from solar-power sources, and another 4.1 percent came from wind power.

In total, the United States generated a net of 4,058,209 million kilowatthours of electricity in 2013. That was up slightly—0.26 percent--from the 4,047,765 million KWH generated in 2012. But it remained less than 4,156,745 million KWH generated in 2007, which remains the peak year for U.S. electricity generation.

Coal-fired electricity production, which rebounded last year after two years of decline, was the nation’s leading source of electricity in 2013. It produced 1,585,998 million KWH—up 4.8 percent from the 1,514,043 million KWH produced in 2012.

Coal-produced electricity in 2013 was still down 21.3 percent from its peak in 2007, when coal plants in the United States produced 2,016,456 million KWH.

In 2013, natural gas was the second greatest source of U.S. electricity, producing 1,113,665 million KWH. Nuclear power plants were the third largest source, producing 789,017 million KWH. And conventional hydroelectric power was the fourth greatest source, producing 269,136 million KWH hours.

Wood-burning electricity sources actually out-produced solar power. With wood generating 39,937 million KWH of electricity in 2013 and solar producing 9,252 million KWH.

Wind power was the fifth greatest source of electricity in the U.S.—following hyrdroelectric—generating 167,665 million KWH.

The combined output from all wind and solar power sources in the United States was 176,917 million KWH—or about 4.36 percent of the nation’s total supply.

The U.S. would have to multiply its present solar and wind power resources 26 times in order to produce the total volume of electricity generated in the country last year.


Ivy League Statistician Debunks NASA-Funded 'Socialism or Extinction' Study

A Cornell University statistician is debunking a study indirectly funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that “uses a predator-prey model of humans and nature” - with humans as “predators” and nature as “prey”-  to predict the collapse of human civilization unless it reaches a “sustainable equilibrium.”

After analyzing the collapses of advanced civilizations over the past 5,000 years, including the Roman Empire, the Mayans, and the Han Dynasty, the study concludes: “In order to reach a sustainable equilibrium in an unequal society, it is necessary to have policies that limit inequality and ensure birth rates remain below critical levels.” (See motesharrei-rivas-kalnay.pdf)

“Given economic stratification, collapse is very difficult to avoid and requires major policy changes, including major reductions in inequality and population growth rates,” authors Safa Motesharrei, Eugenia Kalnay, and Jorge Rivas say in the study, which was first reported by The Guardian.

The authors adapted a NASA-funded mathematical model on climate change to compare an Egalitarian society (“No-Elites”), an Equitable society (“Workers and Non-Workers with the same level of consumption”), and an Unequal society (“Elites and Commoners”) – the latter of which they say most closely reflects current conditions throughout the world.

They warn that societal collapse occurs when the Elites have “consumed too much," as measured in "eco-dollars," and the Commoner population starts dying off due to famine because their numbers exceed Nature’s “carrying capacity.”

“The results of our experiments…indicate that either one of the two features apparent in historical societal collapse – over-exploitation of natural resources and strong economic stratification – can independently result in a complete collapse,” the study noted, resulting in either a Type-L (“inequality-induced famine” which results in a “Disappearance of Labor”) or a Type-N (“depletion of natural resources” or “exhaustion of Nature”) collapse.

“This NASA-funded study makes case that future is socialism or extinction,” Derrick O’Keefe, a contributor to Ecosocialism Canada, summarized in a tweet.

But the study is fatally flawed, according to William “Matt” Briggs, a statistical consultant and adjunct professor of statistical science at Cornell University and author of Breaking the Law of Averages: Real Life Probability and Statistics in Plain English.

Using a predator-prey model, the “Human and Nature Dynamics” (HANDY) study “swaps the wolves for human beings and the deer for ‘Nature.’ Just how people prey on Nature is not too clear, especially since people are part of Nature,” writes Briggs in a stinging critique of the study.

Since “nothing empirical went into these equations,” the study’s doomsday conclusions “have no applicability whatsoever to humans,” Briggs told CNSNews.com.

“All of the flaws - when they give interpretations to all of those letters, the x’s, the c’s, the Greek letters that they have sprinkled throughout. Those interpretations are just pulled out of the sky, and have nothing to do with any real human society,” Briggs said.

The mathematical equations, he added, are "flawless as far as I can tell, the derivations, the sets of equations, all that kind of stuff. The problem is, all those symbols - they don’t mean anything.

“They attached meaning to those symbols. They said, ‘Well, let’s let this particular variable be Equality, and let this one be Elites, and let this one be Commoners,' and then they, you know, tweaked these parameters they have in the equation and give them various pictures. Now, I could have called them, you know, the number of banana exports and I don’t know, shipping traffic or anything, I mean.

“The math is fine, it’s the interpretation that’s on top of it. There’s nothing empirical that went into these equations, if you understand me. There’s no observations that went into [them], all right, let’s look at the actual state of equality, whatever that is, let's look at the actual sort of eco-dollars (I guess they call them, they never really quite define that), and let’s measure that somehow and then we’ll put these into an equation and then we'll model that reality.

"They did none of that kind of thing. They just developed a set of equations and then said, ‘This is the way reality should look.’ And of course, reality doesn’t look anything like that, as I tried to point out.”

In fact, Briggs says, real-world historical evidence points in the opposite direction. For example, he notes that being a “Commoner” now comes with a much higher risk factor for obesity in the U.S. and other developed nations, thanks to discoveries made by "Elites" of how to grow food more efficiently for a growing population.

"We used to call that progress," he told CNSNews.com.

And, he added, history also shows that socialist societies whose main goal is egalitarianism are actually more likely to collapse than their capitalistic counterparts:

“The HANDY model says Unequal societies must collapse. But which societies, say over the last century, in reality gave up their ghosts?” Briggs asks. “We must ignore those that collapsed because of war (such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Cambodia) or politics (e.g. Rhodesia, Czechoslovakia) because HANDY is silent on these important subjects. The remaining collapses were those societies which were Egalitarian (e.g. the Soviet Union, Cambodia again?)”

Nevertheless, he told CNSNews.com, "no amount of failed forecasts is sufficient to talk these people out of the notion that disaster is right around the corner. It’s a matter of faith.”

According to the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center SESYNC, “Motesharrei received minor support from NASA to develop a coupled earth system model. Some of this funding was spent on the mathematical development of the HANDY model.”

But in a statement last week, the space agency distanced itself from the study:

“A soon-to-be published research paper, 'Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies' by Univeristy of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota's Jorge Rivas, was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA.

“It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions."



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