Archives - August 2009

August 31, 2009


See how a professor of communication takes down a couple of fear-mongering journos

We have covered the breathless and fact-challenged campaign against BPA and the bravura work done by to expose it. The STATS report took no prisoners in its attack on BPA doom profiteer scientist Fred vom Saal, along with the clueless journos—Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger—who used Freddie as essentially their sole source in their 30,000 word screed against the compound.

The STATS report, along with BPA getting essentially a clean bill of health from the State of California and the Canadian government drove Susanne and Meg into full damage control mode. They embarked on an investigation of STATS and report author Trevor Butterworth, publishing their findings on August 22.

The publishing of their findings betrays a rather interesting twist. Nothing is mentioned in the August 22nd article that would contradict a single thing stated in the STATS report. Thus, after expending 30,000 words of precious journalistic real estate on an attack on BPA, Kissinger and Rust choose to spend NONE in defending their work. Instead, they resort to foolish ad hominem attacks.

However, they picked on the wrong group. Please read STATS' reply, written by Bob Lichter, Professor of Communication at George Mason University, and Director of STATS.

I can further add that Meg and Susanne even tried to investigate me, and in a series of e-mails reflected not only petulance, but real ignorance on BPA, beyond what they were fed by Freddie. I was encouraged, though, when Meg said she would "look into" Steven Arnold's scientific fraud (discussed here).

Surely, the duo should have examined other sources, but they could have been overwhelmed by vom Saal's relentless cheerleading for his own pathetic scientific work—behavior that is not particularly common in academia. Sadly, typical of the endocrine disruptor gang, though, he is absolutely shameless. 

I suspect that many in the ED gang are fully aware how bad their science is, but justify it since their cause is so righteous (in their eyes at least).  And with so many journals looking for stuff to publish...Let's just say that Cell is about the only good one left.

Perhaps the STATS efforts will shine much needed light on this matter. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Dorothy Parker Meets The Marlboro Man: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s BPA Conspiracy Theory

It’s not clear which part of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's article on STATS needs the most improvement – the reporting, the ethics, or the logic. It’s practically a seminar on how to use rhetorical devices to mask holes in an argument, including ad hominem, red herrings, straw men, begging the question, poisoning the well, selective quotation, false context, and even a faulty syllogism!

Introduction: Just Trying to Be Helpful
STATS tried to help the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel improve its flawed coverage of the chemical BPA. God knows we tried.

In the course of his lengthy article, editor Trevor Butterworth solicited input from the lead authors of The European Food Safety Authority’s 2006 risk assessment, the current EFSA BPA panel, NSF International’s risk assessment on BPA and the chairman of the Center for Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction’s expert panel on BPA, all of whom provided specific and detailed scientific criticism of the way the Journal Sentinel portrayed the evidence on BPA in its “chemical fallout” series. (Dr. S. Robert Lichter, Professor of Communication, Director, STATS and CMPA, George Mason University)


What is it that makes thespians think they actually know something beyond playacting? Meryl Streep interview for Julie and Julia

Julia Child may have been revered as the woman who taught America to cook. But Meryl Streep, who now portrays the pioneering chef in Julie and Julia, has decidedly mixed feelings about her. On the one hand, she is full of admiration for Child’s indefatigable enthusiasm, determination and love of life. But in her own dealings with Child, who died in 2004 aged 92, she found her to be stubborn and dismissive and was disappointed to discover she was a pawn of big business. (Daily Telegraph)

If Streep merely sought some controversy for publicity then she has likely achieved it. To me she has simply reinforced the stereotype of ignorant left-wing dipstick...


Response from Liz Whelan: Julia Child vs. Meryl Streep

In a recent, totally outrageous interview published in the UK paper The Telegraph, actress Meryl Streep, star of Julie & Julia, maligns and misrepresents the real-life version of the character she plays, famed chef Julia Child.

And in the process she defames the organization I head up, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

Ms. Streep actually calls Julia Child "a pawn of big business." You can hardly get more outrageous than that.

I knew Julia Child. Let me share with you the actual facts about her -- and ACSH.

I got to know Julia some 25 years ago because she was a friend and neighbor of my Harvard mentor, Dr. Fredrick J. Stare, Founder and Chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Julia was no shrinking violet -- she was extremely outspoken. She had two major pet peeves:

•She despised people who demonized specific foods, like butter and sugar.

•She despised activists who terrified people about the safety of their food.

If I can recall the two most common statements that Julia would utter on these issues they were: "all foods are safe in moderation" and "food is to be enjoyed, not feared."

Ms. Streep attacks the memory of Julia Child by stating that Julia "resisted making a connection between the high-fat diet of heavily-laden cordon bleu-influenced cuisine and cholesterol levels." Nonsense. For Julia, there were no "good foods" or "bad foods" -- again, just a variety of foods, all in moderation -- including an occasional cordon bleu. Julia, unlike her fictional counterpart, exhibited a constant stream of common sense. (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)


WHO warns of severe form of swine flu

WASHINGTON - Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic.

"During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, several countries have viewed the need for intensive care as the greatest burden on health services," it said.

"Preparedness measures need to anticipate this increased demand on intensive care units, which could be overwhelmed by a sudden surge in the number of severe cases."

Earlier, WHO reported that H1N1 had reached epidemic levels in Japan, signaling an early start to what may be a long influenza season this year, and that it was also worsening in tropical regions.

"Perhaps most significantly, clinicians from around the world are reporting a very severe form of disease, also in young and otherwise healthy people, which is rarely seen during seasonal influenza infections," WHO said.

"In these patients, the virus directly infects the lung, causing severe respiratory failure. Saving these lives depends on highly specialized and demanding care in intensive care units, usually with long and costly stays." (Reuters)


Health experts warn Europe of feared swine flu surge

LONDON - Health authorities across Europe are bracing for a third of their populations to become infected with the new swine flu virus this autumn, but do not plan to close schools or take other drastic measures to stop it.

Instead, they plan to educate people about hygiene, get vaccines out as soon as possible, and hope the H1N1 pandemic does not become deadlier than it has been.

Some 200,000 doses of vaccine have just been delivered in Britain by drug firm Baxter International and many other European countries are expecting it to arrive from October onwards. That should be just in time to prevent mass illness. (Reuters)


Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices

The smell of death was overpowering the moment a relief worker cracked open one of the hospital chapel’s wooden doors. Inside, more than a dozen bodies lay motionless on low cots and on the ground, shrouded in white sheets. Here, a wisp of gray hair peeked out. There, a knee was flung akimbo. A pallid hand reached across a blue gown.

Within days, the grisly tableau became the focus of an investigation into what happened when the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina marooned Memorial Medical Center in Uptown New Orleans. The hurricane knocked out power and running water and sent the temperatures inside above 100 degrees. Still, investigators were surprised at the number of bodies in the makeshift morgue and were stunned when health care workers charged that a well-regarded doctor and two respected nurses had hastened the deaths of some patients by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs. Mortuary workers eventually carried 45 corpses from Memorial, more than from any comparable-size hospital in the drowned city.

Investigators pored over the evidence, and in July 2006, nearly a year after Katrina, Louisiana Department of Justice agents arrested the doctor and the nurses in connection with the deaths of four patients. The physician, Anna Pou, defended herself on national television, saying her role was to “help” patients “through their pain,” a position she maintains today. After a New Orleans grand jury declined to indict her on second-degree murder charges, the case faded from view.

In the four years since Katrina, Pou has helped write and pass three laws in Louisiana that offer immunity to health care professionals from most civil lawsuits — though not in cases of willful misconduct — for their work in future disasters, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks to pandemic influenza. The laws also encourage prosecutors to await the findings of a medical panel before deciding whether to prosecute medical professionals. Pou has also been advising state and national medical organizations on disaster preparedness and legal reform; she has lectured on medicine and ethics at national conferences and addressed military medical trainees. In her advocacy, she argues for changing the standards of medical care in emergencies. She has said that informed consent is impossible during disasters and that doctors need to be able to evacuate the sickest or most severely injured patients last — along with those who have Do Not Resuscitate orders — an approach that she and her colleagues used as conditions worsened after Katrina. (NYT Magazine)


In serious debt? You're also more likely obese

NEW YORK - People who are heavily in debt are more likely to be heavy themselves, too, according to new research from Germany.

"Overindebted" people - defined as those who would find it impossible to pay off debts in a reasonable time frame -- were about twice as likely to be overweight as the general population. They were more than 2.5 times as likely to be obese, Eva Muenster of the University of Mainz and her colleagues found.

European countries, as well as the United States, have seen a sharp rise in the percentage of people who are overindebted, Muenster and her team say. Estimates are that 3 million households - 7.6 percent - of German households fit into the "over-indebted" criteria. (Reuters Health)


Obesity adds to risk of death after stroke

NEW YORK - Obesity increases the risk of death after stroke in younger stroke patients, according to a new study.

Dr. Amytis Towfighi, of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele of the University of California, Los Angeles used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) on 20,050 adults.

Of those adults, 547 had a stroke through 2000 and had weight records available. Of these, 211 were classified as overweight, and 127 were obese.

Over an average of 14 years after their strokes, overweight and obesity contributed to a higher risk of death in younger stroke survivors, but in fact seemed to protect against death in the elderly.

"Younger obese stroke patients...may benefit from timely comprehensive interventions aimed at promoting weight loss," Towfighi told Reuters Health. (Reuters Health)


How does healthcare reform fit with your values and ethics?

The healthcare reform debate has become so discordant, it’s even been said to be a sign of a larger, irreconcilable ideological abyss growing in our country. In this environment, it can be hard to sort out the endless reports all claiming to debunk the myths surrounding healthcare reform proposals. There is one simple way to tell the difference between reports that are written to support an ideology from those giving us the facts. And increasing numbers of people are figuring out how: Go to the original source and read the healthcare reform legislation being proposed for themselves. It’s a lot harder to convince people that it doesn’t really say what is says when they’ve actually read it. (Junkfood Science)


The Business Consequences of Challenging Obama's Statist Policies

The politics of business is getting perilous for CEOs trying to traverse the ideological battle between capitalism and socialism.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is under fire for offering free-market solutions to health care while GE CEO Jeff Immelt is benefiting from adopting a strategy in which the government is his partner.

Indeed, the contrasting approaches to Obama’s political agenda offered by Mackey and Immelt illustrate the risks and benefits of dealing with the president’s statist policies. (Tom Borelli, Townhall)


This was originally titled "What’s Next, a Breathing Surcharge?": What’s Next, Sidewalk Tolls?

Kelsey Graham and his wife were on their way to Lincoln Center when they decided that à la carte government had gone too far.

For years, the Grahams had driven from their home in Nyack, N.Y., availed themselves of the free weekend parking at the Tarrytown train station, then taken the train into Manhattan. But this spring, the village of Tarrytown began charging nonresidents $8 to park on Yankee Stadium game days — a fee that startled, and infuriated, the Grahams.

“It’s ridiculous — we’re supposed to keep track of when the Yankees are playing?” said Mr. Graham. “Every time you turn around, the government is charging you for something. It’s just another way to nickel and dime people.”

His lament is hardly unique. With the economy floundering and tax revenues falling, governments and public authorities have tried to patch holes in their tattered budgets by charging new or higher fees for a broad range of services — including taking a civil service exam and operating a nuclear power plant.

The purpose of the many microcharges is to help avoid, or at least limit, broader tax increases. But with escalating fees for things like tanning bed inspections, pistol permits and marriage certificates, daily life can start to seem like a labyrinth of public-sector panhandlers.

There are increased payments required from cradle (birth certificates) to grave (plots in municipal cemeteries); in the workplace (licenses for private investigators, lifeguards and tax preparers) and at leisure spots (entrances to parks and public golf courses).

Want to indulge? Better open your wallet: Higher fees for cigarette and alcohol retailers in New York are being passed on in the form of higher prices for smokers and drinkers.

Perhaps you thought you might escape the onslaught of incrementalism by leaving the area. Prepare to ante up: The National Conference of State Legislatures says similar increases are being imposed by local governments across the nation. Besides, getting there will cost you more anyway because fees for driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and rental cars have jumped. (NYT)

Perhaps The Crone changed the headline since that is exactly what Cap & Tax and the EPA's absurd CO2 endangerment finding amount to. All human activity from organic gardening to sex involves carbon dioxide emissions and your government wants to tax it multiple times (concept, manufacture, consumption and disposal all involve energy, which government wants to tax at every stage along the way).


The Battle of our Times

Viv Forbes

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction.

Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.

- Ludwig von Mises Socialism.

The above passage was written by the great economist and political philosopher, Ludwig von Mises, in German, in 1922. His massive book “Socialism” demolishes the whole idea that centrally planned economies can ever produce prosperity or freedom.

Read more. [PDF, 53KB] (Carbon Sense Coalition)


Being out scammed? Hijacked by climate change?

As the UN climate summit in Copenhagen approaches, exhortations that "we must get a deal" and warnings that climate change is "the greatest challenge we face as a species" are to be heard in virtually every political forum.

But if you look back to the latest definitive check on the planet's environmental health - the Global Environment Outlook (Geo-4), published by the UN two years ago - what emerges is a picture of decline that goes way, way beyond climate change.

Species are going extinct at perhaps 1,000 times the normal rate, as key habitats such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs are plundered for human infrastructure.

Aquifers are being drained and fisheries exploited at unsustainable speed. Soils are becoming saline, air quality is a huge cause of illness and premature death; the human population is bigger than our one Earth can currently sustain.

So why, you might ask, are the world's political leaders not lamenting this big picture as loudly and as often as the climate component of it?

Has climate change hijacked the wider environmental agenda? If so, why? And does it matter? (Richard Black, BBC News)


EPA Considers Closing NCEE - Dr. Alan Carlin’s Unit

The EPA whistleblower saga took a new turn this week with a report that EPA was considering shutting down the agency unit in which Dr. Alan Carlin works. Dr. Carlin is the senior EPA analyst who authored a 100-page study last March, which severely criticized the scientific basis for the agency’s position on global warming. CEI broke the story in late June, when it unveiled a series of emails to Dr. Carlin from his boss, stating that his study would not be disclosed, and that Dr. Carlin was to stop working on global warming issues, because criticizing EPA’s position would only cause trouble.

Dr. Carlin works in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), whose function is, in its words, “analyzing the economic and health impacts of environmental regulations and policies, and … informing important policy decisions with sound economics and other sciences.” EPA has long been criticized for the tunnel-vision, cost-be-damned nature of many of its policies. (See, for example, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s 1995 book, Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation, written before he joined the court.) Economists are the most likely professionals within EPA to examine the real-world effects of its policies. For that reason, the NCEE is potentially a major restraining force on the agency’s out-of-this-world regulatory ambitions. Wouldn’t it be great for EPA to get this office out of the way?

Hopefully, the publicity and scrutiny that Dr. Carlin’s report has received since it became public will carry over to EPA’s plans for NCEE, and this agency, with its hollow commitment to scientific integrity and transparency, won’t get its wish. (Sam Kazman, OpenMarket)


One teency problem...Scientists design spacecraft to save Earth

A spacecraft capable of saving the world from a catastrophic asteroid collision has been designed by British space scientists.

Heroic missions to stop life on Earth from being wiped out by an asteroid have become a favourite theme for Hollywood disaster films.

Now, a team of British engineers have designed a real-life spacecraft to save the world from destruction.

Their invention, called a "gravity tractor", would be deployed when an orbiting rock is detected on a collision course with Earth.

The spacecraft would intercept the asteroid and position itself to fly alongside it, just 160ft from its surface.

From this position, the 10 tonne craft is able to exert a small gravitational force on the rock, pulling the asteroid towards it.

By gradually modifying its course, over several years, the gravity tractor is able to slowly shift the asteroid's trajectory enough to ensure it misses the Earth.

Details of the planned craft come just weeks after an asteroid or comet was found to have ploughed into Jupiter, which is a giant gas planet, leaving behind a vast impact scar – estimated to be about the same size as the Earth – in its atmosphere.

Scientists believe it is only a matter of time before an asteroid comes close enough to the Earth to be a threat.

Nasa, the US space agency, is so concerned that it has established an expensive monitoring programme to track every object in the sky that might come close to the planet. (Daily Telegraph)

... we never see the rotten things until they've gone past. There is certainly a miniscule chance humanity will be clobbered by a major impact (happens every few hundred million years and maybe every few tens of millions but who's counting?). Is it worth worrying about? Nope. Is it even worth looking for? Again, nope. The chances of our seeing a "sneaky one" in time are roughly nil and our chances of doing anything about it even less. If you are worried about dying there are plenty of more immediate threats to occupy your mind and you can leave this one on the shelf.


So much for declining grain stocks: ANALYSIS-Cheap wheat to help meet EU fuel demand

LONDON, Aug 28 - A sharp decline in wheat prices driven by a supply glut is set to lead to more of the grain being turned into motor fuel in the European Union.

Demand for bioethanol, a renewable substitute for petrol normally made from either grains or sugar crops, is increasing in the EU. It is seen as a way to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases believed to contribute to climate change.

Wheat is now in pole position to help meet the demand with the price of alternative feedstock sugar rising to the highest levels in nearly three decades earlier this month [ID:nLC585640] and sugar-derived bioethanol imports from Brazil on the wane.

"Those plants that are flexible in the processing could switch to wheat and get a very cheap feedstock," said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBio) in Brussels.

Wheat futures BL2c1 have fallen sharply to contract lows in Paris during the last few weeks, depressed by larger-than-expected harvests in both France and Germany. (Reuters) EU wheat at new lows as large harvests burden (Reuters)


Oh boy... ‘Non-GMO’ Seal Identifies Foods Mostly Biotech-Free

Alarmed that genetically engineered crops may be finding their way into organic and natural foods, an industry group has begun a campaign to test products and label those that are largely free of biotech ingredients.

With farmers using gene-altered seeds to grow much of North America’s corn, soybeans, canola and sugar, ingredients derived from biotech crops have become hard for food companies to avoid. But many makers of organic and natural foods are convinced that their credibility in the marketplace requires them to do so.

The industry group, the Non-GMO Project, says its new label is aimed at reassuring consumers and will be backed by rigorous testing.

“There’s a vulnerability here that the industry is addressing,” said Michael J. Potter, the founder and president of Eden Foods and a board member of the Non-GMO Project, the organization responsible for the testing and labeling campaign.

As plantings of conventional crops with genetic modifications soared in recent years, Mr. Potter put in place stringent safeguards to ensure that the organic soybeans he bought for tofu, soy milk and other products did not come from genetically engineered plants. He even supplies the seed that farmers use to grow his soybeans.

But many other companies have not been so careful, and as a result, Mr. Potter said, the organic and natural foods industry is like “a dirty room” in need of cleaning.

“What I’ve heard, what I know, what I’ve seen, what’s been tested and the test results that have been shared with me, clearly indicate that the room is very dirty,” Mr. Potter said.

Hundreds of products already claim on their packaging that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients, but with little consistency in the labeling and little assurance that the products have actually been tested. The new labeling campaign hopes to clear up such confusion. (NYT)

The question is why anyone tries to differentiate according to how these crops and/or foodstuffs were developed. It's not as though they differentiate according to whether plants were modified by forced mutation by irradiation or application of toxins, for example, so why have they a bee in their collective bonnet over the more precise and definitely safer technique of direct manipulation?


There's been a lot of talk and media recently about feedbacks and climate amplifiers, what's it all about?

On the one hand you'll hear people saying it is of little relevance in the great climate shouting match while others say it highlights the diminishing role available for carbon dioxide emissions. so, who's right?

Surprisingly, this time just about everyone. Let's begin by looking at a couple of announcements for one of the modeling studies:

Small Fluctuations In Solar Activity, Large Influence On Climate

(Aug. 28, 2009) — Subtle connections between the 11-year solar cycle, the stratosphere, and the tropical Pacific Ocean work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect much of the globe, according to research appearing this week in the journal Science. The study can help scientists get an edge on eventually predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

An international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used more than a century of weather observations and three powerful computer models to tackle one of the more difficult questions in meteorology: if the total energy that reaches Earth from the Sun varies by only 0.1 percent across the approximately 11-year solar cycle, how can such a small variation drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth?

The answer, according to the new study, has to do with the Sun's impact on two seemingly unrelated regions. Chemicals in the stratosphere and sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean respond during solar maximum in a way that amplifies the Sun's influence on some aspects of air movement. This can intensify winds and rainfall, change sea surface temperatures and cloud cover over certain tropical and subtropical regions, and ultimately influence global weather.

"The Sun, the stratosphere, and the oceans are connected in ways that can influence events such as winter rainfall in North America," says NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, the lead author. "Understanding the role of the solar cycle can provide added insight as scientists work toward predicting regional weather patterns for the next couple of decades." (ScienceDaily)

Sun's Cycle Alters Earth's Climate

Weather patterns across the globe are partly affected by connections between the 11-year solar cycle of activity, Earth's stratosphere and the tropical Pacific Ocean, a new study finds.

The study could help scientists get an edge on eventually predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

The sun is the ultimate source of all the energy on Earth; its rays heat the planet and drive the churning motions of its atmosphere.

The amount of energy the sun puts out varies over an 11-year cycle (this cycle also governs the appearance of sunspots on the sun's surface as well as radiation storms that can knock out satellites), but that cycle changes the total amount of energy reaching Earth by only about 0.1 percent. A conundrum for meteorologists was explaining whether and how such a small variation could drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth. (

So that's it, right, even NCAR's PlayStation® Climatologists have now demonstrated that solar influences are much greater than the slight changes in simple solar irradience?

Actually, you need your beer goggles on to come to such a conclusion -- here's the precipitation observation versus model output that has caused such excitement:

Granted, this is an improvement on the previous models (which get, oh, about nothing right) since it does have some overlap with reality, albeit not much. To us this generated output demonstrates woefully inadequate solar sensitivity and the Pacific Basin shows enormous contrast in reality (roughly 4 feet/year annualized rainfall difference between the Coral Sea and Central Pacific during these events) while there's limited sensitivity demonstrated in the model output.

Bottom line: it's good to see modelers actually recognize that bright shining thing we orbit has something to do with local temperatures but they have one heck of a long way to go before process models even vaguely resemble prognosticators. Not a big advance but definitely an advance.

Meanwhile, the empiricists (sometimes known as climate realists) are correct in pointing out this sheds a little more light on the interaction of sun and climate, further opening useful lines of investigation into the complicated relationship of this planet with its nearest star.

Furthermore, as more mechanisms are exposed and examined there is less and less room for enhanced greenhouse to play a significant role in the estimated change in global mean temperature over the last 250 years. With ever increasing confidence [intervals] the IPCC claim anthropogenic climate forcing potential up to +2.4W/m2 but with error bars for negative forcing from direct and indirect aerosol and land use change of minus 3.3W/m2 (-3.3), for a potential net change of minus 0.9W/m2 (-0.9). Consequently, given the Low Levels of Scientific Understanding (LLOSU) of a number of very important effects we still do not know whether humans have a net positive or negative forcing effect on global mean temperatures.

Are our emissions warming the planet? Maybe, a little, or not...

One thing is certain, there's absolutely no value in spending a dime on carbon dioxide emission reductions when we have no clear idea on whether we are warming or cooling the planet and absolutely everyone who bothers to calculate the potential difference we can make to global mean temperature over the next century by constraining carbon emissions concludes we couldn't actually measure such a trivial difference.

Carbon constraint is an example of target fixation and views just one side of Earth's energy balance equation. It is a losing strategy no matter how you view it and should be scrapped forthwith.


<chuckle> Eoin apparently can't read, either: Are climate change deniers like creationists?

Looks like it’s time to bring back Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan: The US Chamber of Commerce wants to subject the science of climate change to a “Scopes monkey trial.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the world’s largest business lobby is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a public hearing to defend its endangerment finding, which determined that greenhouse gases are pollutants that pose a threat to public health and welfare and can therefore be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. (Eoin O'Carroll, CSM)

Talk about misunderstood and out of context abstraction:

Steven Milloy, a prominent climate change denier and “junk science” contributor to Fox News, told the Cato Institute in 2007 that “[e]xplanations of human evolution are not likely to move beyond the stage of hypothesis or conjecture.”

So, does Milloy "deny evolution"? Let's look at the rest of the response to a posed question:

There is no scientific way - i.e., no experiment or other means of reliable study - for explaining how humans developed. Without a valid scientific method for proving a hypothesis, no indisputable explanation can exist.

The process of evolution can be scientifically demonstrated in some lower life forms, but this is a far cry from explaining how humans developed.

That said, some sort of evolutionary process seems most likely in my opinion. But there will probably always be enough uncertainty in any explanation of human evolution to give critics plenty of room for doubt.

Looks a little different than the impression Eoin would like to give, doesn't it? Similarly, Milloy categorically does not "deny" climate change but he is most assuredly skeptical of the catastrophic global warming hysteria and hyperbole.


Political scientists and scientific politicians

Thomas Jefferson once said that, "Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error." And so, with that quote in mind, and the understanding that scientific theories must be falsifiable, the Freedom Society is hosting 'Climate Week', a five-day event from the 26th to 30th October at the University of York.

The week will question the politics and ethics of climate change science. Here at the Freedom Society, we do not know if anthropogenic climate change is occurring or not, but in order for us to draw a conclusion – especially as non-scientists – it is vital that the science be liberal, objective and untainted by political pressure.

There have been many examples of 'scientific consensus'. A useful illustration is the former fear of Global Cooling that gained momentum in the 1960s. The first paragraph of a New York Times article, from 30th January 1961, entitled SCIENTISTS AGREE WORLD IS COLDER; But Climate Experts Meeting Here Fail to Agree on Reasons for Change, read: "After a week of discussions on the causes of climate change, an assembly of specialists from several continents seems to have reached unanimous agreement on only one point: it is getting colder."

We can claim a consensus of sorts, whether it is regarding global warming or cooling, by simply pointing to an article such as this. But this idea is terribly skewed for several reasons. By appointing a group of scientists to find evidence of something, the patron of this group will always receive reward; just as a different patron who demands his own scientists disprove this conclusion will similarly receive reward. Thus the danger of climate change science is that there is only one patron.

This is not how science works; instead, theories should be disproved in order to be proved - only by having free and balanced discussion will we enjoy progress. The failure of such groups as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that they are heavily politicised. (The Yorker)


This nonsense is getting a lot more attention than it deserves: Climate change 'to cost more than £300 billion'

The world will have to spend £300 billion, three times as much as previously thought, adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists have said.

The UN originally said it would cost just £25 to £105 billion ($40-170 billion), or the cost of about three Olympic Games per year, from 2030 to pay for the sea defences, increase in deaths and damage to infrastructure caused by global warming.

However a new study by leading scientific body the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London estimated it will cost more than triple that amount per annum.

The report found that the previous estimates by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change failed to take into account various factors including the increase in storms in previous years due to global warming, a number of diseases caused by warmer weather and "ecological services" such as rainfall and cloud cover provided by the rainforest.

Professor Martin Parry, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the earlier estimate missed out key sectors such as energy, manufacturing, retailing, mining and tourism. He said the cost will be even more when the full range of impacts of a warming climate are considered such as human migrations and refugees.

“Just looking in depth at the sectors the UNFCCC did study, we estimate adaptation costs to be two to three higher, and when you include the sectors the UNFCCC left out the true cost is probably much greater,” he said. (Daily Telegraph)

Leading scientific body? The IIED is another sustainable development/social justice group. Martin Parry was a co-author of their report. Parry.

Parry was the first Director of the Oxford Environmental Change Institute, (ECU), in 1991. He is currently Director of the Jackson Environment Institute, University of East Anglia and is a professor of environmental science at UEA. He is also a visiting professor in environmental science at the Grantham Institute. The Grantham Institute was set up with £12M from US billionaire, Jeremy Grantham and is led by Lord Stern as Chairman. Professor Parry was co-chair of IPCC AR4 WGII and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the United Nations Environment Programme's Climate Impacts and Responses Programme.

In fact Parry is a private contractor to DEFRA as "Martin Parry Associates". The Met Office were awarded a contract (google GA01087) worth £1,436,000 (over $2M), to run WGII and Martin Parry Associates (see Co-Chair IPCC Working Group II - GA01056) a contract worth £330,187, (over half a million dollars), to be Co-Chair of it.

Professor Parry was recently appointed to the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK Committee on Climate Change along with Dr Sam Fankhauser, also from the Grantham Institute. They will advise the government on adaptation to climate change.

More on DEFRA funding is described in this DEFRA staff document of self-congratulation relating to the Nobel Prize award for IPCC and Al Gore:

"Defra provides financial support to the co-chairs and their supporting secretariats. As such the UK has provided underpinning funding for almost one-third of the major scientific reports produced by the IPCC, which the Nobel committee believes have “created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming." --Research by the ever-alert Dennis A.


The Cost of Adapting to Climate Change

The costs of adaptation to climate change have been grossly underestimated, the authors of a new study suggest.

There is widespread agreement among policymakers that cold, hard cash will be an essential element in persuading nations vulnerable to climate change to sign up to a global agreement in Copenhagen in December.

Far less clear: how much cash is needed to do the job.

European ministers have discussed sums up to about $140 billion to be paid each year by more affluent countries to developing countries. Meanwhile, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated the annual global costs of adapting to climate change to be up to $170 billion each year.

This week, academics in Britain presented a report, Assessing the Costs of Adaptation to Climate Change, contending that sums in that range are gross underestimations. (James Kanter, Green Inc.)


A High Cost to Deal With Climate Shift

NEW YORK — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has described the notion of “adaptation” as those initiatives designed “to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects.”

The implication, of course, is that regardless of what countries, businesses or individuals do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is going to warm up. Everything from coastal geography and weather patterns to the global tableau of arable land, such that we’ve come to know and rely on them, will be — indeed, already are — in flux, and we had best start planning.

Just how drastic those changes will be is anybody’s guess, but it seems certain that poorer countries, which did little to contribute to the problem, are likely to be hit hardest by climate change’s inexorable reordering of things.

And so it is that, as the international community prepares to meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a new climate treaty and set new emissions goals, the drumbeat for sharpening the details of an adaptation strategy — and a financial framework for helping poor nations implement it — is quickening.

It’s a tall order. Adaptation is a wildly fuzzy affair, not least because, reduced to its economic bottom line, no one knows what to include in calculating its costs. (Tom Zeller Jr., Green Inc.)


The multi-billion-dollar gorebull warming industry, with the media in their pocket, are outgunned? Right... Environmentalists Slow to Adjust in Climate Debate - Opponents Seize Initiative as Senate Bill Nears

ATHENS, Ohio -- The oil lobby was sponsoring rallies with free lunches, free concerts and speeches warning that a climate-change bill could ravage the U.S. economy.

Professional "campaigners" hired by the coal industry were giving away T-shirts praising coal-fired power.

But when environmentalists showed up in this college town -- closer than ever to congressional passage of a climate-change bill, in the middle of the green movement's biggest political test in a generation -- they provided . . . a sedate panel discussion.

And they gave away stickers.

Next month, the Senate is expected to take up legislation that would cap greenhouse-gas emissions. That fight began in blazing earnest last week, with a blitz of TV ads and public events in the Midwest and Mountain West.

It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up. They are making slow progress adapting a movement built for other goals -- building alarm over climate change, encouraging people to "green" their lives -- into a political hammer, pushing a complex proposal the last mile through a skeptical Senate.

Even now, these groups differ on whether to scare the public with predictions of heat waves or woo it with promises of green jobs. And they are facing an opposition with tycoon money and a gift for political stagecraft. (David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post)


McCain, Udall agree, but they’re still wrong - LUNDBERG: Believing HUMANs CREATE climate change doesn't make it true

The hearing Sen. Mark Udall and Sen. John McCain conducted in Estes Park concerning climate change, Rocky Mountain National Park, and our other national parks was reported by some as a “proof” for global warming.

Having attended the hearing myself, I found that to not be the case.

Throughout the hearing, it was obvious that both senators assumed anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the primary reason for any changes that occur to our local climate. That assumption, however, was never substantiated or allowed to be challenged. Sen. Udall stated at the beginning of the meeting that they were not going to discuss or debate any of the merits of the global warming argument.

I can understand his desire for a focused discussion on the problems in the park, but I find it a bit troubling to intentionally steer away from discussing such a fundamental assumption.

The panelists scheduled for the hearing also talked as if they had no serious concerns with the global warming theory as the principle cause for changes in the ecological balance in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, again, no statistical, or other compelling evidence was mentioned that demonstrated a cause and effect relationship between global warming and the greatest immediate problem for the park today, the bark beetle infestation. The best case they made was to cite the stress of the recent drought and some mild winters. (Kevin Lundberg, Colorado Statesman)


Senators Spend Recess Fine-Tuning Messages on Cap and Trade

While a handful of Senate staffers spent the August recess sequestered on Capitol Hill writing a giant energy and climate bill, senators who will debate the legislation were speaking at town halls and in the media in efforts to strengthen support -- or opposition -- to the sweeping package.

Perhaps more than any other, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson stands out for his message.

Last summer, Johnson questioned his party's leadership for trying to force a floor debate on a comprehensive climate bill that set mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. But in an Aug. 10 editorial, Johnson signaled he was now on board.

"How many times have you heard experts cite the fact that South Dakota is the fourth windiest state, but only ranks 20th in actual installed wind energy generation?" Johnson wrote. "Soon the Senate will consider climate change legislation that could finally help South Dakota to live up to its wind generating potential and capture the benefits of a cash crop that is just blowing across our landscape."

Johnson's words must be music to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat wants to see quick action this fall on the climate bill -- in fact, he has said he wants President Obama to sign a cap-and-trade law before U.N. climate negotiations this December in Denmark.

"This has been a very productive Congress," Reid said at a Las Vegas energy summit this month that included former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. "All the pundits have said we've passed more meaningful legislation than any except for the first six months of the Roosevelt administration. Having said that ... until we do something about health care and energy, we are not going to be able to have the pats on the back that are probably necessary."

But Reid also is aware that he remains short of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate, let alone make it through a conference with the House. (ClimateWire)


The yawning gulf between the talk and the walk: Moving forward with carbon capture plans

The world's largest carbon capture project launched by a coal-fired power plant broke ground in July in Shanghai.

After completion, which is scheduled before the end of this year, the project will capture as many as 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The carbon capture project has been identified as a significant element in China's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. (China Daily)

1 ppmv CO2 = 7.81 billion metric tons and only about 40% of human emissions persist in the atmosphere (the rest being utilized by plants or absorbed in terrestrial and oceanic sinks). Thus 7.81 / 0.4 = 19.525 billion tons of human emissions make up 1 ppmv of the atmosphere. So just 195,250 such schemes could stop 1 ppmv increase per year and a mere 315,000 of them could handle humanity's emissions at 2008 rates... of course there's the trivial difficulty of increasing energy requirements by 30% in order to drive the capture and sequestration, plus the cost of the extra drilling of injection wells and pipelines for this stupid enterprise -- and all to deny green plants a little sustenance.

Stupid game.


As always, Lomborg is partly right: Technology Can Fight Global Warming - Marine cloud whitening, and other ideas.

We have precious little to show for nearly 20 years of efforts to prevent global warming. Promises in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to cut carbon emissions went unfulfilled. Stronger pledges in Kyoto five years later failed to keep emissions in check. The only possible lesson is that agreements to reduce carbon emissions are costly, politically arduous and ultimately ineffective.

But this is a lesson many are hell-bent on ignoring, as politicians plan to gather again—this time in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December—to negotiate a new carbon-emissions treaty. Even if they manage to bridge their differences and sign a deal, there is a strong likelihood that tomorrow's politicians will fail to deliver. (Bjørn Lomborg, WSJ)

And, as always, he goes right off the deep end believing gorebull warming is a crisis with which we must effectively deal.

Anyway, give the man his dues, he is exactly right in stating carbon restriction is a losing strategy and pointing to the neglected side of the Earth energy budget equation -- if you really need to adjust the balance then you have a choice of adjusting outgoing radiation (greenhouse effect), the amount of incoming radiation absorbed at the surface (albedo) or some combination thereof. Since carbon constraint is going to be immensely painful and ineffective then we should be looking at the other side of the equation in the unlikely event adjustment will ever be required.


Oops: Greenland threatens to join G-77 in Copenhagen

The country’s Home Rule Government does not feel adequately represented by Denmark in the climate change negotiations and considers turning its back on the host country of December’s UN conference. (CoP15)


Barnaby is now the real leader of the Opposition.

A Statement by Mr Viv Forbes, Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition, Australia.

The Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, Mr Viv Forbes, today called for Liberals who oppose the ALP Ration-N-Tax Scheme Bill (the RATS Bill) to leave the Liberals and join the Nationals.

Forbes explains:

“Barnaby Joyce has become the real leader of the Opposition and deserves to be supported. Malcolm Turnbull no longer serves liberal values and actually promotes the interests of big business mates who aim to do very well out of trading carbon credits.

“The Liberal leadership has lost all idea of their philosophical base and are now the paralysed party of the extreme centre. They should have learnt from the history of Don Chipp’s Democrats and The Australia Party that parties of the extreme centre end up standing for nothing and are abandoned by their supporters.

“The Liberal Party is now on that dead-end road.

“Mr Turnbull should also ponder the philosophical goals of the deep green zealots who promote the Green Religion. He will find them consistent with the philosophies of Mao and Stalin, and totally opposed to the beliefs of freedom supporters such as Menzies, Thatcher and Regan.

“Once our Parliaments held people like Bert Kelly and John Hyde of the Liberals and Peter Walsh and Michael Costa of the ALP who supported the freedom philosophy for both business and workers. Today, liberty finds few friends in Parliament.

“Mr Turnbull determines his policies by “Business Feedback”. He should talk to more than organisations such as the Business Council of Australia, where 60% of the membership has no direct carbon tax liability and expects to benefit greatly by participating in the new Bubble Business to be created from trading hot air certificates.

“Big banks, national law firms, transnational accounting firms, Wall Street traders and the merchant bank millionaires are not the real industry of Australia – they are the froth and bubble floating on the real rivers of productive industry.

“Since the days of the Wool Boom and the Gold Rush, Australian prosperity has always rested on the primary wealth created by its outback industries. Mr Turnbull needs to pull on his RM Williams boots, don a hard hat and venture out of the air conditioning to find the opinion of the real businesses of Australia. He should talk to farmers and graziers, fishermen and foresters, miners and explorers, those who process our minerals and food into things of real value, and those who run the trucks, trains and planes that keep the swarming cities functioning.

“Far from the genteel cocktail circuit of the Sydney-Melbourne Clubs, the Nationals have sensed the growing grassroots revolt against the Rudd road to carbon penury. They have done what every good politician does – find out where the people are heading and jump in front calling “Follow Me”. Many others will now join that revolt.

“Barnaby Joyce is right. The RATS Bill cannot be made acceptable - it must be destroyed in the Senate.”

Viv Forbes
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition


Time to Turn Up the Heat

Viv Forbes

In a lifetime of observing and participating in politics, the world wide campaign by the international green movement (aided by the power-seeking UN bureaucracy) to monitor, control and tax every food, energy and transport business in the world is the most dangerous development I have ever seen. It has the potential to blight the lives and investments of the majority of Australians who are unable to find a safe place for themselves on the government payroll or in the protected Climate Change Industry.

Full article. [PDF, 87KB] (Carbon Sense Coalition)


Oil refiner says CO2 bill to cost it $7 billion a year

NEW YORK - The U.S. climate bill would cost Valero, the country's largest oil refiner, more annually than it has ever made in a year, forcing it to warn consumers at filling stations that fuel prices will rise, the company's top government affairs official said.

"How would we be able to operate?" Jim Greenwood, a vice president for governmental affairs at San Antonio based-Valero Energy Corp, said about the legislation the House of Representatives narrowly passed in June. "I don't know."

He said the bill, which would require refiners to hold or purchase permits for the amount of carbon dioxide their plants and fuels produce, would cost Valero some $6 billion to $7 billion per year.

That is more than the net income it made during 2006, its best year of net income for refining so far.

Many oil refiners have complained they would be burdened by extra costs from the bill, which would set up a cap-and-trade market on emissions around 2012. It would give refiners only 2 percent of the permits to emit greenhouse gases in the early years of program, while utilities would get 30 percent of the permits to pollute. (Reuters)

And carbon dioxide is not even an atmospheric pollutant...


Small reality check for a deluded dill? A Sometimes Lonely Trek for Global Warming Awareness

On Route 11 north of Tuscaloosa, Ala., last April, a pickup truck pulled up next to Greta Browne, and a young man began lecturing her about global warming.

He had seen Ms. Browne’s T-shirt announcing that she was “Walking for the Climate,” and he wanted to set her straight. Humans, he told her, have nothing to do with heating up the planet.

Ms. Browne, 65, a Unitarian minister from Bethlehem, Pa., has encountered more than one global warming naysayer since last March, when she began a trek up the Eastern seaboard to draw attention to climate change.

“Sometimes, you just have to stand up,” she said.

So far, Ms. Browne says, she has logged about 1,100 miles, walking from outside New Orleans to Rouses Point, N.Y., near the Canadian border, where she will end her journey Saturday. A grandmother of three, she blogs for adults, and for children.

When she began the trip, Ms. Browne had hoped to attract crowds of other people to walk with her (think Forrest Gump running cross country in the 1994 film). Instead, it has been a mostly solo journey, which she describes as “a meditation, a prayer,” for Earth.

Still, her shirt and her beckoning smile invite people to approach. Sometimes they pull their cars over and hand her fistfuls of dollar bills — she is financing the trip with small donations, and her Social Security checks.

Sometimes people run up alongside and proffer water bottles, which she accepts, even though they violate her principles on garbage and waste. And sometimes they stop to tell her not to worry: God would never allow Earth to warm disastrously, they say. She listens patiently and argues her case.

In choosing to promote her cause this way — as opposed to, say, pressing for legislative change — Ms. Browne joins a growing list of environmental activists who are hoping to draw public attention to the issue through stunts: Colin Beavan, for example, the writer who lived without toilet paper and electricity, or David de Rothschild, a self-described “eco-adventurer” in San Francisco who has built a boat made of reused plastic water bottles and plans to sail to Sydney, Australia. (NYT)

So, the masses didn't join her walk for warming (like no one has anything better to do than waste time). Wonder if she noticed on her little trek that day to day, even hour to hour? Did she give any thought to the fact that no one could tell there has been any change at all if not for long-term record keeping and a lot of high-powered number crunching to discern a completely contrived and totally meaningless change in a statistical mean?


Benny & the virtual worlds: Climate models confirm more moisture in atmosphere attributed to humans

LIVERMORE, Calif. - When it comes to using climate models to assess the causes of the increased amount of moisture in the atmosphere, it doesn't much matter if one model is better than the other.

They all come to the same conclusion: Humans are warming the planet, and this warming is increasing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

In new research appearing in the Aug. 10 online issue of the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and a group of international researchers found that model quality does not affect the ability to identify human effects on atmospheric water vapor.

“Climate model quality didn't make much of a difference,” said Benjamin Santer, lead author from LLNL's Program for Climate Modeling and Intercomparison. “Even with the computer models that performed relatively poorly, we could still identify a human effect on climate. It was a bit surprising. The physics that drive changes in water vapor are very simple and are reasonably well portrayed in all climate models, bad or good.” (Press Release)

This twaddle is getting recycled, probably due to this. Benny doesn't think model quality matters -- that figures. Here's another little snippet Benny obviously hasn't thought about: oceans are believed to have warmed since the cooling phase 1950s through 1970s and warmer oceans are expected to exhibit [drum roll, please]... increased evaporation [ta da!]. So class, what do we expect with increased evaporation? Right, more atmospheric moisture. And this says what, exactly, about the cause of the oceans' temperature change? Take an early minute if you said "Nothing", bonus two minutes if you realized there is no indicator of humanity in any of this, in make-believe worlds or elsewhere.


Another recycled scare: Climate trouble may be bubbling up in far north

MACKENZIE RIVER DELTA, Northwest Territories — Only a squawk from a sandhill crane broke the Arctic silence — and a low gurgle of bubbles, a watery whisper of trouble repeated in countless spots around the polar world.

"On a calm day, you can see 20 or more `seeps' out across this lake," said Canadian researcher Rob Bowen, sidling his small rubber boat up beside one of them. A tossed match would have set it ablaze.

"It's essentially pure methane."

Pure methane, gas bubbling up from underwater vents, escaping into northern skies, adds to the global-warming gases accumulating in the atmosphere. And pure methane escaping in the massive amounts known to be locked in the Arctic permafrost and seabed would spell a climate catastrophe.

Is such an unlocking under way? (Associated Press)


Hmm... brave short-term (and hence testable) prognostications: How will Earth's surface temperature change in future decades?

Reliable forecasts of climate change in the immediate future are difficult, especially on regional scales, where natural climate variations may amplify or mitigate anthropogenic warming in ways that numerical models capture poorly. By decomposing recent observed surface temperatures into components associated with ENSO, volcanic and solar activity, and anthropogenic influences, we anticipate global and regional changes in the next two decades. From 2009 to 2014, projected rises in anthropogenic influences and solar irradiance will increase global surface temperature 0.15 ± 0.03°C, at a rate 50% greater than predicted by IPCC. But as a result of declining solar activity in the subsequent five years, average temperature in 2019 is only 0.03 ± 0.01°C warmer than in 2014. This lack of overall warming is analogous to the period from 2002 to 2008 when decreasing solar irradiance also countered much of the anthropogenic warming. We further illustrate how a major volcanic eruption and a super ENSO would modify our global and regional temperature projections. (GRL)


Failed Predictions of Solar Cycle 24 – #1 Dikpati and Hathaway 2006

Looking back into the archives, there are many many predictions of the start and size of solar cycle 24 given on the highest possible scientific authority that turned out to be flat out wrong.

Here’s one

March 10, 2006: It’s official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished. Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet.

Like the quiet before a storm.

This week researchers announced that a storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one,” she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.

This is important. The solar minimum began around March 2006 and today August 30, 2009 the Sun is still in that minimum with no sign of it ending.

The failed predictor: The Solar Conveyor Belt Theory

Dikpati’s prediction is unprecedented. In nearly-two centuries since the 11-year sunspot cycle was discovered, scientists have struggled to predict the size of future maxima—and failed. Solar maxima can be intense, as in 1958, or barely detectable, as in 1805, obeying no obvious pattern.

The key to the mystery, Dikpati realized years ago, is a conveyor belt on the sun.

I try to remove some of the waffle here because the article talks about the Earth’s ocean conveyor belt as an analogue but frankly its not relevant, nor useful.

The sun’s conveyor belt is a current, not of water, but of electrically-conducting gas. It flows in a loop from the sun’s equator to the poles and back again. Just as the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt controls weather on Earth, this solar conveyor belt controls weather on the sun. Specifically, it controls the sunspot cycle.

Solar physicist David Hathaway of the National Space Science & Technology Center (NSSTC) explains: “First, remember what sunspots are–tangled knots of magnetism generated by the sun’s inner dynamo. A typical sunspot exists for just a few weeks. Then it decays, leaving behind a ‘corpse’ of weak magnetic fields.”

Enter the conveyor belt.

The Solar Conveyor belt according to NASA

The Solar Conveyor belt according to NASA

“The top of the conveyor belt skims the surface of the sun, sweeping up the magnetic fields of old, dead sunspots. The ‘corpses’ are dragged down at the poles to a depth of 200,000 km where the sun’s magnetic dynamo can amplify them. Once the corpses (magnetic knots) are reincarnated (amplified), they become buoyant and float back to the surface.” Presto—new sunspots!

Presto! No, it didn’t this time. This time the belt moved to the critical latitude of 22 degrees and we got a single sunspot and that’s it.

All this happens with massive slowness. “It takes about 40 years for the belt to complete one loop,” says Hathaway. The speed varies “anywhere from a 50-year pace (slow) to a 30-year pace (fast).”

When the belt is turning “fast,” it means that lots of magnetic fields are being swept up, and that a future sunspot cycle is going to be intense. This is a basis for forecasting: “The belt was turning fast in 1986-1996,” says Hathaway. “Old magnetic fields swept up then should re-appear as big sunspots in 2010-2011.”

There’s the prediction from 2006. We’ve yet to reach 2010 but Hathaway was talking about 2010-2011 as the time of the SC24 maximum when we haven’t yet reached the end of the minimum in August 2009.

Here’s where the claim of scientific authority is made. This isn’t just any old joe making a prediction, this is expertise:

Like most experts in the field, Hathaway has confidence in the conveyor belt model and agrees with Dikpati that the next solar maximum should be a doozy. But he disagrees with one point. Dikpati’s forecast puts Solar Max at 2012. Hathaway believes it will arrive sooner, in 2010 or 2011.

“History shows that big sunspot cycles ‘ramp up’ faster than small ones,” he says. “I expect to see the first sunspots of the next cycle appear in late 2006 or 2007—and Solar Max to be underway by 2010 or 2011.”

Wrong. An expert strikes out.

Who’s right? Time will tell. Either way, a storm is coming.

It turns out that neither was right. The extended solar minimum caught some of NASA’s brightest experts with their predictive pants down. (Solar Science)


Testing the “Watts Effect”

On Anthony Watts’ blog, he’s testing his apparent paranormal power to cause the Sun to break out into sunspots by writing about how blank the Sun is.

On this blog, I don’t believe in the paranormal, and it looks like the Sun is still slumbering, with no end in sight.

Here is the stereo view looking behind the Sun to the surface that has yet to come into view:

Stereo image of solar farside 29-08-2009

Stereo image of solar farside 29-08-2009

Nothing to report other than a coronal hole. Looks like Anthony’s got no more powers than I have.

Here’s the solar cycle progression to July 2009.

ISES Solar Cycle Progression Jul 2009

ISES Solar Cycle Progression Jul 2009

With August 2009 expected to be zero, that red line prediction is looking more and more optimistic. (Solar Science)


Remarkable Admission By James Annan On The Klotzbach Et Al (2009) Paper

There is a remarkable presentation of viewpoints on our Klotzbach et al (2009) paper by Michael Tobis (see) and James Annan (see). On Roger Pielke Jr.’s  Blog, he has already posted effectively in response to Michael Tobis’s admission of his lack of expertise on the topic of our paper (see).   From the comment below that James Annan made on his weblog, it is clear he does not understand boundary layer physics either. He wrote

“For the record, I agree that land use cover change may impact on the climate. But unless Roger Pielke can find some way of arguing that this has changed the net average surface flux by the order of 1Wm-2at night, his whole theory is still a bust. And even if he did, it would not rescue his erroneous claims that the trends in temperature due to GHG or the other most significant forcings induce a significant change in the lapse rate in the boundary layer.”

His  challenge to document a change in the net surface flux by 1Wm-2  due to landscape change is a clear demonstration that he is poorly informed about boundary layer dynamics.

As one example of many, for urban areas relative to residential areas (which illustrate how the fluxes change as urbanization occurs), the paper

 Soushi, K. and Y. Yamaguchi, 2007: Estimation of storage heat flux in an urban area using ASTER data. Remote sensing of environment ISSN 0034-4257

summarizes their study in the abstract

“The urban heat island phenomenon occurs as a result of the mixed effects of anthropogenic heat discharge, increased use of artificial impervious surface materials, and decreased vegetation cover. These factors modify the heat balance at the land surface and eventually raise the atmospheric temperature. It is important to quantify the surface heat balance in order to estimate the contributions of these factors. The present authors propose the use of storage heat flux to represent the heat flux between the land surface and the inside of the canopy for the heat balance analysis based on satellite remote sensing data. Surface heat fluxes were estimated around the city of Nagoya, Japan using Terra ASTER data and meteorological data. Seasonal and day-night differences in heat balance were compared using ASTER data acquired in the daytime on July 10, 2000, and January 2, 2004 and in the nighttime on September 26, 2003. In the central business and commercial districts, the storage heat flux was higher than those in the surrounding residential areas. In particular, in winter, the storage heat flux in the central urban area was 240 to 290 W m-2, which was much larger than the storage heat fluxes in residential areas, which ranged from 180 to 220 W m-2. Moreover, the negative storage heat flux in the central urban area was greater at night. This tendency implies that the urban surface stores heat during the daytime and discharges it at night. Extremely large negative storage heat flux occurred primarily in the industrial areas for both daytime and nighttime as a result of the enormous energy consumption by factories.”

These values are much larger than the  1Wm-2  threshold that James presented in his weblog.

On his statement rejecting  ”that the trends in temperature due to GHG or the other most significant forcings induce a significant change in the lapse rate in the boundary layer“,  as just one example (and there are many), the paper

Sun, J-L et al, 2003: Heat balance in the nocturnal boundary layer during CASES-99  J. Appl. Meterologogy. 42, 1649-1666

reported a “[A] radiative flux difference of more than 10 W m-2 over 46 m of height was observed under weak-wind and clear-sky conditions after hot days.”

The abstract reads

“A unique set of nocturnal longwave radiative and sensible heat flux divergences was obtained during the 1999 Cooperative Atmosphere-Surface Exchange Study (CASES-99). These divergences are based on upward and downward longwave radiation measurements at two levels and turbulent eddy correlation measurements at eight levels. In contrast to previous radiation divergence measurements obtained within 10 m above the ground, radiative flux divergence was measured within a deeper layer-between 2 and 48 m. Within the layer, the radiative flux divergence is, on average. comparable to or smaller than the sensible heat flux divergence. The horizontal and vertical temperature advection, derived as the residual in the heat balance using observed sensible heat and radiative fluxes, are found to be significant terms in the heat balance at night. The observations also indicate that the radiative flux divergence between 2 and 48 m was typically largest in the early evening. Its magnitude depends on how fast the ground cools and on how large the vertical temperature gradient is within the layer. A radiative flux difference of more than 10 W m-2 over 46 m of height was observed under weak-wind and clear-sky conditions after hot days. Wind speed variation can change not only the sensible heat transfer but also the surface longwave radiation because of variations of the area exposure of the warmer grass stems and soil surfaces versus the cooler grass blade tips. leading to fluctuations of the radiative flux divergence throughout the night.”

As the authors write “Its magnitude depends on how fast the ground cools and on how large the vertical temperature gradient is within the layer…..Wind speed variation can change not only the sensible heat transfer but also the surface longwave radiation because of variations of the area exposure of the warmer grass stems and soil surfaces versus the cooler grass blade tips. leading to fluctuations of the radiative flux divergence throughout the night.”

All of us should be disappointed that both James Annan and Michael Tobis have elected not to engage in a proper scientific discussion of our findings. We look for a dialog with colleagues who do undertand boundary layer dynamics.


Our Paper “Impacts Of Land Use Land Cover On Temperature Trends Over The Continental United States: Assessment Using The North American Regional Reanalysis” By Fall Et Al 2009 Is Published

Our paper

Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., 10.1002/joc.1996

is now published.  We report in our paper

“As most of the warming trends that we identify can be explained on the basis of LULC changes, we suggest that in addition to considering the greenhouse gases-driven radiative forcings, multi-decadal and longer climate models simulations must further include LULC changes.”

The abstract reads

“We investigate the sensitivity of surface temperature trends to land use land cover change (LULC) over the conterminous United States (CONUS) using the observation minus reanalysis (OMR) approach. We estimated the OMR trends for the 1979-2003 period from the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN), and the NCEP-NCAR North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). We used a new mean square differences (MSDs)-based assessment for the comparisons between temperature anomalies from observations and interpolated reanalysis data. Trends of monthly mean temperature anomalies show a strong agreement, especially between adjusted USHCN and NARR (r = 0.9 on average) and demonstrate that NARR captures the climate variability at different time scales. OMR trend results suggest that, unlike findings from studies based on the global reanalysis (NCEP/NCAR reanalysis), NARR often has a larger warming trend than adjusted observations (on average, 0.28 and 0.27 °C/decade respectively).

OMR trends were found to be sensitive to land cover types. We analysed decadal OMR trends as a function of land types using the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and new National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 1992-2001 Retrofit Land Cover Change. The magnitude of OMR trends obtained from the NLDC is larger than the one derived from the static AVHRR. Moreover, land use conversion often results in more warming than cooling.

Overall, our results confirm the robustness of the OMR method for detecting non-climatic changes at the station level, evaluating the impacts of adjustments performed on raw observations, and most importantly, providing a quantitative estimate of additional warming trends associated with LULC changes at local and regional scales. As most of the warming trends that we identify can be explained on the basis of LULC changes, we suggest that in addition to considering the greenhouse gases-driven radiative forcings, multi-decadal and longer climate models simulations must further include LULC changes.”


Comments On A New Post By James Annan titled “A Bizarre Rewriting Of History”

James Annan has written a new post entitled “A bizarre rewriting of history”.

In response, my son and I have e-mailed to James and have reproduced the communications below. If he responds, I will post as an update.

E-Mail from Pielke Jr.

With respect to your last post, perhaps these points of clarification can be of some use:
1. Klotzbach et al. has nothing to do with the radiative forcing of greenhouse gases on climate.  Zero.  It just is not relevant to the argument.  The underlying warming trend that is present could be due to alien space rays as far as our argument is concerned.  As I have written, it is however consistent with a warming trend due to the radiative forcing effects of GHGs.
2. Klotzbach et al. discusses the role of GHGs on measured surface temperature trends through mechanisms different than TOA radiative forcing.  The rise in GHGs is one of several important factors in perturbing the boundary layer.
3. Mahmood et al. (in press) that you write about discusses the role of LULC on climate and future research priorities.  If Klotzbach et al. is correct then it suggests a different interpretation of the land surface record than conventionally ascribed, and surely this would have effects on research priorities as related to the land surface and climate.  Your overheated remarks seem to have forgotten the “and future research priorities”.  In any case LULC is one of the factors discussed in Klotzbach et al. as related to pertubations of the boundary layer.
4. As I understand it 1 and 2 above hold for PM05 as well (Pielke Sr can confirm, he is copied).
All of this seems quite obvious.  Anyway, what is the deal with all of your snark and playing to the chorus?  Why so angry?
Best regards from Boulder,

E-mail from Pielke Sr.


 I agree with Roger Jr. He has expressed the papers accurately.

I also agree; why are you so contemptuous in your tone? You may be reaffirming others on your viewpoint, but you are turning off
independent readers.

 As to your statement

“For the record, I agree that land use cover change may impact on the climate. But unless Roger Pielke can find some way of arguing that this has changed the net average surface flux by the order of 1Wm-2 at night, his whole theory is still a bust”.

Do you really mean this? Changing just the value of z0 [the aerodynamic roughness] at the surface has this effect and more. Clouds and higher water vapor (and CO2) also alter the surface flux by values larger than 1 Watt per meter squared. I agree that added CO2 is less important in this regard as a direct radiative effect than clouds and water vapor, as we reported in the Eastman et al paper, but as we also showed in that paper, the effect of the biogeochemical effect of added CO2 on plant transpiration during daylight on subsequent nighttime water vapor  concentrations (and  thus its effect on the radiative flux) is significant.

The P&M paper just looked at the issue as to whether if there was less loss of heat at night out of the top of the boundary layer, even if the loss was the same, would the vertical distribution of the heat loss be uniform between strong and windy nights? It is not, and this effect is seen in the minimum surface air temperatures. In the real world, it is even more different as the loss of heat from the boundary layer is not the same on windy and light wind nights.


Roger Sr.


The Santer Et Al (2000) View Of The Importance of Error In The Surface Temperature Record In Their Paper “Differential Temperature Trends At The Surface And In The Lower Troposphere”

In 2000 Ben Santer and colleagues published the paper [and thanks to Dick McNider for alerting us to it!]

B. D. Santer, T. M. L. Wigley, D. J. Gaffen, L. Bengtsson, C. Doutriaux, J. S. Boyle, M. Esch, J. J. Hnilo, P. D. Jones, G. A. Meehl, E. Roeckner, K. E. Taylor, and M. F. Wehner: Interpreting Differential Temperature Trends at the Surface and in the Lower Troposphere
 Science 18 February 2000 287: 1227-1232 [DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5456.1227] (in Research Articles).

The abstract reads

“Estimated global-scale temperature trends at Earth’s surface (as recorded by thermometers) and in the lower troposphere (as monitored by satellites) diverge by up to 0.14°C per decade over the period 1979 to 1998. Accounting for differences in the spatial coverage of satellite and surface measurements reduces this differential, but still leaves a statistically significant residual of roughly 0.1°C per decade. Natural internal climate variability alone, as simulated in three state-of-the-art coupled atmosphere-ocean models, cannot completely explain this residual trend difference. A model forced by a combination of anthropogenic factors and volcanic aerosols yields surface-troposphere temperature trend differences closest to those observed.”

In their paper, they briefly mention the effect of a possible error in the surface temperature data which could explain the discrepancy between the temperature trends in the troposphere and at the surface. They write

“A nonsignificant trend differential would also occur if the surface warming had been overestimated by 0.05°C per decade in the IPCC data … The relative likelihood of such errors in the MSU and IPCC data is difficult to assess…”

The IPCC (2007) Statement for Policymakers wrote

“New analyses of balloon-borne and satellite measurements of lower- and mid-tropospheric temperature show warming rates that are similar to those of the surface temperature record and are consistent within their respective uncertainties, largely reconciling a discrepancy noted in the TAR.”


“Eleven of the last twelve years (1995–2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature9 (since 1850). The updated 100-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) of 0.74°C [0.56°C to 0.92°C] is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6°C [0.4°C to 0.8°C]. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13°C [0.10°C to 0.16°C] per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. The total temperature increase from 1850–1899 to 2001–2005 is 0.76°C [0.57°C to 0.95°C].”

Our paper

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., accepted

has clearly documented an estimated warm bias of about 30% in the IPCC reported  surface temperature trends.  This bias also brings into question the claim that 11 of the 12 years in the period 1995 to 2006 were the warmest on record.  Moreover, despite the claim in the IPCC (2007) report, the tropospheric and surface temperature trends have not NOT reconciled.

The lack of news coverage on this documented bias which has appeared in the peer reviewed literature on the Klotzbach et al (2009) paper is another clear example of the failure of most  of the journalism community to cover news that conflicts with the IPCC (2007) perspective.


These damn fools are proud of their obstructive nitwittery: Persistence stops a train—and global warming slowed

A massive new rail line planned to move millions of tons of low-grade coal from northeastern Wyoming to the Midwest has been stopped. For more than nine years Sierra Club and our allies have been battling plans by Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. (DM&E) to build this new coal line, and late yesterday DM&E announced the project is “on hold.”

The $6 billion rail line would have carried 100 million tons of coal annually, enough to power about 50 coal plants. If burned, the coal shipped by this rail line alone would have emitted approximately 200 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of adding about 40 million cars to our highways. By stopping this coal line we are ever closer to averting runaway global warming and jump-starting a clean energy revolution.

Let’s put those numbers in perspective. Stopping this one rail line may be one of the biggest steps we have ever taken to slow global warming. For the U.S. to do its part to stop global warming, we have to reduce our carbon run-rate by upwards of 200 million tons each year. This one victory has thus bought us a full year’s worth of progress – not that we should stop here, of course. (Bruce Nilles, Grist)

Even at Hansen's most outrageously high estimate of climate sensitivity, the complete cessation of all U.S. coal-fired electricity generations carbon dioxide emissions can save a mere 0.15 °C warming by the year 2100 (see workings). The reality is that the war against green plants does nothing beneficial at all.


AIR QUALITY: 'Clunkers' benefit debatable - Rebates helped automakers, not environment

The pitch for Cash for Clunkers included the environmental benefits of getting less fuel-efficient cars off the road. But whether sidelining clunkers translates to reducing the haze that sometimes shrouds the Las Vegas Valley remains to be seen.

Even to see "marginal improvement," said Dave Hassenzahl, Environmental Studies Department chairman at UNLV, there's an if -- and that is whether "people are going to drive the same amount." And some experts doubt that will be the case; people will want to drive their new rides more than they would have their clunkers, offsetting any environmental benefit.

As for the amount of money spent on rebates aimed at reducing emissions from smog precursors or carbon dioxide, "we would spend it in much better ways than the Cash for Clunkers," said Hassenzahl, who has spent 20 years working on air quality issues including risks associated with pollution and climate.

"This was a stimulus for car makers," he said.

A growing number of researchers who analyzed the program arrived at the same conclusion: It gave a financial boost to the automobile industry but does little for the environment at a high cost.

And its impact on reducing the carbon footprint that many scientists say causes global warming is debatable. (Keith Rogers, Las Vegas Review-Journal)


So much for declining grain stocks: ANALYSIS-Cheap wheat to help meet EU fuel demand

LONDON, Aug 28 - A sharp decline in wheat prices driven by a supply glut is set to lead to more of the grain being turned into motor fuel in the European Union.

Demand for bioethanol, a renewable substitute for petrol normally made from either grains or sugar crops, is increasing in the EU. It is seen as a way to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases believed to contribute to climate change.

Wheat is now in pole position to help meet the demand with the price of alternative feedstock sugar rising to the highest levels in nearly three decades earlier this month [ID:nLC585640] and sugar-derived bioethanol imports from Brazil on the wane.

"Those plants that are flexible in the processing could switch to wheat and get a very cheap feedstock," said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBio) in Brussels.

Wheat futures BL2c1 have fallen sharply to contract lows in Paris during the last few weeks, depressed by larger-than-expected harvests in both France and Germany. (Reuters)


Sounding like they've been at the watermelon wine: Watermelon Juice - Next Source of Renewable Energy

Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are tossed every year because they aren't good enough for market. A new study finds that the juice from these watermelons could easily be used to create the biofuel ethanol and other helpful products.

According to a new study to be published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, 20% of the watermelon crop doesn't go to market every year due to imperfections, bad spots, or weird shapes. These watermelons are left in the field and then ploughed right back into the ground. According to the authors of the study (Benny Bruton and Vincent Russo from the USDA-ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, and Wayne Fish), these watermelons could be used to produce the biofuel ethanol.

The watermelon juice can be fermented and used directly or it can be used as a "diluent, supplemental feedstock, and nitrogen supplement" with other biofuel crops. If it is used as a supplement to other crops, it could first be used in neutraceutical production and serve an economic and health purpose in that capacity as well. Watermelons could be used to produce the neutraceuticals lycopene (found to be important to prostrate health) and L-arginine (an amino acid that is critical for the production of nitric oxide). After being used to produce these, the waste juice can be used for ethanol production.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are lost every year. They are grown and then left in the ground because of superficial imperfections. The authors of this new study show that they could be very useful as a renewable energy source. "The results of this investigation indicate that watermelon juice as a source of readily fermentable sugars represents a heretofore untapped feedstock for ethanol biofuel production. The 8.4 t/ha of unmarketable watermelons left in the field at harvest would produce about 220 L/ha of ethanol for on-farm use or as an additional revenue stream for the grower."

Fuel your next car with watermelon juice. (Reuters)


August 28, 2009


Younger Americans overexposed to radiation risk

CHICAGO - Younger Americans are being exposed to worrisome amounts of radiation from medical scans that increase their risk of cancer, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

They said the cumulative risk of repeated exposure to radiation from medical scans is a public health threat that needs to be addressed.

"Even though the individual risk for any patient exposed to these kinds of doses may be small, when you add that up over millions of people, that can be a concerning population risk," Dr. Reza Fazel of Emory University in Atlanta and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Reuters) [em added]

Uh, doc? Just because one person receives say, one-thousandths part of a hazardous dose from an x-ray does not mean that the thousandth person to be x-rayed gets nailed with a hazardous dose. If the individual risk is trivial then the individual risk is trivial.


One in seven young Canadians deficient in vitamin C

NEW YORK - The British who traveled to Canada by ship in the 1700s knew the risks of not getting enough vitamin C: scurvy. Today's Canadians may need a reminder about the vitamin: As many as one in seven young Canadian adults may be vitamin C deficient, which could place them at increased risk for chronic health problems, study findings suggest.

Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy, at the University of Toronto, and colleagues gathered information on diet, race/ethnicity, vitamin C supplement use, height, weight, waist size, body mass, blood pressure, and physical activity for 692 non-pregnant women and 287 men living on a university campus.

Blood tests showed just more than half -- 53 percent -- had adequate levels of circulating ascorbic acid (vitamin C), while 33 percent had suboptimal levels, and the remaining 14 percent - one in seven - had deficient levels, which were defined as less than 11 micromoles per liter of blood.

The findings were comparable to those in a 2004 study of U.S. adults. (Reuters Health)


If only people were mice... New fat-fighting drug has anti-diabetes action too

WASHINGTON - Researchers searching for a cure for obesity said on Thursday they have developed a drug that not only makes mice lose weight, but reverses diabetes and lowers their cholesterol, too.

The drug, which they have dubbed fatostatin, stops the body from making fat, instead releasing the energy from food. They hope it may lead to a pill that would fight obesity, diabetes and cholesterol, all at once. (Reuters)


Obesity drug fears investigated

US authorities are investigating concerns an anti-obesity drug widely available over the counter at chemists may cause liver damage.

Orlistat went on sale under the brand name Alli without the need for a prescription in the UK in April. (BBC)


Can't The Crone afford any fact checking any more? Our Plastic Legacy Afloat

Until recently, the earth had seven continents. To that number, humans have added an eighth — an amorphous, floating mass of waste plastic trapped in a gyre of currents in the north Pacific, between Hawaii and Japan. Researchers have estimated that this garbage patch may contain as much as 100 million tons of plastic debris and is perhaps twice the size of Texas, if not larger.

Across the world’s oceans there are still many more millions of tons of floating plastic, most of it originating from land, not ships. All of this solid waste is bad news. It traps as many as a million seabirds every year, as well as some 100,000 marine mammals. (NYT)

The 100,000 marine mammal deaths myth stems from a misread report about hypothetical plastic fishing net mortalities, which activists and the NYT keep propagating. Totally wrong.

Hard to tell whether they are more upset that the plastics break down at sea than they were when it was thought plastics didn't break down... then again, does it really matter about The Crone's hand wringing at all?


When Governments Are Forced to Compete, the Result Is Better Policy and More Liberty

A story in USA Today is a perfect illustration of the liberalizing power of tax competition. In an effort to attract more jobs and investment, states are competing with each – even taking the aggressive step of advertising in high-tax states. This does not guarantee that states will always use the best approach since states sometimes try to lure companies with special handouts, but tax competition generally encourages states to lower tax rates and control fiscal and regulatory burdens. The same process works internationally, which is precisely why international bureaucracies controlled by high-tax nations are seeking to thwart fiscal competition between nations:

Las Vegas is running ads in California warning businesses they can “kiss their assets goodbye” if they stay in the Golden State. In New Hampshire, economic development officials pick up Massachusetts business owners at the border in a limousine and give them VIP treatment and a pitch about why they should relocate there. Indiana officials, using billboards at the borders and direct appeals to businesses in neighboring states, are inviting them to ‘Come on IN for lower taxes, business and housing costs.’ As states struggle to keep jobs in a continuing recession, they are no longer hoping businesses in other states happen to notice their lower taxes, cheaper office space and less-stringent regulations. They are taking the message directly to them and taking shots at their neighbor’s shortcomings. …No one does it more unapologetically than the Nevada Development Authority. The agency has picked on California before, but its $1 million campaign, launched this month, ratchets up the mockery of California’s budget deficits and IOU paychecks. ‘It’s all done tongue-in-cheek. But the underlying deal is, we want this business,’ Nevada Development Authority President and CEO Somer Hollingsworth said. …’They do mask the nastiness of their message with humor, but this time, their ads are over the top,’ said [California Assemblyman] Solorio, a Democrat from Santa Ana. (Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato at liberty)


Concerns Remain as Europe Changes Bulbs

Beginning next week, incandescent light bulbs will gradually be removed from the European Union market and replaced with energy-saving light bulbs — chiefly compact fluorescent bulbs — that use up to 80 percent less energy and have far longer lifetimes.

The policy has been received positively by many shoppers and homeowners, two prominent consumer groups said on Wednesday, given the energy and money saving potential of the new bulbs.

But there will be drawbacks too, the groups said.

Monique Goyens, the director general of the European Consumers’ Organization, said scrapping incandescent bulbs would prove a disadvantage for consumers who have a special sensitivity to certain kinds of light, and who need old-style bulbs for health reasons.

She said the European Commission should be doing more to inform people who still need old-style bulbs about where to find them.

Stephen Russell, the secretary-general of Anec, a group representing consumer interests in the development of product standards, also warned of continuing concerns about risks to health from the levels of mercury in some compact fluorescent bulbs.

Mr. Russell said the current limit for mercury in each bulb had been set at 5 milligrams, but that the best available technology enabled bulbs to work with as little as 1 milligram. He called on the European Commission to lower the current limit.

He also said that consumers should be able to return used bulbs to where consumers bought them, without charge.

“Only in this way do we believe recycling can be made effective,” he said. (Green Inc.)


Just for laughs: No joke: Scientists call for stricter controls on emissions of laughing gas - Nitrous oxide could soon pose a bigger threat to ozone than CFC chemicals, says atmospheric chemist

Scientists have called for stricter controls on emissions of laughing gas, after discovering the common chemical poses a new threat to the recovering ozone layer. The gas, properly known as nitrous oxide, could soon pose a bigger threat to ozone than CFC chemicals, the use of which has been restricted since the 1980s. (The Guardian)

Nothing at all to worry about then.


For decades now we have heard how global warming is going to get us, how a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to scary amounts of warming. How's that working out?

First, a couple of boring numbers:

The IPCC (alt: IPCC) and the European Environment Agency both provide the formula for calculating change in radiative forcing (ΔF) in W/m2. For carbon dioxide (CO2) this formula is given as ΔF = αln(C/Co) where C and Co are the current and pre-industrial concentrations of CO2, respectively and α = 5.35. Some would immediately argue this overstates average net forcing from increasing atmospheric CO2 and we'd tend to agree but the inflated value is not important, at least, not yet -- call it an inbuilt "safety margin," if you like.

Atmospheric CO2 is presented in parts per million by volume (ppmv). There is no universal standard for what we mean by a doubling of CO2 and various numbers are used, most commonly 560 (2x280 -- the common pre-Industrial revolution reference) and 600 (2x300 -- presumably benchmarked from early in the Twentieth Century).

Since most people seem to conceive the situation as two times "natural," which we take to mean immediately pre-Industrial Revolution, we'll be using the former. From the above formula then, the change in forcing from a doubling of pre-Industrial Revolution atmospheric CO2 = 5.35 x ln(560/280) 3.7 Wm-2.

According to the National Academies' Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions (2001), doubling CO2 (to 600 ppmv) would lead to a forcing of about 4 W/m2, so we guess these figures are close enough for our purposes here.


"The sensitivity of the climate system to a forcing is commonly expressed in terms of the global mean temperature change that would be expected after a time sufficiently long for both the atmosphere and ocean to come to equilibrium with the change in climate forcing. If there were no climate feedbacks, the response of Earth's mean temperature to a forcing of 4 W/m2 (the forcing for a doubled atmospheric CO2) would be an increase of about 1.2 °C (about 2.2 °F). However, the total climate change is affected not only by the immediate direct forcing, but also by climate “feedbacks” that come into play in response to the forcing."

"As just mentioned, a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide (from the pre-Industrial value of 280 parts per million) in the global atmosphere causes a forcing of 4 W/m2. The central value of the climate sensitivity to this change is a global average temperature increase of 3 °C (5.4 °F), but with a range from 1.5 °C to 4.5 °C (2.7 to 8.1 °F) (based on climate system models: see section 4). The central value of 3 °C is an amplification by a factor of 2.5 over the direct effect of 1.2 °C (2.2 °F). Well-documented climate changes during the history of Earth, especially the changes between the last major ice age (20,000 years ago) and the current warm period, imply that the climate sensitivity is near the 3 °C value. However, the true climate sensitivity remains uncertain, in part because it is difficult to model the effect of feedback. In particular, the magnitude and even the sign of the feedback can differ according to the composition, thickness, and altitude of the clouds, and some studies have suggested a lesser climate sensitivity."

Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, pp 6-7,
Committee on the Science of Climate Change
National Research Council

"Climate models calculate outcomes after taking into account the great number of climate variables and the complex interactions inherent in the climate system. Their purpose is the creation of a synthetic reality that can be compared with the observed reality, subject to appropriate averaging of the measurements. Thus, such models can be evaluated through comparison with observations, provided that suitable observations exist. Furthermore, model solutions can be diagnosed to assess contributing causes of particular phenomena. Because climate is uncontrollable (albeit influenceable by humans), the models are the only available experimental laboratory for climate. They also are the appropriate high-end tool for forecasting hypothetical climates in the years and centuries ahead. However, climate models are imperfect. Their simulation skill is limited by uncertainties in their formulation, the limited size of their calculations, and the difficulty of interpreting their answers that exhibit almost as much complexity as in nature."

Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, p 15,
Committee on the Science of Climate Change
National Research Council

So, how's that working out in the real world? How could we tell?

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center provides Recent Greenhouse Gas Concentrations, complete with increased radiative forcing. Going by the July 2009 update Earth is already experiencing three-fourths of the increased forcing estimated from 2xCO2 (2.99 W/m2) from greenhouse gas changes alone.

Now, observations tell us that Earth responds quite rapidly to forcing changes, for example the range from 12 °C-15.8 °C and back each year as the greater land mass of the northern hemisphere receives more and less solar forcing with the changing seasons:

According to the IPCC's AR4 assessment for policymakers, "The total temperature increase from 1850 – 1899 to 2001 – 2005 is 0.76 [0.57 to 0.95] °C", so three-fourths of the expected forcing has delivered three-fourths of a degree warming...

Given that black carbon has been "blamed" for a percentage of estimated warming, as has solar activity and lets not forget land use change with only about one-third of estimated warming due to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chances of 2xCO2 delivering even 1 degree warming would appear, um... limited, much less the rather imaginative 3 °C proposed above.

And since carbon dioxide increases have so little effect on global mean temperature it should be obvious that spending fortunes restricting carbon dioxide emissions will also have irrelevantly small effect.


The Grand View: 4 Billion Years Of Climate Change

Two of the terms bandied about by global warming alarmists are “unprecedented” and “irreversible.” It is troubling that scientists, who should know better, persist in using these terms even though the history of our planet clearly shows that neither term is accurate. Proof of this inaccuracy is obvious if we look back over the history of Earth—the Phanerozoic Eon in particular—taking the “Grand View” of historical climate change.

According to Meg Urry, the head of the physics department at Yale University: “Scientists observe nature, then develop theories that describe their observations. Science is driven by nature itself, and nature gives us no choice. It is what it is.” While some of the dates presented here may change and scientists continue to argue some of the fine points, here is what science thinks it knows about life, the Universe and everything.

Around 13.7 billion years ago the Universe came into existence. Not long afterward the Milky Way galaxy was formed. Stars formed, transmuted elements in nuclear fire and ended their lives in supernovae explosions. This cycle was repeated many times for many different stars.

Then, 4.6 billion years ago our Sun was born out of the ashes of older dead stars. Along with the Sun a large brood of planets was also formed, including the one we call Earth. A million years after the birth of our sun, the violent explosion of a nearby supernova nearly ended life on Earth before it began. Over the next four and a half billion years, forces of nature shaped our planet and the life it harbored.

Buffeted by supernovae, barely surviving the traumatic birth of the Moon, bombarded by asteroids, the resilient Earth endured. And despite planet-freezing ice ages, devastating mass extinctions, and ever changing climate life not only survived, it thrived. Even though meteors continued to rain down on the young planet there is evidence that as long as 4.2 billion years ago liquid water, the prerequisite for life as we know it, was present. The evidence also indicates that life has been present on our planet for close to 4 billion years, though for most of that time it was relatively simple single celled life. At the start, Earth's atmosphere was a toxic mix of methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia—oxygen was nearly absent in the atmosphere of early Earth. To humans and most of the world's familiar flora and fauna, this atmosphere would have been toxic.

Asteroid impacts, tremendous volcanic eruptions, and shifting tectonic plates resulted in drastic changes in climate and the emergence of new life forms. Somewhere along the way the simple microorganisms, which were ancient Earth's only inhabitants, developed photosynthesis that created a net gain of oxygen first in the ocean and later in the atmosphere. Then, 2.3 billion years ago, the world's first ecological disaster occurred when free oxygen established a permanent presence in the atmosphere. Known as the Great Oxidation or the Oxygen Catastrophe, almost every living thing on Earth died as a result of this massive bacteria-induced climate change.

Scientists know this from the minerals present in the rock record. Between 2.5-2.3 billion years ago, during the early Proterozoic Eon, extensive deposits of pyrite (iron sulfide) and uranite (Uranium oxide) can be found in river sediments. These minerals require low oxygen levels to form. From 2.3 billion years onward iron rust can be found, an indication of the presence of free oxygen. Even so, the oxygen levels were but a fraction of today's and intense radiation from the Sun sleeted down on the plant. Eventually, oxygen would solve the radiation problem as well as molecules of ozone (O3) were created in the stratosphere forming the protective ozone layer.

This first example of life radically changing Earth's environment, some times to the detriment of older life forms, was a good thing for our species for without the change in atmospheric composition we would never have existed at all. According to Thorne Lay, Professor of Earth Sciences at UC Santa Cruz : “Life itself modified the Earth system. As the system changed, more complex life forms became viable. Eventually diverse multi-cellular organisms flourished. But not without first being smacked in the face by a few snowballs.” And what snowballs they were!

Eight hundred million years ago, during the Neoproterozoic Era, Earth underwent a monstrous ice age. There is evidence of glacial ice in tropical latitudes, only 15° to 30° north of the equator. In our world, this would mean glaciers as far south as Miami, Florida. Earth would have looked like a different planet, with almost no open ocean and few areas of exposed rock. Only ice and snow, a world of almost pure white.

An artist's conception of what a snowball Earth would look like today.

At that time, most of the land belonged to the super-continent of Rodinia, which formed around 1,100 mya. Rodinia, contained the land that makes up the modern continents today, but not in a configuration we would recognize. North America was in the middle. South America, Australia and Antarctica were packed around North America. Rodinia straddled the tropics, leaving a single vast ocean sweeping across the other side of the globe. There was no land at either pole.

In 1992, Joseph L. Kirschvink, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, put forward a theory that our planet had almost completely frozen from pole to pole, with the only open ocean choked with pack ice. He named this condition “Snowball Earth.” Other researchers have calculated that some of the glacial periods during this time had lasted as long as 10 million years. During these periods, the ocean may have frozen over completely, blocking all sunlight and killing most ocean life.

In fact, scientists now think that there have been ice ages dating back all the way to the middle of the Archean Eon, around 2.8 billion years ago. We have evidence of this from layers of sediment found in rock formations known to belong to that period. On occasion, these episodes lasted several hundred million years, and may have rivaled the ice age during the Neoproterozoic in intensity. There may have been several Snowball Earth periods in our planet's past.

The next major milestone for life on Earth occurred at the beginning of the Phanerozoic Eon, 542 million years ago, with the Cambrian Explosion. This event, with new multicellular organisms popping up in great profusion, resulted in an explosion of life. It marked the end of the Proterozoic Eon and the beginning of the Phanerozoic, Greek for “visible life.” This eon signals the rise of truly complex life, where individual organisms are large enough to be recognized without a microscope.

Different geologic time periods are marked by significant changes in the types of creatures living on Earth. The rock deposited during the Phanerozoic Eon contains evidence of fossilized hard body parts from living things and it is this fossil record that is used to date rock layers from the three eras. By reading the fossil record, scientists have constructed an outline of the development of life during the time following the Cambrian Explosion. Note that it is the changing cast of fossils that allows science to map the past—the history of our planet was written in rock by the fossil remains of uncounted extinct species.

So we see that there were mass extinctions, changes to atmospheric gas proportions and even multiple ice ages prior to the beginning of the Phanerozoic. However, the argument can be made that conditions during the Precambrian (the time prior to 542 million years ago) were not really representative of Earth's climate since complex life spread across the planet. So let's take a look at the “recent” past of the Phanerozoic.

Welcome to the Phanerozoic

To closely examine each era and period of the Phanerozoic would take a lot more space than I wish to commit to a single blog post so we concentrate on the variation in several key environmental factors over that entire time span. These factors are temperature, carbon dioxide levels, ice age conditions, and species extinction and the impact on diversity. But before reviewing these data I do want to mention one period from the late Paleozoic Era that will give a flavor of the types of variation seen in the past.

In the late Paleozoic Era, during the Carboniferous Period, great forests of primitive plants thrived on land, forming extensive peat-swamps. These huge masses of plant matter were buried with sediment, eventually forming the great coal deposits found in North America, Europe and around the world. A global drop in sea level at the end of the Devonian reversed early in the Carboniferous, creating large shallow seas and huge deposits of carbonate minerals. These deposits trapped large quantities of atmospheric carbon that would later form vast beds of limestone.

During the later part of the Carboniferous, the amount of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere was about 35%, much higher than it is today. According to Robert Berner, levels atmospheric oxygen levels have varied between 15% and 30% over the past 550 million years (see “Atmospheric oxygen over Phanerozoic time” in PNAS September 28, 1999). At the same time, global CO2 went below 300 parts per million—a level which is now associated with glacial periods. The abundance of O2 led to the existence of the largest insects ever seen on Earth. Hawk-sized dragonflies, with 29 inch (75 cm) wing spans, spiders the size of house plants, 5 foot (1.5 m) long centipedes and soup bowl-sized crawling bugs.iii It was truly a time when insects ruled the planet. Perhaps it's a good thing the atmospheric oxygen level is only 21% today.

Carboniferous plants resembled the plants that live in tropical and mildly temperate areas today. From fossils, we know that many of them lacked growth rings, suggesting a uniform climate. But the climate was changing. By the middle of the Carboniferous, Earth was sliding into an Ice Age, the Permo-Carboniferous. The growth of large ice sheets at the southern pole locked up large amounts of water as ice. Because so much water was taken out of the environment, sea levels dropped, leading to a mass extinction of shallow marine invertebrates, the gradual decline of the swamps, and an increase in dry land.

Many times, these conditions were reversed when the glaciers receded. Glacial melt water was released back into the oceans, and again flooded the swamps and low-lying plains. Carboniferous rock formations often occur as a pattern of stripes, with alternating shale and coal seams indicating the cyclic flooding and drying of the land. Even under these stressful conditions, or perhaps because of them, life continued to develop. By the end of the era, the first large reptiles and the first modern plants, ancestors of today's conifers, had appeared.

In many ways the Carboniferous is unique in terms of its combination of atmosphere, climate and life forms, but each period of geologic time is unique—that's why they are distinguished with individual names by the ICS. Fact is, the thing that makes these remote periods in time similar is that they are all different from one another, and the only constant factor running through the sweep of Earth history is change. For greater detail on the charateristics of these geologic periods see The Resilient Earth chapter 4, “Unprecedented Climate Change?,” or get a copy of our book from Amazon.

Now that we have a flavor of the types of change Earth has experienced in the past let's examine the temperature variation over the Phanerozoic Era. Below is a figure that shows sciences best guess at how temperature has varied over the past 542 million years. Notice the wide variation in temperature over time, sometimes colder than the average 14°C of today but much of the time considerably warmer. Note also the blue rectangles along the bottom of the plot representing periods of ice house conditions. Even though there have been several extensive ice ages during the Phanerozoic for the majority of the past half billion years there have been no permanent ice caps in either hemisphere. In that sense, the total melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glacial ice sheets would mark a return to historically normal conditions for our planet.

Next, take a look at variation in atmospheric CO2 levels shown in the graph below. Though the uncertainty in the measurments grows as we look farther into the past the general trend can be seen—there used to be much more CO2 in the air in most earlier times. There is an overall trend toward reduced levels but what is most interesting is to compare the CO2 graph with the temperature graph above.

At this scale, there is really no apparent correlation between carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. What's more, there have been ice ages when CO2 has been as much as 10 to 15 times higher than modern levels (for example the end-Ordovician Ice Age) . There have also been times when temperature was increasing but CO2 was decreasing and times when CO2 was increasing but temperatures decreasing (during the Silurian and Devonian and during the Triassic and Jurassic, respectively).

The dip in CO2 levels at the end of the Carboniferous and into the Permian can be attributed to the over active coal swamps that were busy accumulating the thick coal seams that provide energy for much of the world's power generation today. That dip persisted throughout the great Karoo Ice Age (360-260 mya) but started to rise following the Permian-Triassic Extinction (251 mya). Many have speculated that ice ages are a cause of ancient mass extinction events and there may be a connection. The timing of know extinction events is shown in the biodiversity graph below.

The Ordovician-Silurian extinction event, also called the end-Ordovician extinction, was the third-largest of the five major extinction events in Earth's history in terms of percentage of genera that went extinct and second largest overall in the overall loss of life. Somewhere between 450 and 440 mya, two bursts of extinction occurred, separated by about a million years. Notice how, after each major extinction (denoted by the red triangles) life bounces back with increased diversity. Clearly life rises to a challenge (for more about extinction see “Nature, Cruel and Uncaring”).

The graph below shows CO2, temperature and ice age timing information on a single plot. Did the cold have something to do with the extinction? Arguments rage on in the paleological community. Conversely, some have suggested that a sudden rise in CO2 levels at the end of the Permian was responsible for the Permian-Triassic Extinction. Science may never know.

What we do know is human CO2 emissions at their worst cannot approach the levels of natural GHG release, even events that did not trigger mass extinctions (see “Could Human CO2 Emissions Cause Another PETM?”). But what about the often mentioned link between and temperature? “In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record,” says Rice University Oceanographer Gerald Dickens, “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

There have been many other factors at work during the past that affect climate change. This examination—being limited to carbon dioxide levels, temperature and the occurrence of ice ages—ignores the impact of shifting continents, variation in solar activity and the possible impact of cosmic rays on Earth's climate. Greater detail on all of these factors are presented in our book. One interesting thing to notice is that having a continental land mass spanning either pole seems to help promote ice house climate conditions. During the Devonian the supercontinent Gondwana passed over the south pole, during the Carboniferous the polar ice cap of covered the southern end of Pangaea, and today we have Antarctica astride the south polar region.


That concludes our whirlwind tour of Earth's climate history. There are a number of observations that can be made from our overview of the Phanerozoic:

  • Earth’s temperature is always changing.
  • Over time there have been periods when it has been colder than it is today.
  • For most of the Phanerozoic it has been much warmer than it is today.
  • Life has persisted during periods both hot and cold.
  • There is no one “right” temperature.
  • Carbon dioxide has always been present in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Over time there have been periods when CO2 has increased and decreased naturally.
  • For most of the Phanerozoic it has been much higher than it is today.
  • Life has persisted during periods with high CO2 and low CO2.
  • CO2 levels will change with or without human contributions.
  • Over time there have been a number of ice ages—Life has endured multiple ice ages.
  • For most of the Phanerozoic there have been no persistent polar ice caps.

What the future holds climate scientists are unable to portend with all their computer models and IPCC consensus reports. The Earth and its climate are constantly changing—there is no one correct climate or temperature for our planet. Those who say CO2 is the most important factor in climate change, that human GHG emissions will cause runaway global warming, have no historical basis for such claims.

As Earth's climate history has shown, nothing predicted by the global warming alarmists would be unprecedented—Earth's climate has been colder than today's and much, much warmer. CO2 levels have also been many times higher than they currently are, even during ice ages. Ice ages come and go, caused by mechanisms mankind is powerless to control. And after every ice age the world warms and the glaciers disappear only to return millions of years later. No change in climate is irreversible. Given 4 billion years of Earth history and 542 million years of complex life, blaming mankind for 9,000 years of global warming seems rather silly. As it says in Ecclesiastes: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

[The information in this post was taken from our book The Resilient Earth and represents the first half of my presentation to the Scientists for Truth conference held during August 2009, in Springfield, Mo. After hearing my presentation Dennis Avery, co-author of Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years, christened it the “Grand View” of climate change, hence the title of this post. For more information and references see chapters 4, 5, and 6 of TRE.] (The Resilient Earth)


Spurious Warming in New NOAA Ocean Temperature Product: The Smoking Gun

After crunching data this week from two of our satellite-based microwave sensors, and from NOAA’s official sea surface temperature (SST) product ERSST v3b, I think the evidence is pretty clear:

The ERSST v3b product has a spurious warming since 1998 of about 0.2 deg. C, most of which occurred as a jump in 2001.

The following three panels tell the story. In the first panel I’ve plotted the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) SST anomalies (blue) for the latitude band 40N to 40S. I’ve also plotted SST anomalies from the more recently launched AMSR-E instrument (red), computed over the same latitude band, to show that they are nearly identical. (These SST retrievals do not have any time-dependent adjustments based upon buoy data). The orange curve is anomalies for the entire global (ice-free) oceans, which shows there is little difference with the more restricted latitude band.


In the second panel above I’ve added the NOAA ERSST v3b SST anomalies (magenta), calculated over the same latitude band (40N to 40S) and time period as is available from TRMM.

The third panel above shows the difference [ERSST minus TMI], which reveals an abrupt shift in 2001. The reason why I trust the microwave SST is shown in the following plot, where validation statistics are displayed for match-ups between satellite measurements and moored buoy SST measurements. The horizontal green line is a regression fit to the data. (An average seasonal cycle, and 0.15 deg. C cool skin bias have been removed from these data…neither affects the trend, however.)


I also checked the TMI wind speed retrievals, and there is no evidence of anything unusual happening during 2001. I have no idea how such a large warm bias could have entered into the ERSST dataset, but I’d say the evidence is pretty clear that one exists.

Finally, the 0.15 to 0.20 deg. C warm bias in the NOAA SST product makes it virtually certain that July 2009 was not, as NOAA reported, a record high for global sea surface temperatures. (Roy W. Spencer)


My 1991 View of “Overlooked Scientific Issues In Assessing Hypothesized Greenhouse Gas”

In 1991 I published a paper which had my views on the issue of the GCM modeling of global warming. This weblog revisits the topics I raised at that time.

Pielke, R.A., 1991: Overlooked scientific issues in assessing hypothesized greenhouse gas warming. Environ. Software, 6, 100-107.

I summarized the focus of my article in the text

“Numerical models of the global atmosphere and ocean circulations (referred to as general circulation models -GCMs) have been used to investigate the impact on climate of an increase in these trace gases [which include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide]. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in 1983 based on these models, for example, that an increase of the average global temperatures of 5°C by the year 2100 with an incrcase or sea level up to around 2 meters will result because of the global enhancement of these gases. The World Meteorological Organization has concluded that greenhouse gas cause warming could cause a global warming of 1.5°C to 4°C by the middle of the next century.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a number of serious shortcomings in the GCM model simulations which produced these conclusions regarding climate change, These limitations, which are either inadeqately handled or not represented at all in GCMs are summarized in this paper.”

The following are the issues that I have raised, and what has been accomplished since the appearance of this paper:


Biogeochemisty and biogeography are now recognized as first order climate effects [e.g see NRC, 2005].


Even though the models now have finer spatial resolution, The IPCC community still fails to recognize that they must test the ability to faithfully simulate weather features (i.e. they need to be run in a numerical weather prediction mode). This is a necessary test in order to evalute the dynamics and thermodynamics in the GCMs.


The issue still requires futher investiagation. I would welcome urls of peer reviewed papers that have looked at this specific issue  [which is directly related to the spatial resolution in the ocean part of the global climate models, as well as both the physical temperature effect and the biogeochemical (carbon assimilation) effect on ocean biomass].


This climate forcing is now recognized as a major effect on the climate system [NRC, 2005]. Its complexity, however, and the microphysics spatial scales in which this occurs, continue to challenge skillful modeling of this process.


This effect is included in the 2007 IPCC report.


This has been one of my major research areas, and it has been elevated to a first order climate effect (e. g. see NRC, 2005), although the 2007 IPCC failed to adequately discuss it.


As with #4,  this climate forcing is now recognized as a major effect on the climate system [e.g, see NRC, 2005]. Clouds and precipitation process are not seen, however, as an even more difficult modeling issue than in the early 1990s (e. g. see Table 2-2 in NRC, 2005).


This warming has occured in the Arctic (and, while there is disagreement), it has not warmed in the Antarctic region at the same level. 


The 2007 IPCC continued to perpetuate the view that the models can skillfully predict the climate in the coming decades despite their own admission that the GCMs do not even have all of the first order climate forcings (see the caption to figure SPM.2).

I summarized my recommendations are follows

“Since climate change is a natural feature of the earth, we need to husband our resources even if there were no man-caused changes (e.g. Schneider). With respect to man’s potential influence on climate, the “path-of least- regret” is that we should immediately adopt policies which mitigate man’s impact providing there are no deleterious economic, environmental, or political effects of these policies. Even better, of course, is if these policies result in positive benefits to mankind. Conservation of fossil fuel resources, for example, and utilization of renewable energy resources represent examples of beneficial activities which should be promoted by government policy makers regardless of the direction of climate change. Recommendations by Rosenfeld and lIafemeister represent definite steps which could be taken to achieve this goal. Policies which require significant hardship, are  in this writer’s opinion premature.” (Climate Science)


Guaranteed to upset the "people done it" brigade and elicit a great deal of weaseling: One sunspot mystery solved, researchers say

For some time, scientists have observed that sunspots seem to have an inordinate impact on earth’s weather.

Sunspots are areas of intensified magnetic activity on the sun’s surface. They occur roughly on an 11-year cycle. Right now, we’re at the minimum of the cycle, and poised, most likely, to enter a phase of increased activity.

Here’s the mystery when it comes to sunspots:

The small increase in energy emitted by the sun during solar maximums (the peak of sunspot activity) doesn’t seem to match the higher temperatures observed on earth. During sunspot years, the sun’s total energy output rises by just one-tenth of one percent. During those years, average sea surface temperatures increase by about 0.1 degrees C. But scientists calculate that, to get those higher temperatures, the amount of solar energy reaching earth would have to increase by about 0.5 Watts per square meter. And that’s where observed reality refuses to align with scientists’ number-crunching. During the peak of the sunspot cycle, the energy reaching Earth only increases by about 0.2 Watts per square meter – less than half what scientists think is necessary.

In short, Earth seems to warm up too much during solar maximums. Where is that extra energy coming from?

A new study appearing today in the journal Science offers an answer to this longstanding mystery. Two climate processes, one top-down and the other bottom-up, amplify the effects of increased solar activity, say the authors, raising temperatures beyond what you might expect. How do they know? With ever more powerful computers, scientists can run increasingly complex climate models. In this case, scientists at the National Center of Atmospheric Research took two existing models, neither of which was able to reproduce observed changes alone, and combined them. This “super” model includes more atmospheric layers than in the past, like the stratosphere, and allows for changes in atmospheric chemistry induced by solar radiation, both of which proved crucial to getting a result that approximated reality.

The scientists focused on the Pacific Ocean, which shows a strong response to periods of increased solar activity. And here’s what they came up with:

First, more incoming solar radiation warms the stratosphere over the tropics. Warmer conditions, in turn, lead to the production of more ozone. More ozone causes more of the sun’s incoming energy to be “caught” in the stratosphere. This feedback changes circulation patterns in the stratosphere.

The stratosphere is separated from the troposphere (the lower atmospheric layer where most weather happens) by the tropopause. So if the two layers are distinct, how does what happens up high affect what we experience down low?

Answer: by what scientists call “wave energy.” The layers don’t necessarily mix. Rather, just as waves travel and transmit energy through water without necessarily moving the water forward or backward, waves travel – and transmit energy – through different layers of the atmosphere. In this case, changes in stratospheric circulation affect the troposphere by reinforcing, through these energetic waves, certain wind patterns. These strengthened winds cause stormier conditions over the western Pacific.

Then there’s the bottom-up component. At the equator, heated air rises. Once cooled, that air descends over the subtropics. Where the hot humid air rises and cools, you generally get storms and rainfall; where it sinks, you generally get clear skies and not much precipitation. (For this reason, many of the world’s deserts occur at subtropical latitudes.)

During sunspot years, a little more energy hits the sea surface of the Pacific. The subtropics, which naturally have few clouds to reflect the sun’s energy back into space, warm more than other areas as a consequence. That increases evaporation and water vapor. The westerly trade winds carry the extra moisture to the western tropical Pacific. More rain falls there. The entire cycle is reinforced.

The end result of these “top down” and “bottom up” processes working together: during solar maximum years, the subtropics are more cloudless than usual, and more sunlight – which is a little stronger – hits the ocean. That warms the ocean more than usual, raising the observed temperature. This increased warmth isn’t evenly distributed: The trade winds are stronger than usual, too, making the eastern Pacific cooler, drier, and less stormy than usual. The western Pacific, meanwhile, gets more warm water and more rain. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it mimics, very generally, the conditions that prevail during La Niña years.

Not everyone is persuaded that the study satisfactorily explains the sunspot-earth connection. A news article accompanying the Science study airs some scientists’ doubts:

The study “is not nearly as conclusive as they would have it,” says Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London, who developed the top-down mechanism. Among additional critiques, she and others say the researchers ran the model too few times to give reliable results. “The atmosphere and oceans are a big coupled system,” she says, “but it’s incredibly complicated.”

For those wondering how the study bears on global warming, Gerald Meehl, lead author on the study, says that it doesn’t – at least not directly. (For more on sunspots’ possible role in global warming, see Monitor colleague Pete Spotts’s article.

Global warming is a long-term trend, Dr. Meehl says in a phone conversation. By contrast, this study attempts to explain the processes behind a periodic occurrence. But, he says, a model finally able to reproduce a complex phenomenon observed in the real world does suggest that our climate models – the same ones we use to predict what will happen to global climate as we ratchet up co2 concentrations – are improving. And that will, inevitably, have an affect on the climate discussion. (CSM)

Interestingly, every time someone comes up with another attribution of some portion of climate forcing it leaves less room for carbon dioxide. The case for carbon control died long ago -- can we please move on?


Sunspots Do Really Affect Weather Patterns, Say Scientists

Sun Aug 19, 2009A new study in the journal Science by a team of international of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research have found that the sunspot cycle has a big effect on the earth's weather. The puzzle has been how fluctuations in the sun's energy of about 0.1 percent over the course of the 11-year sunspot cycle could affect the weather? The press release describing the new study explains:

The team first confirmed a theory that the slight increase in solar energy during the peak production of sunspots is absorbed by stratospheric ozone. The energy warms the air in the stratosphere over the tropics, where sunlight is most intense, while also stimulating the production of additional ozone there that absorbs even more solar energy. Since the stratosphere warms unevenly, with the most pronounced warming occurring at lower latitudes, stratospheric winds are altered and, through a chain of interconnected processes, end up strengthening tropical precipitation.

At the same time, the increased sunlight at solar maximum causes a slight warming of ocean surface waters across the subtropical Pacific, where Sun-blocking clouds are normally scarce. That small amount of extra heat leads to more evaporation, producing additional water vapor. In turn, the moisture is carried by trade winds to the normally rainy areas of the western tropical Pacific, fueling heavier rains and reinforcing the effects of the stratospheric mechanism.

The top-down influence of the stratosphere and the bottom-up influence of the ocean work together to intensify this loop and strengthen the trade winds. As more sunshine hits drier areas, these changes reinforce each other, leading to less clouds in the subtropics, allowing even more sunlight to reach the surface, and producing a positive feedback loop that further magnifies the climate response.

These stratospheric and ocean responses during solar maximum keep the equatorial eastern Pacific even cooler and drier than usual, producing conditions similar to a La Nina event. However, the cooling of about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit is focused farther east than in a typical La Nina, is only about half as strong, and is associated with different wind patterns in the stratosphere.

Are these new findings relevant to scientific analyses of man-made global warming? The Christian Science Monitor reports:

For those wondering how the study bears on global warming, Gerald Meehl, lead author on the study, says that it doesn’t – at least not directly....

Global warming is a long-term trend, Dr. Meehl says in a phone conversation. By contrast, this study attempts to explain the processes behind a periodic occurrence. But, he says, a model finally able to reproduce a complex phenomenon observed in the real world does suggest that our climate models – the same ones we use to predict what will happen to global climate as we ratchet up co2 concentrations – are improving. And that will, inevitably, have an affect on the climate discussion.

A recent paper in Eos considers the evidence that we could be in for an extended period with few sunspots:

Why is a lack of sunspot activity interesting? During the period from 1645 to 1715, the Sun entered a period of low activity now known as the Maunder Minimum, when through several 11- year periods the Sun displayed few if any sunspots. Models of the Sun’s irradiance suggest that the solar energy input to the Earth decreased during that time and that this change in solar activity could explain the low temperatures recorded in Europe during the Little Ice Age.

Doesn't the Eos paper suggest that sunspot activity may not just affect weather but climate too? (Ronald Bailey, Reason)


Hmm... A brief history of climate change and conflict

Article Highlights

* The interaction between climate change and conflict started as early as 35,000 years ago.
* The Neanderthals, Vikings, and Mayans all benefited and suffered from a changing climate that affected resources such as water, game, and agriculture.
* By analyzing historical case studies of climate and societal collapse, we can identify a set of discernible lessons for today.

In recent years, many foreign affairs experts have attempted to demonstrate the linkages between climate change and the social tensions that can lead to conflict. While critics may believe this is simply a fad in international affairs, history suggests otherwise. Over the last few millennia, climate change has been a factor in conflict and social collapse around the world. The changing climate has influenced how and where people migrate, affected group power relations, and provided new resources to societies while taking away others. Such circumstances cause large-scale alterations in lifestyles and illustrate pathways from climate change to conflict. (James R. Lee, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

Lee is the associate director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and a professor in the School of International Service at American University. He has extensive experience as an analyst of international trade, environmental policy, and security issues. He is the author of Climate Change and Armed Conflict: Hot and Cold Wars and Exploring the Gaps: Vital Links between Trade, Environment, and Culture.

Well, he seems to be correct about climate changes but draws lessons from times and cultures necessarily lacking global trade and infrastructure, consequently neglecting the effect of modern transport abilities and trade. Climate change does involve varied effects (change in rainfall patterns, for example) and "winners and losers" but modern effects are greatly alleviated by our ability to exploit advantage and redistribute excess to areas of disadvantage (Egypt was once Rome's grain producer, so exploitation of location is hardly new but modern scale and speed is).

Globalization is a huge advantage and should warming occur then we will have more available land for grain growing in the northern higher latitudes to help feed the growing equatorial populations. If it cools then more of the tropical belt suits grain growing to feed the cooler regions to the north (who will have to burn more coal to survive the cold and so help feed the crops with carbon dioxide as a byproduct). It is not like we need to attack the next village and steal their food to survive any more, global trade and the transport infrastructure of today has changed the game.


Another ambitious claim: Steamy Heat More Common In California: Study

LOS ANGELES - Bouts of extreme muggy heat lasting for days, once rare in California, are becoming more frequent and intense due to ocean patterns altered by climate change, scientists said in a study released on Tuesday. (Reuters)


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Aug. 28th 2009

In this week’s round-up, you will discover the dark secrets behind some of the most influential green groups, why polar bears are shrinking and how the world can be saved with only the judicious use of English actors. (Daily Bayonet)


From the department of ironies: Weather supercomputer used to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters

The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters.

The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

The machine was hailed as the 'future of weather prediction' with the ability to produce more accurate forecasts and produce climate change modelling.

However the Met Office's HQ has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution - responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

It says 75 per cent of its carbon footprint is produced by the super computer meaning the machine is officially one of the country's least green machines. (Daily Mail)


In the Pursuit of ‘Weather Modification’

Last week Nevada announced the end of a cloud-seeding program due to budget cuts.

But the concept — sometimes referred to as rain-making — remains well-entrenched across the West and Midwest, according to Arlen Huggins, a scientist with the Desert Research Institute, which had operated the Nevada program.

In simplest terms, planes or ground generators are used to seed clouds with silver iodide, which, the thinking goes, spurs the growth of ice crystals that eventually turn into snow or rain.
graphic The list of aspirants conjuring ways to spur rainfall is long. Click the image to see a brief time line.

Whether or not this actually works, of course, depends on whom you ask, and the scientific community remains somewhat divided over the technique, which has been pursued for more than half a century. (Green Inc.)


Today nagging the British, tomorrow the world: Green quango launches campaign to preach abroad

A green quango funded by the British taxpayer has caused outrage by launching an international campaign to preach about the need to curb emissions.

Despite growing pressure for public spending cuts in the UK, the Carbon Trust is expanding its empire to establish a presence in the U.S. and China.

The Daily Mail has learned that the organisation, which received almost £100million in taxpayer funding last year, is trying to recruit a Head of Carbon Trust U.S.A. (Daily Mail)


Legislature takes urgent action in climate change fight

China's top legislature Thursday approved a resolution on climate change -- which was originally not on its work plan for the year -- speeding up the country's effort to fight global warming.

The move was taken ahead of next month's UN climate summit, which is expected to provide high-level political impetus to the negotiating process for an international climate treaty.

The resolution was endorsed by lawmakers at the closing of a four-day session of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC).

It said the country should "strengthen energy-saving and emission reduction", and "strive to control greenhouse gas emissions", while including such efforts in national development plans. (China Daily)


India and climate change talks

I have been surprised by the number of reasonable Indians who have come to accept the proposition, advanced by equally reasonable but perhaps
nationalistically-motivated Americans, that the acceptance of internationally-mandated restrictions on carbon emissions by India is in its own national interest. Some have even come to argue that India should actively seek a climate change treaty at the Copenhagen conference in December 2009.

I disagree with this proposition. The foremost objective India must pursue in the forthcoming decades is to provide a humane existence with adequate access to basic amenities such as shelter, water and electricity to all citizens.

Given that 300 million Indians still live in abject poverty and 400 million are without access to electricity, achieving this objective requires sustained rapid growth complemented by well-crafted social programmes for some decades to come. The question then is whether such growth is feasible while implementing mitigation targets beginning in the near future, say, 2020. (Arvind Panagariya, Economic Times)


Transcript (from the rubber room): Professor Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute talks pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels for safe climate

... Scott Bilby: Is it? And James Hansen has mentioned we need to go to 300 to 325 ppm of CO2 to avoid deglaciation of the planet. Now, you’ve recently stated only a return to pre-industrial levels of CO2, which is about 280ppm, would be enough to guarantee a safe future for the planet. So, on that are you basically agreeing with Hansen or are you saying that perhaps his target is not low enough?

Professor Schellnhuber: Yes. I mean, first of all I think Jim Hansen and I agree on that we should do everything we can to limit global warming to say, about 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, as a transient phenomenon by the way. We should if you like, observe and respect the guard rail which means, two degrees warming, or it means another one degree warming above the present level, is more or less the limit, beyond that threshold, which is not a sharp threshold, but beyond that range you would expect major planetary accidents to happen. I call them tipping point in the Earth’s system, published with a number of colleges a paper recently, or several papers on that, where that would be collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, dieback of the Amazon rainforest and things like that. So, if we talk about climate impacts we really have to talk about global mean temperature and how it scales down to regional temperature and precipitation patterns.

Now I think Jim Hansen and I agree on that. The question is, what is the timeline, what is the road map if you like, for reducing, first of all stabilising CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and ultimately reducing them? What I am saying 280ppm, so the pre-Industrial level is the safe limit. This is a very simple argument. I mean, if you look back at paleo-climatic dynamics and also how our biosphere has evolved it is clear that the Earth was in a sort of, self organised, dynamical equilibrium of many, many hundred thousands of years actually, yes, and we shouldn't touch upon that equilibrium, which is precisely what we are doing now. (BeyondZeroEmissions)


Speaking of rubber rooms: Climate change calculator spells out facts for US

When Dickson Despommier boldly stated that, at our current climate change and population growth rate, " In roughly 50 years, farming as we know it will no longer exist. This means that the majority of people could soon be without enough food or water." (See Vertical farming solution to climate change damage.)

In 50 years, my children will be ages 54 and 52, presumbably (sic) with families of their own. What will the United States look like 5 decades from now, based on weather?

The Nature Conservancy offers an addictive interactive map, Climate Wizard. This free online tool shows how hot, wet and dry the country will become over the next century, as well as over the past 50 years.

The forecast calls for bad weather, as you may have guessed.

Yet, seeing the future plainly may cause you to rethink your water usage, advocate for vertical farming, and reduce your carbon footprint (again. And again.) (Rebecca Lacko, Green Living Examiner)

Not sure Rebecca spells her surname correctly...


Oh dear... Big Role Urged For Energy Research In Climate Pact

OSLO - Research into clean energy technology should get a leading role in new U.N. climate pact ahead of ever tougher curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, a study said on Friday.

"We need to start talking a lot more about the technological revolution," said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who commissioned the report to give alternative ideas for a new U.N. climate treaty.

The report estimated that investments of $100 billion a year in research into new technologies -- such as solar power, hydrogen, nuclear fusion or sucking carbon dioxide from the air -- could avoid $11 of damage from climate damage for every dollar spent. (Reuters)

How do you avoid damage that won't occur anyway? Granted, there is zero value in burying carbon we have spent time, effort, energy and finance mining to begin with, in fact it's plain stupid but before you can "save" money on abating damages some potential damage must exist. That's the bottom line here -- there is no known downside to carbon dioxide emission. None, zip, nada, zilch... it feeds plants and greens the Earth but it has no known downside whatsoever. All the stories and allegations of harm come from make-believe worlds and fevered imaginations.


Carbongate (Cont'd)

The EPA may be considering closing the watchdog office that exposed the flimsy evidence of man-caused warming. So much for the administration's promise to "restore science to its rightful place."

Read More: Global Warming

Recently we commented on the plight of Dr. Allen Carlin, the EPA senior research analyst at the National Center for Environmental Economics who dared to say, in essence, that emperor Al Gore and his environmental sycophants at the Environmental Protection Agency wore no clothes.

The EPA had been working on an "endangerment finding" that would say carbon dioxide, rather than being the basis for all life on earth, was a dangerous pollutant and allowing the EPA to regulate it and five other gases down to your lawn mower.

Along came Carlin, who decided to do something unheard of and actually check the empirical data. After examining numerous global warming studies, Carlin — who holds a doctorate in economics with an undergraduate degree in physics — said his research showed that "available observable data . . . invalidate the hypothesis" that humans cause dangerous global warming. The EPA has "tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups . . . as being correct without a careful and critical examination."

With the Democrats about to push the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation, it didn't help for Carlin to report, for example, that ocean cycles, rather than anthropogenic carbon dioxide, appeared to be the single best explanation of temperature variations. (IBD)


Desperately trying to inflate the cost of adaptation to something nearer the absurd cost of "addressing gorebull warming": Adapting To New Climate Dearer Than U.N. Says: Report

LONDON - Adapting to the effects of climate change such as floods and droughts will probably cost many times more than the United Nations estimates, a report said on Thursday ahead of a major U.N. summit in December.

The U.N. climate change secretariat, UNFCCC, puts the global costs of adaptation, through measures such as growing drought-resistant crops and limiting the spread of diseases, at $40 billion to $170 billion a year until 2030.

The range is so broad because of a large degree of uncertainty over some of the costs. (Reuters)


Stop 'emotionalizing' the cap-and-trade debate

Environmental activists who favor anti-global warming regulations like the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill now before the U.S. Senate have long claimed that government intervention is essential to save the planet from an imminent man-made catastrophe. In fact, only Waxman-Markey threatens to be a man-made catastrophe. The bill would create billions of dollars' worth of government credits to businesses that reduce carbon emissions. Businesses that exceed the required reductions could sell the credits to firms that fail to do so. The approach won't work because it would use a government mandate to create a market for which there is no consumer demand.

Since the American economy is mainly powered by energy produced from carbon fuels and will be for the foreseeable future, reducing carbon emissions requires slowing or eliminating economic growth, with the result that 2 million more Americans will become unemployed by 2012, according to an analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Similarly, the Brookings Institution -- certainly no sentinel of rightward analysis -- also predicts dire economic results from Waxman-Markey. (Washington Examiner)


Carbon tax better: Clinton official

TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast.

Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said ''cap and trade'' systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended. (Business Day)

Better than a cap & tax scam -- but that isn't really saying anything since neither scam scheme has any beneficial potential as far as climate is concerned.


But why? Rich Could Add CO2 Cuts To Bolster Climate Pact

LONDON/OSLO - Industrialized nations can deepen planned cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to shore up a U.N. climate treaty due in December but analysts say there are risks they will promise more than they deliver.

Measures such as paying to protect tropical forests -- which soak up carbon as they grow -- or wider use of carbon trading could help recession-hit rich nations add to pledged 2020 cuts which now total just 10 to 14 percent below 1990 levels. (Reuters)


After 150 Years, Whither Oil?

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the first oil well drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania by “Colonel” Edwin Drake. The commodity would prove essential to the development of modern societies, enabling communications, travel and trade on a global scale.

But its central role is now facing unprecedented challenges.

Governments are concerned about the need for energy security and reliable supplies. The threat of climate change requires shifting away from fossil fuels that currently dominate the world’s energy mix. And fears of “peak oil” — the notion that half the world’s reserves have been pumped and that global production is now on a slow path of decline — have gained followers as prices have soared.

How much longer will the “Oil Age” last? (Green Inc.)


Let's Celebrate Oil's 150th Birthday And The Value It Adds To Our Lives

Thursday marked the 150th anniversary of a seminal event in history: the birth of the oil industry. On that day in 1859, Edwin Drake struck black gold with the first commercial oil well — creating an industry that would provide the lifeblood for modern civilization.

And yet no one seems to care.

In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultraconvenient energy — and is as vital today as ever. (Alex Epstein, IBD)


Oil refiners: Cap-and-trade will cost

Oil refiners, including regional giant Sunoco Inc., say that proposed federal legislation aimed at curbing global warming could impair fuel production nationally and in the region, where it is a mainstay of the economy.

A study released this week by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry's trade group, projects that the cap-and-trade bill in its current form could cause a 17 percent reduction in U.S. refinery output by 2030. The reduction would be made up by doubling fuel imports from foreign refiners, who may not face climate restrictions.

API said the analysis by EnSys Energy shows the "devastating" effect the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have on U.S. jobs and energy security. While the proposed bill would dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from U.S. refineries, there would be only a slight worldwide reduction as fuel production shifted overseas, the study said. (Philadelphia Inquirer)


Deficits, Dollars, and the Price of Energy

Ed. Note: This article first appeared on Geoffrey Styles' blog, Energy Outlook.

The latest revision to the forecasted federal deficit has implications beyond the sustainability of current government spending. Reading a pair of high-profile, skeptical assessments of Peak Oil in the context of a $9 trillion deficit projection for the next decade, it occurred to me that the most serious risk of higher oil prices in the near future might not be flagging production or surging demand but the further depreciation of the US dollar. The quickest route back to $4 gasoline could run through Washington, DC, rather than Riyadh or Beijing, and that might not be as helpful for renewable energy as its advocates might guess. (Energy Tribune)


Turki: Energy Independence is ''Political Posturing At Its Worst…''

The new issue of Foreign Policy magazine includes a section called “Oil: The Long Goodbye.” The issue has several good articles, but the one by Turki al-Faisal brought a smile to my face. Turki, who briefly served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, has also served as the head of Saudi intelligence. In his essay, “Don’t Be Crude,” Turki channels many of the points that I make in Gusher of Lies, saying that for US politicians, invoking the phrase “energy independence” is “now as essential as baby-kissing.” From there, Turki goes into a full-on indignant rant. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)


Trying to talk it to death now? Recession Speeds Coal's Long-Term Decline

HOUSTON - Declining industrial electricity demand and an abundance of cheap natural gas will threaten coal's status as the dominant U.S. fuel to generate electric power, even after the economic recession ends.

Power companies are reducing use of coal plants because of declining demand from heavy industry, the economic sector hardest hit by the recession. The loss of industrial "baseload" looks long term, analysts and executives say. (Reuters)


Greens threaten Indian American prosperity

Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the United States, has faced a number of enemies in its long history: Anasazi warriors, Andrew Jackson and now, lawyered-up environmentalists.

The Navajo homeland, an area that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, is endowed with abundant coal deposits. That makes it ideal for powering the Southwest.

Navajo elders are trying to build a new coal-fired power plant to export electricity off the reservation and rev up their ailing economy. For environmentalists, however, coal is unacceptable, no matter the economic consequences, because it comes with a large carbon moccasin print.

According to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, the $3 billion, 1,500-megawatt Desert Rock power plant would create more than 1,000 annual jobs during the four-year construction period, 400 permanent jobs, and generate more than $50 million annually in reservation revenues. This would be welcome relief -- the reservation is plagued by unemployment of almost 50 percent.

A coal power plant may be an economic boon for the Navajos, but it's an eco-sin to green groups. They boast of having stopped the construction of 100 coal plants, as if imposing expensive energy on American consumers is a good thing. Now they have unleashed a phalanx of lawyers to stop the Navajo Nation from helping itself. (William Yeatman and Jeremy Lott, Examiner)


"So what?" of the moment: Australia admits new LNG plant 'greenhouse intensive'

SYDNEY -- Australia has admitted a huge new energy project to supply Asian markets could raise national greenhouse gas emissions by up to one percent if ambitious efforts to capture them fail.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett made the comments just hours after approving the Gorgon field, which will provide China and India with tens of billions of dollars of liquefied natural gas.

He said plans to pump carbon dioxide emissions into sandstone rock at Barrow Island, at the site of the project off Western Australia, were untested on such a scale.

“It certainly is a greenhouse-gas intensive project,” Garrett told public broadcaster ABC late on Wednesday.

He added that total emissions, if they leaked, could approach one percent of the national total. (AFP)


Basically because they are no real value... More Sun for Less: Solar Panels Drop in Price

When Greg Hare looked into putting solar panels on his ranch-style home in Magnolia, Tex., last year, he decided he could not afford it. “I had no idea solar was so expensive,” he recalled.

But the cost of solar panels has plunged lately, changing the economics for many homeowners. Mr. Hare ended up paying $77,000 for a large solar setup that he figures might have cost him $100,000 a year ago.

“I just thought, ‘Wow, this is an opportunity to do the most for the least,’ ” Mr. Hare said.

For solar shoppers these days, the price is right. Panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray. (NYT)

This piece claims solar panels can "pay for themselves" in 22 years. All I can say is they must be installed in regions with the world's highest electricity tariffs. Where I live, in sunny Queensland, we can get an average of 6 hours full sun per day and a return of almost 1 kWh per 4 square meters of solar panels per day, displacing approximately $22 worth of metered power per year. A $16,000 1kW system (current local list price) can potentially displace 6kWh/day to return about $131 in "saved power" annually, thus "paying for itself" in about 6 times its expected lifespan, not including cleaning and maintenance, loss of use of finance... Of course, current solar panels lose efficiency over time and will certainly not continue delivering electricity at the nominal rating and will probably be scrap (hazardous waste?) in 10-15 years, tops.

How much finance would I be prepared to put up upfront to "save" some portion of $130 in power consumption per year? Given that it would cost at least that to have some fool on my roof cleaning the damn things just once the answer is absolutely nothing and it is never going to do anything but cost me money. And what if I steal the subsidy from my fellow taxpayers? Same deal, except I'm only throwing away about $4,000 directly and stealing the rest from other taxpayers.

Solar voltaic? Not this little black duck.


Oh good grief! Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’

A paper published on Tuesday by the Nature Conservancy predicts that by 2030, energy production in the United States will occupy a land area larger than Minnesota — in large part owing to the pursuit of domestic clean energy.

The authors call it “energy sprawl” — a term meant to draw attention to habitat destruction, and to warn that biofuels in particular will take up substantial amounts of land.

“There’s a good side and a bad side of renewable production,” said Robert McDonald, a Nature Conservancy scientist and one of the authors, in a telephone interview.

The paper looked at several scenarios, including a “base-case” derived from current Energy Information Agency forecasts for the country’s energy mix in 2030, as well as various permutations of efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

The study took into account only land impacts in the United States; thus for example the land required to drill for oil in Saudi Arabia, one of the United States’s biggest suppliers, was not considered. Nor was “indirect land use” taken into account. That is the controversial idea that growing soy for fuel in the United States could simply push soy-for-food production to, say, Indonesia, where CO2-sipping forests would then be razed for soy farming.

Nuclear power is the most compact in terms of the amount of land taken up per unit of energy, according to the study; coal and geothermal energy also took up relatively small amounts of space. Biodiesel made from soybeans, the burning of energy crops to create electricity, and ethanol production had the highest “sprawl” impact.

Asked about the assertion by some solar advocates that covering a 100-mile by 100-mile square of Nevada desert with solar arrays could power the United States, Mr. McDonald said that the study was “trying to avoid that kind of maximal estimate,” and be more realistic about the projected energy mix.

As for climate change, Mr. McDonald said that the Nature Conservancy believes that this is “something humanity absolutely has to deal with,” and the paper highlights several ways to reduce the sprawl. These include reusing already-developed sites, as well as a flexible cap-and-trade system that allows for the development of new nuclear plants and the sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants.

But perhaps the most important is energy conservation.

“Saving energy saves land,” Mr. McDonald said. “There’s a real link there.” (Green Inc.)


EU Imports More Argentine Biodiesel: Biopetrol

HAMBURG - Growing imports of cheap Argentine biodiesel into Europe are replacing U.S. imports hit by European Union anti-dumping duties in March, Swiss-German biodiesel producer Biopetrol said on Thursday.

"Increasing amounts of indirectly-subsidized biodiesel have been coming to Europe from Argentina since the second quarter," Biopetrol said in a statement in a statement on its first half 2009 results.

"The EU and the German government are once again called upon to act quickly to give European biodiesel producers the same protection against subsidized imports as in the case of B99 (biodiesel) from the U.S."

In March, the EU said it would impose punitive duties on imports of biodiesel from the U.S. while an investigation is held into allegations the U.S. green fuel is sold cheaply in Europe with the help of subsidies.

"Biodiesel prices continued to be under heavy pressure, because large inventories of highly subsidized American B99 that had been established in Europe were still being sold on the market," Biopetrol said. (Reuters)


August 27, 2009


Rep. Tom Price on the Government Takeover

This video has gotten more than 1,000,000 views on YouTube. It deserves one more: yours. (Jim Harper, Cato at liberty)


Newsweek Editor Plays Psychiatrist -- Links Health Care Opponents to Saddam-9/11 Theorists

Magazine's Sharon Begley rationalizes a large part of opposition to ObamaCare is from a distortion of 'mental processes.' (Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute)


Another Attack On Big Drugmakers

Powerful California Rep. Henry Waxman wants to save Medicare billions by going after drug industry "windfalls." As usual, his "savings" will very quickly turn into higher costs for you-know-who.

So many industries, so little time — that might be the Democrats' motto. By demonizing the drugmakers, Waxman and his allies in Congress hope to convince you they're doing something about rampant cost increases in Medicare.

They're right that Medicare costs have risen rapidly. Indeed, since 1970 Medicare's costs have risen 34% faster per patient than overall medical costs.

To us, that's just another reason for not trusting our medical system to the government in the first place.

But that hasn't stopped Waxman, who heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is widely seen as the most influential player in health care overhaul in the House.

Waxman's proposal to go after drugmakers to trim Medicare costs is wrong on many levels. For one, it'll shift costs onto those with private insurance. For another, it'll make all of us less healthy by forcing drugmakers to abandon or delay development of new drugs. (IBD)


Drug ads may not alter most cancer patients' care

NEW YORK - A new study suggests that most cancer patients have seen ads for various drugs used against their disease, but it may ultimately have little impact on their treatment.

Consumer ads for prescription drugs have shot up since 1997, when U.S. regulators began allowing them to run on TV and radio.

The trend is controversial, with supporters arguing that the ads empower patients, and opponents worrying that the ads are misleading or spur unnecessary prescriptions.

Given that cancer drugs are highly specialized, expensive and can have significant side effects, the use of consumer ads in this area of medicine is particularly contentious. (Reuters Health)


D'oh! EU Chemicals Law "Spells Surge In Animal Testing"

LONDON - Far-reaching European safety rules on tens of thousands of chemicals used in everything from car seats to face cream will lead to a surge in animal testing and should be urgently reviewed, scientists said on Wednesday.

The regulations may need 54 million research animals and cost 9.5 billion euros ($13.6 billion) to implement over the next 10 years -- 20 times the number of animals and six times the cost previously anticipated, they reported in the journal Nature.

The European Union's REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) legislation came into effect two years ago, requiring companies to assess the toxicity of chemicals that date from before the era of mandatory testing. (Reuters)


FTC to Protect Us from Multi-Colored Beer Cans

bud lightRecently Anheuser-Busch hit upon the marketing idea of selling Bud Light beer in cans decorated with the college-team colors. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn’t have much else to do - its not like there’s been say fraud going on in the mortgage market – it quickly turned its attention to the issue, expressing “grave concern” that these team-colored cans would encourage underage and binge drinking.

As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, FTC attorney Janet Evans said “this does not appear to be responsible activity.” What’s not responsible is the FTC wasting taxpayer resources wondering what color beer cans we are drinking out of. When I was an underage drinker, the last thing on my mind was the color of the can. The ultimate purpose of the marketing campaign is to shift demand away from boring, non-team color beer cans toward team color cans. If beer drinkers (or can collectors) get some pleasure out of a certain colored can, where’s the fraud or deception in that?

The real purpose of FTC’s interest is revealed in the comments of the Licensing Resource Group, which represents the colleges in protecting their logos. Almost all the colleges that have asked Anheuser-Busch to stop selling the cans have cited trademark concerns.  Yet none of the cans have any team logos. While no one would dispute the right of a college to control the use of its team logo, is it really reasonable to conclude that the colleges also own the rights to the use of certain colors? (Mark A. Calabria, Cato at liberty)


The adiposity bandwagon is really rolling: Muscle mass, not fat, makes for stronger bones

NEW YORK - New findings call into question the idea that being overweight or obese might protect people from developing brittle bones.

Dr. Jean-Marc Kaufman of Ghent University Hospital in Belgium and his colleagues found that fattier men had smaller, thinner bones, while those with more lean mass had larger, denser skeletons.

High body mass index (BMI) has been thought to protect both men and women against the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, while being thin boosts a person's likelihood of fractures due to this condition. The idea behind the theory is that extra weight stresses the bone, stimulating the formation of new bone tissue.

But new evidence suggests that fat mass might affect bones differently than muscle mass does, Kaufman and his team note in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. (Reuters Health)


Molecular Link Found Between Insulin Resistance And Inflammation

An exploration of the molecular links between insulin resistance and inflammation may have revealed a novel target for diabetes treatment, say scientists at the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Their findings were published earlier this month in the online version of Diabetes, one of the journals of the American Diabetes Association. (ScienceDaily)


New Discovery Could Open Door To Obesity, Diabetes Treatments

At a time of alarming increases in obesity and associated diseases -- and fiery debates about the cost of health care -- a UCF research team has identified a new genetic mechanism that controls the body's fat-building process.

The discovery could open the door to new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes, and it has the potential to help hundreds of millions of people and dramatically cut health care costs. (ScienceDaily)


Sugar-free drinks help in battle of obesity

Calorie fighters everywhere know that losing weight is only half the battle against the stubborn bulge -- keeping the weight off is even trickier.

A new study in the International Journal of Obesity says that drinking sugar-free drinks is a proven tool to help in the fight. (Sheilah Downey, Food Consumer)


4WDs avoid prangs, says survey (for those who don't speak Aussie, "prangs" are accidents)

FOUR-wheel-drives are less likely to be in an accident than standard passenger cars.

An analysis of claims lodged with insurer AAMI shows that 16.75 accident claims are made for every 100 cars in Victoria.

But only 14.98 claims are lodged for every 100 4WDs. (Herald Sun)


K.Rudd, nanny: Price of alcohol, tobacco to rise under government blueprint

THE price of alcohol and cigarettes would rise and glitzy marketing campaigns pitched at teenagers would be curbed under a radical blueprint to make Australians healthier and leaner.

And poor communities would receive cash incentives or vouchers to buy fresh food under the Federal Government plan.

Damaging levels of salt, sugar and fats in everyday foods would be cut as part of a "health compact" to tackle an obesity epidemic that costs $58 billion a year.

Kevin Rudd's handpicked Preventative Health Taskforce wants to introduce a minimum "floor" tax for alcohol. This would force up the price of many cheap, popular drinks favoured by teenagers, but could see the cost of premium wines come down. (Herald Sun)


'Marketing failure to blame' for Australia's obesity

Members of Australia's preventative health task force say a marketing failure in the food sector has contributed to the alarming rate of obesity in the country.

One health economist says a federally funded health campaign is the only way to counter industry misinformation on the dangers of fat and sugar.

In Australia, nearly three in every 10 children are classed as overweight or obese and more than seven million adults tip the scales as overweight.

After 15 months of work, the task force team tabled its findings to the Federal Government in June, but the Heath Minister has not yet released the results.

A professor of health economics and policy from the University of South Australia, Leonie Segal, says a campaign against bad food is very important.

"We haven't really had major advertising campaigns around that are about calories around sugars or fats, so I think there is an enormous amount that we can do," she said.

"Something like cigarettes, which took really quite a long campaign and a very intensive campaign to explain to people the impacts on their health of cigarettes. (The World Today)


Bee genome gives killer clue to colony collapse disorder

Beekeepers have seen hive after hive fall prey to colony collapse disorder (CCD). Now insights from the honeybee genome could overthrow guesswork in the effort to diagnose the cause of the die-offs.

May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues looked for genetic differences between bees from US colonies that have suffered CCD and bees that were sampled before colony collapses shot up in 2006. CCD killed off about a third of US honeybees in 2007 and 2008.

The team found 65 genes that were distinctly different in CCD bees. They also discovered unusual snippets of genetic material that are typical of infection with the RNA viruses known as picorna-like viruses. They found no evidence to suggest that pesticides or bacterial infection are the primary cause of CCD. Berenbaum thinks picorna-like viruses may be the root cause, making the bees highly vulnerable to other viruses, pesticides and bacteria. (New Scientist)

Changes in transcript abundance relating to colony collapse disorder in honey bees (Apis mellifera) (PNAS)


When heated, high-fructose corn syrup can be dangerous

Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) often fed to honey bees. Their study, which appears in the current issue of ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, could also help keep the substance out of soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.

In the new study, Blaise LeBlanc and Gillian Eggleston and colleagues note HFCS's ubiquitous usage as a sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Some commercial beekeepers also feed it to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, HFCS can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.

The scientists measured levels of HMF in HFCS products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. "The data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. Because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods, the data from this study are important for human health as well," the report states. It adds that studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. In addition, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF. (R&D Daily)

"Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)" (American Chemical Society)


Uh-huh... Wolves Provide a Buffer Against Climate Change

As Senators Mark Udall and John McCain held a formal hearing in Estes Park today concerning global climate change and its impact on national parks, conservationists called on the senators to acknowledge the roll that gray wolves necessarily play in buffering against the effects of climate change.

“Climate change has widespread impacts, including to the plants and animals of the American West,” said Rob Edward of WildEarth Guardians. “One thing that Senators Udall and McCain could do right now to help combat the impact of climate change on Rocky Mountain National Park is to call for the restoration of wolves to the region,” said Edward.

Edward indicated that wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park dramatically improved the health and abundance of wetland vegetation—by keeping elk on the move. In less than a decade after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service restored wolves to Yellowstone, aspen and willow had rebounded in many streamside areas.

“It’s time for places like Rocky Mountain National Park to be given some relief from scores of sedentary elk,” said Edward, referring to the fact that wolves keep elk and deer vigilant, thus relieving young trees and plants from excessive browsing. “It’s time for the government to learn the lessons of Yellowstone.” (Snowshoe Mag)

If hikers or snowmobilers disturb elk, that's a crime... but wolves must be introduced because elk need disturbing for the sake of a healthy environment? Right.


Scientist Says Trees Can Help Reverse Hunger, Global Warming

Scientists attending the second World Congress on Agroforestry which kicked off in Nairobi on Monday said planting of trees can help reserve the effects of climate change, land degradation and keep drought-hit communities alive when all other food crops fail.

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Director General Dennis Garrity told Xinhua the African governments should support a local tree-based solution to food shortages and climate change.

"The second World Congress on Agroforestry is critical because of the food and land degradation crisis that Africa is facing and the climate change question," he said on the sidelines of the international meeting in Nairobi.

"Because trees are playing an important role in addressing all these challenges, we are very happy to bring together this group of experts from around the world to share the latest knowledge on how we can actually adapt agriculture to climate change and land degradation."

Garrity said the entire world was aware that billions of its population were facing a very serious food crisis and called for placing trees at center of development agenda. (Xinhua)


Measuring the Damage of our 'Water Footprint'

A Dutch hydro engineer has come up with a "water footprint." At a conference in Sweden, he and other participants discussed water waste, supermarkets filled with fruits and vegetables produced in some of the world's most arid regions and ways we can stop wasting our most precious resource.

Arjen Hoekstra didn't really stand out in the crowd of 2,000 scientists, activists, politicians and representatives of industry roaming the halls of the Stockholm trade fair. Far more attention-getting figures than the 42-year-old Dutch hydro engineer attended World Water Week in Sweden last week. Asian delegates wore glowing saris. And Indian businessman Bindeshwar Pathak drew flocks of media everywhere he went at the event after being named the recipient of this year's Stockholm Water Prize for inventing a toilet for slum dwellers.

But Hoekstra preferred to keep a low profile at the annual global conference, which focuses on water-related issues. He had nothing to prove. Still despite his apparent efforts to keep a low-profile, Hoekstra's creation served as a magnet for debate here. Hoekstra came up with the idea of the "water footprint." (Der Spiegel)


Illegal fishing evades U.N. crackdown: study

ROME - Illegal fishing is depleting the seas and robbing poor nations in Africa and Asia of resources, but a lack of global cooperation is undermining efforts to track rogue vessels, an environmental group said on Tuesday.

The Pew Environment Group, a Washington-based think-tank, has found that a United Nations scheme to oblige ports to crack down on illegal fishing boats is handicapped by a lack of accurate information, implementation and participation.

In the five years from 2004, of 176 vessels blacklisted by regional fishing authorities, only 55 turned up on port records, Pew said in a report it presented to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome.

In some cases, ports were not checking ships' identity, using the unique vessel number on their hulls. In others, ships had found ways of avoiding detection, such as changing their names, sometimes doing so mid-voyage before entering a region where enforcement was stricter.

Blacklisted vessels are, in theory, banned from landing fish at ports in the regions signed up to the scheme.

"We need to expand from a regional approach to a global approach so all ports are acting against villains, otherwise they just move to another part of the world," said Stefano Flothmann, head of International Ocean Governance at Pew.

Pew estimates that a fifth of all fish landed come from illegal, unregulated or unreported vessels -- and this figure rises to around half for valuable species like blue fin tuna. (Reuters)


Say what? Sierra Club objects to letter sent by NWE

HELENA - A Montana representative of the Sierra Club says he is "profoundly disappointed" with NorthWestern Energy President Bob Rowe's recent letter to customers warning them about a clean-energy bill before Congress.

Paul Shively, the Sierra Club's senior regional representative in Missoula, said Rowe's letter wrongly suggests that the "cap-and-trade" bill would be bad for NorthWestern customers, noting that it could raise their electric and gas rates. (Billings Gazette)

Are Sierra trying to suggest cap & tax will not raise energy costs? Um, that is its stated purpose and in fact its sole raison d'être. Not could raise their electricity and gas rates but absolutely certainly will do so.


Science, Policy, and Myths

It’s important to follow up on yesterday’s interesting story that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is demanding to see the scientific evidence EPA used in its efforts to regulate carbon dioxide. The Chamber published a blog post to add some clarification:

To be specific, in order to ensure that regulations which reengineer our economy are needed and would ultimately be effective, we are pushing the EPA to reveal the data they used to justify their endangerment proposal. We need to drop the articles of faith and use the entirety of scientific study on the effects of climate change not a sub-set, chosen by the EPA, not for its validity but rather on its ability to forward their policy goal — the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Essentially, the Chamber is fighting to ensure that sound science — not global warming myths — are driving policy. Steve Milloy is arguing for the same in his article over at Investors Business Daily, in which he writes of the Waxman-Markey effort to impose a cap and trade regime, “Climate Bill Is Built On ‘Clean Coal’ Myths.” (Chilling Effect)


Target fixation... Synthetic trees and algae can counter climate change, say engineers

Artificial trees would collect CO2 through their 'leaves' and convert it into a form that could be stored

Giant fly-swat shaped “synthetic trees” line the road into the office, where blooms of algae grow in tubes up the walls and the roof reflects heat back into the sky — all reducing the effects of global warming.

All this could be a familiar sight within the next two decades, under proposals devised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to alter the world’s climate with new technology.

A day after John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Secretary, warned that negotiations for a global deal to cut carbon emissions were in danger of collapsing, the institution is recommending a series of technical fixes to “buy time” to avert dangerous levels of climate change.

It says that the most promising solution is offered by artificial trees, devices that collect CO2 through their “leaves” and convert it to a form that can easily be collected and stored. Tim Fox, head of environment and climate change at the institution, said that the devices were thousands of times more effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere than real trees. (The Times)

There is no value in tweaking global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. None whatsoever.

If, on the other hand, you actually want to adjust global mean temperature through adjusting the global energy balance then look at the other side of the equation -- we can't realistically do anything about the greenhouse effect but we can (and allegedly already have) alter the amount of sunlight reaching the surface.

Forget carbon dioxide -- it's a losing strategy all round. The globe or selected parts of it could be cooled if we ever needed to do so and this cooling can be done in a matter of months (Earth naturally cools almost 4 °C from January to July so it is obviously a rapid process). Controlling global mean temperature through expensive and societally disruptive reengineering of the energy supply is never going to be a viable strategy.


Promo for a no-no: Carbon busters: 8 climate change solutions

As carbon dioxide levels creep ever higher, scientists are working to put greenhouse gas in its place. We investigate carbon sequestration. (Sid Perkins, Cosmos)

Even if global warming ever did become a problem trying to tweak atmospheric greenhouse gas levels is the most expensive and least effective way of attempting to deal with it. Don't do it. Don't even think about it.


Carbon capture: a flimsy plaster or the answer to climate change?

Of course, wind, solar and hydro aren’t the answer to the climate change problem, the chief executive of an energy company breezily threw at me this week.

“It’s carbon capture and storage. There is no way the world will tackle climate change without it.”

This technology has always seemed to me a little bit like a teenager tidying his bedroom by stuffing the lads mags and dirty clothes and mouldy plates under the bed.

How carbon capture would work. Credit:Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage

It just doesn’t seem to fit with the wholesome-clean-green fantasy to burn coal to create energy, then pump the carbon through pipelines into disused gas fields deep under the ground. But if it uses less space than rubbish landfills and is safer than nuclear waste, then why should there be a problem? (Rowena Mason, Daily Telegraph)

Nope, it's a hugely expensive non-solution to a non-problem, see Why is so opposed to CCS? They do provide a pretty graphic though.


Appeasement is never the answer: Clean Coal Technology Fund Reports First Successes

Aug. 26, 2009 -- As the top coal-producing state in a nation motivated to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Wyoming faces an ultimatum of sorts: Clean your coal -- or else.

... "I think it's clear that, right now, much of the world is challenging the use of coal in light of its alleged impact on climate change. Since Wyoming derives a significant portion of its state revenue from export of coal, any technology that is effective in reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides serves to keep Wyoming in the clean-fuels market, and that's where Wyoming needs to be," Northam says. "And, equally important, I think the failure of these technologies to evolve is going to have a significant impact on our ability to stay economically viable." (University of Wyoming)

What is required is pointing out just how little effect total cessation of all coal-fired electricity generation carbon dioxide emissions can possibly have -- and by extension how little effect not restraining those emissions will have. Carbon dioxide and gorebull warming is simply the current excuse for the attack on the energy supply and "solving" such a non-problem will not reduce the assault on energy. Gaia nuts simply don't want people to have abundant affordable energy and have repeatedly explicitly stated so. There is absolutely no advantage in appeasing these flakes since they'll merely move the goalposts again, claiming there's yet another "problem".


Total waste of time, effort and money: Gorgon's emissions storage under fire

Environment Minister Peter Garrett has given the $50 billion Gorgon gas project the green light but the consortium's plan to bury millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions remains in doubt.

Technical experts working on the carbon capture project at Barrow Island off the Western Australian coast found it was possible gas could leak from the geological formation.

Conservationists say that backs their argument that there are more appropriate sites for the project than the island nature reserve.

The project involves injecting 3.5 million tonnes of C02 a year into a reservoir under Barrow Island. The carbon capture technique will cost Chevron and its partners more than $1 billion and is the biggest geo-sequestration project of its type ever undertaken. (The World Today)


Wrong: Whoever figures out how to safely trap carbon will make a fortune

IT'S easy to be sceptical - deeply - about efforts to clean up Australia's coal industry.

"Clean coal" is an oxymoron and even advocates shy away from the term. Capturing and storing greenhouse gases is eminently worse than avoiding the emissions in the first place. Safely trapped carbon dioxide is still pollution - and there's plenty of doubt about the safety part. (Paddy manning, SMH)

No they wont. CCS is all expense for no benefit and should not be done at all.


ETS - Energy Tax Swindle - A double dissolution could be a referendum on the ETS

Whenever I see the climate change minister on television, I feel like a kulak. To give her the benefit of the doubt, I assume she really believes that what she is proposing is in the public interest. I suppose that even the Bolsheviks believed they could actually run agriculture better than the kulaks, but their overriding interest was control, and neutralising, if necessary liquidating, their opponents, particularly their  class enemies. Then they could begin on one another.

Now I don’t think for a moment that Ms. Wong is into liquidations, but the ETS will mean an unparalleled peacetime surrender of economic control to -and a vastly increased income for - the Federal government. The result will be a damaged economy as businesses move offshore, with new taxes, higher prices for consumers and the loss of jobs. Yes, quite a few carpetbaggers will profit, and I suppose there will be more chances for politicians, apparatchiks and their spouses to go into so called businesses as rentiers, consultants and lobbyists. So we’ll be told over and over about “business” being behind the ETS.

If you belong to the West’s fastest growing religious denomination, the AGW’s – the Anthropogenic Global Warmers - the enactment of this legislation will produce some warm inner glow. But other religions don’t expect to lay waste to the economy, so why should the AGW’s?

But even if you are the most devout AGW and actually believe everything that St. Al Gore says, you know the ETS will not do anything at all to contain or reverse global warming. (David Flint, Quadrant)


Poland May curb Utility CO2 Trade From 2013

WARSAW - Poland may ban utilities from selling European Union carbon emissions permits many of them will get for free from 2013 as a way of curbing windfall profits, a government source said on Wednesday.

At present, installations under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, the 27-nation bloc's main weapon against climate change, are given most of their carbon permits for free.

That will change under an EU climate plan agreed last December which forces most utilities to buy all their permits at auction starting in 2013.

But Warsaw fiercely opposed the plan arguing it would hurt its coal-reliant economy.

Poland and other east European states finally agreed the package after their utilities were promised most of their permits for free from 2013, but eventually would have to pay for all of them by 2020.

"It would be logical to ban trade in those free permits utilities would get. Otherwise somebody could, for example, sell the permits the moment he gets them and close down the power plant," the source said.

"We have negotiated such a possibility with Brussels and we plan to use it. The open questions are when and how we distribute the free permits. And how we achieve full auctioning in 2020."

By giving utilities carbon permits for free, the EU risks handing them windfall profits as it did in previous years, analysts said.

Windfall profits are generated when companies pass on the cost of the permits to customers regardless of whether they were free or not.

In 2013, Poland will get as much as 70 percent of its permits for free based on historical emissions, the Polish government source added.

But analysts said this would have little impact as an overall shortage of permits throughout Europe would make trade unlikely.

"It's an almost zero impact. They (the Polish utilities) will probably be short from day one in 2013," said Trevor Sikorski of Barclay's Capital. (Reuters)


Seeking subsidy rather than markets: DuPont Offers Real Solutions to Climate Change

Passage of environmentally effective and economically sustainable climate legislation in the U.S. will bring business opportunity to DuPont.

"Passage of climate legislation will signal to the marketplace that demand for products that reduce reliance on fossil fuels will increase," said Linda Fisher, DuPont vice president and chief sustainability officer. "In some cases, new markets will emerge." (Clean Tech)


Climate Money: Bigger Money Moves In

Climate Money is poised to rocket—creating even larger pools of vested interests. Once it starts, how could we unwind trillions of trading rights?

Say hello to the real new force in climate science—banks.

The Shadow of big banking climate money

The Shadow of Stratospheric Climate Money. Far north South Australia, Aug 2009.

First Up. Governments Up the Ante.

In the 2008-2009 financial year, Bush threw billions on the table with financial rescues and tax credits, only to be wildly outdone by Obama.

The new funding provisions made since the financial emergency of Sept 2008 are not included in the previous table of climate funds that amounted to $79 billion (so far). It’s difficult to assign the rescue package figures into strict financial years—yet the new numbers are titanic, and step right out of the scales drawn on the past funding graphs.

The financial recovery legislation that President Bush signed1 on October 3 last year included the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 20082 which contained about $17 billion3 in tax incentives for clean energy services.

Then in February 2009, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act4 was signed into law, containing some $110 billion5 in clean energy investments in the bill. Many of these “investments” defy easy categorization. For example, research into alternative energy has value regardless of whether carbon dioxide is a problem—though arguably there is less urgency. But expenses like the $3.4 billion for carbon sequestration have no other purpose or use. They depend 100% on the assumption that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant. That’s a 100% vested interest.

What’s Bigger than Big Government—Big Banks

The stealthy mass entry of the bankers and traders poses major threats to the scientific process.

Even though the US government has poured in around $80 billion dollars of influence over the last 20 years, that pales in comparison with the rapidly growing force of carbon trading. According to the World Bank, turnover of carbon trading doubled from $63 billion in 2007 to $126 billion in 2008.6

Not surprisingly banks are doing what banks should do: they’re following the promise of profits, and hence urging governments to adopt carbon trading.7,8 Even though banks are keen to be seen as good corporate citizens (look, there’s an environmental banker!), somehow they don’t find the idea of a non-tradable carbon tax as appealing as a trading scheme where lo-and-behold, financial middlemen can take a cut. If you are a bank who believes in the carbon crisis, taxes might “help the planet,” but they won’t help your balance sheet.

The potential involved in an entirely new fiat currency has banks and financial institutions “wholly in bed” with a scientific theory.9 And that might be good for banks…

For the rest of us, a new fiat currency in carbon gives us the chance to support a whole new layer of parasites.

The 10-Trillion-Dollar Gorilla in the Kitchen

Commissioner Bart Chilton, head of the energy and environmental markets advisory committee of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has predicted that within five years a carbon market would dwarf any of the markets his agency currently regulates: “I can see carbon trading being a $2 trillion market.”10 He ought to know. Ominously he adds: “The largest commodity market in the world.”11

Chilton puts it into a global financial perspective:

“It wouldn’t be as large as some of the financial markets — Treasury bills — but it would be larger than any physical commodity market.”12

What a relief, it wouldn’t be as big as all the loans issued to the largest financial entity on the planet—the US government—but it would be larger than iron, coal, oil, gold, copper and uranium. Can anyone else see a new species of carbon-CEOs with 100 million dollar bonuses, all paid for, ultimately, by guess who?

New Carbon Finance, a London-based investment adviser that tracks the market, predicts the carbon market will reach $3 trillion by 2020.13

Richard L. Sandor, chairman and chief executive officer of Climate Exchange Plc, which owns the world’s biggest carbon dioxide exchange in London, sees an even larger market:

“We’re going to see a worldwide market, and carbon will unambiguously be the largest non-financial commodity in the world.” He predicted trades eventually will total $10 trillion a year.14

In other words, carbon trading will be bigger than oil, and even the promise of a market that massive and lucrative represents a pretty considerable vested interest.

As Bart Chilton says:

“This issue is too important to our economy and to our world, and we need to get this right from the get-go.”

Too true. But the “get-go” starts with the science. If there is no evidence that we need to curtail carbon, there is no need to trade it. (JoNova)


1    Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, The Library of Congress. H.R. 1424,

2    Division B–Energy Improvement And Extension Act Of 2008

3    Clean Tech Advisory newsletter. Congress Extends and Approves New Alternative Energy Tax Credits.

4    Committee on Appropriations: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Conference Agreement,

5    Congress Approves Clean Energy Provisions of Stimulus; Consistent with Apollo Economic Recovery Act. Table 1, page 7.

6    World Bank, State and Trends of the Carbon Market, 2009.

7    Banks Urging US to adopt the Trading of Emissions, James Kanter, Sept 26, 2009,

8    Banks Seek Carbon Trading. New York Times, Sept 26, 2007. Today in Business.

9    Carbon Credits: Another Corrupt Currency? Science and Public Policy Institute.

10    US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Commissioner Bart Chilton: U.S. Regulators Gearing-Up for Climate Change, Chilton Says “Carbon Markets Need Sure-Footed Oversight”

11    Carbon as a Commodity, Marianne Lavelle, Feb 24, 2009. The Centre for Public Integrity.

12    Bill on climate change offers hope to Wall St., The Brush and Snyder, May 20 2009.–lobby/bill-on-climate-change-offers-hope-to-wall-st.-2009-05-20.html.



Climate Money: PARTS 1- 5.

1. Climate Money Massive Funding Exposed.

2. How auditing of the Climate Industry is mostly left to volunteers.

3. How the monopolistic funding ratchet slows scientific progress.

4. Why blaming Exxon is a smoke screen to disguise the real vested interests.

5. Climate Money: Bigger Money Moves In. (You are on this page).

The full report is an SPPI Original, 4400 word pdf.


Australian Institute of Geoscientists

A public debate on Climate Change: The case for and against Anthropogenic Global Warming


Atmospheric Temperature and Carbon Dioxide: Feedback or Equilibrium?

R. Taylor writes in to Tips and Notes to WUWT with this. Anthony: If you shift Vostok temperatures by reasonable time lags, and use reasonable parameters for an equilibrium between temperature and CO2, you get predicted values for CO2 that closely match CO2 measurements in Vostok. Really simple and conclusive, but I don’t think anyone has done it before.

I’m always interested in posting others research, so here it is. – Anthony

Atmospheric Temperature and Carbon Dioxide: Feedback or Equilibrium?
R. Taylor

For several years, the suggestion that there is positive feedback between atmospheric temperature (T) and carbon-dioxide concentration (CO2) has dominated the scientific literature, and has become a fundamental assumption of climate science. Alternatively, the relationship between T and CO2 might be one of equilibrium. We can test models of each type by comparison with the Vostok record, first published by Petit, et al. (1999). The Vostok record contains about 3,300 determinations of T and 280 determinations of CO2, spanning the last 420,000 years.

Figure 1 shows the Vostok record; for clarity, the dates and measurements of T have been averaged in groups of 10, and those after 0 BCE are not shown (cf. Figure 4).


Figure 1: Temperature and Carbon Dioxide Inferred from the Vostok Ice-core.

T ranges through about 13 °C in the record, and CO2 ranges through about 120 ppm. There are peaks and valleys of various amplitudes and durations, and changes in T precede corresponding changes in CO2 (Mudelsee, 2001). The resolution of the record improves as measurements become more recent.

The first quantitative model comparable to the Vostok record with feedback between T and CO2 seems to be that of Hogg (2008). Hogg simulated insolation and other factors over a given interval of 500,000 years to predict values of T and CO2. Figure 2 is rescaled from Hogg’s figure 2a, so T and CO2 have approximately equal amplitude.

Figure 2: Temperature and Carbon Dioxide from Hogg’s Feedback-Model.

Feedback systems typically have characteristic amplitude and period. For this model, 1.7 °C is the characteristic amplitude of T, and 100,000 years is about the characteristic period. Adjusting the parameters of the model will change its amplitude and period, but these will be characteristic for any given set of parameters: Other amplitudes and periods will be suppressed.

Since the model assumes that CO2 has a significant effect on T, changes in CO2 happen before corresponding changes in T through a substantial portion of its cycle, viz. the latter portion of the rises to the peaks (cf. Hogg) and through essentially all of the subsequent declines. As previously mentioned, however, the Vostok record shows that changes in CO2 happen after corresponding changes in T. This lag is shown most clearly by large-amplitude features in the more recent portion of the record: CO2 rises hundreds of years after T rises, and falls thousands of years after T falls.

The substantially inverted lag of this feedback model confirms what is self-evident in an equilibrium model: A lagging entity can have no significant effect on a leading entity. For example, CO2 at a given time cannot affect the level of T that existed hundreds-to-thousands of years earlier.

A model of equilibrium between T and CO2 can be based on balance between temperature dependent processes that (i) release CO2 into the atmosphere and (ii) absorb it into the surface of the earth. If the temperature dependency is simply linear, we can express our model as:

CO2(t+l) = mT(t) + b

where t is time, l is the length of time required for CO2 to regain equilibrium after a change in T, m is the number of units that CO2 changes for a unit change in T, and b is the constant offset between units of CO2 and units of T.

Using this equation, we can predict a value for CO2 at some time in the future from each value of T. If we give l a value of 50 years after a rise in temperature and 8000 years after a fall in temperature, m a value of 10 and b a value of 270, and average the times and predicted values of CO2 in groups of 10, we obtain the predicted values shown in figure 3. The figure also shows the measured values of CO2 for comparison.

Figure 3: Carbon Dioxide, Measured and Predicted by Lagged Temperature.

The output of the equilibrium model is consistent with the lag, spectrum and amplitudes of the record. The correspondence between predicted and measured values of CO2 indicates that CO2 is in temperature-dependent time-lagged equilibrium, and that the temperature dependence of CO2 is essentially linear through the Vostok range.

Let us turn our attention to the last 11,000 years, during which humans have disturbed the equilibrium between T and CO2. The most recent CO2 determination from the ice-core has a date of about 340 BCE. We can add an early-industrial-era value of 290 ppm at 1800 CE and a value of 365 ppm at 2000 CE to provide figure 4. The scaling in the figure is consistent with the
equilibrium model that fits the overall Vostok record, where a change of 1 °C in T causes a change of 10 ppm in CO2.

Figure 4: Temperature and Carbon Dioxide since 9,000 BCE.

T and CO2 appear to have been in equilibrium until about 3,000 BCE. Over the 5,000 years since then, CO2 has risen increasingly above its natural equilibrium. By 1,800 CE, CO2 had risen to a level comparable to the highest in the Vostok record. During this time, T declined at a rate of 0.1 °C per thousand years, indicating again that CO2 has no apparent effect on T. The trends of this 5,000-year interval of excess CO2 are consistent with the equilibrium model, in
which T is independent of CO2.

The last 5,000 years are trivial compared to the 420,000 years of the Vostok record; of even less significance are the last 1,200 years. However, climate science has put great emphasis on the features of this interval, even though they fit within the noise-envelope. The “medieval warm period” spanned 800 CE to 1,200 CE; Vostok shows it wasn’t really warm, but wasn’t really cold either. The “little ice age” followed (although average T was barely lower), and ended after the low of -1.84 °C around 1,770 CE. By the early 1800s, T was higher than it is at present, and it has fluctuated within levels typical of the last 11,000 years since then. It is remarkable that climate hysteria should be based on noise-level changes in T over the last 200 years, which is an eye-blink in the Vostok record. It seems to be the superstition of our time.

In summary, the Vostok record indicates that CO2 is in lagged equilibrium with T and that, for the range of T in Vostok, the dependency of CO2 on T is essentially linear. Unnaturally high CO2 for the last 5,000 years has had no apparent effect on T. This empirical evidence supports a conclusion that there cannot be any significant feedback between CO2 and T. Such feedback would cause predicted T and CO2 to show fundamental disagreement with the lag, spectrum and amplitudes evident in the Vostok record.

It is impossible to say how enduring the feedback fallacy will be. However, any such model proposed in the future can be regarded as qualitative if it does not specify lag, characteristic amplitude and period, and as speculative if it cannot be compared to the Vostok record. Accordingly, any such model can be ignored.

If we may depart for a moment from objectivity, any such model should be ignored if its proponents declare that it shows polar bears are in peril, and you can save them by painting your roof white and burning nuts and corn in your car.

Hogg, A.M., 2008, Glacial cycles and carbon dioxide: A conceptual model. Geophysical
Research Letters, 35, L01701 (5 pp.).

Mudelsee, M., 2001, The phase relations among atmospheric CO2 content, temperature and global ice volume over the past 420 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews, 20, 583-589. Petit, J.R., Jouzel, J., Raynaud, D., Barkov, N.I., Barnola, J.-M., Basile, I., Bender, M., Chappellaz, J., Davis, M., Delaygue, G., Delmotte, M., Kotlyakov, V.M., Legrand, M., Lipenkov, V.Y., Lorius, C., Pépin, L., Ritz, C., Saltzman, E. and Stievenard, M., 1999, Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature, 399, 429-436. provides on-line data.

Code with data:

Is available upon request. (WUWT)


Creating catastrophe - Destroying the factory, building the bureaucracy 

The government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has the potential to ruin Australia’s productive economies and to build an even greater bureaucracy. Even the name of this bill should ring warning bells as carbon is the foundation of life and is not a pollutant. 

It is claimed that there is a scientific consensus about human-induced climate change. Consensus is a process of politics not science. There is certainly no scientific consensus about human-induced climate change and the loudest voice does not win scientific discussions. Science is married to evidence, no matter how uncomfortable. 

To argue that temperature has increased 0.8ºC since 1850 is misleading because the Little Ice Age ended in 1850 and it is absolutely no surprise that temperature increases after a long cold period. Since 1850, there has been temperature increase (1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1976-1998) and decrease (1880-1910, 1940-1976,1998-present) and the rate of the three periods of temperature increase has been the same. A simple question does not get asked: What part of warming and cooling since 1850 is natural? The first two warmings could not be related to human additions of CO2 from industry hence why wouldn’t the 1976-1998 warming also be due to natural processes?

It is claimed that, since 1950, human additions of CO2 has been the dominant cause of warming. The scales and rates of temperature change in the past have been far greater than when humans emitted CO2 from industry. What has caused the coolings (1940-1976 and 1998-present) or, by some tortured logic, is global cooling this century actually global warming cunningly disguised? (Ian Plimer, Quadrant)


He's a climate scientist now? Top UN climate scientist backs ambitious CO2 cuts

PARIS — Barely 100 days before the world hopes to seal a global climate treaty, the UN's top climate scientist has given his personal endorsement to hugely ambitious goals for slashing emissions.

"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations," said Rajendra Pachauri when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm).

"But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target," he told AFP in an interview. (AFP)


Crikey! Pachauri Supports Goal Limiting Atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm

Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says he supports the goal of cutting atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million, a highly ambitious target supported by many environmental activists. Speaking with Agence France Presse, Pachauri said that he cannot officially endorse the 350 target. “But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal,” said Pachauri. “What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target.” Current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are close to 390 ppm, and if emissions are not brought under control, scientists say, levels could exceed 500 ppm this century, nearly twice as high as pre-industrial levels. Leading environmental activists, such as Bill McKibben, say that reducing CO2 levels to 350 ppm is the best way to avoid highly disruptive effects of global warming. Key climate talks will be held this December in Copenhagen. Meanwhile, 300 environmental groups and other organizations — including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth — have written a letter to U.S. Senate leaders urging them to strengthen a climate bill that has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now before the Senate. (Yale 360)

Apparently they haven't figured out Pachauri says different things to different audiences. When scamming for carbon funds AGW is a big deal, at home in India "there's no science supporting AGW". Bottom line is: why would anyone care what he says?


TRMM Satellite Suggests July 2009 Not a Record for Sea Surface Temperatures

(UPDATED 8/26/09 at 13:30 CDT
Added a new plot comparing TMI and AMSR-E global monthly SSTs)

NOAA/NCDC recently announced that July 2009 set a new record high global sea surface temperature (SST) for the month of July, just edging out July 1998. This would be quite significant since July 1998 was very warm due to a strong El Nino, whereas last month (July, 2009) is just heading into an El Nino which has hardly gotten rolling yet.

If July was indeed a record, one might wonder if we are about to see a string of record warm months if a moderate or strong El Nino does sustain itself, with that natural warming being piled on top of the manmade global warming that the “scientific consensus” is so fond of.

I started out looking at the satellite microwave SSTs from the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Even though those data only extend back to 2002, I though it would provide a sanity check. My last post described a significant discrepancy I found between the NOAA/NCDC “ERSST” trend and the satellite microwave SST trend (from the AMSR-E instrument on Aqua) over the last 7 years…but with the AMSR-E giving a much warmer July 2009 anomaly than the NCDC claimed existed! The discrepancy was so large that my sanity-check turned into me going a little insane trying to figure it out.

So, since we have another satellite dataset with a longer record that would allow a direct comparison between 1998 and 2009, I decided to analyze the full record from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The TRMM satellite covers the latitudes between 40N and 40S, so a small amount of N. Hemisphere ocean is being missed, and a large chunk of the ocean around Antarctica will be missed as well. But since my analysis of the ERSST and AMSR-E SST data suggested the discrepancy between them was actually between these latitudes as well, I decided that the results should give a pretty good independent check on the NOAA numbers. All of the original data that went into the averaging came from the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) website, Anomalies were computed about the mean annual cycle from data over the whole period of record.

The results are shown in the following three panels. The first panel shows monthly SST anomalies since January 1998, and as can be seen July 2009 came in about 0.06 deg. C below July 1998. At face value, this suggests that July 2009 might not have been a record. And as you can see from the first 3 weeks of August data, it looks like this month will come in even cooler.

Now, if you are wondering how accurate these monthly anomalies are, the second panel shows the validation statistics that RSS archives in near-real time. Out of the 5 different classes of in situ validation data, I chose just the moored buoys due to their large volume of data (over 200,000 matchups between buoys and satellite observations), and a relatively fixed geographic coverage (unlike drifting buoys). As can be seen, the TMI SST record shows superb long-term stability. The 0.15 deg. C cool bias in the TMI measurements is from the “cool skin” effect, with water temperatures in the upper few millimeters being slightly cooler on average than the SSTs measured by the buoys, typically at a depth around 1 meter.

The third and final panel in the above figure shows that a substantial fraction of the monthly SST variability from year to year is due to the Southern Oscillation (El Nino/La Nina), and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, PDO. Each of these indices have a correlation of 0.33 with SST for monthly averages over the 40N-40S latitude band, while their sum (taking the negative of the SOI first) is correlated at 0.39. I did not look at lag correlations, which might be higher, and it looks like some additional time averaging would increase the correlation.

I will post again when I have new information on my previously reported discrepancy between NOAA’s results and the AMSR-E results. That is still making me a little crazy.

8/26/09 13:30 CDT UPDATE

I computed the monthly global (60N to 60S latitudes) AMSR-E SST anomalies, adjusted them for the difference in annual cycles with the longer TMI record, and then plotted the AMSR-E and TMI SST anomalies together. Even though the TMI can not measure poleward of 40 deg. latitude (N or S), we see reasonable agreement between the two products.

None of this represents proof that July 2009 was not a record warm month in ocean surface temperatures, but it does cast significant doubt on the claim. But the focus on a single month misses the big picture: recent years have yet to reach the warmth of 1998. Only time will tell whether we get another year that approaches that unusual event. (Roy W. Spencer)


El Niño falters, climate models follow

From the BoM website:

Summary: Mixed El Niño indicators as development slows

The El Niño pattern across the Pacific has not intensified during the past fortnight. Furthermore, the coupling between the ocean and atmosphere which amplifies and maintains El Niño events has so far failed to eventuate. The neutral SOI and sub-surface cooling are evidence of this.

However, the Trade Winds are weakening over a broad area and this may promote renewed warming. In addition, leading climate models continue to predict further development of the El Niño, although not as emphatically as a month or two back. Therefore, the odds remain strongly in favour of 2009 being recognised as an El Niño year. (David Stockwell, Niche Modeling)


No Weakening of the Walker

Table of contents for SOI

  1. Comment on McLean et al Submitted
  2. Weakening of the Walker Circulation
  3. Walker circulation and ENSO
  4. No Weakening of the Walker

Below is the abstract of the manuscript I have been preparing. A draft is available via the contact form above if you are interested in helping out with feedback. Comments from the mysterious Dr Jones that prompted this manuscript are listed below.

Recent Data Show no Weakening of the Walker

David R.B. Stockwell and Anthony Cox

Abstract: Various authors have examined the strength of the equatorial Pacific overturning known as the Walker Circulation in both climate models and observations, attributing a generalized weakening to anthropogenic global warming. Here we review the analysis in Power and Smith [2007] using updated Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and NINO sea surface temperature indices. We find no significant long-term changes in the indices, although the SOI appears to have recovered from an anomalously low period from 1976 to 1998. The increasing sea surface temperature in the NINO4 region is not significant, nor representative of other NINO regions. The findings of a weakening Walker circulation appear to be premature, and the corresponding climate model projections cannot be substantiated at this time. A range of empirical and theoretical results suggest that despite the indications of climate models, changes in the strength of horizontal atmospheric transfer are quite unlikely, and should therefore be regarded with caution.

I want to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Jones, who’s comments appearing across a number of blogs including NM over a period of a few days played a part in prompting this manuscript. (I know who Dr Jones is, but will preserve his anonymity) Here are a selection of gems:

Dr Jones: You mix changes in variability and changes means. The slowing down of the Walker circulation is an observed fact and can happen regardless of whether you get more, less or the same number of El Nino/La Nina events. A shift towards a weakened Walker circulation is required by basic physics otherwise the tropical atmosphere will quickly rain itself out. The slow down leads to a shift towards a more negative mean SOI which has clearly been seen seen over the last century (…).

I have shown you just one paper - there are many more - in the peer reviewed literature which deal with this very issue.

Dr Jones: Under global warming evaporation increases (about) linearly in temperature but water holding capacity increases exponentially in temperature. This relationship forces a slow down in the Walker circulation which will lead to a tendency for more negative SOI values with warmer global temperatures. See Vol 441|4 May 2006|doi:10.1038/nature04744.

Climate has long ago moved from the blind application of statistics. Your 9% mixes up correlation with causation (though even so is correct in showing that global warming is not caused by ENSO).

Dr Jones: So if summer is hotter than winter that disproves global warming?

You really have no idea do you.

ANDREW REPLIES: Readers, what is scary about this troll-like response - so angrily missing the point that AP made a blatantly false claim - is that it comes from one of the leading warming “experts” in the country. That should tell you plenty. His fury is directed not at the scaremonger, but the debunker.

I appreciate when experts do visit the blogs to provide their perspective, as it always seems to send things off in an interesting direction. (David Stockwell, Niche Modeling)


2 to 1 odds for Prof. David Barber

We are well into summer and the Arctic ice extent and area are taking their annual plunge.  How deep will the plunge be?  David Barber of the University of Manitoba thinks it will be very large.  Just a year ago he predicted that the the North Pole would be ice free in the summer of 2008.  National Geographic reported:

“We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.

It turned out that he was wrong. 

The 2008 summer minimum turned out to have more ice than 2007’s minimum. But he has a fallback predicton: that the Arctic Basin will be ice free, at least part of the summer, by 2015.  This is a much more profound prediction.  The North Pole is just  a dot on the map, but the Arctic Basin is 4 million square kilometers surrounding the North Pole. 

Last December I challenged Barber on this blog to wager over his 2015 prediction.  He has not taken me up on the offer.  Now I have doubled the odds for him.  One week ago (8/15/09) I sent him the following email:

Dear Prof. Barber,

I took great interest in your widely reported prediction that the Arctic Basin would see its first ice free summer in 2015. Last December I wrote a blog post in which I challenged you to a wager. That post can be seen here:

 This post has been viewed thousands of times on both my website and on the sites of others who have re-posted it.

 In that post I said:

“I propose a friendly wager based on this prediction. I will bet David Barber $1000(US) that the ice covering the Arctic Basin will not be gone anytime before December 31st, 2015. The bet would involve no transfer of cash between myself or Barber, but rather, the loser will pay the sum to a charitable organization designated by the winner.

Definition of terms. The Arctic Basin is defined by the regional map at Cryosphere Today. “Gone” means the Arctic Basin sea ice area is less that 100,000 square kilometers, according to National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA as presented at Cryosphere Today . Charitable organizations will be agreed upon at the time the bet is initiated.

David Barber is a smart guy and evidently an expert in his field. Taking on a wager with an amateur like me should be like shooting fish in a barrel. I look forward to reaching an agreement soon.”

Perhaps you did not see that challenge online – but many other people did. I am now willing to give you two to one odds on the same wager. Are you interested?

Best Regards,
Tom Moriarty

That’s right.   I will put $2000 dollars against Professor Barber’s $1000.   It should be difficult for him to turn this down.  He can put that $2000 dollars to any good cause that he desires.  If this sum is too small, perhaps we can negotiate something larger.  He knows how to find me.  But I haven’t had a response yet.

One more point: The Arctic Basin is about 4 million square kilometers that roughly surround the North Pole.  If the Arctic Basin were ice free, then it would be a pretty good bet that all the arctic regions south of the Arctic Basin would also be ice free.  So Barber’s bet that the Arctic Basin will be ice free at some point by 2015 is effectively like saying the entire Arctic will be ice free.    Look at the AMSR-E plots of Arctic sea ice extent below.  Anybody interested in taking my wager?

AMSR-E sea ice extent 090822

Sea Ice extent for the Entire Arctic. If the Arctic Basin becomes ice free, then it is a good bet that the entire Arctic will also be ice free.

Sea Ice extent for the Entire Arctic. Ths is a detail from the graph above. If the Arctic Basin becomes ice free, then it is a good bet that the entire Arctic will also be ice free.

Sea Ice extent for the Entire Arctic. This is a detail from the graph above. If the Arctic Basin becomes ice free, then it is a good bet that the entire Arctic will also be ice free.

Why am I making this bet?   Because I am concerned about climate exaggerations and the effect they have on public policy makers. It seems quite clear that David Barber was off the mark when he predicted for 2008 “this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time,” because neither the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Basin nor the North Pole were ice free in the summer of 2008.  Same with the summer of 2009, so far.  And the Arctic Basin will not be ice free by 2015 either. (Climate Sanity)


An update on Jeff Id’s excellent sea ice video

Arctic Sea Ice Video Update

by Jeff Id

As we approach the Arctic Sea Ice minimum, a lot of eyes are looking and projecting what the minimum will be. In a previous post I calculated the centroid of the sea ice as a method for determining how the weather patterns were affecting the data. About a month ago, it seemed that the weather pattern was going to support a leveling off of the sea ice shrink rate so that’s what I predicted and that’s what happened. The curve cut across the 2008 line and reached over until it touched the 2005 line.

Unfortunately, from this centroid video, it looks like the winds from the Southeast in the image which created the huge reduction in Sea Ice in 2007 appears the have restarted this year. It’s already starting to accelerate the melting which caused this year’s red line to dip below the 2005 green line.

The shift in weather pattern is most visible in the shadows on the ice which are actually clouds blowing through. The shadows indicate the 29GhZ microwave data is sensitive to clouds which is part of the noise in the long term signal.

Below is an updated 2007 – present video.

Click to play

If you missed the original video which is full record length and shows the unusualness of the current weather patterns in the last 30 years, it’s linked at this post below.

Arctic Ice Weather Patterns

That post explains the arrow vector and the source of the data.

I’m going to update my prediction from this shift in weather. Now I think the ice level will dip quickly downward in relation to 2005 but will still sit above the 2008 minimums. It looks like the ice has been thinned by the recent blasts of weather from the southeast and if this pattern maintains itself the dip will be fairly strong.  Of course I’m an engineer and not a meteorologist so we’ll see. (WUWT)


Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing

By Cliff Ollier and Colin Pain

Global warming alarmists have suggested that the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica may collapse, causing disastrous sea level rise. This idea is based on the concept of an ice sheet sliding down an inclined plane on a base lubricated by meltwater, which is itself increasing because of global warming.


In reality the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets occupy deep basins, and cannot slide down a plane. Furthermore glacial flow depends on stress (including the important yield stress) as well as temperature, and much of the ice sheets are well below melting point. The accumulation of kilometres of undisturbed ice in cores in Greenland and Antarctica (the same ones that are sometimes used to fuel ideas of global warming) show hundreds of thousands of years of accumulation with no melting or flow. Except around the edges, ice sheets flow at the base, and depend on geothermal heat, not the climate at the surface.

It is impossible for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to ‘collapse’. In these days of alarmist warnings about climate warming, the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have an important role. Many papers have described their melting at the present times, and dire predictions of many metres of sea level rise are common. Christoffersen and Hambrey published a typical paper on the Greenland ice sheet in Geology Today in May, 2006.

Their model, unfortunately, includes neither the main form of the Greenland Ice Sheet, nor an understanding of how glaciers flow. They predict the behaviour of the Ice Sheet based on melting and accumulation rates at the present day, and the concept of an ice sheet sliding down an inclined plane on a base lubricated by meltwater, which is itself increasing because of global warming. The same misconception is present in textbooks such as The Great Ice Age (2000) by R.C.L. Wilson and others, popular magazines such as the June 2007 issue of National Geographic, and other scientific articles such as Bamber et al. (2007), which can be regarded as a typical modelling contribution. The idea of a glacier sliding downhill on a base lubricated by meltwater seemed a good idea when first presented by de Saussure in 1779, but a lot has been learned since then.

In the present paper we shall try to show how the mechanism of glacier flow differs from this simple model, and why it is impossible for the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets to collapse. To understand the relationship between global warming and the breakdown of ice sheets it is necessary to know how ice sheets really work. Ice sheets do not simply grow and melt in response to average global temperature. Anyone with this naïve view would have difficulty in
explaining why glaciation has been present in the southernn hemisphere for about 30 million years, and in the northern hemisphere for only 3 million years.


The global warming doomsday writers claim the ice sheets are melting catastrophically, and will cause a sudden rise in sea level of many metres. This ignores the mechanism of glacier flow which is by creep: glaciers are not melting from the surface down, nor are they sliding down an inclined plane lubricated by meltwater. The existence of ice over 3 km thick preserving details of past snowfall and atmospheres, used to decipher past temperature and CO2 levels, shows that the ice sheets have accumulated for hundreds of thousands of years without melting. Variations in melting around the edges of ice sheets are no indication that they are collapsing. Indeed ‘collapse’ is impossible.

Icecap Note: See this powerful video in which Gerd Leipold, the outgoing leader of Greenpeace, admitted that his organization’s recent claim that the Arctic Ice will disappear by 2030 was “a mistake.”

The coverage has exposed hundreds of thousands of people to one small kernel of truth about global warming hysteria, but that’s just a start. All of those people, and millions more, need to see “Not Evil Just Wrong” to absorb the depth of the deception by radical environmentalists.  See more on this here. (Icecap)


Good grief! History Can No Longer Guide Farmers, Investors: U.N.

GENEVA - Climate change has made history an inaccurate guide for farmers as well as energy investors who must rely on probabilities and scenarios to make decisions, the head of a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.

Michel Jarraud, director-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that water and temperature projections have become more valuable than the historical weather data that long governed strategy in agriculture, hydro-electric power, solar technology and other fields.

"The past is no longer a good indicator of the future," the WMO chief told a press briefing, describing climate modeling and prediction as key to fisheries, forestry, transport and tourism, as well as efforts to fight diseases such as malaria. (Reuters)

Their excessive reliance on models rather than observation has made forecasting worse, so they should rely even more heavily on make-believe!


Um, no: Australians heeding warnings on water usage

A massive $30 billion investment in water infrastructure projects has made Australia a world leader in water efficiency, the peak body representing the urban water industry says.

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) says Australians appear to be heeding warnings on water consumption with a report showing a significant reduction in usage in urban areas.

The report shows water consumption in residential Australia dropped by 12 per cent over the 2007/08 financial year.

The association says greater community awareness of water efficiency and the massive investment in urban water infrastructure projects had put Australia at the forefront of managing urban water systems. (Australian Associated Press)

Major domestic water use reductions occurred because large cities had bans on garden watering and severe restrictions in place. They did this because successive State Governments have failed to increase infrastructure and water impoundments to suit increasing urban populations. People did not voluntarily allow their gardens to die any more than they were in rapturous joy about leaving toilets unflushed and limiting showering. "Climate change"? Doesn't rate a mention by anyone but politicians looking for excuses -- and they are not believed.


Warming May have Peaked. Has Western Civilization Peaked with It?

By Joseph D’Aleo

The only constant in nature is change. We have been able to reconstruct the past using proxy data like fossils, isotopes, polar and glacial ice. They tell us our climate has varied considerably over the last 450 thousand years. The long glaciations (typically 100,000 years) are tied to variations in the sun-earth orbital parameters. They are followed by periods of 10-15,000 years of warmer interglacials.


During the interglacials, global temperatures rise 18F but vary perhaps 2 degrees in millenium length ups and downs. Every great civiilization in history has reached its peak during the warm periods during the interglacials periods. Civilizations (Eqyptian, Minoan, Roman) thrived in the warm periods as crops could be grown more successfully in more places allowing for other societal advancement pursuits. They are tied to peaks in solar activity. They have been followed by cooling periods (and civilization declines) as solar activity declined (as it did in what we call the little ice age or Maunder Minimum) with crop failures, famines and migrations.


See these two articles that suggest we may have reached our latest climate nadir in the Grand Solar Maximum’s Climate Optimum of the late 20th Century. The sun continues to show signs of going into a slumber like it did 200 or 400 years ago. A civilization decline may have also started and this set of global leaders and the UN if we don’t stop them will only make it accelerate down. For a time, the more opportunistic countries like China and India may advance but climate might have final say there too. See these two relevant stories for more.

Lawrence Solomon: New Ice Age could be coming

Earth could soon be entering a new Ice Age, according to scientists at Oregon State University and other institutions, in a study to b e released this week by Science magazine.

“Sometime around now, scientists say, the Earth should be changing from a long interglacial period that has lasted the past 10,000 years and shifting back towards conditions that will ultimately lead to another ice age - unless some other forces stop or slow it,” states a release from Oregon State University.

The Science study refutes claims by some scientists that carbon dioxide was an important factor in ending the last ice Age. It concludes that wobbles in Earth’s rotation first led global ice levels “to reach their peak about 26,000 years ago, stabilize for 7,000 years and then begin melting 19,000 years ago, eventually bringing to an end the last ice age.

“The melting was first caused by more solar radiation, not changes in carbon dioxide levels or ocean temperatures, as some scientists have suggested in recent years.”

Death of a Civilization by David Deming

Over the past several years we have learned that small groups of people can engage in mass suicide. In 1978, 918 members of the Peoples’ Temple led by Jim Jones perished after drinking poisoned koolaid. In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult died after drugging themselves and tieing plastic bags around their heads. Unfortunately, history also demonstrates that it is possible for an entire civilization to commit suicide by intentionally destroying the means of its subsistence.

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernizing the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared. Read the details of how this prophet led to the destruction of the Xhosa civilization in which over 50,000 people starved to death in this story.

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century, Europe and North America have enjoyed the greatest prosperity ever known on earth. Life expectancy has doubled. In a little more than two hundred years, every objective measure of human welfare has increased more than in all of previous human history.

But Western Civilization is coasting on an impetus provided by our ancestors. There is scarcely anyone alive in Europe or America today who believes in the superiority of Western society. Guilt and shame hang around our necks like millstones, dragging our emasculated culture to the verge of self-immolation. Whatever faults the British Empire-builders may have had, they were certain of themselves.

Our forefathers built a technological civilization based on energy provided by carbon-based fossil fuels. Without the inexpensive and reliable energy provided by coal, oil, and gas, our civilization would quickly collapse. The prophets of global warming now want us to do precisely that.

Like the prophet Mhlakaza, Al Gore promises that if we stop using carbon-based energy, new energy technologies will magically appear. The laws of physics and chemistry will be repealed by political will power. We will achieve prosperity by destroying the very means by which prosperity is created.

While Western Civilization sits confused, crippled with self-doubt and guilt, the Chinese are rapidly building an energy-intensive technological civilization. They have 2,000 coal-fired power plants, and are currently constructing new ones at the rate of one a week. In China, more people believe in free-market economics than in the US. Our Asian friends are about to be nominated by history as the new torchbearers of human progress. (Icecap)


Warming could cause tilt in Earth’s axis


Earth’s axial tilt (or obliquity) and its relation to the rotation axis and plane of orbit. Image from Wikipedia.

Excerpts from the New Scientist

Warming oceans could cause Earth’s axis to tilt in the coming century, a new study suggests. The effect was previously thought to be negligible, but researchers now say the shift will be large enough that it should be taken into account when interpreting how the Earth wobbles.

The Earth spins on an axis that is tilted some 23.5° from the vertical. But this position is far from constant – the planet’s axis is constantly shifting in response to changes in the distribution of mass around the Earth. “The Earth is like a spinning top, and if you put more mass on one side or other, the axis of rotation is going to shift slightly,” says Felix Landerer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.


The influx of fresh water from shrinking ice sheets also causes the planet to pitch over. Landerer and colleagues estimate that the melting of Greenland’s ice is already causing Earth’s axis to tilt at an annual rate of about 2.6 centimetres – and that rate may increase significantly in the coming years.

Now, they calculate that oceans warmed by the rise in greenhouse gases can also cause the Earth to tilt – a conclusion that runs counter to older models, which suggested that ocean expansion would not create a large shift in the distribution of the Earth’s mass.

The team found that as the oceans warm and expand, more water will be pushed up and onto the Earth’s shallower ocean shelves. Over the next century, the subtle effect is expected to cause the northern pole of Earth’s spin axis to shift by roughly 1.5 centimetres per year in the direction of Alaska and Hawaii.

The effect is relatively small. “The pole’s not going to drift away in a crazy manner,” Landerer notes, adding that it shouldn’t induce any unfortunate feedback in Earth’s climate.

And climate change can also affect the Earth’s spin. Previously, Landerer and colleagues showed that global warming would cause Earth’s mass to be redistributed towards higher latitudes.

Journal reference: Geophysical Research Letters (in press)

full story here (WUWT)


New Research Paper “Theoretical Assessment Of Uncertainty In Regional Averages” By D.PaiMazumder And N. Mölders

Nicole Mölders has a very important new research paper that is in press. This paper illustrates the issue of what is an adequate spatial sampling of surface climate variables, including the 2m temperatures.

This is yet another illustration of the inadequacy of the use of 2m temperature trends over land, as applied by NCDC, GISS and CRU to construct a multi-decadal global average surface temperature trend. 

As we have shown in a number of peer-reviewed research papers, this temperature has a diverse set of biases and uncertainties which make it quantitatively misleading to use as a diagnostic of global warming, and even to monitor regionally averaged temperature anomalies (e.g. see, see, see and see).

The paper is

PaiMazumder D. And N. Mölders, 2009: Theoretical assessment of uncertainty in regional averages due to network density and design. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. (in press). [the paper will appear here, as soon as the AMS posts]

The abstract reads

“Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model simulations are performed over Russia for July and December 2005, 2006 and 2007 to create a “dataset” to assess the impact of network density and design on regional averages. Based on the values at all WRF grid-points regional averages for various quantities are calculated for 2.8o X 2.8o areas as the “reference”. Regional averages determined based on 40 artificial networks and 411 “sites” that correspond to the locations of a real network, are compared with the reference regional averages. The 40 networks encompass ten networks of 500, 400, 200, or 100 different randomly taken WRF-grid-points as “sites”.

“The real network’s site distribution misrepresents the landscape. This misrepresentation leads to errors in regional averages that show geographical and temporal trends for most quantities: errors are lower over shores of large lakes than coasts and lowest over flatland followed by low and high mountain ranges; offsets in timing occur during frontal passages when several sites are passed at nearly the same time. Generally, the real network underestimates regional averages of sea-level pressure, wind-speed, and precipitation over Russia up to 4.8 hPa (4.8 hPa), 0.7 m/s (0.5 m/s), and 0.2 mm/ d (0.5 mm/d), and overestimates regional averages of 2-m temperature, downward shortwave radiation and soil-temperature over Russia up to 1.9K (1.4K), 19Wm-2 , (14Wm-2 ), and 1.5K (1.8K) in July (December). The low density of the ten 100-sites-networks causes difficulties for sea-level pressure. Regional averages obtained from the 30 networks with 200 or more randomly distributed sites represent the reference regional averages, trends and variability for all quantities well.”

The paper also writes

“In the natural landscape differences between the regional averages derived from the real network and the true regional averages may be even greater than in our theoretical study because the real network was designed for agricultural purposes, i.e. the real network represents the fertile soils within the 2.8o X  2.8o areas. Consequently, it may be even more biased to a soil-type than in the simplified WRF-created landscape assumed in this case study.” (Climate Science)


Accomplices in deceit - Launching The Climate Caper

It’s a privilege to be asked to launch this important book.

My mind goes back to the launching of Bill Kininmonth’s book Climate Change: A Natural Hazard here at 401 Collins Street, in 2004, by John Zillman. That launch was written up in The Age by Melissa Fyfe, then The Age’s environmental reporter. Although she was actually in attendance, her report suggested otherwise.

More recently we had Ian Plimer’s launch at the Windsor, with more than 300 people in attendance. The Age did not report on that event.

In Perth, Dennis Jensen launched David Archibald’s Solar Cycle 24. That well-attended event did get a brief run in the Perth media.

Now we have The Climate Caper and I’ll lay odds on that The Age will not report on this event. [Ed: They didn't.] (Hugh Morgan, Quadrant)


Oh boy... Methodologies Tame Forest Carbon Jungle

As forests convert carbon dioxide in the air to carbon stored in woods, leaves and roots, a range of organizations are, in turn, working to convert forests into carbon offsets. The 'exchange rate' of this conversion is determined by specific standards' methodologies — technical, but critical, tools shaping the rules of the game. (Michael J. Coren, Ecosystem Marketplace)


Perfect Storm 2030: Public attitudes

This post is part of the BBC's Perfect Storm 2030 coverage, where correspondents explore the forecast by UK chief scientist John Beddington, of a "perfect storm" of food, water and energy shortages in 2030.

Ed Miliband says he is in "the persuasion business". So how do you persuade people when research suggests that many of them don't trust your message?

The secretary of state for energy and climate change told the BBC recently that his job is to convince people "to make big changes" in their lives. Unless that happens, he warns, the planet and our way of life will be damaged for generations to come.

But Whitehall research reveals that:

"[M]istrust is a critical issue which is potentially a major barrier to people becoming more pro-environmental".

Government is suspected of "using" the environment to increase taxes. What's more, people don't like politicians telling them how to lead their lives.

There is still deep scepticism. Despite virtually unanimous academic opinion, half of us still believe science is divided on whether mankind's activities contribute to climate change. (BBC)

Good grief! That means half of people have been taken in by the absurd claims that the "science is settled". Perhaps they caused a lot of confusion in the survey by ambiguously asking if people believed scientists agreed human activities affect climate in varying ways and to varying degree at local levels?


Plenty of Vacancy for Global Warming Fearmongering

Is global warming losing its mojo?  Hotel managers face 20,000 cancellations at the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen, see story here.  Here’s this week’s cartoon:

(Chilling Effect)


They really do inhabit fantasy worlds... Energy, Man, Machine and the Climate Crisis

Who would have predicted the world of science fiction films would prove so prophetic? Our planet is being over-run by machines and we need people like Arnold Schwarzenegger to save us

... Although reality might not excite science fiction aficionados as much as the Matrix was able to (after all, the film is aided by Hollywood necessities such as flip-phones, leather trench coats and ballet-rich gun battles), the energy fight between man and machine is perhaps as significant. Energy, and our ability to wield it, has arguably been the most important factor in our societal development. It could also lead to our demise. Without it, we would wave goodbye to the advances of the industrial and technological revolutions. With it, if we continue as-is, we might wave goodbye to mother nature, as we know her. Humankind, in this case with the aid of machines, is at war with our planet. (Tom Savage, CleanTechnica)


More stupid symbolism: Lights go out on 100-watt bulbs

OLD-style 100-watt light bulbs will be banned in Europe's shops from next week in favour of new energy-saving models, with consumer groups giving the move a guarded welcome.

From September 1, 100-watt versions of the old incandescent bulbs will be banned from Europe's shops and other bulbs with lower wattage will follow in the ensuing years, under a system agreed by EU experts last December.

New technology light bulbs, such as compact florescent lights (CFL) can save up to 80 per cent of the energy used by the worst old-style lights in homes.

The move will also cut carbon dioxide emissions as part of the European Union's wider climate change package.

At the moment, around 85 per cent of household lights are considered to use too much electricity.

The European Consumers' Association BEUC welcomed the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs saying "consumers benefit financially from the measure, but most importantly, they will be able to contribute to improved energy efficiency."

However the group added, in a statement, that removing the old-style light bulbs from the market also holds drawbacks for some consumers.

There are concerns "about the risks to health from the high mercury content of the new bulbs," the group warned.

The EU plan also "falls short of the needs of some consumers who need to use the old-style light bulbs for health-related reasons such as light sensitivity," BEUC added. (Agence France-Presse)


WWF challenges EU ministers to revisit CO2 standards

WWF wrote to the Swedish EU Presidency on Friday (21 August) to urge governments to modify a "legally invalid" provision contained in draft rules on industrial pollution, which prevents member states from introducing CO2 emission standards.

The environmental organisation writes that the draft Industrial Emissions Directive (IPPC) is incompatible with the Treaty establishing the European Community when it states that operating permits for installations "shall not" include emission limit values for greenhouse gases in the case of industries that are included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. It notes that Article 176 of the EC Treaty guarantees member states that they can take "more stringent" environmental protection measures as long as these are compatible with the Treaty. (EurActiv)

Big problem for them there -- restricting carbon dioxide is anti-environment by virtue of limiting an essential trace gas underpinning the global food web.


Talking Turki On Oil

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal warns that coming economic recovery means tighter oil supplies and higher prices. He's right to be appalled at the White House's inability to see the obvious.

As statesmen go, not many have seen more history, or correctly warned of more dangers, than Prince Turki al-Faisal, the formidable Saudi who's led the kingdom's intelligence and diplomacy in a long career. Few know oil as well as he does.

So it's worth thinking about when he looks at President Obama, considers his energy policy and sees "demagoguery."
No truck for political posturing.

No truck for political posturing.

In a piece in Foreign Policy this week, Prince Turki warned that economic recovery is coming, and high oil prices will return with it. Nothing impresses him less than the White House's promises on its Web site to achieve "energy independence," as if switchgrass and wind would solve more problems than oil itself.

Prince Turki points out something important: Oil is and remains fundamental to the economies of the West. Placing faith in unproven alternatives, as the Obama administration does, won't address the shortages that will slam the U.S. soon. (IBD)


The costs of power - The Great Innovator or Terminator– the Federal Government? 

Georges Pompidou when president of France counselled his prime minister, Giscard d’Estaing that the three great dangers for a politician were wine, women and technologists. It is a pity that our Governor General may not have advised our Prime Minister of the modern danger of technologists. 

Yet parliament has just approved a target of 20 percent of our energy to come from expensive or developmental renewable energy sources by 2020. This is being put in place before an ETS with the argument that these changes should be made now as carbon taxing will be slow to shift energy prices. What are the consequences for electrical energy, the most pervasive energy source in society? (Tom Quirk, Quadrant)


Utility Wants To Deploy Largest Grid Battery Ever

SAN FRANCISCO - Southern California Edison said on Wednesday it is seeking a U.S. grant to store wind power in the largest-ever grid storage battery, to be built by A123 Systems.

The utility, a unit of Edison International, wants $65 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for the pilot storage project and for another project involving integration of home energy management systems into the electric grid.

The utility wants $25 million for the battery project, which would be the largest ever for power grid applications, Paul De Martini, vice president of advanced technologies, said in an interview.

U.S. utilities are racing to increase their production of electricity from renewable energy sources to meet stricter state environmental rules and to gear up for any U.S. move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

But wind and solar are intermittent energy sources, and storing the power -- at an economically viable rate -- is seen as crucial to making 'alternative' energy truly mainstream.

Southern California Edison is seeking the money from a $615 million fund that the DOE has set up for "smart grid"-related pilot projects. Smart grid technology measures and modifies power usage in homes and businesses, improving grid reliability. (Reuters)


No More Cheap Energy in China

Over the last three decades, China’s energy consumption has soared. But as is usually the case with developing countries, that energy use was coupled with low efficiency.

This huge increase in energy use, along with abundant and cheap labor, allowed China to become a major exporter of industrial and consumer goods and this stimulated its economic development. Although the Chinese people’s lives have improved tremendously, the approach has also been associated with excessive energy utilization, energy shortages, and extreme environmental pollution. China’s energy intensity (i.e., energy use per unit of the GDP) has been much higher than that of the US. And while China’s energy intensity is improving, cheap energy -- subsidized and controlled by the government -- has prolonged the country’s inefficient use of energy and weakened the nation’s development.

Worse yet, since 2000, energy intensity, instead of decreasing, has started to increase, an eminently undesirable event. Although China uses only about 75% as much energy as the US (about 75 quadrillion Btu vs 100 quadrillion Btu in the US) the country’s energy intensity -- measured in how much energy it takes to generate one dollar of GDP -- puts China at a significant disadvantage: 13,800 vs 8,800 Btu/$ GDP. In other words, China uses about 60% more energy per unit of GDP than the US. Also, note that on a per-capita basis, China’s consumption is about one-sixth that of the prevailing rate in the US. (Michael J. Economides and Xina Xie, Energy Tribune)


August 26, 2009


Asia way short of vaccine to fight swine flu: WHO

HONG KONG - Asia is going to be way short of the new H1N1 vaccine to fight swine flu when the next surge of infections hits during the cold season this year, a spokesman for the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Australia and China are due to begin producing the vaccines in September, but these would be used domestically and the rest of the region is unlikely to benefit.

"Nowhere is ready ... there is going to be massive underproduction of vaccines as compared to the needs and demand," said Manila-based WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley.

Although the virus causes mild symptoms in many people, experts have warned against complacency because severe complications and deaths have occurred to pregnant women, young children, people with underlying health problems like obesity and diabetes, and worryingly, even healthy young adults.

The H1N1 is largely treatable using oseltamivir but vaccines are recommended as a population-wide method of prevention. (Reuters)


Trying every scare: Male fertility linked to obesity: study

Men have known for some time that putting on weight puts them at risk of a number of diseases. But now for the first time there is evidence that an expanding girth can contract a man's ability to have children. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


Extreme obesity can shorten people's lives by 12 years

Extremely obese people — those who are 80 or more pounds over a normal weight — live three to 12 fewer years than their normal-weight peers, a new study shows.

Just being overweight or moderately obese, however, has little or no effect on life span, the research found. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that being slightly overweight may have no influence on life expectancy, but being severely overweight trims years off people's lives. (Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY)


Obesity linked to dementia, Alzheimer's by Pitt researchers

Overweight elderly people might be at greater risk for dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other cognition-impairing conditions than their slimmer counterparts, University of Pittsburgh researchers said today.

People ages 70 or older who are overweight had 4 percent less tissue in the frontal lobes of their brains, and those who are obese had 8 percent less tissue in the same part of the brain, which is crucial for performing cognitive tasks, such as memory and planning.

"It seems that along with increased risk for health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, obesity is bad for your brain. We have linked it to shrinkage of brain areas that are targeted by Alzheimer's," Cyrus A. Raji, who is in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program at Pitt's School of Medicine, said in a statement. (Tribune-Review)


Low-carb diet damages arteries, study shows

Low-carbohydrate diets may damage arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks, research suggests. Scientists believe cutting carbs on Atkins-style diets impairs the regrowth and repair of blood vessels. (John von Radowitz, Press Association)


Why exercise might not make you thin - Re-programming body fat is the key to weight loss, not working out, says Richard Gray.

Fat is a massive problem. Really massive. Nearly 60 per cent of the country’s adult population is now overweight, while one in 10 children are so obese by the time they start school that their health is deemed to be at risk. All told, weight problems are estimated to cost the economy £16 billion a year – on top of the facts that ambulances have to be fitted with reinforced heavy-lifting equipment to get patients into the vehicles and that a growing number of soldiers are, according to Army commanders, too fat to fight.

Yet something strange is going on. While obesity levels have grown year on year, so have levels of physical activity. More people in Britain do the recommended amount of exercise – at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least five times a week – than did 12 years ago. Use of personal trainers and gyms has soared: over the past five years, the amount spent on the latter has grown by 50 per cent, to more than £1.25 billion. Is it possible that all that exercise is doing nothing to make us slimmer? (Daily Telegraph)


Virus blamed for half of penile cancers

LONDON - A sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer is also to blame for half of all cases of cancer of the penis, Spanish researchers said on Tuesday.

The finding suggests already available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines for cervical cancer are also likely to be effective in the fight against penile cancer, doctors from the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona said.

Merck & Co's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix are both used widely to immunize girls against HPV infection, which can lead to cancer of the cervix.

Penile cancer is much rarer, accounting for less than 1 percent of adult male cancers in Europe and North America, although the incidence can be as high as 10 percent in parts of Africa and Asia. Worldwide, there are more than 26,000 new cases every year.

Dr. Silvia de Sanjose and colleagues reviewed cases of penile cancer reported in clinical studies between 1986 and 2008 and found 46.9 percent of tumors were associated with HPV.

Nearly all of these were linked to HPV strains 16 and 18, the two types that most commonly cause cervical cancer and which are targeted by Gardasil and Cervarix, they wrote in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

Merck reported results of a clinical trial last November showing that Gardasil was effective in preventing lesions caused by the virus in men. (Reuters)


Shot! Missouri bans wrong plastic from rivers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A law taking effect this week could make criminals out of those who bring Tupperware onto many Missouri rivers.

The law was intended to reduce the floating debris from abandoned foam coolers in the state's waterways. But lawmakers, apparently a little rusty with chemistry, barred the wrong plastic.

The white foam coolers commonly called "Styrofoam" are made from expanded polystyrene. But the law bars polypropylene. That's a plastic found in things like dishwasher-safe plastic containers but not usually used to ferry drinks down a river.

The mix up means river floaters can use foam coolers without fear. But someone caught with a dishwasher-safe plastic container could risk up to a year in jail. (AP)




CHURCHVILLE, VA—Britain has pledged more than US$150 million over the next five years to support high-tech food crops for the world’s poorest countries—primarily through genetic engineering.

The irony? Britain does not yet allow any biotech foods to be grown commercially within its borders. Not even to develop a genetically modified potato that is resistant to the new strain of potato blight that is ravaging British potato fields.

If the eco-activists hadn’t pledged to rip out test plantings, the world would already have blight-resistant potatoes—a huge step forward in Third World food security. Potatoes produce more food per acre than any other crop, and they are increasingly important in such crowded places as China, India, and the African highlands. So far, however, there remains the threat of replaying the terrible Irish potato famine of the 1840s, not only in Britain, but in all potato dependant areas.

The biggest piece of the new British funding will support development of drought-tolerant corn for Africa, following up the recent success of drought-tolerant biotech wheat in Australia. Such corn would be the biggest possible step forward for drought-prone small African farmers, ranking even ahead of the witchweed-resistant corn varieties recently produced by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

Another chunk of funding will support Syngenta’s international work in developing genetically modified “Golden Rice,” which will prevent childhood blindness due to severe shortages of Vitamin A in rice-dependent cultures. This deficiency is the world’s leading preventable source of childhood blindness, and involves millions of deaths.

The eco- activists, of course, are raging mad over the British aid pledge. They continue to claim that biotech crops don’t produce any higher food yields to prevent hunger, or help poor farmers earn higher incomes—but that’s a lie.

Biotech has already racked up massive yield gains from pest-resistant cotton in China and India, freeing up hundreds of millions of additional acres for food crops. This dwarfs anything the eco-activists have done to make the world more sustainable.

The drought-tolerant wheat recently test-planted in Australia yields 20 percent more grain during droughts, with no yield penalty during years of good rains. This, too, will mean greater food security for wheat-dependent cultures in India, Turkey, and other countries.

Biotech crops have also eliminated spraying of millions of pounds of pesticides that the eco-activists themselves have long claimed (without foundation) were producing severe health risks for humans.

The activists’ case for opposing these crop production advances: Genetically modified crops “are probably unsafe for human consumption,” claims activist Brian John, though no peer-reviewed studies confirm the claim. In more than a decade of growing genetically modified food, no health problem has been traced to biotechnology. Not a single case of food poisoning; not even a headache; just more food, produced more reliably, and at lower cost to society.

Could that be the real activist complaint about biotech? The environmental movement has hated the Green Revolution, and pilloried Dr. Norman Borlaug, the famed “man who saved a billion humans from starvation.” Could it be that the environmental movement still blames high-yield farming for supporting “too many people”?

If that’s true, they should also remember that without the Green Revolution, the planet’s wildlife habitat would already have been largely destroyed to grow more low-yield crops. The challenge now is to feed the 8 billion humans expected at the peak—along with their pets—from the land we already farm.

We applaud Britain for its humanitarianism toward poor countries, even though allowing an anti-science backlash to flourish within its own boundaries. (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)


Experts Identify Fungus-Resistant Gene In Rice

HONG KONG - Researchers in Japan have identified a gene that allows rice plants to fight off a fungal disease called blast, which may open the way for farmers to cultivate hardier plants.

Using genetic sequencing, they were also able to separate the gene, Pi21, from a nearby gene that is associated with a "poor flavor," they wrote in a paper published in Science.

Currently, varieties of rice plants that are resistant to blast are also non-sticky and hard, which many Japanese people consider to be of a poor quality.

To test their findings, the team inserted the gene into a superior species of rice and the result was a fungal resistant rice that retained a superior flavor.

"The (blast) resistant rice was good ... the rice was sticky and taste was good," said the leader of the team Shuichi Fukuoka at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences' Genomics Research Center in a phone interview.

Fukuoka said their finding would be useful in mountainous rice-cultivating areas in Japan where blast can cause serious damage.

The team would also be looking for other disease resistant genes, which it hopes to combine with Pi21.

"We are looking for other disease resistant genes and we want to combine them ... which will make stronger and more durable (rice plants)," Fukuoka said. (Reuters)


In the make-believe realm, "we're saved," although that isn't the impression they want to give: Avoiding the 2°C threshold

To have a 90% chance of keeping temperature rise below 2°C – a limit widely accepted as likely to prevent dangerous climate change – cumulative carbon-dioxide emissions for the period 2000–2500 must remain below a median estimate of 170 petagrams of carbon. Depending on the climate sensitivity and carbon-cycle feedback, that figure could range from –220 petagrams to 700 petagrams, say researchers in Canada. (ERW)

Note they are working in carbon and not carbon dioxide.

Interestingly they are now claiming that adding greenhouse gases provides a linear effect rather than the recognized logarithmic one (this will certainly come as a surprise to climate scientists).

So, what would this new linear effect mean? (we don't need any expensive model runs or funding -- your cell phone or watch's calculator function will suffice) We've already seen all the numbers from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen about 100 ppmv. That's been achieved by about 40% of total emissions (the rest are naturally absorbed by plants and oceans). 1 ppmv represents 7.81 billion tons of carbon dioxide which represents 19.25 billion tons of emissions all told, so 100 ppmv represents 1,925 billion tons emissions since the Industrial Revolution which yielded 0.75 °C warming, so 2 °C would require 5133 billion tons emission, with some 3200 billion tons left to go, right?

See how easy their linear assumption makes it? We've used a mere 37.5% of our "allowable" carbon budget for the 2 °C threshold (actually less since the effect is really logarithmic and each added molecule has less effect than the one before).

Wouldn't you think they'd check the basic arithmetic to see if their model results were reasonable? Obviously they did not since it took but a moment to show their assumptions do not match their results, coming up short with our supposedly having already overshot by 800 billion tons or having at most 2566 billion tons of CO2 "left" and that's even if the effect were linear (which it isn't so their results are even worse). Even with a range of 3700 billion tons they couldn't encompass the correct answer for their own sum!


Climate Bill Is Built On 'Clean Coal' Myths

The fate of the Waxman-Markey climate bill rests upon two myths about so-called "clean coal." The first is that coal, as used today in the U.S., is a dirty fuel. The other is that coal can be made "clean" by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants and storing them underground in geologic repositories.

As to the first myth, if the chief concern about burning coal for electricity is limited to CO2 emissions, then coal is already clean. CO2 is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring trace gas in the atmosphere that humans exhale and plants need to grow.

There is no direct evidence that humankind's comparatively minuscule CO2 emissions predictably or discernibly affect the climate. Controversy surrounding the first myth has given rise to the second myth as a potential solution.

Some in the coal and electric-power industries are touting the second myth in hopes of being able to survive climate legislation with hard emission caps that may be enacted this fall.

These groups are looking for time and taxpayer money to develop CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies that would allow the continued use of coal in power plants. The Waxman-Markey bill that is now being considered in Congress would provide about $60 billion for CCS technologies.

The problem, though, is that even if $60 billion were enough money to implement CCS — and it's not by a long shot — it would make no difference to the atmosphere and climate, regardless of whether you believe the first myth. (Steven Milloy, IBD)


Just another little thing for CCS proponents to worry about: Thousands at risk from Congo lake gas

KINSHASA - Gases trapped below the surface of a lake in eastern Congo could explode any day, threatening the lives of tens of thousands of locals, the country's environment minister warned on Tuesday.

Huge amounts of carbon dioxide and highly combustible methane gas are dissolved in Lake Kivu, which straddles the heavily populated border between Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring Rwanda.

Though scientists believe the overall danger across the lake as a whole is minimal, researchers have discovered a pocket of gas in the relatively shallow Gulf of Kabuno, in the lake's northwest corner.

"The risk of explosion is imminent," Jose Endundo said.

"It's like a bottle of Coca-Cola or champagne. If there is too much pressure inside the bottle, it will explode. It's the same phenomenon," Endundo told Reuters in an interview.

An estimated three cubic kilometres of carbon dioxide lie just 12 metres below the surface of the gulf, which sits atop a tectonic faultline.

Scientists fear a major earthquake or large lava flow from a nearby volcano could provoke a giant release of gas, creating a deadly cloud.

An eruption of some 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 that had been trapped under Lake Nyos in isolated northwestern Cameroon killed around 1,700 people in 1986.

"The risk is that this gas escapes and asphyxiates thousands of people. There is an urgent need to evacuate gas from the Gulf of Kabuno, which now holds 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide that Lake Nyos contained," Endundo said. (Reuters)


How GE puts the government to work for GE

"The intersection between GE's interests and government action is clearer than ever," General Electric Vice Chairman John G. Rice wrote in an Aug. 19 e-mail to colleagues.

Rice was calling on his co-workers to join the General Electric Political Action Committee. "GEPAC is an important tool that enables GE employees to collectively help support candidates who share the values and goals of GE."

The full letter suggests that "share the values and goals of GE" really means "support policies that profit the company."

Steve Milloy, a pro-free market investor at the Free Enterprise Action Fund, obtained this e-mail and says it reveals General Electric for what it really is. "GE is lobbying to become the biggest rent seeker this country has ever seen," Milloy told this column. Rent seeking is using government legislation or regulation to generate private profits the free market wouldn't provide.

"On climate change," Rice wrote, "we were able to work closely with key authors of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, recently passed by the House of Representatives. If this bill is enacted into law it would benefit many GE businesses."

Most of all, Waxman-Markey would profit a GE joint venture called Greenhouse Gas Services, which deals in greenhouse gas credits, products that have value only if a cap-and-trade bill like Waxman-Markey passes.

The leaked e-mail shows how tightly GE connects PAC contributions and lobbying efforts. "Our Company is heavily impacted by a number of issues pending in Washington this fall," Rice wrote. (Timothy P. Carney, Examiner)


Chamber Threatens Lawsuit if EPA Rejects Climate Science 'Trial'

The nation's largest business group is asking U.S. EPA to hold a public debate on climate change science -- or face litigation -- as the agency prepares to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

In April, EPA said it planned to declare that emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride from new automobiles and their engines contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare. The proposal, which does not include any regulations, comes in response to the Supreme Court's 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a 21-page petition with EPA today, asking the agency to approve an on-the-record proceeding with an independent trier of fact who would allow EPA and environmental and business groups to engage in a "credible weighing" of the scientific evidence that global warming endangers human health.

EPA has hosted two public hearings and received more than 300,000 public comments on the matter already.

"They don't have the science to support the endangerment finding," Bill Kovacs, the chamber's vice president for environment, regulatory and government affairs, said in an interview. "We can't just take their word for it."

Kovacs envisions the EPA proceeding as a modern-day "Scopes Monkey Trial," where the science of global warming -- rather than evolution versus creationism -- would be debated. The 1925 trial, which pitted prominent defense attorney Clarence Darrow against three-time presidential candidate Williams Jennings Bryan, centered on the prosecution of John Scopes for violating a Tennessee law by teaching evolution in a high school classroom.

Much is at stake in the modern climate change debate. Declaring greenhouse gases as pollutants from automobiles would trigger Clean Air Act regulation of other emission sources, such as power plants and oil refineries, Kovacs said.

"An endangerment finding would make EPA the regulator of the U.S. economy," he warned. (ClimateWire)


Comment On News Article “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Seeks Trial On Global Warming”

There was a news article in the LA times on August 25 2009 by Jim Tankersley entitled “U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks trial on global warming“.

The article has the text

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.”

I do not know if a “trial” is effective, however, it is certainly clear that the EPA ruling is scientifically very flawed, as I wrote in a series of posts:

Republican Comment On EPA Endangerment Findings

Brief Overview Of Several Climate Science Research Findings

Comments On The EPA “Proposed Endangerment And Cause Or Contribute Findings For Greenhouse Gases Under The Clean Air Act”.

As I have written in the last weblog above

In conclusion, the EPA Endangerment findings is the culmination of a several year effort for a small group of climate scientists and others to use their positions as lead authors on the IPCC, CCSP and NRC reports to promote a political agenda.

Now that their efforts have reached the federal policy decision level, Climate Science urges that there be an independent commission of climate scientists who can evaluate the assement process that led to the EPA findings as well as the climate science upon which it is constructed. “

The Chamber of Commerce statement further documents that independent assessments of the EPA findings are required. (Climate Science)


Lawrence Solomon: New Ice Age could be coming

Earth could soon be entering a new Ice Age, according to scientists at Oregon State University and other institutions, in a study to b e released this week by Science magazine.

"Sometime around now, scientists say, the Earth should be changing from a long interglacial period that has lasted the past 10,000 years and shifting back towards conditions that will ultimately lead to another ice age - unless some other forces stop or slow it," states a release from Oregon State University.

The Science study refutes claims by some scientists that carbon dioxide was an important factor in ending the last ice Age. It concludes that wobbles in Earth's rotation first led global ice levels "to reach their peak about 26,000 years ago, stabilize for 7,000 years and then begin melting 19,000 years ago, eventually bringing to an end the last ice age.

"The melting was first caused by more solar radiation, not changes in carbon dioxide levels or ocean temperatures, as some scientists have suggested in recent years." (Financial Post)


Does Carbon Labeling Confuse Consumers?

Tesco, a British supermarket chain, began festooning cartons of milk this month with information on the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production, processing, distribution and and use of each pint.

Tesco said putting the labels on milk pints – an iconic symbol of British life – helped to raise awareness about climate change and about the impact of store-bought goods.

But the idea of carbon labeling has been fiercely contested in Europe, and varying methods for measuring a product’s carbon footprint have contributed to more general concerns in the food sector that introducing new labels will confuse and worry consumers. (Green Inc.)

Are you selling the carbon content? Then why list some fictitious version of it (no one claims the listed amount can be found in the package).


We wish: Big Deficits Could Hurt Obama on Health Care & Energy

If anyone was surprised that President Obama took time away from his summer vacation to announce that he’ll keep Ben Bernanke on as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the benefit of that scheduling became clear a few hours later. Bernanke’s reappointment drew at much of the attention away from the horrendous news on the deficit front.

The day’s headlines and cable chatter, as well as the reaction in the markets, focused far more on the President’s 9:00 appearance in Martha’s Vineyard with Bernanke than on the release by the White House, just 30 minutes later, of revised budget estimates projecting that the cumulative deficit over the next ten years could hit an $9 trillion, nearly $2 trillion more than the Administration had estimated in May.

The reassurance that Helicopter Ben would remain at the helm — combined with the fact that the deteriorating budget numbers had been strategically leaked the previous Friday — helped turn the rapidly rising deficit largely a non-event for the markets: indeed, by days’ end, the yield on 10-year Treasuries had even dropped slightly, to 3.44%. “It’s a Bernanke rally,” says Greg Valliere, who covers Washington policy for institutional broker Soleil Securities. “The deficit numbers are too abstract for most people to grasp; with yields this low, it’s hard for people to say (the deficit) will damage the recovery.”

But Washington is unlikely to be quite so accommodating in overlooking those skyrocketing deficits when the President and his advisors return from vacation for the next stage of the battle over priorities like health care reform or the potentially costly cap-and-trade bill aimed at lowering the harmful emissions that lead to global warming. "The more you see these big numbers coming in, the harder it becomes to push forward an agenda that involves big costs," says Daniel Clifton, the Washington-based analyst for institutional broker Strategas Research Partners. (Business Week)


However: U.S. Budget Update Stands Pat On CO2 Permit Auction

WASHINGTON - The White House budget update released on Tuesday still reflects a controversial Obama administration plan to combat global warming by auctioning all permits to emit greenhouse gases even though Congress has said it will give away a substantial portion to industry.

The mid-session budget review from the Office of Management and Budget estimates the government will raise $627 billion in revenue between 2012 and 2019 from a so-called cap-and-trade system requiring companies to buy permits for the carbon gases they spew into the atmosphere.

However, analysts say it is unlikely lawmakers will approve any climate control system that would force polluters to initially pay for the majority of carbon permits.

The administration's budget estimates "represent an ideal, but they don't appear to be real," said Kevin Book, an energy analyst for ClearView Energy Partners.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have balked at President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to support climate legislation that would auction 100 percent of carbon permits. (Reuters)


Today’s Calamity: Will Cap and Trade Save the Planet?

Last week, in our inaugural Cap and Trade Calamities, we laid out the exorbitant costs the Waxman-Markey cap and tax bill would impose on your family. But if it saves the planet, isn’t it all worth it? The fact is, our planet is not in the immediate danger environmental activists purport it to be, and even if it were, Waxman-Markey would not do a thing to stop it.

When the benefits of cap and trade are measured against the costs, the costs significantly outweigh the negligible benefits. We break down the exorbitant costs of Waxman-Markey’s imposed carbon emissions reductions here. Let’s dissect the benefits.

According to a calculation by climatologist Chip Knappenberger, the temperature reduction by 2100 if we enacted the Waxman-Markey cap and tax bill would be between 0.1 and 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100. Even the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency admitted that U.S. action alone would not change world carbon dioxide emissions.

One big reason that a bill with such sweeping economic changes would have no substantial environmental impact is because China, which emits more carbon than the U.S. and is increasing their emissions levels much faster, will not cut back. China, as well as India and other fast developing nations, have made clear that they will never hamper their own growth with global warming measures like Waxman-Markey. Increasing emissions is a sign of industrial growth and no developing country wants to stunt that growth.

Unfortunately, some in Congress don’t care that the extraordinary perils of carbon dioxide regulation for the American economy come with little, if any, environmental benefit. They are siding with radical environmentalists who are willing to pay anything to “save the planet,” even when the benefit is barely noticeable.

On Thursday, we’ll explain how the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, in typical government fashion, promises more than it can deliver.

You can sign up to receive Cap and Trade Calamities where we point out the problematic provisions in the Waxman-Markey bill, as well as our Energy & Environment newsletter, here. (The Foundry)


Lawrence Solomon: Carbon Baron Gore - Who will be the Robber Barons of the 21st century? Al Gore is poised to become the first climate billionaire

At the turn of the 20th century, a period famous for its Robber Barons, John D. Rockefeller was making his fortune in oil, Andrew Carnegie in steel, Cornelius Vanderbilt in railroads and J.P Morgan in finance. Many predict that the history books of the future, when listing the legendary fortunes made at the turn of the 21st century, will place Al Gore at the top of the list, as the first great Carbon Baron. (Financial Post)


French Minister Sees Carbon Tax In 2010 Budget

PARIS - France's proposed carbon tax is expected to be included in the 2010 budget but will probably be set below the 32 euros per metric ton level recommended by a special advisory panel, Budget Minister Eric Woerth said on Tuesday.

The panel, headed by former Socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard, has recommended billing 32 euros ($46) for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2010 and lifting the levy progressively to 100 euros per metric ton by 2030.

That would add between 7 and 8 cents to the cost of a liter of petrol. The tax, heavily criticized by intensive fuel users such as farmers and fishermen, will affect all sectors that are not part of existing emissions trading programs. (Reuters)


AFBF: Grassroots Voices Can Help Defeat Climate Change Bill

This summer’s raucous town hall meetings on national health care reform have brought high drama, while illustrating the considerable uneasiness of many Americans on the subject. Less theatrical, but equally important, are the grassroots efforts of Farm Bureau members on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill passed by the House that awaits Senate action.

To spotlight attention on this important issue, Farm Bureau joined forces with like-minded organizations to form “Energy Citizens.” The alliance focuses on publicizing the impact of the pending legislation and the potential harm it poses to the U.S. economy.

Urging the Senate to “get it right” and ensure that climate and energy legislation does not take money out of Americans’ pocketbooks, while costing the economy millions of jobs, is a primary focus.

A key part of the effort is 21 rallies across the country that began mid-August in Houston and conclude the first week of September in South Dakota. At many of the rallies, Farm Bureau members and leaders will take the podium and explain the severe economic consequences the legislation will have on American agriculture. They will point out that the climate change bill will mean higher costs for fuel and fertilizer with little to no benefit to farmers and ranchers. In the rallies and through their personal letters and contacts, farmers are speaking out, and with good reason. (Cattle Network)


Talk about target fixation: Big biz seen short on emissions cuts

The world's largest businesses are aiming to achieve only about half the recommended goal for greenhouse gas reductions, according to a study released Tuesday by the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The study by the Britain-based group showed that 100 major companies, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nintendo Co., are targeting a 1.9 percent annual reduction against the 3.9 percent cut considered necessary to cut emissions in developed countries by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has recommended an 80 percent percent cut to avoid dangerous global warming. The CDP warned that the pace of emissions cuts by major companies shown in the study would see them reach the reduction levels recommended by the IPCC only in 2089.

The organization also pointed out that a majority of the companies have yet to set targets for after the 2012 expiration of the Kyoto Protocol, which is to be replaced by a new climate protocol at a U.N. conference in Copenhagen in December. (Kyodo News)


A deal in Copenhagen should keep Kyoto's weak enforcement

There is nothing to stop a country giving up on tackling climate change — a strict regime would make countries walk away (Anthony Hobley and Tim Baines, The Guardian)

Actually no one should walk away from Kyoto -- run, you fools, run!


Deepak Lal: Spiking the road to Copenhagen

The Western obsession with curbing carbon emissions is wicked and also economically foolish, says Deepak Lal

Three cheers for Jairam Ramesh! India at last has an environment minister who is willing and able to denounce the hypocrisy and immorality of the West in twisting the arms of India and China to curb their carbon emissions. He is right to make it clear that India has no intention of signing the new ‘climate change’ treaty in Copenhagen in December, which would put curbs on the carbon emissions of the Third World. If they do not comply they are being threatened by the draft bill going through the US Congress to levy carbon tariffs on their exports. (Business Standard)


Asia hits back on climate change

China and India have closed ranks on climate change, blaming developed countries for the lack of progress towards a deal.

"They have talked much, but not done much," said Xie Zhenhua, China's minister in charge of climate change, adding that the conflict between developed and developing nations was driven by commercial and political interest.

His remarks came during two days of talks with Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, which were aimed at -synchronising the two countries' positions as negotiations at Copenhagen, Denmark, on climate change draw near.

Mr Ramesh also rejected the notion that the two Asian giants were obstructing a deal. (Financial Times)


Dead wrong: Turnbull flays Nats over ETS rejection

MALCOLM Turnbull has accused the Nationals of letting down businesses by condemning his negotiations with Labor over possible amendments to its planned carbon emissions trading scheme.

The Opposition Leader yesterday warned that if the Coalition disengaged and gave Kevin Rudd grounds to call an early election on the ETS, it risked giving Labor a clear run to damage business with a flawed scheme.

Insisting the Coalition must "be part of the solution", Mr Turnbull used a speech in Melbourne to condemn the Nationals' weekend rejection of any form of ETS.

And he rejected claims by Nationals senators Barnaby Joyce and Ron Boswell that the Coalition should not even negotiate with Labor on its legislation ahead of its expected consideration in the Senate in November. (The Australian)

What is the point of an opposition that simply votes with the government out of fear? The Nationals have got it right, the ETS is a horrendous tax on Australia with no prospect of ever delivering any value.


Better: Ron Boswell calls on firms to bar ETS

A SENIOR Nationals senator has called on corporate Australia to join his party's rebellion against carbon emissions trading in direct defiance of the Liberals.

Senator Ron Boswell has also rejected Malcolm Turnbull's negotiations with Labor on the ETS legislation, claiming they are short-sighted. The veteran Queenslander has also backed claims that Liberal MPs are spurning the Opposition Leader on the issue to back the Nationals.

Writing in The Australian today, Senator Boswell describes the ETS as unacceptable and warns it will drive food prices up by 7 per cent and smash jobs and business profits. He writes that the Nationals are unconcerned that the ETS legislation, rejected in the Senate earlier this month, could trigger an early election if rejected again later this year. And he says the Nationals want the business community to stand up and be counted.

"A strong and public show of support of leadership from business will seal the fate of the ETS," Senator Boswell writes. (The Australian)


Much better: Business can save us from ETS disaster

HOW many Greens does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is none because the Greens want to put all the lights out. During Senate debate last week on the renewable energy legislation, Australian Greens senator Christine Milne mentioned the objective of a zero-carbon economy. The extreme nature of this vision is the ultimate driver in the emissions trading scheme debate. The most significant political achievement this century is the ability of extremist Green policies to dictate the agenda of otherwise mainstream governments.

The coalition between Labor and the Greens is the throne on which the philosopher king, Kevin Rudd, sits. Everything, especially the ETS, must be seen through this red and green prism. (Ron Boswell, The Australian)


Possibly even better still: Senator Barnaby Joyce - Transcript of Speech Nationals Fed Council 2009

Colleagues. I was hoping we could do it a bit later on because everybody leaves and you can say whatever you like. That’s very entertaining and very dangerous.

Yesterday Nige gave a speech and he was talking about relationships. I was thinking about that last night. I was thinking, relationships, there’s two things you have to have. You have to be positive. If you are not positive in a relationship it will definitely fall apart and you have to be honest. You have to be completely honest with how things are and how things work.

Today I would like to talk about a number of things. I want to talk about the LNP in Queensland, I want to talk about the West Australian Nationals, I want to talk about ourselves as a party and I want to talk about a 34-year-old Spanish gentleman Hernan Cortes.  (Senator Barnaby Joyce)


The message is getting through: BUSINESS GETS BUSY

Nationals senator Ron Boswell calls on Australian industry to defend itself against Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scam:

It is in the hands of business now: whether it wants to see Australian industry eaten away inch by inch through a Senate-controlled ETS or whether it will stand firm against it. If business fails to hold the line that enabled us to block the ETS the first time, then the Labor-Greens alliance will carve up its investments.

The Nationals are not alone on this. We have many Liberals on side. A strong and public show of leadership from business will seal the fate of the ETS.

More strength to them. And in the US:

The nation’s largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century”—complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.

“It would be evolution versus creationism,” said William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. “It would be the science of climate change on trial.”

Bring. It. On. Meanwhile, greenoid Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull keeps trying to lure business to the dumb side:

Emboldened by a lift in his Newspoll ratings, Mr Turnbull challenged colleagues today, telling a business breakfast in Melbourne: “Those people who say an emissions trading scheme is an anathema must have been asleep during the last term of the Howard government.

“Not only did we establish an emissions trading scheme, which is a market-based way of putting a price on carbon, we commenced legislating for it. It remains our policy.”

And hasn’t it worked out well. Your party lost the last election, Malcolm. And you’ll lose the next one.

UPDATE. Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce:

“I can tell you the mood is changing,” the senator told this column about Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme. “I am now getting hundreds of emails a day from people. They hate this [ETS] policy. They just hate it. It was marvellous when it was a thought bubble but people are saying, ‘We can hardly afford to live in our home.’ People see this as madness. And they actually get the gist of it. They know it’s a new tax and they are asking: ‘How does putting another new tax on me change the temperature of the globe?’

“And the more they think about it, the madder they get. In the coal industry they know it’s a new tax that will cost their jobs. In rural Australia they know it’s a new tax that will send them broke.”

Rural Australia’s population isn’t as dense as you’ll find in the inner cities. (Tim Blair blog)


Coastal areas face planning upheaval

COASTAL development in Queensland faces its biggest upheaval in decades with the State Government set to seize planning control to protect residents from the impacts of climate change.

Amid concerns that sea levels will rise up to 33cm by 2050 and possibly 80cm by 2100, low-set homes are likely to be banned and bedrooms and living areas moved to second floors to protect people and property in vulnerable coastal areas.

A draft plan warns that major centres along the Queensland coast including Cairns, Mackay and the Sunshine and Gold coasts are considered to be at the highest risk from cyclones, floods and surging sea levels. (Courier-Mail)

Building with cyclones in mind is quite rational, given we live in the cyclone belt. Destroying their credibility with gorebull warming hand waving, however, is not.


‘Peak Oil’ Is a Waste of Energy

REMEMBER “peak oil”? It’s the theory that geological scarcity will at some point make it impossible for global petroleum production to avoid falling, heralding the end of the oil age and, potentially, economic catastrophe. Well, just when we thought that the collapse in oil prices since last summer had put an end to such talk, along comes Fatih Birol, the top economist at the International Energy Agency, to insist that we’ll reach the peak moment in 10 years, a decade sooner than most previous predictions (although a few ardent pessimists believe the moment of no return has already come and gone).

Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material. But because the news media and prominent figures like James Schlesinger, a former secretary of energy, and the oilman T. Boone Pickens have taken peak oil seriously, the public is understandably alarmed.

A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum. And this has been demonstrated over and over again: the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil first claimed in 1989 that the peak had already been reached, and Mr. Schlesinger argued a decade earlier that production was unlikely to ever go much higher. (Michael Lynch, NYT)


Scientifically Illiterate and Innumerate: Why Americans Are So Easily Bamboozled About Energy

Two years ago, I interviewed Vaclav Smil, the prolific author and energy thinker. I asked Smil, a distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba, why Americans are so easily swayed by politicians and others when it comes to energy matters. His response: scientific illiteracy and innumeracy. “Without any physical, chemical, and biological fundamentals, and with equally poor understanding of basic economic forces, it is no wonder that people will believe anything,” he told me. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)


Cap-And-Trade Is Refinery Killer

A new study shows that Waxman-Markey will increase prices at the pump, deepen our dependence on foreign oil and shred our ability to turn crude into gasoline. Even fuel-efficient cars will still need fuel. (IBD)


Climate vs. Security?

Ed. Note: This article first appeared on Geoffrey Styles' blog, Energy Outlook.

In the last few years I've watched perceptions of US energy security and climate change, the two main drivers of energy policy, converge gradually toward a general sense that smart climate policy will be good for energy security, and vice versa. There's even a growing understanding that a stable climate contributes to national security, distinct from any energy considerations. However, there are still cases with strongly divergent energy security and climate change implications, and a new pipeline that will deliver crude extracted from Canadian oil sands is a prime example. The US State Department's approval of this project looks entirely appropriate and sensible, even if it conflicts with the administration's emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Like it or not--and largely because of past decisions concerning our own off-limits oil resources--Canadian oil sands have become an essential pillar of US energy security. (Energy Tribune)


How right he is: Saudi Blasts American Energy Policy

The question of American “energy independence” clearly rankles officials in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil, who seem increasingly puzzled by the energy policy of the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer.

In a short and strongly-worded essay in Foreign Policy magazine, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States and a nephew to King Abdullah, said that for American politicians, invoking energy independence “is now as essential as baby-kissing,” and accuses them of “demagoguery.”

All the talk about energy independence, Mr. al-Faisal said, is “political posturing at its worst — a concept that is unrealistic, misguided, and ultimately harmful to energy-producing and consuming countries alike.”

There is no technology on the horizon that can completely replace oil as the fuel for the United States’ massive manufacturing, transportation, and military needs; any future, no matter how wishful, will include a mix of renewable and nonrenewable fuels.

Considering this, efforts spent proselytizing about energy independence should instead focus on acknowledging energy interdependence. Like it or not, the fates of the United States and Saudi Arabia are connected and will remain so for decades to come. (Green Inc.)


U.S. Power Bills Down, But Not For Long

NEW YORK - Many Americans have been getting a break on their electricity bills during the recession, but they should not expect the relief to last long as power demand recovers and climate regulations loom.

Utilities in major markets like New York, Chicago and Texas lowered rates as the recession cut industrial and residential consumption and wholesale power costs during the first half of 2009 fell to the lowest levels in seven years.

An expected economic recovery in 2010 and federal green energy regulations could push costs up again quickly, analysts and power companies said. (Reuters)


Generator supplier Aggreko looks set to keep on running

At the Department of Energy and Climate Change, civil servants are wringing their hands about the looming energy shortage, but at Aggreko, Rupert Soames, the chief executive, is rubbing his palms in anticipation of windfall profits.

Over the next decade a swath of ageing coal and nuclear power stations must be closed, but we are already years behind in building the new nuclear fleet and the Government has not even authorised the first demonstration carbon capture coal plant.

What will fill the emerging power gap over the next decade? The answer lies in India, Kenya and Uganda, where Aggreko is running large parts of the power network. Thousands of diesel generators — supplied in containers ferried around the country on flat-bed trucks — keep the lights burning while local utilities wait for new gas-fired power stations or hydroelectric dams. In Kenya, Aggreko has installed enough generators to supply the national grid with a third of its power needs, an essential back-up in periods when drought reduces hydro-power output.

International Power Projects (IPP), Aggreko’s emerging market utility business, is growing like Topsy and now represents half of the group’s revenues and two thirds of the profits. While Aggreko’s transactional business — supplying short-term and emergency power — suffered in the first half, with profits down by almost a third, IPP’s revenues were up by 40 per cent and profits were up 72 per cent to $104 million (£64 million) in constant currencies. (Carl Mortished, The Times)


Shrinking Reactors: Robert Bryce Talks to Chris Mowry of Babcock & Wilcox Modular Nuclear Energy About Modular Reactors

In June, Babcock & Wilcox, a division of Houston-based McDermott International, announced plans to seek federal licensing for a 125-megawatt nuclear reactor that the company calls mPower. The company’s move provides yet more intrigue to the modular reactor business. Two other US companies, Hyperion Power Generation and NuScale Power Inc., also intend to produce modular reactors. (Another firm, Galvin Energy, is seeking funding). The key difference among the companies is that Hyperion and NuScale are venture capital-backed startups. Babcock & Wilcox is backed by McDermott, whose 2008 revenues totaled $6.5 billion. Furthermore, Babcock & Wilcox has a long history of manufacturing components for the power sector. In 1882, when Thomas Edison established the first central power plant in the US, on Pearl Street in Manhattan, he relied on boilers made by Babcock & Wilcox.

To get more information on the company’s plans, I conducted the following email interview with Christofer M. Mowry, the president and CEO of Babcock & Wilcox Modular Nuclear Energy, LLC. Mowry earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University. He also holds a B.S. in engineering and a B.A. in Astronomy from Swarthmore College. Mowry holds four US patents related to digital control systems. He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Energy Tribune)


German Wind Power Moves Further Out To Sea.

FRANKFURT - A pioneering German wind power plant's new high-tech equipment, to capture higher winds further offshore and for longer periods, is exciting the industry.

The Alpha Ventus wind park started this month and operates 45 km off the German-Dutch coast. Existing European wind parks operate only 20 km offshore at the most.

"Alpha Ventus is navigating uncharted waters for us to see what problems could be encountered in the offshore wind industry globally," said Thorsten Herdan, executive director of VDMA Power Systems, which represents German equipment makers.

"If we can successfully produce equipment to operate under such harsh conditions this far out in the North Sea, we would definitely lead the world in terms of material and operations."

Alpha Ventus was forced by German environmental laws to build in deeper waters further out to protect tidelands. (Reuters)


August 25, 2009


An interview with anti-health nanny Tom Naughton, part 2

Last Week I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Naughton. Naughton is a health writer, filmmaker, and comedian who earlier this year released a documentary called Fat head, an entertaining and informative piece of cinema guaranteed to irritate the Morgan Spurlocks of the world. Part 1 of our interview appeared here on Thursday. Today Tom answers a few more questions about his documentary, discussing the health and science issues raised in Fat Head as well as the relationship between science and government. (Cameron English, Examiner)


Unsafe urban neighborhoods linked to teen weight

NEW YORK - Living in an urban neighborhood that feels unsafe may be a factor in a teen's risk for being overweight, hints a study of public high school students in Boston, Massachusetts.

Of the 1,140 students surveyed, nearly 12 percent said they rarely felt safe in their neighborhood and 9 percent said they never felt safe in their neighborhood.

These students were about 1.2-times more likely to be overweight or at risk for becoming overweight compared with students who said they sometimes or always felt safe (44 percent) or always felt safe (36 percent), researchers report in the online journal Public Health, published by BioMed Central.

The risk for being overweight was in excess of 1.5 times among students who listed their race as "other" - Asian, South Asian, American Indian, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders - and said they never or rarely felt safe. (Reuters Health)


FDA Looking Into Liver Problems With Obesity Drug Orlistat

The Food and Drug Administration just announced that is has opened an investigation into reports of liver failure, liver disease, and related problems in people taking the obesity drug orlistat.

Orlistat is available by prescription under the brand name Xenical and over-the-counter as Alli, the FDA said. Xenical was FDA approved in 1999, while the lower-dose version, Alli, debuted in the United States in 2007.

The drug is used for obesity management along with lower-calorie diets and to reduce the risks of regaining weight after weight loss. (AttorneyAtLaw)


U.S. heart group draws hard line on sugar intake

CHICAGO, Aug 24 - Americans need to cut back dramatically on sugar consumption, the American Heart Association said on Monday in a recommendation that is likely to rile food and beverage companies.

The group said women should eat no more than 100 calories of added processed sugar per day, or six teaspoons (25 grams), while most men should keep it to just 150 calories or nine teaspoons (37.5 grams).

That's far below the 22 teaspoons (90 grams) or 355 calories of added sugar consumed by the average American each day, according to a 2004 government survey. (Reuters)


Sugar guidelines not so sweet for soft drink makers

CHICAGO - New American Heart Association sugar guidelines released on Monday may come as an especially hard blow to soft drink makers, who were singled out as the top source of "discretionary" sugar calories.

Thrifty consumers, stung by an ailing economy, have already cut back on soft drink consumption. U.S. carbonated soft drink volume fell 3 percent in 2008, the biggest drop since at least the early 1980s, the industry publication Beverage Digest reported in March.

And recent comments by Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying he favored a soft drink tax as a potential way to combat obesity, may only make matters worse. (Reuters)


According to the Nude Socialist: Expanding waistlines may cause shrinking brains

BRAIN regions key to cognition are smaller in older people who are obese compared with their leaner peers, making their brains look up to 16 years older than their true age. As brain shrinkage is linked to dementia, this adds weight to the suspicion that piling on the pounds may up a person's risk of the brain condition. (New Scientist)


but wait (weight?) Wider Waist Boosts Asthma Risk

MONDAY, Aug. 24 -- Women with extra fat around their waists are more likely to develop asthma, even if they aren't overweight, a new study finds.

The California Teachers Study of more than 88,000 women found the same association between obesity and increased incidence of asthma that has been seen in other research, according to the Aug. 25 online report in the journal Thorax.

But it also found a 37 percent increased incidence of asthma among women with a waist circumference of 88 centimeters -- about 35 inches -- even if they were of normal weight.

That finding was an offshoot of a study originally intended to look at factors related to breast cancer in women, said study author Julie Von Behren, a research associate at the Northern California Cancer Center. But the researchers also got a lot of other information about the participants, including waistline measurements and asthma risk factors, such as smoking exposure. (HealthDay News)


there's more: Link between erectile dysfunction and obesity explored in obesity and weight management

New Rochelle, NY, August 24, 2009—Obese men are at increased risk for erectile dysfunction (ED), likely caused by atherosclerosis-related hypertension and cardiovascular disease, as well as hormonal changes associated with obesity, as described in a timely article published in Obesity and Weight Management, a journalzine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( ). The article is available free online at


Whole Fools Boycott

Whole Foods' CEO weighed in on health care, just as our president urged. But instead of engaging him in civil discussion, angry leftists boycotted his stores. They've succeeded only in chilling debate.

IBD Exclusive Series: Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure

John Mackey is a successful entrepreneur. Unlike many politicians, he has actual experience providing health care for private-sector workers. So as the debate over reform cranked up, he wrote an Aug. 12 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal describing "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare" and offering eight sensible free-market ideas that haven't been discussed on the news.

Mackey didn't criticize other plans. He merely tossed a refreshing bucket of reality onto the fever swamps of Congress, which is now trying to pass a socialized health care bill without debate.

But an honest opinion differing from Washington wisdom was too much for the radical left. They blew a gasket over Mackey, distorted his views as against health care reform and called a boycott. And their boycott drew a slew of media attention.

Now, make no mistake, this boycott is a colossal flop. But all the same, it was a vile thing to do, not only for its disproportionate response — seeking to destroy a company with 50,000 employees — but because its real effect will be to spook executives everywhere from giving their badly needed input into health care reform. What CEO would want this for his company merely for giving an opinion?

The effect will chill public debate. Frankly, this harkens to fascism. Even so, the media is still hyping this baloney. (IBD)


Democrats may duck health care foes in US Senate

WASHINGTON - U.S. Democrats may sidestep Republican opposition to a sweeping healthcare overhaul by using Senate rules to pass some reform measures, a leading senator said on Sunday.

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies have "bent over backward" but failed to reach a bipartisan compromise with Republicans, said Sen. Charles Schumer.

"We are considering alternatives," the New York Democrat said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Senate requires 60 votes to pass measures but only a simple majority is often needed for budget matters under a process called "reconciliation."

Schumer said Democrats are considering whether to vote on some healthcare reform provisions under those terms in order to meet a self-imposed deadline for passing health reform. (Reuters)


Download a free PDF pre-publication copy of Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care (2009)

by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis. Introduction by Mark R. Levin, author of Liberty and Tryanny: A Conservative Manifesto (National Center)


H1N1 flu 'serious health threat' to U.S.-report

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. - The H1N1 flu poses a serious health threat to the United States, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology said in a report released on Monday.

"The report says the current strain 'poses a serious health threat' to the nation," the White House said.

"The issue is not that the virus is more deadly than other flu strains, but rather that it is likely to infect more people than usual because it is a new strain against which few people have immunity," the White House said. (Reuters)


High-Speed Fail

In a four-part series on the New York Times Economix blog, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser scrutinized high-speed rail and concluded that the benefits are overwhelmed by the costs. After making generous assumptions regarding the costs, user benefits, environmental benefits, and effects on urban development, Glaeser concludes that all the benefits of high-speed rail would still be less than half the costs.

As Washington Post writer Robert Samuelson observes, the Obama administration’s vision of high-speed rail is “a mirage. The costs of high-speed rail would be huge, and the public benefits meager.” Yet even Samuelson falls victim to the common assumption that high-speed rail “works in Europe and Asia” because population densities in those places are higher than in the United States.

The truth is that high-speed rail doesn’t work in Europe or Asia either. Japan and France have both spent about as much on high-speed rail as they have on their intercity freeway systems, yet the average residents of those countries travel by car 10 to 20 times as much as they travel by high-speed rail. They also fly domestically more than they take high-speed rail. While the highways and airlines pay for themselves out of gas taxes and other user fees, high-speed rail is heavily subsidized and serves only a tiny urban elite.

Obama uses the fact that France, Japan, and a few other countries are racing one another to have the fastest high-speed trains to argue that we need to join the race. That’s like saying we need to spend billions subsidizing buggy whip or horse collar manufacturers or some third-world country will beat us in those technologies. The fact is that high-speed trains will never be as fast as flying on long trips and never be as convenient as driving on short trips, and there is no medium-length trip in which high-speed rail can compete without heavy subsidies.

The rail advocates go ballistic whenever anyone questions their fantasies, mostly engaging in ad hominem attacks (”you must be paid by the oil companies!”) or accusing skeptics of lying about rail. The reality is that Glaeser (like me) “almost always prefer trains to driving.” If anything, he was too generous in many of his assumptions about high-speed rail.

For example, Glaeser built his case around a hypothetical high-speed line between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston, the nation’s fifth- and sixth-largest urban areas which together house close to 10 million people and are located about 240 miles apart, supposedly an ideal distance for high-speed trains. If the numbers don’t work for this market, how are they going to work for Eugene-Seattle, Tulsa-Oklahoma City, New Orleans-Mobile, St. Louis-Kansas City, or any of the other much smaller city pairs in the Obama high-speed rail plan?

The rail nuts don’t want to hear Glaeser’s (or Cato’s) numbers because they fantasize the Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” myth; that building rail will “create the demand for the rail lines.” That may have been true in nineteenth-century America, when no alternative forms of transportation could compete with rail. But it wasn’t true in twentieth-century France or Japan (where heavily subsidized high-speed rail carries only 4 to 6 percent of passenger travel), and it won’t be true in twenty-first-century America.

Building high-speed rail will be like standing in the chilly vestibule of an Amtrak train in mid-winter Chicago and burning million-dollar bills to keep warm. But that’s what happens when you base your transportation policies on a slogan from a Kevin Costner movie rather than on real data. (Randal O'Toole, Cato at liberty)


Green and Eco-Friendly... Prove It!

Environmentalists have been coaxing us for years to donate to their eco-nonprofits, and to pay more for green products and services. There has been a massive global expansion in green marketing. Green marketers have developed slick schemes to sell an avalanche of green and eco-friendly products. These marketing tactics emphasize an immediate and emotionally-compelling environmental benefit -- often when the claimed benefit is unproven. The US Federal Trade Commission regulates claims made in advertisements for all products and services -- including environmental product and service advertisements.

California has developed pending legislation to require green product and services to prove their environmental benefits. Proposed California Senate Bill 722 would require any sales or promotional materials (or sellers) claiming greenhouse gas credits or emission reductions to provide free, supporting written proof to the public.

Corporate marketeers have “greened” every product, service and advertising tag line. Surveys last year of large US retailers found more than 1,700 products boasting of green credentials or environmental benefits -- most at higher cost, with unproven benefits. (Paul Taylor, Examiner)


Locking up resources in case people might benefit: A Real Fish Story

Here is an unusual fish story. And a positive one.

On Thursday, Gary Locke, the secretary of commerce, approved a plan that would prohibit commercial fishing in a huge swath of American waters in the Arctic that have never been actively fished and that nobody is much interested in fishing now.

That sounds odd, but it’s a smart move based on the assumption that the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change will someday make the area more accessible and commercially more attractive. (NYT)


Pro-coal forum speaker opposes clean-coal technology

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Early next month, the state Chamber of Commerce will host a special forum called "Preserving West Virginia's Coal Industry" as part of its annual Business Summit at The Greenbrier.

But the featured speaker who will introduce the event recently attacked an American Electric Power effort to expand testing of greenhouse gas control technology that most experts say is key to keeping coal viable.

The speaker, Steven Milloy of the Web site, said last week that AEP's application for federal funding for a carbon capture and storage project in Mason County would "pour $334 million of taxpayer money down [a] carbon-capture rat hole."

Pat Hemlepp, a spokesman for Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, said the company saw Milloy's criticism and disagrees with it.

"Since the use of coal, the nation's most plentiful and least expensive energy source, is also a significant source of CO2 emissions, it's vital to have solutions to address those emissions," Hemlepp said. "We're pushing a solution." (Sunday Gazette)

Hmm... the only "solution" they seem to be talking about is aqueous MEA (mono-ethanol amine). Can't be talking about a "solution" in the sense of problem solving since a complete, magical cessation of U.S. coal-fired carbon dioxide emissions by the end of next year could only result in the world being about one-tenth of one degree cooler at end of century and no one could tell the difference. Their little exercise in futility would take 13,000 years to "save" one part per million atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Given that an estimated 100 ppmv rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide has delivered a mere 0.75 °C warming since the Industrial Revolution AEP would need to sustain their CCS for roughly 1.7 million years to possibly avoid 1 °C warming.


Flat out waste of money and a biosphere resource at the same time: Federal Carbon Storage Grants Awarded

The Department of Energy announced $27.6 million in research grants on Monday, for projects intended to simulate the underground storage of carbon dioxide.

The 19 awards, to be distributed over four years, will be supplemented by $8.2 million paid by the recipients, which are predominantly universities.

Carbon capture and storage technology — or C.C.S. — is especially important for coal-fired power plants, which account for close to half of the country’s electricity use and a substantial portion of its carbon emissions.

“People think the elephant in the room is coal and what we’re going to do with coal,” said Michael Webber, an energy expert at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Basically,” Mr. Webber said, “this deals with the elephant in the room.” He also said that the government outlays appeared generous by research grant standards.

“As with most areas of C.C.S., new initiatives are welcome,” said Howard Herzog, a sequestration expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an e-mail message.

Among the grant recipients is the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas (no affiliation with Mr. Webber), which received financing for two projects: one studying seismic data in brine-filled rock layers that carbon could be stored in, and the other examining the risks of storing emissions in brine reservoirs.

Several other recipients, including Schlumberger Carbon Services, will look at the likelihood of carbon dioxide leaking from the wells or rock layers where it is stored, and monitoring methods to detect leakage are also being explored. (Green Inc.)


U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks trial on global warming - The business lobby, hoping to fend off potentially sweeping emission limits, wants the EPA to hold a 'Scopes'-like hearing on the evidence that climate change is man-made.

The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.

"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William Kovacs, the chamber's senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

The goal of the chamber, which represents 3 million large and small businesses, is to fend off potential emissions regulations by undercutting the scientific consensus over climate change. If the EPA denies the request, as expected, the chamber plans to take the fight to federal court.

The EPA is having none of it, calling a hearing a "waste of time" and saying that a threatened lawsuit by the chamber would be "frivolous."

EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said the agency based its proposed finding that global warming is a danger to public health "on the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare."

Environmentalists say the chamber's strategy is an attempt to sow political discord by challenging settled science -- and note that in the famed 1925 Scopes trial, which pitted lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in a courtroom battle over a Tennessee science teacher accused of teaching evolution illegally, the scientists won in the end. (Los Angeles Times)

So what's their problem, unless they are afraid science will win again and the gorebull warming scare will collapse?


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What will be done to improve the environment for my carbon offsets?
Click on the FAQ link to find out just exactly what we at will be doing in exchange for your carbon offsets. (Free Carbon Offsets)


Desperate Strategies for Desperate Times . . . and Post.

On August 18, both the New York Times and Washington Post featured uncharacteristically shrill top-of-masthead editorials demanding immediate climate-change legislation. The Post warned of an imminent geophysical “tipping point” because of global warming, while the Times went one better, threatening the national security of the United States.

Why the desperation? Perhaps because the great unwashed who live outside the Beltway or somewhere other than Manhattan are in open revolt, and not just against Obama’s health care proposals. In their role as the nation’s opinion leaders, these mastheads can’t let such behavior go unchallenged. (Patrick J. Michaels, Planet Gore)


Too funny: A global climate deal must be simpler, fairer, and more flexible than Kyoto - Negotiations on emissions in the run-up to the UN climate summit show no sign of the radical change we need

Limiting global warming to 2C above preindustrial levels is absolutely crucial, says the G8 and most of the world's best climatologists. If this is to be more than lip service, the consequences will be radical.

For starters, until 2050, only about 700 gigatons of carbon dioxide can be emitted into the atmosphere. At the current rate of emissions, this "budget" will be exhausted in 20 years; if emissions increase as expected, the world will become carbon "insolvent" even sooner. So reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions must begin as quickly as possible. Wasting any more time will cause costs to skyrocket and render the 2C limit obsolete. (The Guardian)

Don't these guys ever check any of their numbers? Just because some geezer uses colorful graphics and a computer instead of sandwich boards on a street corner doesn't make his prognostications of the end being nigh any more likely.

Check the numbers! Even using the IPCC's inflated formula and Hansen's absurdly high climate sensitivity estimate yields negligible global temperature change with huge carbon dioxide constraint. The corollary being that unfettered emission would deliver equally trivial change.

Time to wake up and smell what they are shoveling.


Recycling tipsy research in the run up to CoP15: Tipping elements remain a 'hot' issue

Research published by climate scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has been named one of the most highly-cited in its field in the last two years.

The article, 'Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system', appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February 2008 and was this month named a 'New Hot Paper' by Thomson Reuters.

"The article captures the zeitgeist of a growing group of climate scientists who perceive that human activities are already pushing Earth's climate past regional tipping points," said lead author Prof Tim Lenton of UEA's School of Environmental Sciences. (University of East Anglia)


Humanity Blamed for 9,000 Years of Global Warming

Not satisfied with blaming modern civilization for causing rampant climate change, now a small group of scientists are saying that everything went wrong once humans stopped being hunter-gatherers 9,000 years ago. The hypothesis, first advanced in 2003 by University of Virginia palaeoclimatologist William F. Ruddiman, remains controversial even among global warming true believers. Ruddiman now claims to have proven his critics wrong, much to the glee of the blame-humanity-first wing of the eco-activist community.

A paper in Quaternary Science Reviews by Ruddiman and Erle C. Ellis, entitled “Effect of per-capita land use changes on Holocene forest clearance and CO2emissions ,” claims Homo sapiens were bad news for the environment from humanity's first steps toward civilization. While most scientists discount the impact primitive humans had on the environment due to small populations and rudimentary tools, Ruddiman and Ellis think otherwise. They are proponents of the early anthropogenic hypothesis (EAH), which states that humans took control of greenhouse-gas trends thousands of years ago because of emissions from early agriculture. According to the paper:

Implicit in this view is the notion that per-capita land clearance has changed little for millennia, but numerous field studies have shown that early per-capita land use was large and then declined as increasing population density led to more intensive farming. Here we explore the potential impact of changing per-capita land use in recent millennia and conclude that greater clearance by early agriculturalists could have had a disproportionately large impact on CO2 emissions.

This hypothesis posits that thousands of years ago early agriculture caused large enough emissions of greenhouse gases to offset natural climatic cooling. In earlier work, Ruddiman and others claimed that the spread of rice production across large areas in China 4,000 to 6,000 years ago supported the hypothesis. Supposedly, early farming caused an anomalous reversal in methane levels (see Ruddiman et al.Early rice farming and anomalous methane trends”). Writing in the March 2005 edition of Scientific American Ruddiman pushed the date for man's earliest environmental transgressions back another 2,000 years, saying: “[E]vidence suggests that concentrations of CO2 started rising about 8,000 years ago, even though natural trends indicate they should have been dropping. Some 3,000 years later the same thing happened to methane, another heat-trapping gas. The consequences of these surprising rises have been profound.”

Now the threshold for the beginning of anthropogenic global warming dates to the Neolithic Revolution some 9,000 years ago. Based on a comparison of CO2 and methane (CH4) levels during the current Holocene interglacial versus data during similar portions of the three previous interglacials, human agricultural activity supposedly caused greenhouse gas levels to rise when they should have been shrinking. As a consequence of man's meddling Ruddiman claims that an incipient ice age, which would have begun several thousand years ago, was avoided. Without these early anthropogenic emissions, the theory goes, current temperatures in the northern parts of North America and Europe would be cooler by 3 to 4° C. Instead of a quick return to glacial conditions—something not expected if previous glacial terminations are any guide—Earth's climate has remained warm and stable for thousands of years. Are we supposed to view this as a bad thing?

The crux of the new paper's argument seems to be that early farmers used ten times as much land per person as modern farmers. Supposedly, ancient farmers practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, as some farmers in underdeveloped regions do to this day. Burning off large areas of forest or grassland temporarily enriches the soil with ash. After a few seasons crop yields begin to drop causing the farmers to move on to new land and repeat the cycle. However, the only way to reach the prehistoric land use levels required to make the theory viable is for neolithic farmers to have practice slash-and-burn on a tremendous scale. Naturally, Dr. Ruddiman is not without his critics.

A number of scientists have criticized the early anthropogenic hypothesis. One critic is NASA climate modeler Gavin Schmidt from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Schmidt states that crediting early human populations with the enormous environmental impacts that Ruddiman claims is extremely uncertain. He also says that recent studies of methane emissions have shown that methane increases over the last 5,000 years could be attributed to the development of the boreal wetlands and other areas uncovered by melting glacial ice. Indeed, a 2006 paper by Sergey A. Zimov et al. claims methane emissions from defrosting tundra are more significant than previously thought.

Zimov et al. state that carbon contained in permafrost—permanently frozen ground—is an additional large carbon reservoir that is rarely incorporated into global carbon analysis. “The release of a large pool of radiocarbon-depleted carbon from permafrost could have contributed to declines in atmospheric radiocarbon during two strong warming events that occurred during the last deglaciation,” they claim. “These radiocarbon changes have previously been attributed to an assumed increase in deep- and mid-ocean venting, because no terrestrial pool that could readily release ancient carbon (such as permafrost carbon) was included in the analysis.” In other words, as the glaciers retreated and the ice melted significant amounts of carbon, in the form of CO2 and CH4, would be released from formerly frozen land. As tundra turned to grasslands and forests greenhouse gases would be released naturally.

In fact, a recent paper in Nature claims that tundra doesn't even need to fully defrost to emit significant volumes of greenhouse gas. The assumption has always been that a frozen, snowed-under environment did not release much in the way of GHG—turns out that assumption was wrong. The winter emissions, thought to be squeezed out by the growth of surface frost, match up with an atmospheric methane surge that had previously gone unexplained. “Mother Nature is showing us something that is really surprising," said lead author Torben Christensen, a biogeochemist at Lund University in Sweden. “Nobody would expect to have loads of gas seeping out from a frozen environment.” Since these sources of carbon have been overlooked scientists are free to cast about for other sources, like human activity.

Ruddiman's conclusions rest mainly on Vostok ice core data going back hundreds of thousands of years. The EAH claim is that this interglacial is different from previous ones and only humans could have caused that difference. However, calculations of the changes in the Earth's orbit that trigger ice ages, performed by Andre Berger of the University of Louvain-le-Neuve in Belgium, demonstrate that the current warm period is actually quite anomalous compared to the recent past. This means that comparing the Holocene with other recent interglacials is not meaningful. Indeed, recent results from the extremely long EPICA core show values in Marine Isotope Stage 11 are very similar to those seen in the pre-industrial Holocene. That interglacial, which occurred some 400,000 years ago is thought to be more like the Holocene than other, more recent interglacials. One really interesting thing about that interglacial is that it lasted significantly longer than other warmings—around 30,000 years verses 10-14,000 for more recent episodes. [For a good article on methane and its sources see “Methane: A Scientific Journey from Obscurity to Climate Super-Stardom” by Gavin Schmidt on the NASA GISS website].

The Stage 11 interglacial 400kya was similar to the Holocene.

If Dr. Ruddiman had looked a bit farther back in the paleoclimate record he would have found that the Holocene is not an anomaly, and if he had checked the recent research regarding GHG release during the early Holocene he would have had nothing to blame on our remote ancestors. There is nothing wrong with Dr. Ruddiman dusting off his theory ever couple of years and publishing a new paper. Theories like his force other scientists to critically review what they think they know about human beings and climate change, double check their data and re-validate the logic of their own theories. This is a good thing for science. Without improbable theories challenging existing dogma science becomes static and moribund. No, the problem with the airing of such theories comes when they get picked up by the news media and become fodder for the climate catastrophist crowd.

Even a staid, conservative newspaper like the Economist has picked up on Ruddiman's misanthropic message. In an article entitled “Nothing new under the sun,” it was reported that: “Long before the Industrial Revolution—indeed, long before a worldwide revolution in intensive farming, the results of which kept humanity alive—people caused unnatural exhalations of greenhouse gases that had an impact on the world’s climate.” The article closes with the observation “it looks as if humanity has been interfering with the climate since the dawn of civilisation.” What isn't mentioned, of course, is that all living things interact with the environment and to some extent affect climate—ants to elephants.

What gets lost in all of this shallow reporting is that the early anthropogenic hypothesis is not proven nor widely held by other paleoclimatologists. Oddball theories are useful in science but are easily blown out of proportion by elements on the lunatic fringe and if a marginal idea gains political momentum you end up with a mess like the current CO2 driven global warming debacle. The only cure for this sad state of affairs in a more informed and better educated public, and fewer air-head reporters who are more interested in a catchy headline than accurate reporting.

The tundra is melting! It must be those humans heating up the planet again.

The easily dismissed EAH example aside, there exists a significant thread that runs through much of the bad climate science done over the past several decades. The mainstream climate science community seems to have blinkered itself with respect to historical precedents in the climate record. The IPCC seems only interested in the past few hundred years, probably because the well documented climate variations which occurred over the course of the Holocene don't fit their models or their world view. Others, like Ruddiman and his colleagues, only go back far enough to convince themselves they have stumbled on something “unprecedented,” which naturally means they can blame it on H. sapiens. Moreover, none of the CO2 driven global warming proponents wish to acknowledge that there have been ice ages when the levels of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere have been many times higher than today's. Climate science's myopic view of the past allows it to continue attributing climate change to CO2 and the blame to humanity with a clear conscience.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (The Resilient Earth)


Eye-roller: How real is the climate threat?

As the framing of an Irish Climate Change Bill moves forward, our legislators will face difficult decisions on how best to respond to the environmental challenges that confront us. Politicians will soon have to decide what resources are to be allocated for dealing with climate change.

In addition, they will have to decide what proportion of the allocated resources should be spent on mitigating global change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the proportion on adapting to local change in Ireland.

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the latest of which was issued in 2007, have presented convincing evidence of global climate change, and of the role of manmade greenhouse gas emissions in causing it.

In response to these findings, the Stern Review commissioned by the British government has argued, on economic grounds, that about 1 per cent of global GDP each year should be devoted to reducing these emissions. (Ray Bates, Irish Post)

Still dredging up Stern's nonsense? Must be getting harder for these guys to buy a job...


Dopey: Report: Future U.S. heat waves will be worse

The nation is headed for strong heat waves in coming decades that will hit cities and farmers and threaten wildlife with extinction, a new global warming report warns.

The report, "More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake Up Call," sponsored by medical, environmental and civil rights organizations, comes as a legislative fight over a climate change bill gets ready to resume next month in Congress. Its remedies are based on recent findings of global warming effects by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates climate research across federal agencies. (Dan Vergano, USA TODAY)

The way to "make heat waves worse" is to make people's electricity too expensive to run air conditioning to protect themselves from whatever weather prevails. It isn't what the weather does that's the problem, only whether we can protect people from it. Silly blighters...


Anthropogenic Global Warming? Not So Fast . . .

Skepticism about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has engulfed the leadership of key scientific societies including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Physical Society (APS). Growing numbers of members of these prestigious organizations are clamoring for a reassessment of their societies' positions on climate change. This skepticism of the accepted wisdom about the link between carbon dioxide and climate change makes a mockery of the ongoing claim that when it comes to AGW, "the science is settled."

Proof that the science is not, in fact, settled, can be seen by looking at the controversies within the ACS, APS, and AGU. The growing dissent at these organizations is major news. Yet as far as I can detect there has not been any acknowledgment of this development in the mainstream media. Given that lack of acknowledgement, here's a rundown of what is happening at those organizations as well as a quick look at what has happened recently in Germany. (Gerald T. Westbrook -


Bury the messenger

If you can't muzzle the whistleblower, try to marginalize him. That seems to be the strategy of the Obama administration, which is showing that its commitment to liberal ideology trumps its pledge to foster open government.

In June, the Competitive Enterprise Institute made waves by releasing internal e-mails from the Environmental Protection Agency. In those messages, a top administrator told a key researcher that the researcher's new report would not be released. Why? Because it does "not help the legal or policy case" for a controversial decision to treat global warming as a health hazard. In short, because researcher Alan Carlin's conclusions differed from the administration's political agenda, his research was ignored.

Mr. Carlin, who holds a doctorate in economics with an undergraduate degree in physics, examined numerous studies on global warming. His scorching message to his political bosses at EPA: "I have become increasingly concerned that EPA has itself paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups... as being correct without a careful and critical examination." That examination shows, Mr. Carlin said, that "available observable data... invalidate the hypothesis" that humans cause serious global warming.

With the administration so heavily invested in a regulatory scheme to combat supposed warming, this message was far from welcome. Hence the effort to bury the report, an effort that was thwarted when Mr. Carlin posted the report on a personal Web site.

The administration struck back. Mr. Carlin works for the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics. On Friday, Inside Washington Publishers reported that "Obama EPA officials are said to be considering scrapping" the center's role in scientific analysis. Never mind the reality that doing so would undermine the entire reason for its existence, namely (citing the article) "researching environmental health issues to improve risk assessment data used in economic analyses for [new regulatory] rules."

If the office can't analyze the science in order to determine a regulation's economic effects, it won't have any basis for figuring out those effects. Hiding scientific research is not what Americans expect from a president who boasted that his administration would "restore science to its rightful place." And for a president who promised to "strengthen whistleblower laws," this attempt to marginalize a true whistleblower smacks of insincerity. Its implications for economic and environmental policy are dangerous. (Washington Times editorial)


Crank of the Week - August 24, 2009 - Nathan Rees

This week we have a nomination from down under. Premier Nathan Rees, head of the Australian state of New South Wales, has been nominated by his own constituents as our Crank of the Week. After reviewing Rees' qualifications we are in full agreement—anyone who can stand up at a scientific conference and compared climate change skeptics to Nazi appeasers certainly is a crank.

Premier Rees' ill-chosen remarks were made while addressing the Australian Museum's Eureka Awards ceremony. It is a nice bit of irony that the Eureka Award, Australia's highest award for scientific achievement, has been won twice by Australia's leading geologist and prominent climate change skeptic, Ian Plimer. Premier Rees said, “The threat of climate change is catastrophic. In fact, the current wave of climate change scepticism smacks of 1930s-style appeasement: 'Hide under the blankets and it will go away'. But it won't go away.” What might go away, however, is the Premier.

Recently Rees has announced an immediate ban on all departments and agencies buying bottled water, including supplies for water coolers. “Bear this in mind. You take a 600ml plastic bottle, 200ml of oil has gone into its production,” said Rees. “That's leaving aside the CO2 that comes from transporting it around the place.” The ban has been praised by eco-activists but it doesn't set well with everyone. Australians spent about $500 million on bottled water in 2008, a 10 per cent increase on 2007, so there is bound to be some backlash.

Geoff Parker, director of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute, which represents the industry, said he was disappointed by the ban. “The environmental footprint of one bottle of water of locally produced water would be much smaller than a tin of canned tomatoes imported from overseas, some imported cheese, or French champagne,” he said. “I think we need to keep it in perspective.”

One of the first promises made by Premier Rees when he took office was that he would deal with climate change, so the bottle ban seems to be in character. But according to Greens MP and mining spokesperson Lee Rhiannon, “Labor MPs voted to stifle the censure debate today to cover up Premier Rees' massive credibility gap between his rhetoric on climate change and his actions.” It seems that Rees has been talking green while cozying up to the coal industry, something the Greens can't abide. “Premier Nathan Rees deserves urgent censure for ignoring climate change experts and escalating the expansion of the NSW coal industry,” said Ms Rhiannon.

Rees now admits he could have chosen his words better when he compared climate change skeptics with Nazi appeasers of the 1930s but that's unbottled water under the bridge. Though he claims to work 17 hours a day for the people of NSW, the Premier now finds his popularity dropping in the polls. The latest Newspoll showed that more than half of NSW voters were dissatisfied with him. As one digruntled constituent commented, “Please STOP working and give us all a break.” When asked how it felt to be working such long hours for little pay-off he snapped, “how do you think?”

It looks like, as an environmentalist, Nathan Rees has feet of clay (well, maybe coal). It saddens us to know that the Happy Land is also afflicted by the same species of double talking, fear mongering political blatherskites as the US. Scumbags are evidently indigenous to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. So, for calling skeptics Nazi appeasers and banning bottled water while at the same time snuggling up to the coal industry this Crank of the Week is for you: NSW Premier Nathan Rees. (The Resilient Earth)

[Thanks to Markus for nominating the Honorable Nathan Rees, MP, as our latest crank]


The Issue That James Annan and Gavin Schmidt Should Focus On With Respect To The Klotzbach Et Al 2009 Paper

There has been quite a bit of discussion by James Annan (see and see) and Gavin Schmidt (see) on our paper

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., in press.

 which is quite peripheral to the conclusions of our paper.  In our multi-authored paper

Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, B. Baker, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A. Carleton, A. Beltran-Przekurat, T. Chase, A.I. Quintanar, J.O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Conner, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D.R. Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O.W. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V.G. Anantharaj, S. Fall,R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H.-I. Chang, R. Leeper, U.S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, and J. Syktus, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover change on climate and future research priorities. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., in press

we summarized the issue as follows

“The stable nocturnal boundary layer does not measure the heat content in a large part of the atmosphere where the greenhouse signal should be the largest (Lin et al. 2007; Pielke et al. 2007a). Because of nonlinearities in some parameters of the stable boundary layer (McNider et al. 1995), minimum temperature is highly sensitive to slight changes in cloud cover, greenhouse gases, and other radiative forcings. However, this sensitivity is reflective of a change in the turbulent state of the atmosphere and a redistribution of heat not a change in the heat content of the atmosphere (Walters et al. 2007). Using the Lin et al. (2007) observational results, a conservative estimate of the warm bias resulting from measuring the temperature from a single level near the ground is around 0.21°C per decade (with the nighttime minimum temperature contributing a large part of this bias). Since land covers about 29% of the Earth.s surface, extrapolating this warm bias could explain about 30% of the IPCC estimate of global warming. In other words, consideration of the bias in temperature could reduce the IPCC trend to about 0.14°C per decade; still a warming, but not as large as indicated by the IPCC.”

So far, it appears that neither James or Gavin are particularly knowledgeable on boundary layer physics.  While they certainly have expertise in other areas in climate science, they have failed so far to comment on the topic in the above paragraph (which is what the Klotzbach et al (2009), Lin et al (2007) and Pielke and Matsui (2005) papers are about.

My current weblog is an invitation to them to comment on the above paragraph (either as guest weblogs or on their sites). If they ignore this request, it would further demonstrate that they are commenting outside of their expertise on the subject of our papers, and that their real goal is simply to malign papers they disagree with. (Climate Science)


From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 34: 26 August 2009

CO2 Emissions and Woody-Plant Range Expansions: As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, so too do earth's woody plants continue to expand their ranges into former prairies and grasslands.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 725 individual scientists from 426 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Lake Anterne, Northern French Alps. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Range Expansion (Woody Plants - Miscellaneous): Can woody plants actually expand their ranges in response to increases in the air's CO2 content?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Hairy Bracken (Zheng et al., 2008), Maidenhair Tree (Li et al., 2009), Quaking Aspen (Liu et al., 2006), and White Spruce (Marfo and Dang, 2009).

Journal Reviews:
Where Have All the Sunspots Gone?: And what does the answer suggest about the future?

The Medieval Warm Period in the Karakorum Mountains of Northern Pakistan: How did its temperatures compare with those of the late 20th century? ... and what are the implications of that comparison?

Vegetation Dynamics of Spanish National Parks: 1981-2003: Were the temporal trends predominantly positive or negative?

Pollen and Hay Fever in Switzerland: How much have they risen in response to the major "environmental evils" of the past century: rising air temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations?

Litter Decomposition in Grasslands: How is it impacted by global warming? ... and how is global warming impacted by it? (


About as wrong as they can get: U.S. needs climate law before Copenhagen: officials

WASHINGTON - The United States needs to have a climate change law in place before international talks on a climate pact begin in December, two top Obama administration officials said on Monday.

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation in June to cut U.S. carbon emissions from utilities, manufacturers and others 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The Senate is set to take up its own version of the bill in September when lawmakers return from their summer recess.

It is unclear whether the bill will make it into law before the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. The highly contentious debate over health care reform is likely to crowd the legislative agenda in the fall.

"We think it is important for the president to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on this issue," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters after an energy briefing at the White House.

Groups from the oil industry, agriculture and manufacturing have lined up to oppose climate change legislation, saying it would add costs for producers, farmers and consumers without guaranteeing environmental gains. (Reuters)


'bout time he came to his senses: Aggravation Mounts in Minnesota Over Governor's Shift on Climate

Minnesota's Republican governor used to make soaring speeches about defusing climate change. Now he's making jokes, and some environmentalists are wondering whether his gone-missing support amounts to "bait and switch" politics.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is stoking frustration among Democratic state lawmakers and prominent climate thinkers for becoming "totally silent" on two major efforts to stem greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota and in a strip of states stretching from Canada to Kansas.

The turnaround is striking because it was the governor who powerfully promoted the initiatives. Now, chafed participants believe Pawlenty is abandoning climate action to mend his conservative credentials before taking a stab at the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

"What we're seeing from our governor currently is all focused on his national political ambitions," said state Rep. Bill Hilty, the Democratic chairman of the state's House Energy Committee.

It may not be that simple. The governor is cooling toward bold climate steps that could raise costs on businesses and residents, his supporters say. There was no way to know how big the price would be without delving deeply into the issue, one supporter said. (ClimateWire)


Int'l climate talks "wrestle over economy": China's top negotiator

BEIJING, Aug. 24 -- China's top environment negotiator said Monday that the current global fight over climate change is in nature a multinational wrestling match on winning or maintaining each country's economic competitive edge or room for development.

The conflict between developed countries centers on economy, technology and global dominance whereas developing nations fight against restrictions on their developments, said Xie Zhenhua, vice minister in charge of China's National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner.

"The conflicts are driven by commercial and political interests," Xie said in a report delivered at the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

He also said that the ongoing international negotiations on climate change had not seen fundamental changes. (Xinhua)


Of course they do: Africa wants $67 billion a year to fight climate change

ADDIS ABABA - African leaders will ask rich nations for $67 billion per year to mitigate the impact of global warming on the world's poorest continent, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Monday.

Ten leaders are holding talks at African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital to try to agree a common stance ahead of a U.N. summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

Experts say Africa contributes little to the pollution blamed for warming, but is likely to be hit hardest by the droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels forecast if climate change is not checked. (Reuters)


Taxpayer cash for clunker ideas

It’s finally been euthanized (or so they say). But in the minds of politicians and rent-seekers, the cash-for-clunkers program was so successful that it deserved billions in taxpayer money.

Pols got to strut their green credentials. Car makers got to sell cars, via yet another subsidy. Consumers got free cash from hapless taxpayers, for new cars many otherwise wouldn’t have bought.

It was all so socially responsible and win-win – except for those poor taxpayers, who got saddled with still more debt. The other big loser of course is the antiquated notion that public policies should be based on sound science and economics.

An ice-cold bucket of reality is in order – before the next clunker idea comes along. Here are a few of the more obvious problems with pulling the plug on grandma cars.

The “high-polluting” cars that taxpayers are paying to get off the road already have 95% fewer emissions than 1970-era models. So the pollution reductions are almost nonexistent.

The gas savings are modest at best, across the US automotive fleet – and will be more than offset by the latest round of oil and gas lock-ups that Congress and the White House are already engineering. So more oil imports are on the way, regardless.

Far worse, every “clunker” has to be rendered totally inoperable. Sodium silicate gets poured into engines to freeze their components, then they’re crushed into bundles of scrap.

That means some 750,000 perfectly good cars never make it to used car lots. People who can’t afford the average $24,000 new car price have to buy a new car anyway. Used car dealers and buyers have dwindling numbers of cars to bargain for. Repair shops lose business.

Even worse, trashing all these cars is a monumental waste of precious resources – and all the energy and effort it took to extract metallic ores, hydrocarbons and other raw materials from the Earth, process and refine them, create alloys and plastics, and turn them into engines, chasses, windows, tires and interiors.

Every step in that process took enormous amounts of energy – and emitted vast quantities of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases and real pollutants. There is absolutely no way that these emissions and energy will ever be recouped by any savings the replacement cars might conceivably generate. (Paul Driessen, CFP)


August 24, 2009


This is pathetic even by the dreadful standards of the senile Crone in August: Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass

For decades, farmers, lawn care workers and professional green thumbs have relied on the popular weed killer atrazine to protect their crops, golf courses and manicured lawns.

But atrazine often washes into water supplies and has become among the most common contaminants in American reservoirs and other sources of drinking water.

Now, new research suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations than previously thought. Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems.

Laboratory experiments suggest that when animals are exposed to brief doses of atrazine before birth, they may become more vulnerable to cancer later.

An investigation by The New York Times has found that in some towns, atrazine concentrations in drinking water have spiked, sometimes for longer than a month. But the reports produced by local water systems for residents often fail to reflect those higher concentrations.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency say Americans are not exposed to unsafe levels of atrazine. They say that current regulations are adequate to protect human health, and that the doses of atrazine coming through people’s taps are safe — even when concentrations jump. (NYT)

At this rate we can expect "Space aliens abducted my grandmother" by about Thursday...


The bogeyman that won't die

Rabid environmentalists and EPA apparatchiks created the dioxin bogeyman 30 years ago, and it's been on the world's most expensive life-support system ever since. After three decades and a billion dollars in federally funded research, there is no proven "link" between dioxin and cancer.

Nevertheless, the fear-mongering continues. As first reported by The West Virginia Record, Charleston plaintiff's attorney Stuart Calwell filed 50 lawsuits last week, charging a Monsanto chemical plant with contaminating the Nitro air and soil with dioxins and furans and, he alleges, causing cancer among residents of the area.

The hawking of fear and loathing has proven profitable for fund-loving researchers and activists -- and for fellow travelers like Ben & Jerry of ice cream fame, who discovered that being on board the environmental bandwagon could make their calorie-laden product more appealing. (The Record)


Online social media — marketing in disguise

Millions of Americans have received emails and read blogs and commentary on social media sites and never realized that what they were reading was carefully crafted marketing messages from the government — paid for with their tax dollars and manipulating them to support government agendas, programs and legislation.

Today’s news exposed that the White House had hired a private social marketing firm to distribute mass emails and unsolicited spam to sell President Obama’s health care plan. The firm, —“the email and digital subscription management company for the government” — hired last January by the White House, has handled social marketing emails to sell the administration’s campaigns on a range of issues, including its Supreme Court nominee and healthcare reform.

This is not news, of course. JFS has been cautioning for years that social media marketing sites and blogs are inundated by entities who are not who they seem, even as they’ve skyrocketed to popularity. GovDelivery has also made no secret of its success and the fact that it has been hired by more than 250 government agencies and sent out more than 118 million emails in January alone. People weren’t paying attention. (Junkfood Science)


Why Government Rationing Ain’t a Good Deal

When government is paying the medical bill, it inevitably has to “ration” care.  Choices obviously have to be made by whoever is paying, but there’s good reason not to leave government with the dominant decision-making power, as in Great Britain.

There’s no need to demonize British care.  All one has to do is point out how government fiscal objectives so often run against good patient treatment.  And how most people have no exit to a better alternative.

Consider this rather amazing story from the Daily Telegraph:

Doctors have launched a campaign on behalf of a war hero who has been told he must go blind in one eye before he can receive NHS treatment and accused Gordon Brown of “incompetence” in managing the health service.

More than 120 doctors have sent £5 cheques to Downing Street, made out to the Prime Minister, in the hope of shaming him into helping former RAF bomber Jack Tagg. The 88-year-old was recently diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Britain, which affects an estimated 500,000 people.

Mr Tagg has the treatable, but most aggressive “wet” form of the disease, which can lead to the loss of central vision in as little as two months.

But he has been told that the NHS will only fund the injections which could save his sight, after he has lost the vision in one eye.

… “They told me there were three choices: let nature take its course and go blind, try to seek funding, or pay for immediate treatment. Time is of the essence, so we opted to pay up and fight for funding.

“This is happening to literally millions of people. It’s appalling and something has got to be done about it.”

The American medical system needs reform.   But that should be accomplished by promoting patient-directed care, with individuals and families, rather than government, deciding how best to use scarce resources when it comes to medical treatment. (Doug Bandow, Cato at large)


Ration — verb, to restrict the consumption of

That’s’s fourth definition of the verb “to ration,” and it is essentially the same as the other three.

Here’s an example of government restricting the consumption of medical care.  It comes from a strange, faraway land called “Oregon.”

(Michael F. Cannon, Cato at liberty)


Record numbers in hospital for obesity

Evidence has emerged of a “bulge generation” with a 300 per cent rise in the most extreme cases of obesity among adults in their twenties.

Record numbers of people are being sent to hospital for weight-loss surgery or treatment for conditions directly triggered by their weight new Government figures have disclosed.

With the sharpest rise among those aged 18 to 30, experts warned that “yesterday’s teenagers,” brought up on junk food and binge drinking, were facing horrific consequences from lifestyles which had got out of control.

In five years, the total numbers of people admitted to hospital as a direct result of obesity rose by 190 per cent, with 5,056 admissions in 2007/8. (Daily Telegraph)

5,000 admissions? Out of a population of about 50 million? That's just one admission per 10,000 of population. How many admissions for intoxication? About 20 times that number (England alone racks up about 240 per day or over 85,000/year). Think they've got their priorities right?


Calls to tax junk food gain ground - A surcharge on cigarettes has helped curb smoking, but will the same tactic work to fight obesity?

"Sin taxes" on cigarettes have turned out to be the most effective weapon in the campaign to reduce smoking.

With increasing vigor, public health experts and think tanks are calling for extra taxes on foods and drinks that are heavy in calories and light on nutrition. New York Gov. David Paterson proposed an 18% soda tax last year as a budget-balancing measure, only to abandon it three months later in the face of stiff public opposition. Lawmakers in at least five other states have gone on the record in support of the idea.

Junk-food taxes are often mentioned as a way to help fund a restructuring of the healthcare system, though no one in Congress has endorsed them.

The notion is catching on with the general public, however. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month found that 55% of respondents favored a tax on unhealthful snack foods, up from 52% in April. Support for a soda tax rose to 53% from 46%.

And 63% of those who opposed the idea said they would change their minds if the revenue were used to fund healthcare reform and combat health problems related to obesity.

A report this summer from the Urban Institute said such taxes are needed to ensure that rising obesity rates don't cause the average American life expectancy to fall for the first time in history.

"We are killing 100,000 people per year, so something needs to get done," said University of Virginia pediatric cardiologist Arthur Garson, one of the study's authors.

Many citizens object to such "nanny state" attempts at social engineering.

"This is the most ridiculous idea I've heard," said Kellie Glass, a registered dietitian in Ashland, Ky., who doesn't care to be penalized for indulging in ice cream now and then. "Folks are just not going to give up all the foods they love, even if they are more expensive." (LA Times)


Video game addiction linked to obesity, Vit D deficiency, ADD, ADHD, aggression

Beware - parents of compulsive kid gamers! Excessive video or computer/console game playing has been linked to several negative health effects among modern children, including obesity, deficiency of Vit D and lack of bone-building exercise.

Recent studies from researchers Craig Anderson and Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University,, 2009, have shown that 1 in 10 youth from a national sample, between ages of 8 and 18 are pathological or addicted gamers – addiction being defined as playing 24 hours or more per week resulting in functional damage. The functional damage included increased health problems, attention deficit in school and poor grades and aggression. Children were twice as likely to have ADD or ADHD. (Examiner)


Study: Candle-lit dinners add to pollution

Holy smokes. Grab the fire hose. Somebody notify Al Gore and maybe Ralph Nader. Candle-lit dinners -- with the flickering flames, those delicate glows -- are an unrecognized source of indoor air pollution. Really. The American Chemical Society announced Wednesday that "emission products of petroleum-based candles in nonventilated enclosed areas" are potential health hazards. Paraffin wax candles produce evocative ambience -- and known human carcinogens, too.

"An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you. But lighting many paraffin candles every day for years or lighting them frequently in an un-ventilated bathroom around a tub, for example, may cause problems," said Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor at South Carolina State University who analyzed the airborne byproducts of burning candles. (Jennifer Harper, Washington Times)


Attacking every convenience: Unveiling a Plastic Bag Ban in Mexico City

Standard plastic shopping bags were officially outlawed in Mexico City this week, but you wouldn’t know from the check-out line at the supermarket.

In March, Mexico City’s local assembly passed a law that would require all stores to provide biodegradable bags. On Wednesday, the law went into effect, though there is a one-year grace period before authorities start to impose sanctions — which have yet to be defined.

A year was deemed enough time for merchants to come up with cost-effective alternatives and put them into place. The hope is that a year will also give the producers of plastic bags enough time to convert their factories.

“The challenge as always is how the law is applied,” said Beatriz Bugeda, an environmental activist who heads Citizen Observers of Environmental Vigilance, a new watchdog group in Mexico City. (Green Inc.)


Obama's mad science adviser

When it comes to having past views that should frighten every American citizen, Ezekiel Emanuel (see above editorial) has nothing on the president's "chief science adviser," John P. Holdren. The combination of Mr. Holdren with Dr. Emanuel should make the public seriously concerned with this administration's moral compass concerning care for the old and weak.

Earlier this month, Mr. Holdren served as co-chairman when the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology met for the first time. It's a disgrace that Mr. Holdren is even on the council. In "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment," a book he co-authored in 1977 with noted doomsayers Paul R. and Anne H. Erlich, Mr. Holdren wrote: "Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society." (Washington Times)


Are you doing business with anti-gun companies?

Are gun owners unwittingly patronizing businesses that support infringements on their right to keep and bear arms?

I wrote the following article several years ago for one of the leading gun magazines, which balked at publishing it after new owners took over. The editor subsequently gave me permission to reproduce it in other venues. Even though some of the information is dated (for instance, Zany Brainy is now defunct), the record and the principles remain. (David Codrea, Examiner)


Hazards of not using modern building materials and fuels: Fashion for wood burning stoves prompts record year for thatched cottage fires

Thatched roofs are going up in smoke in increasing numbers because of the new fashion for wood burning stoves and the inexperience of a new breed of second home owner, according to experts. (Daily Telegraph)


Birdwatching 'not environmentally friendly'

An academic study suggests competitions to spot as many species of bird in a day, along with thousands of enthusiasts visiting a garden when a rare bird is spotted, means a heavy use of transport.

Many twitchers will travel hundreds, potentially thousands, of miles just to see a bird, according to Professor Spencer Schaffner, who admits being a birdwatcher himself. (Daily Telegraph)


Oh... Light in the Forests

This has been a good month for the nation’s forests. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California reinstated a landmark 2001 rule — the so-called roadless rule — put in place by President Bill Clinton before he left office that prohibited commercial logging, mining and other development on about 58 million acres of national forests. The Bush administration spent years trying to undermine the rule.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave his first major speech on forest policy. Agriculture secretaries, from both parties, have almost always preferred to focus on farming issues, and have treated the Forest Service as a stepchild — even though the 193 million acres of forests and protected grasslands it manages are vital to water quality, wildlife and local economies.

Mr. Vilsack’s speech displayed a firm grasp of the importance of healthy forests, and he promised to work with landowners to keep even private forests in good shape. “It is essential,” he said, in language not much heard in his department, “that we reconnect Americans across the nation with the natural resources and landscapes that sustain us.” (NYT)

Pity his alleged "firm grasp" doesn't include practical knowledge on how to achieve such lofty goals, like making sure there are roads, firebreaks, access and profits to sustain them. Dopey city slickers...


Trying to extend welfare dependency: In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand

QUERENCIA, Brazil — José Marcolini, a farmer here, has a permit from the Brazilian government to raze 12,500 acres of rain forest this year to create highly profitable new soy fields.

But he says he is struggling with his conscience. A Brazilian environmental group is offering him a yearly cash payment to leave his forest standing to help combat climate change.

Mr. Marcolini says he cares about the environment. But he also has a family to feed, and he is dubious that the group’s initial offer in the negotiation — $12 per acre, per year — is enough for him to accept. (NYT)

Don't do it José, feed your family and be a productive member of society -- your crops will help feed the world.


Global forest destruction seen overestimated

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 21 - The amount of carbon emissions caused by world forest destruction is likely far less than the 20 percent figure being widely used before global climate talks in December, said the head of the Brazilian institute that measures Amazon deforestation.

Gilberto Camara, the director of Brazil's respected National Institute for Space Research, said the 20 percent tally was based on poor science but that rich countries had no interest in questioning it because the number put more pressure on developing countries to stem greenhouse gases.

"I'm not in favor of conspiracy theories," Camara told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday.

"But I should only state that the two people who like these figures are developed nations, who would like to overstress the contribution of developing nations to global carbon, and of course environmentalists." (Reuters)


Tree cover far bigger than expected on farms: study

OSLO - Almost half of the world's farmland has at least 10 percent tree cover, according to a study on Monday indicating that farmers are far less destructive to carbon-storing forests than previously believed.

"The area revealed in this study is twice the size of the Amazon, and shows that farmers are protecting and planting trees spontaneously," Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, said in a statement.

The Centre's report, based on satellite images and the first to estimate tree cover on the world's farms, showed tree canopies exceeded 10 percent on farmland of 10 million square kms (3.9 million sq miles) -- 46 percent of all agricultural land and an area the size of Canada or China.

By one yardstick used by the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization, a "forest" is an area in which tree canopies cover at least 10 percent of an area. The definition excludes, however, farmland or urban areas.

The report said that farmers keep or plant trees for uses such as production of fruit, nuts, medicines, fuel, building materials, gums or resins. Trees also provide shade for crops, work as windbreaks, boundary markers or to help avert erosion. (Reuters)


'Super elms' begin to fill the gaps in English landscape

Saplings are to be propagated from specimens that survived when 20 million trees perished. Planted nationwide, they may transform the landscape again (The Independent)


Global Warming: A Classic Case of Alarmism

Dr. David Evans

[The big temperature picture. Graph and insight from Dr Syun Akasofu (2009 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 2009).]

The pattern suggests that the world has entered a period of slight cooling until about 2030.

The global temperature has been rising at a steady trend rate of 0.5°C per century since the end of the little ice age in the 1700s (when the Thames River would freeze over every winter; the last time it froze over was 1804). On top of the trend are oscillations that last about thirty years in each direction:

1882 – 1910 Cooling
1910 – 1944 Warming
1944 – 1975 Cooling
1975 – 2001 Warming

In 2009 we are where the green arrow points, with temperature leveling off. The pattern suggests that the world has entered a period of slight cooling until about 2030.

There was a cooling scare in the early 1970s at the end of the last cooling phase. The current global warming alarm is based on the last warming oscillation, from 1975 to 2001. The IPCC predictions simply extrapolated the last warming as if it would last forever, a textbook case of alarmism. However the last warming period ended after the usual thirty years or so, and the global temperature is now definitely tracking below the IPCC predictions.

The IPCC blames human emissions of carbon dioxide for the last warming. But by general consensus human emissions of carbon dioxide have only been large enough to be significant since 1940—yet the warming trend was in place for well over a century before that. And there was a cooling period from 1940 to 1975, despite human emissions of carbon dioxide. And there has been no warming since 2001, despite record human emissions of carbon dioxide.

There is no actual evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming. Note that computer models are just concatenations of calculations you could do on a hand-held calculator, so they are theoretical and cannot be part of any evidence. Although the models contain some well-established science, they also contain a myriad of implicit and explicit assumptions, guesses, and gross approximations—mistakes in any of which can invalidate the model outputs.

Furthermore, the missing hotspot in the atmospheric warming pattern observed during the last warming period proves that (1) the IPCC climate theory is fundamentally broken, and (2) to the extent that their theory correctly predicts the warming signature of increased carbon dioxide, we know that carbon dioxide definitely did not cause the recent warming (see here for my full explanation of the missing hotspot). The alarmists keep very quiet about the missing hotspot.

No one knows for sure what caused the little ice age or for how many more centuries the slow warming trend will continue. It has been warmer than the present for much of the ten thousand years since the last big ice age: it was a little warmer for a few centuries in the medieval warm period around 1100 (when Greenland was settled for grazing) and also during the Roman-Climate Optimum at the time of the Roman Empire (when grapes grew in Scotland), and at least 1°C warmer for much of the Holocene Climate Optimum (four to eight thousand years ago).


Measuring the global temperature is only reliably done by satellites, which circle the world 24/7 measuring the temperature over large swathes of land and ocean. But satellite temperature records only go back to 1979. Before that, the further back you go the more unreliable the temperature record gets. We have decent land thermometer records back to 1880, and some thermometer records back to the middle of the 1700s. Prior to that we rely on temperature proxies, such as ice cores, tree rings, ocean sediments, or snow lines.

Our readers may also want to check out this booklet by Joanne Nova: The Skeptics Handbook.

Source: (The Peoples Voice)


Cluster’s last stand

One of the signs of a change in the slope of temperatures is the change in the slope of PR descriptions.

After chanting “The hottest year ever recorded” the message became the “second hottest year on record”, and after that, four of the five hottest years ever; and now, eight of the ten hottest years.

Look out for “12 of the hottest 15 years ever”... it’s coming.

It’s time to knock this on the head. It’s true, but meaningless. It appeals to that prehistoric part of our brains and “gets” to people in the same way that rising stock markets do. For example back in October 2007 we could have said that the top 8 of 10 record Dow Jones results were set that month (and look what that did for the Dow?)


1. Analyzing trends is a lousy form of analysis. It tells you nothing about what happens next. When we don’t understand what drives the climate, analyzing the technicals of “trend-lines” is up there with reading tea-leaves. We don’t know what caused the Little Ice Age; so we don’t know if that mystery cooling factor stopped, or if another unknown warming factor kicked in; or both unexplained forces worked in concert with a silent friend. It sounds quasi-scientific but so does astrology. Look! The night-hunter ate the saucepan. Join the dots. Find your own climate change star sign.

2. “Recorded” history is overrated. It only applies “since 1850″. That’s not long. Take your pick on longer scales: it was warmer 1000 years ago, 5000 years ago, 130,000 years ago, and …. before 5 million years ago; it was hotter for most of the history of the earth. More accurately, we could say, “it’s five of the ten hottest years recorded since humanity discovered thermometers, installed them, and recorded the details in multiple locations around the earth.” Catchy.

3. Yes. It’s got warmer. So? The world has been getting warmer for 200-300 years. Sea levels have been rising, glaciers melting, and “records” have been set decade after decade. And all this started long before Napoleon took 4000-gas-guzzling armored tanks to Russia (or not). He must’ve been disappointed that the Ford Model T’s he’d ordered would not arrive for 103 years. Yet the world was warming.

Ultimately, analyzing the technicals of stock trends is fraught with problems, but doing this on climate trends is inane. What are we relying on—meterological psychology: the greed and fear of clouds?

See Climate Bull or Bear? for a real poke at technical analysis of the climate.


Borenstein’s AP Sea Surface Temperature Article Is Misleading

Guest Post By Bob Tisdale

The Seth Borenstein AP article about the recent high sea surface temperature…
…is misleading. There is a significant difference between what Seth Borenstein reported and what NOAA stated in the July “State of the Climate”.

Borenstein does not clarify that it is a record for the month of July, where NOAA does. NOAA writes, “The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F). This broke the previous July record set in 1998.” Refer to Figure 1, which is a graph of SST for July from 1982 to 2009 (NOAA’s ERSST.v3b version).
Figure 1

Borenstein readers are told that July 2009 Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were the highest since records began, but that is false. Figure 2 illustrates monthly SSTs from November 1981 to July 2009. I’ve added a red horizontal line to show the July 2009 value.
Figure 2

Whether or not July SSTs represented a record is also dependent on the SST dataset. NOAA’s satellite-based Optimally Interpolated (OI,v2) dataset presents a different picture. That dataset clearly shows that July 1998, Figure 3, had a higher SST.
Figure 3

And looking at the monthly OI.v2 data since November 1981, Figure 4, there are numerous months with higher SSTs.
Figure 4

The Borenstein article also claims that Arctic SST anomalies are as high as 10 deg F (5.5 deg C) above average. Wow!! Really??

I used the SST map-making feature of the NOAA NOMADS system to create the map of high latitude Northern Hemisphere SST anomalies for July 2009. The Contour Interval was set at 1 deg C to help find the claimed excessively high SST anomalies. Alas, Borenstein was right, BUT, as you will note, the ONLY area that reaches the 5 to 6 deg C range is the White Sea (indicated by the arrow) off the Barents Sea.
Figure 5

And to put that in perspective, Figure 6 is the global map. Based on the Kartesh White Sea Biological Station website…
…the surface area of the White Sea is approximately 90,000 sq km. If the surface area of the Arctic Ocean is 14 million sq km, the White Sea represents less than 0.6% of it. And for those who want to compare it to the surface area of the global oceans, its surface area is 361 million sq km. Too many zeroes after the decimal point to worry about.
Figure 6

And the SST anomalies of one miniscule area do not represent the SST anomalies for the Arctic Ocean, as is obvious in Figure 7. Arctic SST anomalies have declined over the past few years.
Figure 7

SST anomaly graphs through July 2009 for the Arctic Ocean and other individual oceans can be found at my July 2009 SST Anomaly Update.

To sum up the Borenstein article, it’s factually incorrect in places, and in others, it raises alarmism to ridiculous levels by dwelling on a meaningless statistic, the July SST anomaly of the White Sea. (WUWT)


Record July 2009 Sea Surface Temperatures? The View from Space

Since NOAA has announced that their data show July 2009 global-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) reaching a record high for the month of July, I thought I would take a look at what the combined AMSR-E & TMI instruments on NASA’s Aqua and TRMM satellites (respectively) had to say. I thought it might at least provide an independent sanity check since NOAA does not include these satellite data in their operational product.

The SSTs from AMSR-E are geographically the most complete record of global SSTs available since the instrument is a microwave radiometer and can measure the surface through most cloud conditions. AMSR-E (launched on Aqua in May 2002) provides truly global coverage, while the TMI (which was launched on TRMM in late 1997) does not, so the combined SST product produced by Frank Wentz’s Remote Sensing Systems provides complete global coverage only since the launch of Aqua (mid-2002). Through a cooperative project between RSS, NASA, and UAH, The digital data are available from the same (NASA Discover) website that our daily tropospheric temperatures are displayed, but for the SSTs you have to read the daily binary files and compute the anomalies yourself. I use FORTRAN for this, since it’s the only programming language I know.

As can be seen in the following plot of running 11 day average anomalies, July 2009 was indeed the warmest month during the relatively short Aqua satellite period of record, with the peak anomaly occurring about July 18.


The large and frequent swings in global average temperature are real, and result from changes in the rate at which water evaporates from the ocean surface. These variations are primarily driven by tropical Intraseasonal Oscillations, which change tropical-average surface winds by about 2 knots from lowest wind conditions to highest wind conditions.

As can be seen, the SSTs started to fall fast during the last week of July. If you are wondering what I think they will do in the coming months, well, that’s easy…I have no clue. (Roy W. Spencer)


Something’s Fishy With Global Ocean Temperature Measurements

(edited 8/23/09 0710 CDT: Changed plots & revised text to reflect the fact that NCDC, not CRU, is apparently the source of the SST dataset; also add discussion of possible RFI interference in satellite measurements)

(edited 8/22/09 1415 CDT: added plot of trend differences by month at bottom)

In my previous blog posting I showed the satellite-based global-average monthly sea surface temperature (SST) variations since mid-2002, which was when the NASA Aqua satellite was launched carrying the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E). The AMSR-E instrument (which I serve as the U.S. Science Team Leader for) provides nearly all-weather SST measurements.

The plot I showed yesterday agreed with the NOAA announcement that July 2009 was unusually warm…NOAA claims it was even a new record for July based upon their 100+ year record of global SSTs.

But I didn’t know just HOW warm, since our satellite data extend back to only 2002. So, I decided to download the NOAA/NCDC SST data from their website — which do NOT include the AMSR-E measurements — to do a more quantitative comparison.

From the NOAA data, I computed monthly anomalies in exactly the same manner I computed them with the AMSR-E data, that is, relative to the June 2002 through July 2009 period of record. The results (shown below) were so surprising, I had to go to my office this Saturday morning to make sure I didn’t make a mistake in my processing of the AMSR-E data.


As can be seen, the satellite-based temperatures have been steadily rising relative to the conventional SST measurements, with a total linear increase of 0.15 deg C over the 7 year period of record versus the conventional SST measurements.

If the satellite data are correct, then this means that the July 2009 SSTs reached a considerably higher record temperature than NOAA has claimed. The discrepancy is huge in terms of climate measurements; the trend in the difference between the two datasets shown in the above figure is the same size as the anthropogenic global warming signal expected by the IPCC.

I have no idea what is going on here. Frank Wentz and Chelle Gentemann at Remote Sensing Systems have been very careful about tracking the accuracy of the AMSR-E SST retrievals with millions of buoy measurements. I checked their daily statistics they post at their website and I don’t see anything like what is shown in the above figure.

Is it possible that the NCDC SST temperature dataset has been understating recent warming? I don’t know…I’m mystified. Maybe Frank, Chelle, Phil Jones, or some enterprising blogger out there can figure this one out.

UPDATE #1 (8/22/09)
Here’s the trend differences between the satellite and in-situ data, broken out by calendar month. The problem seems to be mainly a Northern Hemisphere warm season phenomenon.


UPDATE#2 (8/23/09)
Anthony Watts has suggested that the radio frequency interference (RFI) that we see in the AMSR-E 6.9 GHz data over land might be gradually invading the ocean as more boats install various kinds of microwave transmitters. While it’s hard for me to believe such an effect could be this strong (we have never seen obvious evidence of oceanic RFI before), this is still an interesting hypothesis, so this week I will examine the daily 1/4 deg. grids of AMSR-E SST and compute a spatial “speckle” statistic to see if there is any evidence of this kind of interference increasing over time. I should note that we HAVE seen more RFI reflected off the ocean from geostationary TV communication satellites in the AMSR-E data in recent years. (Roy W. Spencer)


SOHO back online: Sun still blank

It’s difficult sometimes to carry on a blog when the primary focus of your discussion doesn’t do anything. That’s the nature of solar minima, I guess, but particularly true when you have an apparent regime change in the solar cycle.

The latest news is that SOHO is back online after a glitch forced the software onboard to be reloaded with new commands, and mission controllers took an opportunity to bake all of the CCDs onboard the spacecraft to remove dead pixels.

Today the Sun is blank.


This image from the EIT (Extreme ultra-violet Imaging Telescope) at 195 Angstroms show no spots and no significant coronal holes.


Confirmed! Orbital Cycles Control Ice Ages

While the IPCC and global warming alarmists continue to claim climate change is controlled by atmospheric CO2 levels, most knowledgeable scientists will tell you that climate change is caused by variation in Earth's orbit and orientation. These periodic changes in movement and attitude are called the Milankovitch Cycles. A new paper, to be published in Science, confirms that glacial terminations are caused by Earth's orbital cycles, not carbon dioxide.

There are three components that comprise the Milankovitch Cycles: Orbital Eccentricity, Axial Obliquity, and Precession of the Equinoxes. The cycles are named for Milutin Milankovitch, a Serbian engineer, who mathematically theorized that variations in these three orbital parameters determine climatic patterns on Earth. Milankovitch's work, which was done in the mid-20th century, was hindered by the need to calculate orbital data by hand. Because of some inaccuracies in his results, the theory was not accepted by the scientific main stream until later revisions by Wally Broecker and J. van Donk. In 1970, they published a paper that detailed temperature changes going back 400,000 years and resolved a number of the apparent discrepancies in Milankovitch's theory. From their work it became widely accepted that orbital cycles cause the glacial-interglacial cycles that have governed ice age conditions over the last few million years.

Earth's orbit goes from measurably elliptical to nearly circular in a cycle that takes around 100,000 years. Presently, Earth is in a period of low eccentricity, about 3%. This causes a seasonal change in solar energy of 7%. The difference between summer and winter is a 7% difference in the energy a hemisphere receives from the Sun. When Earth's orbital eccentricity is at its peak (~9%), seasonal variation reaches 20-30%. Additionally, a more eccentric orbit will change the length of seasons in each hemisphere by changing the length of time between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Variation in Axial Obliquity, Orbital Eccentricity, and Polar Precession. NOAA.

The variation in eccentricity doesn't change regularly over time, like a sine wave. This is because Earth's orbit is affected by the gravitational attraction of the other planets in the solar system. There are two major cycles; one every 100,000 years and a weaker one every 413,000 years.

The second Milankovitch cycle involves changes in obliquity, or tilt, of Earth's axis. Presently Earth's tilt is 23.5°, but the 41,000 year cycle varies from 22.1° to 24.5°. This tilt is depicted in the upper-left panel of the illustration above. The smaller the tilt, the less seasonal variation there is between summer and winter at middle and high latitudes. For small tilt angles, the winters tend to be milder and the summers cooler. Cool summer temperatures are thought more important than cold winters for the growth of continental ice sheets. This implies that smaller tilt angles lead to more glaciation.

The third cycle is due to precession of the spin axis. As a result of a wobble in Earth's spin, the orientation of Earth in relation to its orbital position changes. This occurs because Earth, as it spins, bulges slightly at its equator. The equator is not in the same plane as the orbits of Earth and other objects in the solar system, as shown in the illustration below.

Precession of Earth's axis of rotation.

The gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the equatorial bulge tries to bring Earth's spin axis into perpendicular alignment with the orbital plane. Earth's rotation is counter clockwise; gravitational forces make Earth's rotational axis move clockwise in a circle around its orbital axis. This is called precession of the equinoxes because, over time, the retrograde axial rotation causes the seasons to shift.

Until recently, variations in the intensity of high-latitude Northern Hemisphere summer insolation, driven largely by precession, were widely thought to control the timing of glacial terminations. However, it has been suggested that changes in Earth’s obliquity may be a more important mechanism. According to the paper by R. N. Drysdale et al., “Our record reveals that Terminations I and II are separated by three obliquity cycles and that they started at near-identical obliquity phases.”

During the Late Pleistocene, the period of glacial-to-interglacial transitions (or ‘terminations’) has increased when compared to the Early Pleistocene. The length of the cold glacial periods shifted from ~40,000 years to ~100,000 years in length some 700,000 years ago. Why this change took place is still a matter of debate, though we know that CO2 levels did not cause the change (see “Change In Ice Ages Not Caused By CO2”). Although many different explanations have been proposed for the shift, the most widely accepted one invokes changes in the intensity of high-latitude Northern Hemisphere summer insolation (NHSI). These changes were thought to be primarily driven by precession, which produces relatively large seasonal and hemispheric insolation variation.

The new work by Drysdale et al. claims that obliquity, not precession, is the proximate cause of glacial terminations. Moreover, based on a detailed study of the last two terminations (T-I and T-II), it was found that glacials can span multiple obliquity cycles. The researchers make the case for obliquity as the forcing mechanism:

Based on our results, both T-I and T-II commence at the same phase of obliquity and the period between them is exactly equivalent to three obliquity cycles (~123 ky). Obliquity is clearly very important during the Early Pleistocene, and recently a compelling argument has been advanced that Late Pleistocene terminations are also forced by obliquity, but that they bridge multiple obliquity cycles. Under this model, predominantly obliquity-driven total summer energy is considered more important in forcing terminations than the classical precession-based peak summer insolation model, primarily because the length of summer decreases as the Earth moves closer to the sun.

Timing of the Termination II was established by matching a uranium–thorium (U–Th) chronology derived from a high-resolution speleothem δ18O time series to the T-II marine sediment record from the Iberian margin in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. A speleothem is a secondary mineral deposit formed in caves. The figure below, taken from the paper's preprint online, compares timing, insolation and obliquity data for the two terminations.

Figure 3 from Drysdale et al., Science express 13 Aug 2009.

Shown above is a comparison of the benthic δ18O record through T-I (orange crosses; plotted on the upper timescale) and T-II (black crosses; plotted on the lower timescale), showing similarities in the duration of both terminations. Southern Hemisphere summer insolation at 65°S (blue) and obliquity curves (red) for T-I (dashed lines) and T-II (solid lines), and obliquity. The gray vertical bar marks the commencement points for both terminations, revealing an age difference of ~123,000 years, which is equivalent to three obliquity cycles of ~41,000 years each. As the author's put it: “Our record reveals that Terminations I and II are separated by three obliquity cycles and that they started at near-identical obliquity phases.”

What this means is that another nail has been put into the coffin of carbon dioxide as the primary driver of climate change. While the earlier paper by Hönisch et al. showed that CO2 could not be the driver of glacial-interglacial transitions (again see “Change In Ice Ages Not Caused By CO2”), this paper shows that change in obliquity is the probable trigger for the onset of global warming. Indeed, obliquity also nicely matches the previous ~40,000 year glacial-interglacial cycle that had been dominant prior to ~700,000 years ago.

As we discussed in The Resilient Earth, the major drivers of long-term, medium-term, and short-term cycles all seem to have extraterrestrial origins. Henrik Svensmark's recent paper confirming the linkage between galactic cosmic rays and low level cloud formation provides a mechanism for both long-term climate cycles, those acting over tens of millions of years, and short-term decadal variations. By tracking the water content of low clouds following solar coronal mass ejections a causal link is established. According to Svensmark et al, “a link between the sun, cosmic rays, aerosols, and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale.”

The Sun's activity moderates cosmic rays, influencing Earth's climate.

That linkage allows cosmoclimatology, as framed by Svensmark and expanded on by Nir Shaviv and Jan Veizer, to explain long term trends as the passage of the solar system through the arms of the Milky Way galaxy. The same mechanism links solar activity on the decadal scale to events like the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Now the cause of middle-term changes, like the glacial-interglacial cycles, can be confidently attributed to changes in Earth's orbital cycles, perhaps with an assist from solar variation. Throw in some random events, like meteor strikes, near by supernovae and volcanic eruptions, and there remains no role for CO2 as a driver of terrestrial climate.

Yet the global warming doomsayers and climate change catastrophists continue to spout their nonsense, threatening the world with plague, famine and destruction. They claim it is time for action and I agree—we need to disband the IPCC and redirect its funding toward solving the world's real problems. Earth's climate is driven primarily by extraterrestrial events: supernovae, cosmic rays and orbital dynamics. It seems the Bard got it wrong—when it comes to global warming the fault is not in ourselves, but in our stars.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


Comments On An E-mail Exchange With James Annan

James Annan and I have been exchanging e-mails over the weekend, and while he clearly is misunderstanding the focus of the papers,

Pielke Sr., R.A., and T. Matsui, 2005: Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same?Geophys. Res. Letts., 32, No. 21, L21813, 10.1029/2005GL024407

Lin, X., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, K.C. Crawford, M. A. Shafer, and T. Matsui, 2007: An examination of 1997-2007 surface layer temperature trends at two heights in Oklahoma. Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, L24705, doi:10.1029/2007GL031652.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere.J. Geophys. Res., in press.

the fact that he is engaging in more-or-lessconstructive debate is encouraging.

I have posted below my edited latest reply to James, as the information should be useful to those have been misled by James’s and Gavin Schmidt’s posts on our paper [James still concludes this is only about the radiative forcing of CO2; James's statement in the comments that "At least it now seems fairly clear from the recent distraction tactics (eg belatedly trying to convolute the effect of different atmospheric states with that of anthropogenic forcing) that he realises his error" still emphasizes his missing the point on our papers].

Here is my latest e-mail.  With James permission, I would post his also.

E-Mail to James Annan August 23 2009


 I do not reject the figure by Woods. That figure presents the instantaneous radiative flux divergences for the specific vertical profiles used in that analysis. However, it does not have the time integration that would result in the development of a stable boundary layer near the surface.

 To more closely illustrate the actual issue in our papers, as one example, we compute vertical heating rates all of the time in our modeling. As an easily accessible sample, see Fig 8-6 in my modeling book [Mesoscale MeterologicalModeling, 2nd Ed. 2002] for a location in Australia. The rate of cooling is about 0.18K per hour with the largest cooling near the surface. At 1.5 km, it is about an order of magnitude smaller. An alteration in the vertical distribution of this heating will necessarily alter the minimum temperature at 2m.

 What I see is the issue is that you are fixated on the radiative effect of doubled CO2. I agree with you that it is a much smaller effect than other influences on changing the vertical distribution of the heating.  In the Eastman et al 2001 paper , see Figure 8. These results present an integrated analysis of the effect on the vertical distribution of heating on minimum temperatures where both radiative flux divergence and vertical divergence of turbulent heat fluxes are included.

 The radiative effect of CO2 on the minimum temperature is an inconsequential -0.017 C, but it does have an effect. The biogeochemical effect (which alters stomatal conductance and the growth of leaf area and roots during the period of the simulation) is +0.097 C and the land use change is +0.261 C. The later two are significant. Both of the later, we attribute to the addition of water vapor into the atmosphere [and its effect on the vertical profile of the long wave radiative flux divergence] as a result of the greater leaf area.

 Thus the focus on the radiative effect of doubled CO2, which was presented in P&M as just one example of what could alter 2m temperatures, is a diversion from the focus of our paper. Anything which alters the vertical distribution of heating will alter the temperatures at 2m. If the alteration is systematic over years, it will result in a bias in the interpretation of the 2m temperature trends (anomalies) as moving in tandem with the trends (anomalies) higher up.

 I invite you to comment on the core of the three papers [P&M; Lin et al; and Klotzbach et al] instead of the peripheral discussion of TOA and surface radiative heating from the doubling of CO2. The core issue is

“Our results also indicate that the 1.5 or 2 m minimum long term temperature trends over land are not the same as the minimum long term temperatures at other heights within the surface boundary layer (e.g. 9 m), even over relatively flat landscapes such as Oklahoma. For landscapes with more terrain relief, this difference is expected to be even larger.

Therefore, the use of minimum temperatures at 1.5 or 2 m for interpreting climate system heat change is not appropriate. This means that the 1.5 to 2 m observations of minimum temperatures that are used as part of the analysis to assess climate system heat changes (e.g., such as used to construct Figure SPM-3 of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [2007] and of Parker [2004, 2006] study) lead to a greater long term temperature trend than would be found if higher heights within the surface boundary layer were used.”

Your comments on the above conclusion would be where the focus of your weblogs are. If you disagree, discuss why. 

 You are using the discussion of the role of the radiative effect of added CO2 in  directly altering the surface fluxes as an way to divert attention from the actual conclusions of our paper. Indeed, if we accept your interpretation that the direct radiative effect of doubled CO2 is so small, yet the other effects, such as lnad use change are so much more important even at short time periods, we should take away the message that there is much more to climate change than just changes in the radiative top of the atmosphere forcing due to added CO2. (Climate Science)


Does Gavin Schmidt Understand Boundary Layer Physics?

I want to thank Bryan Sralla for alerting me to the comment by Gavin Schmidt on Real Climate  regarding  our papers 

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., in press


Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, B. Baker, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A. Carleton, A. Beltran-Przekurat, T. Chase, A.I. Quintanar, J.O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Conner, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D.R. Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O.W. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V.G. Anantharaj, S. Fall,R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H.-I. Chang, R. Leeper, U.S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, and J. Syktus, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover change on climate and future research priorities. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., in press.

The questions on Real Climate by Paul Klemencic and Gavin’s comment are reproduced below along with my responses.


Paul Klemencic says: 20 August 2009 at 12:40 AM

Paul Klemencic Question #1: Since this post was set up to discuss how to critique a scientific paper, I wonder whether an example from a paper currently in publication might be interesting. The paper accepted by Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society is “Impacts of Land Use Land Cover Change on Climate and Future Research Priorities” by Rezaul Mahmood, Roger Pielke Sr., et. al. A copy of the paper is here:

One of the key findings seems to summarized in this passage:

“The stable nocturnal boundary layer does not measure the heat content in a large part of the atmosphere where the greenhouse signal should be the largest (Lin et al. 2007; Pielke et al. 2007a). Because of nonlinearities in some parameters of the stable boundary layer (McNider et al. 1995), minimum temperature is highly sensitive to slight changes in cloud cover, greenhouse gases, and other radiative forcings. However, this sensitivity is reflective of a change in the turbulent state of the atmosphere and a redistribution of heat not a change in the heat content of the atmosphere (Walters et al. 2007). Using the Lin et al. (2007) observational results, a conservative estimate of the warm bias resulting from measuring the temperature from a single level near the ground is around 0.21°C per decade (with the nighttime minimum temperature contributing a large part of this bias). Since land covers about 29% of the Earth’s surface, extrapolating this warm bias could explain about 30% of the IPCC estimate of global warming. In other words, consideration of the bias in temperature could reduce the IPCC trend to about 0.14°C per decade; still a warming, but not as large as indicated by the IPCC. ”

A couple of quick questions on this result:

1. Is it fair to conclude that every one of the very large number of temperature measurements made on the land would be impacted by a surface boundary layer? Can a direct linear extrapolation be used to estimate the warming bias, as was done in this paper?

[Gavin Schmidt Response: As is being discussed in a number of places, there is a strong possibility of misunderstanding these statements. Changes in the BL structure for whatever reason do not cause the surface temperature trend to be wrong in any respect. If however you wanted to calculate the total heat content trend of the atmosphere (something which has not heretofore been a big requirement), thenyou would want to take the vertical profile changes into account (and not just in the boundary layer). If however, you are trying to compare observed surface trends to a model then you'd not have to make any corrections since a perfect model would have exactly this same behaviour. - gavin]

Roger A. Pielke Sr. Comment:

Our papers do not indicate that the measurement of the temperature is incorrect. It is the interpretation of the 2m temperatures in terms of the heat content trend above the surface that is the issue. Gavin actually agrees with this perspective, but then ignores its significance.  The use of a global average surface temperature trend to diagnose climate system heat changes introduces a bias in the magnitude of the heat changes.  The GISS communication of a global average surface temperature trend, as a surrogate to describe global warming is quantitatively flawed (e.g. see and see for how the global average surface temperature trend is linked to  climate system heat changes [global warming]).

Paul Klemencic Question #2:

2. It appears that correcting the land reading by the large warm bias in this report would wipe out almost all of the land warming trend. If so, is a stable or cooling land surface trend consistent with satellite measurements over the continents showing warming of the lower and mid-level troposphere?

[Gavin Schmidt Response:This is not evidence that the land surface trend needs to be adjusted if you are comparing like with like. There is plenty of reasons to expect the land surface trend to be faster than the ocean trends - just as is observed. - gavin]

Roger A. Pielke Sr. Comment: Gavin shows that he does not understand the issue raised in the text from the Mahmood et al paper.  There is a significant bias in the use of 2m minimum temperatures as a diagnostic for deeper atmospheric temperature trends and anomalies.  I can only imagine that Gavin superficially read our papers, if he read them at al.  He does clearly inadequately understand boundary layer dynamics.

Paul Klemencic Question #3:

3. The paper seems to conclude that much of the warming bias is due to heat generated from man’s activities other than the GHG forcing. Is the heat released from mankind’s activities enough to explain the warming bias of 0.21 K per decade?

[Gavin Schmidt Response:Really? First off, this isn't evidence that there is a bias in the surface temperature trends. Secondly, I don't think this is related to the direct output of waste heat into the atmosphere. This might be locally important in some regions, but as a global effect (or even just a land effect) it is a couple of orders magnitude smaller than the impact of increased CO2 on the forcing. - gavin]

Roger A. Pielke Sr. Comment: Here Paul Klemencic misinterprets the papers.  While waste heat certainly is another effect that will alter the minimum temperatures, the issue we raise occurs whenever there are stably surface boundary layers. This typically occurs everywhere at night (particularly on clear and light wind nights) and in the high latitudes in the winter.  This happens even in pristine landscapes. Gavin Schmidt, by not reading the papers, or as a result of his lack of knowledge regarding boundary layer dynamics, did not accurately reply to Paul’s question.

Final Paul Klemencic Comment

If you would prefer to defer addressing this issue and answering these questions at this time, I will understand.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. Comment:  Gavin Schmidt should have invited me (or one of our other co-authors to respond). Clearly, however, despite clear evidence of his inadequate lack of knowledge of boundary layer physics, he elected to be the authority on our research papers.  This just further documents that Real Climate does not present balanced viewpoints on research papers, but uses misinformation to seek to discredit them. This is a pity, since Gavin Schmidt, if he would educate himself on the issues we raise, could contribute significantly to a constructive discussion of our papers. So far, he has not done so. (Climate Science)


Major Errors In James Annan’s Post “Pielke and Matsui (2005) revisited”

UPDATE: James made this new claim on his weblog titled PM05 resolved (see his comment linked to one of my weblogs in the last paragraph of his post).


The change in heating rate in those plots is much less than 0.05K/day near the surface, probably 0.01K/day (green curve = relevant to the real world). How do you reconcile this with the change in heating rate of about 0.1K PER HOUR that you used in your calculations?

The classic book The Climate Near the Ground by Geiger et al (reprinted most recently in 2009) illustrates the error in James’s statement.  On page 124,  for example, they report changes of at least 0.1C  PER HOUR, and often more, as a result of changes in vertical stratification and surface characteristics. The sensitivity of the 2m  temperatures to the overlying thermodynamic stability, intensity of turbulent mixing, and surface fluxes is illustrated even in this early study.  The authors discuss atmospheric moisture and cloud cover effects elsewhere in their excellent book. I recommend that James read this text to update himself on the surface boundary layer and for an explanation of the physics of minimum temperatures that occur overnight.


James Annan has posted on his weblog  “Pielke and Matsui (2005) revisited”. In it, he perpetuates his misunderstanding of that paper, as well as its role in defining the issue that is examined further in Lin et al 2007 and Klotzbach et al 2009.

His errors start with his text [where he is referring to

Pielke Sr., R.A., and T. Matsui, 2005: Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same?Geophys. Res. Letts., 32, No. 21, L21813, 10.1029/2005GL024407]

“In all this work, they apply the radiative cooling at the surface, even though they explicitly portray this forcing as being representative of the effect that arises from a change in GHG concentrations. Standard climate theory holds that the radiative forcing is applied the top of the atmosphere – indeed this is the level at which the forcing is defined. It is simply wrong to claim that a doubling of CO2 will generate a forcing of 3.7Wm-2 at the surface, for example.”

What we actually wrote is

“……if the nocturnal boundary layer heat fluxes change over time, the trends of temperature under light winds in the surface layer will be a function of height, and that the same trends of temperature will not occur in the surface layer on windy and light wind nights.”

The addition of CO2 was presented as just one example of how the nocturnal boundary layer fluxes can change over time.  Other examples, include changes in atmospheric water vapor content, cloudiness , and alterations in the surface heat fluxes due to landscape change.

He clearly further illustrates his misunderstanding of this issue as he wrote

“Thus, a large increase in GHGs generates a warming rate of about 0.04K per day across the boundary layer, as compared to the Pielkian ~1K over a single night (depending on wind speed).”

We never stated that there would be a 1K change across the boundary layer. He has completely  misrepresented our paper. 

 The 1K change is concentrated near the surface (e.g. 2m).  Figure 1 in

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229

provides a real world example of how the nocturnal boundary layer cools during the night.

With respect to the actual changes in surface heat fluxes due to a doubling of CO2, this  is discussed on my weblog at

Relative Roles of CO2 and Water Vapor in Radiative Forcing).

Further Analysis Of Radiative Forcing By Norm Woods

where the instantaneous simulated flux change from a doubling of CO2 is on the order of 1 Watt per meter squared, as we used in Pielke and Matsui paper. However, it does not matter in our analysis,, what the reason for a change in the cooling rate of 1 Watt per meter squared is.

He also writes

“The startling impact of this odd application of “bottom of the atmosphere” forcing is apparent from their Table 1. A change in this “forcing” of a mere 1Wm-2 leads to a temperature difference of a whopping 1.5C (at the 2m level) over a single calm night! This is the simple result of applying 1Wm-2 of cooling to the fairly shallow layer at the bottom of the atmosphere, which has relatively low heat capacity due to its shallowness.”

He actually recognizes the issue (the cooling effect is concentrated in a fairly shallow layer), but does not see its significance!

The 1.5C temperature difference that he lists results from the manner in which  cooling is vertically distributed in the surface boundary layer.  With stronger winds, for example, this heating is distributed through a deeper layer.

What we have explored in the Pielke and Matsui (2005), Lin et al (2007) and Klotzbach et al (2009) papers is summarized as follows:

1.  A global average surface temperature trend is used to diagnose the magnitude of global warming.  This is clearly shown in the equation (from NRC, 2005)

dH/dt = f – T’/λ  

where H is the heat content in Joules of the climate system, f is the radiative forcing at the top of the tropopause, T’ is the change in surface temperature in response to a change in heat content, and λ is the climate feedback parameter. Equation (1) above is a thermodynamic proxy for the thermodynamic state of the Earth system; as such, it must be tightly coupled to that
thermodynamic state, as we wrote in our 2007 JGR paper

2. T’ is computed from the equation

T’ = [T' (over the ocean) *  area of the ocean + T' (over land) * area of the land]/[area of the Earth's surface].

3. T’(over land) = [T' (maximum) + T' (minimum)]/2

4.  T’ is supposed to be monitored at a standard height (e.g. 2m); if it is not, this introduces another bias, but for this discussion, I will assume that all of the land measurements are at 2m.

5. Our papers show that whenever the boundary layer is stably stratified, any alteration in the cooling rate (for any reason), results in a greater temperature change in T’ at 2m than would occur higher up.

6. This means that these values of T’ (from the 2m height) are NOT an appropriate thermodynamic proxy for the thermodynamic state of the Earth system. Values of of temperature anomalies used to calculate  T’ when the atmosphere is stably stratified are not tightly coupled to the thermodynamic state of the global climate system. 

6. Using observed data from Lin et al 2007,  we report (see) that

“[T]he monitoring (and predicting with multi-decadal global models) the temperature at a single level over land near the surface, as representative of deeper layer temperature trends that are positive, introduces a significant warm biasUntil further analysis is completed using temperature trend data at two or more levels near the surface, the best estimate that we have is that this warm bias  explains about 30%of the IPCC estimate of global warming [based on a global average surface temperature trend].”

As a final comment, I have worked with James Annan in the past (see). I would be disappointed if he now has decided join the group (such as we see on Real Climate) who inaccurately discuss research papers  in order to discredit them. (Climate Science)


Guest Weblog By Kiminori Itoh “Soot And The Arctic Ice – A Win-Win Policy Based On Chinese Coal Fired Power Plants”

Kiminori Itoh of Yokohama National University has prepared a guest weblog for us. It is titled “Soot And The Arctic Ice – A Win-Win Policy Based On Chinese Coal Fired Power Plants” [UPDATE: see also Mike Smith's Guest Weblog on this subject]


As you saw in a recent weblog in Climate Science, China appears to be modifying the global climate through aerosol emission from a large number of coal fired power plants: August 12, 2009, New Paper “Increase In Background Stratospheric Aerosol Observed With Lidar” By Hofmann Et Al 2009.  This paper gave me an idea that soot from China may be responsible for the recent reduction of the Arctic ice, which finally leads me to a Win-Win policy on coal fired power plants in China, as you see below.

The target of the paper of Hofmann et al was  sulfate aerosol transported into stratosphere. Thus, its main effect on the global climate is cooling of the troposphere and warming of  the stratosphere similar to volcanic eruptions. In fact, this paper was introduced in Science (24 July 2009, p. 373) with the title of “China’s Human Volcano.”

The Chinese aerosol, however, can have another effect on the climate. That is, a possible influence of soot on the Arctic ice. It seems to me that Hofmann et al.’s paper, together with other recent findings, gives evidence for this possibility as follows:

1) Hofmann et al’s paper shows that stratospheric haze became densest in 2007 and declined a little after that. According to their claim, this is associated with the changes in sulfate emissions from China. This fact reminds me that the ice extent in the Arctic sea was significantly reduced in the 2007 summer and recovered after that. Since the amount soot should be proportional to that of sulfate, also the amount soot transported to the Arctic may have a peak in 2007, and may explain the dramatic reduction of the sea ice extent; the soot deposited onto the ice surfaces absorbs sun light of Arctic summer, gives heat to the ice, and lets it melt. This process should be particularly effective during summer of the Arctic when the sun does not set.

2) About half of the recent temperature increase in the Arctic region is reportedly due to aerosols (combination effects of sulfate and soot) (D. Shindell and G. Faluvegi, Nature Geosci. 2, 294-300 (2009)); this result convinces one that the influence of soot on the Arctic environment does exist.

3) There are other recent papers on soot: e. g., “Atmospheric brown clouds: Hemispherical and regional variations in long-range transport, absorption, and radiative forcing,” V. Ramanathan et al., J. Geophys. Res. vol. 112, D22S21, doi:10.1029/2006JD008124, 2007.

From these results, I suspect that the soot from China is responsible for the recent reduction of sea ice in the Arctic summer. To verify this, detailed chemical analyses, such as carbon allotropes, should be made if the soot can be sampled from the ice (this may be an interesting project).

Thus, I can claim that the influence of the soot is likely large. Then, according to the spirit of the precautionary principle, the soot from China should be reduced even if  the scientific basis is not sufficient. The precautionary principle should be applied not just to CO2, but to other primary factors of climate changes. If this is not possible just because there is no statement on soot in the FCCC (Framework of Convention of Climate Change), we need another convention (or protocol) which enables us to treat soot properly. Otherwise, countermeasures on climate change will be useless.

Now, I want to point out that the reduction of the Chinese soot can become a Win-Win policy for China as well as for other countries. About 80% of the Chinese electricity comes from coal fired power plants. The CO2 emission from China in 2004 was about 2.27 billion metric tons, which was 8.6% of the world emissions (26.3 billion metric tons). But, their efficiency of energy production is still low (34.6% as an average), and emissions other than CO2 and aerosol (i. e., mainly SOx, NOx and mercury) bring heavy health problems as well. In fact, resultant atmospheric pollution causes 300 thousands to 400 thousands of deaths a year.

If countries like Japan, which has advanced technologies of coal fired power plants (e. g., energy production efficiency being 41.1% in Japan), can cooperate with China to increase the efficiency of energy production and to decrease all kinds of emissions, this will become a true Win-Win policy. China can save a lot of human lives and working hours, can reduce the influence of the aerosol on the global climate, and in addition, can reduce CO2 emission. The other countries also benefit from this policy, including economical ones and a reduction of transboundary pollution.

This Win-Win policy actually will reduce the emission of CO2. Just from this aspect, it is much better than the cap-and-trade policy which in fact will increase the CO2 emissions. Moreover, and importantly, when considering a large capacity of coal reserves, this is a reasonable tactics in near future.

With this kind of Win-Win policies, developing countries like China can agree with developed countries on their energy policies. There will be no progress in the negotiation between them if the developing countries can participate in the climate policies only through the reduction of CO2. We need flexible approaches for complicated issues like the climate changes. (Climate Science)


Why Future Net Negative Impacts of Global Warming Are Overestimated: Response to Conor Clarke, Part IV

This post responds to the last of Conor Clarke’s comments on my study, “What to Do About Global Warming,” published by Cato. This series started with the imaginatively titled, Response to Conor Clarke Part I, and continued with Cherry Picking Climate Catastrophes and  Do Industrialized Countries Have a Responsibility for the Well-Being of Developing Nations?

CONOR said:

I think Goklany is a bit picky and choosey with the evidence. … I also like the Goklany paper a lot. [THANK YOU!! I'll take whatever I get.] But in this case it’s hard to resist. [Emphasis in original.]

To take one example (of several), Goklany’s hunger estimates rely heavily on those published by Global Environmental Change (GEC), which he uses to make the argument that “the world will be better off in 2085 with respect to hunger than it was in 1990 despite any increase in population.” But the GEC produced two estimates of hunger and climate change — one that assumes the benefits of CO2 fertilization and one that does not. Goklany picks the former estimate (I have no idea why), despite the fact the GEC says the effects of climate change “will fall somewhere between” the two. … [I}f you embrace anything other than the most Pollyanish CO2 fertilization estimate -- the one that Goklany uses in his Cato paper -- we will be living in a world in which climate change puts tens of millions of additional people at risk of starvation by 2085.


First, let me elaborate on my selection of the set of studies that I used in my paper.  Essentially, the selected set of studies (published in Global Environmental Change) was the only one that had estimated global impacts using detailed process models in conjunction with the IPCC’s latest scenarios, and were peer reviewed.  Moreover, they come with a provenance that people who may be unhappy with my results cannot impugn. [This is important only because many people arguing about global warming seem to be more concerned about who did the study and whether the results bolster their predilections, than how the study was done.]  Specifically, virtually all the authors were intimately connected with the IPCC. The senior author of the hunger study was also the co-chairman of the IPCC’s Work Group II, which was responsible for compiling the portion of the IPCC’s latest assessment that dealt with impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. The authors of the water resource and coastal flooding studies were the lead authors of corresponding chapters in that IPCC report. An earlier version of the same set of impact studies was the basis for the claim by Sir David King, erstwhile science advisor to Her Majesty’s Government, that global warming was a more serious threat than terrorism (see here). The Stern Review also drew quite heavily from these studies (see below).

Let’s now turn to Conor’s comments on the hunger study and why I assumed that the benefits of carbon fertilization would be realized in the future. Indeed, the hunger study (Parry et al.) produced two separate estimates — one assuming that carbon fertilization is a reality, and the other assuming zero carbon fertilization.  But the two estimates are not equally likely. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of experimental studies that show carbon fertilization is a reality (see also here), that higher CO2 not only increases the rate of photosynthesis, but also increases the efficiency of water use by plants (i.e., it confers a degree of immunity to drought), among the many other benefits CO2 bestows on plants and other carbon based life, including all creatures – big and small — in the biosphere that depend directly or indirectly on photosynthesis.  The probability that direct CO2 effects on crop growth are zero or negative is virtually non-existent (IPCC, 2001b: 254–256). Second, the positive effect of carbon fertilization was based on the average of experimental studies; it’s not an upper bound estimate. On the other hand, the notion of “zero fertilization” is an assumption not supported by the vast majority of empirical data. So averaging results from the two estimates makes no sense and would understate the average benefits that would likely result from carbon fertilization.

Notably, the Stern Review, invoked a study by Long et al. (subscription required) to estimate future levels of hunger based on “zero fertilization” using precisely the same study (Parry et al.) that I  – and Conor, in his comments — used. But Long et al.’s results have been disputed by other scientists (also see here), including some contributors to the IPCC’s assessment.  More importantly, Long et al. only suggested that under field conditions, carbon fertilization may be a third to less than half of what is indicated by experiments using growth chambers, not that it would be zero. It also noted that fertilization may be stronger under drought conditions or if sufficient nitrogen is employed. But drought is one of the bogeymen of global warming, and increased use of nitrogen is precisely the kind of adaptation that would become more affordable in the future as countries become wealthier, as they should if the IPCC’s scenarios are to be given any credence.  Indeed, that is one of the adaptations allowed in Parry et al. Also, the fact that crop yields are higher in richer countries is partly because they can more easily afford nitrogen fertilizers (see here, p. 78). In fact, China’s nitrogen use per hectare is already among the world’s highest. For all these reasons, even if one accepts the Long et al. study as gospel, it is reasonable to assume that the effect of carbon fertilization will be closer to the “higher” estimate from the Parry et al. study than to the “zero fertilization” case.

But, more importantly, the uncertainties related to the magnitude of the CO2 fertilization effect is most likely swamped by a major source of overestimation of hunger in Parry et al.’s estimates.

Although Parry et al. allows for some secular (time-dependent) increases in agricultural productivity, increases in crop yield with economic growth due to greater application of fertilizer and irrigation in richer countries, decreases in hunger due to economic growth, and for some adaptive responses at the farm level to deal with global warming, Parry et al. itself acknowledged that these adaptive responses are based on the “current range” of available technologies, not on technologies that would be available in the future or any technologies developed to specifically cope with the negative impacts of global warming (Parry et al., p. 57).  The potential for future technologies to cope with global warming is large, especially if one considers bioengineered crops (see here, chapter 9), which Parry et al. admittedly didn’t consider. Moreover, an examination of the sources cited in Parry et al. indicates that the “current range” of technology is actually based on 1990s or earlier technology. That is, it is not quite current.

The approach used in Parry et al. to estimate the impacts of global warming decades from now is, in essence, tantamount to estimating today’s level of hunger (and agricultural production) based on the technology of 50 years ago. In fact, the major reason why Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb turned out to be a dud was that it underestimated or ignored future developments in agricultural technology.

As noted in Part I of this series of responses, ignoring technological change can, over decades, lead to overestimating adverse impacts by orders of magnitude. Notably, due to a combination of technological change and increasing affluence, U.S. death rates due to various water related diseases – dysentery, typhoid, paratyphoid, other gastrointestinal disease, and malaria – declined by 99%–100% from 1900 to 1970.  For the same reasons, during the twentieth century, global death rates from extreme weather events declined by over 95%.

This basic methodological shortcoming, however, is not unique to Parry et al. It is common to ALL global warming impact studies that I have read – and I have read plenty of them.

For all these reasons, the adverse impacts of global warming for hunger (as well as other aspects of human well-being, e.g., due to malaria and coastal flooding) that I used in my paper are, more likely than not, substantially overestimated. And by the same token, ignoring technological change (and not fully accounting for increases in wealth) also assures that the positive impacts of global warming are likely to be underestimated, further overestimating the net negative impacts of global warming.

Therefore, far from being Pollyanish, the estimates used in my paper most likely substantially exaggerate the net negative impacts of global warming. Despite that, those estimates cannot justify emissions cuts that go beyond no-regret actions at this time or through the foreseeable future. (Indur Goklany, Cato at liberty)


Scepticism is good

Bjorn Lomborg, the bête noir of the environmentalist movement, is causing more controversy. He originally shot to fame (or notoriety, depending on your point of view) by questioning what he called the pessimistic 'litany' of environmentalism in his iconoclastic 2001 book The Skeptical Environmentalist. Having originally set his graduate students the task of pulling together the evidence to disprove the rather optimistic views on the environment of Julian Simon and others, he found that, in essence, Simons was right. This in itself is a powerful illustration of how an individual's opinion can be radically changed by hard evidence.

The book, which covered a range of environmental issues and quoted hard evidence to show that things might not seem as gloomy as we thought, brought him intense and very personal attacks. These included a series of highly critical articles in Scientific American, to which he was allowed only a single opportunity for rebuttal, and a case brought against him with the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty. This government-sponsored committee initially ruled at least partially against Lomborg's work, criticising him for fabrication of data, selective use of results and deliberate misinterpretation of others' results.

This critical verdict was overturned by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation on appeal, but opinion remains polarised between those who believe he has done an honest and useful job and those who remain critical. Truly objective assessment of any work on this scale is difficult; the reviewer inevitably has a point of view, which will colour his or her judgement of the importance (or not) of the errors or questionable interpretations inherent in such a wide-ranging book. Nevertheless, it is difficult not to conclude that The Skeptical Environmentalist came in for such attack in the first place because the author's scepticism itself was anathema to mainstream environmentalists, particularly as he was – at least until then – a committed Greenpeace member.

Lomborg has continued to court controversy by regularly publishing articles and books and by setting up and heading the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which runs projects which ask independent economists and others to prioritise spending on a range of environmental and other issues. His position is and remains one of agreement with the mainstream IPCC view of anthropogenic global warming. Where he differs is in the response, which he believes can be delayed until future generations have both the understanding and tools to address the problem effectively. Classical cost-benefit analysis, as practised by the Copenhagen Consensus economists, comes to the same conclusion: spend the money on things which benefit people now and leave future generations to handle the consequences of climate change.

Lomborg published a further book (Cool It) in 2007, in which he expanded on this thesis. For this and previous work, he has been labelled a 'denier', despite his public acceptance that global warming is real and largely manmade. It seems that any deviation is unacceptable: the heresy of not supporting the cause of urgent decarbonisation of the economy is as deplorable as questioning the belief that burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change.

So, he will not have pleased his critics by setting up a new Copenhagen Consensus project specifically on responses to climate change. A panel of economists will assess proposals (and critiques) for a range of options other than the mainstream policy approach of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Proposed solutions include carbon sequestration via forests, reduction of black carbon or methane and a range of geo-engineering options. It is the last of these which has been publicised recently, with Lomborg himself suggesting, for example, that spending a few billion dollars on a fleet of ships to cruise the oceans and spray seawater in the air could be both more effective and much better value than going down the route of global emission limits.

Lomborg may or may not be right. There is a significant body of sceptical opinion which would question his acceptance of the IPCC conclusions and the high climate sensitivity figures which go along with that. Equally, the view of the mainstream as represented by the IPCC that climate change can only be tackled effectively by radical decarbonisation of the world economy, starting as soon as possible, is even more at odds with his prescription for other routes, including geo-engineering solutions which many consider simply as "technical fixes".

But the point is that Lomborg and his co-workers are making well-argued and legitimate cases which deserve proper consideration. There may well be unforeseen problems with geo-engineering projects, but there are also very real concerns that a post-Kyoto agreement will prove to be both elusive and unworkable. The IPCC and many governments remain committed to such an agreement, implicitly accepting Nicholas Stern's argument for a zero discount rate

By this reckoning, the consequences of not fixing the problem of climate change properly are so catastrophic that the normal rules of economics simply do not apply. But there is no plan B. If the world successfully embarks on an escalating course of decarbonisation of energy generation, it may prove to have been a costly and unnecessary exercise, which would be difficult if not impossible to reverse and may itself have unforeseen consequences. Equally, if – as currently seems more likely – little if any progress is made in this direction before 2020 at the earliest, an opportunity will have been missed to invest in alternative approaches which could have been making a real contribution by that time. And, in the case of the shipping proposition, the sprays can be turned off if carbon dioxide turns out not to be as important as people think.

The difference is essentially one of philosophy, and it is extremely difficult to conceive of any meeting of minds when this is the case. But it is important to strive for objectivity in science, hard though that might be. Scepticism is important, but so is an understanding of alternative points of view. A sound argument is only strengthened by challenge, whereas refusal to engage with critics must surely raise questions in independent minds about the strength of evidence. Too often, criticisms are dismissed with ad hominem attacks rather than via a reasoned rebuttal. This only serves to further entrench polarised views.

Scepticism and rational argument are good. There is a place for all points of view, including those of Lomborg, who is at odds with both the IPCC and the majority of sceptics. We need more people with independent minds. (Scientific Alliance)


New Documentary Explores Human Cost of Global Warming Propaganda

Scientifically unsound claims about global warming are being used to seduce young students and to cajole lawmakers into accepting the legitimacy of regulatory schemes that restrict the use of fossils fuels, according to a new documentary.

The husband-wife team of Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney co-produced and directed “Not Evil, Just Wrong” in an effort to highlight the long history of “anti-human propaganda” that reaches back to the scientifically inaccurate claims made about DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) in Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring.” The same alarmist rhetoric is now being used to rationalize severe limits on carbon dioxide (Co2) emissions that could cripple modern economies, the filmmakers warn.

The documentary will premier 8 p.m. on October 18. The film is available for purchase online where “Cinematic Tea Parties” are already being organized. A special screening was held for supporters at the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) office in Washington D.C. Wednesday night.

“Carbon is the new DDT,” McAleer said in interview. “Environmentalists are pushing the same kind of anti-human propaganda that triggered the ban on DDT. Millions of children died of malaria because of this ban. The same kind of deception is now being used to target carbon dioxide. Industries that rely on fossil could be shut down and jobs lost thanks to all of the fear mongering and the disinformation that is not justified by science.” (Kevin Mooney, NewsBusters)


Global warming remains a theory

Since President Barack Obama has announced his energy policy and the U.S. House has passed a cap and trade bill, it's imperative that we understand what drives their decisions.

Of course it's the threat of global warming. Unfortunately, the president and Congress have been misled by Al Gore, the environmental movement and a compliant liberal media.

I find this particularly disturbing because Obama promised that his administration would rely on science rather than politics in making decisions. With the growing number of scientists who refute the theory that the Earth's temperature is driven by carbon dioxide -- more than 32,000 have signed a petition to that effect -- I would think that Obama and Congress would make every effort to review the science proving or disproving the theory.

Why have global warming advocates been so successful promoting their junk science? "Follow the money" is one answer. They have constantly accused deniers of being in the pockets of big oil or coal. (Capital Press)


Life thrives with warmth and carbon dioxide -- such a revelation: Climate change doubles tundra plant life, boosting shrubs, grasses

Climate change is already having a dramatic effect on plants in the High Arctic, turning the once rocky tundra a deep shade of green and creating what could be another mechanism speeding up global warming.

In a new study to be published in the November issue of the journal Ecology, University of British Columbia geographer Greg Henry has, for the first time, confirmed that rapidly rising temperatures in the Arctic are creating major changes in the plants that live there. (CP)


The Branch Carbonian Cult

The Global Warming Movement (AGW) has taken on the worrisome attributes of a pseudo-religious cult, which operates far more on the basis of an apocalyptic "belief" system than on objective climate science.

Since this worldwide Movement and its strident policies of Less Energy at Higher Prices (in order to achieve reductions in everyone's "carbon footprint") are at the heart of America's enormous energy shortfall, it poses a national security threat of major proportions.

And in this context, the AGW Crusade should be understood in a "Know Thy Enemy" frame of reference -- perhaps not in terms of a fully conscious or intentional enemy of the American people at a time of war and economic crisis but as a deadly threat to our economic stability and national security, nonetheless. (Jim Guirard, American Thinker)


Climate campaign creates carbon crimes

AMSTERDAM | Customs agents this week arrested nine people in the London area suspected of a multimillion-dollar fraud in trading carbon permits, bringing attention to a rich new field for crime sprung from the fight against climate change.

The arrest confirmed fears among law enforcement officers that swindlers - operating from the trading floors of Europe to the tropical forests of the Pacific - are being attracted to a market that has grown to more than $100 billion.

A few years ago, carbon dioxide, for most people, was just the breath you exhaled. Today it's more likely to be seen as a pollutant derived from fossil fuels that needs regulation, making permission to produce it a commodity that can be traded like gold, oil or hog futures.

Trade in CO2 permits has expanded exponentially since the European Union required thousands of industries to limit carbon emissions to specified targets. Industries exceeding their ceiling can buy credits from companies that have held their emissions below target, acting through commodities exchanges. The average price this year for a ton of carbon is about $15.

That carbon market will get a lot bigger if the U.S. Congress passes its own cap-and-trade bill, the central component of President Obama's climate and energy policies. (Associated Press)


Hope for Cap-and-Trade?

The Post asked politicians, academics and others whether the health-care debate has made it unlikely that climate change legislation will be passed in the near future. Below are contributions from Steven F. Hayward, Kenneth P. Green, James M. Inhofe, Geoff Garin, Tony Fratto, Steve Seidel, David G. Hawkins, Harold Ford Jr., Kay Baily Hutchison and Barbara Boxer. (Washington Post)


Demand for tariffs in global-warming legislation splits allies

Midwestern Democrats, who want duties placed on countries who don't limit greenhouse gas emissions, are at odds with Obama.

Reporting from Perrysburg, Ohio - A group of Midwestern Democrats is pushing for tariffs on products from countries that don't limit greenhouse gas emissions, a controversial step that the legislators say is needed to help American manufacturers survive expected emissions restrictions here.

The Democrats say the measure would level the playing field for U.S. factories, which will probably face increased energy costs due to global warming legislation backed by the Obama administration. The legislation narrowly passed in the House in June and is pending in the Senate.

The tariff demand has placed a group of often-reliable allies for President Obama -- including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and the newly installed Al Franken of Minnesota -- squarely at odds with the president, who has said that he doesn't want to send "protectionist" signals with the climate change bill. (LA Times)


Steven Chu, A Political Scientist

"What the U.S. and China do over the next decade," declared Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize – winning physicist who is leading President Obama's push for a clean-energy economy, "will determine the fate of the world."

Chu had gone to Beijing's Tsinghua University, the "MIT of China," to make his half-apocalyptic, half-optimistic pitch about climate change. In his nerdy professor style and referring to "Milankovitch cycles" and the "albedo effect" as well as melting glaciers and rising seas, Chu methodically explained that the science is clear, that we're boiling the planet - but also that science can save us, that we can innovate our way to sustainability. He acknowledged that the developed nations that made the mess can't tell the developing world not to develop, but he also warned that China is on track to emit more carbon in the next three decades than the U.S. has emitted in its history; that business as usual would intensify floods, droughts and heat waves in both countries; that greenhouse gases respect no borders. This earth, he concluded, is the only one we've got; it would be illogical and immoral to fry it. "Science has unambiguously shown that we're altering the destiny of our planet," he said. "Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren?" (Time)

Really? We'd call him a raving activist...


Quite open about wanting to continually screw you harder: Pass U.S. climate law, then strengthen: Waxman

SAN FRANCISCO - The United States can follow California's lead of raising climate change goals over time, a congressional leader on global warming initiatives said on Friday.

Representative Henry Waxman, the Democrat who navigated a climate change bill through the U.S. House of Representatives this year, urged his counterparts in the Senate to move quickly on its bill. (Reuters)


Yeah, disappointment all 'round... We believed Obama was going to tackle climate change. It isn't that easy

Barack Obama might be the most powerful man in the world, but he faces tough opposition from all sides over climate-change legislation (Eric Roston, The Observer)


Right in one respect: Agency warns current climate proposals won't work

BRUSSELS — Reversing global warming will cost up to $185 billion (euro130 billion) a year before 2020 and require more action by world governments than currently pledged, an international environmental analysis group said Thursday.

ClimateWorks Foundation said U.N. climate change talks would fail to reach a meaningful agreement with the proposals made so far, and that a new approach was needed. (Associated Press)

No amount of tweaking atmospheric carbon dioxide will have any measurable difference on global mean temperature -- it simply can not work as proposed. Not the first time we have pointed out this is all pain for absolutely no gain.


China Says Climate Talks Stymied By Political Interests - Report

BEIJING - Little progress has been made so far on a new pact to combat global warming, with "commercial and political interests" continuing to prevail, China's senior climate change official said on Monday. (Reuters)

We're good with that.


Um... no: Carbon targets may be too tough, says John Prescott - Emissions plan may have to be watered down to reach a deal, claims former deputy prime minister

Targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions may have to be watered down to get a deal at the critical Copenhagen climate summit, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott warns today.

Prescott, who brokered the Kyoto deal on climate change a decade ago and is heavily involved in the current negotiations, risked the wrath of green campaigners by saying it was time for a "plan B" if agreement could not be reached between the main parties.

That could involve accepting a longer timetable for cuts in carbon emissions that are supposed to be achieved by 2020 and then by 2050, he suggested, arguing that it was more important to get a deal "on the principles" of how high-carbon lifestyles are tackled worldwide.

"I am saying you had better start preparing in your minds for plan B as well as plan A," he said. "A lot of people fear that if you moved away from those targets you would get the NGOs screaming and shouting, 'you have sold out', but I had to ignore them to get the deal at Kyoto." (Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer)

Carbon control is not, was not and never will be a viable climate control strategy. If global warming should ever become a problem then you address it with something which can work and carbon constraint can never be part of any such solution.


Lord Adonis: We can cut greenhouse gas emissions without travelling less

Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, faced accusations of undermining the Government’s position on “green” taxes after saying it isn't necessary to tax people out of their cars and planes.

So-called environmental taxation is supposed to change people’s behaviour and make them consume less. But critics say ministers are using the environment as a cover for revenue-raising measures.

The Government raises billions of pounds every year from taxes levied on carbon-emitting activities including driving and flying, and is planning sharp rises in Air Passenger Duty. Ministers justify those taxes by saying they help cut emissions.

However Lord Adonis yesterday insisted “a hair-shirt approach” to climate change will not work. Forcing people to travel less will only turn voters against environmental policies, he said.


Running away, but oh so bravely: Climate-change chief turns away from Kyoto pact

AUSTRALIA'S chief climate change negotiator says a dramatic shift from the design of the Kyoto Protocol could be the best way to reach an international climate change agreement.

Louise Hand told the Herald yesterday that the ''world is very different'' from when the Kyoto Protocol was reached in 1997, allocating binding carbon emissions cuts to developed countries.

Australia is pushing what is known as a ''schedules approach'' in which countries nominate their emissions targets and reduction policies such as emissions trading. Countries would then be expected to report on their progress towards those targets.

Ms Hand said the schedules approach could be the best way to entice developing countries to adopt carbon mitigation methods in an international agreement to be negotiated in climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

Australia has made two official submissions to United Nations talks on the design of an international agreement backing the schedules model.

Australia went as far as to hold a summit before international climate talks in Germany last week to promote the scheme.

But the director of policy at the Climate Institute, Erwin Jackson, said yesterday the schedules approach, while having merit, had found few friends among big developing nations that wanted a Kyoto-style deal in which rich nations took on hard emissions reduction targets. (SMH)


Sensibly: Nationals vote against emissions bill

The National party has unanimously rejected the federal government's emissions trading scheme legislation at the party's annual council in Canberra today.

The motion was first on the agenda and has opened the way for a potential split between the coalition parties in the Senate when the vote on the ETS comes up again in November.

Prior to the council vote, outspoken Senator Barnaby Joyce said it was a most "dangerous scheme for regional Australia."

"The emissions trading scheme will do nothing to affect the climate of the globe," he told delegates at the council.

Senator Joyce said it would be an "insidious tax" which would "completely undermine the structure for which this country is built on".

Liberal MP Darren Chester, who seconded the motion, said if the unions were too gutless to stand up for regional Australia and country jobs, then it was up to the Nationals to do so.

The motion was passed unanimously by the more than 50 members present at the council. (SMH)


Nationals call to Malcolm Turnbull ETS rebels

THE Nationals have directly challenged Malcolm Turnbull's authority on climate change, boasting that Liberal MPs are beginning to back their blanket rejection of a carbon emissions trading system.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said yesterday that despite the Opposition Leader's efforts to negotiate with Kevin Rudd on emissions trading, Liberal MPs were telling him that they, like the Nationals, did not believe in an ETS.

Asked if the Nationals' advocacy was "bringing Liberals along", Senator Joyce said: "I think on this one we are. I think on this one the National Party are leading." (The Australian)


Oilsands not a problem after all: U.S. approves Alberta Clipper pipeline project

CALGARY, Alberta - The United States approved Enbridge Inc's $3.3 billion Alberta Clipper pipeline project on Thursday, granting the project, which will deliver Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, a presidential permit, and raising the ire of some environmental groups.

The U.S. State Department said that allowing construction of the 450,000 barrel per day line serves U.S. interests by adding secure oil supplies from outside the OPEC nations at a time when political tensions in some producing regions threaten to interfere with oil shipments.

"The department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States," it said in a statement.

The department also said construction of the line would create jobs for U.S. workers in what it called a difficult economic period.

Enbridge, which hopes to have the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) line up and running by mid-2010, said it expects to begin construction soon, creating more than 3,000 U.S. jobs.

"We're pleased we've reached this latest milestone and are in the process of mobilizing well over 3,000 workers and will begin construction within hours or days," said Denise Hamsher, a spokeswoman for Enbridge.

Most of the oil shipped on the line will come from Canadian oil sands producers, which have been under attack from some U.S. environmental groups and legislators for boosting greenhouse gas emissions because of expanding production in the oil sands -- a Florida-sized region of northern Alberta that contains the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.

The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements. (Reuters)


How to increase energy dependence: Waxman-Markey Climate Bill To Harm US Refining Industry -Study

HOUSTON -- Proposed federal legislation aimed at curbing global warming would drastically reduce domestic fuel production and could potentially double U.S. demand for imported oil products, says a new study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute as part of its effort to combat the landmark climate bill.

The report's findings, which are expected to be released Monday, project that by 2030, U.S. refining throughput could drop 17% from today's levels if the currently envisioned climate bill is enacted and widespread nuclear power, carbon-capture technologies and the use of international offsets fail to materialize.

The gap would be filled by foreign refiners and the U.S. would end up importing 19.4% of its fuel, twice as much as it would otherwise require in the absence of the climate law, said the study undertaken by Lexington, Mass., consultancy EnSys Energy for API, the U.S. oil industry's main trade group. (Dow Jones)


ND burns off natural gas due to lack of pipelines

BISMARCK, N.D. — Enough natural gas to heat every home in North Dakota through at least two brutal winters was burned off as an unmarketable byproduct in the state's oil patch in 2008, records obtained by The Associated Press show.

North Dakota produced a record 62.8 million barrels of oil last year, up nearly 18 million barrels from 2007. Natural gas, a byproduct of oil production, was pegged at 86 billion cubic feet - of which 26 billion cubic feet was "flared" because of the lack of collecting systems and pipelines needed to move it to market, said Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.

"Although natural gas creates much less revenue than oil, there is still a lot of value there," Helms said. "We don't want to see it go up in smoke."

Helms said "tens of millions of dollars" of natural gas pipelines are being planned for North Dakota, and capacity is being increased at three of the nine processing plants in the state. But it may take up to three years for the infrastructure to be built to process and ship natural gas from wells where it's now being flared, he said. (Associated Press)


A new energy frontier?

Energy experts say vast undersea reserves of natural gas hydrates may be more accessible than previously thought, potentially offering an important stopgap in the coming energy transition.

But unless the transition is handled adroitly, gas hydrates could set off a vicious circle of global warming - and there are already signs that the situation is heating up.

The promise of gas hydrates is highlighted this week in the journal Science: Ray Boswell, a researcher at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, recaps a string of pilot projects aimed at assessing what it would take to harvest undersea gas hydrates.

Gas hydrate deposits are a big deal because they are so widespread, and yet so mysterious: These undersea deposits form from methane and water at low temperatures and moderate pressures. The methane molecules are trapped within lattices of water molecules, but they can be released by raising the temperature or lowering the pressure.

Boswell cites estimates suggesting that 20 quadrillion cubic meters of methane could be trapped within global deposits. If all that methane could be extracted, it would provide enough natural gas to supply the United States at current levels for more than 30,000 years. (Cosmic Log)


Take a hike, Alphonse: European Union releases list of airlines that must limit emissions or face penalties

BRUSSELS — The European Union says nearly 4,000 airlines, business jet operators and air forces around the world must join its greenhouse gas emissions trading program by 2012 or be penalized when flying to EU countries.

The bloc's official gazette published Saturday the list of operators, including airlines such as Lufthansa, Alitalia, Quantas, KLM, Emirates, US Airways and United. Also listed are manufacturers Airbus and Dassault, hundreds of private business jet operators, the U.S. Navy and the air forces of Israel and Russia.

EU spokeswoman Katharina von Schnurbein says the aviation sector was included in 2008 in the EU CO2 trading program, and the new list is the next step in that plan.

Operators must submit plans for monitoring emissions by January 2010. (Canadian Press)


The dopey things greenhouse hysteria makes people do: A New, More CO2-Absorbent Algae Strain?

A California start-up, Aurora Biofuels, says it has cultivated algae that doubles production of biodiesel by absorbing more than twice as much carbon dioxide as conventional strains.

According to Robert Walsh, the chief executive of the company, Aurora’s breakthrough was to develop algae mutations that can ingest carbon dioxide regardless of the intensity of sunlight.

“Algae have a built-in mechanism to be effective at low light and as it gets brighter during the day their uptake of carbon dioxide levels off,” said Mr. Walsh. “We’ve been able to go in and alter strains by natural mutation to cause the algae to deal with light across the whole spectrum. The algae continue to uptake CO2 through brighter light and are more productive.”

He said Aurora has built a pilot facility “between a 7-Eleven and the beach” near Melbourne, Fla., and that for the past several months the new algae strains have been producing a gallon of biodiesel a day in an Olympic pool-sized pond. (Green Inc.)


Should Renewables Be ‘Made in the U.S.A.’?

Tax credits for renewable-energy equipment manufacturing became a reality last week, with the United States Energy and Treasury Departments officially launching a $2.3 billion program that the stimulus package authorized back in February.

The much-anticipated program offers tax credits that offset 30 percent of the cost of setting up factories in the United States. But as companies rush to submit preliminary applications by Sept. 16, the program also has sparked debate about whether subsidizing American manufacturing will ultimately pay off.

Does it make sense for the country to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars? Or will renewable-energy manufacturing – mirroring the electronics, semiconductor and car industries – only end up migrating to China and other countries? (Green Inc.)

Bigger question: should they be made at all?


Europe's Saharan power plan: miracle or mirage?

RABAT - A 400 billion euro plan to power Europe with Sahara sunlight is gaining momentum, even as critics see high risks in a large corporate project using young technology in north African countries with weak rule of law.

Desertec, as the initiative is called, would be the world's most ambitious solar power project. Fields of mirrors in the desert would gather solar rays to boil water, turning turbines to electrify a new carbon-free network linking Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Its supporters, a dozen finance and industrial firms mostly from Germany, say it will keep Europe at the forefront of the fight against climate change and help North African and European economies to grow within greenhouse gas emission limits.

Others warn of numerous pitfalls, including Maghreb politics, Saharan sandstorms and the risk to desert populations if their water is diverted to clean dust off solar mirrors.

They say the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology behind Desertec involves greater costs and risks than the fast-growing patchwork of smaller-scale photovoltaic cell installations that generate most of Europe's solar energy today.

Desertec's founders are lured by the fact that more energy falls on the world's deserts in six hours than the world consumes in a year. (Reuters)


New meter to crank up power bills

HOUSEHOLDS face an average $263-a-year leap in electricity bills with the installation of new smart meters that begins in 10 days' time.

A study by the St Vincent de Paul Society says that with smart meters changing billing from a flat rate to one based on the time of use, average bills will rise by 35 per cent, or about $263 a year. For pensioners, the increase will be even bigger - 42 per cent, or an extra $254 a year.

"Some customers will financially benefit while others will be penalised,'' says the report, to be released tomorrow. ''As electricity is most expensive during the day from Monday to Friday, households comprising people that are at work during the day are most likely to benefit.

On the other hand, households with young children at home, the unemployed and age pensioners [those at home during the day] are most likely to be financially worse off." (The Age)


Good luck guys: Climate change opens Arctic route for German ships

BERLIN - Two German ships set off on Friday on the first journey across Russia's Arctic-facing northern shore without the help of icebreakers after climate change helped opened the passage, the company said.

Niels Stolberg, president and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, said the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight" left the Russian port of Vladivostok on the historic and cost-saving journey with cargo picked up in South Korea bound for Holland.

The melting of Arctic ice as a result of climate change has made it possible to send Beluga's multi-purpose heavy lift ships along the legendary Northeast Passage, Stolberg said.

Beluga got Russian authorities' clearance to send the first non-Russian commercial vessels through the route on Friday.

The Northern Sea Route trims 4,000 nautical miles off the usual 11,000-mile journey via the Suez Canal -- yielding considerable savings in fuel costs and CO2 emissions, he said.

"Russian submarines and icebreakers have used the Northern Route in the past but it wasn't open for regular commercial shipping before now because there are many areas with thick ice," Stolberg told Reuters in an email interview.

"It was only last summer that satellite pictures revealed that the ice is melting and a small corridor opened which could enable commercial shipping through the Northeast Passage -- if all the circumstances were right and the requirements were met." (Reuters)


August 21, 2009


The sky is not falling … again

Once again, the biggest health story of the year has found that we are healthier and living longer than in the history of our country.

The latest vital statistics data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics was just released. It is based on statistics representing 91 percent of the demographic file and 87 percent of medical records for all deaths in the United States in 2007. This data is compiled each year to guide public health resources.

Just like last year, life expectancy hit another record high. “Life expectancy at birth for the total population in 2007 reached a record high of 77.9 years,” the CDC report stated.

Despite those continuing to make that doomsday prediction that “today’s children are destined to be the first generation to have shorter lifespans than their parents — unless drastic action is taken to slim them down” — the facts continue to show the opposite. Every year, in fact, the government’s actual health data has shown that our children are living longer and healthier lives than ever. There’s not even a hint to indicate that that could change. Babies born in 2007 can expect to live to 75.3 years for boys and 80.4 years for girls.

Life expectancy has been increasing for more than a century. By comparison, babyboomers born in 1950 had a life expectancy of 65.5 and 71 years, respectively. And our grandparents born in 1900 had a life expectancy of a mere 48 and 51 years, respectively.

The 2007 mortality rate was 8.03 per 1,000 people — half of what it was just 60 years ago (15.32 per 1,000 in 1947).

For the first time, life expectancy for black males reached 70 years. (Junkfood Science)


The Importance of Preservatives

Learn why preservatives are so important for your cosmetics and personal care products. Ever wonder what would happen without them?! (PersonalCareCouncil)


Half of swine flu deaths in high-risk people -study

WASHINGTON, Aug 20 - About half of people who have died from swine flu have been pregnant or had other health conditions, especially diabetes and conditions linked with obesity, French researchers reported on Thursday.

And although older people seem to be less likely than others to get infected, if they do get the new H1N1 flu, they are more likely to die, the team at the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance in St. Maurice, France, reported.

"Most deaths (51 percent) occurred in the age group of 20-49 year-olds, but there was considerable variation depending on country or continent," the researchers wrote in Eurosurveillance. (Reuters)


Mercury mania time again, already? Mercury-Tainted Fish Found Widely In U.S. Streams

LOS ANGELES - Scientists have detected mercury contamination in every one of hundreds of fish sampled from 291 freshwater streams, according to a U.S. government study released on Wednesday.

More than a quarter of those fish contained concentrations of mercury exceeding levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency for the protection of people who eat average amounts of fish, the U.S. Geological Survey report said.

More than two-thirds exceeded the EPA-set level of concern for fish-eating mammals.

"This study shows just how widespread mercury pollution has become in our air, watersheds, and many of our fish in freshwater streams," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. The USGS is part of the Interior Department. (Reuters)


Hmm... the headlines:

Liver cancer cases triple and booze is to blame

Cases of liver cancer have more than tripled in the past 30 years because of binge boozing.

Startling figures from Cancer Research UK show the number of patients rocketed from 865 in 1975 to 3,108 in 2006.

Experts say the rise in hard drinking is to blame as well as obesity and the blood infection Hepatitis C. All three can cause cirrhosis of the liver - and this can develop into liver cancer. (The Mirror)

Sharp rise in liver cancer blamed on binge drinking and obesity

Cases of liver cancer have tripled over the last three decades, according to figures published today by Britain's leading cancer charity. Statistics compiled by Cancer Research UK show that in 1975 there were 865 cases of primary liver cancer. In 2006 that had risen to 3,108.

Britain's changing drinking habits over the last three decades are partly responsible, according to the charity, but obesity is another cause. The third contributory factor is infection with the hepatitis C virus. (Sarah Boseley, The Guardian)

Primary liver cancers 'soaring'

Cases of primary liver cancer, an often preventable disease, have trebled in the last 30 years, figures suggest.

While it is not uncommon for cancer to spread to the liver, Cancer Research UK statistics show incidents where it starts in the organ have risen sharply.

Cases of cancer overall have increased over recent decades as people live longer and detection methods improve.

But experts say hepatitis C infections, as well as alcohol and obesity, have helped fuel the spike in liver cases. (BBC News)


But what does it all mean? Actually, not very much:

Liver cancer on the rise

How have rates of liver cancer changed?

Primary liver cancer used to be rare in the UK, for example, in 1975 only 865 cases were reported in the UK. While these cancers are still uncommon, the number has grown substantially, and in 2006 3,108 cases were diagnosed. This is equivalent to an increase from about 1.4 people in 100,000 developing primary liver cancer in 1975 to about 3.9 people in 100,000 in 2006.

Liver cancer is the 18th most common cancer in the UK (based on 2006 figures), but is more common in other parts of the world. As there is a long delay between exposure to risk factors and the development of liver cancer, experts suggest that the number of new cases each year will continue to rise.

Primary liver cancer is more common in men than women (63% of new cases are in males). Rates increase sharply with age, and the highest rates occur in the oldest age groups. Most cases of liver cancer (about 70%) occur in people aged over 65 years. For those aged 85 and over the incidence rate per 100,000 men is 47, while for women it is 24.

Cancer Research UK has estimated that the lifetime risk of developing primary liver cancer is one in 180 for men and one in 292 for women in the UK. (NHS)


The War on Obesity and Social Conflict

Obesity has become a threat to the nation, we are told. "Obesity is depleting our nation's pocketbook and devastating the health and wellness of millions of Americans," says Dr. Clyde Yancy of the American Heart Association. "Left unaddressed, the obesity epidemic will undermine our country's health, reduce our productivity and threaten our economic security."

Yancy’s warnings appear at the conservative Washington Times. The notion that the rotund hordes present a national problem crying for a national solution is becoming mainstream. If you Google around, you’ll see calls for Congressional action to take on American flab on a nearly daily basis, and the concern that the portly populace will bankrupt America’s health care system has never been so widespread.

The politicization of overeating provides a stark example of how welfare statism fosters social conflict. The healthy and fit resent paying tax subsidies for the health care of those who gorge themselves. Some suggest that the way to reduce costs is for the state to intervene in the dietary habits of the gluttonous.

Perhaps the subsidization of medical bills is not the only factor behind the drive toward a war on obesity, but it is a crucial one. Indeed, the desire to control the behavior of others is a natural byproduct of the welfare state and socialized society. (Anthony Gregory, Lew Rockwell)


Oh boy... CDC launches Web site to help employers combat obesity, reduce costs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a Web site to help employers address the growing obesity problem.

Officials said the goal of LEANWorks!, which stands for Leading Employees to Activity and Nutrition, is to help employers calculate the cost of obesity for their organizations and develop tailored approaches to help control these costs through interventions such as fitness classes, lunchtime health education sessions, and weight management programs. (Risk & Insurance)


Our shared humanity

“Diversity” and “acceptance” have become politically correct ideas and appear in countless employee policy manuals and mission statements of nonprofit groups. As well-intentioned as they may be, they also hold a troubling side.

As we’ve seen, advocacy for stigmatized groups can disguise and foster prejudices of the very same group. Seldom recognized is that behind “diversity” and “acceptance” can also hide disturbing prejudicial and racist beliefs. Like all prejudices, they can lead to greater divisiveness, and be used as a technique to keep discriminated people even more oppressed and separated.

When it comes to acceptance of individuals who look and live in ways that are different from ourselves or who don’t conform to what society views as correct, our acceptance, even tolerance, of others is put to the test. If we look closely, our society really isn’t tolerant of those who are autonomous and independent. The evidence comes in how our society or social group defines “diversity.” We say we support diversity — but have we thought about what it really means? (Junkfood Science)


ObamaCare? Ask the British and Canadians

"We spend more on health care than most other countries." "We need to bring costs down."

To address these complaints, enter ObamaCare -- which may or may not include a "public option" or a taxpayer-assisted "co-op" to keep insurance companies "honest." But do countries with government-run health care succeed in retaining high quality while "bringing costs down"?

What about England?

Civitas, a nonpartisan British think tank, recently scolded the British National Health Service (NHS) for "putting the patient last." Why? Civitas blames the government-run health care system's monolithic nature, lack of competition, and the burdensome and wasteful regulation, redundancy, oversight and meddling by government -- including some 69 public bodies besides the Department of Health, such as the Care Quality Commission and the Environment Agency. This means the NHS serves the bureaucrat, not the patient.

What about our neighbor to the north, Canada?

After all, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama said that if "starting from scratch," he'd emulate their "single-payer," government-run system. Tell that to the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, the equivalent of the American Medical Association.

"We all agree that the system is imploding (emphasis added). We all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," said Dr. Anne Doig. "We know that there must be change," she continued. "We're all running flat-out. We're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands." She said the Canadian model has some "very good things," but "(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now -- if it keeps on going without change -- is not sustainable." (Larry Elder, Townhall)


Woe, Canada!

A leaked report shows that Vancouver's health authority is considering cutting thousands of surgeries to balance the budget. However organized, government-run health care inevitably leads to rationing. (IBD)


Bush Quietly Saved a Million African Lives

What if a president, on his own initiative, under no demands from staff or from supporters or opponents, set out to spend an unprecedented amount of money on AIDS in Africa, literally billions of dollars, at a time when the nation could not afford it, citing his faith as a primary motivation and, ultimately, saved more than a million lives?

Wouldn’t the story be front-page news, especially in top, liberal newspapers? Wouldn’t it lead on CNN, MSNBC, and the “CBS Evening News?” Might statues be erected to the man in the nation’s more “progressive” cities?

What if the president was George W. Bush? (Dr. Paul Kengor, Townhall)


Commerce secretary approves Arctic fisheries plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. secretary of commerce has approved a plan that would prohibit an expansion of commercial fishing in the Arctic, at least until more is known about the area.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke on Thursday approved the Arctic Fishery Management Plan, which was prompted by changes in the Arctic that have come with global warming and the loss of sea ice.

Locke said the goal now is to come up with a sustainable fishing plan that will not harm the overall health of the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

"As Arctic sea ice recedes due to climate change, there is increasing interest in commercial fishing in Arctic waters," Locke said in a statement. "This plan takes a precautionary approach to any development of commercial fishing in an area where there has been none in the past." (Associated Press)


The question has been asked many times and this very concept is topical over on the forum at present. Let me try to show you why Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is of no value as a global thermostat:

The stated purpose of CCS is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) accumulating in the atmosphere and so limit enhanced greenhouse warming. Let's put in some real numbers to see how that works out.

According to the U.S. EPA, the average emission rates in the United States from coal-fired generation is 2,249 lbs/MWh of carbon dioxide. We convert 2,249 lbs to 1.02 metric tons for the purposes of calculation.

Using 2007 (the last full year available from EIA here), coal-fired generation accounted for 2,016,456,000 of 4,156,745,000 Megawatthours (MWh) U.S. electric power generation (~48.5%). Thus 2,419,747,200mt CO2 emission from U.S. coal-fired generation (rounded up to 2.42 billion mt).

For simple expedience using CDIAC’s FAQQ. What percentage of the CO2 in the atmosphere has been produced by human beings through the burning of fossil fuels?

A. … Atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose from 288 ppmv in 1850 to 369.5 ppmv in 2000, for an increase of 81.5 ppmv, or 174 PgC. In other words, about 40% (174/441.5) of the additional carbon has remained in the atmosphere, while the remaining 60% has been transferred to the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.

[Note for those not familiar with the units:  PgC are petagrams of carbon, petagrams are one billion metric tons and carbon, with an atomic weight of 12, combined with 2 oxygen, atomic weight 16 (12 + 16 + 16 = 44) is 12/44 of the mass of carbon dioxide. We are only interested in the percentage emission accumulating in the atmosphere here.]

Atmospheric accumulation from U.S. coal-fired generation is then 2.42 (emission) x 0.4 (persistence) = 0.968 billion metric tons carbon dioxide (2007).

Again using CDIAC’s FAQQ. In terms of mass, how much carbon does 1 part per million by volume of atmospheric CO2 represent?

A. Using 5.137 x 1018 kg as the mass of the atmosphere (Trenberth, 1981 JGR 86:5238-46), 1 ppmv of CO2 = 2.13 Gt of carbon.
” [note: I believe they are using Gt (gigaton) for 1 billion metric tons here since their calculation begins with mass in kilograms.]

And converting the carbon value to carbon dioxide: 2.13 * 44/12 = 7.81 billion metric tons carbon dioxide = 1 ppmv of the atmosphere.

Total atmospheric persistent carbon dioxide emitted from all U.S. coal-fired generation (in full year 2007) = 0.968 / 7.81 = 0.12 ppmv.

The conclusion then is the total contribution if all U.S. coal-fired generation emissions are captured and stored immediately and permanently is a slowing in atmospheric accumulation rate by 0.12 ppmv/year. Given the number of U.S. coal-fired generation plants not being approved or constructed in the name of constraining carbon emissions I see no reason to increase this value when projecting forward.

How much can this help assuming all claims about enhanced greenhouse warming are true?

Well, assuming we could start that much CCS from the beginning of 2011 and maintain avoidance of 0.12 ppmv/year through 2100 (90 years) that would avoid an exciting 90 * 0.12 = 10.8 ppmv atmospheric carbon dioxide by end of century, wouldn’t it?

Is that a big deal? Will it make an appreciable difference to projected temperatures in 90 years?

Using the IPCC’s simplified expression for calculation of radiative forcing due to CO2 (mirrored here) deltaF = alphaLN(C/Co) and 380 ppmv for our base year 2007 we get a difference of 5.35 * ln(390.8/380) and thus we get a change in forcing of slightly less than 0.15W/m2, which, depending on whose lambda values we use (climate models use λ values of 0.75 ± 0.25 °C per W/m2; Nir Shaviv derives 0.3 K/W/m2 here) we derive 0.045 to 0.15 °C avoided warming over the 90 years to end of century.

Indeed even if we allocate the total guesstimated warming of +0.75 °C since the Industrial Revolution to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide it is still the result of +100 ppmv, so 0.75 * 10.8/100 = 0.081 °C avoided warming from complete coal-fired CCS even if carbon dioxide is in total control of global mean temperature.

To achieve this CCS would require something in the order of 30% more coal consumption to drive the capture, transport and storage, plus we need to amortize the financial impost of retrofitting all coal-fired generation, provision of pipelines or other transportation (railcar tankers or tanker trucks, road/rail transport costs… ), injection costs and monitoring. What should we call it – conservatively 50% consumer cost increase? That would take the U.S. industrial electricity price (2007) from $64.00/MWh to $96.00, something guaranteed to harm industry and employment and to increase consumer costs across the board.

Even if we assume Hansen’s most extreme climate sensitivity estimate of 1 K/W/m2 to be correct we would be consuming 30% more coal and increasing industrial electricity cost by 50% in a effort to “save” at most 0.15 °C avoided warming over the 90 years to end of century.

That "saving" of 0.15 °C over 90 years stems from a magical cessation of all U.S. coal-fired electrical generation carbon dioxide emissions from the end of next year while increasing coal consumption by 30% with its associated collateral environmental damage from mining operations. Can't consider that environmentally friendly when it increases resource demand by so much and yet yields such imperceptibly small result.

Can't call it people friendly either, since it significantly increases costs and so reduces U.S. industrial competitiveness, employment opportunity and consumer spending power. Effects which will be compounded by restriction of new coal-fired generation capacity leading to further electrical price increase as less useful and more expensive options are employed to maintain the baseload electricity supply.

The corollary, of course, is that since shutting down all U.S. coal-fired power plant emissions has so little potential effect on global mean temperature over the rest of the century then obviously we have very little to fear from rising levels of CO2 in the first place.

And that's why we don't think CCS or any form of carbon constraint has any place among potential mitigation strategies should global mean temperatures rise dangerously for any reason.

There are things we could usefully do to cap global mean temperatures if required but carbon control is not one of them.


Calling the warmists' bluff has had a change of heart and policy. Rather than a blanket objection to attempts to control the global thermostat we now support some geo-engineering prospects.


Because people are afraid and politicians have a need to be seen "doing something". Let's help them out with projects which can work and which will not devastate society or the planet. This has the substantial benefit of removing the temptation to disrupt energy supplies and deny life on Earth its essential trace gas, carbon dioxide.


Not a difficult choice -- adjustment of planetary albedo offers substantial return on investment, can be readily adjusted and can be rapidly undone should we decide we don't care for the effects after all.


All that is required at this stage are small trials and proof of concept demonstrations (granted, anyone who has been in cloud shadow knows that adjusting sunlight penetration to surface has the desired cooling effect but it does need to be demonstrated that we can do so on demand). No large scale interference need take place until critical thresholds are approached or breached, such as the IPCC's +2 °C. Note that Earth cools in a mere 6 months following almost 4 °C warming from January to July so dropping 2 °C is not a long-term prospect. Since sulfate particulates persist a mere couple of weeks in the troposphere we can control our interference rapidly.


Could be as simple as returning to sulfur-containing aero-fuels. Governments can tinker with tax incentives for airlines to adjust routes to suit the required particulate delivery schedules, travelers could get cheaper tickets if they were prepared to take longer flights to suit the delivery schedules agreed. That's for political negotiations inter- and intra- nationally to decide. There are plenty of practical means using off the shelf technology at minimal cost.

How much?

Again, that's for negotiation but there's already a massive modeling fund pool available, just redirect some of that modeling to practical considerations rather than needing to generate ever more alarming warming scenarios in order to be noticed -- give them something useful to do, for a change.

Any other benefits?

Well yes, there certainly could be since albedo adjustment can be localized to reduce heat island effect (cool cities...) and could be deployed to lower desert heat (imagine cooling central Australia before those devastating high pressure systems roll in and direct bushfire-feeding hot northerlies over South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania), or even deployed to lower the sea surface temperature in the hurricane basins. Think of reducing the melting rate of snow packs to avoid flooding and control irrigation water flows. Coral bleaching danger looming? Then selectively slow the solar heating of surface water to safe levels. Carbon constraint has no application for such things but selective application of solar reflective particles does.

Anything else?

Oh yes. What is not required is the destruction of the energy supply or market-distorting taxes and tariffs. No slowing third world development. No loss of centuries worth of affordable coal from the global energy supply and no need to reduce people's standard of living.

Isn't a better way for politicians being able to save their constituents from any catastrophic warming which might occur while saving the constituents their jobs, their homes, their cars and their standards of living? Caps and taxes on carbon can't do that.

The question now is whether Al Gore will join us in calling for actions that could actually work in adjusting the Earth's temperature or declare himself as the profiteering carbon scammer we believe him to be.


Question: What is a "renewable" or "low carbon" energy requirement?

Answer: Nothing but the first tranche of Cap & Tax under a different name -- but it surely stinks as badly.

Think about it. Its purpose is exactly the same -- make your energy more expensive as part of making you use less of it. It is also an insidious move toward supply restriction (read: rationing) since it relies on the unreliable (largely wind) and is too poorly supplied to meet levels proposed for legislation.

People who don't want you to have affordable energy and who want to lower your standard of living like it (which should tell you a lot). Rent-seeking organizations who get massive subsidies (of your tax funds) supplying expensive and inferior product like it too. Lawmakers currently like it because misanthropes and rent-seekers currently have them convinced people must want it to save them from a heating planet (which is currently not heating). Do you think you will like it? Do you really want it?

If you don't want it and don't want your representatives to introduce Cap & Tax under a different name then you are going to have to tell them so. No mandated energy mix. Most reliable supply at best available price to get America working again.


<chuckle> Oh Mae... O2 Dropping Faster than CO2 Rising - Implications for Climate Change Policies

New research shows oxygen depletion in the atmosphere accelerating since 2003, coinciding with the biofuels boom; climate policies that focus exclusively on carbon sequestration could be disastrous for all oxygen-breathing organisms including humans (Mae-Wan Ho, ISIS)

Just in case anyone is actually concerned about this latest example of Mae-Wan Ho's lunacy:

Et tu, O2?

With forest resources --"the lungs of the Earth"-- under attack in many regions, some have raised concerns about the planet's oxygen supply. A leading geochemist assesses these claims and finds that we can probably breathe easy (Wallace Broecker, Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)


Run Silent, Run Deep

run silent run deep cover image

For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

America's "mainstream" media missed it, but April 17 was a red-letter day for its Deep Ecologists. Red letter because it was the day the Obama Administration declared that carbon dioxide and five other gases emitted by industry threaten "the health and welfare of current and future generations." This opens the door to regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency to "cap" emissions. The Deep Ecologists see this as the path to their cherished dream of a less populous nation with greatly reduced industrial production. It will also lead to a poorer (they would call it "simpler") standard of living. (Peter Hannaford, SPPI)


Anthropogenic Global Warming? Not So Fast…

Skepticism about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has engulfed the leadership of key scientific societies including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Physical Society (APS). Growing numbers of members of these prestigious organizations are clamoring for a reassessment of their societies’ positions on climate change. This skepticism of the accepted wisdom about the link between carbon dioxide and climate change makes a mockery of the ongoing claim that when it comes to AGW, “the science is settled.”

Proof that the science is not, in fact, settled, can be seen by looking at the controversies within the ACS, APS, and AGU. The growing dissent at these organizations is major news. Yet as far as I can detect there has not been any acknowledgment of this development in the mainstream media. Given that lack of acknowledgement, here’s a rundown of what is happening at those organizations as well as a quick look at what has happened recently in Germany. (Gerald T. Westbrook, Energy Tribune)


Consensus Thaws On Global Warming

What's the climate change scare really about? Not what the alarmists want the public to think. Just ask the retiring head of Greenpeace. In an unguarded moment, he might spill the secret again. (IBD)


The Post and Times Push for Cap and Trade

Since the June House vote on the Waxman-Markey “cap-and-trade” bill, lawmakers from both chambers have backed significantly away from the legislation. The first raucous “town hall” meetings occurred during the July 4 recess, before health care. Voters in swing districts were mad as heck then, and they’re even more angry now. Had the energy bill not all but disappeared from the Democrats’ fall agenda, imagine the decibel level if members were called to defend it and Obamacare.

But none of this has dissuaded the editorial boards of the The New York Times and Washington Post. Both newspapers featured uncharacteristically shrill editorials today demanding climate change legislation at any cost.

The Post, at least, notes the political realities facing cap-and-trade and resignedly confesses its favored approach to the warming menace: “Yes, we’re talking about a carbon tax.” The paper—motto: “If you don’t get it, you don’t get it”—argues that in contrast to the Boolean ball of twine that is cap-and-trade, a straight carbon tax will be less complicated to enforce, and that the cost to individuals and businesses “could be rebated…in a number of ways.”

Get it? While ostensibly tackling the all-encompassing peril of global warming, bureaucrats could rig the tax code in other ways to achieve a zero net loss in economic productivity or jobs. Right. Anyone who makes more than 50K, or any family at 100K who thinks they will get all their money back, please raise you hands.

The prescription offered by the Times, meanwhile, is chilling in its cynicism and extremity. It embraces the fringe—and heavily discredited—idea of “warning that global warming poses a serious threat to national security.” It bullies lawmakers with the threat that warming could induce resource shortages that would “unleash regional conflicts and draw in America’s armed forces.” (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato-at-liberty)


Carbon traders bet on California redwoods

GARCIA RIVER FOREST, Calif., Aug 21 - A stand of young redwoods, survivors in what was once a magnificent forest of towering giants, could play a small part of the battle to slow global warming -- and forms part of an emerging market.

The trees, which trap quantities of the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet, are sold as living carbon traps or "sinks" rather than cut for timber, a model that could go global. But the prospect of a worldwide market could also attract hustlers eager to make a quick buck without making a difference to the planet.

"It's easy to game it," said forest owner Chris Kelly of the developing forest carbon market. "We just have to figure out how to do it right." (Reuters)

There is no "right" way to restrict carbon, an aim which is wrong on all levels. Don't be a life-hater, return carbon to the biosphere.


Europol Expects More Arrests In Carbon Fraud Probe

LONDON - European police agency Europol expects further arrests in connection with suspected carbon credit tax fraud after Britain's tax office said two more people were arrested in London late on Wednesday, bringing the total to nine.

Officers from HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC), working with Europol, have now arrested seven men and two women following a suspected 38 million pounds ($62.8 million) value-added tax (VAT) scam related to carbon credit trading. (Reuters)


UNFCCC warns on climate talk delays

The head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has warned that reaching a post-2012 climate agreement in Copenhagen will not be possible unless negotiators speed up their work. This comes as a key delegate tells Carbon Finance that “time-wasting” by the G77+China group at last week’s informal talks in Bonn, Germany meant that a mandate for the next session, in Bangkok next month, could not be agreed.

Warning on Friday, as the meeting wound down, that there are only 15 official negotiating days left before the talks in Copenhagen, Yvo de Boer told journalists: “If we continue at this rate, we’re not going to make it.” (Carbon Finance)


UN summit on climate change under fire

The much-ballyhooed UN summit on climate change, scheduled to take place on September 22 in New York, is mired in controversy even before it gets off the ground. (IPS)


Tony Blair: Copenhagen climate summit must not be about 'percentages'

World leaders must not get bogged down in 'precise percentages' when they negotiate a successor the Kyoto climate change treaty in Copenhagen, Tony Blair has said. (Daily Telegraph)


Recommendation to postpone the 2009 Copenhagen Conference (.pdf)

The so-called “global warming” issue viewed in the context of politics and the economy of the world. (Syun Akasofu, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks)


Special interests battle for climate-change ground

The climate battle will be waged in the ornate setting of the U.S. Senate this fall, but for now the fight is taking place in humbler locales like local libraries, college campuses and county fairs as supporters and critics struggle for hearts and minds beyond the beltway.

On the heels of campaigns against the climate-change bill launched by oil companies and other opposing interests, unions and environmental groups kicked off a 22-state swing with a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday to sell the bill’s environmental and economic benefits.

More may be riding on their ability to rally a grassroots base, with four Democratic senators reportedly pushing for a more modest energy bill that doesn’t include a carbon cap but would mandate more renewable energy production. Because few Senate Republicans are likely to support a cap-and-trade bill, keeping Democrats unified is thought to be crucial to passing climate legislation.

The calendar is another potential obstacle. A climate bill will compete with a dozen spending bills and a controversial healthcare reform package for floor time before the legislative year ends. (Jim Snyder, The Hill)


Well, It’s Not A Party Til These Guys Show Up

AP reports “US unions, green groups unleash climate change campaign”:

A coalition of US environmental groups and major labor unions on Wednesday unveiled a national campaign to refute charges that legislation to battle climate change would cost US jobs in a recession.

“The fact of the matter is, you’re either going to have both, or you’ll have neither,” Leo Gerard, the head of the United Steelworkers union, told reporters on a conference call to announce the 50-stop, 22-state push.

“This is about creating good family-supporting jobs as we do the right thing for the planet,” said Gerard, who predicted that legislation to fight global warming would create hundreds of thousands of jobs “if we do it right.”

Oh, great … back to this canard. Like a bad penny that keeps turning up, carbon-cappers keep saying that climate legislation will create green jobs. So it’s worth remembering this lesson from The Beacon Hill Institute:

Recent studies forecasting the potential economic benefits of government green job programs are critically flawed and erroneously promote these jobs as a benefit, according to a report released today by The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) at Suffolk University.

The economic analysis reviewed the primary claims of three of the most influential green jobs studies and found serious economic flaws in each.

“Contrary to the claims made in these studies, we found that the green job initiatives reviewed in each actually causes greater harm than good to the American economy and will cause growth to slow,” reported Paul Bachman, Director of Research at the Beacon Hill Institute, one of the report’s authors. (Chilling Effect)


Climate Change Legislation Hot Topic at Ag Issues Forum

It was standing room only in the First National Bank South Dakota Pavillion for the Agriculture Issues Panel featuring Senator John Thune, Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even, State Director of the Farm Service Agency Craig Schaunaman and Michelle RookState Director of Farm Service Agency (FSA) Schaunaman and Michelle Rooke as the moderator.

And, the main topic of discussion: climate change legislation. The Waxman-Markey Bill (HR 2454), better known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 26, 2009. While the bill seems to have noble intentions to clean up the environment, it has the agriculture community worried about the implications this bill will have on the nation’s food producers. Senator Thune and Representative Herseth-Sandlin weighed in on this important bill.

IMG_2696 “I will work with every fiber of my being to defeat the bill that passed in the House,” promised Senator Thune. “I think we should all be in favor of cleaning up the environment, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the American farmer and rancher. Let me make this point clear: We can’t quantify the benefits of cap-and-trade legislation, but we all know how much it’s going to cost us.”


“There is no doubt that we need to do something about climate change,” said Representative Herseth-Sandlin. “I did not vote for HR 2454 as it was written, and the bill has absolutely no chance of passing the Senate in its current form. I believe we need to have a production title to offset the costs for cap-and-trade. This shouldn’t be a patchwork quilt of regulations. We need to slow the process down a bit and do this bill right. I share the same concerns as Senator Thune, but there are people that believe carbon sequestration could be beneficial to agriculture. So, let’s work together to make sure this bill doesn’t harm the agriculture industry.” (AgWired)


Senators say they’ll fight cap-and-trade legislation

CASPER - The cap-and-trade legislation before Congress can achieve a 17 percent carbon reduction for a cost of about $83 per household per year, according to recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

However, congressional leaders from carbon-intensive states such as Wyoming remain adamantly opposed to the Waxman-Markey bill, insisting that the real costs of curbing greenhouse gas emissions would further bankrupt the nation.

"There's nothing good about it," said U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. "I'm going to do everything to make sure it doesn't pass."

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the bill is "the biggest hidden tax in America."

"It's a Ponzi scheme because we're just going to print certificates for CO2 and not take care of any CO2," Enzi said. "It's just another way to make money." (Casper Star-Tribune)


Journalists Show Bias on Global Warming Issues.

Read these quotes:

“As scientific evidence has accumulated that the planet is warming and that humans are behind it, many previous skeptics have been won over. There remains a vocal cadre of critics, however, at least some of whose arguments have shifted over the last several years from outright denial that the earth is warming to insisting it's unrelated to human activity — and even if it is, likely nothing much to worry about."

"Some of the most vocal skeptics have done relatively little recent peer-reviewed scientific research on the topic, and some have had their voices amplified via financial support from industries opposed to any government regulation or taxation of greenhouse gas emissions."

"Others do have training and experience, at least in some aspects of the wide-ranging issue, and are not bankrolled by industry. But overall, their number represents a distinctly minority position in the ongoing and normal colloquy among scientists about the evidence of climate change and its likely impacts."

The paragraphs above are taken from the website of the Society of Environmental Journalists section on “Skeptics and Contrarians."

Their choice of words and the structure of these comments disclose their preference and prejudices of the global warming issues. They also show a remarkable lack of what science is and how it proceeds. These are the self-appointed journalists who view themselves as final arbiters and reporters of what science is. They haven’t a clue.

What is remarkable is that a society of Journalists, allegedly intending to honestly discuss complex issues, has forfeited their professed dispassionate indifference to the global warming issues in exchange for naked advocacy. (Michael R. Fox, The Peoples Voice)


Dubious claim of the day goes to Seth Boringtheme: In hot water: World sets ocean temperature record

WASHINGTON — Steve Kramer spent an hour and a half swimming in the ocean Sunday — in Maine. The water temperature was 72 degrees — more like Ocean City, Md., this time of year. And Ocean City's water temp hit 88 degrees this week, toasty even by Miami Beach standards.

Kramer, 26, who lives in the seaside town of Scarborough, said it was the first time he's ever swam so long in Maine's coastal waters. "Usually, you're in five minutes and you're out," he said.

It's not just the ocean off the Northeast coast that is super-warm this summer. July was the hottest the world's oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping. (AP)

Just one teensy problem with Seth's narrative -- Argo data shows the oceans aren't accumulating heat, so it's a little difficult to classify them as "warming". Ocean surface temperature records are poor, at best, so this is pretty easy to quantify as "Drama Queen Boringtheme rides again."


Letter of the moment: Use precise climate terms

In regard to your Aug. 15 editorial on cap and trade, you mar a reasonably objective editorial by constantly using the term “climate change” when you probably mean human-caused global warming.

Unfortunately, this terminology currently seems to prevail throughout the American media, and among American politicians.

There is a huge distinction between the two terms. Global warming is a facet of natural climate change which has occurred on and off throughout earth history, and anthropological-caused global warming represents a postulated, relatively recent, unknown percentage of natural global warming. To combat natural climate change, including global warming, would entail futile attempts to control colossal natural forces like variations in the solar magnetic field and volcanic activity.

As a geoscientist, I don’t know of any colleagues who question the existence of climate change, but there are many, labeled “deniers,” mainly by the media, who question what portion of global warming might be related to human causes.

To just ignore these “deniers,” many of them very eminent scientists, is tantamount to “scientific” consensus by media mob rule. (M. A. Kaufman, Spokesman-Review)


This guys have a serious fixation issue: Climate Justice

It is nearly time for the COP 15 conference on climate change. Achieving global consensus at the COP15 conference is more than necessary. The agreements that are made at COP 15 will influence the future of the economy and environment on a global scale. (CoP15 blog)


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Aug. 21st 2009

This week British kids wear eco-uniforms, polar bears refuse to drown and greens celebrate their efforts to make our lights go out.

It’s high summer so crank up the air conditioner and open a window to fight global warming as you dive into the fascinating depths of the weekly round-up. (Daily Bayonet)


Agency warns current climate proposals won't work

Reversing global warming will cost up to $185 billion (euro130 billion) a year before 2020 and require more action by world governments than currently pledged, an international environmental analysis group said Thursday.

ClimateWorks Foundation said U.N. climate change talks would fail to reach a meaningful agreement with the proposals made so far, and that a new approach was needed.

"Climate change is a solvable problem, and the solution presents a major opportunity in terms of both economic growth and global development," said a report by the foundation's European branch. But it warned that "current commitments and actions are insufficient" to ensure deep cuts by 2050 in carbon dioxide emissions.

ClimateWorks provides economic and environmental analysis for the U.N. talks aimed at reaching a new accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases. (Associated Press)

They're certainly right about it being all pain for no gain.


Big Benefits Seen In Adapting To Climate Change

OSLO - Helping developing nations to adapt to climate change such as floods or heatwaves can give bigger economic benefits than a focus on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, a study indicated on Friday.

A total of $10 trillion spent on adaptation, ranging from research into drought-resistant crops to measures to limit a spread of diseases such as malaria, would provide $16 trillion of economic benefits over the coming century, it said.

"We talk immensely about cutting carbon emissions, but there are many other ways to deal with climate change," said Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who commissioned the study by Italian researchers.

"Everyone pays lip service to adaptation but in reality we rarely talk as much about it as cutting carbon emissions," he told Reuters of the study, meant to provoke debate about a new U.N. climate treaty to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

"The authors find that...adaptation achieves more than mitigation in terms of reducing the damage from climate change," he said. Mitigation means curbing emissions of greenhouse gases and often gets most attention at U.N. climate negotiations. (Reuters)

Well, yes, adaptation is the correct response to any change which occurs -- always has been. That doesn't mean it's what will happen though, because politicians have a pathological need to be seen to be "doing something", hence our tentative support for more practical and less harmful response than carbon constraint.


Boy they give those virtual worlds a hard time: Climate extremes set to worsen in some, but not all, countries

Floods, droughts and heat waves – these are the kind of climate extremes that can bring devastation, particularly in developing countries. To make matters worse these extreme events are expected to become more frequent in some countries, due to global warming. Now a new study assesses which people are most vulnerable to climate volatility, and asks how we might reduce the impact of these extreme events. (ERW)

Check some of the assumptions in Study of 16 Developing Countries Shows Climate Change Could Deepen Poverty:

The global climate model experiments developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, were used for the future projections of extreme events. The team used an IPCC scenario that has greenhouse gas emissions continuing to follow the current trend, Diffenbaugh said.

“The occurrence and magnitude of what are currently the 30-year-maximum values for wet, dry and hot extremes are projected to substantially increase for much of the world,” he said. “Heat waves and drought in the Mediterranean showed a potential 2700 percent and 800 percent increase in occurrence, respectively, and extreme rainfall in Southeast Asia was projected to potentially increase by 900 percent.”

In addition, Southeast Asia showed a projected 40 percent increase in the magnitude of the worst rainfall; central Africa showed a projected 1000 percent increase in the magnitude of the worst heat wave; and the Mediterranean showed a projected 60 percent increase in the worst drought.

A statistical analysis was used to determine grain productivity shocks that would correspond in magnitude to the climate extremes, and then the economic impact of the supply shock was determined. Future predicted extreme climate events were compared to historical agricultural productivity extremes in order to assess the likely impact on agricultural production, prices and wages. Because the projected changes in extreme rainfall and heat wave events were too large for the current model to accept, only the extreme drought events were incorporated into the economic projections, making the projected poverty impacts a conservative estimate, he said.
(X-Journals) [em added]

Check out what Hansen et al say about the deficiencies of their own state-of-the-art toy:

ModelE (2006) compares the atmospheric model climatology with observations. Model shortcomings include ~25% regional deficiency of summer stratus cloud cover off the west coast of the continents with resulting excessive absorption of solar radiation by as much as 50 W/m2, deficiency in absorbed solar radiation and net radiation over other tropical regions by typically 20 W/m2, sea level pressure too high by 4–8 hPa in the winter in the Arctic and 2–4 hPa too low in all seasons in the tropics, ~20% deficiency of rainfall over the Amazon basin, ~25% deficiency in summer cloud cover in the western United States and central Asia with a corresponding ~5°C excessive summer warmth in these regions. In addition to the inaccuracies in the simulated climatology, another shortcoming of the atmospheric model for climate change studies is the absence of a gravity wave representation, as noted above, which may affect the nature of interactions between the troposphere and stratosphere. [em added]

Is any of that important? Is a 50 W/m2 discrepancy much? I guess that depends on whether you consider 20 times the total estimated change from greenhouse gas emission over the last 250 years "much", doesn't it? According to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center the change from carbon dioxide and methane amount to 2.14 W/m2 since 1750. Even a full doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide is estimated at less than 4 Watts per meter squared so errors of -20 to +50 Watts could be considered "significant". This is a seriously stupid game.


Amazing, a flood delta doing what flood deltas do... Nile Delta: 'We are going underwater. The sea will conquer our lands'

The Nile Delta is under threat from rising sea levels. Without the food it produces, Egypt faces catastrophe (The Guardian)

Yes, flood deltas compact and subside. Yes, it happens all the time all over the world. No, it is not unusual nor is it temperature related.


The answer is and must remain "No": Australia Government Seeks Talks On Emissions Scheme

CANBERRA - Australia's government challenged conservative rivals on Thursday to support deadlocked emissions trade laws after both sides reached agreement on a new national target to sharply lift the use of renewable energy.

The center-left government said it was talking to neighboring New Zealand about "harmonizing" emissions schemes in the South Pacific's two biggest economies as Australia's upper house agreed renewables should supply 20 percent of energy by 2020, four times more than at present.

"This is a matter where the two governments are considering possibilities," Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told the Senate during debate on the controversial scheme.

The renewable laws aim to come into effect on January 1 next year and target production of 45,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy by 2020. (Reuters)


Renewable Tax Down Under - Australia's pols choose a green dream over economic reality.

Australia generates about 85% of its electricity from coal because it has a lot of it and it's cheaper than any other form of energy. Yesterday, political parties on both the right and left decided that was a bad thing, and passed a law to make Australians pay more for energy.

Welcome to loony environmentalism 101, Canberra edition. The Renewable Energy Act passed yesterday requires Australia to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from 8% today. Both the ruling Labor Party and opposition Liberal Party hailed the bill as a triumph in the fight against carbon pollution.

Setting a renewable energy target Down Under will do nothing to reduce global carbon emissions. Australia produces only 1.5% of total global emissions. Its emissions per capita are high, but that's because there is a lot of demand for Australian coal, and not many Australians to produce it.

It's easier for politicians to talk about virtue rather than numbers because the numbers don't add up. The Productivity Commission, an independent government body, last year estimated that by 2010 it would cost 30-35 Australian dollars ($25-29) to produce one megawatt hour of electricity from black coal. Wind costs A$55-80, and solar power, A$250-400. Renewable energy is a nice idea, but it's not economically viable.

That's why the Productivity Commission concluded that a renewable energy target would not reduce emissions but "impose additional costs," "most likely lead to higher electricity prices," and "provide a signal that lobbying for government support for certain technologies and industries over others could be successful."

In other words, yesterday's bill is a victory for private sector opportunists who can now cash in on uneconomic schemes that wouldn't be possible without public money—at the expense of Australian taxpayers. The Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne estimates the renewable energy target could raise energy prices by an average of 10%.

If Europe's experience with subsidizing renewable energy is any guide, this green dream could cost real jobs, too. A study released earlier this year from Gabriel Calzada Alvarez estimated Spain lost 2.2 jobs for every "green job" created.

If Australia's politicians really wanted to encourage renewable energy, then it's time to debate nuclear power. Like coal, Australia has a plethora of uranium reserves. It may not be sexy to talk about nuclear plants versus wind farms, but it makes more economic sense. (WSJ)


Look at the nonsense that gets slipped into these articles: Use less coal power, green groups tell Bligh Government

ENVIRONMENT groups have called on the Bligh Government to reduce the state's dependence on coal-fired power for its electricity needs, not increase it.

The Queensland Government today said it had decided that new coal-fired power stations could be built if they used the best available technology in efficiency terms and could be fitted with still-unproven carbon capture and storage technology within five years of CCS being proven on a commercial scale.

Scientists say there is about a 50-50 chance of preventing runaway climate change if global emissions - mainly from burning coal, gas and oil - peak by 2015, then start to fall away sharply. (Courier-Mail) [em added]

Oh for goodness sake! There is absolutely zero chance of "runaway climate change", period.


China’s Natural Gas Pricing Quandary

Compared with international natural gas prices, China’s methane prices are relatively low. Residential natural gas prices are set by the government, which looks at three factors: the wellhead price, pipeline transportation costs, and local pipeline network fees. In 2008, the average natural gas price from domestic sources was only about $3.80 per thousand cubic feet (mcf), equivalent to $21 per barrel of crude oil, not unlike the price differential in the United States. However, in a country suffering from some of the world’s worst air quality, natural gas only provided 3.4 percent of the total energy in China, comparing to the world average of 24.1 percent during the same period.

The government has been trying to set gas prices to encourage more gas consumption. China agreed not to use market adjustment for natural gas pricing when it joined the WTO in 2001 because residents would have no other energy choice as soon as a gas pipeline was installed. Since 2005, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has been pricing gas based on where it is sourced: one price has been set for gas from fields at Sichuan, Changqing, Qinhai, Xinjiang provinces, along with gas from Dagang, Liaohe and Zhongyuan oil fields and another price has been set for gas from the rest of China. In 2007, the NDRC issued another rule to limit industrial over-use of gas and to slow the growth of natural gas-powered vehicles. Those policies were designed to facilitate the gas production and supply system, such as the natural gas from “the First West-East Gas Pipeline” which transports gas from Xinjiang and Changqing to other cities. However, as natural gas is imported from abroad, those policies have been made obsolete. (Xina Xie and Michael Economides, Energy Tribune)


Drilling Ordeals Said to Delay Geothermal Project

The Obama administration’s first major test of geothermal energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuels has fallen seriously behind schedule, several federal scientists said this week, even as the project is under review because of the earthquakes it could generate in Northern California.

Intended to extract heat from hot bedrock, the project has been delayed because the bit on a giant rig, meant to drill more than two miles underground, has struggled to pierce surface rock formations, the scientists said.

The bit has snapped off at least once and become repeatedly fouled in a shallow formation called cap rock, and the drillers have twice been forced to pull it out and essentially start the hole over again.

Late last year, the project, undertaken by a start-up company called AltaRock Energy, received $6.25 million in financing from the Energy Department, in hopes that it would be the first of dozens of projects to produce renewable energy by fracturing rock at the bottom of a deep hole and then circulating water through the cracks to generate steam.

But last month, after an article in The New York Times raised questions on whether AltaRock had been forthcoming about earthquakes generated by a similar project in Basel, Switzerland, the Energy Department and the Bureau of Land Management informed the company that it would not be allowed to fracture rock until the department completed a new review of whether the project would be safe. The company was allowed to keep drilling, however, down toward the depth at which it would begin the fracturing. (NYT)


Tony Blair: 'We can't ask people not to own cars'

Despite a projected tripling of traffic in China over the next decade, the focus should be on low-carbon technology rather than sacrifice, says a report by Tony Blair's Climate Group (The Guardian)


Toyota, Hybrid Innovator, Holds Back in Race to Go Electric

TOKYO — Despite Toyota’s image as the world’s greenest automaker, the company that brought us the Prius — totem of the environmentally conscious — has fallen behind in the race for the all-electric car.

Mitsubishi Motors started leasing its all-electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, in June. Next year, Nissan Motor is set to release its electric car, the Leaf. But Toyota does not plan to introduce an all-electric car until 2012. Instead, later this year, it plans to introduce a plug-in electric-gasoline hybrid, and only a few hundred initially.

“Why is Toyota waiting on electric cars?” asked Tadashi Tateuchi, a former race car designer turned electric-car evangelist.

Electric technology could help determine winners and losers in the auto industry of the future, but Toyota has been highly skeptical of electrical vehicles.

“The time is not here,” Masatami Takimoto, Toyota’s executive vice president, said during a factory tour this year.

Electric cars “face many challenges,” he said, adding that “to commercialize pure E.V.’s, we need a battery that far exceeds the current technology.”

If Toyota is right, its competitors will have spent billions on a technology that will be slow to take off. (NYT)


August 20, 2009


Media: "It's all getting worse! We're all gonna die!" Reality:

CDC says life expectancy in US up, deaths not

ATLANTA — U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday. The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2007 is nearly three months greater than for children born in 2006.

The new U.S. data is a preliminary report based on about 90 percent of the death certificates collected in 2007. It comes from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy is the period a child born in 2007 is expected to live, assuming mortality trends stay constant. U.S. life expectancy has grown nearly one and a half years in the past decade, and is now at an all-time-high.

Last year, the CDC said U.S. life expectancy had inched above 78 years. But the CDC recently changed how it calculates life expectancy, which caused a small shrink in estimates to below 78.

The United States continues to lag behind about 30 other countries in estimated life span. Japan has the longest life expectancy — 83 years for children born in 2007, according to the World Health Organization.

The CDC report found that the number of deaths and the overall death rate dropped from 2006 — to about 760 deaths per 100,000 people from about 776. The death rate has been falling for eight straight years, and is half of what it was 60 years ago. (Associated Press)

U.S. Life Expectancy at All Time High

Americans are living nearly two-and-a-half months longer, according to new life expectancy statistics released today. In 2007, life expectancy in the United States reached a high of nearly 78 years, up from 77.7 a year earlier.

Life expectancy in the United States has been on the rise for a decade, increasing 1.4 years — from 76.5 years in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The life expectancy data, compiled by the agency’s National Center for Health Statistics, are based on nearly 90 percent of the death certificates filed in the United States.

Doctors say that not only is lifespan increasing, but more important, the “active” lifespan is increasing as well.

“The most noteworthy aspect about all this is not just that people are living longer but living better,” said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “At the same time, people are living a longer active lifespan. Seniors are healthier, more active and economically better off than they ever have been.” (Tara Parker-Pope, NYT)

Americans Gained 73 Days to Live in 2007, CDC Says

Americans gained 73 days to live in 2007.

Life expectancy in the U.S. rose to a record 77.9 years, from 77.7 in 2006, according to preliminary data released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, a U.S. agency. The gain amounted to 10.4 weeks.

A continuing decline in mortality rates for the top two killers, heart disease and cancer, contributed to the change. So did a 10 percent drop in deaths from the AIDS virus, the steepest decline since 1998. The U.S. still lags behind industrialized countries such as Japan, where life expectancy exceeds 80 years, said Sam Harper, an assistant professor in the epidemiology department at McGill University in Montreal.

“That’s an ongoing area of investigation that people are rightly concerned about given how much money we’re spending in the U.S. on health care,” Harper said today by telephone. “There’s clearly room for the U.S. to grow.” (Bloomberg)


The Voters' Option

With opposition growing to their planned takeover of U.S. health care, Democrats have an idea: They'll go it alone without GOP votes. Looks like they'll have to go it alone without the American people, too.

Sure, the Democrats could pass a health care bill. They have the votes to do whatever they want. Well, good luck with that. As we all have seen from constituents shouting down their quaking representatives, the public is up in arms about the "reforms" proposed. Democrats would be wise to think twice about trying to ram them down the public's throat. (IBD)


Big No On Higher Taxes For Health Care

Despite repeated promises that President Obama will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year, senior administration officials recently floated the possibility that tax increases on middle class Americans might be necessary to pay for health care reform.

The latest IBD/TIPP poll, however, found that Americans by a 61% to 29% margin do not welcome this approach. Democrats support the idea 47% to 43%, but Republicans and Independents oppose it by 80% to 13% and 69% to 26%, respectively. (Raghavan Mayur, IBD)


US views unchanged on Obama's healthcare plans

WASHINGTON - Americans remain skeptical of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform drive, but their views have not changed much after weeks of sometimes angry protests at public meetings, according to an NBC poll released on Tuesday.

Obama's approval rating on healthcare was at 41 percent, unchanged from last month, while 36 percent believed his reform plans were a good idea and 42 percent a bad idea -- also unchanged from last month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

With Congress on a month-long August break, the public relations battle over his top domestic priority has been center stage. Critics have disrupted some "town hall" meetings held by lawmakers, attracting enormous media attention.

But the poll found the number of Americans who thought their healthcare would get better under Obama's plan grew slightly in the last month from 21 percent to 24 percent -- within the margin of error. Forty percent believed it would get worse, virtually the same as last month. (Reuters)

Once upon a time Australia had a good system, people could privately insure at whatever level they felt appropriate (right up to no fee gap insurance covering any and every requirement) and basic care was delivered without fee for those on welfare or government assistance. It was a very workable and fully funded system and the people were happy. Then we had a socialist government who decided to make things "more equitable" and the system has been broken and declining since. And not even the socialists are happy.

Gratuitous advice? Don't accept socialized medicine. It is an experience best left to people you really don't like.



Seeds Of Socialism

As the president flips, then flops, on his government-run option, the words of leftist activists come back to haunt them. A "public option" was always a Trojan horse for socialized medicine.

It's never wise to underestimate Washington's capacity to succeed in doing harm, but right now it looks like the Obama administration has painted itself into a corner on health care legislation.

The public has caught on to the threat of a government-run health plan unfairly competing with the private plans that nearly 90% say they are happy with. The people know that artificially low premiums, coupled with onerous new regulations for private insurers, can destroy the private health insurance industry and leave us all with no choice but one big, federally managed medical DMV. (IBD)


Health Care Is Your Business, Not Everyone's

When famed bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said: "Because that's where the money is." For the same reason, it is as predictable as the sunrise that medical care for the elderly will be cut back under a government-controlled medical system. Because that's where the money is. (Thomas Sowell, IBD)


Keep Off the Astroturf

WITH the “public option” part of President Obama’s health care reform plan looking dead in the water, many of its supporters are taking issue with the legitimacy of its opposition. “We call it ‘Astroturf,’ ” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said of the protesters at town-hall meetings. “It’s not really a grass-roots movement.”

What exactly is Astroturf supposed to mean? Typically, that, in the absence of widespread support for a position, some unseen entity manufactures the appearance of it. But is that really what’s happening here?

With voters split fairly evenly down the middle on health care reform, it seems presumptuous to label your side “real” and the other synthetic. Considering today’s 24-hour cable news babbling, down-and-dirty blog activism, and talk-radio rabble-rousing, it’s worth asking if the Astroturf epithet still has meaning.

Astroturf, in the political sense, is thought to have been coined by Senator Lloyd Bentsen, who used it to describe the “mountain of cards and letters” he got promoting what he saw as the interests of insurance companies. “A fellow from Texas can tell the difference between grass roots and Astroturf,” Bentsen said in 1985, “this is generated mail.”

Generated mail is a pretty old idea. In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” Brutus is persuaded to assassinate Caesar in part by letters of support from the public — letters that were actually faked by Cassius “in several hands ... as if they came from several citizens.”

More recently, a Washington lobbying firm working for the coal industry was caught sending bogus letters to members of Congress — supposedly from community organizations — urging them to oppose the House cap-and-trade bill. Such brazen fraud is rare, though, and politicians are usually pretty savvy about seeing through it. More effective are campaigns aimed at generating news coverage to convince people that many other people hold a certain position. This is what Republicans are now accused of doing. What’s unclear is how this differs from old-fashioned political organizing. (Ryan Sager, NYT)


Let workers with flu stay home, US tells businesses

WASHINGTON, Aug 19 - Businesses should encourage employees to stay home sick at the first symptom of swine flu and should drop requirements for doctor's excuses during flu season, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

Employers should also encourage vaccination against both seasonal and H1N1 swine flu, the officials said.

"If an employee stays home sick, it is not only the best thing for his health, but it is also the best thing for his co-workers," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told a news conference.

Requirements to get a doctor's note to validate illness should be waived, Locke said. "It has the potential to overload the healthcare system that is likely to be stressed during this year's flu season," he said. (Reuters)

Not having infectious staff is generally good advice.


An interview with anti-"health nanny" Tom Naughton, part 1

If you watched Super Size Me and decided afterwards that McDonald's is to blame for obesity in America and taxing, restricting, and labeling fast food will make everyone healthier, Tom Naughton says you’ve been fed a load of bologna. Naughton is a health writer, filmmaker, and comedian who earlier this year released a documentary called Fat head, which takes aim at the “Spurlockian Bologna” presented in Super Size Me, as well as the nonsense perpetuated by many other misinformed health nannies who believe it’s their job to protect consumers.

Tom was kind enough to answer some questions about his movie, health and science policy, and chicken McNuggets in this two-part interview. (Cameron English, Examiner)


D'oh! Health care cost burden for obese getting heavier

NEW YORK - Caring for obese people is eating up an ever-bigger slice of the US health care spending pie, a new government report shows. (Reuters Health)

Gosh, you medicalize people's weight and it chews into your healthcare budget... Go figure!


Overweight friends eat more when they dine together

NEW YORK - Overweight children and teenagers may eat more when they have a snack with an overweight friend rather than a thinner peer, a new study suggests.

In a study of 9- to 15-year-olds, researchers found that all kids, regardless of their weight, tended to eat more when they had the chance to snack with a friend than when they were with a peer they did not know.

But the biggest calorie intakes were seen when an overweight child snacked with an overweight friend. (Reuters Health)

So... people who enjoy food, enjoy food together? And people in the company of strangers are less likely to be relaxed enough to enjoy eating? Such breakthroughs! How do they do it?


PCBs In The Hudson: Environmental Protection Or Environmental Politics?

Sadly, this is yet another monumental EPA screw-up.

For one thing, the dredging will likely makes things worse, but more than that, NO human health effects have ever been documented on the area workers, exposed to PCBs.

In 1999, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)—a unit of the CDC—concluded that "The weight of evidence does not support a causal association for PCBs and human cancer at this time."

Apparently, this was not the PC finding, though, because they reversed it in 2000, for no scientific reason whatsoever.

Yes, friends, this whole business stinks to high heaven.

Read my complete Health News Digest article, which includes some inside dope never before published. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Simulated threat in simulated ocean under simulated conditions... Scientists uncover new ocean threat from plastics

Scientists have identified a new source of chemical pollution released by the huge amounts of plastic rubbish found floating in the oceans of the world. A study has found that as plastics break down in the sea they release potentially toxic substances not found in nature and which could affect the growth and development of marine organisms.

Until now it was thought that plastic rubbish is relatively stable chemically and, apart from being unsightly, its principle threat to living creatures came from its ability to choke or strangle any animals that either got caught in it or ingested it thinking it was food.

But the latest research suggests that plastic is also a source of dissolved substances that can easily become widely dispersed in the marine environment. Many of these chemicals are believed to toxic to humans and animals, the scientists said.

The scale of plastic pollution in the sea has only been widely recognised in recent years when sailing yachts reported vast areas of ocean, such as an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas in the North Pacific, that seem to be permanently covered in a layer of floating marine litter caught up in swirling ocean currents or gyres.

Some of the items were found to be many decades old, suggesting that the plastic took a long time to degrade. However, a study by Katsuhiko Saido at Nihon University in Chiba, Japan, has found that plastics degrade relatively quickly in the conditions and temperatures that were designed to simulate the environment of the open ocean. (The Independent)


Vast oceans may lay beneath the Earth's surface, new research suggests.

Scientists believe areas of enhanced electrical conductivity in the mantle - the thick region between the Earth's crust and its core - betray the presence of water.

Water divining researchers produced a global three-dimensional map of the mantle showing the areas through which electricity flowed most freely.

Conductivity hot spots were found to coincide with subduction zones, sites where the tectonic plates that divide up the Earth's surface are being forced downwards.

This was a surprise since subducting plates are colder than the surrounding mantle rock, and should therefore be less conductive.

The anomaly is best explained by water being drawn downwards by the subduction process and increasing conductivity, say the scientists. (Daily Telegraph)


Precautionary principle destroys EU innovation

EurActiv.COM published a sensible yet pessimistic interview with David Zaruk, an environmental health risk consultant in Brussels.

He explains that Europe is not really becoming a knowledge-based society as people used to say but an influence-based society. And the influence is moving towards the eco-religious fundamentalists, cowards who are gradually replacing the presumption of innocence by the precautionary principle, i.e. the principle that researchers are held "guilty until proven innocent".

The scientific method as used in the EU policymaking.

The beauty of the precautionary principle is that "you can never be wrong" which is attractive for many people. But it's only true as long as you define "being wrong" as something else than "not being right". ;-) Indeed, the precautionary principle distinguishes these two situations while science (and logic) does not.

NGOs' lobbyists are becoming the most powerful force that shapes EU policies related to science and innovation is getting impossible. At the same moment, it is getting hard to hire good scientific experts for the EU's risk assessment process because they are increasingly fed up with the EU's being driven by ever strengthening non-scientific elements. Risk assessment is sadly being separated from risk management.

The reason why many Europeans are returning to the dark ages is that their view of the role of science has changed "from a force of good to protect us from the evils of nature to, suddenly, a [...] technological machine that big businesses brought in and which is destroying and polluting nature".

Nature is being pictured in an unrealistic, romantic fashion: we are talking about a new religion, eco-religion. This new religion has many irrational assumption, e.g. that "natural is good" while "man-made is bad". Zaruk knows a lot about the real life of EU scientific and technological policymaking. However, he looks excessively optimistic concerning America's future because he thinks that the very bad sentiments don't significantly affect America. I am much less convinced about it today.

Hat tip: Benny Peiser (The Reference Frame)


Folie à Deux

Reading it is enough to make you want to stop breathing…

On the desk in front of me is a set of graphs. The horizontal axis of each represents the years 1750 to 2000. The graphs show, variously, population levels, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, exploitation of fisheries, destruction of tropical forests, paper consumption, number of motor vehicles, water use, the rate of species extinction and the totality of the human economy’s gross domestic product.

So writes writer, environmentalist and poet, former editor of The Ecologist, Paul Kingsnorth to his friend, ally, and comrade in misery, George Mon-and-on-and-on-biot. The two are discussing the question ‘Is there any point in fighting to stave off industrial apocalypse?’ Their exchange is printed in the Guardian.

The subtitle sets the terms of the debate between these two apocalyptic nutcases.

The collapse of civilisation will bring us a saner world, says Paul Kingsnorth. No, counters George Monbiot – we can’t let billions perish

Kingsnorth, who curiously shares his name with the site of the site of recent Climate Camp protests, recites a familiar litany – we are going to hell in a fossil-fuel-and-capitalism-powered handcart, and the human race is just to stupid to notice or care, and it will be a good thing when billions of us are dead, because those who remain will have learned a lesson. Like the Rapture, but for Gaia-worshippers. (Climate Resistance)


Plastic Bag Wars Poised to Continue

In the wake of Seattle voters’ decisive rejection of a proposed 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags, opponents of disposable shopping bags have vowed to press for an all-out ban on the bags.

“A ban would be the logical next step,” said Brady Montz, the Seattle chairman of the Sierra Club and one of the anti-bag campaign leaders (Green Inc.)


Fire prevention on backburner

You would have thought, with less than 10 weeks until the bushfire season, this week's Victorian bushfires royal commission interim report might have mentioned the most frequently raised concern in submissions, the one which experts say determines whether a manageable blaze becomes an inferno: the availability of fuel.

But no. Not one of the report's 51 recommendations deals with prescribed or controlled burning or any means of fuel reduction which reduces the intensity of a fire and makes firefighting easier, or even possible.

That is despite the fact 485 of more than 1200 submissions concern fuel reduction. (Miranda Devine, SMH)


Gene Experts See High-Yield Rice In Flood Zones

HONG KONG - Researchers in Japan have identified two genes that make rice plants grow longer stems and survive floods, and hope this will enable farmers to grow high-yielding rice species in flood-prone areas.

The long-stemmed deepwater rice varieties grown at present in areas of frequent flooding have very low yields.

"In southeast Asia, there are floods in the rainy season and deepwater rice is planted in these regions. But they have yields that are only one third or one quarter that of high-yielding rice. This is a big problem," said Motoyuki Ashikari at Nagoya University's Bioscience and Biotechnology Center.

"If we combine the deepwater genes with high-yielding rice, we can have the best combination," he said in a phone interview. (Reuters)


100 metre record broken

Forget Usain Bolt. A new 100 metre record has been set in Britain. It was announced today during a press conference at the Metropolitan University of Nether Wallop. Dr Max Hadcrut, leader of the project, announced a new world record of 9.4239765 seconds. Questioned on whether a computer model could really be said to compete with a real human race, he said that the scientific consensus is now agreed that models are now much more reliable than physical measurements – “for example, physical measurement suggests that the planet is cooling, when everyone knows that it is warming.”

“We have incorporated into our model everything that is known to physiologists, psychologists, nutritionists and many other disciplines. We have been absolutely thorough. For example, the response of CO2 receptors in the brain has to be adjusted to accommodate the disastrously rising CO2 content of the atmosphere. They were exciting and stressful times as we gradually refined our model and the times slowly came down. When we finally broke the record, the scenes were like those at NASA when man first landed on the moon, though we only have fifty staff.”

Asked by one of the serried ranks of media journalists whether he was seeking to replace the human race Dr Hadcrut chortled and said “No, no, no; after all somebody has to write the programs.”

When asked whether he was prepared to release information about the data and processing methods used in the project, he said that it was not institutional policy to do so, especially in a competitive field like athletics. He likened it to the gradual development of chess programs to the point where they could defeat world masters.

It is known that the University of Much Hadham had been competing to achieve this goal, but after all it is Nether Wallop that is now on the map. (Number Watch)


Kevin Libin: You'll just have to take our word on the global warming stuff

Though a striking number of prominent scientists have recently recanted their initial belief in manmade global warming, joining an already robust community of distinguished skeptics, those who continue to advance the theory could be their own worst enemy. Whatever the truth is about anthropogenic climate change — the contention that carbon dioxide emitted by human industrial activity — the tendency among some climate-change believers to embellish the effects of planetary warming has only served to undermine their credibility in the eyes of the public and, less so, the media. (National Post)


Is “mistake” another word for a warming lie?

Just an honest mistake, which purely coincidentally scared people into thinking we really are heating the world to hell:

The outgoing leader of Greenpeace has admitted his organization’s recent claim that the Arctic Ice will disappear by 2030 was “a mistake.”

Greenpeace made the claim in a July 15 press release entitled “Urgent Action Needed As Arctic Ice Melts,” which said there will be an ice-free Arctic by 2030 because of global warming. Under close questioning by BBC reporter Stephen Sackur on the “Hardtalk” program, Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace, said the claim was wrong.

“I don’t think it will be melting by 2030. … That may have been a mistake,” he said.

Mistake? Leipold tries another form of weasel words:

We as a pressure group have to emotionalise issues.

I think the BBC reporter (and what a turnaround this is) is right:

Sackur said the claim was inaccurate on two fronts, pointing out that the Arctic ice is a mass of 1.6 million square kilometers with a thickness of 3 km in the middle, and that it had survived much warmer periods in history than the present. [Clarification: Sackur was referring to the Greenland ice cap, within the Arctic ice area.] The BBC reporter accused Leipold and Greenpeace of releasing “misleading information” and using “exaggeration and alarmism.”

Standard operating procedure for warming alarmists actually, as Professor Steven Schneider once cheerfully conceded.

Amazing how green lies collapse once reporters actually do their job and subject them to scrutiny. But what hope that the ABC will do as the BBC at last has, given that its chief science broadcaster is Robyn “100 Metres” Williams?

But if Greenpeace now admits it was a “mistake” to claim the Artic would be ice-free in 30 years, what would you call a scare-claim at wild as this one:

Tim Flannery also warned ”this may be the Arctic’s first ice-free year

And this, from Al Gore:

the entire Arctic ice cap may totally disappear in summer in as little as five years...

(Andrew Bolt blog)


Yacht Fiona hopelessly trapped in ice

On this blog, we've had a lot of fun with Arnesen+Bancroft, Lewis Pugh, as well as Pen Hadow and company. All these teams were trapped in the brutal conditions of the Arctic while they were trying to prove that the Arctic has become balmy because of global warming.

Ladies and Gentlemen, they have a new friend. Yacht Fiona is participating in the Green Ocean Race, teaching a generation or two how to live without fossil fuels.

They report that they got "hopelessly trapped by the ice" two days ago. Despite a "favorable" ice report, they encountered 8/10ths of ice, with many old i.e. large bergs. They are not in immediate danger because the Canadian Coast Guard is sending them an icebreaker. Well, they're surely not the first carbon-neutral yacht gratefully saved at least by an oil tanker. ;-) Here is the small appendix of the energy-efficient yacht - a true chickabiddy:

Why don't they ask the U.S. government to break the ice by exploding an H-bomb? That would surely be a small price for the chance to save a few liters of gasoline! ;-)

Meanwhile, Al Gore is rowing his own boat. Well, sorry, I meant this houseboat. The Biosolar One was designed specifically for Gore for his biosolar gobbledygook and the carbon indulgences and it probably eats more energy than your apartment building.

Hat tip: Anthony Watts (the Reference Frame)


On the Determination of Climate Feedbacks from ERBE Data

Written by Richard S. Lindzen & Yong-Sang Choi

climate feedback cover image

For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version] 

Climate feedbacks are estimated from fluctuations in the outgoing radiation budget from the latest version of Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) nonscanner data. It appears, for the entire tropics, the observed outgoing radiation fluxes increase with the increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The observed behavior of radiation fluxes implies negative feedback processes associated with relatively low climate sensitivity. This is the opposite of the behavior of 11 atmospheric models forced by the same SSTs. Therefore, the models display much higher climate sensitivity than is inferred from ERBE, though it is difficult to pin down such high sensitivities with any precision. Results also show, the feedback in ERBE is mostly from shortwave radiation while the feedback in the models is mostly from longwave radiation. Although such a test does not distinguish the mechanisms, this is important since the inconsistency of climate feedbacks constitutes a very fundamental problem in climate prediction. (SPPI)



ClimateScience is in the process of moving to a newer wordpress implementation on that will provide for better maintenance, automated backups, and more features. Thanks again to Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That for doing this!

the new address is:

And after a day or two, the previous domain name will point there also.

In the meantime please look for fresh content on (Climate Science)


New Paper “Impacts Of Land Use Land Cover Change On Climate And Future Research Priorities” By Mahmood Et Al 2009

We have a new multi-authored paper that has been accepted.  This paper illustrates the breadth and diversity of scientists who have concluded that land use/land cover change is a first order climate forcing.

The paper is

Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, B. Baker, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A. Carleton, A. Beltran-Przekurat, T. Chase, A.I. Quintanar, J.O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Conner, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D.R. Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O.W. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V.G. Anantharaj, S. Fall,R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H.-I. Chang, R. Leeper, U.S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, and J. Syktus, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover change on climate and future research priorities. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., accepted.

The paper starts with the text

“Human activities have modified the environment for thousands of years. Significant population increase, migration, and accelerated socio-economic activities have intensified these environmental changes over the last several centuries. The climate impacts of these changes have been found in local, regional, and global trends in modern atmospheric temperature records and other relevant climatic indicators.”

In our conclusions, we write

“It is the regional responses, not a global average, that produce drought, floods and other societally important climate impacts.”

as well as make the following recommendations

“we recommend, as a start, to assess three new climate metrics:

1. The magnitude of the spatial redistribution of land surface latent and sensible heating (e.g., see Chase et al. 2000; Pielke et al. 2002). The change in these fluxes into the atmosphere will result in the alteration of a wide variety of climate variables including the locations of major weather features. For example, Takata et al. (2009) demonstrated the major effect of land use change during the period 1700-1850 on the Asian monsoon. As land cover change accelerated after 1850 and continues into the future, LULCC promises to continue to alter the surface pattern of sensible and latent heat input to the atmosphere.

2. The magnitude of the spatial redistribution of precipitation and moisture convergence (e.g., Pielke and Chase 2003). In response to LULCC, the boundaries of regions of wet and dry climates can change, thereby affecting the likelihood for floods and drought. This redistribution can occur not only from the alterations in the patterns of surface sensible and latent heat, but also due to changes in surface albedo and aerodynamic roughness (e.g., see Pitman et al. 2004; Nair et al. 2007).

3. The normalized gradient of regional radiative heating changes. Since it is the horizontal gradient of layer-averaged temperatures that force wind circulations, the alteration in these temperatures from any human climate forcing will necessarily alter these circulations. In the evaluation of the human climate effect from aerosols, for example, Matsui and Pielke (2006) found that, in terms of the gradient of atmospheric radiative heating, the role of human inputs was 60 times greater than the role of the human increase in the well-mixed greenhouse gases. Thus, this aerosol effect has a much more significant role on the climate than is inferred when using global average metrics. We anticipate a similar large effect from LULCC. Feddema et al. (2005), for example, have shown that global averages mask the impacts on regional temperature and precipitation changes. The above climate metrics can be monitored using observed data within model calculations such as completed by Matsui and Pielke (2006) for aerosols, as well as by using reanalyses products, such as performed by Chase et al (2000) with respect to the spatial pattern of lower tropospheric heating and cooling. They should also be calculated as part of future IPCC and other climate assessment multi-decadal climate model simulations.”

We also write

“With respect to surface air temperatures, for example, there needs to be an improved quantification of the biases and uncertainties in multi-decadal temperature trends, which remain inadequately evaluated in assessment reports such as from the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP 2006). We also recommend that independent committees (perhaps sponsored by the National Science Foundation) conduct these assessments.” (Climate Science)


Unexpected Relationship Between Climate Warming And Advancing Treelines

A new study reveals that treelines are not responding to climate warming as expected. The research, the first global quantitative assessment of the relationship between climate warming and treeline advance, is published in Ecology Letters and tests the premise that treelines are globally advancing in response to climate warming since 1900. (ScienceDaily)


Temperature Readings in Isolated Australian Locations Show No Increases for 100 Years

By A. E. McClintock BA, MSc, PhD

Temperature readings in isolated Australian locations show no increases for 100 years.

Weather observatories in Australia, dating back 100 years or more show cities getting hotter as they get bigger but country towns have generally NOT been warming up. Some have actually been cooling down.

Deniliquin temperatures

Read the full document, with additional graphs here. [PDF, 796 KB] (Carbon Sense Coalition)


Crisis! Rain returns to normal

The warming alarmists of the Bureau of Meteorology concede what I first pointed out three years ago: that our rainfall is doing little more than return to the levels before the usually wet post-war years:

Rainfall has decreased substantially since 1950 on the east coast, and in Victoria. This decline is less marked if measured from 1900.

“Less marked” is another way of saying rainfall levels are around what Australians lived with for decades, long before “global warming” got blamed for anything and everything. Check the graphs yourself on the second link above. Or here:



So how refreshing to finally hear a public official go against the warming alarmism and booga-booga predictions by the likes of Tim Flannery that we’ll all run out of water:

As speculation grows that consecutive years of dry conditions could be a permanent climate ‘’step change’’, Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief Rob Freeman has expressed confidence that wetter times will return.

Speaking at a water summit in Melbourne yesterday, Mr Freeman took aim at doomsday climate predictions that have followed the driest three-year period on record for the Murray-Darling Basin…

‘’We are always going to have droughts and floods, but to suggest the future is this, I think is misrepresenting the situation … while it’s nice to have a burning platform on which to implement reforms, we’ve also got to be very honest,’’ he said.

I hope his message sinks into the overheated mind of Climate Change Minister Penny Wong:

The Federal Government is well aware of the huge challenges posed by drought and climate change for rural and regional communities across southern Australia, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.

(Thanks to reader Cameron.) (Andrew Bolt blog)


Senator Stabenow’s Flying Climate Circus Examined by SPPI

In a just released paper, the Science and Public Policy Institute examines Senator Stabenow’s fanciful claim that “we are paying the price” for human advancement “in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

Stabenow (D-Michigan) in an interview with the Detroit News in mid-August 2009, said: “Climate change is very real.” She endorsed cap and trade's massive tax increase on Michigan industry, saying it would not lead to an increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. “Global warming creates volatility," said Senator Stabenow. “I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

SPPI’s analysis and science fact-checking easily show that, like recent comments by Senator Kerry, every part of Senator Stabenow’s statement is misleading at best, false at worst. (TransWorldNews)


Global Warming Funding Can Be a Cash Cow

Rarely, if ever has the scientific establishment seen a gravy train the likes of global warming, reports Christopher Horner, “The money flowing into studying the issue is jaw-dropping: federal taxpayer expenditures on climate-related research for the entire panoply of related inquiry is now pushing up against $6 billion per year, more than taxpayers send to the National Cancer Institute and even more than our government spends on AIDS.”(1)

Since 1989 the US government has spent over $79 billion on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks. As Joanne Nova notes, “The large expenditure in search of a connection between carbon and climate creates enormous momentum and a powerful set of vested interests. By pouring so much money into a question have we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophesy instead of an unbiased investigation?” (2)

Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and climate, yet hardly any have been funded to find the opposite. In other words, if you’re a scientist, think and respond positively about climate change and you will find financial support. Being a skeptic leaves you out in the cold. With all the money thrown at climate change it shouldn’t be too hard for bright, dedicated researchers to find lots of connections, links, and predictions regarding imminent doomsday warming. (Jack Dini, Hawaii Reporter)


It's time to drop the alarmism and get real about climate change

This December, world leaders will gather in Denmark to draft a successor agreement to the Kyoto Accord.

This means you'll be hearing increasing hysteria this fall -- hard to imagine, I know -- from all the usual "green" suspects about how we have only months left to save the planet from man-made global warming.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned last week we have just "four months" -- until Copenhagen -- "to secure the future of our planet" from runaway climate change, or face environmental Armageddon.

Leading up to Copenhagen, "environmental" journalists will breathlessly report the latest doomsday predictions and how the Earth's only hope lies with a post-Kyoto accord, the UN and U. S. President Barack Obama.

In Canada, there will be predictable outrage about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lack of concern, even though his commitment to lower greenhouse-gas emissions is essentially the same as Obama's.

In any event, we'll all be warned to prepare for the worst.

Then, assuming this Kyoto meeting resembles past ones, at the eleventh hour, there will suddenly be reports of renewed hope in Copenhagen, of tense, round-the-clock negotiations, of a new spirt of urgency as world leaders, spurred on by noble environmentalists, realize the enormity of what's at stake.

Finally, after several extended (and artificial) deadlines, there will, miraculously, emerge a successor deal to Kyoto that, according to the hype, "may well save the planet," as Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May announced at the end of a similar, now-forgotten meeting in Montreal in 2005 chaired by Stephane Dion.

The thing to remember about all this is that it will be nonsense. A fantasy. (Lorrie Goldstein, Sun Media)


Methods designed to reduce climate change questioned

Is America on the right path to combat climate change? One member of a United Nations group following the issue told Utah lawmakers on Wednesday that the country could be headed toward a potentially dangerous slippery slope.

Addressing the Legislature's Public Utilities and Technology Committee, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change member Tom Tripp said that questions surrounding the overall impact of so-called global warming suggest that more research is warranted before major — and potentially costly — policy changes are implemented.

"There is some uncertainty concerning global warming, particularly regarding what the overall catastrophic potential would be," he said. "The natural variability of weather shows that we are not on the cusp of impending disaster."

Tripp testified that scientific evidence suggesting that the world's climate is being adversely affected by human activity in a major way is insufficient at this point. He said it would be a big mistake for the U.S. government to overreact by creating sweeping, heavy-handed carbon laws. (Jasen Lee, Deseret News)


“Low” Carbon?

Reuters has prepared a nice graphic of the three emissions scenarios considered in a recently published report by a panel from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Development Research Center of the State Council.  The panel has previewed its findings a number of times over the past several months, but has now formally published them in 2050 China Energy and CO2 Emissions Report. Feast your eyes on a climate death sentence:

There is no guarantee that the Chinese government will translate any of the report’s recommendations into domestic action or policy, much less make them part of its Copenhagen negotiation strategy, but the disturbing fact is that there is no chance, let me repeat that, NO CHANCE, China will agree to any scenario better that the “Enhanced Low Carbon” approach, and that isn’t good enough.

I base my “no chance” assessment on the simple fact that China’s top leadership will only commit to actions that have been thoroughly studied and for which costs have been estimated.  This is the only purely domestic effort (there have been a few private studies: McKinsey’s “China’s green revolution” and the UK’s Tyndall Centre China’s Energy Transition: Pathways for Low Carbon Development) that has studied the issue and estimated costs; its conclusions, therefore, will inform and guide public policy to the extent China is inclined to budge from its current “no limits” official position.

In the best case scenario (which I still consider to be extremely unlikely), sometime between now and whenever a Copenhagen deal is struck (which could be after the December meeting itself) , China will put in place or signal commitment to actions that will allow it to embark upon the “Low Carbon” path. China will demand significant concessions in terms of money and technology transfers to get it to the “Enhanced Low Carbon” path.  Of course, there is no way those will be forthcoming from the US, especially given the relentless drumbeat from some sectors that China is beating the US in the cleantech race.

Let’s assume by some miracle China does pursue the “Enhanced Low Carbon” path without strings attached.  Look at the numbers and tell me how we get to an 80% reduction in global emissions in 2050?  We don’t. The Cost of Energy Blog has run the numbers, using all the favorite base years.  Can anyone suggest how we reach a 450, much less a 350, ppm world with those kinds of emissions levels from China? (China environmental Law)


Failing to Overwhelm

The Financial Times is encouraged by China's statement that they would like to see their emissions peak by a date certain:

Most developing countries stubbornly resist western admonitions on the need to cut carbon emissions. Until recently, that included China, but signs from what is now the world’s largest emitter suggest a cultural revolution is afoot in its attitude to climate change policy.

For the first time, two senior climate change officials, Yu Qingtai and Su Wei, have left open the possibility that China will plan for an eventual peak in emissions. “Emissions will not continue to rise beyond 2050,” said Mr Su.

The FT says with an apparent straight face that:

As a quantitative measure of China’s intention to help fight climate change, the statement fails to overwhelm.

China's emissions have been increasing at around 8% per year. If China can somehow cut this rate in half and maintain it until 2050, then China's emissions in 2050 will still exceed the total global emissions in 2009.

Pop the champagne! (Roger Pielke Jr)


Simply stupid: US unions, green groups unleash climate change campaign

WASHINGTON — A coalition of US environmental groups and major labor unions on Wednesday unveiled a national campaign to refute charges that legislation to battle climate change would cost US jobs in a recession.

"The fact of the matter is, you're either going to have both, or you'll have neither," Leo Gerard, the head of the United Steelworkers union, told reporters on a conference call to announce the 50-stop, 22-state push.

"This is about creating good family-supporting jobs as we do the right thing for the planet," said Gerard, who predicted that legislation to fight global warming would create hundreds of thousands of jobs "if we do it right." (AFP) Press Release

How dumb do you have to be to believe pricing energy out of people's ability to use it will create good jobs? That is the whole purpose of climate legislation, to make energy more expensive. Sheesh!


Oh... Vilsack defends climate change bill

In an appearance today at the Iowa State Fair, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack defended efforts by the Obama administration and Democrats in congress to pass climate change legislation, saying "I start from the proposition that climate change is real. I know some disagree."

Vilsack said the rest of the world is looking for leadership from the U.S. on climate change.

"If we don't lead, international cooperation on a whole host of other issues, such as trade and terrorism, will be much harder," the former two-term Iowa governor said Wednesday at an open forum at the Iowa State Fair. (Des Moines Register)

Here's a thought: what about exploiting the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide to feed and power the people and only treating any ill effect when and if it should occur?


Too funny: BP and Shell warned to halt campaign against US climate change bill - Oil firms urged to leave American Petroleum Institute and halt political lobbying by Greenpeace

BP and Shell are being told to tear up their membership of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in protest at the organisation's attempts to incite a public backlash against Barack Obama's energy and climate change bill.

The two oil companies are also being asked to bring a halt to their own political lobbying in Washington in letters sent to their chief executives from Greenpeace and the Platform environmental group. (The Guardian)

Professional lobby and serial stunt holders Greenpeace want a halt to competing lobbying with conflicting message. Um... take a hike, you dopey bozos.


Perry nets endorsement thanks to opposing climate change rules

Gov. Rick Perry's stance against climate change legislation has already won him at least one endorsement.

The Texas Chemical Council on Tuesday threw its support behind Perry's reelection bid. The group said in a press release:

Gov. Perry is a longtime champion of causes important to the Texas chemical industry, including his recent stand against federally proposed cap-and-trade legislation and regulation of CO2 by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is clear that such policies being discussed in Congress would set our nation on the road to the largest tax burden ever levied upon American families.

Implementing such federally proposed regulations would cripple Texas' energy sector, irreparably damaging both the state and national economies and severely impacting national oil and gas supplies. Texas' energy industry fuels the nation, supplying 20 percent of the nation's oil production, one-fourth of the nation's natural gas production, a quarter of the nation's refining capacity, and nearly 60 percent of the nation's chemical manufacturing.

Regulating greenhouse gases could boost demand for natural gas, which generates less greenhouse gas when burned than oil or coal. Greater demand for natural gas might cause prices to rise.

And higher natural gas prices are bad for the Texas chemical industry, which relies on natural gas as a major feedstock. If natural gas prices rise too much compared with oil, Texas chemical makers have difficulty competing with the European chemical makers, which tend to use oil as a feedstock.

Perry has aligned himself with voters who oppose regulation of greenhouse gases. He says Texas has been going green on its own, without federal help. And he questions whether humans contribute to climate change. (Dallas Morning News)


Energy workers oppose climate change measure

The message was clear to the 3,500 people attending the Energy Citizens rally in downtown Houston Tuesday: stop the climate change bill expected to come before the Senate this fall.

“The Senate should stand up and tear up this plan,” National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford said to a cheering crowd that was heavy with energy industry employees. The House of Representatives “wrote 1,100 pages of junk,” he said, referring to the climate change bill that passed that chamber this spring.

The event was the first of more than a dozen planned throughout the country in the next few weeks, pushed by a number of companies and business organizations but organized in Houston largely by the American Petroleum Institute. Several companies, including Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., bused employees to the event at the Verizon Wireless Theater, while others encouraged workers to attend.

Despite the emphasis on the effect of the legislation on the energy industry, none of the speakers came from that field. (Houston Chronicle)


Ooh, what a fib! US coal industry won't give up easily on using atmosphere as a dumping ground

Fossil fuel lobbyists are fiercely fighting US attempts to make the world's dirtiest power sector pay for its carbon emissions (Smog's Kevin Grandia, in The Guardian)

For a start carbon dioxide emitted to atmosphere feeds the biosphere -- it sure ain't no "pollutant" and it is being equitably shared, not "dumped". (Surprising as it may seem, this magnificent resource is not charged for, although it increases crop yields substantially around the world, increases forest growth and protect wildlife habitats from the plow.)


Is 'Green China' just hot air?

How serious is China about Climate Change?

In recent months China’s government has generated a fantastic amount of hot air on this issue, much of which has been presented very positively in the international media.

Earlier in the year it seemed like there was an announcement a day, confirming China’s new commitment to sustainable growth - another few million wind turbines here, the world’s largest solar power station there, a new energy efficient grid system for good measure.

It was all great PR, but did nothing to change the inconvenient truth that 65-70pc of China’s energy mix will come from burning coal for the foreseeable future. Wind, wave, solar and nuclear isn’t going to change that, only mitigate it.

Now, as negotiations heat up ahead of December’s Copenhagen Summit, top Chinese officials and their government-sponsored think tanks are spewing forth yet more clouds of soothing pronouncements. (Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph)


He's right: Lord Adonis: no need to cut travel to save the planet, says Transport Secretary

Personal sacrifices are not necessary in the fight against global warming, according to Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, who promised that greener technologies would mean Britons should have no need to cut back on travel. (Daily Telegraph)

People need not fight global warming. If at some later time we agree the need to cool the planet that can be done through geo-engineering (we don't anticipate any such need but it is by far the superior option).


Clean Coal's Great Black Hope

Germany's new clean coal "Schwarze Pumpe" plant is not clean yet ...

"The Black Pump," Germany's dreadful-sounding hope for the future — in the shape of a "clean coal" facility near Poland —may clog up sooner than expected because one phase in its process for capturing and storing carbon dioxide has, so far, failed.

It's not a technological failure. The experimental carbon-capture plant in a coal-mining region of the former East Germany has functioned largely as planned. Last autumn the "Schwarze Pumpe" facility became the first coal-fired plant in the world to burn oxyfuel, or coal dust in pure oxygen. Oxyfuel releases carbon dioxide in a nearly pure form, with water vapor, which makes it easier to capture. The facility can condense the water vapor and trap the liquid CO2, then set about trying to inject it deep underground.

This oxyfuel process is one form of "carbon capture and sequestration," which goes by the name of "clean coal" because of the cleanup phase, not because of the coal itself. It can reduce CO2 emissions from a coal plant by up to 95 percent. Advocates call CCS the only hope for reducing greenhouse gases over the next 30 or 40 years, while the world still relies heavily on coal, and the German experiment would be working just fine if residents near the Schwarze Pumpe hadn't protested. (Miller–McCune)


CFTC Muscles Into Emerging U.S. Carbon Market

NEW YORK - A proposal by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to oversee a greenhouse gas contract on a voluntary Chicago trading exchange shows the agency is staking out its territory before Congress decides which agencies should regulate the country's burgeoning carbon market.

CFTC officials have long indicated they think the United States' carbon market will be huge. CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton reiterated in June he expected carbon futures to become a $2 trillion market in five years, based on an assumption that the cash market would be about $200 billion. (Reuters)


Seven Arrested In Suspected Carbon Tax Fraud

LONDON - The British tax office arrested seven people in London on Wednesday in a suspected 38 million pounds ($62.6 million) value-added tax fraud in the European market in carbon allowances, it said.

Officers from HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) searched 27 properties around London and arrested six men and one woman in early morning raids, the HMRC said in a statement.

"Those arrested are believed to be part of an organized crime group operating a network of companies trading large volumes of high-value carbon credits," it said. (Reuters)


Inconvenience and discomfort for thee but not for me... Open a window? We prefer air conditioning say Whitehall's climate change tsars

Breath of fresh air? Not for Whitehall workers who prefer air conditioning

They are tasked with cutting Britain's carbon emissions in a bid to slow down the effects of climate change.

But civil servants at the Department for Energy and Climate Change have scrapped an energy-saving plan to switch off their air conditioning and open the windows instead.

The trial was abandoned after three days because officials complained about noise from building works, security risks and 'the wrong kind of breeze'.

An internal memo said: 'We have therefore decided to revert to air-conditioned cooling for the building.'

Staff were told other 'innovative ways' to reduce the building's carbon footprint would be looked at instead.

Environmental campaigners said the decision sent a terrible message to the rest of the country. (Daily Mail)


The Steamboat Institute Announces High-Profile Climate Change Panelists to Speak on Saturday, August 29, 2009

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo., Aug 18, 2009 --The Steamboat Institute is pleased to announce that climate change experts Patrick J. Michaels, William M. Gray, and Marc Morano are scheduled to speak at the 2009 Inaugural Freedom Conference on Saturday, August 29, 2009. The event will be held at the Steamboat Grand Hotel in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Michaels and Gray will participate in a panel discussion about their scientific research on climate change. Morano will address the environmental movement from a press perspective.

"We're thrilled to bring to the climate debate both experts from the scholarly world and a communications perspective of environmental issues," said Jennifer Schubert-Akin, chairman of the newly formed Steamboat Institute.

"Our mission at the Steamboat Institute is to create a more balanced intellectual dialogue in the media and public policy arenas and we hope that these distinguished individuals will enlighten us with their expertise on climate change." (PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX)


China’s Oil Power Play

If one is looking for a sign of the changing world order, the size and scope of recent Chinese moves in the energy field should serve the purpose.

It was only a few years ago that the US and its oil companies, in their quest to secure vital oil and gas, were accused of all sorts of transgressions from imperialistic exploitation to coddling corrupt regimes to finding pretexts to invade Iraq, twice. In retrospect it is not quite clear how much of “always blame the Americans even if you are wrong you are right” was justified, but one thing is certain. The insinuations implied that the US government and its foreign policy understood the importance of energy supply to its economy.

This is no longer the case, with the American national debate (and that of several other developed countries) consumed by climate change, carbon emissions, and the preposterousness of solar and wind energies as substitutes for real energy sources. While any realistic and even charitable estimate puts solar and wind as contributing less than 1 percent of world energy demand for the next 20 years, more than 85 percent will still derive from oil, gas and coal; this while world energy demand will increase by more than 40 percent. The lion’s share of the latter will go to China.

The concern for the 1 percent solution, while ignoring the 85 percent question, is tantamount to economic hari-kiri for the US and presents a huge opportunity for China to expand its energy interests worldwide and diversify its supply sources. (Michael J. Economides, Energy Tribune)


Possible advance on hydrous monoethanolamine absorption: Reusable organic liquid scrubs emissions - Liquid could directly replace current systems

SCIENTISTS at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the US have developed a reusable organic liquid which can capture acidic gases such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide from power station emissions.

David Heldebrant, who led the research, says that the liquid could directly replace technologies currently in use and allow companies to capture twice as much harmful gas using much less energy, no water and at a much lower cost. Currently, the most common absorbent in use is a mixture of monoethanolamine and water. Monoethanolamine alone is too corrosive for use.

Heldebrant and his team have previously published research about a carbon dioxide-binding organic liquid, called CO2BOL, but recent developments have led to the discovery of organic liquids which will bind sulphur dioxide, carbonyl sulphide, and carbon disulphide. The organic liquid does not contain water and binds to carbon dioxide at near-room temperatures. It can hold as much as double the amount of CO2 by weight as the monoethanolamine mixture and does not require as much heating to release the gas during the recycling procedure.

The recycling procedure has been demonstrated for CO2BOL. It binds to CO2 forming a liquid salt solution, which is heated to release the gas. This can then be captured, and the liquid returns to its original state.

"Current methods used to capture and release carbon dioxide emissions from power plants use a lot of energy because they pump and heat an excess of water during the process," says Heldebrant.

The research was presented at the American Chemical Society Fall 2009 Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC. (The Chemical Engineer)


AIChE talks carbon management - US engineering societies discuss solutions

THE American Institution of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and four other US engineering societies have developed a scorecard scheme to evaluate carbon management technologies.

The AIChE, along with the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, have held meetings over five years to develop the scorecard system, which has been funded by the United Engineering Foundation.

The scorecards are graded A–F and have been designed to assess carbon management technologies, their potential for reducing carbon emissions, and barriers to their deployment. So far, scorecards have been developed for the transport and electric power industries, which between them produce around 70% of the US’ carbon emissions of 4b t/y.

The electric power scorecards look at various energy sources, including coal, with and without carbon capture, gas, nuclear and renewables, with variables including emission per kilowatt hour, emission per generated kilowatt, and total greenhouse gas emissions per unit. Transport scorecards grade road, air and rail transport by emissions, miles travelled, availability, and impact on land and water use, amongst other things.

There are plans to extend the scheme to other industries. As well as developing the scorecards, the group plans to tackle problems associated with measuring and verifying carbon emissions. (TCE Today)


Higher efficiency is always welcome: UQ expert's invention scores a clean coal coup

A UNIVERSITY of Queensland scientist said yesterday he had successfully tested technology that delivers twice the power from coal while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

The exciting breakthrough, which could provide a billion-dollar windfall for the state, may revolutionise the way the world uses coal, a university spokesman said.

Professor John Zhu, of the school of chemical engineering, created a series of direct carbon fuel cells (DCFC) in which burning coal generates highly energy-efficient electricity.

''The very high-energy efficiency of the new technology will effectively halve the amount of coal required to create electricity,'' he said.

''When applied, it will provide industry with very significant cost and energy savings, which could then be passed on to the consumer. In addition to saving cost and energy, the direct carbon fuel cells will also provide clean power.'' (Courier-Mail)


Retrofitting Dams to Generate Electricity

American Municipal Power
The Belleville Dam on the Ohio River was not designed to produce electricity, but it’s been retrofitted to do so.

Environmental opposition often means that new hydropower facilities are non-starters. But there may be a way around that: retrofitting existing dams.

Only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams in the United States are used to generate power, according to Norm Bishop, a vice president at MWH, a water engineering firm. They were built for other purposes, like flood control, recreation, irrigation or water storage.

To expand the nation’s hydropower capacity, “We should be looking at the dams in the 97 percent range that have no existing power facilities,” Mr. Bishop said.

One such effort is happening along the Ohio River.

American Municipal Power, a large power supplier based in Ohio that is working with MWH, broke ground earlier this month on the first of five planned hydropower retrofit projects on the river. The total cost will come to around $1.9 billion, according to Marc Gerken, A.M.P.’s chief executive, and the projects should be completed between 2013 and 2015. Total power production will be 350 megawatts, enough to supply 350,000 homes.

“These powerhouses will last 70 years,” Mr. Gerken said. “Once you construct them, and once debt service is done, you basically have free fuel.”

He cited renewable energy and climate policies as part of the motivation for retrofitting the dams, which would be a clean source of power. Carbon regulation is “coming, and you’d better manage your carbon footprint,” he said.

A Sierra Club representative in Ohio said that he fully backed A.M.P.’s project. “Retrofitting dams to produce hydropower can displace dirty energy from the grid,” said Nachy Kanfer, who is with the group’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “There’s really nothing to dislike with this proposal.”

The existing dams along the Ohio River were built in the 1950s and 1960s, for navigation and watershed purposes, according to Mr. Gerken. A.M.P. also retrofitted the Belleville Dam, along the Ohio River in West Virginia, in 1999.

Getting a license from the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams, tends to be a painstaking, multiyear process, according to Mr. Gerken.

“I had envisioned starting all of these projects six months ago, and obviously I only got one started,” he said.

Another power developer, Brookfield Renewable Power, has a retrofit project under construction on the Mississippi River in Minnesota. That project would add 10 megawatts of power capacity to an existing Army Corps dam.

This 2007 federal survey of hydropower capabilities identifies other dams that with retrofit potential.

Asked about whether he had received money from the stimulus package for the projects, Mr. Gerken of A.M.P. responded that he had gotten “not one red nickel.”

“What’s really ironic to me,” he added, “is how hydro has just totally fallen under the radar screen” in terms of incentives, relative to wind and solar.


Can't wait to see the creative bookkeeping that comes from this nonsense: Australian Senate endorses renewable energy target

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's Senate passed legislation Thursday to require that 20 percent of the country's electricity come from renewable sources such as the sun and wind by 2020, matching European standards and up from about 8 percent now.

The bill is certain to be endorsed by the government-dominated House of Representatives later Thursday and become law.

The law would quadruple the renewable energy target set by the previous government in 2001 and provide enough clean electricity to power the households of all 21 million Australians.

The target matches one set in 2007 by the European Union, which leads the world in green power technology. (AP)


Germans Seek to Spark Electric Car Market

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
German officials want to invest big in electric cars and charging infrastructure.

The cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to put one million electric cars on the country’s roads by the end of the next decade.

Car makers like Volkswagen and Daimler could receive about 500 million euros (about $705 million) in financial sweeteners from the government aimed at supporting the manufacture and sale of electric cars, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

The plans also foresee hundreds of millions of euros aimed at increasing the production of batteries and ensuring that German experts are trained in the technology, according to The Associated Press.

Sigmar Gabriel, the country’s environment minister, told German television that the introduction of electric cars into the German market would have the additional benefit of helping drive down the price of carbon-based fuels for those who chose not to swap to battery power, according to Deutsche Welle.

But Mr. Gabriel reportedly added that the technology for efficient and safe electric cars would not be in place until 2011 at the earliest, in part because batteries still needed to be made safer and smaller.

In fact the economics of making electric cars for a mass market are still largely unproven.

But that hasn’t stopped companies from asking governments to help them roll out electric models. Nissan has reportedly been in negotiations with British authorities to support its plans to produce a fully electric-powered car — a five-door family-sized hatchback called Leaf — that would be ready for showrooms next year.

Ontario, in Canada, has also announced a subsidy that is widely expected to help sales of the new Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid car that will go on sale in 2010.

And President Barack Obama has announced $2.4 billion of support for the electric-vehicle sector in the United States. (Green Inc.)


August 19, 2009


50 million uninsured Americans? Most people without health insurance are uninsured for a relatively short time

No single topic drives the health care reform debate like the number of uninsured Americans, variously numbered in speeches and ads at 45 million, 46 million, 47 million, or even 50 million. Unfortunately, most of what we think we know about the uninsured is wrong.

For the record, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau, 45.6 million Americans currently lack health insurance. This is actually down slightly from the 47 million that were uninsured in 2006. However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. (Michael D. Tanner, Financial Post)


Diabetes Case Shows Pitfalls of Treatment Rules

It sounds like a simple idea for improving health care: draw up guidelines on how best to treat a particular illness and then pay doctors to follow them. That strategy, which some insurers and health plans already employ, has been embraced during the health care debate by some lawmakers in Congress who want to extend it more broadly.

The goal is to improve treatment and, at the same time, save money. But setting guidelines that are good for every patient, it turns out, can get messy, with some experts warning that a big national plan of this sort poses risks. A recent case involving treatment for diabetes, one of the nation’s most pervasive illnesses, illustrates the difficulties.

Last year, a national guideline-setting group abruptly withdrew a controversial diabetes standard it adopted in 2006 that called for aggressive control of blood sugar, or glucose. The change came after a large federal study indicated that lowering glucose too quickly or too much in some patients could harm or even kill them.

In medical journal articles and elsewhere over the last year, some diabetes experts have lashed out at the group’s initial decision to approve the guideline, saying they warned back in 2006 that it was medically ill-advised for some patients.

“This was a case in which the advocates of a disease got caught up in their disease rather than the interests of patients,” said Dr. Rodney A. Hayward, a diabetes expert at the University of Michigan who had opposed the benchmark.

Critics like Dr. Hayward have also suggested that pharmaceutical companies influenced the guideline so they could sell more glucose-lowering drugs like insulin. The group that set the guideline, a Washington organization called the National Committee for Quality Assurance, received about $3 million, or 10 percent of its revenue, last year from drug and medical device makers. (NYT)


Study questions need for folic acid mandate

NEW YORK - A study from Ireland suggests that mandatory folic acid fortification may be unnecessary as many people may be getting plenty of folic acid already.

There are no implications of the findings for the general public at present, Dr. Mary Rose Sweeney of Dublin City University emphasized in an email to Reuters Health. However, she said the results should be taken into account by lawmakers considering mandatory fortification of some foods with the B vitamin.

Pregnant women who get enough folic acid reduce their risk of having a baby with spina bifida and other neural tube defects. For this reason, several countries, including the United States and Canada, now require grain products to be fortified with folic acid.

Many Irish food companies already fortify their products with folic acid, Sweeney and her colleagues note in the journal BMC Public Health, and Ireland's Food Safety Authority recommended in 2006 that fortification be made mandatory.

But safety concerns, including new evidence suggesting that a 1 mg daily dose of folic acid could speed the growth of colorectal and prostate cancers (more than twice the recommended dose for pregnant women), led the country to hold off on such legislation.

Sweeney and her team sought to determine how much folic acid people might already be getting in Ireland, and estimate how much this might increase if mandatory fortification went into effect. (Reuters Health)


Call for crackdown on children buying energy drinks

Doctors are backing a crackdown on children buying energy drinks.

Medical professionals are highly critical of drinks like V, Red Bull and Mother.

They increase your blood pressure, cause effects similar to someone suffering cardiovascular disease, are full of chemicals and there are fears children are developing an addiction to them.

The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations is pushing for a crack down on the sale of the drinks, calling for a state wide ban on the drinks in schools. (LiveNews)


Federal Government cracks downs on weight-loss industry

WEIGHT-LOSS programs and products will have to prove they can help people keep off the kilos long-term as the Federal Government cracks down on the $414-million-a-year industry.

The Rudd Government's Preventative Health Taskforce is understood to have called for the weight-loss industry to be regulated in a report handed down last month.

It follows growing evidence that diets may actually be adding to the obesity crisis as overweight people lose weight rapidly while following programs but quickly put it back on after they stop.

The taskforce said that young women in particular were spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on programs to manage their weight.

Despite this, the nation's obesity rate was climbing with more than 60 per cent of adults now overweight or obese.

While weight-loss programs and pharmacy-based meal replacement programs were popular, the task force said there was limited data to show they were actually effective.

It wants a wide-ranging review of diet products and a common code of practice drawn up covering the cost, the training of counsellors and the promotion of the diets. (Daily Telegraph)


Just couldn't resist... Paranoia alert -- science proves zombies will kill us all

In more bad news for the living today, scientists have determined that humanity would almost certainly perish in the (probably still unlikely) event of a zombie outbreak.

Using maths and probability to demonstrate what us Walking Dead fans have known for years, a team in Canada have shown that an zombie-like infection -- one that quickly killed its victims and then returned them to life in order to feast on the living -- would, mathmatically speaking, spell almost certain doom for us all.

Among the issues faced by humanity would be the exponential increase in new zombies created after each human dies, and the sudden shutdown of vital services and resources.

Only massive and frequent counter-attacks upon the Zombie Menace would give humans any hope of survival says the paper, which is published this week under the title 'Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress'. (Asylum)


Enviro-panicker Marion "the clarion" gets enviro recognition? What're the odds... Eureka moment for Herald journalist

THE Sydney Morning Herald's Environment Editor, Marian Wilkinson, has won the 2009 Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism, along with Neale Maude, Kate Wild and Ruth Fogarty of ABC TV, for The Tipping Point, a report on climate change published in the Herald last August. (SMH)


Oh boy... Is there any point in fighting to stave off industrial apocalypse?

The collapse of civilisation will bring us a saner world, says Paul Kingsnorth. No, counters George Monbiot – we can't let billions perish (The Guardian)


Mild weather prompts second wave of butterflies

Warm weather has prompted the declining Duke of Burgundy butterfly to produce a second brood this year - only the third time it has done so in more than a century, the National Trust said. (Daily Telegraph)


It's Fish Versus Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley - Crops rot and people stand in line for food while the EPA engineers a drought.

San Joaquin Valley, Calif.

In 1931, a severe drought began that within a few years engulfed the Oklahoma panhandle and a third of the Great Plains in a "Dust Bowl." Tens of thousands of people fled the region—many traveling to California along Route 66, which John Steinbeck called "the mother road, the road of flight" in "The Grapes of Wrath."

A lot of the "Okies" settled in the San Joaquin Valley. In the decades that followed, state and federal officials built dams and other irrigation projects that helped turn the valley into some of the world's richest farmland.

But today the San Joaquin Valley is being transformed into a dust bowl. Hundreds of thousands of acres are fallow, while almond and plum trees are being left to die in the scorching sun. Tens of thousands of people have been tossed out of work—the town of Mendota alone has an unemployment rate of about 40%—and the lines for food donations stretch down streets. The reason? There isn't enough water to go around this year, and the Obama administration is drawing up new reasons to divert more of it from farms and people and into the San Francisco Bay.

The valley has traditionally been a place where someone with few belongings, little education and even no ability to speak English could prosper by picking grapes, milking cows, or hoeing cotton fields. The hearty people who came here were Portuguese, Mexican, Armenian, Italian, Basque and Dutch, along with westward-traveling Americans and Okies. More recent arrivals are from El Salvador, Vietnam and India. I am the product of a Portuguese family that came decades ago.

California has the largest water storage and transportation system in the world. With 1,200 miles of canals and nearly 50 reservoirs, the system captures enough water to irrigate about four million acres and provide water to 23 million people. In many cases, as with the San Joaquin Valley, water in this system is sold to communities by the federal government.

Some claim that California is facing a three-year-old drought. But, according to the state's Department of Water Resources, California reservoirs have received 80% of their normal amount of water and precipitation in the northern Sierras has been 95% of its yearly average this year. So why isn't there more water for farms? Because theirs is a regulatory-mandated drought. The 1973 Endangered Species Act requires that the government take steps to save endangered species. In California, that's meant diverting vast sums of water into rivers and streams to protect fish. Those diversions this year have forced federal authorities to decide who to serve—fish or farmers. (Devin Nunes, WSJ)


Float water bags south for Murray: scientist

A scientist has suggested floating giant plastic bags of water down Australia's coast to help the drought-affected Murray-Darling Basin.

Research and development physicist Dr Ian Edmonds says it is feasible to bag excess water from north Queensland and float it along the eastern seaboard.

He says big, cigar-shaped plastic containers about half a kilometre long could be filled with water from the Burdekin River.

The first step would be to tow them by tug boat through the Barrier Reef as they started the journey south.

Dr Edmonds, from Queensland, says the giant bladders could be guided south to Tathra in New South Wales where the water could be pumped into parched waterways at reasonable cost.

He says the idea could supply the Murray with one gigalitre of water per day. (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)


The future of wheat - Genetically modified wheat would increase yields, cut pesticide use and give Canadian farmers a global edge

Nine wheat organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States, among them the North American Millers’ Association, recently released a joint statement that called for a synchronized introduction of genetically modified (GM) wheat into the marketplace.

The trend toward major biotech crops in soybeans, corn and canola is already well established over the past dozen years. It is high time that wheat joins their ranks.

The potential benefits of extending this technology to wheat are quite real, for both producers and consumers, as a recently updated study by British economists Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot demonstrates. The authors note that GM varieties help generate higher yields for many farmers and therefore increase overall crop production. Biotech crops also significantly increase farmers’ incomes, reduce the need for pesticide spraying and cut greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture. (Rolf Penner, Financial Post)


Renewable energy target initiative is mad, bad tokenism

HURRAH, the Rudd government and Turnbull opposition have agreed to pass the Renewable Energy Target, an initiative unjustified in economic terms that makes emission reduction costs three times more expensive than the price of permits under cap and trade and resurrects government planning that Australia spent half a century trying to escape.

This is an initiative driven totally by politics. In a new world of climate change tokenism it means Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are heroes. Government support to create new renewable industries otherwise untenable has become the test of being "serious" about climate change.

Perhaps it is time to be grateful for small mercies since in the scale of climate change policy atrocities this is modest. But it illuminates a greater truth: a fundamental change in policy values produced by global warming and a new hypocrisy about solutions running from renewables to nuclear power.

The Productivity Commission knows the RET is a bad idea. In its submission to the Garnaut report, Australia's leading economic research body said RET schemes would "not achieve any additional abatement but impose additional costs". They would "most likely lead to higher electricity prices". And they would encourage a new corrosion of politics by signalling "that lobbying for government support for certain technologies and industries over others could be successful". Of course, the descent into a new era of rent-seeking lobbying is now entrenched.

In its July 2009 submission to the Senate economics committee, the Business Council of Australia, a supporter of the cap and trade concept, said: "The introduction of the RET will bring with it additional costs for those industries using electricity as a means of production." The BCA said the "key challenge" for Australia was to "achieve emission reduction in the most cost-effective way" to avoid weakening the nation's economic competitiveness. (Paul Kelly, The Australian)


Wirth: target coal-fired power plants with climate change cap and trade

Former Democratic Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth last week told Bloomberg News the cap-and-trade aspects of the House-approved climate change bill are spread too broadly across the economy instead of focusing on coal-fired power plants.

“I’m not critical of cap-and-trade,” Wirth told Bloomberg. “But it has to be used in a targeted and disciplined way, and what has happened is it’s gotten out of control.”

Wirth, a six-term congressman and one-term senator who now heads up Ted Turner’s U.N. Foundation, got cap-and-trade provisions for emissions passed as part of the Clean Air Act in 1990. He also served in the Clinton State Department as Undersecretary for Global Affairs focusing on climate change and population growth.

He told Bloomberg the climate-change bill needs to scrap the idea of auctioning permits to raise revenues for the federal government and “just focus on the utilities.” To get out of the Senate, he said, the bill needs include more agriculture provisions, a better nuclear power package, a carbon-emissions standard for new utilities and a stronger “natural gas piece.”

More goodies for the cleaner-burning (by about 50 percent versus coal) natural gas industry and a higher renewable electricity standard are two of the things Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall recently told reporters he wants to see in any climate-change bill. Natural gas is also something Gov. Bill Ritter would like to see strengthened in the bill. (Colorado Independent)


Energy Legislation Pushed Further Aside as Health Care Fight Continues

With health care town halls generating all the heat this August, global warming legislation has been left to simmer on the back burner.

Democrats and President Barack Obama are in the throes of an all-out public relations war to rescue their health care plans, which have been beset by falling poll ratings and increasingly vitriolic attacks. As such, Democrats have been far less focused on their climate change ambitions, which they still hold even as the calendar gets more crowded and lawmakers’ stomachs for tough votes shrink.

But while all the recent focus has been on health care, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any action on energy.

The House passed its version before the July Fourth recess, and Senate Democrats say they are still committed to doing an energy bill this year. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who held a two-day energy summit in Las Vegas, has set a Sept. 28 deadline for Senate committees to report out a bill. (Roll Call)


Companies Nudge Rally Against Climate Bill

Houston is the capital of the American oil industry; some in the industry even call it “Rome” since so much of the world’s energy business is done here.

So it’s not surprising that Houston-based oil employees would start to gather to make their voices heard as Congress considers climate change legislation — including cap-and-trade provisions, which would issue decreasing emissions allowances for industry and utilities, and then let companies trade their excess allowances. The concept is not popular with many in the industry. (Green Inc.)


Energy workers rally against climate plan

Local energy workers jammed a downtown Houston theater today to protest climate change legislation that the U.S. Senate will take up in the coming weeks.

The Energy Citizens rally, promoted by some major energy companies and business organizations as well as the Greater Houston Partnership, is the first of several such events planned in 19 states in the coming weeks.

About 3,500 people, or 1,500 more than expected, filed into the facility, many donning yellow T-shirts that were being handed out that read "I'm an energy citizen." Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. was the keynote speaker.

Organizers of the event, billed as a dialogue on energy and the environment, told the Chronicle on Monday that legislation the U.S. House passed last spring will destroy millions of U.S. jobs and raise costs without reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. (Houston Chronicle)


US energy industry stages rally against climate bill

The US energy industry sought on Tuesday to put a human face on its lobbying effort against climate change legislation under consideration by Congress, staging the first of a series of “energy citizen” rallies across the country.

More than 3,000 people packed the lunchtime demonstration at a Houston stadium, mostly from energy companies including Chevron, Anadarko Petroleum and ConocoPhillips, which encouraged staff to participate.

Their goal is to show Congress that US citizens – not just faceless companies – object to the proposed Waxman-Markey legislation, which favours renewables over conventional energy.

”They’re dictating a solution that will damage the economy,” said Kent Baggett, a ConocoPhillips employee.

The orderly crowd wore bright yellow T-shirts marked ”Energy Citizen” on the front – the name of the nonprofit organisation formed to organise the rallies. On the back were phrases such as, ”It’s the JOB climate stupid” and “Think job losses and $4 gas.” (Financial Times)



Mining industry not impressed by renewable energy targets

The Minerals Council of Australia says it would rather see a "clean energy" scheme, to encourage clean coal and carbon capture technologies, than the government's renewable energy targets.

The renewable energy target legislation, or RET20, is now before the Senate.

It aims to produce 20 per cent of the nation's energy from renewable sources within 10 years.

Minerals Council deputy chief executive, Brendan Pearson, says the RET scheme excludes clean energy options, and will penalise the coal industry.

"We said to the government: 'why don't you include electric power generation, linked to carbon capture and storage, and include it in the 20 per cent target?' he syas.

"And we said that to them 18 months ago, and 12 months ago, and we've had no luck with that." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Well, that's a start, now how about showing some real good sense and objecting to all energy rationing schemes?


From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 33: 19 August 2009

"Doom and Boom" on Australia's Great Barrier Reef: A massive deadly bleaching event is followed by a spectacular coral recovery.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 720 individual scientists from 423 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Svanemose Bog, East Coast of Jutland, Denmark. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary
Evolution (Terrestrial Plants - Natural Vegetation: CO2-Induced): Does atmospheric CO2 enrichment prompt plants to evolve in such a way as to perform pertinent physiological processes at higher levels of efficacy and efficiency in the face of climatic and other environmental challenges?

Plant Growth Data
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice, cv Kirara397 (Shimono et al., 2009), Rice, cv Kakehashi (Shimono et al., 2009), Rice, cv Akitakomachi (Shimono et al., 2009), and Rice, cv Hitomebore (Shimono et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews
Surface Mass Balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet: Is it positive or negative? ... and which way is it trending?

Late Holocene Water Balance in the Experimental Lakes Area of Canada: What does it reveal about the nature of past climate change there?

Elevated CO2 and Warming: Not Always Detrimental: The sea star Pisaster ochraceus appears to thrive in CO2-enriched and warmer waters.

Chinese Forests to the End of the 21st Century: How will they fare in the face of business-as-usual anthropogenic CO2 emissions and Al Gore's climate crisis?

Chinese Agriculture to the End of the 21st Century: How will it fare in the face of continued anthropogenic CO2 emissions and what Al Gore calls the coming climate crisis? (


New Thesis “The Influence Of Landfall Variation On Tropical Cyclone Losses In The United States As Simulated By HAZUS” By K. Sharp 2009

There is an excellent new M.S. Thesis which I would like to alert you to. The topic fits within the vulnerability framework which, as reported frequently on my weblog, is an effective way to deal with risk from climate and other environmental variability and change. The Thesis is

Sharp, Kevin, 2009, M.S. Thesis: The influence of landfall variation on tropical cyclone losses in the United States as simulated by HAZUS. Department of Geography, University of Colorado, 67 pp.

The abstract reads

Sharp, Kevin Joseph (M.A., Geography)

The Influence of Landfall Variation on Tropical Cyclone Losses in the United States
as Simulated by HAZUS

Thesis directed by Dr. William R. Travis

“Tropical cyclone losses in the United States have shown an increasing trend since the beginning of the 20th century. This is mainly due to increased exposure along America’s coast. The amount of coastal property at risk persistently increases due to inflation, wealth increase, and population growth. When researchers have normalized the loss record to remove the influence of exposure and vulnerability change, no trend can be discerned in the damage record. This has been used to refute the claim that tropical cyclones are becoming more potentially destructive, and to keep the locus of explanation firmly in socio-demographic trends. But physical variation, in storm size, intensity and location, still make a significant difference the impact of any individual storm event. This fact occasionally induces calls renewed efforts at hurricane modification and routinely evokes a sense of either or alarm at “close calls” that, except for a difference of a few miles in landfall location or a modest weakening of peak winds, separate hurricane disasters from catastrophes. This project examined the effect of landfall location on storm damage using the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) risk assessment HAZUS. Thirty-mile track shifts were prescribed for the top 10 most damaging storms in the normalized record since 1988. The alternate storms yielded drastically different damage estimates from the original storms, indicating large spatial variations in exposure. Each landfall shift resulted in a rank change in the overall normalized record. The damage record is dominated by individual extreme events like those used in this analysis, and although random, differences in landfall location would presumably average out in a long record. The fact that a few storms account for a large majority of losses, and that small differences in their landfall yield large differences in impact, points to a very large noise to signal ratio that would make it difficult to discern a climate-induced trend, and may also obscure some dimensions of socio-economic exposure and vulnerability trends.” (Climate Science)


Climate negotiations drowning in a sea of brackets: Forest protection missing

At the start of last week’s UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Yvo de Boer, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, described the negotiating text as “200 pages of incomprehensible nonsense”. By the end of the week, de Boer wasn’t much more optimistic. “We seem to be afloat on a sea of brackets,” he was reported as saying in the New York Times. Drowning in a sea of brackets would perhaps have been more appropriate. “The speed of the negotiations must be considerably accelerated at the [next] meeting in Bangkok,” de Boer said.

REDD is, of course, part of the negotiating text. But NGOs pushing for explicit language on protecting forests “met a brick wall” in Bonn, according to the Ecosystems Climate Alliance, an alliance of environment and social NGOs founded in December 2008. (REDD-Monitor)


China losing out in low-carbon economy bonanza

BEIJING - China might be the world's biggest generator of carbon credits, but its sclerotic financial sector is still holding the market back, the head of the country's pioneering CO2 exchange said.

Carbon offsets are a brand-new commodity and China's clean energy sector has generated more than half of the total credits now being sold under a United Nations-backed trading scheme.

But the conservative instincts of China's bankers and policy makers have made it hard to develop the financial instruments capable of taking the market forward, said Mei Dewen, the general manager of the China Beijing Environmental Exchange (CBEEX). (Reuters)

And they are quite right to avoid the hot air market, which will inevitably collapse.


Climate bill would bloat federal agencies

The House-passed climate change bill, if enacted, would expand the federal government so much that it would take billions of dollars and thousands of new employees to implement.

Now-obscure federal agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to become mini-behemoths in order to handle their expanded responsibilities. Congress would have to appropriate billions of dollars for more bureaucrats, much of which is not reflected in the House bill.

"The problem is that there's a mismatch between the government's capacity and its mission," said Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

One provision would almost overnight create the nation's largest commodity market in which polluters would buy and sell rights to emit carbon dioxide. These rights - called allowances - are at the heart of the measure, which seeks to slash the amount of greenhouse gases by forcing polluters to curb their emissions or pay for the right to pollute.

"It could be a $2 trillion market within five years," said Bart Chilton, commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. (Amanda DeBard, Washington Times)


CFTC Seeks To Boost Oversight Of Carbon Trading

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday proposed increasing federal oversight of the Chicago Climate Exchange's carbon spot contract.

The CFTC is using new authority provided by Congress that gives the agency more oversight over contracts listed on exempt commercial markets that play an important role in setting the price for a commodity. (Reuters)

Given that it is a total scam with no value whatsoever why aren't they shutting the nonsense down altogether?


With frightening ignorance: Unions Favor Deep CO2 Cuts And Green Jobs

OSLO - Trade unions are supporting deep cuts in greenhouse gases as part of a planned U.N. climate pact and want to ensure jobs are preserved in a shift to a green economy, a leader of a global labor group said on Tuesday.

More jobs could be created than are lost if governments are serious about promoting a switch from fossil fuels to a low-carbon economy, said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

"We are aboard. It's a fragile consensus but it is there," Ryder told Reuters of an ITUC endorsement in 2008 of cuts in greenhouse emissions as part of a planned treaty to help avert rising sea levels, more heatwaves, droughts and floods. (Reuters)

"Low carbon" will not and can not kill global warming even if warming were a real problem but it can and will certainly kill real jobs.


Paul Chesser: Governor's summit makes cap-and-trade inevitable for the South

This weekend in Williamsburg, the Southern Governors Association (SGA) has its annual confab. If some reality isn't injected into the planned panel discussions, their constituents may come away from it stuck with yet another costly cap-and-trade agreement.

Polls from Gallup and Rasmussen this year show the public increasingly doubts catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Growing numbers of well-credentialed scientists have expressed their skepticism as well.

Those trends are mostly ignored in Washington and in the state capitals. Congress and governors across the country still pursue the policy prescription of the climate fearmongers: A greenhouse gas emissions-trading scheme imposed on utilities and industry, which leads to higher costs for electricity and gasoline.

Besides the House-passed Waxman-Markey greenhouse gas-cap legislation, three regional cap-and-trade state coalitions are either in effect or near completion: The Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (already auctioning emissions permits); the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (plan finalized); and the Western Climate Initiative (also completed).

The South, heavily dependent on coal for power generation, is the last quadrant of the country for the alarmists to capture. The SGA meeting, with five of six discussion panels planned to address climate change or related issues, could topple that last domino. Among the topics: "Climate Change, Energy and National Security;" "Evaluating State-based Climate and Energy Policies;" "Developing a Smart Electricity Grid;" and "Balancing Energy Demands with Climate Goals." (Washington Examiner)


Treasure papers show advice ignored

Treasury papers released today show the Government did not follow a call from its financial advisers for it to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions target 15 percent above 1990 levels.

On August 10, the Government announced an emissions reduction target range of 10 percent to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

But Treasury recommended a target range with an unconditional target of 8 percent reduction on a base year of 2005.

This was equivalent to emissions 15 percent above the 1990 level because New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions increased 24.7 percent between 1990 and 2005.

Treasury suggested the Government propose further targets of 15 percent and 26 percent, conditional on more ambitious targets being set by developed and developing countries.

In July, Treasury specifically advised the Government against a target range of 12 percent to 20 percent drop on 1990 emissions.

"A target of 15 percent above 1990 levels would be a fair target," it said. This would have been equivalent to the advisers' proposal of 8 percent below 2005 emissions.

It said this offered a cost saving of over $10 billion on the Government's preferred 12 percent below 1990: "The Crown would have to recognise a liability of as much as $17 billion". (NZPA)


The silly assault continues: The Greenhouse Gases That Cool Your Fridge


Many cooling units – from refrigerators to air-conditioners – use HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons. The use of these chemicals has grown significantly over the last decade as an alternative to substances that damage the ozone layer and that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

The problem for the planet, critics argue, is that HFCs have 100 to 3,000 times as much global warming potential as carbon dioxide, and can remain in the atmosphere for long periods.

Moreover, large quantities of HFCs are released during their manufacture and from filling up and disposing of cooling units like refrigerators and air-conditioners, according to opponents of HFCs.

Refrigerated transport like food delivery trucks is another major source of leaks, they say.

This month, one group, called BeyondHFCs, began an online campaign in support of a global phase-out of production of these so-called F-gases by 2020.

BeyondHFCs is seeking agreement on a production ban at talks in December in Copenhagen, aimed at drafting a new global climate treaty.


BeyondHFCs says current technologies should be replaced by using equipment adapted to using fluids like ammonia and propane which much lower greenhouse gas potentials. Such equipment is manufactured by several companies, including Itomic, Advansor, Shecco, Oberist and Earthcare Products — companies that, incidentally, support the group’s campaign against HFCs.

Christianna Papazahariou, the head of the campaign, told Green Inc. that letters were being forwarded electronically to the offices of environment officials around the world, including Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and Jean-Louis Borloo, the French environment minister, as soon as they are filled out online.

Ms. Papazahariou also said her group was using data from the chemicals industry as part of the campaign to show that in some cases up to 80 percent of some HFCs placed on the market had already escaped into the atmosphere. (Green Inc.)


More eye opening facts about the Chevy Volt

OK, so maybe the Chevy Volt doesn’t really get 230 miles per gallon.  Are such exaggerations justified because they serve a greater cause?  The Chevy Volt will help save the world, after all, by reducing  CO2 emissions, right?


In fact, in some cases the amount of CO2 generated per mile for the Chevy Volt is the same as a conventional automobile getting only 21 miles to the gallon.  Read on…

When running on gasoline (known as ”charge sustaining operation”) the Volt will get 50 miles per gallon.   According to the EPA burning one gallon of gasoline yields 19.4 pounds of CO2.  That means the CO2 emitted per mile driven while running on gasoline will be 0.39 pounds.

 (19.4 lbs of CO2 / Gallon) / (50 miles / gallon) = 0.39 lbs of CO2 per mile

How much CO2 will be emitted per mile when the Volt is powered by energy from the electrical grid that has been stored in its battery?  That depends on how the energy on the grid is generated.  If you live in an area where the power on the grid is generated primarily with coal, then the amount of CO2 per kilowatt-hour generated is fairly high.  If you live in an area where the power on the grid is generated primarily from nuclear, then the amount is fairly low.  On the average, though, there are 1.34 pounds of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated for the electric power grid in the United States, according to the Department of Energy (2000).

The fully charged lithium-ion batteries hold 16 kilowatt-hours of energy and will propel the Volt 40 miles.  That works out to 0.4 kilowatt-hours per mile.  So that means on the average, 0.54 pounds of CO2 will be put in the atmosphere for every mile that the Volt drives on energy drawn from the electrical grid, assuming perfect charging efficiency.

(1.34 lbs of CO2 per grid kWh) x (0.4 kWh per mile) = 0.54 lbs of CO2 per mile

But charging a lithium-ion battery off the grid is not 100% efficient.  There are grid transmission losses and grid to battery conversion losses which add up to about 10%.  So running your Volt  off of electric grid power will yield closer to 0.59 pounds of CO2 for every mile your drive.  That is 151% of the CO2 put in the atmosphere by the running the Volt off of gasoline.

How many miles per gallon must a conventional automobile get in order to put the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere per mile as a Chevy Volt does when running off of grid power?  That’s easy- about 33 miles per gallon.  Here are some cars that will do better.

(19.4 lbs of CO2 per Gallon) / (0.59 lbs of CO2 per mile) = 33 miles per gallon

If you drive in an area where the electric grid is primarily powered by coal, then the numbers are even worse.  Burning coal to power the electric grid yields about 2.1 pounds of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour generated.  Driving your Volt with grid generated power will yield about 0.92 pounds of CO2 for every mile driven (when 10% conversion inefficiencies are added in).

(2.1 lbs of CO2 per grid kWh) x (0.4 kWh per mile)  x 1.1 = 0.92 lbs of CO2 per mile

That is the same amount of CO2 per mile as a conventional automobile that gets only 21 miles per gallon!

(19.4 lbs of CO2 per Gallon) / (0.92 lbs of CO2 per mile) = 21 miles per gallon

So don’t be fooled by astronomical claims of miles per gallon for the Chevy Volt.  And if you are worried about CO2 (I’m not), then don’t count of the Chevy Volt to save you - it won’t. (Climate Sanity)



Brazil Seeks More Control of Oil Beneath Its Seas

RIO DE JANEIRO — Faced with the world’s most important oil discovery in years, the Brazilian government is seeking to step back from more than a decade of close cooperation with foreign oil companies and more directly control the extraction itself.

The move is part of a nationalistic drive to increase the country’s benefits from its natural resources and cement its position as a global power. But it could significantly slow the development of the oil fields at a time when the world is looking for new sources, energy and risk analysts said.

This month, Brazil’s government said it wanted the national oil company, Petrobras, to control all future development of the deep-sea fields discovered in 2007, which international geologists estimate could hold tens of billions of barrels of recoverable oil.

The change would make Petrobras the operator for the 62 percent of the new area that has yet to be bid out, consigning foreign companies to the role of financial investors. That would limit their ability to help set the pace for the oil fields’ development, while giving Petrobras significantly more power to generate jobs and award lucrative contracts.

The oil lies beneath about 20,000 feet of water, shifting sand, and a thick layer of salt. This so-called pre-salt region, stretching hundreds of miles, is the biggest oil reserve being developed in the world today, especially given the lack of headway in gaining access to Iraq’s extensive deposits, said Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an energy research consultancy. It is also expected to be among the most complicated sets of projects in the history of the oil industry.

“The timing and scale of the development of the pre-salt will be one of the most significant factors for the global oil balance in the next decade, and even more so after 2020,” when Brazil is expected to ramp up production even further, Mr. Yergin said. “If it doesn’t happen it will be a big setback for Brazil in terms of revenue, and a significant loss for the world in terms of new oil supplies.” (NYT)


Another Outrage of the Ethanol Scam: Increased Gasoline Consumption

Many aspects of the use of corn based ethanol in motor fuel are well known. This “renewable” source of energy was alleged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and start the nation on the path to energy independence. In the pursuit of these goals, the federal government has mandated wide usage of gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent subsidizing the production of ethanol for use in fuel. In this report, I will show that using 10 percent ethanol blended in gasoline results in higher petroleum usage than if the ethanol were not used.

Before turning to that task, here are some salient facts regarding the use of corn-based ethanol in motor fuel:

  1. Using ethanol in our fuel almost certainly does NOT cut the emissions of carbon dioxide, especially if deforestation to grow corn is considered. Further, it has been documented that ethanol leads to increased emissions of VOCs and oxides of nitrogen. California requested, but was denied, a federal exemption from mandated ethanol usage.
  2. The use of corn to produce fuel has raised food prices around the world.
  3. Many gasoline-powered machines, such as boats, lawn, farm, and construction equipment are being damaged by ethanol-blended gasoline. Apparently some modern cars are affected also, notably certain recent Lexus models.
  4. Ethanol cannot be transported in gasoline pipelines. This means it must be moved by truck or rail. Not only does that add to the cost and to highway congestion, but there is a safety issue as evidenced by two recent horrible accidents (one truck and the derailment of tank cars in Chicago resulting in fierce fires and at least one fatality).
  5. A huge quantity of water is needed to make ethanol from corn. This aggravates shortages of fresh water in many parts of our nation.

However, one aspect of ethanol has not previously been considered. That is that it very likely increases the nation’s consumption of fossil fuel. But, you say, the very purpose of using ethanol is to reduce our dependence on imported petroleum. Well, I’m not a rocket scientist, but I am a mechanical engineer with 32 years of work experience in the automotive industry and another 12 in energy distribution. I have been a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers for 52 years. Using my background and my own experience, I will show that a given trip, say, one that would require 100 gallons of unadulterated gasoline would require more fossil fuel if the trip were made with a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10).

Consider: Based on data from the EPA, a gallon of ethanol contains about 76,100 Btu, while a typical gallon of gasoline has 114,000 Btu. Crunching the numbers shows that E10 has about 3.3 percent less energy than 100 percent gasoline and thus could be expected to decrease fuel mileage by that percentage. If the only degradation in gas mileage with E10 were 3.3 percent, you would not be reading this article. However, I have been fortunate to find a local source of 100 percent gasoline near my home. I have made a careful comparison of mileage with E10 vs. that with pure gasoline. It is well known that gas mileage varies depending on whether the driving is highway or local. So in order to make a valid comparison, I have taken advantage of the trip computer in my 2008 Nissan Rogue and recorded the average speed (mph) for every tank full of fuel. (See chart below.) For the (tank average) speed range of 27 to 53 MPH, using pure gasoline gave me an average of 7.8 percent better mileage than E101. I know this is anecdotal, but others who fill up at the same station report similar savings with the ethanol-free fuel.

Fuel Mileage vs. Average Speed Effect of Ethanol on 2008 Nissan Rogue

Fuel Mileage vs. Average Speed Effect of Ethanol on 2008 Nissan Rogue

Return now to that hypothetical trip that took 100 gallons of pure gasoline (E0). Based on my experience, the same trip would require 107.8 gallons of E10. Agreed? Ten percent of this E10 usage would be 10.78 gallons of ethanol. Well, from that we note that the energy equivalent of the ethanol would be 7.2 gallons of gasoline. (10.78 x 76,100 / 114,00 = 7.2) But not even ethanol protagonists allege that a gallon of ethanol requires less than 75 percent of its energy content to produce. So that 7.2 gallons would need the equivalent of 5.4 gallons of gasoline to produce. (7.2 x 0.75 = 5.4) Thus the trip with E10 would need 102.4 gallons of gasoline or its equivalent. (107.8 - 10.78 + 5.4 = 102.4) Which is to say that by using 10 percent ethanol in my fuel, I am using 2.4 percent more fossil fuel than if our misguided government had not modified our motor fuel in the first place.

It is patently obvious that the government's ethanol mandates and subsidies have but one indisputable effect: They enrich the corn growers and the ethanol producers at the expense of the rest of us taxpayers. When, oh when will courageous people in government stand up to the farm and ethanol producer (think ADM) lobbies and declare that there should be an end to this blatant scam on the American public? Think of what those billions in wasted subsidies could do for our troubled economy.

Harry Wertheimer, is a retired automotive engineer who lives in Salem, South Carolina. (Energy Tribune)


Peter Foster: Is the Mackenzie Pipeline dead?

New technology has revitalized old gas exploration areas and opened new ones, putting the economic logic of northern pipelines in doubt (Financial Post)


Lucky blighters... Canada Loses Out As U.S. Ups Green Ante

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The Obama administration's titanic $60 billion spending plan for the U.S. clean energy sector is luring investors away from green businesses in Canada, threatening the industry's growth here.

Already battered by recession and tight credit markets, Canada's renewable energy and clean technology companies must now compete for investment with their U.S. peers, who have an unprecedented cache of federal cash grants and tax incentives.

A start-up, whether it makes turbines for wind farms, solar panels or electric cars, may think twice before setting up shop in Canada, curbing the country's ability to create jobs and generate tax revenue, and losing technological innovation. (Reuters)


Fine except it can not work for its stated purpose: Germany Launches CO2 Scrubbing At RWE Plant

FRANKFURT - German companies on Tuesday launched carbon dioxide scrubbing from flue gases at a coal fired power station operated by utility RWE in western Germany.

The launch of the pilot plant to test the process at RWE's Niederaussem brown coal plant signifies another step toward coal generators' aims to capture climate-harming CO2 emissions, and in another step burying them safely underground.

"CO2 scrubbing shows that we are getting closer to the coal plant of the future," said Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in a statement.

The EU wants all new coal-to-power plants after 2020 to be equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

Germany is Europe's top greenhouse gas emitter. (Reuters)

CCS is a dog which will not hunt. See why here.


Christina doesn't get it: The Great Paradox Of China: Green Energy And Black Skies

This month, on the first anniversary of the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing's skies were a hazy gray. Walking down the street, one was left with a tickle in the throat and burning eyes. A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, conducted jointly by Peking University and Oregon State University, found that Beijing's $20 million investment to scrub the skies for the Olympics in fact had little impact on air quality. The U.S. embassy in Beijing now maintains a Twitter feed posting data from an air-quality monitoring station on the embassy compound; readings of large particulates in the air in recent weeks have ranged from "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy" to "hazardous."

The experience of daily life in Beijing hardly gives the impression that the last year has been a watershed for the environment in China. Being in the capital, one can't help but feel a little quizzical glancing at recent headlines from newspapers in Washington, New York, and London announcing China's green-tech revolution. (This is what an eco-friendly revolution feels like?) It's tempting to shrug and wonder whether the legacy of new green initiatives will be as lackluster as the "green Olympics" - or to feel blue at the lack of promised "blue skies." (Reuters)

China might be producing "green power" equipment to sell to the gullible. It might even install chunks of "green generating capacity" to idle (sunbathe, as the Chinese apparently term it) in the hope silly Westerners will buy indulgences. That does not mean, however, that China is foolish enough to rely on "green power" for actual supply.


Biofuel production 'is harming the poor'

The production of biofuels is fuelling poverty, human rights abuses and damage to the environment, Christian Aid warned today.

The charity said huge subsidies and targets in developed countries for boosting the production of fuels from plants such as maize and oil palm are exacerbating environmental and social problems in poor nations.

And rather than being a "silver bullet" to tackle climate change, the carbon emissions of some of the fuels are higher than fossil fuels because of deforestation driven by the need for land for them to grow.

According to a report, Growing Pains, by Christian Aid, industrial scale production of biofuels is worsening problems such as food price hikes in central America, forced displacement of small farmers for plantations and pollution of local water sources. (Press Association)


August 18, 2009


The scientific process in action — Where is the evidence for governmental efficiency?

Scientific literacy isn’t the stuff found in a science textbook. That’s science literacy — and, while understanding the principles of science is important too, it’s not as important as knowing how to think and reason. Scientific literacy means the scientific process — also known as thinking critically and logically. It’s a way to carefully look at information, question ideas and test them, and make decisions based on the best information and evidence. It’s what protects us from being taken in by unsound things or letting the fallacies of logic* get the better of us. What might feel intuitively correct to us, and everyone around us, often isn’t.

The scientific process is what ordinary people do — no fancy degree required. According to Dr. Jon D. Miller, Ph.D., director of the Center for Biomedical Communications at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, has tracked scientific literacy for more than thirty years and said that only 20-25 percent of Americans are “scientifically savvy and alert,” and that most of rest of us “don’t have a clue.” The National Science Foundation estimates that 70% of Americans don’t understand the scientific process, or how to think. (Junkfood Science)


PCBs In The Hudson: Environmental Protection Or Environmental Politics?

After more than seven years of planning and preparation, General Electric's $750 million Hudson River Dredging Project hit the water on May 15, 2009. This giant effort, though, was temporarily suspended on August 7th, when it was discovered that the PCB levels in the river had exceeded allowable standards. Very likely, the dredging operations themselves had disturbed the silt such that some already encapsulated PCBs were released. Dredging resumed on August 11th.

Beginning in the 1940s, GE used PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) as an insulating fluid in electrical capacitors manufactured at plants along the river at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, NY. As a result of various processes, PCBs were legally discharged into the river. The company discontinued its use of PCBs in 1977, based largely on pioneering work done by Dr. Renate Kimbrough and her associates in the mid-1970s, showing carcinogenic effects of PCBs (at high doses) in laboratory rats.

EPA's decision to go ahead with the dredging project late in 2001 brought out much local opposition. Sings were posted everywhere saying "No Dredging" and "Stop the Dredging." Polling data showed overwhelming opposition to the project. As writer Bonner Cohen put it: ... (Michael D. Shaw,


Studies offer new insights into causes of deformed frogs

Remember Minnesota's famous deformed frogs? New studies from two groups of researchers working half a world apart have just added important insights into this tantalizing environmental puzzle — while leaving a full explanation still out of reach.

It's been 14 years since a group of middle-schoolers on a field trip discovered frogs with bizarre leg malformations at a farm pond near Henderson, in the Minnesota River Valley an hour southwest of the Twin Cities. Some of the amphibians had extra hind legs that appeared as pale, shrunken imitations of normal limbs. Some were missing legs, or had legs that were partial or misshapen. In the months that followed, frogs with the same and even worse limb deformities were discovered in dozens of wetlands across Minnesota and Wisconsin, and it was learned that similar outbreaks were already under investigation in Canada's Quebec province.

Of immediate concern was the possibility that the deformities were being caused by a water contaminant that could affect other species, including humans. By the spring of 1997, several federal agencies and a number of academic researchers were working on the problem.

Researchers eventually discovered that a species of tiny aquatic parasite called a trematode imbeds itself in the developing leg tissue of tadpoles and causes them to grow additional legs. Because much of the attention had focused on frogs with extra legs, the finding was widely reported as the end of the story.

But it wasn't. There were outbreaks of frogs with extra legs in which parasites were not the cause. More important, most of the hundreds of reports of deformed frogs involved missing or partial legs. Parasites were implicated in missing legs, too, but not at the high frequencies such animals were being discovered in the field.

Now research on frogs with missing legs in England and Oregon — undertaken independently but arriving at identical conclusions — has found a common cause of missing legs in frogs.

They're being eaten off. (William Souder, MinnPost)


Soda makers: Don't tax our soft drinks

Industry groups are fighting a soft-drink tax proposal that is not part of any pending health care measure.

Still, they're taking no chances. The American Beverage Association has begun a $2 million ad campaign to oppose a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, depicting it as a tax on "simple pleasures."

Last month, the group joined forces with the National Restaurant Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to launch Americans Against Food Taxes, a coalition of 110 state and local groups. (Wendy Koch, USA TODAY)


Water crisis to hit Asian food

Scientists have warned Asian countries that they face chronic food shortages and likely social unrest if they do not improve water management.

The water experts are meeting at a UN-sponsored conference in Sweden.

They say countries in south and east Asia must spend billions of dollars to improve antiquated crop irrigation to cope with rapid population increases.

That estimate does not yet take into account the possible impact of global warming on water supplies, they said.

Asia's population is forecast to increase by 1.5n people over the next 40 years. (BBC News)



Richard S. Courtney
August 18, 2009

There is need for a new policy on climate change to replace the rush to reduce emissions. The attempts at emissions reduction have failed but there is a ‘Climate Change Policy’ that would work.

Climate change is a serious problem. All governments need to address it, and most do.

In the Bronze Age Joseph (with the Technicolour Dreamcoat) told Pharaoh that climate has always changed everywhere and always will. He told Pharaoh to prepare for bad times when in good times, and all sensible governments have adopted that policy since.

But now it is feared that emissions from industry could cause additional climate change by warming the globe. This threatens more sea level rise, droughts, floods, heat waves and much else. So, governments have attempted to reduce the emissions of the warming gases, notably carbon dioxide.

The UN established the Kyoto Protocol which limits the emissions from developed countries until year 2012. But the Kyoto Protocol failed. It has had no detectable effect on the emissions which continue to rise. Now the pressure is on to get a successor to that Protocol for after 2012, and negotiations are being held around the world to decide the new treaty at a conference in Copenhagen in December (CoP15).

But the negotiations have stalled. All industrial activity releases the emissions. Developing countries say they will not limit their emissions, and industrialised countries have problems reducing theirs. China releases more of the emissions than any other country, is industrialising, and says it is entitled to the same emissions per head of population as the US. So, China says it intends to increase its emissions more than four fold. India says the same. The US is having problems adopting a ‘Cap & Trade’ policy that would harm American industries and force industries from America to China. The EU adopted a ‘Cap & Trade’ policy that collapsed and has not affected the EU’s rising emissions. The Australian Parliament has recently rejected a similar policy.

Politicians have been responding to the failure of the Kyoto Protocol by showing they are ‘doing something’. They have adopted pointless and expensive impositions on energy industries, energy supplies and transportation. And the public is paying the large costs of this in their energy bills.

The Copenhagen Conference will provide a decision because it has to, but that decision will have no more effect than the Kyoto Protocol. And this will put more pressure on the politicians to be seen to be ‘doing something’ with further cost and harm to peoples and to industry.

There is as yet no clear evidence that the additional climate change is happening. But environmental groups are pressing the politicians to act “before it is too late”. And politicians are responding because of the fear of dire consequences from the additional climate change.

Politicians have decided how much additional climate change is acceptable, because they have decided that global temperature must not be allowed to rise to 2 degrees Celsius higher than it was at the start of the last century. But they need a method to overcome the urgency which is forcing them to do things and to agree things which do not work.

Read on...


Can Geoengineering Help Slow Global Warming?

As we pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we're doing more than warming the planet and scrambling the climate. We're also conducting what climatologist James Hansen has called a "vast uncontrolled experiment." In effect, we're on our way to engineering a world very different from the one we were handed. Belatedly, we're trying to turn off the carbon spigot, hoping that by incrementally reducing the emissions we've spent a couple centuries pouring into the air we can stop the climate slide before it's too late. (Bryan Walsh, Time)

Simple answer, yes it can. And it can do so far more effectively than the trivial effect of tweaking atmospheric carbon dioxide levels -- raising levels 35% over 250 years managed a mere portion of a total estimated rise of perhaps 0.75 °C. Changing levels of sunlight over land alters the entire planet's temperature almost 4 °C with each northern hemisphere winter to summer cycle before cooling with the onset of the next summer to winter phase. Very obviously then tweaking the amount of sunlight reaching the surface in given regions at given times is a far more effective mechanism for those wishing to control the globe's thermostat. To all intent and purpose adjustment of CO2 emission is useless as a temperature control.


Dead wrong, again: The Climate and National Security

One would think that by now most people would have figured out that climate change represents a grave threat to the planet. One would also have expected from Congress a plausible strategy for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that lie at the root of the problem.

That has not happened. The House has passed a climate bill that is not as strong as needed, but is a start. There are doubts about whether the Senate will pass any bill, given the reflexive opposition of most Republicans and unfounded fears among many Democrats that rising energy costs will cripple local industries.

The problem, when it comes to motivating politicians, is that the dangers from global warming — drought, famine, rising seas — appear to be decades off. But the only way to prevent them is with sacrifices in the here and now: with smaller cars, bigger investments in new energy sources, higher electricity bills that will inevitably result once we put a price on carbon. (NYT)

Where The Crone states: "the only way to prevent them is with sacrifices in the here and now: with smaller cars, bigger investments in new energy sources, higher electricity bills that will inevitably result once we put a price on carbon" is where she falls into the rhetoric of misanthropists and carbon scammers. Carbon constraint bears the distinction of being probably the most expensive means possible of not addressing global warming / climate change / weirding / catastrophic climate interference or whatever the term du jour happens to be.

You really wanna do something? Geo-engineering is for you. It's cheap. It's effective. It's fast (you can deploy at the very last moment and still get the whole effect). Carbon constraint is a total loser all around.



Dear Benny,

Enough data has already been released to unequivocally prove scientific fraud. All of the global temperature datasets that include the actual physical measurements of the global temperature clearly demonstrate that there was a rapid rise in global temperature from around 1910 to about 1942, followed by a slow drop in global temperature from 1942 to 1975, at which time the world reverted to warming which all global temperature datasets clearly show ended after 1998, with a cooling trend that is still continuing.

Global emissions increased by just half a billion tonnes of CO2 per year during the global warming of about half a degree C from 1910 to 1942. This equates to each gigatonne increase in CO2 emissions causing a one degree C rise in global temperature.

As a result of increased CO2 emissions from post-war industrialization, from 1942 to 1975 global emissions increase from under 4 billion tonnes of CO2 per year in 1942 to over 20 billion tonnes of CO2 by 1975.

During the cooling that occurred from 1942 to 1975 the global emissions increase by 16 billion tonnes of CO2 per year and based on the previous warming this should have caused 16°C of global warming but instead there was nothing but cooling.

It was only 13 years after this global cooling with contemporaneous rapid increase in global CO2 emissions that the climate models incorporated a forcing parameter that related global warming to increases in CO2 concentration on the basis that this increase came from humans.

Since these are supposed climate specialists, these modelers would be fully aware that the globe cooled from 1942 to 1975 as the atmospheric CO2 concentration grew. The relationship of the forcing parameter of the climate models of 5.35ln(C/C0) in which C0 represents the reference level and C represents the new level of CO2 concentration, clearly shows that increases in CO2 concentration will produce an increase in temperature. This did not happen over the entire period from 1942 to 1975 and therefore this parameter is clearly not valid.

The modelers also related global warming directly to human sourced CO2 emissions, but these were increasing dramatically as the global temperature dropped over these 33 years, making this relationship completely contrary to physical observation.

Since physical data already existed that completely falsified the forcing parameter of the climate models long before the models were run using this forcing parameter, and this had to be known by the modelers, it is clearly an open and shut case of scientific fraud.

If the modelers were unaware that this physical data falsified their forcing parameter it is still fraud because the modelers misrepresented their credentials as climate specialists.

Either way it is still fraud, and as the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and global emissions of CO2 both continue to increase while global temperatures continue to drop the fraud becomes more and more obvious.

Norm Kalmanovitch
Calgary Canada


Guest Weblog “Solar Variability And Its Effect On Climate Change” By Nicola Scafetta

In response to the interest in Nicola Scafetti’s earlier guest weblog (see), he has prepared another post for today.

Guest Weblog By Nicola Scafetti “Solar Variability And Its Effect On Climate Change”

Understanding solar variability and its effects on climate change has become  increasingly complex. While current climate models such as the EBMs and GCMs used by the IPCC claim that solar change can affect climate only slightly, empirical studies of climate data do suggest that solar changes have significantly altered climate both in the past and in more recent times, and will continue to affect climate in the future. Thus, from an empirical perspective modern climate models are poorly modeling the solar effect on climate change.

Herein I would like to advertise a conference session at the: AGU Fall Meeting, 14-18 December 2008, Monday-Friday, San Francisco, CA, USA that Dr. Willson and I are organizing.  For those who might be interested in submitting an abstract:  the abstract deadline for electronic submissions is the 3rd of September, 23:59 ET.

 AGU Fall Meeting, 14-18 December 2008
GC07: Solar Variability and its Effect on Climate Change
Conveners: Nicola Scafetta and Richard C. Willson


Solar variability and its climate change significance are to be explored. We invite papers relevant to solar variability and its effect on climate on all time scales including theoretical and empirical papers dealing with: 1) total solar irradiance observations and proxy reconstructions, solar magnetic activity, solar cosmic ray modulation and solar activity forecasts; 2) solar variation effects on global and local temperature cycles and trends, cloud cover, precipitations, droughts, floods, monsoons and stream

I also would like to advertise a new paper of mine that attempts to detect and reconstruct the solar signature on climate which is currently in press on the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. This new paper also discusses some limitation of previous approaches. The paper is

Empirical analysis of the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change.
Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (2009), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2009.07.007
By Nicola Scafetta

with the abstract

“The solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change is analyzed by using an empirical bi-scale climate model characterized by both fast and slow characteristic time responses to solar forcing: t1 = 0.4 +/- 0.1 yr, and t2 = 8 +/- 2 yr or t2 = 12 +/- 3 yr. Since 1980 the solar contribution to climate change is uncertain because of the severe uncertainty of the total solar irradiance satellite composites. The sun may have caused from a slight cooling, if PMOD TSI composite is used, to a significant warming (up to 65% of the total observed warming) if ACRIM, or other TSI composites are used. The model is calibrated only on the empirical 11-year solar cycle signature on the instrumental global surface temperature since 1980. The model reconstructs the major temperature patterns covering 400 years of solar induced temperature changes, as shown in recent paleoclimate global temperature records.” (Climate Science)


The science is in: global warming will not be catastrophic says SPPI

SPPI’s authoritative Monthly CO2 Report for July 2009 announces the publication of a major peer-reviewed paper by Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, demonstrating by direct measurement that outgoing long-wave radiation is escaping to space far faster than the UN predicts, and proving that the UN has exaggerated global warming 6-fold.

Lindzen’s paper on outgoing long-wave radiation shows that the “global warming” scare is over. Thanks to recent peer-reviewed papers that have not been mentioned in the mainstream news media, we now know that the effect of CO2 on temperature is small, we now why it is small, and we know that it is having very little effect on the climate. (TransWorldNews)


They seem determined to press this: Nothing new under the sun - Anthropogenic global warming started when people began farming


IMAGINE a small group of farmers tending a rice paddy some 5,000 years ago in eastern Asia or sowing seeds in a freshly cleared forest in Europe a couple of thousand years before that. It is here, a small group of scientists would have you believe, that humanity launched climate change. Long before the Industrial Revolution—indeed, long before a worldwide revolution in intensive farming, the results of which kept humanity alive—people caused unnatural exhalations of greenhouse gases that had an impact on the world’s climate.

Much of what is known about recent ice ages comes from drilling into the ice at the planet’s poles. This holds a chemical chronology of the Earth laid out by depth. There is evidence in this ice-core record of seven periods when the ice caps expanded, and each of them shows a steady decline in the level of greenhouse gases after the ice receded again. All, that is, but for the one which saw the rise of modern agrarian societies.

In Europe, slash-and-burn techniques for clearing forested land allowed the farming of crops that had spread from the Fertile Crescent. This practice loosed the forests’ stored carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. In eastern Asia a couple of millennia later there was a tenfold increase in the growth of rice as the region’s principal foodstuff. That meant the destruction of vast grasslands, which released equally vast amounts of methane—a gas far more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide is.

The Economist

The ice-core record shows that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made an anomalous upturn about 7,000 years ago, and that methane levels, which were also falling, began to increase about 5,000 years ago (see chart). These numbers correspond well with the rise of farming in Europe and Asia. This is not a new idea, but one of its proponents, Bill Ruddiman, a palaeoclimatologist at the University of Virginia, has recently refuted one of the main objections to it: that there were not enough people farming the land to have made a significant difference.

Dr Ruddiman argues, in Quaternary Science Reviews, that with vast tranches of land at their disposal and only unrefined agricultural techniques, early farmers had no incentive to maximise the potential of the land they farmed. Previous attempts to take into account the effects of early agriculture on the climate have assumed that people farming then used about the same amount of land to grow food, per person, that they did into the modern era. Dr Ruddiman argues that such an assumption is tantamount to suggesting that farmers have learned nothing in the past 5,000 years.

He and his colleagues have turned to archaeological and anthropological data to show that early farmers used ten times as much land per person as modern farmers. Burning off large areas of forest or grassland, they would farm the enriched soil until its yield began to drop, and then move off to do the same elsewhere—as practitioners of slash-and-burn agriculture do to this day.

Such profligacy would make the contributions of early farmers large enough to have an effect on worldwide levels of greenhouse gases. So although the size of the effect has increased markedly since the industrial revolution, it looks as if humanity has been interfering with the climate since the dawn of civilisation. (

Seems to me the biggest flaw in their little theory is that agrarian practices began in the Holocene Thermal Maximum and temperatures have steadily declined since. How is declining temperature a symptom of people triggering global warming?


Here come the all-too-predictable disaster prognostications in the lead up to CoP15: Climate change set to 'wipe out species'

RUNAWAY climate change will see thousands of animal and plant extinctions in Australia and massive changes to the eco-system, a Federal Government report warns.

If the worst-case climate scenario came about, the mass extinction event would be equivalent to anything in the past.

Changes that previously took 5000 years would take just 100 years.

And this would probably be the planet's sixth great extinction event, taking species millions of years to recover.

The report warned the Earth was tracking on a worst-case scenario, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reporting that carbon dioxide concentrations were increasing and sea levels rising faster than its earlier projections.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday launched the report at a meeting in Brisbane of 1200 scientists at the INTECOL International Ecology Congress.

The report is the first major national assessment of the vulnerability of plants and animals to climate change.

Prepared by a panel of scientists led by Australian National University Climate Institute executive director Will Steffen, it follows the international Stern Report and national Garnaut Report, which focused on the economics of global change. (Courier-Mail)

I call "Bullshit!"

If these clots were really worried about dramatic warming then they wouldn't be trying to "address" it with silly carbon constraint schemes, which can never work for stated purpose. If there is ever a need then we can alter the planet's albedo far more rapidly, adjustably and cheaply than trying to tweak emissions of a minor trace gas and such a strategy has the distinct advantage of being effective. In the meantime all these desperate claims in an effort to limit human activity are wearing extremely thin.


Climate change 'to affect tourism'

The tourism industry will face a massive cost shock from climate change as coral bleaching increases, species are threatened, national parks are closed, wetlands are lost and insurance bills grow, a tourism conference has been told.

CSIRO principal research scientist Kevin Hennessy used climate change modelling to predict what may be in store by 2020, 2050 and 2070 for some of Australia's top tourism destinations: Kakadu, Cairns, the Blue Mountains and the Victorian Alps.

Climate change is one of the key issues at this week's Tourism Futures conference on the Gold Coast, which is examining the future of one of the country's largest export industries.

Mr Hennessy said all four regions would grow hotter, with more intense rain, but for the most part less rainfall.

Kakadu and Cairns would see more severe cyclones, while there would be an increased fire danger in the Blue Mountains.

And in the Victorian Alps, modelling showed snow cover by 2050 could decrease by up to 80 per cent from current levels.

Less snow also meant less skiing, and reef tourism would be impacted if coral bleaching became an annual event by 2020, as predicted by some, he said. (SMH)


Plan to cope with climate change on Reef

A new strategy has been launched to cope with the single biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef - climate change - and protect Australia's $5 billion reef tourism industry.

The strategy was unveiled today at the Tourism Futures Conference on the Gold Coast.

It has been compiled by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Tourism Industry Council and Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt said climate change is the single biggest threat facing the reef.

"One of the key features is that it was developed by industry, but with the marine park authority as a combined effort," he said.

The plan covers raising awareness among operators and tourists, reducing the carbon footprint of tourism operators and improving their energy efficiency, monitoring and reporting changes, improving the resilience of the reef itself, and integrating climate change with business operations and planning. (AAP)

Nonsense! Even if Australia stopped producing carbon dioxide emissions altogether it can't affect temperatures sufficiently to influence bleaching events on the reef, ever. It is a case for geo-engineering though because the entire Coral Sea could be cooled, if necessary, by overflying and dispersing sulfate particulates to reduce solar energy penetration. There are ways of protecting the reef, should they ever be required but carbon constraint is not one of them.


Hmm... Warming of plateau is 'threatening all Asia'

Due to global warming, glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are retreating extensively at a speed faster than in any other part of the world.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the most susceptible areas on the planet to global warming, is heating up at such an alarming rate that experts fear it will suffer environmental deterioration and water shortages that may threaten the entire continent.

"The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is among the regions worst hit by global warming," said Qin Dahe, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). "In turn, this will have a deleterious effect on the global climate and also the livelihood of Asian people."

Qin, who is the former head of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), was the first Chinese person to cross the South Pole.

He pointed out that the temperature in the Tibet autonomous region rose by an average of 0.32 degrees Celsius every 10 years between 1961 and 2008. That rate of warming was much faster than the average across China, where temperatures rose by between 0.05 and 0.08 degrees. (China Daily)

But glacial mass balance is determined by precipitation more than temperature. Why is less ice apparently accumulating here? Has it anything to do with the observed reduction in cloud over China? Has the temperature risen above freezing for significantly longer periods?


Study suggests plants stressed by climate change may emit more greenhouse gases

CALGARY - Plants stressed by drought and rising temperatures brought on by global warming may actually release more greenhouse gases into the environment, says research from the University of Calgary.

Scientists looked at the methane levels emitted by six crops grown in Canada: faba beans, sunflowers, peas, canola, barley and wheat.

They measured the amount of methane emitted by the plants normally, and under conditions simulated to mimic global warming, including higher temperatures, drought and increased ultraviolet-B radiation.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat at a much higher rate than carbon dioxide.

"I've been of the opinion for some time that methane is somewhat ignored, and I think it's just as important as carbon dioxide in the whole global warming debate," said author David Reid, an associate professor at the university.

"So if plants produce a little bit, we were curious to know what would plants in the near future, maybe slightly warmer, slightly drier, maybe a little more UV light, how would they respond? Would it affect them or not?"

Under normal conditions, the crops emitted different amounts of methane, he said, although the levels were quite small for all.

The amount of methane went up different degrees under global warming conditions. (Canadian Press)


And she's lashed herself to the mast of the carbon scam flagship:  Boxer could face re-election fight of her career against Fiorina

Democrat Barbara Boxer's quest for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate may give Californians a chance to pass judgment on Washington in the Obama era: Do voters approve of the early performance of the Democratic president and Congress? Or is it time to restore more power to Republicans, in this case to a controversial former Silicon Valley CEO making her first run for elective office?

What looks increasingly likely is that Boxer will be in for the re-election fight of her career. While she has yet to announce her candidacy, all signs point to a run by Republican Carly Fiorina, the charismatic ex-chief of Hewlett-Packard who was ousted from her job in 2005 and last year served as a top surrogate for John McCain's presidential bid.

Fiorina would bring a combination of traits to the race never faced before by Boxer: She is a woman with the wherewithal to pump millions of her own dollars into her candidacy and probably raise millions more from others. And historically, the election after a president first takes office has not been kind to the party in charge at the White House. Exhibit A is 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress halfway into President Bill Clinton's first term.

In this case, analysts say, the 2010 California Senate election is expected to be at least partly a referendum on the policies of Obama and the Democratic Congress — from health care to immigration to climate change. And as chairman of the Senate committee shaping global warming legislation in the coming months, Boxer will have little distance from the president — for better or worse. (Mercury News)



The Old ‘Emissions Reduced or Saved’ Trick

While sitting in DMV hell — prepping myself for a physician's waiting room under Obamacare, of course — I received this bit of desperate spin from Climate Progress.

Team Soros is taking the plunge and — I'm guessing because they feel they have no choice but to swing for the fences — are claiming that Europe's cap-and-trade scheme worked. Now, others have tried this before, but those folks avoided the question of ETS impact on actual emissions — because these went up under the ETS.

Team Soros says they were reduced. When they went up. Read on. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)


Rallies, Questions, Opposition Await Obama’s Climate Change Plan

Opponents of President Obama’s climate change legislation are taking some cues from the protesters who have fired up the health care debate at town halls nationwide.

On Tuesday, a coalition of 15 business and conservative groups kicks off a series of rallies throughout the country to decry efforts to enact a “cap and trade” bill aimed at slowing global warming and reducing fossil fuel dependence.

The coalition, known as Energy Citizens, includes industry and interest groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, and FreedomWorks, which has helped organize many of the town hall health care protests.

Ahead of the rallies, FreedomWorks — which is led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas — has sent out talking points on energy and climate change, encouraging attendees to ask pointed questions of lawmakers and congressional staffers.

The coalition hopes to stall progress on a sweeping climate change and energy bill that passed the House in June, claiming it could send energy costs soaring and reduce U.S. manufacturing jobs. Senate staff are now writing their chamber’s version of the bill, which is expected to be introduced in early September. (CQ Politics)


Tough passage to India

Fifteen days. That is the time now available for formal negotiations before the UN climate policy conference starts in Copenhagen in December.

Fifteen words. That is all it took for India’s environment minister to signal the unlikelihood of a meaningful decision at Copenhagen.

The UN’s chief negotiator, Yvo de Boer, did not need even that many words. “If we continue at this rate,” he said at the weekend, “we are not going to make it.”

After a series of frustrating meetings in Bonn, De Boer has 15 days of talks in Bangkok (meetings next month and in October) and Barcelona (in November) to turn the current 200 pages of post-Kyoto treaty text – it was 50 pages at the start of the year – in to something on which some 180 governments can agree.

But India’s stance – “We simply are not in a position to take on legally-binding emission reduction targets,” says environment minister Jairam Ramesh – and that of other leading developing nations seems to present an insurmountable mountain to climb this year. (Business Spectator)


Softly, softly

The goal of international agreements being considered on climate change is to stabilise the world's human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. This ambition is barely conceivable. For the main gas, carbon dioxide, it would require emissions to be set at an average global level of about three tonnes per capita. At present, Australia emits 16 tonnes, the United States 20 tonnes and the EU nine tonnes. China, which is only one-third developed, is already at 4.5 tonnes, i.e., 50 per cent above the required level.

Australia, even if it closes down its entire coal industry, including the 85 per cent of electricity that is coal generated, will still not get close to any such target. If we replace coal with gas (adding 50 per cent to the price), it would still leave excessive emissions. Replacement by wind is not feasible, and wind energy is, in any event, three or four times the cost of that generated from coal.

The Rudd Government is suggesting that a step in the right direction would be to reduce Australian emission levels by 20 per cent. There are only two feasible means of achieving such a target. The first is to adopt nuclear power generation, at a cost in terms of plant that is similar to a year's national income and would still mean an electricity generation cost premium of over 70 per cent. The second is to adopt poverty as our national life style, i.e. to go backwards in terms of present living standards.

If an ETS is to be implemented globally, and it makes no sense otherwise, it would require the elimination of coal as a source of energy, at least until some cheap form of carbon dioxide capture and storage is available. There is no prospect of that on the horizon.

Australia has got about 76 billion tonnes of coal reserves. If we wipe out coal for power generation, then even at a value as little as $10 a tonne, it is a sacrifice of $760 billion wealth; compounding that, we would have wealth shedding also from shale oil and gas and various other things.

An Australian ETS would not only stifle current business operations, but would also virtually eliminate new investment in power generation as well as other energy intensive processing. Leakage of important industries overseas would inevitably follow, despite the energy intensive allowances which are in place or intended. (Alan Moran, Online Opinion)


Careful what you wish for: Environmentalists hope UN talks tough on climate change

You're probably not thinking about what you would like for Christmas yet. But ask any environmentalist for their ideal gift and you'll get a version of this answer: a binding agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December that is strong enough to match the science. (CNN)

"Match the science" eh? Laden with caveats, ambiguities and uncertainties then... somehow, I think they'll get their wish.


BS from GM

You’ve heard the extraordinary numbers – 230 miles per gallon!!  This is the claim GM is making for its new Chevy Volt electric car. Watch this video

If a voice in the back of your head is telling you this is too good to be true – listen to it. This claim is one of the biggest whoppers in advertising history. The folks making these claims are counting on the listeners to be complete innumerate fools. And the news media seems to be playing along with total credulity. You would think there would be some kind of government crack-down on GM’s fraudulent claims. Oh, I forgot, the government is GM.

Here are some important facts about the Chevy Volt.  It will be powered by an electric motor which is run off a lithium-ion battery.  The battery will have an energy capacity of 16 kilowatt-hours and will propel the car for 40 miles. That works out to 0.4 kilowatt-hours of energy per mile. The battery will have to be replaced after about 150,000 mile.

When the battery’s charge runs down, a gasoline powered electric generator will kick in to recharge it. Gasoline has an energy content of 1.3 x 108 Joules of energy per gallon. One kilowatt-hour is 3.6 x 106 Joules. So one gallon of gasoline contains about 36 kilowatt-hours of energy per gallon (1.3 x 108 J0ules / 3.6 x 106 Joules/kilowatt-hour).

So, if you could manage to squeeze every single kilowatt-hour of energy out of one gallon of gasoline and into your battery, then one gallon of gasoline would drive your Volt 90 miles (36 kilowatts / 0.4 kilowatts/mile). But there are pesky complications – like the laws of physics – that insure not even 90 miles per gallon will be achieved. Conversions are not 100% efficient. If you read the fine print, you will see that the reality is that if you drive your Chevy Volt on gasoline it will get, at most 50 miles to the gallon. 

Fifty miles per gallon is still pretty good you might say. But $40,000 is a lot to pay to be squeezed like a sardine. Consider this: a 1987 Honda Civic Coupe HF got 57 miles to the gallon. It cost about $7500 dollars (about $16,000 in 2009 dollars). And, you didn’t have to spend $15,000 to replace the battery every 150,000 miles in the old Honda.

I drove a 1988 Honda Civic Hatchback for over 250,000 miles, always tracked the mileage, and consistently got 47 miles to the gallon. I comfortably took my family across the country multiple times. Man, I miss that car. I am not impressed at all by the over-priced hybrids or electrics that we are seeing today. 

So how does GM justify the preposterous claim of 230 miles per gallon? The way they figure it, for every gallon of gas that you put in the tank, you will re-charge the battery enough times by plugging it into the grid at home to power it for 180 miles. So, 50 miles from a gallon of gas and 180 miles from multiple charges from the electric grid at home. Voila! 230 miles per gallon. They could just as easily claimed 1000 miles per gallon by figuring that you would charge it off the grid for 950 miles worth of power for every gallon of gas you pumped into the tank.

I think GM has a problem. Most people who are likely to spend $40,000 on a little car have been around long enough not to be innumerate fools. (Climate Sanity)


Gas plant must curb emissions, watchdog says - Proposed facility could become province’s largest source of CO2, group warns

A proposed $500-million natural-gas-processing plant in northeastern British Columbia will become the province’s single-largest source of carbon dioxide unless the government tightens the rules for greenhouse gas emissions, the Pembina Institute said Monday.

EnCana and a consortium of gas producers are seeking approval from the B.C. environmental assessment office to build the Cabin gas plant 60 kilometres northeast of Fort Nelson, to process large volumes of gas that are expected to be produced from the sprawling Horn River Basin.

Horn River has been cited as one of North America’s largest potential gas plays and in the past two years has fattened the provincial treasury with hundreds of millions of dollars in bonus bids for drilling rights. (Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun)

Good thing carbon dioxide levels are irrelevant then, isn't it?


Germany Solar Cell Producer Q-Cells To Slash 500 Jobs

Germany’s Q-Cells, the world’s second-largest producer of solar cells, will cut 500 jobs after reporting a loss of EUR 696.9 million ($994 million) in H1 2009.

Sales fell 36.8% to EUR 366.2 million ($523 million) in H109 from EUR 579.5 million ($827 million) during the same period last year. A profit in business operations (EBIT) of EUR 119.1 million ($170 million) in the first six months of 2008 was countered by an operating loss of EUR 47.6 million ($68 million) during the same period in 2009.

Production volume has remained almost constant at 272.2MWp in comparison with the first half of 2008. Q-Cells’ business was harmed by negative pricing trends in the industry and reduced customer volumes. (Clean Tech)


August 17, 2009


Osteoporosis-linked fracture rates up dramatically

NEW YORK - The number of Americans hospitalized for osteoporosis-related fractures and other injuries has climbed 55 percent since 1995, a U.S. government report finds.

In 2006, Americans had more than 254,000 hospital stays for injuries related to the bone-thinning disease -- with fractures of the hip, spine and ribs among the most common, according to the study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The figure represents a considerable increase in the rate of such hospitalizations over just one decade. In 1995, the rate of hospital stays for osteoporosis-related injuries was 55 per 100,000 people; in 2006, it was 85 per 100,000.

"This is a fairly alarming increase," said Dr. Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the AHRQ.

The reasons, she told Reuters Health, are not known, but a number of factors could be involved.

One is the aging of the population, Elixhauser said, though this alone cannot account for the 55 percent increase.

Other culprits include lack of exercise, which helps build and preserve bone mass, and inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D -- two nutrients crucial to bone health. (Reuters Health)

We said years ago that lousy government advice stemming from bias against dairy foods and sunlight exposure was setting up an aging population for osteoporosis. Should we be surprised by this result?


Florida doc fired over 'doughnuts equal death' sign

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Dr. Jason Newsom railed against burgers, french fries, fried chicken and sweet tea in his campaign to promote better eating in a part of the country known as the Redneck Riviera. He might still be leading the charge if he had only left the doughnuts alone.

A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside:

"Sweet Tea (equals) Liquid Sugar."

"Hamburger (equals) Spare Tire."

"French Fries (equals) Thunder Thighs."

He also called out KFC by name to make people think twice about fried chicken.

Then he parodied "America Runs on Dunkin'," the doughnut chain's slogan, with: "America Dies on Dunkin'." (Associated Press)


Dealing with America's obesity problem

Obesity is depleting our nation's pocketbook and devastating the health and wellness of millions of Americans. Left unaddressed, the obesity epidemic will undermine our country's health, reduce our productivity and threaten our economic security. (Clyde Yancy, Washington Times)


Eradicating America's obesity epidemic

Obesity is epidemic in the U.S. Currently, 72 million Americans are overweight or obese. The consequences are enormous and include personal suffering through disease and disability, increased medical care and its attendant costs, and a substantial economic impact of lost wages.

While personal responsibility and healthy lifestyle choices are part of the solution, willpower alone is not enough. There are larger forces at work. Environmental factors strongly influence our behavior and actions. In addition, genetic susceptibility plays a major role in why some people become obese and others do not in this obesigenic environment.

We believe it will take a concerted, nationwide effort and determined investment across a generation to reverse the alarming trends. We must invest in basic and clinical research in the same way that we fought and are winning the war on cancer, education programs like those addressing the dangers of hypertension and high cholesterol, and campaigns to change behavior like those used to combat smoking. (Robert F. Kushner, Donna H. Ryan and Steven R. Smith, Washington Times)


Daniel Oliver: Fighting obesity is best left to the individual

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 65 percent of U.S. adults are overweight and 30 percent are obese. The proportion of those who are obese has doubled in the last decade.

Last week the CDC held a conference in Washington, "Weight of the Nation," (I didn't make that up) to "provide a forum to highlight progress in the prevention and control of obesity through policy and environmental strategies." Thomas Frieden, the CDC's new director, reported, "Obesity and with it diabetes are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they're getting worse rapidly."

That's the progress he's highlighting?

Here's the frightening part. Frieden also said, "Reversing obesity is not going to be done successfully with individual effort." What does that portend?

The CDC says on its Web site: "American society has become 'obesogenic,' characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, nonhealthful foods, and physical inactivity."

The message is: We are not responsible for our behavior. Advertisers are. That was, more or less, the thesis of John Kenneth Galbraith's "The New Industrial State," published almost a decade after the Ford Motor Co.'s unpopular Edsel model had refuted it. Two decades later, New Coke proved Galbraith wrong again. (Daniel Oliver, Examiner)


Drug Promises Fix for Radiation Poisoning

Dirty bombs are one of the biggest threats to the world's urban populations. Now an American molecular biologist has developed a drug that may protect against the effects of radioactivity. Military officials are thrilled, and the discoverers could make billions. (Der Spiegel)


Displaying the truth about policymaking - Newly released correspondence shows how UK government tobacco policy is being created by anti-tobacco groups.

A common accusation made by campaigners is that big business and corporate interests unduly influence government policy. But an important trend in recent years has been the co-opting of non-governmental organisations – often with very clear vested interests of their own – to do research and create policy for government departments. This is bad news for independent, objective policymaking. Here, Patrick Basham looks at recently released correspondence that shows how the formulation of recent tobacco policy is a case study for this trend. (Patrick Basham, sp!ked)


How ironic that China is learning what our own dear leaders are trying so hard to forget: China Warms to New Credo: Business First

BEIJING — So far this week, the World Trade Organization has rebuffed China in an important case involving Chinese restrictions on imported books and movies. The Chinese government dropped explosive espionage charges against executives of a foreign mining giant, the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, after a global corporate outcry. And on Thursday, the government said it had backed off another contentious plan to install censorship software on all new computers sold here.

Throughout its long economic boom, China has usually managed to separate its aggressive push into the global business arena from domestic politics, which remained tightly controlled by the Communist Party. But events this week raise the question of just how long it will be before the two meet.

In each of those matters, politics and business collided, and business won. Business does not always win, and when it does, as in these cases, the reasons are as often as not a matter of guesswork. But in at least some high-profile matters, China appears to be facing the reality that the outside business world can be freewheeling and defiant when its profits are threatened. And so China’s authoritarian system may also have to evolve in ways its top leaders may not readily endorse. (NYT)


Nature nuts hate people: Attenborough joins campaign to curb world's population

Sir David Attenborough yesterday joined environmentalists and scientists in calling for a campaign to limit the world's population.

They said men and women in poorer countries should be encouraged to have fewer children to help fight global warming.

The West should provide money to promote contraception in the Third World and poor countries would be denied 'carbon allowances' unless they control their numbers, the Optimum Population Trust proposes. (Daily Mail)


Pine bark beetles aren't all bad

When you travel up to the Fraser or Granby area, do you feel sad or upset at the sight of mountains bristling with brown, dead trees?

Most of us do. But we shouldn't let this sense of loss dominate our thinking. Our landscape is always changing. One thing that is constant in nature is change.

Our lodgepole pine forests in Middle Park are getting old. Age and stress make them susceptible to disease. Add to this a burgeoning mountain pine beetle population, and the outcome is inevitable.

Yet this is a very natural phenomenon. The native mountain pine beetle always has been a part of our forests. The environmental conditions we are experiencing might be likened to the perfect storm.

Warm winters encourage a rapidly increasing
(Photo by Frank Weston)
pine beetle population, while simultaneously adding to the stress of our aging lodgepole pine forests.

Mountain pine beetles favor mature lodgepole pines to lay their eggs and nurture their larvae. Old and stressed trees are even more appealing, since they are less able to defend themselves against the beetles.

A lodgepole forest thrives in the aftermath of a forest fire, which removes the old trees and the competing vegetation.

The heat of a fire is necessary to open the lodgepole pine cones and disperse their seeds, reseeding the area before other species can gain a foothold. That's how we ended up with forests that are mostly lodgepole pine of the same age.

The mountain pine beetle infestation could be a blessing in disguise. Since the pine beetle is killing the trees without giving them the chance to immediately reseed the area, other species of trees will also have the opportunity to plant their own seeds.

The recuperating forest will take longer to appear, but it will be more diverse and healthier, because the trees won't all be the same species, or the same age.

It's a difficult, but necessary, transition. When the brown lodgepole pines are gone, our forests will be new and different.

At first, grasses will carpet ground no longer heavily shaded by lodgepole pines. Shrubs and trees that could not tolerate the deep shade will follow. Sun-loving aspen may also move in, along with a variety of other pine trees, ponderosa pine, firs, and spruce will take root. A more diverse forest will support a healthier and more diverse wildlife community. (Frank Weston,  Denver Post)


Trying to replay the 1980s Salmon Crisis

British Columbia’s Fraser River is suffering a salmon collapse, says Canada’s Globe and Mail. “It’s beyond a crisis!” warns a fishing advisor to the Fraser’s Indian tribes. The Watershed Watch Salmon Society says the Fraser should have had 10–13 million spawning sockeye salmon this season—but has gotten less than 2 million. Canada’s government has closed its ‘biggest salmon river’ to commercial and recreational fishing for the third year in a row.

“No one’s sure what’s happened to these fish,” Watershed Watch told Reuters. Some activists blame global warming. Others say salmon farms are infecting the wild salmon with sea lice.

The preceding paragraphs are essentially media campaign nonsense. However, the stage is set for western Canada to offer a repeat of the salmon decline response that caused the U.S. government in the 1990s to permanently close the Oregon and Washington forest industries and restrict fishing.

During the past 25 years, however, the salmon extinction claims pushed scientists to look closely at North America’s Pacific Coast salmon. In 1996, two Pacific Northwest researchers announced their discovery of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation—a shift in the currents of the North and Central Pacific that moves the salmon food in the open oceans north or south every 25-30 years. Salmon numbers are dramatically impacted.

When the salmon collapse in the Columbia—as they did during the 1980s—other salmon were thriving in the Gulf of Alaska. And vice versa. The two fisheries never prosper at the same time, giving the salmon extinction claims a near-constant supply of fish-decline headlines. (Dennis Avery, CFP)


Government scientist suspected of contracting bovine TB from badger

Farmers have renewed calls for a cull of badgers after it was revealed a government scientist is suspected of having contracted bovine tuberculosis (TB) from the mammal.

The scientist, employed by the Government body in charge of animal health the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) near Stroud in Gloucestershire, was thought to be working with infected animals.

A spokesman for Fera confirmed an individual was being tested but would not comment on the case. Other people working with animals in the lab will also be tested.

Bovine TB can be spread from badgers to cattle via bodily fluids left on pastures and is a serious problem for dairy farmers. It can also be picked up by pets and has been passed onto humans before. It causes flu-like symptoms although it is not fatal.

Farmers have been calling for a cull of badgers to control spread of the disease but the Government insists this is not necessary.

Catherine McLaughlin, animal health and welfare adviser at the National Farmers Union, said the incident showed how widespread the infection is in badgers and renewed calls for a cull. (Daily Telegraph)


Astronomers: 'Sun's output may decline significantly inducing another little ice age on the Earth'

Astronomer Emeritus Dr. William Livingston and Associate Astronomer Dr Matthew Penn have for many years been measuring the magnetic field strength of the Sun's magnetic fields. See for example: here. WattsUpWithThat (WUWT) in June 2009 by them concluding that, broadly speaking, over the last 15 years the magnetic field strengths of sunspots were decreasing with time independently of the sunspot cycle. A simple linear extrapolation of the magnetic data collected by their special observatory (the McMath-Pierce telescope (see here.) published a report) suggests that sunspots might largely vanish in five years time. In addition, other scientists report that the solar wind (a large proportion of the Sun's output of matter in the plasma form) is in a lower energy state than found since space measurements began nearly 40 years ago. (Climate Depot)


New Paper “Ocean Heat Content and Earth’s Radiation Imbalance” By D.H. Douglas and R.S. Knox 2009

There is a very important new paper that uses heat content of the climate system in Joules in order to diagnose global warming and cooling (see also).

It is

Douglass, D.H. and R. Knox, 2009: Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. Physics letters A

The abstract reads

“Earth’s radiation imbalance is determined from ocean heat content data and compared with results of direct measurements. Distinct time intervals of alternating positive and negative values are found: 1960– mid 1970s (−0.15), mid-1970s–2000 (+0.15), 2001–present (−0.2 W/m2), and are consistent with prior reports. These climate shifts limit climate predictability.”

The summary reads

“We determine Earth’s radiation imbalance by analyzing three recent independent observational ocean heat content determinations for the period 1950 to 2008 and compare the results with direct measurements by satellites. A large annual term is found in both the implied radiation imbalance and the direct measurements. Its magnitude and phase confirm earlier observations that delivery of the energy to the ocean is rapid, thus eliminating the possibility of long time constants associated with the bulk of the heat transferred.

Longer-term averages of the observed imbalance are not only many-fold smaller than theoretically derived values, but also oscillate in sign. These facts are not found among the theoretical predictions.

Three distinct time intervals of alternating positive and negative imbalance are found: 1960 to the mid 1970s, the mid 1970s to 2000 and 2001 to present. The respective mean values of radiation imbalance are −0.15, +0.15, and −0.2 to −0.3. These observations are consistent with the occurrence of climate shifts at 1960, the mid-1970s, and early 2001 identified by Swanson and Tsonis.

 Knowledge of the complex atmospheric-ocean physical processes is not involved or required in making these findings. Global surface temperatures as a function of time are also not required to be known.”

This excellent paper shows why we need to focus on climate system heat content changes as urged in

Ellis et al. 1978: The annual variation in the global heat balance of the Earth. J. Climate. 83, 1958-1962

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55 (Climate Science)


New Ocean Heat Content Paper Supports Tsonis et al ‘Climate Shifts’

A new paper by Douglass, D.H. and R. Knox, 2009 entitled: ‘Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance’ Physics letters A, doi:10.1016/j.physleta.2009.07.023, uses heat content of the climate system in Joules in order to diagnose global warming and cooling.

The Abstract states:

Earth’s radiation imbalance is determined from ocean heat content data and compared with results of direct measurements. Distinct time intervals of alternating positive and negative values are found: 1960– mid 1970s (−0.15), mid-1970s–2000 (+0.15), 2001–present (−0.2 W/m2), and are consistent with prior reports. These climate shifts limit climate predictability.

The summary states:

We determine Earth’s radiation imbalance by analyzing three recent independent observational ocean heat content determinations for the period 1950 to 2008 and compare the results with direct measurements by satellites. A large annual term is found in both the implied radiation imbalance and the direct measurements. Its magnitude and phase confirm earlier observations that delivery of the energy to the ocean is rapid, thus eliminating the possibility of long time constants associated with the bulk of the heat transferred.

Longer-term averages of the observed imbalance are not only many-fold smaller than theoretically derived values, but also oscillate in sign. These facts are not found among the theoretical predictions.

Three distinct time intervals of alternating positive and negative imbalance are found: 1960 to the mid 1970s, the mid 1970s to 2000 and 2001 to present. The respective mean values of radiation imbalance are −0.15, +0.15, and −0.2 to −0.3. These observations are consistent with the occurrence of climate shifts at 1960, the mid-1970s, and early 2001 identified by Swanson and Tsonis.

Knowledge of the complex atmospheric-ocean physical processes is not involved or required in making these findings. Global surface temperatures as a function of time are also not required to be known. (CRN)


Another UK climate data withholding scandal is emerging

As many WUWT readers know, Steve McIntyre’s tireless quest to get the raw data that makes up the gridded Hadley Climate Research Unit HadCRUT dataset has been fraught with delays, FOI denials, and obvious obfuscation. In some cases the “dog ate my homework” is the excuse. The UK Register has an excellent summary of the issue.

A similar issue has been brewing in parallel over tree ring data in the UK. Doug Keenan tells us the story of getting the “ring around” for over 2 years trying to obtain what many would consider a simple and non controversial data request. – Anthony

Guest Post by Doug Keenan

Queen’s University Belfast is a public body in the United Kingdom. As such, it is required to make certain information available under the UK Freedom of Information Act. The university holds some information about tree rings (which is important in climate studies and in archaeology). Following discusses my attempt to obtain that information, using the Act.

When a tree is cut, you can often see many concentric rings. Typically, there is one ring for each year during which the tree grew. Some rings will be thick: those indicate years in which the environment was good for the tree. Other rings will be thin: those indicate the opposite.

Image courtesy Mississippi State University Dept of Geosciences

Scientists study tree rings for two main purposes. One purpose is to learn something about what the climate was like many years ago. For instance, if many trees in a region had thick rings in some particular years, then climatic conditions in those years were presumably good (e.g. warm and with lots of rain); tree rings have been used in this way to learn about the climate centuries ago. The other purpose in studying tree rings is to date artefacts found in archaeological contexts; for an example, see here.

Tree-ring data from Northern Ireland
One of the world’s leading centers for tree-ring work is at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), in Northern Ireland. The tree-ring data that QUB has gathered is valuable for studying the global climate during the past 7000 years: for a brief explanation of this, see here.

Most of the tree-ring data held by QUB was gathered decades ago; yet it has never been published. There is a standard place on the internet to publish such data: the International Tree-Ring Data Bank (ITRDB), which currently holds tree-ring data from over 1500 sites around the world. QUB refuses to publish or otherwise release most of its data, though. So I have tried to obtain the data by applying under the UK Freedom of Information Act (FoI Act).

I have submitted three separate requests for the data. Each request described the data in a different way, in an attempt to avoid nit-picking objections. All three requests were for the data in electronic form, e.g. placed on the internet or sent as an e-mail attachment. The first request was submitted in April 2007.

QUB refused the first request in May 2007. I appealed the refusal to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of QUB, who rejected the appeal. The primary reason that the Pro-Vice-Chancellor gave for rejection was that some of the data was in paper form and had not been converted to electronic form. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor additionally claimed that after data was converted to electronic form, “It is then uploaded to the International Tree Ring Data Base”. There might indeed be some small portion of the data that is not in electronic form. My request, though, was for a copy of the data that is in electronic form. So, is all data that is in electronic form available at the ITRDB, as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor claimed?

QUB has in the past published the results of various analyses of its tree-ring data (most notably its claim to have sequences of overlapping tree rings extending back in time many millennia). In doing the analyses, the sequences of tree-ring data are analyzed statistically, and the statistical computations are done by computer. This is well known, and moreover has been stated by QUB’s former head tree-ring researcher, Michael G.L. Baillie, in several his publications. (Indeed, Baillie and his colleague Jon R. Pilcher, also at QUB, wrote a widely-used computer program for tree-ring matching, CROS.) Obviously the data that was used for those computations is in electronic form—and it has not been uploaded to the ITRDB. Thus the claim by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor is untrue.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor further claimed that to organize the data in “the very precise categories which [I] have specified” [in my request] would entail a vast amount of work. My request, though, was merely for the tree-ring data that had been obtained and used by the university; that hardly seems like precise categorization. Moreover, I later submitted a second request for “the data about tree rings that has been obtained by [QUB] and that is held in electronic form by the university”. That request was also refused. And a third request that was very similar to the second was refused. All three requests were refused in whole, even though the university is required to make partial fulfillment when that is practicable.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office
After half a year of trying to obtain the information from QUB, I appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is charged with ensuring that the FoI Act is enforced. My appeal to the ICO was submitted on 24 October 2007. The ICO notified me that an officer had been assigned to begin investigating my case on 14 October 2008. Such a long delay is clearly incompatible with effective working of the Act.

The ICO then contacted QUB, asking for further information. QUB then admitted that almost all the data was stored in electronic form. Thus QUB implicitly admitted that its prior claims were untruthful.

QUB now asserted, however, that the data was on 150 separate disks and that it would take 100 hours to copy those disks. (These were floppy disks—the type that slide into computers and, prior to the internet, were commonly used to carry electronic data.) It takes only a minute or two to copy a floppy disk, however; so the claim of 100 hours to copy 150 floppy disks is an unrealistic exaggeration.

QUB also said that it considered photocopying a printed version of the data, but that this would take over 1800 hours. As noted above, all my requests were for data that is in electronic form; moreover, I have repeated this point in subsequent correspondences with QUB. The statement from QUB about photocopying is thus not relevant.

On 22 December 2008, the ICO sent me a letter rejecting my appeal, on the grounds that the time needed by QUB would exceed an “appropriate limit” (as stipulated in the FoI Act). The ICO had accepted QUB’s explanation for refusing to release the data without question, and without discussing the explanation with me. I telephoned the ICO to raise some objections. To each objection that I raised, the ICO case officer gave the same reply: “I’m satisfied with their [QUB's] explanation”.

I also offered to visit QUB with the case officer, to demonstrate how quickly the data could be copied (e.g. from floppy disks), and to copy the data myself. This seemed particularly appropriate because the officer had told me when she started on the case that she would visit QUB as a standard part of investigation, yet she had not made such a visit. The officer, though, declined my offer, again saying that she was satisfied with QUB’s explanation.

There is a mechanism to appeal an ICO decision, to a tribunal. I told the case officer that I wanted to do so. The officer replied that, in order to file an appeal, I would need a formal Decision Notice from the ICO. I requested a Decision Notice. The officer then informed me that the ICO would send a Notice, but that, because they were busy, it would take about two years to do so.

Environmental Information Regulations
I discussed the above with a colleague, David Holland. Holland said that my request should not have been processed under the FoI Act. His reasoning was that the information I was requesting was about the environment: environmental information is exempt from the FoI Act and requests for such information should instead be processed under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). He pointed out that the tree-ring data clearly fits the definition of “environmental information” given in the EIR. It also clearly fits the common (dictionary) definition.

I had been aware that the EIR existed, but had assumed that the EIR was essentially the same as the FoI Act. After the discussion with Holland, though, I checked and found that there is one major difference between the EIR and the FoI Act: under the EIR, there is no limit on the amount of time that a public institution requires to process a request. In other words, even if QUB’s original claim that some of the data was only available on paper were true, or even if QUB’s revised claim that copying data from disks would take 100 hours were true, that would still not be a valid reason for refusing to supply the information.

I am not an expert in how to apply the EIR or FoI Act, though. So I telephoned the ICO headquarters to ask for guidance. There I spoke with a Customer Service Advisor, Mike Chamberlain. Chamberlain told me the following: that the information seemed obviously environmental; that there was no limit on processing time that could be used to refuse a request for environmental information; that I could freely visit a site where environmental information was held in order to examine the information; and that it was the duty of the public authority (i.e. QUB) to determine whether the EIR or the FoI Act was applicable. Chamberlain also confirmed everything that he told me with someone more senior at the ICO.

It is regrettable that I had not realized the above earlier. My initial request to QUB, in April 2007, had stated the following.

It might be that this request is exempt from the FOIAct, because the data being requested is environmental information. If you believe that to be so, process my request under the Environmental Information Regulations.

QUB, however, had not processed my application correctly. I should have caught that.

There is another issue. I had described the information to the ICO case officer by telephone and also by e-mail (on 24 November 2008). Hence the case officer must have known that the information was environmental, and thus exempt under the FoI Act and only requestable under the EIR. Why did the ICO not act on that? On 29 January 2009, I e-mailed the case officer, citing the above-quoted statement from my request to QUB and saying “I would like to know the reasoning that led to my request being processed under the Freedom of Information Act, instead of EIR”. Initially, there was no reply.

The EIR was enacted pursuant to the Aarhus Convention, an international treaty on environmental information that the UK promoted, signed, and ratified. Failure to implement the EIR would constitute a failure by the UK to adhere to the Convention. So, a few weeks after e-mailing my question to the ICO, and with no reply, I contacted the Aarhus Convention Secretariat (ACS), at the United Nations in Geneva. The ACS has a mechanism whereby individuals can file a complaint against a country for breaching the Convention. I had an initial discussion with the ACS about this. That turned out to be unnecessary though. The Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland contacted me, on 10 March 2009: he was now handling my case and, moreover, he had visited QUB and seen some of the data.

On 22 April 2009, I received a telephone call from the Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland. The Assistant Commissioner said that he was preparing a Decision Notice for the case, and he made it clear that the Notice would hold that the data should be released under the EIR. The next I heard anything was on 13 July 2009, when it was announced that the Assistant Commissioner had been suspended. On 13 August 2009, I telephoned the ICO: I was told that a new officer would be assigned to the case within the next few days and that a draft Notice, which had been written by the Assistant Commissioner, was in the signatory process. I am presently awaiting further word.

Another example—Gothenburg University
I have previously been involved with obtaining tree-ring data from another institution: Gothenburg University, in Sweden. Sweden has a law that is similar to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act (the Swedish law is the Principle of Public Access). In 2004, Swedish courts ruled that the law applied to research data held by universities. In a famous case known as the “Gillberg affair”, a researcher at Gothenburg University refused to obey the law. As a result, both the researcher and the rector of the university were convicted of criminal malfeasance. (The researcher received a suspended sentence and a fine; the rector received a fine.)

Gothenburg University does substantial tree-ring research. On 10 April 2007, I requested their tree-ring data. The university’s lead tree-ring researcher repeatedly resisted, claiming that it would take weeks of his time, and that he was too busy to do it. On 22 April 2008, I sent a letter to the (new) rector of Gothenburg University, saying that if the data was not supplied, I would file complaints with both the Court and the Parliamentary Ombudsmen of Sweden. The next day, all the data was submitted to the ITRDB.

What transpired with Gothenburg University exemplifies the importance of laws on Freedom of Information for tree-ring data.

Motivations for withholding data
Some people have asked why QUB does not want to release the data. In fact, most tree-ring laboratories do not make their data available: it is not just QUB and Gothenburg that have been reluctant. The reason for this was elucidated by Peter M. Brown, in April 2007. At the time, Brown was president of the Tree-Ring Society, which is the main international organization for tree-ring researchers. Following is an excerpt (the full explanation is here).

… they ARE my data. Funding agencies pay me for my expertise, my imagination, and my insights to be able to make some advance in our understanding of how nature works, not for raw data sets. … It is the understanding and inferences supplied by the scientist that funding agencies are interested in, not her or his raw data.

In other words, even if the research and the researcher’s salary are fully paid for by the public—as is the case at QUB—the researcher still regards the data as his or her personal property.

There are only a few tree-ring laboratories where attitudes are different. One example is the University of St Andrews, in the UK. Almost all tree-ring data held by St Andrews is freely available in the ITRDB.

It is notable that QUB continues to withhold its data even though, in 2009, the tree-ring laboratory at QUB was effectively closed. The closure was primarily due to the lab lacking funds, which presumably resulted from having almost no research publications (i.e. the lab had not been producing anything; so funding agencies declined to support it). The dearth of publications occurred even though the lab has some extremely valuable data on what is arguably the world’s most important scientific topic—global warming (as outlined here). This problem arises because the QUB researchers do not have expertise to analyze the data themselves and they do not want to share their data with other researchers who do. (WUWT)


Wonder what the phenologists make of this

Russian language NTV video news reports flowers in Western Siberia that normally blossom in early Spring -with snow still on the ground - are unexpectedly blooming again - in the middle of Summer. Experts say that the re-blooming is due to very severe (and uncharacteristic for summer) temperature drops in the area. They add that (due to cold weather) the flowers are responding as if it is Spring -again - not summer. It is not just one type of spring-time-blooming flower but a variety of the type (that normally bloom in early spring).

A video clip (in Russian) of the flowers (in case viewing is desired): (Submitted by TCS)


Really don't know whether to laugh or cry... Early farmers 'began global warming process'

Farmers who used "slash and burn" methods of clearing forests to grow crops thousands of years ago could have increased carbon dioxide levels enough to change the climate, researchers have claimed.

The US scientists believe that small populations released carbon emissions as they cleared large tracts of land to produce relatively meagre amounts of food.

They were much less efficient than farmers using today's agricultural practices because there were no constraints on land.

A study published online in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) said that early farmers could have cleared five or more times as much land as they used at any one time.

According to the researchers, today's population of six billion people uses about 90% less land per person for growing food than the early farming societies.

William Ruddiman, the paper's lead author and emeritus professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, said the early farmers were likely to have cleared land by burning forests, planted crop seeds among the dead stumps and moved on to a new area once the yields declined.

"They used more land for farming because they had little incentive to maximise yield from less land, and because there was plenty of forest to burn. They may have inadvertently altered the climate," he said. (Daily Telegraph)

Over the years we've seen claims the Little Ice Age might have been a purely North Atlantic regional event precipitated by the clearing of dark European forests for agriculture and lumber for dwellings, shipbuilding in the dawn of the golden age of sail and for cooking and heating fuel. We've also seen the studies suggesting temperate forests are warming forests (mainly due to the albedo difference between dark forests and the more persistent snowfields of clear areas) and that only tropical forests are "cooling" forests.

Now the relative few early slash-and-burn farmers (from a period when there were relatively few people) are thought to have so altered the amount of biomass burning (think rampant lighting strike-started brush, grass and forest fires when there were no roads or firebreaks, no smoke jumpers, nothing but plenty of fuel to burn) that they began global warming?

My what a carbon-sensitive world that must have been...


One of Antarctica's largest glaciers 'thinning four times faster than ten years ago'

One of Antarctica's largest glaciers is thinning four times faster than it was ten years ago, researchers have warned.

Satellite measurements of the Pine Island glacier in West Antarctica have revealed that the surface of the ice is dropping at a rate of up to 16 metres a year and since 1994, has lowered by as much as 90 metres. (Daily Telegraph)

Recall this?

Antarctic volcanoes identified as a possible culprit in glacier melting - Another factor might be contributing to the thinning of some of the Antarctica's glaciers: volcanoes.

In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.

"This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet" in Antarctica, Vaughan said.

Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause of thinning. (Kenneth Chang, NYT, January 20, 2008)


Um... gosh! The CRU Gong Show: Refusing Ross McKitrick

Today brought in some CRU refusals- their rejections of Ross Mc, Roman M, myself. (They're going to have to re-do their Roger Pielke rejection, since they replied to the wrong request in his case.) Each one deserves to be savored. So today I'll post up their obstruction of Ross McKitrick. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)


Slowly getting there: Where is the global warming A-Team?

Those apparently tasked with carrying the standard for anthropogenic global warming are increasingly resembling the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. This has huge implications for the political struggle for resources to reduce emissions and convert our energy base to greener technologies. So what follows will look like piling on--but it isn't. We really need to get better measurements, better analysis and better communications or our efforts to control global warming will go the same way as Australia's, where they recently voted down their version of Cap and Trade.

First up is Phil Jones from East Anglia University in the UK, where he is charged with collating, smoothing and computing average temperatures from thousands of measurement stations around the world. When served with Freedom of Information requests by climate skeptics, the response from Dr. Jones and East Anglia was more or less that they lost it. Steve Macintyre from Climate Audit, who made one of the FOI requests, reports on it here. Roger Pielke Jr., who also filed one request, talks about the implications of their inability to archive data here. Key quote:"Can this be serious? So not only is it now impossible to replicate or reevaluate homogeneity adjustments made in the past -- which might be important to do as new information is learned about the spatial representativeness of siting, land use effects, and so on -- but it is now also impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. CRU is basically saying, "trust us." So much for settling questions and resolving debates with empirical information (i.e., science)." (Thomas Fuller, Examiner)

Fuller hasn't yet got a handle on the whole gorebull warming thing being a rank fraud but he is slowly finding just how scantily clad is the emperor.


Prominent scientists push to revise physics society climate statement

Eighty prominent scientists, researchers and environmental business leaders – many of them physicists – have called on the American Physical Society (APS), the nation's leading physics organization, to revise its policy statement on climate change. The century-old APS is the premier scholarly group in the U.S. dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of the knowledge of physics.

The signers of an open letter to the APS Council, the governing body of APS, are current and past members of APS. They disagree with the current APS policy statement on climate change, which contains such language as, "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate,” and “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

The group of 80 scientists and academic leaders is urging APS to revise its statement on climate change to read as follows:

Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accompany human industrial and agricultural activity. While substantial concern has been expressed that emissions may cause significant climate change, measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th [and] 21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today. In addition, there is an extensive scientific literature that examines beneficial effects of increased levels of carbon dioxide for both plants and animals.

Studies of a variety of natural processes, including ocean cycles and solar variability, indicate that they can account for variations in the Earth’s climate on the time scale of decades and centuries. Current climate models appear insufficiently reliable to properly account for natural and anthropogenic contributions to past climate change, much less project future climate.

The APS supports an objective scientific effort to understand the effects of all processes – natural and human – on the Earth’s climate and the biosphere’s response to climate change, and promotes technological options for meeting challenges of future climate changes, regardless of cause.

This is a far cry from what we are reading in the very unscientific mainstream media. As a matter of fact, it would be a great surprise if the major media even report the challenge of these courageous scientists to the APS status quo.

When asked for a comment on the open letter, APS Executive Officer Kate Kirby issued the following statement: "The APS president Cherry Murray has formed an ad hoc committee to examine the APS statement. The committee will advise Dr. Murray and the APS council on whether any changes to the statement are necessary." (Jim Jess, Examiner)


African Dust The New CO2?

Chad, located along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, is the dustiest place on Earth. Recognizing that aerosols plays a vital role in climate and biophysical feedback in Earth's environmental system, climate researchers are turning to dust as a major driver of climate change. A new article, to be published in PNAS, identifies the Bodélé Depression in Chad as the producer of about half the mineral aerosols emitted from the Sahara. According to Richard Washington et al. dust could be a “tipping element” where “small features of the atmospheric circulation, such as the Bodélé Low-Level Jet, could profoundly alter the behavior of this feature.” With the impact of CO2 diminished due to a cooling climate climate, researchers are searching for new hazards: Is African dust the new carbon dioxide?

The role of aerosols, both mineral and biological, has been under intense scrutiny in recent years. The IPCC AR4 reported aerosols as one of the most potent climate forcings about which science understood very little. The paper “Dust as a tipping element: The Bodélé Depression, Chad” is but the latest paper to call attention to the importance of African dust. I have previously reported on the impact of Saharan dust storms on the tropical Atlantic (see “African Dust Heats Up Atlantic Tropics”) and how aerosol levels from dust storms and volcanoes alone would account for much of observed global temperature rise (see “Arctic Aerosols Indicate Melting Ice Not Caused By CO2”). Now, in the PNAS paper, researchers claim that the Bodélé area may be a “tipping element” in the context of climate change, due to its location and prodigious dust output.

The Bodélé Depression is Chad’s lowest point and it is one of the world’s most active sources of dust storms. On November 9, 2006, NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture of a dust storm in the Bodélé Depression showing two visible plumes. The dust plumes appear as pale beige brush strokes against a tan background. To the southwest of the dust storm is Lake Chad, which appears mostly dark green. Irrigation and declines in rainfall have reduced the size of the lake, once as big as Lake Erie in North America, to only 5 percent of its size in 1966.

Dust storm captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). NASA.

So much dust is produced by the Bodélé Depression that it provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest. In a paper in Environmental Research Letters, Ilan Koren et al. reported that, based on satellite observations, dust is continuously transport 3,000 miles (5000 km) from Saharan sources to the Caribbean Sea and North America in the Northern summer and to the Amazon basin during the Northern winter. According to the PNAS paper:

About 40 million tons of dust are transported annually from the Sahara to the Amazon basin. Saharan dust has been proposed to be the main mineral source that fertilizes the Amazon basin, generating a dependence of the health and productivity of the rain forest on dust supply from the Sahara. Here we show that about half of the annual dust supply to the Amazon basin is emitted from a single source: the Bodélé depression located northeast of Lake Chad, approximately 0.5% of the size of the Amazon or 0.2% of the Sahara. Placed in a narrow path between two mountain chains that direct and accelerate the surface winds over the depression, the Bodélé emits dust on 40% of the winter days, averaging more than 0.7 million tons of dust per day.

There is evidence that during the Last Glacial Maximum atmospheric dust concentration was as much as an order of magnitude greater than present-day values, but dust levels are highly variable. Modern observations suggest that between 1960 and 2000 annual mean African dust generation may have varied by a factor of 4. It is thought that minor modifications to global circulation patterns could cause dust production from the Bodélé to increase significantly or reduce it to near zero. “We argue that the Bodélé is indeed capable of profound changes in future emissions,” state Washington et al. “Although the full consequences of these change have not yet been quantified, the case exists for doing so.”

TOMS satellite annual average aerosol index (AI) 1979 –1992. Washington et al.

Indeed, recent analysis of aerosols' complex heating and cooling influences have led to a greatly reduced impact for atmospheric CO2 levels. As previously reported, a large aerosol cooling implies a correspondingly large climate sensitivity. Conversely, reduced aerosol cooling implies lower GHG warming, which in turn implies lower model sensitivity. The upshot of this is that CO2 sensitivity values used in models for the past quarter of a century have been set too high. With global temperatures flattening and even declining since 2002 it looks like all those climate models that had been tweaked to match last century's temperature curve—thereby pumping up the importance of human carbon dioxide emissions—have quietly left the world stage.

The new found emphasis on dust has been bearing scientific fruit in a rash of recent papers including one published in Quaternary Research in November of 2007. This paper by Elsa Jullien et al. reports a link between low-latitude “dusty events” and “icy Heinrich events,” which occur at higher latitudes. As you may recall from previous posts, Heinrich events happened when the American ice sheets became unstable. That gave rise to enormous ice surges which formed vast flotillas of drifting ice floes in the Atlantic Ocean and noticeable increases in ice rafted debris deposits. The last event (H1) some 14,000 years ago set the stage for the onset of the Holocene warming. According to the abstract of the paper by Jullien et al.:

We explore low-latitude Heinrich events equivalents at high resolution, in a piston core recovered from the tropical north-western African margin. They are characterized by an increase of total dust, lacustrine diatoms and fibrous lacustrine clay minerals. Thus, low-latitude events clearly reflect severe aridity events that occurred over Africa at the Saharan latitudes, probably induced by southward shifts of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone. At a first approximation, it seems that there is more likely synchronicity between the high-latitude Heinrich Events (HEs) and low-latitude events (LLE), rather than asynchronous behaviours.

Heinrich events, numbered 1 through 6, occurred during a period of extensive sea-ice in the North Atlantic similar to today’s Arctic Sea. Heinrich events are relatively brief and tend to occur at the boundaries of major climatic transitions as indicated by δ18O proxy measurements. Event number six, the oldest accepted event, occurred around 60,000 years ago. Heinrich event 1 marked the onset of the termination which signaled the end of the last interglacial. It is thought that fresh water released during the Heinrich events disrupted deep-water formation, thereby prompting switches between glacial and interglacial modes of thermohaline circulation. If these recent papers linking dust to HEs prove accurate then it is possible that large amounts of dust from the Sahara is a sign of cooling, not global warming.

Dirty icebergs are characteristic of Heinrich events. NOAA.

Again science has uncovered significant factors not considered by the IPCC's models, with significant impact on the doomsday predictions made by climate change alarmists. The important link between dust and climate was only suspected when the IPCC was busy cranking out dire global warming scenarios with their computer models. None of the models accurately accounted for aerosols and their affect on other forcings like albedo and the hydrological cycle. Now some scientists even suspect that dust is an important trigger for larger climate change events, a “tipping element.”

“Several factors distinguish the Bodélé as a potential tipping element,” argue Washington et al. “it is the largest single source of mineral dust on the planet, producing about half of the Sahara’s mineral aerosol loadings.” They list the following reasons for thinking dust could be a tipping element: “Mineral dust plays a key role in modifying climate through interaction with cloud physics and radiative heating. It is also involved in numerous biophysical feedbacks both in the oceans and on land.” Even so, the Bodélé is a very small region and the effects of dust on the world's environmental system are still mostly unknown. The authors almost sadly conclude “The Bodele, at this stage, qualifies as a potential tipping element until more work can be done to quantify the radiative impacts and biogeochemical consequences of mineral aerosols.”

Is dust then the new carbon dioxide, a villain to base predictions of disruptive climate change on? Probably not, aerosols' complex environmental interactions can't be dumbed down into a simple formulation as rising CO2 levels were. When trying to frighten the public simple sells, and dust's interaction with the environment is far from simple. But one simple point is becoming clearer and clearer: Climate modeling centered on CO2 levels, instead of providing a solid foundation for global warming theory, has proven to be less substantial than the dust blowing out of Africa.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (The Resilient Earth)

Dust storms in Africa can affect climate world wide.


In the virtual realm: Study links drought with rising emissions

Drought experts have for the first time proven a link between rising levels of greenhouse gases and a decline in rainfall.

A three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO has confirmed that the drought is not just a natural dry stretch but a shift related to climate change.

Scientists working on the $7 million South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative said the rain had dropped away because the subtropical ridge - a band of high pressure systems that sits over the country's south - had strengthened over the past 13 years.

Last year, using sophisticated computer climate models in the United States, the scientists ran simulations with only the ''natural'' influences on temperature, such as differing levels of solar activity.

The model results showed no intensification of the subtropical ridge and no decline in rainfall.

But when human influences on the atmosphere were added to the simulations - such as greenhouse gases, aerosols and ozone depletion - the models mimicked what has been observed in south-east Australia: strengthening high pressure systems and the significant loss of rain. (SMH)

The models are so bad they don't mimic the real world without make-believe drivers so that proves make-believe is real? Sheesh! And Wilkinson thinks this constitutes "proof"?


Heating of Arctic current contributes to global warming

Washington, August 16 : Scientists have found that the warming of the northward-flowing West Spitsbergen current in the Arctic over the last thirty years has contributed to global warming by triggering the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from methane hydrate stored in the sediment beneath the seabed.

Methane hydrate is an ice-like substance composed of water and methane, which is stable in conditions of high pressure and low temperature.

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, working with an international team, have found that more than 250 plumes of bubbles of methane gas are rising from the seabed of the West Spitsbergen continental margin in the Arctic, in a depth range of 150 to 400 metres. (ANI)

Really? Then why did atmospheric methane levels slow and then stop rising altogether about a decade ago?


Resilient Earth Authors Attend Scientists For Truth Conference

Al Simmons and Doug Hoffman attended the “Scientists for Truth” conference in Springfield, Mo, on August 13, and report that the affair was a complete success. The conference's mission was to raise awareness in America's heartland regarding the pernicious lies spread by climate change extremists and how dangerous the global warming hoax is to the country. Several hundred attendees, including a class of high school students, stood for a rousing rendition of the national anthem to kickoff a day of presentations by a full slate of prominent global warming skeptics.

After a warm welcome and introductions by conference organizer Ron Boyer, Joesph D'Aleo, founder and editor of ICECAP US, one of the oldest and most respected skeptic web sites, was the first presenter was. D’Aleo, who was the first Director of Meteorology at the cable TV Weather Channel, has over 30 years experience in professional meteorology. As he skillfully laid out the evidence contradicting claims by Al Gore and the IPCC, murmurs of agreement could be heard from the enthusiastic audience.

Conference organizer Ron Boyer welcomes attendees.

Next up was Duane Highley, director of Power Production at Associate Electric Cooperative, Inc., who addressed the potential impact of energy legislation pending in the Congress. As he described the financial repercussions of the Waxman Markey energy bill—which would severely impact the people of Missouri, who get 85% of their electricity from coal—the audience was obviously displeased. The crowd reacted angrily when told to expect an $1,800 increase in their electric bill if “Cap and Trade” becomes the law of the land.

Dennis Avery, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years,” was next at the speaker's podium. Avery's presentation focused on explaining the major theme of the his New Your Times best selling book. Using a wealth of scientific evidence he showed how global warming, as insignificant as it is, results from natural cycles that have affected Earth's climate for millions of years.

Author Dennis Avery with Simmons and Hoffman.

Dr Anthoney Lupo, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University Missouri, presented his insights about climate modeling, gained through years of experience in environmental science. Then, following lunch, Dr. Marlo Lewis Jr., from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, linked political, economic and scientific data, warning against taking precipitous action to stop imaginary global warming.

Marc Morano, the driving force behind the Climate Depot web site, gave an energetic and humorous review of ridiculous statements made by politicians and the slanted coverage of global warming in the news media. Marc's spirited presentation had the audience alternation between howls of laughter and shouts of outrage. Using politicians' own statements, the foolishness and folly of our public officials was made painfully obvious.

Marc Morano entertained and informed the crowd.

Given the unenviable task of following Marc's high-energy presentation, Dr. Craig Loehle returned to the scientific evidence and the weak case for anthropogenic global warming. Loehl is Principle Scientist at the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, an independent, non-profit research institute that focuses on environmental topics.

The final speaker of the day was Dr. Doug L. Hoffman, who's presentation placed the whole matter of human caused global warming into perspective. Hoffman finished the day with an eye opening talk that spanned the birth of the universe, Earth's changing climate over time, mass extinctions and the history of global warming. Talking afterward with Resilient Earth co-author Al Simmons, Dennis Avery remarked that Doug's presentation captured the “grand view” of science and showed how trivial the climate change alarmists' arguments truly are.

Dr. Hoffman presents the grand view of climate science.

In all, it was a very successful and well attend conference. Students, local politicians and the public all departed with a much clearer view of the controversy surrounding global warming. While Al and Doug autographed copies of The Resilient Earth for a crowd of enthusiastic participants, one attendee was heard to say, “meetings like this one should be held all across the country.” A sentiment shared by the attendees and speakers alike. So thanks to Ron and his family, who provided the labor to organize and run the conference—the result was a spectacular success.

Check for details.

(Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


The Scientists Speak Video Archive

Global Warming: The True-Believer Mindset (Uploaded 14 August 2009)

Impervious to reason and reality, followers of the Green Gospel turn a blind eye to all else. Featuring Dr. Robert Balling, Arizona State University, USA.

View Additional Videos Here (


Climate Models are the Answer

But what is the question?
Politicians say we should invest in helping vulnerable people adapt to climate change. But how should we spend the money?
According to two UK researchers we can best help people in the developing world by funding climate modelers in the rich world:
The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently proposed establishing a fund of $100 billion, contributed by the wealthiest nations, to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. . . Wisely planning how the funds generated by the Prime Minister's recent proposal should be invested therefore needs good scientific guidance. In our view, this can be best achieved by climate models providing highly accurate localised predictions. As a result of the significant scientific effort to date, aided by public concern, models simulating climate change have gained considerable skill. . . There will be many scientific and technical challenges along the way, but the hope is that simulations of the global environment will be able to maximise the number of people around the world who can adapt to, and be protected from the worst impacts of, global warming.
Here is a different perspective:
Excerpted from: Dessai, S., Hulme, M., Lempert, R., and R. Pielke, Jr., 2009. Climate prediction: a limit to adaptation?, Chapter 5 in, Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values, Governance, W. N. Adger, I. Lorenzoni and K.L. O'Brien (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 64-78.

Given the deep uncertainties involved in climate prediction (and even more so in the prediction of climate impacts) and given that climate is usually only one factor in decisions aimed at climate adaptation, we conclude that the ‘predict and provide’ approach to science in support of climate change adaptation is significantly flawed. Other areas of public policy have come up with similar conclusions (for example, earthquake risk, national security, public health). We therefore argue that the epistemological limits to climate prediction should not be interpreted as a limit to adaptation, despite the widespread belief that it is. By avoiding an approach that places climate prediction (and consequent risk assessment) at its heart, successful adaptation strategies can be developed in the face of this deep uncertainty. We suggest that decision-makers systematically examine the performance of their adaptation strategies/policies/activities over a wide range of plausible futures driven by uncertainty about the future state of climate and many other economic, political and cultural factors. They should choose a strategy that they find sufficiently robust across these alternative futures. Such an approach can identify successful adaptation strategies without accurate and precise predictions of future climate.

These findings have significant implications for science policies as well. At a time when government expects decisions to be based on the best possible science (evidence-based policy-making), we have shown that the science of climate prediction is unlikely to fulfil the expectations of decision-makers . Overprecise climate predictions can potentially lead to bad decisions if misinterpreted or used incorrectly. From a science policy perspective it is worth reflecting on where science funding agencies should focus their efforts if one of the goals is to maximize the societal benefit of science in society. The recent World Modelling Summit for Climate Prediction called for a substantial increase in computing power (an increase by a factor of 1000) in order to provide better information at the local level. We believe, however, that society will benefit much more from a greater understanding of the vulnerability of climate-influenced decisions to large irreducible uncertainties than in seeking to increase the accuracy and precision of the next generation of climate models. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Are We Too Late?

What if it’s too late to head off climate change? What if the race against time has already been lost? (NYT)

Not too late, not even close to time to act (and no problem yet to act against).


The real threat is not climate change but green climate policies

I’ve just had an article on climate policy published in the journal Energy and Environment. It will appear in a special issue of the journal focusing on “Climate Policy and Energy Poverty.”

The article takes what I think is a pretty unique approach to the topic. I don’t focus on the science of climate change–i.e., I don’t specifically address the question of whether or not man-made greenhouse gases are the dominant agents driving the earth’s climate (though I don’t accept the ubiquitous assertion that they are). Instead, I address an entirely different question; one that I think the proponents of climate change alarm ignore completely.

The question is: what is it that makes us more or less vulnerable to being harmed by climate disasters? (Keith Lockitch, Ayn Rand Institute


UN chief warns the world 'will not make it' to agreement on climate change

The UN's climate change chief Yvo de Boer has warned the world will "will not make it at this rate" to come to an agreement on how to tackle global warming. (Daily Telegraph)

Um... yeah, we're good with that.


Gloomy Negotiators End Bonn Climate Talks

The latest round of preparatory talks for the U.N. climate conference concluded today with negotiators lamenting that the languid pace of talks could mean there won't be a deal on emissions in Copenhagen this December.

"It would be incomprehensible if this opportunity were lost," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. For any hope of a deal, he said, "the speed of the negotiations must be considerably accelerated at the [next] meeting in Bangkok."

The United States' lead climate negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, added to the warnings.

"If we don't have more movement and more consensus than we saw here, we won't have an agreement," Pershing said. (Greenwire)


‘Limited Progress’ Made At Latest Round Climate Talks, Says Top UN Official

New York, Aug 14 2009 1:10PM Only “limited progress” has been made at the most recent United Nations climate change talks – which are expected to culminate later this year in Copenhagen with a new pact on slashing greenhouse gas emissions – a senior United Nations official said today.

With only two more conferences, totalling 15 days, scheduled before the start of the critical event in the Danish capital, “negotiations will need to considerably pick up speed for the world to achieve a successful result at Copenhagen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The new treaty set to be agreed on in Denmark in December will replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012. (Press Release: United Nations)


Canberra Carbon Race - What not to do before December's U.N. conference.

The United Nations climate change confab is in December, and Australia's ruling Labor Party is eager to show "leadership" beforehand by passing a sweeping emissions trading scheme. Luckily, the Senate in Canberra is showing more common sense. (WSJ)


Australian carbon defeat is bad news for Copenhagen summit

The failure to pass new climate change legislation in Australia does not bode well for a global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol at the end of the year in Copenhagen. (Daily Telegraph)

Yep, good with that, too.


Got to admit they've played a good game: Beijing sets date for emissions cut

China’s carbon emissions will start falling by 2050, its top climate change policymaker said, the first time the world’s largest emitter has given such a time-frame.

Whether China will agree to some kind of cap on its emissions is a critical question ahead of global climate change talks in December in Copenhagen. Beijing argues, as do most developing countries, that developed nations should take responsibility for cutting emissions first, since global warming originated with their industrialisation.

The comments by Su Wei, director-general of the climate change department at China’s planning body – the National Development and Reform Commission – signal not only increasing flexibility in Beijing’s approach but also continued unreadiness to accept an emissions ceiling in the short term.

“China’s emissions will not continue to rise beyond 2050,” Mr Su told the Financial Times.


China study urges greenhouse gas peak in 2030

BEIJING, Aug 17 - China should set firm targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions so they peak around 2030, a new study by some of the nation's top climate change policy advisers has proposed ahead of key talks on a new global warming pact.

The call for "quantified targets" to cap greenhouse gas pollution marks the most high-level public departure yet from China's official reluctance to specify a proposed peak.

"By 2008 China had become the world's biggest national emitter of greenhouse gases and faces unprecedented challenges," says the preface of the 900-page report, abandoning China's general reluctance to say it has passed the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning coal, gas and oil.

"As soon as possible, study and draft relative and (then) absolute targets to cap the total volume of carbon dioxide emissions," says the preface.

The "2050 China Energy and C02 Emissions Report" proposes that, with the right policies, emissions growth could slow from 2020 and with a peak in output around 2030. (Reuters)


What Carbon Reductions?

The White House is using a patently and demonstrably false line to defend cap-and-trade over the less inefficient tax: "And unlike a tax, [a White House aide] says, a cap ensures carbon reduction."

Well, except when it doesn't. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)


Farm Bureau: Climate Bill Will Not Change the Climate

American Farm Bureau Federation: Climate change legislation currently being considered by Congress will have a devastating impact on family farms and agricultural production across the country. The House-passed bill (H.R. 2454), which is being examined by the Senate to serve as the potential basis for its climate change legislation, poses a real economic threat for the U.S. agricultural economy. It also places our nation at a competitive disadvantage with our trading partners and fails to provide viable alternative sources of energy to keep our economy strong and hold down costs. And, after all this, the measure would have little or no impact on the climate. (Natural Resource Report)


Climate Change Measure Should Be Set Aside, U.S. Senators Say

The U.S. Senate should abandon efforts to pass legislation curbing greenhouse-gas emissions this year and concentrate on a narrower bill to require use of renewable energy, four Democratic lawmakers say.

“The problem of doing both of them together is that it becomes too big of a lift,” Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas said in an interview last week. “I see the cap-and-trade being a real problem.”

The resistance by Lincoln and her Senate colleagues undercuts President Barack Obama’s effort to win passage of legislation that would cap carbon dioxide emissions and establish a market for trading pollution allowances, said Peter Molinaro, the head of government affairs for Midland, Michigan- based Dow Chemical Co., which supports the measure.

“Doing these energy provisions by themselves might make it more difficult to move the cap-and-trade legislation,” said Molinaro, who is based in Washington. “In this town if you split two measures, usually the second thing never gets done.”

The House passed cap-and-trade legislation in June.

Leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate say they are sticking with their plan to combine a version of that bill with a separate measure mandating energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources such as solar and wind power. The legislation also provides for an extension of offshore oil and gas drilling in certain areas, broadening its support. (Bloomberg)


Talk about last minute: Oil lobby to fund campaign against Obama's climate change strategy

Email from American Petroleum Institute outlines plan to create appearance of public opposition to Obama's climate and energy reform (The Guardian)

And what do this lot mean "appearance of public opposition"? Who wants to decimate employment and living standards to fail to address a fictional ill to begin with? No one? Then who is actually "for" Obama's climate and energy "reform" other than the scammers and rent seekers driving it?


Advice for Governor Perry

The reelection site for Texas governor Rick Perry has started a petition opposing cap-and-trade: (Drew Thornley, Planet Gore)


When Opponents Stop Trying

So, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation modeled the economic impacts of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill — “the most significant revenue generating proposal of our time,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) . . . but don’t worry, it don’t cost nuthin’!

They found that under this bill, the economy in 2030 would have between 1.8 and 2.4 million fewer jobs (and a lot of other bad things). In English, the bill kills a couple million jobs.

So naturally Team Soros hails the conclusions, "NAM/ACCF Forecasts 20 Million New Jobs Under American Clean Energy And Security Act". Implication: it’s some sort of job creator. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)


Right -- for the wrong reasons: Climate change report urges cut in costs

Avoiding a global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists regard as the safe limit, will be prohibitively expensive, while a far less ambitious target would produce a more cost-efficient result for the world economy, according to a new study.

The report, published today by the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of economists brought together by a Danish academic, Bjorn Lomborg, is at odds with the prevailing view that large sums should be spent over the next decade to ward off climate change.

Mr Lomborg, long known as a climate change sceptic, told the Financial Times last week he now believed questions over the science " have been answered pretty unequivocally " and that an agreement at the next UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December would be crucial.

However, he believes the measures being considered are unnecessarily costly. (Financial Times)

Current plans to attempt to control planetary mean temperature through manipulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are horrendously expensive and doomed to failure. There are cheap alternatives which could be deployed rapidly with existing technology to directly manipulate Earth's energy balance in the event they were ever required and none involve rationing or making your energy supply unnecessarily expensive.


Richard Tol on Mitigation, and Two Responses

Richard Tol has written the analysis paper (PDF) on reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the Copenhagen Consensus exercise on climate change. Here is his abstract:
The impact of climate change is rather uncertain. Available estimates suggest that the welfare loss induced by climate change in the year 2100 is in the same order as losing a few percent of income. That is, a century worth of climate change is about as bad as losing one or two years of economic growth. The impact of climate policy is better understood. A clever and gradual abatement policy can substantially reduce emissions (e.g., to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at 650 and 550 ppm CO2eq) at an acceptable cost (1 or 2 years of growth out of 100, respectively). Very stringent targets (e.g., the 2ºC of the EU) may be very costly, however, or even infeasible. Suboptimal policy design would substantially add to the costs of emission abatement.

For the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate 2009, this paper considers five alternative policies for carbon dioxide emission reduction. The alternatives differ in scope and intensity only. All five alternatives implement a uniform carbon tax, as that is the cheapest way to reduce emissions. The first policy spends $2.5 trillion on emission reduction in the OECD before 2020. This is rather silly. The benefit-cost ratio is less than 1/100. The second policy spends $2.5 trillion across the world before 2020. This is less silly because non-OECD emission reduction is a lot cheaper, but the benefit-cost ratio is still only 1/100. The third policy continues the same intensity of climate policy between 2020 and 2100. Most negative impacts of climate change are avoided by this policy, but the costs are so large that the benefit-cost ratio is only 1/50. In the fourth policy, $2.5 trillion is invested in a trust fund to finance emission reduction over the century. The benefit-cost ratio is 1/4. In the fifth policy, the trust fund is twenty times as small. The benefit-cost ratio is 3/2. In this policy, a tax of $2/tC is imposed in 2010 on all emissions from all sources in all countries; the tax rises with the rate of discount.

As the analysis ignores uncertainty and equity, one may argue for a more stringent climate policy. However, the analysis also ignores suboptimal implementation, which argues for a more lenient climate policy.
Onno Kuik wrote one perspective (response, PDF), and here is the abstract:
This paper discusses the estimated benefit-cost ratios on mitigation as a solution to climate change. We are in agreement with most of what is written by Richard Tol on the state of the art of economic research into the impacts of climate change and climate change policies, but we highlight a complementary approach that is based on a direct elicitation of (revealed or stated) preferences for climate change. With respect to the reported benefit-cost rations, this paper argues that they are a bit low because, first, they do not reflect the substantial concerns about equity and uncertainty; and second, because a substantial part of the benefits (after the year 2100) is not accounted for.
Roberto Roson wrote the other response (PDF), and here is its abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to critically review Richard Tol’s Assessment Paper on Traditional Mitigation, prepared for the Copenhagen Consensus Centre.

The Assessment Paper is largely based on the FUND model and the results of a set of simulation exercises, where a number of policy options are explored and assessed. In this Perspective Paper, a series of limitations of the FUND model are pointed out, as well as some other points, which remain quite obscure and limit the interpretation of the results. However, when considering the simulation scenarios, it is possible to make some general remarks, which are confirmed by the model results and bring one to think that we could have got about the same findings with a different model. In other words, we can trust the results even if we do not (completely) trust the model. It is suggested that it is important to look beyond the simple assumptions used in a model like FUND, to consider more realistic settings, in which incentives may play a key role. (Roger Pielke Jr)


Lawrence Solomon: Carbon disaster - Don’t worry about the risks of earthquakes or suffocation or water contamination. Carbon capture is good, really

If you live in or near a community that manufactures chemicals or cement, or that has a refinery or a coal or natural gas electricity generating station, or that has abandoned mines or other suitable geological formations, you may soon be asked to save the planet from global warming by hosting an underground carbon dioxide storage facility.

You and your neighbours will be told not to worry about carbon dioxide poisoning your water supplies. Yes, ruptures or large leaks of the gas could not only make the water undrinkable for you but also kill vegetation and aquatic life, the authorities will acknowledge, but inventors are working on new, improved technology that will prevent underground pipes and other infrastructure from leaking.

You and your neighbours will also be told not to worry about mass asphyxiation in your sleep in the event of an unexpected release of carbon dioxide, a gas that’s heavier than air — to their knowledge, that only happened to humans once before, in rural Africa when a release of naturally stored carbon dioxide from Lake Nyos in Cameroon enshrouded and suffocated 1,700 people. The authorities in Canada promise to take this risk seriously and double-promise to design state-of-the-art carbon dioxide storage plants that won’t fail fed by pipelines that won’t blow out. Plus, they’ll install monitors in case plants fail or pipelines blow out.

Finally, you and your neighbours will be told not to worry about the possibility that your community will become susceptible to earthquakes. Yes, the authorities will admit when pressed, these carbon-storage facilities are expected to become one of the top five triggers of earthquakes — induced seismicity, it’s called — but hey, somebody’s got to save the planet and the authorities have selected you. (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)


Nonsense: North Sea’s new bonanza

Britain could be in line for a new North Sea bonanza following research which reveals its suitability to store billions of tons of waste carbon dioxide.

Scientists have found the rock formations beneath the sea bed have enough room to store up to 300 years’ worth of emissions from northern Europe’s power stations.CO2 It means Britain could potentially earn up to £4 billion a year by allowing countries such as Germany, France and Denmark captured from their power stations into rocksto pump CO2 beneath UK waters.

“We believe the carbon storage business could be huge for Britain with a value of £2 billion to £4 billion a year by 2030,” said Mike Stephenson, head of science for energy at the British Geological Survey (BGS). “We estimate it could sustain 30,00-60,000 jobs.”

The technology for capturing and burying CO2 has existed for some time but there has not been an incentive for power companies to adopt it. (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

And there still is no incentive for power companies to do so, nor society generally. As demonstrated in this week's feature, there is no realistic expectation of measurable temperature constraint to be had from sequestration if coal-fired emissions of carbon dioxide. It's far cheaper, and certainly more effective, to directly manipulate albedo -- always provided the need ever arises to do so.


Argh! No one should be wasting the atmospheric carbon resource! Energy experts call for carbon capture scheme for gas fired power stations

Executives from leading energy firms argue that new gas plants should fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology

New gas plants should be subject to the same rules that force new coal plants to fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, according to leading energy bosses.

Experts fear that the government's new policy on CCS for coal power will lead to a boom in the construction of gas plants which do not have to bury their carbon emissions.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said there was no point forcing only new coal plants to fit the expensive and largely untried technology. "We have to have a consistent rule applying to everyone. If you want to decarbonise electricity we need to do it [fit CCS to gas plants].' (The Guardian)


Sigh... Carbon fund has $120M to spend on green ideas

Alberta's rapidly-growing carbon technology fund, which banks penalties from major greenhouse gas emitters, is looking for the best ways to spend $120 million.

"We want a mix of projects which may lead to fundamental breakthroughs in green energy production, conservation and energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage," said Eric Newell, chairman of the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), an arm's-length body established by the province.

"We are trying to be a catalyst, to get good ideas commercialized. We want to look at everything, from energy efficiency research to new ways to insulate buildings or obtain energy from garbage. There are many ways to reduce the carbon footprint," he said. (Dave Cooper, Edmonton Journal)


The perverse efficiency disincentives of carbon control: 'The Clunkers of the Power-Plant World' - Old Coal-Fired Facilities Could Escape New Rules

CHICAGO -- The twin smokestacks of the 85-year-old Crawford Generating S