Restoring Once-Vibrant Economy Hinges On Repeal Of ObamaCare

One has to congratulate President Obama and his advisers on their success. Rahm Emanuel's quip about "never let a crisis go to waste" in late 2008 was a prelude to the administration's attack on U.S. economic growth.

In perspective, Obama mounted an attack on the pillars of U.S. economy — growth, wealth creation and personal responsibility — that amounted to a shock-and-awe economic attack.

It took Obama less than 18 months to transform a historically vibrant U.S. economy to one that has been paralyzed by his shock-and-awe economic policies. The U.S. economy has little or no private-sector job growth, nearly 10% unemployment, a high rate of underemployment, no wealth creation and a heavy dose of government control.

This administration has been relentless in its push to transform an economy that was based on growth, wealth creation and personal responsibility to one characterized by wealth-sharing, government control and slow growth. Obama succeeded in what he wanted for the U.S. economy. (Mike Cosgrove, IBD)


How Nutritious And Natural Is Your Protein Bar?

This week's HND piece takes a brief look at protein bars. Although this class of products is widely touted as a "health food," some of the stuff in this category is probably less nutritious than the average candy bar.

You're advised to read the labels, but even then, it also pays to know a little about sugar alcohols. Yes, sugar alcohols. How's that for a nice purposely confusing term?

Check out the complete article. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


CERN Research Budget Gets Cut

P Gosselin 30. August 2010

European particle physics research center CERN located near Geneva, Switzerland has gotten its budget cut by 6% over the next five years. Europe no longer has the money to fund it.

CERN's budget gets the axe as Europe pisses away all its money on climate research.

It was just a question of time. With so much money being pissed away on bogus climate research and save-the-world projects, eventually you run out of funds to pay for real science and research.

How many billions have been poured into researching the non-problem of climate change? The IPCC? Hansen’s GISS surface station folly? Green subsidies? The list is endless.

What benefit have we gotten? I’d say we’ve gotten a lot more damage than benefit, especially if you consider what could have been done with the money instead. Lost opportunities.

Swiss radio has a report (German): CERN budget cut and writes:

The money worries of the European countries is now adversely impacting the European CERN research facility in Geneva. Over the next 5 years 343 million Swiss Francs have to be saved – about 6 percent of the budget.

While the management of CERN say the financial measure is painful, it will be bearable. But the research laboratory’s association of employees has a different opinion: The future of CERN is being put at risk.

Here’s my advice to CERN employees who fear losing their jobs: Call your elected officials and tell them stop wasting so much on bogus climate science. (No Tricks Zone)


I blame global warming: Once-In-A-Century Salmon Run Hits Canada's West Coast

Every year Vancouver resident Stephen Ottridge takes hamburgers or steak to his street's annual summer block party.

This year, against the backdrop of what looks to be the biggest sockeye salmon run in almost a century in the nearby Fraser River, he arrived with a salmon large enough to fill the whole barbecue.

"There is a cornucopia of salmon this year, so we decided to treat the block to some," Ottridge said from the city on Canada's Pacific Coast, where marine experts are both puzzled and delighted by the unexpected glut of the bright-red, succulent fish.

After years of declining sockeye numbers and a struggling fishing industry, the Pacific Salmon Commission last week said it now expects 25 million sockeye will return to the Fraser River this year -- more than double its earlier forecast and the best run since 1913. (Reuters)


Recycled junk: Mile-Wide Asteroid Might Hit Earth In 2019

Worried about American imperialist adventures abroad, or the rising deficit, or erosion of American democracy? None might matter much longer. (NewsHoggers)


Star names try to beat slump in eco-clothing

Can Chrissie Hynde buck the downward trend?

The dream of eco-friendly, fashion is not wearing well. While high-profile new eco-clothing lines from the designer Katharine Hamnett and Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde may give the appearance that it is boom time for environmentally friendly fashion, stagnant sales figures are leading analysts to question whether there really is a market for sustainable style. (Independent)


Is Genetically Altered Fish OK? U.S. To Decide

U.S. health officials are set to rule on whether a faster-growing, genetically engineered fish is safe to eat in a decision that could deliver the first altered animal food to consumers' dinner plates.

The fish, made by Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc, is manipulated to grow twice as fast as traditional Atlantic salmon, something the company says could boost the nation's fish sector and reduce pressure on the environment.

But consumer advocates and food safety experts are worried that splicing and dicing fish genes may have the opposite effect, leading to more industrial farming and potential escapes into the wild. Side effects from eating such fish are also unknown, with little data to show it is safe, they say. (Reuters)



Independent Audit Panel Slams U.N.'s Climate Group

Acknowledging flaws in its reports and growing public skepticism toward the theory of manmade global warming, the United Nations hired an independent review panel in March to audit its climate-science arm. The group found plenty of problems. (Jeremy A. Kaplan,


Report: Climate Science Panel Needs Change At Top

Scientists reviewing the acclaimed but beleaguered international climate change panel called Monday for a major overhaul in the way it's run, but stopped short of calling for the ouster of the current leader.

The independent review of the U.N. climate panel puts new pressure on chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who has been criticized for possible conflicts of interest, but shows no sign of stepping down.

"It's hard to see how the United Nations can both follow the advice of this committee and keep Rajendra Pachauri on board as head," said Roger Pielke Jr., a frequent critic of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The University of Colorado professor praised the review findings as a way of saving the climate panel with "tough love."

The InterAcademy Council, a collection of the world's science academies, outlined a series of "significant reforms" in management structure needed by the IPCC, a body that won a Nobel Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007. (Associated Press)


IPCC feels the heat as it is told to get its facts right about global warming

The powerful international body set up to advise governments on the effects of global warming needs a major overhaul if it is not to repeat errors that damaged its credibility and gave succour to climate change sceptics, an independent investigation has concluded. (Independent)


IAC verdict on IPCC: leadership shouldn't work on 2nd report

During the press conference at 10 a.m. New York Summer Time, the IAC panel has recommended all 8 top IPCC leaders to work on 1 report only, among other things to increase transparency and impartiality. The IAC reviewers have also recommended a new external board of overseers to supervise the IPCC. The IPCC has been successful but fundamental changes are needed, they say. Shapiro said that the GlacierGate and others have unequivocally dented the trust of the IPCC. Trust is something one has to earn again and again.

BBC: IPCC needs reforms, IAC review recommends

RTT News: Review recommends major overhaul of UN climate body

Irish Times: Report criticises climate change body

Reason: IPCC processes critiqued

Earth Times: Probe urges deep reforms in the IPCC

Daily Mail: Body needs overhaul

Fox News: Independent audit slaps U.N. climate panel

Others at Google News
Rajendra Pachauri was elected in 2002 and re-elected for his second term in 2008. However, when asked whether the one-term IAC recommendation also implies that Pachauri should resign, Princeton's ex-president Prof Shapiro answered that it was too difficult a logical problem for him to solve so he has to leave the "interpretation" to others.

Well, that's how the Tuesday son puzzle would end up if I allowed the solution to be open to "interpretations" instead of logic, too.

When Shapiro discussed the IPCC errors such as GlacierGate that are dedicated some chapters in the IAC review, a lady from Al Jazeera asked whether he was not afraid that it could be interpreted as that he thinks that the IPCC has made some errors. Her eyes hinted that her Islamist and leftist friends could perform a terrorist attack against the IAC. But Shapiro didn't quite collapse although he clearly tried to appease the PC lady a bit.

In the IAC panel's opinion, the errors occurred because the IPCC did not obey its own guidelines - so the guidelines might be enough in their opinion.

Completely different words sounded an hour later

At 11 a.m. New York Summer Time, Pachauri has glorified himself, making catastrophic climate science look more worshiped than ever. He has read some comment from a jerk or two who has worship him. When Pachauri was asked whether he would respect the IAC recommendation and resign, he said that his interpretation was that it was forward-looking and for Pachauri personally, it's a mission he can't leave so "we will see". ;-)

Another IPCC apparatchik said that the IAC review - that has previously claimed that the scandals have dented the credibility of the IPCC has - shown that the IPCC's credibility is stronger than ever. :-) That's the "interpretation" by the IPCC logic.
Key fresh links (explanation below):
U.N. webcast (with Dijkgraaf, Shapiro, and others): LIVE; began at 10 a.m. New York Summer Time; continues from 11 a.m. (with Pachauri et al.)
IAC report website
IAC: web page about & before the release
IAC: web page about & after the release
Older text written before the press conference

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


Release Of The Report “Climate Change Assessments, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC”

The report “Climate Change Assessments, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC“  has been released today. An initial discussion of the report is posted at

Report of the IAC Review of the IPCC

The news media are reporting on this and CNN’s report “U.N. climate body needs ‘fundamental reform’”  presents an effective single statement of what is needed for future assessments (i.e. a fundamental reform].

There remain conflicting conclusions in the IAC report, however, such as the finding that

“The Committee concludes that the IPCC assessment process has been successful overall and has served society well.”

The IAC report expands on this statement in their following text to the above sentence where they write

“The commitment of many thousands of the world’s leading scientists and other experts to the assessment process and to the communication of the nature of our understanding of the changing climate, its impacts, and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies is a considerable achievement in its own right. Similarly, the sustained commitment of governments to the process and their buy-in to the results is a mark of a successful assessment. Through its unique partnership between scientists and governments, the IPCC has heightened public awareness of climate change, raised the level of scientific debate, and influenced the science agendas of many nations. However, despite these successes, some fundamental changes to the process and the management structure are essential, as discussed in this report and summarized below.”

If their assessment process really “has been successful overall and has served society well”, however, there would be no need for the recommendation that “fundamental changes to the process and the management structure are essential“.

Nonetheless, despite this one inconsistency, the report recommendations are very insightful and valuable.

The deficiencies of past assessment, including that of the 2007 IPCC report, have been documented in depth on my weblog as well as by others (e.g. see , see and see). I have discussed the serious flaws in the IPCC process, for example, in weblog posts, testimony and public statements: 

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. 88 pp including appendices.

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Surface Temperature Trends.

My concerns were summarized in  the submission of comments as part of the IAC review process; see

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

The recognition of the serious conflict of interest associated with the IPCC process is refreshing, and hopefully, will be built on in order to finally obtain inclusive, balanced climate science assessments. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Dump the IPCC Process, It Cannot Be Fixed

In a recent opinion piece, Ross McKitrick has argued that the IPCC process needs to be fixed. He correctly points out that, “There is too much conflict of interest built into the report-writing process”.

But I say the process cannot be fixed. DUMP the IPCC process.

The reason why is because the IPCC process was never created to achieve what the U.N. claims, and what most people believe it exists for.

The IPCC was created to use the scientific community to build a case for regulating CO2 emissions. Period.

While you might believe otherwise, climate scientists back in the 1980s did not get together and decide “let’s create the IPCC and investigate the evidence for and against manmade climate change”. Instead, politicians and politically savvy opportunists saw global warming as the perfect excuse for instituting policies that would never have been achieved on their own merits.

Maybe some scientists thought they helped dream up the IPCC to help save humanity from itself. But the process was instigated by politicians and U.N. bureaucrats who misrepresented what they were trying to accomplish. Some people are gifted in their ability to get others to think that they came up with an idea, when in fact they were artfully guided into it.

As someone who watched from the sidelines as a U.S. government employee, I witnessed the mindset, and a few of the central players in action. These are people who think it is their gift to humanity to decide how others should live.

I’m NOT saying that most of the scientists involved in the IPCC effort are of this mindset…although I do find government employees and government-funded researchers (of which I am one) to be rather clueless about what helps, versus what hurts, the human condition.

Darn those pesky unintended consequences!

I am claiming this is the mindset of that handful of politically powerful people who saw a way to accomplish personal goals, and maybe even save humanity in the process. These people never expect that they will ever be required to live under the restrictions placed upon the rest of humanity. They are too important to the process. Sound familiar?

To believe otherwise is to have one’s proverbial head in the sand.

I hate to sound so cynical, but this is how I saw the IPCC process play out. I would personally dread having to be part of that process, because it is only using science and scientists to achieve policy and political goals. I don’t like to be asked to contribute my time when I know I am being used.

In stark contrast to me, John Christy (my boss) has valiantly attempted to change the process from within the IPCC. I think this is a valuable effort, and am glad someone is willing to try.

But I do not see the ultimate goal of the IPCC ever being changed as long as the United Nations and politicians who look favorably upon the UN’s long-term goals are in control of the process and the purse strings. It is as simple as that. (Roy W. Spencer)


Should Rajendra Pachauri Resign?

If you want people to take action, then you obviously would make the arguments that require a certain set of actions.

Rajendra Pachauri, August 2010, Wall Street Journal

I spoke with a lot of reporters today in the US and UK about the IAC IPCC Review report.  An overwhelming focus of their interest was on Rajendra Pachauri and his future with the IPCC.  The speculation comes from the following statements in the IAC report (PDF, p. 41):
 A 12-year appointment (two terms) is too long for a field as dynamic and contested as climate change. . .

Recommendation: The term of the IPCC Chair should be limited to the time frame of one assessment.
When asked for a specific comment about Pachauri by Seth Borenstein of the AP I said:
"It's hard to see how the United Nations can both follow the advice of this committee and keep Rajendra Pachauri on board as head"
I followed this statement by emphasizing that the reforms of the IPCC go well beyond one individual.  Removing Pachauri and doing nothing else would do little to fix the IPCC.  Conversely, doing everything else recommended by the IAC and leaving Pachauri in place would go a long way to improving the organization.  So in many respects I see the focus on Pachauri as a distraction. (Somehow those comments did not find a place in the AP story!)

That said, as I've detailed before (e.g., here and here and here), Pachauri has many issues of potential conflict of interest.  He would all but certainly be found to have conflicts of interest under the WMO and UN guidelines that the IPCC is exempt from following.   The IAC Review finds the fact that the IPCC has no such guidelines to be unacceptable, recommending:
The IPCC should develop and adopt a rigorous conflict of interest policy that applies to all individuals directly involved in the preparation of IPCC reports, including senior IPCC leadership . . .
Should Pachauri be deemed exempt from the recommended one-term term limit (as some have suggested) then it would not only make a mockery of the report, but also set the stage for a damaging battle over developing conflict of interest guidelines and how those should be applied to existing IPCC officials.  The IPCC could of course decide that Pachauri's conflicts do not disqualify him from the position.  Any such efforts to circumvent the IAC recommendations would risk further damaging the IPCC.

The bottom line?  The IAC Review has unambiguously recommended that the IPCC Chairman serve only one term.  Rajendra Pachauri has now served more than one term.  On this basis alone he should go.  However, even if an exception were made for him, he faces significant issues of conflict of interest that would result in his potential disqualification as the IPCC chair (should the IPCC implement policies anything like those of the WMO or UN or NRC).

If the IAC Review recommendations are to have any meaning at all then Pachauri should go.  Talk of retroactive application and grandfathering of the rules are a slippery slope back to the same sort of ad hocracy that got the IPCC into trouble in the first place. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


IPCC and CRU Rewrite Facts But Can’t Rewrite History

This week two events provide opportunities to understand the political influences on climate science and the real influence of climate on politics (Tim Ball, CFP)


Since when was Lomborg a climate skeptic?

Bjørn Lomborg: the dissenting climate change voice who changed his tune

With his new book, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg has become an unlikely advocate for huge investment in fighting global warming. But his answers are unlikely to satisfy all climate change campaigners (Guardian)

Certainly not in Lomborg's mind: Bjørn Lomborg: in his own words

Quotes from Dane seen as climate change sceptic show he has always accepted 'the reality of man-made global warming' but now sees practical ways to tackle it (Guardian)

Like all Socialists he's seduced by a global tax scheme: Bjørn Lomborg: $100bn a year needed to fight climate change

Exclusive 'Skeptical Environmentalist' and critic of climate scientists to declare global warming a chief concern facing world (Guardian)

So, what could we hope to achieve, assuming anyone was stupid enough to give in to a global taxation scheme?

We can use the IPCC's simplified expressions to calculate changes in forcing under various scenarios and compare it with Earth's already equilibrated change to date:

To determine the total radiative forcing of the greenhouse gases, we have used IPCC [IPCC 2001] recommended expressions to convert greenhouse gas changes, relative to 1750, to instantaneous radiative forcing (see Table 1). These empirical expressions used for radiative forcing are derived from atmospheric radiative transfer models and generally have an uncertainty of about 10%. The uncertainties in the global average concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse gases are much smaller.

Now, it doesn't really matter whether you use the suggested origin (or "unperturbed") value of 278ppm CO2 or 300 or some other value, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (2xCO2) always yields a ΔF 3.7W/m2. NOTE: this was calculated at 4.5W/m2 in the 1st and 2nd Assessment Reports (FAR & SAR) because the constant α was 6.5, only reduced to 5.35 in TAR because it was obvious ΔF estimates were far too large (and likely still are).

From Assessment Report 4 (WG1, Table 2.1, p141) we see that the 3 "long lived" greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) delivered +2.3W/m2 (total LLGHGs combined +2.63 for sticklers):

This added forcing since 1750 is supposed to have delivered a new equilibrium temperature +0.76 °C above Earth's "normal" state. Since we are only interested in radiative forcing from GHGs and only discussing tweaking atmospheric levels of these gases we can usefully approximate any potential result from a rule of thumb of 0.3 °C change for each Watt per meter squared change in forcing.

We already know 1 ppm CO2 = 7.81Gt (Gt = billion metric tons) and just to be on the über safe side we'll ignore the fact that only about 40% of emission remain in the atmosphere and value our "savings" at 1:1.

Now we can easily run various scenarios. We'll work in CO2e (CO2 equivalent) for our standard measure.

Assuming another 1.2 °C for the much-touted 2 °C maximum permissible warming, that leaves us another 4W/m2 (4x0.3 from above). Further assuming we are at 400ppm now, astute number crunchers have already noted we can allow a maximum 850ppm (5.35*LN(850/400) = 4W/m2). 450ppm above now equates to 450x7.81= 3,514.5Gt net emissions. What does that mean? If we calculate on the assumption people will emit at the global guesstimate of 50Gt/year (possible somewhere between 2025 and 2030) from now on and assuming no improvement in efficiency (take no notice of technological advance since 1750 - we're giving that up, apparently) that is 70 years of total anthropogenic emission. That is also assuming the Earth stops utilizing and sequestering so valuable a resource as carbon dioxide because it is tainted by association with icky, nasty humans.

Our flat out, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead course with zero efficiency improvements (assuming we can mine enough carbon) still gives us 70 years without tripping the magical "2 °C" threshold and that's with a 250% "safety margin" because, in the real world, we need to emit almost 20Gt carbon dioxide in order to increase atmospheric levels 1ppm rather than ~8Gt as used in these calculations.

The simple answer is that the IPCC's own figures tell us we have no realistic hope of warming the planet by their scary +2 °C from pre-IR temperatures, even if we tried really hard.

Tell us again how taxing our energy is going to "save us".

Readers should play with the numbers themselves to see what is required to achieve the CAGW handwringer's stated goals. The template is perfectly simple: 5.35 times the natural log of high_CO2/low_CO2 will give you the number of Watts forcing, which real-world data says equates to (at most) 0.3 °C per Watt, then multiply the difference in your high & low CO2 values by 7.81 to derive mass in Gt. You'll need to at least double that figure to know how much emission must be avoided to approach a specific goal.

Try a number of combinations, say restraining CO2 to 500 rather than 550 ppm or 650 rather than 700 to see just how little difference is made to temperature for large omissions of carbon-dense fuel. Temperature cranks are likely to hate your calculation of these numbers because, outside PlayStation® Climatology, the world is really not troubled by humans restoring atmospheric resources lost to biospheric availability over time.


Typically clueless: Leading article: Three degrees is at least one too many

It is fittingly ominous that 2010, year of the next big climate change conference, has been the hottest in recorded history. The heat rises inexorably yet the world dithers and looks away. None of the excitement that surrounded the opening stages of the climate summit at Copenhagen last year looks like materialising this November at Cancun in Mexico. (Independent)


Sigh... Revealed: why failure of climate summit would herald global catastrophe

The world is heading for the next major climate change conference in Cancun later this year on course for global warming of up to 3.5C in the coming century, a series of scientific analyses suggest. The failure of last December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen means that cuts in carbon emissions pledged by the international community will not be enough to keep the anticipated warming within safe limits. (Independent)


The Crone's decline accelerates: The Urgent Islands

If a country sinks beneath the sea, is it still a country? That is a question about which the Republic of the Marshall Islands — a Micronesian nation of 29 low-lying coral atolls — is now seeking expert legal advice. It is also a question the United States Senate might ask itself the next time it refuses to deal with climate change.

According to the world’s leading scientists, sea-level rise is one of the greatest dangers of global warming, threatening not only islands but coastal cities like New Orleans and even entire countries like Bangladesh.

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conservatively predicted a 20-inch sea-level rise by the end of this century if current trends were not reversed. Because of various uncertainties, its calculations excluded the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets. Some academic studies have suggested that rises of four to seven feet are not out of the question.

Officials in the Marshall Islands — where a 20-inch rise would drown at least one atoll — are not only thinking about the possibility of having to move entire populations but are entertaining even more existential questions: If its people have to abandon the islands, what citizenship can they claim? Will the country still have a seat at the United Nations? Who owns its fishing rights and offshore mineral resources?

Marshall Islands leaders have asked Michael Gerrard, an expert on climate change law at Columbia University, to help them find answers to what he regards as plausible questions. He further notes that an island can become uninhabitable before the sea level rises above it, because even moderate storms can swamp any agricultural land and render freshwater supplies undrinkable.

All of this reminds us of an astonishing remark last month by Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri. When asked why she saw no immediate need to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill, she said, “You know, it took 50 years on health care.” If only the earth could wait that long. (NYT)


Let’s Stop Playing the Climate-Change Blame Game (Extreme weather alarmism unfounded)

by Chip Knappenberger
August 31, 2010

There has been renewed talk in recent weeks about whether this summer’s scattering of extreme weather events is linked to anthropogenic climate change.

True, humans have altered the radiatively active portions of the atmosphere by adding greenhouse gases and aerosols. We’ve also altered the planetary landscape. These alterations are now part of the integrated global climate system that produces daily weather events—both extreme and benign.

So can our influence change the intensity of weather events? Yes.

Can it cause an event to happen that otherwise wouldn’t have? Conceivably.

Does it always act to make the weather more severe? No.

Are the changes detectable? Hmmm.

It seems that it is this issue of detectability that we often get hung up on. Otherwise, how do we know that human changes are having any impact?

Well, we know because, like I said, we’ve altered the active system.

“Detectability” is really just about trying to determine whether our alterations have produced a loud enough signal that it can be heard through the collective natural noise.

At least that is the purely scientific/statistical aspect of detectability.

There is a social/political aspect as well. For once detectability is established, then blame can be meted out, and with blame comes calls for retribution and regulation.

The latter is the reason why the issue has become front page news. And why there are comments and speculation in seemingly every news story about the role that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions may have played in every severe weather event. Folks are looking for someone to blame.

Acts of God are typically exempt for retribution. But acts of man? By God, someone is going to have to pay!

Once detectability has been established, this will open the door to blaming everything on anthropogenic climate change, and to a disregard of the fact that weather (including severe events) existed previously. After all, if you are going to sue someone for your Gulf Coast beach house being destroyed in a hurricane, are you only going to sue for 5% of the damage? Or even consider whether you should have built your beach house there in the first place?

Probably not. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Is Temperature Spinning Out of Control?

Written by Dennis Ambler
Monday, 30 August 2010

As we are told of yet another "hottest year on record," our daily news reports are full of "hot testimony," for example the heatwave in Moscow, Russia is described in this report:

“The heat has caused asphalt to melt, boosted sales of air conditioners, ventilators, ice cream and beverages, and pushed grain prices up. Environmentalists are blaming the abnormally dry spell on climate change.

On ‘black’ Saturday, temperatures in Moscow hit a record high of 38 degrees Celsius with little relief at night, making this July the hottest month in 130 years. The average temperature in central Russia is 9 degrees above the seasonal norm.”

He fails, of course, to say what caused the previous heat wave of similar magnitude 130 years previously, as was mentioned in the report. Such is the nature of environmental reporting these days, that such questions equally do not arise in the minds of those willing reporters who swallow every crumb of global warming thrown to them. Never ever mentioned are historical instances such as the seven month long European heatwave of 1540, when the River Rhine dried up and the bed of the River Seine in Paris was used as a thoroughfare.

Read more... (SPPI)


The Greening of Godzilla

Watching the colossal and implosive decline of the once mighty green movement to stop global warming has been an educational experience. It’s rare to see so many smart, idealistic and dedicated people look so clueless and fail so completely. From the anti-climax of the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held, the movement has gone from one catastrophic failure to the next.

A year ago giddy environmentalists were on top of the world. The greenest president in American history had the largest congressional majority of any president since Lyndon Johnson; the most powerful leaders in the world were elbowing each other for places on the agenda at the Copenhagen conference on climate.

It all came to naught. The continued stalemates and failures of the UN treaty process have fallen off the front pages; as the Kyoto Protocol sinks ineffectually into oblivion, no new global treaty will take its place. The most Democratic Congress in a generation will not pass significant climate legislation before the midterms pull Congress to the right, and there will be no US law on carbon caps or anything close in President Obama’s first term, and there is less public faith in or concern about climate change today than at any time in the last fifteen years.

Has any public pressure group ever spent so much direct mail and foundation money for such pathetic results? (Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest)


Environmental groups face their future in climate-change debate

On Thursday, some of the country's most respected environmental groups - in the midst of their biggest political fight in two decades - sent a group of activists to Milwaukee with a message.

We're losing.

They put on what they called a "CarnivOil" - a fake carnival with a stilt-wearing barker, free "tar balls" (chocolate doughnuts), and a suit-wearing "oil executive" punching somebody dressed like a crab. It was supposed to be satire, but there was a bitter message underneath: When we fight the oil and gas industry, they win.

"We killed the clean-energy bill! There's still no cap on oil spills!" yelled Heather Brutz, the barker, who was pretending to speak for the industry. "And now, for our graaaaaaand finale, we're going to pass the diiiiiirty-air act!"

A year ago, these groups seemed to be at the peak of their influence, needing only the Senate's approval for a landmark climate-change bill. But they lost that fight, done in by the sluggish economy and opposition from business and fossil-fuel interests.

Now the groups are wondering how they can keep this loss from becoming a rout as their opponents press their advantage and try to undo the Obama administration's climate efforts. At two events last week in Wisconsin, environmental groups seemed to be trying two strategies: defiance and pleading for sympathy.

Neither one drew enough people to fill a high school gym. (David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post)


CBI to host climate change 'clash of the titans' debate

Former government chief scientist Sir David King, in the green corner, to take on arch-sceptic Lord Lawson in public showdown

The most prominent climate sceptic and the most vocal advocate of the cause in the UK are to take part in their first public debate on the subject.

The "clash of the titans" will be between Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative chancellor and chairman of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Sir David King, a former government chief scientist who once warned that climate change was "more serious even than the threat of terrorism".

The CBI will host the event at its annual climate change conference in November, and it is likely to inject renewed vigour into a deadlocked debate between two camps that seldom meet face to face and appear to be increasingly entrenched in their positions. (Guardian)


Not carbon offsets, but carbon upsets

Cap-and-trade has had the perverse effect of subsidising politically dominant industries. We should try something else (Douglas Kysar, Guardian)

Well, at least he's right about carbon offsets being worse than useless.


The Great Collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange

Plagued by a free fall in carbon emissions prices and the perennial failure of Washington to pass any binding Cap and Trade Bill, it seems that the Chicago Climate Exchange is on its last leg, announcing that it will be scaling back its operations. (Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire)


Japan Plans To Bind Large Firms To CO2 Caps: Draft

Japan's compulsory emissions trading scheme is set to start in April 2013 and cover large CO2 emitting companies, a draft of the government's proposals showed on Monday, but several issues are still open to debate.

The draft, obtained by Reuters, will be presented on Tuesday to an expert committee at the Environment Ministry, which aims to finalize its proposal for Japan's cap-and-trade scheme by the end of this year. (Reuters)


Judge quashes Cuccinelli subpoena of U-Va. records

An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has set aside a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann.

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a "reason to believe" that Mann had committed fraud. (WaPo)


Phytoplankton Are Not Starving (Correction)

P Gosselin 30. August 2010

Ed Caryl likes to research, and a short time ago wrote an essay about phytoplankton, see here. Some readers pointed out a flaw, and so Ed has insisted on posting a correction – as is appropriate in science. Happens to the best of us. (We’re not Penn State or CRU here).

The Phytoplankton are not Starving
By Ed Caryl

In a comment to the original article, The Phytoplankton are Starving, R. de Hann made the following comment:

 So I have big trouble accepting the loss of plankton for fact.

In regard to the claim of over-fishing and fishing methods (by other reports), which is a serious problem in several places, we see the gap of lost volume filled up with other species very quickly.

We know for example that tuna eat jellyfish and in those waters where the tuna numbers have been reduced the numbers of jellyfish have exploded, compensating for the “loss of mass”.

So one species is quickly replaced by another.

Continue reading “Phytoplankton Are Not Starving (Correction)” (No Tricks Zone)


The Effect of Clouds on Climate: A Key Mystery for Researchers

As climate scientists wrestle with the complexities of how the planet will react to rising greenhouse-gas levels, no variable is more difficult to decipher than the impact of clouds. But thanks to new satellite data and other technologies, clues are emerging that may help solve the puzzle. (Michael D. Lemonick, e360)


Well duh! Dramatic climate change is unpredictable

The fear that global temperature can change very quickly and cause dramatic climate changes that may have a disastrous impact on many countries and populations is great around the world. But what causes climate change and is it possible to predict future climate change? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen shows that it may be due to an accumulation of different chaotic influences and as a result would be difficult to predict. The results have just been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

For millions of years the Earth's climate has alternated between about 100,000 years of ice age and approximately 10-15,000 years of a warm climate like we have today. The climate change is controlled by the Earth's orbit in space, that is to say the Earth's tilt and distance from the sun. But there are also other climatic shifts in the Earth's history and what caused those? (University of Copenhagen)

Because there are so many variables whose values affect other variables we are never likely to be able to predict more than broad climate states more than a few years ahead.


11 Year Cycle in Hot Summers

By Joseph S. D’Aleo, CCM

We have seen hot summers in 1933, 1944, 1955, 1966, 1977, 1988, 1999, 2010.  Notice a pattern? The years are 11 years apart.

This 11 year cycle may be a coincidence but if so a 1 in 256 chance one. In some years the heat was concentrated in one month (1966 it was July), in others it was throughout.

What else has an 11 year cycle? - the sun of course. The solar cycles average 11 years. When new solar cycles begin the new spots are in higher solar latitudes and gradually move equatorward. During transitions you typically have old cycle spots near the equator and new cycle spots at higher latitudes.

The 11 years above have been during these transitions. A coincidence?  We’ll leave it to our solar expert readers to speculate whether this is solar driven and possible mechanisms.  Other common elements in some of the years include an El Nino winter giving way to a La Nina summer and strong rebound from a very negative winter negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) pattern.

See so-called butterfly diagram with positions of sunspots by year enlarged here.

Compositing those years gives you this warm summer signal.

See enlarged here.

The actual anomalies through August 30 showed the warmth further south. This may be because of a continuation of strong high latitude blocking (negative NAO) as evidenced by the warmth in northeast Canada.

See enlarged here.

Indeed a plot of the daily NAO as obtained from NOAA CPC shows a predominant negative NAO. This forces everything else further south in North America and the Atlantic.

See enlarged here.

In July, a negative NAO means a hot southeast. By winter, it means cold.

A continuation of this blocking may make the upcoming La Nina winter more interesting. The winters tend to be cold in the west and north, warmer in the southeast. See more here. (Icecap)


New Paper On Climate Variability and Trends In The Southwest USA By McCabe Et Al 2010

There is a very interesting new paper with respect to climate trends in the southwestern United States (h/t to ICECAP and World Climate Report ). It is

McCabe, G. J., D. R. Legates, and H. F. Lins. 2010. Variability and trends in dry day frequency and dry event length in the southwestern United States, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, D07108, doi:10.1029/2009JD012866.

The abstract reads

“Daily precipitation from 22 National Weather Service first‐order weather stations in the southwestern United States for water years 1951 through 2006 are used to examine variability and trends in the frequency of dry days and dry event length. Dry events with minimum thresholds of 10 and 20 consecutive days of precipitation with less than 2.54 mm are analyzed. For water years and cool seasons (October through March), most sites indicate negative trends in dry event length (i.e., dry event durations are becoming shorter). For the warm season (April through September), most sites also indicate negative trends; however, more sites indicate positive trends in dry event length for the warm season than for water years or cool seasons. The larger number of sites indicating positive trends in dry event length during the warm season is due to a series of dry warm seasons near the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Overall, a large portion of the variability in dry event length is attributable to variability of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, especially for water years and cool seasons. Our results are consistent with analyses of trends in discharge for sites in the southwestern United States, an increased frequency in El Niño events, and positive trends in precipitation in the southwestern United States.”

The conclusion contains the text

Little evidence of long-term positive trends in dry event length in the southwestern United States is apparent in the analysis of daily WBAN precipitation data. During the mid‐1990s to late 1990s, drought conditions began in the southwestern United States and persisted in the 21st century. This drought has resulted in positive trends in dry event length for some sites in the southwestern United States. However, most of the statistically significant trends in the number of dry days and dry event length are negative trends for water years and cool seasons.

In addition, correlation and spectral analyses indicate that a substantial portion of the variability in dry event characteristics in the southwestern United States is attributable to ENSO variability, particularly for water years and cool seasons. Since the mid‐1970s, El Niño events have been more frequent, and this has resulted in increased precipitation in the southwestern United States, particularly during the cool season. The increased precipitation is associated with a decrease in the number of dry days and a decrease in dry event length.

This paper reinforces two issues that have repeatedly been made on my weblog:

The multi-decadal IPCC global climate models, which have predicted more-or-less perpetual drought in the southwestern United States, are failing in their regional prediction. These predictions, for example, are discussed in the post

“When Will Lake Mead Go Dry?” – A New Paper That Uses Multi-Decadal Global Models for Regional Predictions

where the paper

Barnett, T. P, and D. W. Pierce, 2008: When will Lake Mead go dry? Water Resour. Res., 44, W03201, doi:10.1029/2007WR006704,

that is discussed in that post, includes their forecast

“A water budget analysis shows that under current conditions there is a 10% chance that live storage in Lakes Mead and Powell will be gone by about 2013 and a 50% chance that it will be gone by 2021 if no changes in water allocation from the Colorado River system are made.”

In another post

The Publication Of A Hypothesis: An Article Titled “A Model Forecast – Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America”

the paper

Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Isaac Held, Yochanan Kushnir, Jian Lu, Gabriel Vecchi,Huei-Ping Huang, Nili Harnik, Ants Leetmaa,2 Ngar-Cheung Lau, Cuihua Li, Jennifer Velez, Naomi Naik Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America Richard Seager, et al., Science 316, 1181 (2007); DOI: 10.1126/science.1139601

is discussed in which they write

“…there is a broad consensus among climate models that this region will dry in the 21st century and that the transition to a more arid climate should already be under way. If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a
time frame of years to decades.”

The Barnett and Pierce 2008, and Seager et al 2007 papers (and other such papers and reports) have misled policymakers on the reality of how the climate system behaves, as illustrated in the new McNabe et al 2010 paper.


The dominance of the regional climate feature of ENSO, as reported in the McNabe et al 2010 paper, further documents why the use of a global average surface temperature trend (or global average radiative forcing) is a grossly inadequate metric to diagnose climate variability and change.
(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Terrible! Few air travellers offset carbon emissions, study finds

Only 7% of air passengers are funding green energy projects and offsetting the carbon emissions of their flights, a Civil Aviation Authority survey at Stansted airport has found (Tim Webb, Guardian)

Who knew 7% of people were so gullible? Something must be done to protect them from these dreadful scammers!


Risk-Taking Rises as Oil Rigs in Gulf Drill Deeper

In a remote reach of the Gulf of Mexico, nearly 200 miles from shore, a floating oil platform thrusts its tentacles deep into the ocean like a giant steel octopus.

The $3 billion rig, called Perdido, can pump oil from dozens of wells nearly two miles under the sea while simultaneously drilling new ones. It is part of a wave of ultra-deep platforms — all far more sophisticated than the rig that was used to drill the ill-fated BP well that blew up in April. These platforms have sprung up far from shore and have pushed the frontiers of technology in the gulf, a region that now accounts for a quarter of the nation’s oil output.

Major offshore accidents are not common. But whether through equipment failure or human error, the risks increase as the rigs get larger and more complicated.

Yet even as regulators investigate the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the broader dangers posed by the industry’s push into deeper waters have gone largely unscrutinized. (NYT)

Given the hand wringing by professional worriers, wouldn't you think they'd be far more supportive of much safer and certainly more manageable coal-to-liquid projects? We all acknowledge far greater technical challenges of deepwater oil extraction, although some are far more exercised over perceived risks than others. We also know the world will not be reducing its use of carbon-dense fuels anytime in the foreseeable future so why not simply do the practical thing and get on with coal-to-liquids?


Looking Back to Look Ahead

Last week the Energy Information Agency of the US Department of Energy released its Annual Energy Review for 2009. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, ET)


New study shows that oilsands mining and processing are polluting the Athabasca River

Edmonton—Inorganic elements known to be toxic at low concentrations are being discharged to air and water by oilsands mining and processing according to University of Alberta (U of A) research findings being published this month in one of the world's top scientific journals.

The 13 elements being discharged include mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and several other metals known to be toxic at trace levels. The paper will appear in the August 30 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (University of Alberta)


Obama’s EPA: School Marms R Us

by Marlo Lewis
30 August 2010 @ 5:12 pm

The Obama Administration’s EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSHA) are proposing new rules “labeling each passenger car with a  government letter grade from A to D based on its fuel efficiency and emissions,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The new rules “would be the most substantial changes in 30 years to the familiar price and mileage labels afixed to new cars on sale at dealership,” the article continues. Only in the make-work world of bureaucrats would the addition of the letters A, B, C, or D to product labels be considered “subtantial changes.”

The WSJ goes on to point out the obvious: “Currently the labels must show how many miles per gallon a car gets and its estimated annual fuel costs. Under…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)


Wind Energy: It’s Not Cheap or Clean

Much of the justification for subsidies, tax credits, and mandates for increasing wind energy production in the U.S. is that it will create jobs and help cool our planet’s fever. We’ve explained in detail how subsidized green jobs destroy jobs elsewhere, but it also turns out that increased wind power decreases carbon emissions much less than previously thought, and in some instances, could increase emissions.

The Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce explains why in his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. First, wind power displaces power from natural gas more than it does coal, and coal combustion emits almost double what natural gas does.

Second, the intermittency of wind forces coal and gas-fired plants to operate inefficiently and actually increase emissions. Coal plants run most efficiently when continuously running, so the ramping up and down of conventional coal plants to make up for intermittent wind pumps out more carbon dioxide. Bryce likens it to the efficiency of an automobile: “An automobile that operates at a constant speed—say, 55 miles per hour—will have better fuel efficiency, and emit less pollution per mile traveled, than one that is stuck in stop-and-go traffic.”

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


German Ministers Clash On Nuclear Report

Two key German ministers took different positions on Monday on the length of time that nuclear power plants should be extended after Chancellor Angela Merkel reduced expectations for a long extension.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle and Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen drew differing conclusions from an expert report -- a study of four different scenarios -- aimed at helping the government form its energy policy in late September. (Reuters)


Biofuel Demand Driving "Land Grab" In Africa: Report

Biofuel demand is driving a new "land grab" in Africa, with at least 5 million hectares (19,300 sq miles) acquired by foreign firms to grow crops in 11 countries, a study by an environmental group said on Monday.

The contracts by European and Asian companies for land to grow sugar cane, jatropha and palm oil to be turned into fuel will involve clearing forests and vegetation, taking land that could be used for food and creating conflicts with local communities, Friends of the Earth said in the study. (Reuters)


Backlash over China curb on metal exports

China's draconian export curbs on rare earth minerals needed by the rest of the world for frontier technologies is escalating into a serious diplomatic and trade clash with the United States and other leading powers. (TDT)

"Rare earths" are not really rare, just available at low concentrations and it will take time for other producers to reenter the marketplace. The US has ample reserves but hasn't bothered to extract them. Why? "The last US mine shut 14 years ago, discouraged by tough US environmental rules." 'nough said.



Exclusive Video: Gov. Mitch Daniels on Obamacare’s Devastating Consequences

Editor’s Note: On the right, please watch our exclusive interview with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and then below, please read an original guest blog to The Foundry from the Governor himself.

We’ve been through a global recession. Now we’re fighting through a stalled recovery. Revenues are the lowest they’ve been in half a century. Their finances a wreck, many states have effectively sunk into bankruptcy.

Indiana is still afloat. In fact, we’ve fared better than most. We continue to meet our obligations without raising taxes, and the reserves we carefully built and protected will get us through the downturn.

But as if we did not already have enough on our plates, the passage and implementation of Obamacare presents us with a whole new set of challenges and a costly to-do list.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


EU regulator reviews safety of GSK swine flu jab

LONDON - Europe's drug regulator is reviewing the safety of GlaxoSmithKline's Pandemrix swine flu vaccine, which has been given to more than 30 million people in Europe, to examine possible links to a sleep disorder.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had been asked by the European Commission to conduct the review after a number of cases of narcolepsy were reported in patients who had recently had the jab, mainly in Sweden and Finland.

"Although the cases of narcolepsy have been reported in temporal association with the use of Pandemrix, it is at present not known if the vaccine caused the disorder," the EMA drugs regulator said in a statement on Friday.

The EMA said its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) would examine all the available data to determine whether there is evidence for a causal link to Pandemrix. (Reuters)


Surgery for obesity increases 10-fold in England

LONDON - Use of weight-loss surgery has increased 10-fold in hospitals in England since 2000 and those who have gastric bands fitted can reduce their risk of early death and cut health service costs, scientists said on Friday.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers said one reason for the rapid rise in weight-loss procedures, or bariatric surgery was increased demand from obese patients as they become more aware of surgery as a viable treatment option.

Bariatric surgery is performed on people who are dangerously obese, as a way of trying to help them lose weight.

The idea is to reduce the size of the stomach, either with a gastric band or a gastric bypass that re-routes the small intestines to a small stomach pouch, or by removing a portion of the stomach. (Reuters)

Disappointing they still omit mention of the multiple health risks of bariatric surgery. Folks, this is a desperate measure of last resort, not to be undertaken lightly.


Drink and obesity behind 60 per cent rise in liver death toll

Binge drinking and obesity are fuelling a surge in deaths from liver disease, experts have warned. 

The number of lives claimed by damaged, diseased and worn-out livers has soared by 60 per cent in only a decade. 

Liver disease, including cancer, claimed 9,719 lives in England in 2008 - up from 6,058 ten years earlier, a report by MPs says today. 

The fifth biggest killer, it is the only one that is claiming more lives year after year. (Daily Mail)


Progressives Against Progress

The rise of environmentalism poisoned liberals’ historical optimism.

Neither the failure of the environmental apocalypse to arrive nor the steady improvement in environmental conditions over the last 40 years has dampened the ardor of those eager to make hair shirts for others to wear. The call for political coercion as a path back to Ruskin’s and Mishan’s small-is-beautiful world is still with us. Radical environmentalists’ Tory disdain for democracy and for the habits of their inferiors remains undiminished. True to its late-1960s origins, political environmentalism in America gravitates toward both bureaucrats and hippies: toward a global, big-brother government that will keep the middle classes in line and toward a back-to-the-earth, peasantlike localism, imposed on others but presenting no threat to the elites’ comfortable lives. How ironic that these gentry liberals—progressives against progress—turn out to resemble nothing so much as nineteenth-century conservatives. (Fred Siegel, City Journal)


Part 1: The Green Swindle - Video -


Green Police Becomes a Reality in Cleveland

Remember Audi’s absurd “Green Police” Super Bowl commercial where green cops arrest citizens for using plastic bags, plastic water bottles and sort through the community’s trash cans to ensure they’re recycling? Well, the absurdity is about to hit the streets of Cleveland. reports:

It would be a stretch to say that Big Brother will hang out in Clevelanders’ trash cans, but the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling—and fine them $100 if they don’t. The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables. Continue reading...

(The Foundry)


The increasingly senescent Crone: The Price of Wheat

Agricultural experts say they’re not worried about the recent jump in wheat prices, caused largely by the drought in Russia and the ban on Russian wheat exports. The Department of Agriculture is predicting that world wheat production will reach the same level this year — 645 million metric tons — that helped bring prices down from their astonishing $13.50 a bushel peak in February 2008. At present, prices for December wheat are about $6.95 a bushel, down over 50 cents from a month ago, but up nearly 55 percent since early June.

We don’t find the experts consoling. One reason prices have been less volatile is that big grain buyers, like cereal companies, have learned to hedge their buying. And to say that this episode of market volatility is not as bad as the one two years ago — which led to food riots in many parts of the world — is not encouraging.

We’re not supposed to attribute a couple of bad harvests, or the floods in Pakistan, to a changing climate. But this volatility in grain prices was not caused by farmers’ decisions or failures of government policy. It was caused by drought and flood. If this looks like a pattern — or simply a glimpse of things to come — it is worrying. (NYT)

The Crone claims Australia will not be making up Russian shortfall because "it is in the midst of extreme drought" ... wrong. Australia has had a great opening for winter wheat with good follow up rains. Australian growers consider themselves fortunate that Russia will not be competing with the forecast bumper crop and depressing export prices too much. This year is projected to deliver the third highest global wheat crop ever. There will also most likely be a significant increase in global grain stockpiles again this year, much to the disappointment of The Crone, its fellow misanthropes and neo Malthusians everywhere.


Oh... Demand for food is costing the Earth

The fight is on over how to solve the global crisis in resources, says Rose Prince. (TDT)

Um, Rose? BHP Billiton made the bid for an asset of sustained demand (unlike say copper, which will to some extent be displaced by optic fiber and wireless technologies). There is nothing nefarious about the bid, nor is there a signal of desperately looming shortage. Even if there was such a shortage then we can always source it from the sea during desalination and provide potable water at the same time, sea water is ~400ppm potassium and that must be a lot, just look at how they carry on about carbon dioxide at similar concentrations ;-)


Canpotex and the cartel bureau

  August 27, 2010 – 7:16 pm

Canpotex might have been called the Organization of Potash Exporting Companies. That reminds us that cartels are meant to be ‘bad,’ except … when you are doing the colluding

BHP Billiton’s $40-billion “hostile” bid for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is in most respects unfolding predictably. BHP CEO Marius Kloppers is on the road selling the deal. Potash’s CEO Bill Doyle is crying attempted rape, has installed a poison pill and is beating the bushes for White Knights. Unionists and economic nationalists are wringing their hands at the prospective “loss” of yet another domestic “champion” for a mere pile of cash. Meanwhile, speculation swirls over the potential role of China, which has been on a global resource-buying binge and is the world’s largest importer of potash. Most observers expect Ottawa to wave any acquisition through, with the possible exception of one in which the Chinese government is thought to be pulling the strings.

Read More » (Financial Post)


Improving Crop Yields One Plant at a Time

It used to be that farmers were concerned about the health of their fields as a whole. New technologies now enable them to care for plants on an individual basis. From fighting fungus to adjusting soil acidity, smart tractors can do it all.

Farmer Manfred Hurtz still drives his combine harvester to the edge of the field himself, but then he switches it to autopilot. An electric motor on the steering column guides the Claas Lexion through the wheat fields, and the guidance system can even receive its commands through GPS. "It enables me to keep my rows straight, down to the last centimeter," Hurtz says proudly.

The high-tech farming machine doesn't just harvest grain. It also collects data. When he returns to his office later on, Hurtz will switch on his computer and prepare a so-called yield map, a grid of his land that tells him exactly how much grain he harvested from each sector of his field.
The farmer from Nideggen, in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, wants to extract as many secrets as possible from his fields. The quality of the soil on the north slopes of the Eifel Mountains varies widely: The earth fluctuates from sandy loam to loamy sand to shell limestone, while soil density, nutrient content and water retention capacity can vary every few meters.

"In the past, we were constantly adjusting the fertilizer sprayers by hand," Hurtz recalls. When he drives into the fields to apply fertilizer today, his tractor looks as if a Smurf-blue surfboard were tied to its roof. In reality, the tractor is carrying a mobile metering device on board. The so-called N-sensor (nitrogen sensor) measures the nutrient content of the plants and quickly calculates how much fertilizer they need. Then the sprayer on the back of the tractor sprays the correct dose of nitrogen fertilizer onto each segment of the field. This saves costs and reduces the environmental impact. (Spiegel)


The genetic code of wheat

Spikelet of Chinese Spring wheat, Triticum aestivum. Photo: E.J.M. Kirby

Last night the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council made available online a draft of the largest genetic code of an organism ever tackled – the genome of wheat, which is five times larger than the human genome and more than 30 times larger than that of rice, revealed back in 2002. But well worth the effort, for a crop with virtues that have shaped human history since its domestication more than 10,000 years ago.

Chinese Spring wheat is the variety now read. Leading the work is the British team of Neil Hall and Anthony Hall at the University of Liverpool, Keith Edwards and Gary Barker at the University of Bristol. and Mike Bevan at the John Innes Centre. Most of the actual gene-reading was done with a “platform” developed in the USA by a subsidiary of Swiss company Roche.

The implications are big. Although the genome isn’t yet organised into its chromosomes, plant breeders now have access to 95 per cent of all wheat genes. That should shorten by some years the time required to develop viable new varieties of wheat that can thrive in marginal conditions – adapted for example to face drought, salty soil, or disease.

Here’s the most relevant extract from the story in Magic Universe called “Cereals: genetic boosts for the most cosseted inhabitants of the planet.”

Read the rest of this entry » (Calder's Updates)


Canada Letter Says Concerns Re EU GM Crop Proposal

The Canadian government has voiced concerns about a European Union proposal to allow member states to decide whether to ban genetically modified (GM) crops.

The bloc's executive -- the European Commission -- submitted the proposal in July in a bid to break a deadlock in EU GM approvals, with just two products authorized for cultivation since 1998.

If approved by EU governments and lawmakers, the plans would allow member states to ban the growing of GM varieties approved for cultivation at EU level, provided they use non-scientific arguments.

"Canada is concerned that the EU's proposal does not appear to be consistent with a science-based approach," Ottawa said in a letter sent to EU government embassies in Brussels and seen by Reuters.


Will the 2013 solar flare return us to the Stone Age?

Fox Business News Channel brought the "top physicist" (right after Al Gore, Lee Smolin, and Joe Romm) Michio Kaku who explained that we're doomed in 3 years:

Every 11 years the [Sun's] north pole and the south pole flip, releasing a burst of radiation. But, every 100 years or so, a monster Tsunami from the Sun emerges which could literally cause trillions in property damage. […]

It could paralyze the economy of the planet Earth. In 1859 we had a gigantic solar storm which knocked out telegraph wires back then, 150 years ago. If that had happened today it would knock out almost all our satellites, knock out power stations, there would be food riots around the country because refrigeration would stop, airplanes would probably crash without radar. […]

And again, this is a once in a century, once in two centuries storm…

We do have them and we have to worry about them. […]

We’d be thrown back 100 years.

Every 100 years, we're thrown back 100 years just by the solar storms, we're told. Because there are dozens of types of similar catastrophes, it is clear that every 100 years, we're thrown back several millennia. ;-)

It sounds scary, doesn't it? One year after the Earth collapses because of the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 and after another doomsday prescribed by Nostradamus, we will face yet another Armageddon. Fine. You may buy insurance from me. What is going on?

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


EPA Surrenders on Lead Bullet Ban

BY John McCormack

Paul Bedard reports:

In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn't have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban.

The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers.

The NRA's chief lobbyist Chris Cox says: “It’s outrageous that this petition even went this far....  We applaud the EPA for its understanding of the law and its common sense in this situation — both of which were totally missing in the petition filed by these extreme anti-gun and anti-hunting groups.”

EPA press officials did not return phone calls or emails from THE WEEKLY STANDARD on Thursday. (Weekly Standard)


Aw, Wilderness!

ONE day in early 1970, a cross-country skier got lost along the 46-mile Kekekabic Trail, which winds through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Unable to make his way out, he died of exposure.

In response, the Forest Service installed markers along the trail. But when, years later, it became time to replace them, the agency refused, claiming that the 1964 Wilderness Act banned signage in the nation’s wilderness areas.

Despite the millions of people who have visited the country’s national parks, forests and wildernesses this summer, the Forest Service has become increasingly strict in its enforcement of the Wilderness Act. The result may be more pristine lands, but the agency’s zealous enforcement has also heightened safety risks and limited access to America’s wilderness areas.

Over the last 45 years Congress has designated as wilderness 40 percent of the land in our national parks and one-third of the land in our national forests — more than 170,000 square miles, an area nearly as large as California, Massachusetts and New Jersey combined. In March 2009, President Obama signed a law protecting 3,125 more square miles, the largest expansion in more than a generation.

Wilderness, according to the act, is space “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Within those areas, the act forbids cars, roads, structures and anything else that could impair the “outstanding opportunities for solitude.”

At the same time, though, Congress wanted people to use the land for recreation, so it allowed access to wilderness areas for hunting, hiking, canoeing and climbing. (Ted Stroll, NYT)



Run Like A Deere From Cap-And-Trade

Junk Science: Deere & Co., a major player in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, drops out, saying the group's legislative strategy is no longer a foundation for moving forward. Is cap-and-trade dead?

The farm equipment giant was a major player in the Climate Action Partnership, a group of large firms that advocate cap-and-trade legislation and lead the drive for reductions of so-called greenhouse gases. In announcing its withdrawal, spokesman Ken Golden said: "We came to the conclusion that Deere had other opportunities to be involved in climate change initiatives."

In other words, Deere came to the conclusion that in being part of a coalition backing legislation such as Waxman-Markey, which has passed the House, and Kerry-Lieberman, which is going nowhere in the Senate at least for now, it was riding a dead horse.

We'd like to think the grand poo-bahs at Deere have wised up, recognizing that the junk science behind climate change has been exposed as the fraud it is, and that the economic consequences of cap-and-trade will be devastating to companies such as Deere and Caterpillar, another corporate giant that recently quit the group. (IBD)


Obama Administration: The Courts are the Wrong Place for Climate Policy

[UPDATE 8/27: Real constitutional law experts discuss this here (Jonathan H. Adler) and here (Jonathan Zasloff) (read comments on the latter for their exchange), offering starkly different perspectives.]

The Obama Administration has issued a remarkable brief siding with energy companies over whether they should be liable for the effects of their greenhouse gases as a "public nuisance."  The arguments in the brief, should they come to be accepted, would appear to put an end to effort to use of the US judicial system to force regulations of greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenwire reports that the administration's position has come as a shock to some environmental advocates:
Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general's office on June 24, it seemed they had "a lot of friends in the room," he said.

"We feel stabbed in the back," Pawa said. "This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?"

Top attorneys at environmental advocacy groups are buzzing about the brief, sources say. Some feel betrayed by a White House that has generally been more amenable to environmental regulation than its predecessor.

"This reads as if it were cut and pasted from the Bush administration's briefing in Massachusetts," said David Bookbinder, who served as the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel until his resignation in May.
The brief itself reads as a more general argument against seeking to implement climate policies -- those focused on controlling greenhouse gas emissions -- through the courts.

The brief states that the scope of potential harm from greenhouse gas emissions is so broad as to render the issue more appropriate to the legislative and executive branches (pp. 13-14, PDF):
[P]laintiffs proceed without relying on any statutory right or statutory cause of action, and have sued a handful of defendants from among a broad array of entities that emit greenhouse gases. Moreover, the types of harms they seek to redress could potentially be suffered by virtually any landowner, and to an extent, by virtually every citizen, in the United States (and, indeed, in most of the world). Prudential standing principles counsel in favor of leaving resolution of such claims to the representative Branches.

Plaintiffs’ common-law nuisance claims are quintessentially fit for political or regulatory—not judicial— resolution, because they simultaneously implicate many competing interests of almost unimaginably broad categories of both plaintiffs and defendants. On the plaintiffs’ side, the eight States, one city, and three land trusts in these suits are but a tiny subset of those who could allege they are injured by carbon-dioxide emissions that have contributed or will contribute to global climate change. The court of appeals focused largely on plaintiffs’ asserted injuries as landowners. See Pet. App. 59a-67a. But plaintiffs’ allegations are not unusual in that respect. Global climate change will potentially affect the property interests of most landowners. The court of appeals explained that global warming’s effects come from the land, the sea, and the air, and will threaten the beaches, the fields, the hills—and almost everywhere in between.6 The court of appeals’ analysis of the claims of the land-trust plaintiffs (Pet. App. 62a- 63a) further confirms that nearly all landowners will suffer injuries of the types they allege here. Moreover, global warming’s effects will not be limited to landowners; they will also be felt by governments, individuals, corporations, and interest groups throughout the Nation and around the world.
The brief also explains that the complexity of sources of greenhouse gas emissions also points toward a remedy outside th judicial process (pp. 14-15):
Parallel breadth and complexities also characterize the range of potential defendants in such common-law claims, because the categories of those who emit carbon dioxide (and thus contribute to global warming in the way plaintiffs allege) are equally capacious. Plaintiffs’ complaints name a few entities that operate power plants in 20 States. But the electric-utility industry alone is far larger, to say nothing of many other sectors of the economy that are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions . . .

The multiplicity of potential plaintiffs and defendants is rendered especially troubling by the very nature of common-law public-nuisance claims seeking to slow global warming. The problem is not simply that many plaintiffs could bring such claims and that many defendants could be sued. Rather, it is that essentially any potential plaintiff could claim to have been injured by any (or all) of the potential defendants. The medium that transmits injury to potential plaintiffs is literally the Earth’s entire atmosphere—making it impossible to consider the sort of focused and more geographically limited effects characteristic of traditional nuisance suits targeted at particular nearby sources of water or air pollution.
The brief states bluntly that (pp. 16, 17):
Courts—when no statute is in place to provide guidance—are simply not well-suited to balance the various interests of, and the burdens to be borne by, the many entities, groups, and sectors of the economy that, although not parties to the litigation, would be affected by a grievance that spans the globe. . .

The confluence in this case of several factors—including the myriad potential plaintiffs and defendants, the lack of judicial manageability, and the unusually broad range of underlying policy judgments that would need to be made—demonstrates that plaintiffs’ global warming nuisance claims should be resolved by the representative Branches, not federal courts.
A question that I have for constitutional scholars:  How does the argument in this brief also not undercut MASS vs. EPA?

Has the Obama Administration effectively ended climate litigation in the US?  It sure looks that way. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


The Battle for America 2010: Special Election Candidates Promise to Stop Lame-Duck Agenda

Races to fill the unexpired terms of Biden and Obama might make the difference in thwarting Harry Reid's plans to ram through a big government agenda during the lame-duck session after the elections.

August 27, 2010 - by Phil Kerpen 

Last week I wrote about the first of three key strategies to neutralize the lame-duck threat: persuading moderate Republicans. That strategy, however, may not be enough to stop all of the lame-duck threats, especially on taxes and spending (Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, for instance, seems eager to vote for tax hikes recommended by Obama’s deficit commission). The numbers of U.S. senators inclined to oppose Harry Reid’s runaway lame-duck agenda, however, can be increased on Election Day and that’s where the second key strategy comes in: educating voters in the key special election states whose new senators will be seated for the lame-duck session.

There are three states holding special elections whose winners will be seated as soon as they are certified: Delaware, Illinois, and West Virginia. (PJM)


<chuckle> Lefties have trouble with the idea people won't vote for a great big new tax: Aggression pays in king hits on Labor

CLIMATE change can be a killer. This has nothing to do with the science and everything to do with its impact on political leaders. Look at the list of those who have felt its sting in the past three years: John Howard, Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd. And Julia Gillard?

It's not just senior politicians who have been either damaged or vanquished by climate change; the political system itself has taken a knock, too. If not for climate change - the issue that runs like mercury through the hands of big-party leaders who try to grasp it - would the nation now be without an effective government, the numbers in Parliament tied up in a logjam, the voting public refusing to entrust either Labor or the Coalition with power in their own right?

The problem with climate change is that because it is a concept, a theory, a belief, it provides a blank piece of paper upon which every voter can write their own political message.

Climate change has been good for business for some political leaders. Not surprisingly, those who place themselves at the extreme ends of the argument have prospered.

Greens leader Bob Brown embraces the argument in toto and favours the substantial deindustrialisation of Australia as a result; his party increased its vote by 3.6 per cent and won control of the Senate last weekend. Liberal leader Tony Abbott is not a firm believer and does not see the need to make serious changes to the economy to curb carbon emissions. A champion of voters who reject climate change, he has turbocharged his party and could within a couple of weeks be prime minister. (SMH)


More frantic spin about down-under elections: Climate change delays cost Labor election - says a poll by the Climate Institute

LABOR could have won two extra seats and perhaps the election had it not deferred its carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), a new poll suggests.

The poll, commissioned by the Climate Institute, showed 32 per cent of those who voted Green would have voted Labor if it weren't for the decision to postpone the introduction of the CPRS. (AAP)

Parsing the result, less than one-third of people sufficiently misguided as to vote Greens did so because of gorebull warbling, yielding a grand total of less than 3.65% of Australian voters who were motivated by "climate change". Expressed yet another way about 46,000 Australians are really troubled about (or expect to profit from) climate legislation, about the same number as motivated by whale & tree hugging or who would surrender to terrorists. The inner-city latte set are really not much value to the world, are they?


The Clean Development Mechanism delivers the greatest green scam of all

Even the UN and the EU are wising up to the greenhouse gas scam, "the biggest environmental scandal in history", says Christopher Booker. (TDT)


Cancun climate summit: Pachauri asks Mexico to be realistic

New Delhi, Aug 19 With hopes of a consensus eluding the Cancun climate meet, IPCC chairman R K Pachauri has urged host Mexico to be realistic and work hard in pushing rich nations to put climate funds on the table. "There will be least expectations (of a consensus) this time (at Cancun).


Highlighting the need for an action on climate money, he told the host country "for heaven's sake please get the commitment on funding. So I think Mexico will have to work on some of these countries to see that they (developed nations) really put some money on the table," he said, noting that of the USD 30 billion agreed by the developed states between 2010-2012, no funds have been made available so far. (PTI)

And neither should they ever get their hands on any money based on this fraud.


Fix the IPCC process

  August 27, 2010 – 7:20 pm
By Ross McKitrick

There is too much conflict of interest built into the report-writing process

After the Climategate emails scandal of last winter, and discoveries of some embarrassing errors in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, asked the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) to review IPCC procedures. The IAC is a little-known branch of the Inter-Academy Panel, itself a little-known committee that connects national academic societies. It was a safe choice for Pachauri. The last IAC report was a glowing tribute to alternative energy schemes, coauthored by Pachauri himself, along with current Obama administration appointee Stephen Chu and a group of others. So I do not expect much independence of mind or hard-headed objectivity from the IAC. But with the report due out on Aug. 30, I guess we shall soon see.

Read More » (Financial Post)


UN hopes science review eases climate scepticism

A review due on Monday (US time) can help restore public faith in the United Nations panel of climate scientists and its finding that global warming is man made despite errors in a 2007 report, the UN's environment chief said.

Achim Steiner also said extreme weather in 2010, such as floods in Pakistan or Russia's heatwave, were a "stark warning" of the need to act to slow global warming, as outlined by the UN panel.

He said he would be surprised if the review, spurred by mistakes in a 2007 report such as an exaggeration of the thaw of Himalayan glaciers, called for any radical overhaul of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)


Pachauri likely to get away with mild rap

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chief Rajendra Pachauri’s fate will be known Monday with the release of the findings of an investigation into charges that the panel grossly inflated the impact of global warming. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon had in March asked Inter Academy Council 

There is speculation that Pachauri might get away with just a rap on the knuckles for IPCC’s assessments that the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035, and the Amazonian forests were in danger too.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unidentified member of the probe team to say the report will merely suggest that IPCC “should beef up its capacity to ferret out errors in its scientific assessments”.

It will neither call for nor endorse the demand for Pachauri’s dismissal, the journal reported. HT could not independently verify this report. (Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times)


UN climate change panel to be warned over reports

The United Nation's climate change organisation faces a warning over how it uses scientific facts in its influential reports, following the discovery of a series of embarrassing errors in its work. (TDT)


My holiday is being ruined by global cooling. But try telling that to the 'scientists' 

I’m writing this in Salcombe, Devon on a rainy, miserable summer’s day which, I fear, may be all too symptomatic of the climatic rubbish we can all expect for the next 30 years as – thanks to changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation combined with a solar minimum – we enter a period of global cooling. Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?

Well, among those who seems to be hoping just that is an amiable fellow called Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel prize winning geneticist and president-to-be of the Royal Society, who came round to my house last week to film part of a BBC Horizon documentary on why it is that people are losing their faith in scientists.

I told him people aren’t losing their faith in “scientists”. Just the “scientists” who are behind the junk science being advanced in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s four increasingly tendentious and misleading assessment reports.

Over the next three hours, Sir Paul and I had a long, friendly, on-camera argument in which he tried to make a distinction between “scepticism” [good] and “denialism” [bad] – an entirely specious distinction, in my book – while I tried to focus on the details of the Climategate emails because it’s only on details that an arts graduate journalist is ever going to win a debate like this with a (feisty, bright, delightful but not a little combative) Nobel genetics laureate. (James Delingpole)


We have been conned

You can’t buy the truth, but you can buy a committee interpretation of it.

One year ago a group of eminent scientists wrote a letter to congress provocatively titled “You are being deceived.”

Cover of the SPPI report Click to read the full article

Now, in a similar vein, but with all the gory details, John McLean has put together a 66 page compilation of the modus operandi and history of said deception. It’s a story of how small committees of activists cite their own work, ignore contradictory information and dissenting reviewers, use the peer review system to lock out opponents,  and blithely acknowledge crippling uncertainties (but only in tracts of text that few will read, and  never in summation when it matters).

When your favourite prancing-horse-committee — the IPCC — is failing to impress the crowds, it’s time to distract them with dressage from another source. In this case, the IPCC is being reviewed by the brand new InterAcademy Council (IAC). Expect their somber pronouncement to discover some minor flaws of process, posit a few proceedural improvements, and then declare that above all, the science is sound, rigorous, and that carbon dioxide will surely kill millions if we don’t allow the guys at Goldman Sachs to save us all with complex derivative triple A packages of CDM’s. Amen.

There’s a cyclical nature to the lifecycle of committees. Long ago The International Science Union (ICSU) was pushing the greenhouse effect scare, they ran the conferences and subcommittees and programs that helped create the IPCC.

The hand of the ICSU can be seen in the entire lead-up to the establishment of the IPCC. It arranged most of the conferences and with its funding partners – usually the WMO and/or UNEP – it managed numerous meteorological or climatological research projects, many of which had Bert Bolin in a lead role.

The IAC and ICSU have a very similar role. Both seek to fit the square peg of science into the round hole of politics, to take a field where truth is not determined by consensus and twist it to fit a field where consensus is everything. Both have grandiose statements of intent – the IAC’s is “Mobilizing the world’s best science to advise decision-makers on issues of global concern” – and both work very closely with UN bodies such as the UNEP, a co-sponsor of the IPCC. … in fact the IAC seems almost a twin of the ICSU.

More » (Jo Nova)


Judith Curry Looks for Middle Ground in the Contentious Climate Debate (Jerry North, can you help her?)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
August 27, 2010

“I am not afraid about the climate.”

- Judith Curry, quoted in Alexandre Mansur, “American Researcher Says That There Is Still a lot of Uncertainty About Global Warming, Época, May 1, 2010.

“Real Climate, I think they’ve damaged their brand. They started out doing something that people liked, but they’ve been too partisan in a scientific way.”

- Judith Curry, quoted in Eric Berger, “Judith Curry: On Antarctic sea ice, Climategate and skeptics.” August 18, 2010.

There is solid middle ground in the ever-contentious climate-change debate. And now is the time to welcome it, given that politics is not going to reverse in any detectable amount the human influence on climate.

And the shame of the post-Climategate era is that other scientists like Curry did not join her to right the wrongs of a profession that has become politicized, agendacized, and Malthusiancized. And perhaps no one more than Gerald North of Texas A&M epitomizes this lost opportunity. For North is a middle-of-the-roader who inexplicably went Left after Climategate, a story that I documented here at MasterResource.

Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle, whom I have previously identified as a straight shooter in the climate debate, recently posted an interview he did at his blog SciGuy with Professor Curry that is reprinted below (with permission). I also attach an appendix of another Curry interview. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


All four of them? Standing by Mann: Small but punchy protest blasts Cuccinelli’s ‘climategate’ inquest

As global temperatures rise, so does Charlottesville’s profile in a worldwide debate. Two events last Friday highlighted the anger and frustration felt on both sides as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli continues his quest to peek at the early musings of Michael Mann, the former UVA climate professor and creator of the doomsday-invoking “hockey stick graph.”

“Ken Cuccinelli wants to take away the most precious things we can leave to the next generation: a healthy environment and a healthy and strong university. Don’t let the history books read, ‘When climate scientist Michael Mann was ignored, the planet burned up.’”

So said Ryan McElveen. The 2008 UVA graduate had been hoping that at least 50 people would appear for the protest he launched with some emails and flyers. He chose Friday, August 20, because that was the day that a judge, just a mile away, was hearing arguments on whether Cuccinelli’s inquest could move forward. Turns out that’s also the eve of move-in for the fall semester at UVA.

“Bad timing,” McElveen admitted as just two students and two professors rallied with him on the marble steps of the UVA Rotunda. (The Hook)


Catastrophe and prosperity

Millions are suffering and thousands have died from flooding in Pakistan and China. An extraordinary heat wave in Russia sparked fires causing dreadful pollution and wiping out swathes of the wheat crop. Are these weather-related disasters caused by global warming? Do they portend to worse catastrophes? What can be done? Should Pakistan get more aid? (Julian Morris, Daily News)


New El Niño type: worse than we thought

From the Jet Propulsion Lab:
NASA/NOAA Study Finds El Niños are Growing Stronger

Deviations from normal sea surface temperatures (left) and sea surface heights (right)

Deviations from normal sea surface temperatures (left) and sea surface heights (right) at the peak of the 2009-2010 central Pacific El Niño, as measured by NOAA polar orbiting satellites and NASA's Jason-1 spacecraft, respectively. The warmest temperatures and highest sea levels were located in the central equatorial Pacific. Image credit: NASA/JPL-NOAA - Click for a larger image

A relatively new type of El Niño, which has its warmest waters in the central-equatorial Pacific Ocean, rather than in the eastern-equatorial Pacific, is becoming more common and progressively stronger, according to a new study by NASA and NOAA. The research may improve our understanding of the relationship between El Niños and climate change, and has potentially significant implications for long-term weather forecasting.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Tisdale rebuttal to JPL’s “Study Finds El Niños are Growing Stronger”

On Lee and McPhaden (2010) “Increasing intensity of El Niño in the central‐equatorial Pacific”

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

As happens all too often, the press release for a paper has an incorrect title and begins with an unfounded claim. The JPL press release for Lee and McPhaden 2010 “Increasing intensity of El Niño in the central‐equatorial Pacific” is no exception. The title of the press release “NASA/NOAA Study Finds El Niños are Growing Stronger” is wrong. The paper discusses the increase in strength in Central Pacific El Niño events, but does not conclude that El Niño events in general have increased. In fact, as will be illustrated in this post, the strengths of NINO3 and NINO4 based El Niño events, when combined, have actually decreased over the period of the Lee and McPhaden study.

And the press release begins with, “A relatively new type of El Niño…”

Continue reading (WUWT)


Temperature variations are not increasing

The increase of the global mean temperature - and most local temperatures - in the last 30 or 100 or 200 years is unspectacular, noisy, and somewhat questionable, but it is arguably based on the actual empirical data.

However, you may also often hear that the climate variations and extremes are increasing. Unlike the case of the global mean temperature, this statement directly contradicts the available thermometer records.

It is actually very straightforward to see that there is no such increase. Here is the self-explaining Mathematica notebook, based on the WeatherData function, and its PDF preview (25 pages) with the 48 municipal graphs:

Temperature variations.nb (Mathematica notebook)
PDF preview of the notebook (25 pages, HTML)

Typical month-on-month jumps of the temperature anomaly in °C in Boston between 1943 and 2009. The details will be explained later.

I somewhat randomly took 48 of the world's large cities. For each of them, I looked how many years into the past I can go to see uninterrupted monthly average temperature data. For many cities, it was 37 years - since the beginning of 1973. For some cities and their weather station, it was longer. Boston had 67 years.

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


Is Armagh Burning?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Anthony has highlighted a study by Coughlin and Butler. Their study says that there is little or no urban warming (urban heat island, or UHI) in the temperature record from the Armagh Observatory in Ireland. They say:

It is concluded that temperature observations made at Armagh Observatory have been unaffected by rapid urbanisation over the past three decades.

Why is Armagh important? And is there really no UHI in Armagh?

The Armagh record is very valuable because it is one of the longest well-documented temperature series in existence. Here is the monthly mean temperature record from Armagh. (NOTE: I have replaced the earlier Figures 1 and 3, which only went up to the year 2004, with updated figures which now include 2005-2010. My thanks to those who wrote in with the location of the post-2004 data.)

Figure 1. 209 years of monthly temperatures at Armagh, Ireland. Pale blue is monthly surface air temperatures. Dark blue is Gaussian average of the temperature. Photo is noctilucent clouds over Northern Ireland.

My conclusions from Figure 1?

Continue reading (WUWT)


Glaciers – The Dark Side. It’s Not the CO2 Carbon

P Gosselin 27. August 2010

Ed Caryl has become a regular contributor here, and today he presents insights on the causes of glacial melt. Here he discusses how absorption of solar energy by soot and Black Carbon contribute significantly to glacial melting and that CO2 is a minor factor.
Source: Wikipedia  
Glaciers – The Dark Side. It’s Not the CO2 Carbon
by Ed Caryl

The global warming “hockey stick”, invented by Dr. Michael Mann, has been proven to be a distortion. [i]  But if carbon dioxide is not significantly warming the planet, then why are most northern glaciers shrinking?

Since the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago, glaciers have been receding, dramatically in the first few thousand years of warming when the oceans rose by 120 meters. The remaining glaciers have been receding since the end of the “Little Ice Age” in the early 1800s. This is normal. Compared to an ice age, it is warm.

There is evidence that this retreat has stopped and even slightly reversed in the last ten years for some glaciers; those on Mount Shasta in California are examples. These have increased in mass because of greater snowfall. Glaciers in Alaska, California, Europe, and South Greenland are still receding. Some of the melt of South Greenland is because of the Atlantic Ocean. [ii]

 The following temperature plots are of the sea off the west coast of Greenland. For a full resolution, better quality graphic go to the link. The years shown are 1992 to 1999.
Continue reading “Glaciers – The Dark Side. It’s Not the CO2 Carbon” (No Tricks Zone)


Our JGR Paper on Feedbacks is Published

After years of re-submissions and re-writes — always to accommodate a single hostile reviewer — our latest paper on feedbacks has finally been published by Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR).

Entitled “On the Diagnosis of Feedback in the Presence of Unknown Radiative Forcing“, this paper puts meat on the central claim of my most recent book: that climate researchers have mixed up cause and effect when observing cloud and temperature changes. As a result, the climate system has given the illusion of positive cloud feedback.

Positive cloud feedback amplifies global warming in all the climate models now used by the IPCC to forecast global warming. But if cloud feedback is sufficiently negative, then manmade global warming becomes a non-issue.

While the paper does not actually use the words “cause” or “effect”, this accurately describes the basic issue, and is how I talk about the issue in the book. I wrote the book because I found that non-specialists understood cause-versus-effect better than the climate experts did!

This paper supersedes our previous Journal of Climate paper, entitled “Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Demonstration“, which I now believe did not adequately demonstrate the existence of a problem in diagnosing feedbacks in the climate system.

The new article shows much more evidence to support the case: from satellite data, a simple climate model, and from the IPCC AR4 climate models themselves.

Back to the Basics

Interestingly, in order to convince the reviewers of what I was claiming, I had to go back to the very basics of forcing versus feedback to illustrate the mistakes researchers have perpetuated when trying to describe how one can supposedly measure feedbacks in observational data.

Researchers traditionally invoke the hypothetical case of an instantaneous doubling of the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere (2XCO2). That doubling then causes warming, and the warming then causes radiative feedback which acts to either reducing the warming (negative feedback) or amplify the warming (positive feedback). With this hypothetical, idealized 2XCO2 case you can compare the time histories of the resulting warming to the resulting changes in the Earth’s radiative budget, and you can indeed extract an accurate estimate of the feedback.

The trouble is that this hypothetical case has nothing to do with the real world, and can totally mislead us when trying to diagnose feedbacks in the real climate system. This is the first thing we demonstrate in the new paper. In the real world, there are always changes in cloud cover (albedo) occurring, which is a forcing. And that “internal radiative forcing” (our term) is what gives the illusion of positive feedback. In fact, feedback in response to internal radiative forcing cannot even be measured. It is drowned out by the forcing itself.

Feedback in the Real World

As we show in the new paper, the only clear signal of feedback we ever find in the global average satellite data is strongly negative, around 6 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. If this was the feedback operating on the long-term warming from increasing CO2, it would result in only 0.6 deg. C of warming from 2XCO2. (Since we have already experienced this level of warming, it raises the issue of whether some portion — maybe even a majority — of past warming is from natural, rather than anthropogenic, causes.)

Unfortunately, there is no way I have found to demonstrate that this strongly negative feedback is actually occurring on the long time scales involved in anthropogenic global warming. At this point, I think that belief in the high climate sensitivity (positive feedbacks) in the current crop of climate models is a matter of faith, not unbiased science. The models are infinitely adjustable, and modelers stop adjusting when they get model behavior that reinforces their pre-conceived notions.

They aren’t necessarily wrong — just not very thorough in terms of exploring alternative hypotheses. Or maybe they have explored those, and just don’t want to show the rest of the world the results.

Our next paper will do a direct apples-to-apples comparison between the satellite-based feedbacks and the IPCC model-diagnosed feedbacks from year-to-year climate variability. Preliminary indications are that the satellite results are outside the envelope of all the IPCC models. (Roy W. Spencer)


Article In Nature “Cold Empties Bolivian Rivers Of Fish” By Anna Petherick

Nature has published an excellent news article by Anna Petherick [h/t to Dan Hughes for alerting us!]

Cold empties Bolivian rivers of fish

which illustrates that even when the global average surface temperature is above average (for whatever reason) regional cold waves can occur which have major environmental consequences.

The article starts with the text

“With high Andean peaks and a humid tropical forest, Bolivia is a country of ecological extremes. But during the Southern Hemisphere’s recent winter, unusually low temperatures in part of the country’s tropical region hit freshwater species hard, killing an estimated 6 million fish and thousands of alligators, turtles and river dolphins.’

and includes the text

Water temperatures in Bolivian rivers that normally register about 15 ˚C during the day fell to as low as 4 ˚C.

Hugo Mamani, head of forecasting at Senamhi, Bolivia’s national weather centre, confirms that the air temperature in the city of Santa Cruz fell to 4 ˚C this July, a low beaten only by a record of 2.5 ˚C in 1955.

This extreme event also further illustrates why a bottom-up, resource-based perspective (in this case on ecological function on the regional scale) as presented in

A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective

is needed. (Roger Pielke Jr., Climate Science)


Carbon Capture Companies Want Protection If Acid Leaks Into The Sea

Saturday, 28 August 2010 08:49 Robin Pagnamenta, The Times 

The energy industry wants the British taxpayer to shield it from the risk of new North Sea carbon capture and storage projects leaking and producing carbonic acid that could kill fish and other marine life at a catastrophic level.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set out new guidelines yesterday on how it intended to license CCS projects, which it hopes will play a significant role in cutting UK emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, the document also revealed that some of Britain’s biggest energy companies have expressed concern about who would be held responsible in the event of a devastating leak of the gas into the sea.

The Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), whose members include BP, Shell, EDF Energy and E.ON, have been pressing for a bailout clause in new legislation governing the arrangements that would force the Government to step in during the aftermath of an environmental disaster. (GWPF)


Climate-Control Failures May Send Coal Trading to Record: Energy Markets

Coal trading is poised to rise to an all-time high this year as prices at less than half their 2008 peak stoke demand, defying government efforts to phase out the most-polluting fossil fuel.

The volume of coal derivatives bought and sold around the world may jump as much as 46 percent this year to 2.3 billion metric tons, based on data from exchanges and brokers, according to Guillaume Perret, founder of Perret Associates Ltd. and a former trader at RWE AG, Germany’s second-biggest utility. That would exceed the record 2.2 billion tons traded in 2007.

“It’s looking pretty good for coal,” Kris Voorspools, director of 70Watt Capital Management, a Luxembourg-based hedge fund that specializes in trading spreads in energy and carbon markets, said in an Aug. 24 interview. “It’s the fuel for the developing world. China and India are using it to grow.”

The increase in coal trading underscores how fuel demand in Asia is hampering government measures to tackle global warming. United Nations Climate Chief Christiana Figueres said on June 9 negotiations to extend Kyoto Protocol limits on greenhouse-gas emissions are unlikely to succeed this year. Global coal demand held near a record in 2009, while oil consumption dropped 1.7 percent and natural-gas use fell 2.1 percent, according to BP Plc’s June 2010 Statistical Review. (Bloomberg)


Wind Energy Gets Huge Subsidies. So Where Are The CO2 Reductions?

Over the last few years, the wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the industry’s claim that using more wind energy will result in major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There’s just one problem with that claim: it’s not true. [Read More] (Robert Bryce. ET)


Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance

BARSTOW, Calif. — The United States military has found a new menace hiding here in the vast emptiness of the Mojave Desert in California: wind turbines.

Moving turbine blades can be indistinguishable from airplanes on many radar systems, and they can even cause blackout zones in which planes disappear from radar entirely. Clusters of wind turbines, which can reach as high as 400 feet, look very similar to storm activity on weather radar, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots.

Although the military says no serious incidents have yet occurred because of the interference, the wind turbines pose an unacceptable risk to training, testing and national security in certain regions, Dr. Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense, recently told a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Because of its concerns, the Defense Department has emerged as a formidable opponent of wind projects in direct conflict with another branch of the federal government, the Energy Department, which is spending billions of dollars on wind projects as part of President Obama’s broader effort to promote renewable energy. (NYT)


Rules For Enviro-Radicals: Pick The Landscape, Mechanize It, Desecrate It

P Gosselin 28. August 2010

To see the original natural appearance, look at the history or story books.  Source: Greenpeace

The folly of windfarms and solar panels knows no boundaries. For example nowhere today in the north German area where I live is it possible to drive or take my bike 10 minutes anywhere without seeing a cluster of white behemoths chopping through the landscape (and birds).
Photo source: Here Greenpeace is major proponent of such let’s-target-and-desecrate-the-landscape projects.

Just days ago, Germany’s leading, renown political daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had a piece on the dark side of alternative energy sources, writing:

This program for ‘rescuing the climate’ is reckless, technocratic and ugly.

Continue reading “Rules For Enviro-Radicals: Pick The Landscape, Mechanize It, Desecrate It” (No Tricks Zone)


Electricity prices set to soar as a result of government policy

THE chief executive of one of the country's biggest energy retailers has warned that power prices are set to increase dramatically.

Origin Energy boss Grant King said that complying with the mandatory renewable energy target (RET) and network spending would put upward pressure on energy prices.

"That's not of our making, or anybody other than policymakers," Mr King told The Australian.

"That's just the inevitable and logical consequences of the policies" that governments are implementing.

His comments follow both federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and his opposition counterpart Ian Macfarlane warning in separate interviews with this newspaper that power prices were likely to double in the next five to seven years.

Mr King said that estimate was "possibly conservative" and added that many consumers of utilities faced "a real come to Jesus moment" as suppliers were forced to re-price energy, water and other essential services.

The RET seeks to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia's energy consumption by 2020 is derived from renewable sources.

Wind farms would cost between $100 and $125 per megawatt hour, compared with $30 to $40 per MWh for coal. (The Australian)


Killing Biofuels

Through generous subsidies from the US government, secured by corn-belt politicians, 25% of America's corn (maize) crop is turned into ethanol for use in automobiles. Ignoring the negative impact this has on food production, agricultural runoff and land use, there is new talk of raising government mandated fuel mixture proportions to use even more ethanol. At the same time, the idea of turning farm and forest wastes into "cellulosic" ethanol, a biofuel to power cars and trucks continues to languish. Because of the ongoing economic slump, a plentiful supply of ethanol made from corn, and uncertainty among policymakers, companies have delayed plans to build commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, some canceling them altogether. Evidently, even the hundreds of millions of dollars on offer from the Department of Energy (DOE) are not enough to lure investors to participate in this latest biofuel boondoggle. Industry understands what biofuel advocates do not—biofuels make no sense in terms of energy policy: neither environmentally nor economically. Instead of propping up wasteful and nonviable biofuel schemes, Congress should stop all biofuel subsidies and kill all ongoing ethanol projects.

Though the wrong headed “cap and trade” bill has been derailed in the US Senate, the specter of energy legislation is once again rising. As the energy debate heats back up, the journal Science has dedicated its August 13, 2010, issue to the subject of alternative energy. Writing in the introduction, David Malakoff, Jake Yeston, and Jesse Smith identified the heart of the alternative energy problem:

The end of the age of fossil fuels may be in sight, but what comes after is still a bit of a blur. There are numerous alternatives to coal, oil, and natural gas from electricity generated by solar farms to biofuels brewed from plants. Scaling up these alternative sources of energy, however, has proved a challenge.

Case in point, the US government's plan to reduce the nation's dependence on oil by scaling up cellulosic ethanol is in deep trouble. The complex technical, economic, and political forces involved in efforts to create viable alternatives to fossil fuels have proven close to insurmountable. Domestic biofuel production is only kept flowing with liberal application of government dollars. “In the current financial climate, existing federal policies are simply not enough to encourage the investments that will make these fuels a reality,” says Jeremy Martin, a chemist with the Clean Vehicles Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), in a news article in Science.

According to Robert F. Service, a writer for Science, the plan to build an American biofuels industry on cellulose has stalled out after a promising start. In 2005, the US Congress approved new rules mandating a steady ramp-up in biofuels use. By 2022, cars were to be burning up to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) of biofuel a year, equivalent to one-quarter of today's US gasoline consumption. Early on, this was to come from “first-generation” biofuels, primarily ethanol made from corn. Corn ethanol production has grown steadily from 3 billion gallons in 2005 to 12.1 billion gallons this year. Most is blended with gasoline in a 10% ethanol to 90% gasoline mix, since higher proportions of ethanol can cause damage to car engines and fuel systems not specifically designed to run on alcohol.

Energy legislation from 2007 mandates an increasing share of cellulosic ethanol (dark green).

But even the US Congress is incapable of turning corn ethanol into a positive proposition. Investigations by the US EPA, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EU's joint Research Council all reported that biofuels pollute more than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace, leading researchers to conclude that it would be better to simply burn the crops rather than convert them to biofuels. Add to that excessive water use in creating biofuels and the green luster of these fuels fades significantly. Again, according to Service:

Congress, however, has capped the amount of corn ethanol it wants in gas tanks at 15 billion gallons by 2015. In part, that's because making corn ethanol is energy intensive, so the fuel doesn't do much to offset fossil fuel use or lower greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond that first 15 billion gallons, policymakers envisioned biofuels coming from “advanced” sources, such as ethanol and gasoline-like hydrocarbons made from plant materials high in cellulose.

The ramp-up in cellulosic ethanol production, however, is already well off track. Demonstration facilities are expected to turn out up to 25.5 million gallons this year—far below the 250 million gallons that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once wanted fuelmakers to produce. In a telling sign of cellulosic ethanol's struggles, over the last year the agency twice scaled back its expectations after it became clear that the industry wouldn't be building commercial-scale plants as quickly as once thought.

Part of cellulosic ethanol's problem is technological—converting cellulose into alcohol is simply not as easy or efficient as brewing up a batch using corn or sugar cane. When starting with a feedstock rich in simple sugars, such as Brazilian sugar cane, making ethanol is a mater of using yeast to convert sugar to alcohol—a process similar to making beer or wine. In the US, where corn it the feedstock of choice, the process is slightly more complex. Enzymes must be used to break down the starch in corn kernels into its component glucose molecules, which yeast can then digest.

The task becomes even more difficult when using cellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass, corn stalks, or wood chips. The sugars in these materials are locked in cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin, which are polysaccharides like starch but much harder to break down, and lignin, which crosslinks different plant polysaccharides. Breaking these biopolymers into simpler compounds that can be converted into ethanol remains a difficult problem. While fermentation converts about 90% of the energy in simple sugars to ethanol, converting cellulosic feedstocks to ethanol yields just 40% of total energy content. That means cellulosic ethanol plants need far more raw material than first-generation plants do to make the same amount of ethanol.

While researchers are confident that the yield for cellulosic conversion will be improved in the future, it remains uncertain that better yields can revive the moribund ethanol market. The US uses a total of about 140 billion gallons of gasoline a year. Mixed with gasoline at a 10/90 ratio, the demand for ethanol is only about 14 billion gallons. First-generation plants are already making 12.1 billion gallons of corn ethanol annually, and idled plants are capable of boosting the total to 15 billion gallons. The result is that the industry has reached a “blend wall.” In the words of Wally Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University: “There is no room for cellulosic ethanol.”

Cellulosic ethanol costs are equivalent to oil at $120 a barrel, well above oil's recent price around $75 a barrel. At these prices, there is no motivation to ramp up cellulosic ethanol production. The ethanol glut and economic problems not withstanding, the EPA is considering increasing the required amount of ethanol in blended fuels to 12% or even 15%. Since such fuel could damage older cars, the idea doesn't have much appeal. Another idea is to mandate that future autos be able to run on an 85% ethanol blend, so called E85 fuel. Neither step would raise demand above existing corn ethanol production capacity in the near term.

Currently, the ethanol tax credit pays fuel blenders a flat $0.45 for each gallon of ethanol they use. Another proposed “solution” would be to offer larger credits for cellulosic ethanol. Most of the existing $6 billion a year in ethanol subsidies and tax credits are currently up for renewal by Congress. Lawmakers have already allowed one tax credit for biodiesel to lapse, adding to investors' worries that ethanol subsidies could be next. The prospect of radical belt tightening by Congress could be a deathblow for cellulosic and corn ethanol fuel subsidies—and it wouldn't come a moment too soon.

Also in the special issue of Science, Richard A. Kerr, writing in an article titled “Do We Have the Energy for the Next Transition?” notes that during past energy transitions humanity has always moved to a better fuel. “Never has the world so self-consciously tried to move toward new sources of energy,” he states. “But the history of past major energy transitions—from wood to coal, and from coal to oil and gas—suggests that it will be a long, tough road to scaling up alternatives to fossil fuels that don't stoke greenhouse warming.”

In the 1800s, wood and animal feed provided more than 95% of humanity's energy. Since then world energy use has increased twenty fold. Replacing even half of the coal, oil, and gas consumed today would require 6 terawatts of renewable energy. Plus, the transition from coal to oil in developed nations took more than half a century—there is little reason to expect the move away from fossil fuels will take less time. This is complicated by the fact that wind, solar and biofuels in particular are demonstrably inferior energy sources than oil and coal in terms of transportation, convenience and energy density.

Fossil fuels each took half a century to dominate energy production.

“We are confronted with a society built on high-quality energy, dense forms of energy, fossil fuels especially,” states ecological economist Cutler Cleveland. “Could you have the same standard of living with renewables? I don't think we really know. Things might have to change very fundamentally.” The question we have to answer as a society, as a civilization, is does perusing renewables like biofuels make sense or are we headed down the road to ruin? This is not to say we should ignore other forms of real pollution or the world's looming energy gap. But trying to avoid the global warming boogieman may be causing bad decisions that will leave things in worse shape for our children and grandchildren.

The world is not yet running short of fossil fuels, the US alone has 200 years of coal and almost 100 years of gas reserves. Oil will not “peak” until 2030, if then—all past predictions have proven wrong. As we said in The Energy Gap, fossil fuels will be needed by our energy hungry world for the foreseeable future. Even though humanity will eventually need to transition from fossil fuels, what is needed is a better source of energy, not a poor substitute like biofuels.

It is a confusing challenge, trying to sort the good from the bad alternatives, which is why we wrote TEG. Pick up a copy and find out how to solve the world energy crisis, preserve the environment and save civilization. In the mean time, tell our political leaders to kill biofuel subsidies—they are a bad deal for everyone.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

(Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


Trying to find emissions greenies will appreciate? Canadian Firm Really Goes Green With Hemp Car

Canadian developers are plotting a small revolution in the still-tiny market for electric cars, with a concept vehicle made from hemp set to debut at a specialized auto show next month. (Reuters)


Tidal turbines: Alex Salmond hits a low ebb

'Overseas investment' to generate electricity on Orkney came courtesy of the British taxpayer, says Christopher Booker (TDT)



The Report on Stimulus CBO Wishes Would Go Away

Pity the poor Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director. Congress passes and the President signs the most massive fiscal stimulus program in history, spending more money on Keynesian stimulus than has been spent so far on the Iraq war. But, unlike the Iraq war, the stimulus has been a complete bust.

Rather than launch a recovery, the stimulus managed only to launch a jump in the national debt. The economy enjoyed a mild bump late in 2009 as businesses rebuilt their inventories—a development completely unrelated to the stimulus—and then slid back to anemic growth in the second quarter and now appears to have stalled out entirely.

As part of the stimulus legislation, Congress mandated CBO report regularly on how well the stimulus is doing. Money spent, economy faltering, Congress wants happy news about their stimulus, and in response all CBO can do is continue to run their antiquated models telling us that down is up and slow is fast. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


An unsupportable American dream

  August 26, 2010 – 7:37 pm

Obama remains blind to causes of housing crisis

One of the great paradoxes of the U.S. economy is how something as personal and individualistic as home ownership — a core value at the heart of the American dream — could have been turned into one of the world’s biggest socialist disasters.

Yesterday, the U.S. housing meltdown continued,  with existing home sales plunging a record 27% in July. Forecasters had expected the worst, but this was far worse than the worst.

The U.S. housing market is at a point where it seems to be dragging the United States down as if the country were some hapless satellite of the old Soviet Union that refuses to face the facts. The game is over, the old regime is technically dead. Time to liberate U.S. housing from the old socialist ways and bring it back to the old American free market where it belongs.

But nobody wants that freedom, at least not yet.

Read More » (Financial Post)


Trial Lawyers Should Stick to Real Problems

There’s a great new report from the Manhattan Institute emphasizing the role of tort law as a supplement (and alternative) to regulation. If fishermen in the Gulf coast had a right to be free from pollution, perhaps BP would have invested more in preventing the recent disastrous spill. Unfortunately, as the MI piece points out, trial lawyers have tended to focus not on these genuine – and objectively verifiable – harms but instead on hypothetical and highly subjective concerns. A series of class action suits resulting in essentially arbitrary payouts has enriched the trial lawyers but done little if anything to protect individuals or the environment from harm. Indeed, arguably these suits have been counterproductive as they have often led to the elimination of beneficial substances, while diverting resources to lawyers and plaintiffs and away from more productive uses. (Julian Morris, Big Government)


Howard Stern: 'Bring back DDT!'

Stern argues that New York's bedbug problem is nothing compared to the millions dying from malaria in Africa, quoting extensively from an article by CFACT's Paul Driessen.


CDC backs away from decades-old flu death estimate

CHICAGO - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is backing away from its decades-old estimate of the number of people who die annually from seasonal flu, instead saying deaths vary widely from year to year.

Instead of the estimated 36,000 annual flu deaths in the United States - a figure often cited to encourage people to get flu shots - the actual number in the past 30 years has ranged from a low of about 3,300 deaths to a high of nearly 49,000, the CDC said on Thursday.

"Flu really is unpredictable. We don't know what the impact of flu will be at the beginning of a particular season," Dr. David Shay, a medical officer in the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a conference call. (Reuters)


Are allergies associated with heart disease?

NEW YORK - Common allergies that bring on wheezing, sneezing and watery eyes could be next to join the list of factors linked to heart disease, suggests a large new study.

However, the researchers stress that the findings do not prove that allergies actually cause heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

To look for ties between common allergic symptoms and heart disease, Dr. Jongoh Kim of Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues analyzed data on more than 8,600 adults aged 20 or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 1988 and 1994.

They found that common allergies and heart disease frequently paired up (Reuters Health)


Several countries petitioning Mediterranean diet be listed as cultural heritage

The Mediterranean nations of Italy, Greece, Morocco, and Spain are petitioning to have their staple diet listed as a cultural heritage item by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (MercoPress)


Drink till you drop: A magic elixir is shown to promote weight loss

CONSUME more water and you will become much healthier, goes an old wives’ tale. Drink a glass of water before meals and you will eat less, goes another. Such prescriptions seem sensible, but they have little rigorous science to back them up.

Until now, that is. A team led by Brenda Davy of Virginia Tech has run the first randomised controlled trial studying the link between water consumption and weight loss. A report on the 12-week trial, published earlier this year, suggested that drinking water before meals does lead to weight loss. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston this week, Dr Davy unveiled the results of a year-long follow-up study that confirms and expands that finding. (Economist)


Weight loss surgeries in England jump tenfold

LONDON — The number of weight-loss surgeries in England jumped more than tenfold from 2000 to 2007, a new study says.

Dr. Omar Faiz, a consultant surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in London and colleagues monitored the number of weight-loss surgeries done in government hospitals from 2000 to 2008. Overall, they found 6,953 such operations were performed, including three different types of surgeries, all designed to shrink the size of the patient's stomach.

In 2000, there were 238 weight loss surgeries, but by 2007 there were 2,543 such operations. The study was paid for by Britain's National Institute of Health Research. (AP)


Survey shows alarming levels of obesity among Indian children

18% of children below seven years of age are obese or overweight

Here is yet another survey with sobering conclusions about the state of health of the nation: Obesity is setting in earlier than the adolescence phase for Indian children. (The Hindu)


African police seize 10 tonnes of fake medicines

PARIS - Police seized about 10 tonnes of counterfeit medicines and arrested 80 people in a sweep across eastern Africa, international police agency Interpol said on Thursday.

The operation, which Interpol coordinated under the umbrella of the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the last two months, included the arrest of suspects involved in the manufacture, trafficking and sale of fake medical products.

Production and sale of counterfeit drugs is on the rise in rich and poor countries especially Africa, where counterfeit medicines are commonly available to treat life-threatening conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. (Reuters)


FDA ties chicken feed to salmonella in egg recall

WASHINGTON - Chicken feed contaminated with salmonella bacteria could have caused the outbreak at two Iowa producers that sparked a recall of more than a half billion contaminated eggs last week, U.S. regulators said on Thursday.

"We've received confirmation of salmonella-positive ... with the DNA fingerprint that matches the outbreak fingerprint for the feed samples that were provided to pullet (young hen) at the Wright County egg farms at Hillandale farms," said Sherri McGarri, foodborne outbreak coordinator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The feed linked to the outbreak was produced at a feed mill that is part of Wright County Egg operation that recalled 380 million eggs last week. The second farm, Hillandale Farms, also received that feed, McGarri said. (Reuters)


A new dawn for agriculture

Decoding of genome hailed as most significant breakthrough in wheat production in 10,000 years

In a scientific tour-de-force that has been hailed as the most significant breakthrough in wheat production since the cereal crop was cultivated by the first farmers more than 10,000 years ago, scientists have decoded the genome of the wheat plant.

As a result, new breeds of disease-resistant crops could be producing higher wheat yields in as little as five years' time, raising the prospect of lower bread prices and greater food security in a more populated world. And rather than guard their knowledge, the British scientists responsible for the research will today place a draft version of the genome online, making it available for free to wheat breeders around the world, who will be able to use it to speed up the creation of the new disease-resistant varieties that are urgently needed. Most wheat breeders currently rely on traditional methods of mixing new crop varieties – techniques that have not changed substantially for hundreds of years.

Wheat production is under pressure, particularly this summer because of the failure of the Russian harvest. Yet world food production will have to increase by an estimated 50 per cent over the next 40 years if the growing global population is to be fed. (Independent)


Stalin's Harvest: Russia's and Ukraine's food panic is the result of outdated farming policies.

Poor wheat harvests in Russia and Ukraine, along with devastating wildfires in Russia, have resurrected fears of a global food crisis. Some have blamed global warming for inducing a severe drought. But the real blame rests with poor agricultural performance over the long term in a region still hampered by communist experimentation. To react by banning exports, as Moscow has done and Kiev is considering, would be counterproductive. Combined with restrictions on the use of modern agricultural technologies imposed in the European Union and being proposed in the U.S., such bans really could lead to a global food crisis.

After the Russian revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks socialized all agricultural markets. Although they directed their rhetoric against "middlemen," their real aim was to squeeze farmers by paying them below-market prices and use the proceeds to finance state-owned industry. This "New Economic Policy" backfired spectacularly as farmers fed grains to livestock, or converted them into liquor and then sold both on the black market, thereby evading the Bolsheviks' price controls.

Stalin dealt with such evasions first by denigrating independent farmers as greedy kulaks (the Russian word for fist) and then by starving them to death. As Soviet agriculture was collectivized and crops and livestock were confiscated, millions of peasants died. Russia and Ukraine have yet to recover fully from this assault on the countryside.

The contrast with China is stark. In the late 1970s, millions of peasants who had survived agricultural collectivization and Mao Zedong's "Great Leap Forward" two decades earlier responded to his death by becoming entrepreneurs. In village after village, property was informally privatized. Output exploded, ensuring that attempts at sanctioning this illegal activity were carried out half-heartedly. Deng Xiaoping subsequently legitimized these bottom-up reforms in what became known as the "Household Responsibility System," which provided a major catalyst for China's modern economic take-off.

During the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev attempted similar reforms in Russia, but from the top down. These were not successful. After more than half a century during which entrepreneurship had been repressed, who would dare take the risks associated with farming and agricultural marketing? (Douglas Southgate, WSJ)


Ecological Footprints – a good idea gone bad

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

In “Another day, overshot to hell” Anthony Watts commented on the “Overshoot Day” promoted by Mathis Wackernagel and the Global Footprint Network (GFN). This is based on the idea of the “ecological footprint”. Your “ecological footprint” (EF) is how many acres (hectares) of land it takes to support you, to grow the grain for your bread and the timber for your house and so on. It’s a simple and visual way to measure our impact on the planet.

Unfortunately, the particular form of the EF as advanced by Mathis Wackernagel and the GFN contains three fatal flaws. It wildly underestimates the available rain-fed cropland. It assumes that people in Britain farm like people in Africa. And it arbitrarily assigns huge weighting to CO2.

Figure 1. The effect of CO2 on the Wackernagel version of the “Ecological Footprint”. Image from Bambi meets Godzilla, a cartoon worth watching.

Here’s the stern warning from the Global Footprint Network folks:

Earth’s Overdraft Notice

On August 21, we exceed nature’s budget

It has taken humanity less than nine months to exhaust its ecological budget for the year, according to Global Footprint Network calculations.

Today, humanity reaches Earth Overshoot Day: the day of the year in which human demand on the biosphere exceeds what it can regenerate. As of today, humanity has demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can regenerate this year.  For the rest of the year, we will meet our ecological demand by depleting resource stocks and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned,” said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages are all clear signs: We can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing.”

First, the mandatory disclosure of personal interests.

Continue reading (WUWT)


"Flexible" green ethics: Enviro Groups Cheer as Scientist Bombards Agribusiness With Profane E-Mails

It sounds like fodder for a PR flap that might benefit the leading producer of the controversial herbicide atrazine: reams of explicit, taunting e-mails sent to company employees by a professor whose research on the health risks of their product had won nationwide notice. 

"how yo republican buddies ended up drinking gin with me last night? where were you? ... as long as you followin me round, i know i'm da s**t [sic]," University of California, Berkeley, professor Tyrone Hayes, wrote to four employees of Syngenta AG on Feb. 24. 

Hayes' e-mails to Syngenta officials date to 2002, according to a 102-page file the atrazine manufacturer posted to its website to buttress an ethics complaint filed against the tenured biology professor last month. His communiques run the gamut from spoken-word poetry to music lyrics -- Phil Collins, Tupac Shakur and other artists are quoted -- to profane intimations of violence against Syngenta officials. 

The company's latest complaint furthers its long-simmering feud with Hayes, who has become an outspoken critic of atrazine after years-long research that found the weed killer disrupting the sexual development of frogs, in some cases turning male subjects into females. But the intensely personal clash over Hayes' e-mails, described by a Sygenta lawyer as "aggressive, unprofessional, and insulting," is failing to cut into his support from environmental and farmworker advocates who have helped amplify his warnings about the herbicide's human health risks. 

"Who cares what offended them?" Center for Biological Diversity conservation director Peter Galvin, whose group hosted Hayes for a pesticides event last month, said of Syngenta. "They're grown-ups, they're big boys and girls. They can take a little heat. The fact is, these people are pushing a deadly product." ( Greenwire)



VENABLE: Texas fights global-warming power grab

Lone Star state won't participate in Obama's lawless policy

The state's slogan is "Don't mess with Texas." But the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doing just that, and at stake is whether the Obama administration can impose its global-warming agenda without a vote of Congress.

President Obama's EPA is already well down the path to regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, something the act was not designed to do. It has a problem, however, because shoehorning greenhouse gases into that 40-year-old law would force churches, schools, warehouses, commercial kitchens and other sources to obtain costly and time-consuming permits. It would grind the economy to a halt, and the likely backlash would doom the whole scheme. (Peggy Venable, The Washington Times)


Obama Administration: The Courts are the Wrong Place for Climate Policy

The Obama Administration has issued a remarkable brief siding with energy companies over whether they should be liable for the effects of their greenhouse gases as a "public nuisance."  The arguments in the brief, should they come to be accepted, would appear to put an end to effort to use of the US judicial system to force regulations of greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenwire reports that the administration's position has come as a shock to some environmental advocates:
Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general's office on June 24, it seemed they had "a lot of friends in the room," he said.

"We feel stabbed in the back," Pawa said. "This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?"

Top attorneys at environmental advocacy groups are buzzing about the brief, sources say. Some feel betrayed by a White House that has generally been more amenable to environmental regulation than its predecessor.

"This reads as if it were cut and pasted from the Bush administration's briefing in Massachusetts," said David Bookbinder, who served as the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel until his resignation in May.
The brief itself reads as a more general argument against seeking to implement climate policies -- those focused on controlling greenhouse gas emissions -- through the courts.

The brief states that the scope of potential harm from greenhouse gas emissions is so broad as to render the issue more appropriate to the legislative and executive branches (pp. 13-14, PDF):
[P]laintiffs proceed without relying on any statutory right or statutory cause of action, and have sued a handful of defendants from among a broad array of entities that emit greenhouse gases. Moreover, the types of harms they seek to redress could potentially be suffered by virtually any landowner, and to an extent, by virtually every citizen, in the United States (and, indeed, in most of the world). Prudential standing principles counsel in favor of leaving resolution of such claims to the representative Branches.

Plaintiffs’ common-law nuisance claims are quintessentially fit for political or regulatory—not judicial— resolution, because they simultaneously implicate many competing interests of almost unimaginably broad categories of both plaintiffs and defendants. On the plaintiffs’ side, the eight States, one city, and three land trusts in these suits are but a tiny subset of those who could allege they are injured by carbon-dioxide emissions that have contributed or will contribute to global climate change. The court of appeals focused largely on plaintiffs’ asserted injuries as landowners. See Pet. App. 59a-67a. But plaintiffs’ allegations are not unusual in that respect. Global climate change will potentially affect the property interests of most landowners. The court of appeals explained that global warming’s effects come from the land, the sea, and the air, and will threaten the beaches, the fields, the hills—and almost everywhere in between.6 The court of appeals’ analysis of the claims of the land-trust plaintiffs (Pet. App. 62a- 63a) further confirms that nearly all landowners will suffer injuries of the types they allege here. Moreover, global warming’s effects will not be limited to landowners; they will also be felt by governments, individuals, corporations, and interest groups throughout the Nation and around the world.
The brief also explains that the complexity of sources of greenhouse gas emissions also points toward a remedy outside th judicial process (pp. 14-15):
Parallel breadth and complexities also characterize the range of potential defendants in such common-law claims, because the categories of those who emit carbon dioxide (and thus contribute to global warming in the way plaintiffs allege) are equally capacious. Plaintiffs’ complaints name a few entities that operate power plants in 20 States. But the electric-utility industry alone is far larger, to say nothing of many other sectors of the economy that are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions . . .

The multiplicity of potential plaintiffs and defendants is rendered especially troubling by the very nature of common-law public-nuisance claims seeking to slow global warming. The problem is not simply that many plaintiffs could bring such claims and that many defendants could be sued. Rather, it is that essentially any potential plaintiff could claim to have been injured by any (or all) of the potential defendants. The medium that transmits injury to potential plaintiffs is literally the Earth’s entire atmosphere—making it impossible to consider the sort of focused and more geographically limited effects characteristic of traditional nuisance suits targeted at particular nearby sources of water or air pollution.
The brief states bluntly that (pp. 16, 17):
Courts—when no statute is in place to provide guidance—are simply not well-suited to balance the various interests of, and the burdens to be borne by, the many entities, groups, and sectors of the economy that, although not parties to the litigation, would be affected by a grievance that spans the globe. . .

The confluence in this case of several factors—including the myriad potential plaintiffs and defendants, the lack of judicial manageability, and the unusually broad range of underlying policy judgments that would need to be made—demonstrates that plaintiffs’ global warming nuisance claims should be resolved by the representative Branches, not federal courts.
A question that I have for constitutional scholars:  How does the argument in this brief also not undercut MASS vs. EPA?

Has the Obama Administration effectively ended climate litigation in the US?  It sure looks that way. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Alaska Primary Shows That Energy Taxes Can Be Toxic

Joe Miller has a narrow lead over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a surprising Alaska Senate primary. If the absentee ballots break hard for Murkowski she may narrowly escape, but at the moment it looks at least as likely that Miller will pull the upset. If he does, Murkowski’s support for energy taxes may be one of the major reasons.

Elections are always a combination of lots of factors, and the most significant was likely Sarah Palin’s support, about which Miller said: “I'm absolutely certain that was pivotal.” But an endorsement, even a powerful and high—profile one, would not normally be enough to topple an incumbent senator in Murkowski's position.

Especially because Alaska is an energy state.

Lisa Murkowski is in line to chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Republicans gain control of the Senate. She is already the ranking member, as powerful a position on energy issues as possible in the minority party. Her seniority and position on that panel would position her well to protect home-state energy interests, and she did so very effectively in June, when she led the fight to stop the EPA’s global warming power grab.

Joe Miller, however, has an enormous advantage over Murkowski on energy policy. Miller signed the pledge and made a strong commitment, in writing, to oppose any global warming bill that hides a tax hike. 

Murkowski, on the other hand, refused to sign the pledge and openly discussed a carbon tax approach that could have a major negative impact on the oil and gas industry and the U.S. economy.

In an energy state like Alaska, that's not just a major economic policy mistake; as Murkowski has learned the hard way, it might end a Senate career.

If Murkowski does pull out a win, she should sign the pledge and make a clear commitment not to hide tax hikes in a climate bill. (Phil Kerpen,


In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician

Alaska's cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. 

Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski's past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted. 

Miller believes the scientific findings behind climate change are in "serious question." That position might have benefited him when he dipped into Murkowski's past and tied her efforts to soften cap-and-trade proposals in 2007 with aggressive Democratic climate policies this year. 

The attack amounted to "corroboration" for voters that Murkowski is too willing to side with Democrats, says Dave Dittman, a Republican pollster and consultant who worked in the past with Murkowski's father, Frank. 

"Alaskans by a wide, wide margin do not believe in man-caused global warming," he said, pointing to a recent poll by his firm finding that just 33 percent of state residents believe humans are contributing to climate change. Five percent said the planet is cooling. ( ClimateWire)


Global warming: Can the San Bernardino flying squirrel be saved?

Environmentalists have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the San Bernardino flying squirrel, a nocturnal glider native to Southern California mountains, as an endangered species, threatened by climate change.

The petition, filed Tuesday by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, opens a new front in an effort to combat global warming through the Endangered Species Act. The moves come after the federal government in 2008 granted protected status to the polar bear based on shrinking ice sheets caused by climate change.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration denied the center's petition to list the American pika, a rabbit-like mammal that lives at high elevations in nine Western states, saying that the animal was sufficiently abundant to survive climate change.

With Congress deadlocked on global warming legislation, environmentalists see the Endangered Species Act as a way to force a clampdown on coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities that spew carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. (LA Times)


Oh dear: Analysis: Climate Aid Reaches $30 Billion Goal, But Is It New?

Aid promises from rich nations to help poor countries slow global warming are reaching the $30 billion goal agreed in Copenhagen but analysts say much of that is old funding dressed up as new pledges.

Officially, the promises total $29.8 billion, Reuters calculations show, apparently meeting a pledge of "new and additional" funds "approaching $30 billion" for 2010-12 made at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December.

But austerity policies to combat government debt problems and a re-labeling of past promises will undermine real funding that is vital to unlock a new U.N. climate deal by showing that the developed world is serious about taking a leadership role, analysts say. (Reuters)

But no one is actually serious about controlling climate, largely because it can't be done. The only ones pushing this nonsense are those hoping to profit from it or the rampant people-haters trying to suppress human endeavor at all cost.


Latest on the Death Spiral of Climate Alarmism (Is it time to focus on real environmental problems and not CO2?)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
August 26, 2010

Ken Green at MasterResource published an influential post, The Death Spiral for Climate Alarmism Continues (June 2, 2010), that began with two quotations:

“We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.”

- James Hansen, “The Threat to the Planet,” New York Review of Books, July 13, 2006.

“Desperation is setting in among climate alarmists who by their own math can see that the window is rapidly closing on ’saving the planet’.”

- Kenneth Green, ”A Death Spiral for Climate Alarmism, Redux?” MasterResource, September 30, 2009.

And what was true in June is even more true today as the failure to price carbon dioxide (CO2) is leaving Europe as the sacrificial lambs on an altar of climate-change inconsequentiality.

Here is the latest stanza on the death spiral as reported earlier this month in ClimateWire. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Battles over Symbols

Much of the debate over climate change occurs as a battle over political symbols, adding much heat but little light to the issue.  Consider this scathing report from the FT Energy Source Blog:

Nothing like the words “Arctic” and “oil drilling” to get the environmental campaigners excited.

Add banks to the mix, and you have the perfect mix for a modern day witch-hunt.

The latest targets are Cairn Energy and the Royal Bank of Scotland. In a joint press release,  PLATFORM, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the World Development Movement on Tuesday said they “condemn [the] link between public money and Cairn’s Arctic drilling - RBS provided loan to oil company one month before it acquired rig for arctic drilling.”

The amount in question is a reported $100m lent by RBS - majority owned by UK taxpayers - last December.
The (first) problem with their point, however, is that RBS is a corporate broker to Cairn -so the $100m is likely to be just a fraction of the total it lent to the oil company last year. There seems to be no evidence to show that this particular $100m and the Arctic drilling are linked.

Secondly, the environmentalists’ outrage at taxpayer money financing oil drilling bizarrely stops with the Arctic. Drilling in Rajasthan - where Cairn in fact gets most of its oil - doesn’t seem to be a problem. Yet why is it less acceptable to drill near barely-populated frozen landmass than in the middle of India, where actual people may be affected by the drilling operations?

Maybe because polar bears are much cuter than people?
All of the protests in the world will add up to very little without a practical, politically feasible alternative way forward.  The lack of wide open debate on climate policy options -- and indeed efforts to squelch such debate -- is why most climate activism is simply empty exhortation.  Perhaps such exhortation is at least therapeutic for those involved.  Simply adding intensity to a political debate is a recipe for all sorts of problems -- including policy gridlock. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Australia's capital sets 40 pct carbon cut law

CANBERRA Aug 26 - The government of an Australian territory said on Thursday it will enact tough carbon cutting laws, a step that comes after a national election that punished the ruling Labor party over lack of action on climate change.

The Australian Capital Territory, which includes the capital Canberra also ruled by Labor, said its Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010 would set a target of cutting carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

The cut would rise to 80 percent by 2050, with the aim of the territory of nearly 400,000 people becoming carbon neutral by 2060. (Reuters)

The ACT is a small patch excised from New South Wales to host the Australian capital and its public servants (actually its a bugger of a cold place not much good for any practical use). Canberrans will not actually pay the costs of this fantasy exercise since they are generally a protected species on the payroll of productive citizens.


EU Sees Limit On Industrial Projects In CO2 Scheme

The European Union's top climate official proposed on Wednesday new limits on the use of carbon offsets from industrial gas projects, under fire by green groups, in the EU's emissions trading scheme after 2012.

"The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been successful in some aspects but has also given rise to criticism, e.g. with regard to environmental integrity," said Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, in a statement. (Reuters)


MIT Professor Can’t See Forest For Trees; Confuses Meteorology – Climate – Weather

Recently Kerry Emanuel said, “Why would anybody ask weather forecasters about their opinion on climate? I think it is because there is a hope that I don’t think is justified that ordinary people will confuse weather forecasters with climate scientists.”

Emanuel is a professor of meteorology at MIT with a specialization in atmospheric convection and hurricanes. He is a meteorologist not a climatologist and many weather forecasters are meteorologists. Indeed, his specialty is even more narrow than that required by weather forecasters. (Tim Ball, CFP)


Oh boy... Am I an activist for caring about my grandchildren's future? I guess I am

Concerted action to tackle climate change will happen only if the public demands it for the sake of future generations (James Hansen, Guardian)

Jimmy... if you actually cared about your grandchildren's future (and were actually of sound mind) you'd know the only useful action is adaption whether enhanced greenhouse constitutes a problem or not. There is no Western action (or omission) which can make a meaningful difference in future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and we all know it. If catastrophic global warming ever did arrive and any (or all) of the hysterical claims ever materialized then people are going to need two things, abundant affordable electricity with which to defend themselves from adverse conditions and sufficient wealth to develop and harden infrastructure to cope with any adverse events. Both of these things are intrinsically good whether CAGW exists or not, so there is no downside in pursuing the maximum speed "business as usual" case but wasting money and resources to appease the imaginary demons of misanthropists does significant harm and should never be pursued. The only question Jimmy is whether you really care about your grandchildren and people generally or whether you don't.


Donna's back

Donna Laframboise has moved to a shiny new Wordpress blog, and is straight back into the groove with a rather damning look at Alistair Woodward, the man who is in charge of the health chapter of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report. Some of his publications look, ahem, interesting.

Doctors are told they must “mobilise society” and that they “cannot be inactive observers” because they have a “responsibility to lead.” Inaction, they are advised, would amount to “negligence and malpractice on a global scale.” This is followed by a list of 13 things they should do – sorted into three categories.

The majority of these suggestions (seven) fall into the political category, two more are in the personal category, while another four are categorized as professional. The evidence could not be clearer. This is not a paper about medicine. By the authors’ own admission, nine of their 13 suggested measures are unrelated to doctors’ professional lives.

Business as usual by the looks of it. Read the whole thing. (Bishop Hill)


Think they'll have much success with indoctrinating the gray vote? New rules of engagement for older people and climate change

A new study by researchers in the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York calls for better engagement of older people on climate change issues.

The report, prepared in partnership with the Community Service Volunteers’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP), urges the scrapping of stereotypes which suggest that older people are incapable of engagement, passive or disinterested in climate change.

Recent evidence from the older age sector highlight the inadequacies of current methods of information provision and community engagement on climate change
Dr Gary Haq
Instead, the research team recommends new approaches to engage older people, which promote direct interaction and the use of trusted agents that are sensitive to the personal circumstances older people face. The report sets out a ten-point plan to engage older people more effectively on climate change issues and greener living. (University of York)


Energy-saving LEDs 'will not save energy', say boffin

Photon-hoggish humanity set for orgy of illumination

Federal boffins in the States say that the brave new future in which today's 'leccy-guzzling lights are replaced by efficient LEDs may not, in fact, usher in massive energy savings.

This is because, according to the scientists' research, people are likely to use much more lighting as soon as this becomes practical. The greater scope for cheap illumination offered by LEDs will simply mean that people have more lights and leave them on for longer.

"Presented with the availability of cheaper light, humans may use more of it, as has happened over recent centuries with remarkable consistency following other lighting innovations," says Jeff Tsao of the Sandia National Laboratory. "That is, rather than functioning as an instrument of decreased energy use, LEDs may be instead the next step in increasing human productivity and quality of life." (Lewis Page, The Register)


Now they are really trying to cause panic: Spurred by Warming Climate, Beetles Threaten Coffee Crops

Coffee production has long been vulnerable to drought or excess rains. But recently, a tiny insect that thrives in warmer temperatures — the coffee berry borer — has been spreading steadily, devastating coffee plants in Africa, Latin America, and around the world. (Erica Westly, e360)

Isn't this kind of like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater? I mean, threatening people's coffee!


Poor Johann, wouldn't recognize "proof" if it was bighting him: Johann Hari: How much proof do the global warming deniers need?

Everything the climate scientists said would happen - with their pesky graphs and studies and computers - is coming to pass. This is proving the hottest year ever  (Independent)


Interesting nuances in IPCC groups treatment of New Zealand temperature data

We have all seen the news that The New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust, a newly registered arm of the Coalition, has filed a claim in the High Court seeking a declaration to invalidate the NZ Temperature Record, currently promoted by NIWA, and featured on its website.

It is fascinating the the Jones et al global temperature compilations which date from the 1980’s and are the series that fathered “Global Warming” – did NOT incorporate adjustments/corrections anything like those warming tweaks of NIWA.

Now the Jones et al global series ended in 2005 as CRUT2 and from 2006 the UK Met Office took over the data. The UKMO DID introduce warming adjustments/corrections very similar in magnitude to those used by NIWA.

This blog article of mine from 2007 points out the degree of warming over different timespans for two selections of grid cells covering New Zealand – for CRUT2 – CRUT3 (UKMO) and NIWA.

So we see, the very most eminent of experts – simply do not agree. So it may not be that simple for the New Zealand High Court. (Warwick Hughes)


NRL scientist seeing clearly the effects of pyrocumulonimbus

(WASHINGTON, DC • Aug. 26, 2010) – Wildfires can wreak widespread havoc and devastation, affecting environmental assets lives, property and livelihoods. Meteorologist Mike Fromm of the Naval Research Laboratory, in collaboration with several national and international laboratories, is now discovering that changes in the frequency of occurrence and intensity of wildfires has substantial consequences for a variety of important problems including atmospheric change.

Superimposed on this important topic is a relatively new discovery, forest fire smoke in the stratosphere, an area of the atmosphere that begins nearly 38 thousand feet above the Earth's surface.

As a result, a poorly understood aspect of wildfire behavior – pyrocumulonimbus firestorm dynamics and atmospheric impact – is becoming the focus of increasing attention. Pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) is a fire-started or augmented thunderstorm that in its most extreme manifestation injects huge abundances of smoke and other biomass burning emissions into the lower stratosphere. The reason is a particularly energetic form of 'blowup' caused by pyroCbs. Although known to form naturally and through anthropogenesis, attention to this topic has heightened with growing concern regarding anthropogenic climate forcing and the apparent increase of fires in the wildland/urban interface. (Naval Research Laboratory)


Another Human And Natural Climate Forcing – Pyrocumulonimbus Storms

As we learn more about the climate system, we continue to discover additional humans and natural climate forcings occur. The August 17 2010 issue of EOS has an excellent article by Randy Showstack titled

Researchers Focus on Fire Clouds That Reach to the Stratosphere

which reports on such a climate forcing.  Excerpts from the paper read

“Volcanic eruptions are not the only violent events that can inject smoke-colored and cauliflower-textured clouds into the stratosphere. Pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCB) storms can, too. These recently discovered phenomena are storms caused or aided by fire; they have many characteristics similar to thunderstorms, including lightning, hail, and extreme vertical height through the troposphere and into the lower stratosphere.”

“Common wisdom had held that “the only event that can explosively pollute the stratosphere is a volcanic eruption,” Michael Fromm, a meteorologist with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D. C., said at a 9 August press briefing at the 2010 Meeting of the Americas in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. “Now we know that pyroCBs can do a version of this, thanks to the heat from fire.” Fromm is a coauthor of “The untold story of pyrocumulonimbus,” a paper to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.”

“The paper states that these events occur “surprisingly frequently”—with 17 now known to have occurred in Canada and the United States in 2002 alone…”

“Fromm said pyroCBs have a volcano-like impact on the stratosphere, injecting material ‘far enough into the stratosphere that particles and gases can remain for months.’”

“While volcanoes can affect global temperature because of the mass of stratospheric aerosols that can be created from some eruptions, Fromm explained that pyroCB events cannot compete with the biggest eruptions. He added that repeated smaller contributions of aerosols from pyroCBs “may be something that we need to pay attention to.”

The sources of these fires are from both natural events (e.g. a forest fire from lightning) and from human caused events (e.g. biomass burning for land clearing).  The recognition that the aerosols associated with these thunderstorms can be ejected into the stratosphere and persist there for months clearly shows that pyrocumulonimbus have a significant climate effect both on the regional and global scales. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Shrinking atmospheric layer linked to low levels of solar radiation

Large changes in the sun's energy output may drive fluctuations in Earth's outer atmosphere

Large changes in the sun's energy output may drive unexpectedly dramatic fluctuations in Earth's outer atmosphere.

Results of a study published today link a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation levels.

The research, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), indicates that the sun's magnetic cycle, which produces differing numbers of sunspots over an approximately 11-year cycle, may vary more than previously thought.

The results, published this week in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters, are funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR's sponsor.

"This research makes a compelling case for the need to study the coupled sun-Earth system," says Farzad Kamalabadi, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, "and to illustrate the importance of solar influences on our terrestrial environment with both fundamental scientific implications and societal consequences." (National Science Foundation)


Actually not: Large CO2 release speeds up ice age melting

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Radiocarbon dating is used to determine the age of everything from ancient artifacts to prehistoric corals on the ocean bottom.

But in a recent study appearing in the Aug. 26 edition of the journal, Nature, a Lawrence Livermore scientist and his colleagues used the method to trace the pathway of carbon dioxide released from the deep ocean to the atmosphere at the end of the last ice age.

The team noticed that a rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations coincided with a reduced amount of carbon-14 relative to carbon-12 (the two isotopes of carbon that are used for carbon dating and are referred to as radiocarbon) in the atmosphere.

“This suggests that there was a release of very ‘old’ or low 14/12CO2 from the deep ocean to the atmosphere during the end of the last ice age,” said Tom Guilderson, an author on the paper and a scientist at LLNL’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry.

The study suggests that CO2 release may speed up the melting following an ice age. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Following the end of a major glaciation retreating ice sheets and warming seas released more CO2. Agreed. Where does it demonstrate anything about CO2 actually influencing temperature?


Ice Core evidence — where is carbon’s “major effect”?

The ice cores are often lauded as evidence of the effects of carbon dioxide. Frank Lansner asks a pointed question and goes hunting to find any effects that can be attributed to carbon.

Where is the data that actually shows a strong and important warming effect of CO2? If CO2 has this strong warming effect, would not nature reflect this in data?

He has collected together the data from the last four warm spells (the nice interglacials between all the long ice ages) into one average “peak”. The common pattern of the rise and fall has already been recorded in many scientific papers. Orbital changes trigger the temperatures to rise first and about 800 years later (thanks to the oceans releasing CO2), carbon dioxide levels begin to climb. At the end of a patch of several thousand warm years, temperatures begin to fall, and thousands of years later the carbon dioxide levels slowly decline. No one is really contesting this order of things any more. What is contested is that those who feel carbon is a major driver estimate that the carbon dioxide unleashed by the warming then causes major amplification or “feedback”, making things lots warmer than they would have been if there was no change in carbon. Since most skeptics (but not all) agree that there is probably some warming due to extra CO2, the real question is “how much”.

Lansner points out that counter to the amplification theory, temperatures return most of the way back to their starting level (ice age temperatures) even while CO2 levels are elevated. If the CO2 can’t prevent the temperatures falling, it’s effect is anything but major.

Estimates of climate sensitivity and support for the “feedbacks” comes from models which depend on water vapor increasing high over the tropics. The radiosondes show that the models are wrong.

Frank graphs the change in temperatures and CO2, and finds a slight positive trend which is predictable (we know oceans release CO2 as they warm, so there would be a correlation). But then he plots the changes in CO2 against changes in the rate of temperature change, and finds no correlation at all (if CO2 was a major forcing, it would force or accelerate temperature change, which would show as the rate of temperature change). The data is limited to 1500 year blocks, so the time-frame is less than ideal, but the best available in the Petit data.

Thanks to Frank for his work

Jo More » (Jo Nova)


UHI study of the UK Armagh Observatory

Click image for interactive panorama take from the top of the meteorological tower

Via Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. and with a h/t to Erik, I found this most interesting, because it demonstrates the even small things like hedges can influence temperature readings. This paper originally had only 1 diagram, but I’ve added photography to help you visualize the site.

“Within a few weeks of the commencement of the experiment, it became apparent that at one of the selected sites there were irregularities in the pattern of temperatures observed. The night-time minima at site B (fig.1) were generally  1-2°C lower and the day-time maxima 1-2°C higher than the other rural stations.  In view of this, the thermometers at all three rural stations were tested by  the Met.Office and were subsequently found to be accurate to within 0.1°C.

It was found that site B was over-sheltered by nearby dense hedges and thus  there was little air turbulence, even on breezy days. At night, cold air was ‘ponded’ by the hedges and this produced the abnormally low minima at site B  compared to the other stations. The site was also located about 100m from,
although approximately 10m above, an extensive area of flat marshy land. This factor may have further contributed to the anomalous temperatures.”

Is urban spread affecting the mean temperature at Armagh Observatory?

A.D.S. Coughlin (1,2) and C.J.Butler (2)

1 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, N.I.

2 Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, N.I.

1. Introduction

Meteorological observations have been made at Armagh Observatory (Butler and Johnston, 1996) since 1795. The records include one of the longest single-site instrumental temperature series in the UK and, indeed, Europe.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Ice Sheet Loss Cut In Half

Much concern has been raised by climate scientists regarding ice loss from the world's two remaining continental ice sheets. Rapid loss of ice-mass from the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica are cited as proof positive of global warming's onslaught. The latest measurements involve the use of satellite gravimetry, estimating the mass of terrain beneath by detecting slight changes in gravity as a satellite passes overhead. But gravity measurements of ice-mass loss are complicated by glacial isostatic adjustments—compensation for the rise or fall of the underlying crustal material. A new article in Nature Geoscience describes an innovative approach employed to derive ice-mass changes from GRACE data. The report suggests significantly smaller overall ice-mass losses than previous estimates.

The storage of water or ice on land—the presence of large bodies of water or glacial ice sheets—affect the Earth's gravitational field. This effect is detected by the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. Twin satellites were launched in March 2002, to make detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field. Since then, GRACE has been used to study tectonic features, estimate ground water volumes and calculate the amount of ice contained in the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. However, other factors can contribute to the GRACE measurements than just the volume of ice in an ice sheet. These factors include the response of Earth's crust (the lithosphere) to past changes in ice load.

Antarctica was found to be rising, but not as fast as previously thought.

As the weight of covering ice varies, the underlying surface rock can be pushed down or rise up, buoyed by the magma that the crust floats on. This would obviously impact efforts to measure the height of terrain, including glaciers. Compensating for the rise and fall of bedrock is termed glacial isostatic adjustment, and it can have a significant impact on estimated ice-mass losses. Changes in the spatial distribution of the atmospheric and oceanic masses can also enter into the picture. Correctly assessing these different factors is the key to accurately calculating ice-sheet mass balance. Xiaoping Wu and colleagues have proposed a new method for untangling these factors from GRACE measurements. In a News and Views commentary on the work by Wu et al., David H. Bromwich and Julien P. Nicolas sum up the problem:

The atmospheric and oceanic contributions are commonly derived from global reanalyses or other global climate models that assimilate observations. However, the contribution from glacial isostatic adjustment is more difficult to evaluate because the Earth's mantle is viscoelastic and therefore responds to changes in surface loading with a long delay. Indeed, the variations of the mass and extent of the ice sheets since the Last Glacial Maximum, about 20,000 years ago, continue to affect present-day changes in bedrock elevation. Assessments of the glacial isostatic adjustment typically rely on deglaciation models—which simulate the evolution of the ice sheets since the Last Glacial Maximum—together with assumptions about the viscosity profile of the mantle. Much is still unknown regarding the history of the ice sheets, and even less is known about the behaviour of the mantle in response to loading and unloading.

The method used by Wu et al., in “Simultaneous estimation of global present-day water transport and glacial isostatic adjustment,” estimates ice-mass changes and glacial isostatic adjustment simultaneously, instead of estimating the latter separately from deglaciation models as had been done before. The problem is expressed in terms of a single matrix equation, with the observed surface-height changes decomposed into their different contributions. The equation is then solved for ice-mass changes using matrix inversion. While the glacial isostatic adjustment that results is not directly generated by deglaciation models, the inversion method still requires a first-guess estimate to begin the calculations.

Ice loss in Greenland has been significantly overestimated.

In describing their work, Wu et al. state: “Here we combine gravity measurements and geodetic data of surface movement with a data-assimilating model of ocean bottom pressure to simultaneously estimate present-day water transport and glacial isostatic adjustment. We determine their separate contributions to movements in the geocentre, which occur in response to changes in the Earth’s mass distribution, with uncertainties below 0.1 mm yr−1.” They further describe their methodology as follows:

From April 2002 to December 2008, linear trends are derived from GRACE gravity data with empirically calibrated full covariance matrices, and from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s data-assimilating ocean bottom pressure (OBP) model. These are combined with three-dimensional surface velocities at 664 globally distributed sites. Although the durations of the surface geodetic time series are diverse, most of the data are collected by the global positioning system (GPS) technique during the 2000s and processed up to August 2007. Spherical harmonic coefficients of both PDMT and GIA signatures as well as other relevant parameters are then estimated from the data combination.

Here PDMT stands for present-day surface mass trend and GIA for glacial isostatic adjustment. Those interested in the theoretical framework—including the relevant measurement equations, data sets and uncertainty assessment—should look in the Methods section of the paper and the Supplementary Information pdf.

What is really interesting here is the resulting trend data for the change of bedrock height—the geoid height trend. The new method found that estimates used in the past were significantly in error. Antarctica was found to be rising, but not at as fast a rate as previously thought. Greenland, on the other hand, is actually sinking, particularly in the center of the ice sheet. Previous change estimates had Greenland rising everywhere.

“The negative GIA geoid trend in Greenland could be new evidence for additional net past ice accumulation (∼100–300 m of ice depending on rheological properties and onset time) in comparison with the a priori model,” the researchers state, noting that past accumulation over certain parts of Greenland has been suggested before by other models. The study results can be seen in the figure below, taken from the report.

Unfiltered GIA geoid height trends.

In the figure a, shows rates estimated in the study, and b,those predicted by the ICE-5G/IJ05/VM2 model. While Wu et al. report that both Greenland and Antarctica are loosing ice-mass, they are doing so at a much lower rate than previous estimates and that both are gaining ice in their interiors. “The mass loss in Greenland is concentrated along the coastal areas, and is particularly heavy in the west, and in the southeast with the large Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers,” they state. “In contrast, the interior of Greenland shows significant positive mass balance.”

Bottom line on the new work is that ice-mass loss has been overestimated by previous studies. “These findings confirm the ongoing shrinkage of the polar ice sheets,” state Bromwich and Nicolas. “However, and most importantly, the newly estimated ice-sheet mass losses represent less than half of other recent GRACE-based estimates for the same time interval: −230 ± 33 Gt yr−1 for Greenland2 and −132 ± 26 Gt yr−1 for West Antarctica.” According to Wu et al. “We conclude that a significant revision of the present estimates of glacial isostatic adjustments and land–ocean water exchange is required.” Perhaps this technique could be applied to the previous GRACE results for Himalayan glaciers as well.

So, when the more exact measurement separation methodology of Wu et al. is applied to the GRACE geoid data, ice sheet shrinkage, which has been systematically overestimated, is cut in half. “The differences between the work by Wu and colleagues and earlier studies may reflect errors in present deglaciation models with respect to the ice-load history and response of the Earth's mantle,” conclude Bromwich and Nicolas. According to Wu et al. “significant revision” is required. The general result—the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets will be with us for a long time to come.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


U.S. Urged To Ensure Deepwater Drilling Safety

The Development Driller III, which is drilling the relief well, is seen at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, May 11, 2010.
Photo: Reuters/Gerald Herbert/Pool

The U.S. government should ensure deepwater drillers meet new safety rules before allowing operations to resume, despite the costs associated with delays, a report requested by the White House oil spill commission said on Thursday.

The Bipartisan Policy Center report said companies should be able to start drilling again once they meet the Interior Department's new guidelines, but it will take time for rigs to meet these standards.

"While we appreciate the costs of delay, we urge DOI to use all due caution to ensure effective compliance with this new regulatory regime," the report by the non-profit group said. (Reuters)


ANALYSIS-China clean energy plan hinges on coal price

BEIJING, Aug 27 - China's $736-billion push to harness nuclear, wind, solar and biomass energy hinges on making the cleaner fuels competitive with cheap and CO2-intensive coal without derailing surging industrial growth.

The world's second-largest economy faces formidable challenges to make the plan work. Beijing must upgrade its rickety electricity grid, open up the network to alternative energy and raise tariffs to make new energy sources competitive with coal-fired power. All that while retaining investor confidence China will remain the low cost factory of the world. (Reuters)


Who expects China to reduce CO2 emissions anytime soon? Gridlock is a way of life for Chinese

For 10 days, drivers on the Beijing to Mongolia expressway have been stuck in a 60-mile tailback. Is this the world's longest queue?

A combination of road works and the huge volume of coal trucks that daily rumble along this main route is said to have caused the problem.

Stalled traffic has stretched for days between Jining in Inner Mongolia, and Huai'an in Hebei province, north west of Beijing.

The roadworks are necessary to repair damage caused by an increase in cargo lorries using the highway after large coalfields were discovered in Inner Mongolia. (Guardian)


Shell Tests Method To Reclaim Oil Sands Waste

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Thursday it was starting up a demonstration project to test a new method of speeding up reclamation of toxic waste ponds at oil sands operations, a source of tension between oil companies, environmentalists and regulators. (Reuters)


The Stimulus Solar Boondoggle

According to a press release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu says that the billions of dollars in federal stimulus money directed toward solar-power will cut solar power costs in half by 2015. It’s a grand sounding prediction, but his own Energy Information Agency projects that electricity from solar cells will cost nearly five times as much as electricity from natural-gas-fired power plants. And that’s without any adjustment for the unreliable nature of solar power or for the additional transmission costs.

Forcing those higher costs on taxpayers and ratepayers, spells bad news for the economy in terms of lost income, lost jobs, and higher electricity prices. Families could see their incomes drop thousands of dollars per year as the labor market loses a million jobs. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Merkel Seeks More From Utilities For Renewables

German utilities should make more of a contribution toward encouraging the development of renewable energy in addition to paying a planned nuclear fuel tax, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

On a visit to the Emsland power station in the western town of Lingen, Merkel said such a contribution was needed in the context of extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants, but offered no details over what form it should take.

"I am explicitly not using the word 'levy', Merkel said. "This is all bedded into an extension of the lifespans of the nuclear power plants, which I personally see as necessary and also as foreseeable." (Reuters)



Side Effects: College Students May Lose Health Care Option Under Obamacare

Health care isn’t something most students worry about. Government stats show about 80 percent of college students are covered under a parents’ plan. For them, Obamacare may mean they can keep the insurance they already have for a few years beyond college, but it won’t affect the coverage they carry during school.

But what about kids without parental coverage? The new law’s requirement that insurance cover children up to age 26 won’t make any difference for them.

Currently, college students without coverage can enroll in low-cost student health plans offered through universities. These plans may include limits to keep costs down, but are often designed around to complement university health services to provide comprehensive coverage. Affordability is further achieved by rating student health plans on a campus-wide basis rather than according to the whole individual market. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Where innovation and science suffers from seriously bad government: CEOs Speak Up

The Economy: Everyone keeps asking: When will America's businesses start expanding and hiring again? Funny thing is, no one listens when they tell us.

It may not have gotten a lot of press, but we found the comments of Intel CEO Paul Otellini this week at the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum quite enlightening.

At a time when many CEOs are hunkered down and holding back, Otellini let go with both barrels, warning Americans, who have become used to being the center of the innovation universe, to lower their expectations.

Unless government policies change, and fast, he said, "the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here."

That's pretty tough stuff. But Otellini was just getting warmed up.

As CNET news reports, Otellini said that at one time "no country was more attractive for startup capital ... We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That is simply no longer the case."

The Intel chief was harsh on the massive spending by the White House and Congress — and on the failure to extend the Bush tax cuts, the takeover of the health care industry, and the threat of new taxes on businesses to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

"I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs," he said. "And I think they're flummoxed by their experiment in Keynesian economics not working."

If America's ruling class keeps going down this road, "people will not invest in the United States. They'll invest elsewhere." (IBD)


Don't Diss Small Biz

Employment: We try not to comment on opinions expressed on our own op-ed page, but Wednesday's On The Left column asserting that small businesses are not major job-creators mustn't go unanswered.

'The myth of small business as the engine of job creation is largely that — a myth," Ruth Marcus wrote in support of higher taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year. "Small businesses create new jobs when they start and take off; they also lose jobs when they crash and burn."

With all due respect to Marcus, who is syndicated through the Washington Post Writers Group, we're in deeper trouble than we thought if this is what passes for conventional wisdom in our nation's capital.

It's bad enough that President Obama, and even the U.S. Small Business Administration, low-ball the number of new jobs created by small businesses. Both put it at around two-thirds, when the real number, we believe, is around 85%.

Our work — and we maintain a huge database on all public companies — shows that big businesses created no net new jobs over the last 25 years. Zero. Zip. When big businesses buy other companies, thereby padding their payrolls, they don't create new jobs. In fact, they usually consolidate and lay off people in duplicative positions. Many also downsize over time.

It is smaller businesses, and especially new entrepreneurial businesses, that drive each new business cycle. And the government — including the politicians who set tax policy — should recognize what these innovative companies do in their first 10 or 15 years. (IBD)


NYT Article Admits DDT Ban as a Cause of Bedbug Outbreak

By P.J. Gladnick (Bio | Archive)
Wed, 08/25/2010 - 07:16 ET

Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Unfortunately for residents of many urban areas such as New York and Philadelphia, the bedbugs are not only biting but spreading at an alarming rate. Despite this outbreak, the mainstream media has until recently kept insisting that bedbugs developed a resistance to DDT so any emergency lifting of the EPA ban on that pesticide is unnecessary. However, your humble correspondent has speculated that the MSM would eventually have to change its position on the DDT ban due to the fact that so many of its members are being assaulted by bedbug attacks which keep increasing despite the use of other pesticides. Well, it now appears that New York Times writer, Emily B. Hager, has had a revelation about DDT. While its not an outright call for a lifting of the DDT, consider it an important pit stop on the way to demanding the ban be lifted:

...Bedbugs, once nearly eradicated, have spread across New York City, in part because of the decline in the use of DDT. According to the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation, the number of bedbug violations has gone up 67 percent in the last two years. In the most recent fiscal year, which ended on June 30, the city’s 311 help line recorded 12,768 bedbug complaints, 16 percent more than the previous year and 39 percent above the year before. A New York City community health survey showed that in 2009, 1 in 15 New Yorkers had bedbugs in their homes, a number that is probably higher now. 

Yes, the MSM meme seems to have shifted from the claim that DDT would be ineffective against bedbugs to the admission that the current outbreak is due to a decline in its use. And the New York Times is not alone in admitting that the lack of DDT is a cause for the bedbug outbreak. Business Week is now also admitting that the ban on DDT as a cause for the bedbug outbreak:

Experts are baffled by the resurgence of the tiny reddish-brown insects that feed off human and animal blood, their bites often leaving red welts. Entomologists say the pests are appearing on a scale not seen since before World War II and cite increases in global travel and the elimination of certain chemicals, like DDT, that were once used to treat bedbugs, as possible factors contributing to the upsurge.

And now that media outlets are willing to admit that the ban on DDT helped caused this bedbug outbreak, a demand for the EPA to at least temporarily lift its ban can't be far behind. Annoyance over lack of sleep due to biting bedbugs should trump tree-hugging political correctness over continuing the DDT ban.

—P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog. (NewsBusters)


Study links severe drug reaction to herpes virus

LONDON - A rare and dangerous reaction to a range of common medicines including antibiotics and anticonvulsants may be caused by a severe immune response to reactivated herpes virus, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers said their findings suggest that if doctors were to test for the herpes virus in patients suffering the drug reaction, they might be able to find ways to treat it and possibly stop it becoming more severe, or even fatal.

The results should also help scientists find out what makes some people susceptible to the reaction, which is known as Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms, or DRESS, and affects around one in 8,000 people who take the common medicines. (Reuters)


Antihistamine use linked to extra pounds

NEW YORK - People who use prescription antihistamines to relieve allergy symptoms may be more likely than non-users to carry excess pounds, a new study suggests, although the significance of the connection is not yet clear.

In a study of 867 U.S. adults, researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, found that prescription antihistamine users were more likely to be overweight or obese than non-users were.

Among the 268 antihistamine users, 45 percent were overweight, versus 30 percent of the 599 study participants not on the medications.

The researchers stress, however, that the findings do not prove that antihistamines are the cause of the extra pounds. This type of study, known as an observational study, can only point to an association between two variables -- in this case, antihistamine use and body weight -- and cannot prove cause-and-effect. (Reuters Health)


FDA to give restaurants more time on calorie counts

WASHINGTON - U.S. health regulators plan to give restaurant companies more time to comply with new rules that require clear calorie and nutritional information on menus.

Under the healthcare law passed in March, restaurants must clearly post calories and other nutrition details on their menus. The rules target restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as other retail food outlets, and would affect huge national chains like McDonald's Corp and Yum Brands Inc , the operator of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fast-food chains.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has until March 2011 to put these rules into effect. But the agency said on Tuesday it would hold off on enforcing them for an unspecified time period so that companies could make the changes. It also asked for public comment on how long to refrain from enforcement. (Reuters)

How long to refrain from enforcement? How about forever since the only people who obsess about such trivia are highly unlikely to eat at fast food joints.


The New York Times and Lies about 'Acid Rain'

by William L. Anderson

As one who often reads the Newspaper of the Ruling Class, the New York Times, I tend not to be surprised when the "Newspaper of Record" distorts the record. Furthermore, one could do nothing but write comments refuting the various economic fallacies and outright distortions that accompany each edition of the Grey Lady.

However, in a recent editorial, the NYT managed to distort the record so much that I find it hard even to know how to answer, except to say that some of us have not lost our memories of what happened 30 years ago. Entitled "Acid Rain 30 Years On," the editorial starts with the following statement:

Just over 30 years ago, a skeptical Daniel Patrick Moynihan persuaded his Senate colleagues to approve a major study to see whether a relatively unknown phenomenon called acid rain was worth worrying about. The study, completed in 1990, showed that pollution blowing eastward from coal-fired power plants was killing off aquatic life. One-quarter of the Adirondacks’ 3,000 lakes and streams had become too acidic to support fish life, or were headed that way.

Mr. Moynihan became a believer. And the study helped usher in two decades worth of laws and regulations – most important, the 1990 Clean Air Act – requiring major reductions in power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide. Evidence suggests that in the last decade pollution levels have dropped and that streams, lakes and forests have rebounded.

Actually not, and I think I know, given that I had a major article in Reason about this whole affair and also wrote part of my doctoral dissertation on the subject, and published another paper in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology about it. I can say what the NYT says in that editorial is categorically untrue, all the way to Moynihan’s becoming "a believer." If there is an Orwellian Memory Hole, it definitely lives at the "Newspaper of Record." (Lew Rockwell)


Ripping off consumers -- but with the best of intentions :) Dramatic fall in number of plastic bags given out by supermarkets

The number of "single-use" plastic bags given to customers by leading UK supermarkets has fallen for the fourth year in a row.

The total has dropped from 10.6 billion in 2006 to 6.1 billion in the year to May, a reduction of 43 per cent, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. That compares with a reduction of 37 per cent in the year to May 2009. Over the same period the total weight of material used has more than halved.

The BRC said the figures were "a ringing endorsement" of the voluntary approach taken by supermarkets at a time when sales volumes increased by more than 6 per cent. (Independent)


Fuel treatments reduce wildfire severity, tree mortality in Washington forests

A study conducted by U.S. Forest Service and University of Washington (UW) scientists has found that fuel treatments—even of only a few acres—can reduce fire severity and protect older trees desirable for their timber, wildlife, and carbon-storage value. The finding is part of a three-year study of the 175,000-acre Tripod Fire and is published in the August issue of Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

"This study provides the most definitive evidence yet of the effectiveness of fuel treatments in dry forests of the Pacific Northwest," said Susan Prichard, a UW research scientist and senior author of the study. "If dense forests are thinned and the surface fuels are removed, then ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir trees have a better chance of surviving an intense wildfire." (USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station)


Beware Green utopianism

by Bill Muehlenberg
August 24, 2010

With a newly elected Green MP, and four more Green Senators set to join the existing five in July, the nation and the media are beginning to pay some attention to the Greens as a political force. And many are rightly saying that with this new found political clout comes responsibility.

That is, all the lavish rhetoric and utopian spin of the Greens now needs to fit in with the real world. Idyllic rants shouted in protest must now give way to some political realism as the tough stuff of governance is entered into. But that will not come readily.

With such a long history of the rhetoric of revolt, getting back down to planet earth is not going to be easy, and will likely not come very quickly. Consider the acceptance speech of the Melbourne Green when he was elected on Saturday. A friend and I were listening to him and we broke out laughing.

He said, "We need more love in this world, not less”. Thanks for that Adam Bandt – that should solve all our problems in a hurry. Of course what he meant by that is we need more homosexual love, since on top of his priority list is same-sex marriage.

Indeed, he sounded like some old hippy spaced out on LSD as he rambled on about how all we need is love, love, love. Yeah, that is the stuff modern politics is made of all right – utopian hippy-isms. But that is really what the Greens are all about – a bunch of aging hippies, idealists and utopians who think they will somehow usher in heaven on earth with mindless platitudes. (Quadrant)


British man claims to have bred indestructible bees

A British man claims to have bred a strain of bee capable of protecting itself from a deadly parasite that is wiping out the environmentally vital insect. (TDT)


The Dangers of Agricultural Speculation: 'Price Increases Are Costing Millions of People their Health'

Financial speculators have discovered agricultural commodities, and the result has been skyrocketing prices for wheat, barley and other grains. SPIEGEL spoke with agricultural economist Joachim von Braun about how to curb such speculation and the dangers for the world's poor. (Spiegel)


Drought Tolerant Maize To Hugely Benefit Africa: Study

Distributing new varieties of drought tolerant maize to African farmers could save more than $1.5 billion dollars, boost yields by up to a quarter and lift some of the world's poorest out of poverty, a study found.

The study published on Thursday by the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with input from other food research institutes, focused on 13 African countries in which it has been handing out drought tolerant maize to farmers over the past four years.

It described maize as "the most important cereal crop in Africa," a lifeline to 300 million vulnerable people.

The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa plan aims to hasten the adoption of maize varieties that withstand dry weather.

"The vision of this project is to generate by 2016 drought tolerant maize that ... increases the average productivity of maize under smallholder farmer conditions by 20-30 percent on adopting farms (and) reaches 30-40 million people."

It also aims to add an annual average of $160 - $200 million worth of additional grain to Africa's harvest, it said.

Wilfred Mwangi, a Kenyan agricultural economist on the project, said the drought resistant maize shows comparative yields that beat other varieties even if there's no drought.

"We are saying that comparing with whatever farmers are growing now, these varieties will outperform what they are doing," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. (Reuters)


U.S. Rejected Hen Vaccine Despite British Success

Faced with a crisis more than a decade ago in which thousands of people were sickened from salmonella in infected eggs, farmers in Britain began vaccinating their hens against the bacteria. That simple but decisive step virtually wiped out the health threat.

But when American regulators created new egg safety rules that went into effect last month, they declared that there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick. The Food and Drug Administration decided not to mandate vaccination of hens — a precaution that would cost less than a penny per a dozen eggs.

Now, consumers have been shaken by one of the largest egg recalls ever, involving nearly 550 million eggs from two Iowa producers, after a nationwide outbreak of thousands of cases of salmonella was traced to eggs contaminated with the bacteria. (NYT)


Commercial road would disrupt world's greatest migration

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are requesting that the Government of Tanzania reconsider the proposed construction of a commercial road through the world's best known wildlife sanctuary—Serengeti National Park—and recommend that alternative routes be used that can meet the transportation needs of the region without disrupting the greatest remaining migration of large land animals in the world. (Zoological Society of London)



Obama Admin Urges Supreme Court to Vacate Greenhouse Gas 'Nuisance' Ruling

The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major emitters for their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who see the case as a powerful prod on climate change. (Greenwire)


Just say "No!" to carbon scams: U.N. Carbon Funding Key For China Clean Coal Developers

Developers of clean-coal power plants in China fear for the viability of their projects after a U.N. carbon-credit scheme denied funding for a similar plant in India at the end of July.

They said "ultra-supercritical" (USC) power stations would struggle without funds earned through the U.N.-backed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that lets rich countries invest in clean energy projects in developing countries.

In return, investors earn tradable carbon offsets known as certified emission reductions or CERs.

Nine Chinese projects up for U.N. accreditation are on a much smaller scale but the proceeds from carbon trading will still be essential, one developer said. (Reuters)


Nothing runs like a Deere – company bails on cap and trade

Image from - click for details

By Bob Tita


CHICAGO -(Dow Jones)- Deere & Co. (DE) has quietly dropped out of a coalition of large companies that has supported a cap-and-trade program for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Deere, the world’s largest manufacturer of farm machinery, opted to leave the U.S. Climate Action Partnership in May because the group’s legislative strategy “no longer served as a foundation for moving forward” with climate change regulation, Ken Golden, a spokesman for the company said Tuesday.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Undeniable Global Warming and Climate Models

Written by Dennis Ambler

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Government Agencies from the US and the UK have recently joined forces in a major exercise, (NOAA–MET Office, State of the Planet 2009), to influence proposed climate legislation in the US, support costly and highly unpopular legislation in the UK and hopefully (for them), prepare the way for a global, legally-binding agreement on emissions control at the UNFCC Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in December.

Read more... (SPPI)


Oxford Union Debate on Climate Catastrophe

Source: Climate Conservation Group
by Richard Treadgold

the Oxford Union building The lovely old Oxford Union building. It’s nice to know that there are still places where reason and intellect roam free.

Science 135, global warming scare 110

For what is believed to be the first time ever in England, an audience of university undergraduates has decisively rejected the notion that “global warming” is or could become a global crisis. The only previous defeat for climate extremism among an undergraduate audience was at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland, in the spring of 2009, when the climate extremists were defeated by three votes.

Last week, members of the historic Oxford Union Society, the world’s premier debating society, carried the motion “That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change” by 135 votes to 110. The debate was sponsored by the Science and Public Policy Institute, Washington DC. Read the rest of this entry » (SPPI)


Putin encounters a tiger and an environmentalist

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is known to his countrymates as a tough guy, or a genuine moloděc. This self-described wild animal lover has also recently encountered a polar bear, a tiger, and a leopard during his journeys throughout the regions of Russia.

But that's nothing compared to his experience on Monday when he met a wild German environmentalist:

AFP: German scientist hands Putin frosty climate rebuke (click)
In the fast Eastern region of Yakutia, he dared to mention his opinion that
10,000 years ago, the mammoths started to die out. This was linked to a warming of the climate, a rise in sea levels, a reduction of pastures. All this happened without human influence.
He primarily meant that no industrial CO2 emissions were involved in the decline of mammoths. But that was too courageous a thing for him to say. Ms Inken Preuss, a wild German environmentalist (second from the left), immediately reacted: (The Reference Frame)


Video: Putin Asks Each Scientist Point Blank: Is Climate Change Caused By Man? Answer: We Don’t Know!

P Gosselin 25. August 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived Monday on Samoilovsky Island in the western Siberian Arctic to visit a joint Russian-German scientific expedition, Lena-2010.

Lena 2010 is conducting studies on the Russian Arctic permafrost, which is 1.5 km thick at the Samoilovsky Island location and estimated to be 40,000 years old.

The German page of Ria Novosti has a video up (sorry – only in German) which reveals an interesting comment, one not reported in the western media. The video shows Putin visiting the study site, and even helps the scientists bore into the permafrost.

At the 1:15 mark of the video, Putin is reported to have asked each scientist the same question:

Is climate change caused by man, or not?

To which the video gives the reply at the 1:24 mark, the reporter says:

Continue reading “Video: Putin Asks Each Scientist Point Blank: Is Climate Change Caused By Man? Answer: We Don’t Know!” (No Tricks Zone)


Nude Socialist: Time to blame climate change for extreme weather?

IT IS time to start asking the hard questions. Countless people in flood-stricken Pakistan have lost families and livelihoods. Who can they hold responsible and turn to for reparations? (NS)


The Attribution Trap

Climate policy has been hamstrung for many years by the notion that the influence of greenhouse gas emissions on society (and the environment) through climate change can be precisely assessed, and that such attribution can be used to guide the policy response.  But what happens when the policy community asks the impossible from the science community?  Bad policy and bad science can result.

The importance of attribution is implicit in the definition of "climate change" used by the Climate Convention, which refers only to those changes resulting from anthropogenic changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere. Under this definition the Climate Convention seeks to create a demarcation of dangerous interference, which is usually defined as the "2 degree" target or a 450 ppm concentration level.  The presence of such a threshold in policy language thus encourages efforts to attribute various societal impacts of climate to human-caused climate change.  Without such attribution, who can say what dangerous effects are caused by greenhouse gas emissions?  But what does it say about the policy framework if issues of attribution are not so clear cut?

It is easy to make statements about attribution for generic, hypothetical events far in the future.  But it becomes far more difficult in the present when actual events with real impacts are actually taking place.  Here the attribution trap is even more obviously pathological.

Consider this discussion from the New Scientist (emphasis added):

[NCAR's Kevin] Trenberth agrees. "It comes to the question: given that there is a global warming component to an event, is there any way in which you can sue somebody for it? Who do you sue?" He points out, though, that it will always be difficult to rule out natural variation in climate. "It's going to be messy."

It already is. In 2005, victims of hurricane Katrina filed a lawsuit against a group of oil companies, claiming that they had created the environmental conditions in the Gulf of Mexico that strengthened Katrina. The case was dismissed in 2007, after it was ruled that the victims had no standing to sue because the harm could not be traced to individual defendants. That decision was reversed in 2009. But in June this year the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit again dismissed the case, this time because it did not have enough judges to form a quorum. In the process, the judges that were present ruled once more that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.

There is another reason for finding out how much climate change is to blame for various events. "Hundreds of billions of dollars are potentially available [in a UN fund] to help developing countries adapt to climate change," says [Oxford' Myles] Allen. Who gets what share of the funds depends on being able to say which regions have suffered most as a result of climate change. For now, at least, that remains an open question.

Read that last paragraph again.  The ability of developing countries to access UN funds for adaptation depends upon their ability to attribute specific events to human-caused climate change from greenhouse gas emissions.  Because such attribution is not possible, this makes the entire policy basis of the fund flawed.  Just imagine the absurd notion of well-meaning UN officials coming to Africa explaining that they have the resources to help, say, malaria victims who have the disease as a result of human-caused climate change, but not any of the other victims of the disease.

Adaptation is not just a response to the marginal impacts of human-caused climate change, but rather to complex situations of vulnerability with inter-related and often inseparable social and climatic factors.  Improving the adaptive capacity of communities -- whether they be New Orleans or New Caledonia -- makes sense irrespective of the fraction of impacts that can or cannot be attributed to human caused climate change.

Ultimately, the attribution trap makes adaptation a victim of the pathological politics of mitigation, where the policy framework encourages, even necessitates, claims with certainty of negative impacts due to greenhouse gas emissions.  Can climate policy be designed to succeed even if such attribution is either highly uncertain or even unknowable?  I think it can, but such an approach diverges a great deal from the course that we've been on. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

Climate change-obsessed Junior has it all wrong. According to the IPCC's AR4 increases in atmospheric GHGs (specifically CO2, CH4 and N2O) have increased forcing by 2.3 W/m2 which has led to an increase in equilibrated global mean temperature of perhaps 0.75 °C. This in no way equates to the absurd political "2 degree" target or a 450 ppm concentration level [of CO2e]. To begin with the IPCC's simplified formula for ΔForcing yields 3.7W/m2 for each doubling of CO2, 62% of which has already allegedly been delivered, so even were it lineal rather than logarithmic then boosting atmospheric CO2 to 560 ppm would still only deliver 1.2 °C net warming, less than 0.5 °C increase from where we supposedly are now. To approach the [ooh, scary!] threshold of +2 °C means we would have to push atmospheric CO2 to roughly triple the listed political target or a quadrupling of pre-industrial levels. None of the political targets or listed attributions are internally consistent or make any sense at all. This is a seriously stupid game.

Readers may recall some months ago that the Met Office planned to “do over” the surface temperature data sets:

Met office pushes a surface temperature data “do over”

The effort has started, and a website has been setup at

They write:

Surface temperature datasets for the 21st Century

To meet 21st Century requirements it is necessary to reconsider our analyses of historical land surface temperature changes. This is about much more than simply re-engineering existing datasets. These datasets were adequate for assessing whether climate was changing at the global scale. This current exercise should not be interpreted as a fundamental questioning of these previous efforts. But these pre-existing datasets cannot answer all the questions that society is now quite rightly asking. They do not constitute a sufficiently large sample to truly understand our uncertainty at regional scales. At monthly resolution they are also of limited utility in characterising extremes in climate and their changes.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Comments On The Ecomonist Article “Green View: Could Temperature Be Less Intemperate?”

I was queried on Monday of this week by the Economist regarding the September Exeter meeting regarding the project which I posted on in

Meeting September 7-9 2010 “Surface Temperature Datasets For The 21st Century” Chaired By Peter Thorne

My comment to the Economist when asked

I wondered what you thought of the project/plan of action. I know you objected to some of what Peters Thorne and Stott said in their piece in nature about current surface temperature records, but I wondered what you thought of their ideas for making things better in the future.

My response was

 In terms of monitoring global warming, the successful installation of an upper ocean heat monitoring system which has been in place since earlier this decade (Argo as complemented with satellite measurements of the ocean) supersedes the need to use the surface air temperature data as the primary metric for this purpose [as I summarize in my article

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.].

We can obtain a much more robust measure of global warming (and cooling) by monitoring the upper ocean heat changes.

In terms of improving the surface temperature data (which is, of course, needed for a variety of other purposes such as agriculture, recreation, etc), the goal to improve the access and audit of the data is commendable.

However, they seem to be ignoring known (i.e peer reviewed published) problems with this data. There is, for example, a need to photograph the sites and to seek past photos of these locations in order to see how well they are sited.

They also appear not to be considering other issues that we raised in the papers that I posted on this morning. This includes the warm bias we have found in the minimum land surface temperatures that are used in their construction of a land average temperature trend, and the need to include the effect of concurrent surface air, water vapor trends on the surface air heat (i.e. its moist enthalpy).

There are also issues with the “homogenization” of the data which they use to create grid area averages. When poor- and well-site locations are blended together, for instance, the result appears to be biasing the results [a subject we will be presenting in a paper that is almost complete]. The quantitative steps in their homogenization adjustment needs further scrutiny and it is not clear they will be doing this.

Please let me know if you need further feedback.

Best Regards

The article has now appeared [August 25 2010]

Green View: Could Temperature Be Less Intemperate?

 and my response to it is given below.

Thank you for sending. With respect to adding comments on their weblog, Peter Thorne and colleagues already have seen the issues that we have raised in the set of peer reviewed papers that we have published on this topic; e.g. e.g.

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.

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, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on .Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105,

[and see the reviews of the above Comment/Reply of Parker et al where the referees agreed with our Reply - here.

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., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: "An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841", J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655

Indeed, Peter Thorne has a documented history of suppressing other viewpoints as I have documented with e-mails and in a Public Comment; i.e here

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences". 88 pp including appendices.

I agree with Anthony Watts that "[a]pprised of it, he says that while ‘a noble effort, it is a reaction to a series of data transparency blunders rather than a proactive approach to open replication.’”

I would also add, that despite the significant involvement of myself and my colleagues in assessing uncertainties and biases with respect to the land surface temperature record in the peer reviewed literature, we were not invited to the Exeter meeting.

For these reasons, I disagree with your statement

“So, while Dr Thorne and his colleagues try to do something that is both difficult and worthwhile in a way that increases transparency, critics outside the community have to date more or less ignored the opportunity to get involved.”

We have very much been involved and Peter Thorne and his associates continue to fail at being inclusive. This meeting looks like “business as usual.

Best Regards

Roger Sr.

(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Poor getting ripped off in carbon scam [gasp!]: Poorer nations hit with 'exorbitant' consultancy fees for carbon offset projects

Nepalese government has paid a Norwegian consultancy €150,000 (£123,000) to get UN certification for biogas projects (Guardian)


Blaming climate skeptics for green failures is convenient but wrong

It’s not been easy being green since the revelations of Climategate and mounting evidence that the science behind man’s influence on climate change is far from accurate, let alone settled. No wonder then that many greens chose to vent their frustration at skeptics and blame their ideological opponents for their troubles. (Paul Wornham, Examiner)


Southwest Drought?

As we have covered in previous essays, global warming alarmists insist that the southwestern United States is getting drier and will get substantially drier in the future due to the buildup of greenhouse gases. They bolster their claims by results from a relatively large number of articles in the professional scientific literature and countless comments in various UN IPCC reports. Throw in pictures of declining water levels at Lake Mead, some fountains in Las Vegas and golf courses in Phoenix, and just like magic, a scary scenario is produced.

As with virtually every other element of the climate change issue, the literature produces some surprises, and the drought in the Southwest claim runs up against some interesting realities. The latest article on this subject appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research and once again, the results are at odds with the popular perception of increased drought in the Southwest. (WCR)


New Paper On The Role Of The Long Range Transport Of Mineral Dust And Other Aerosols By Ben-Ami Et Al 2010

In our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

we presented evidence that the human role on the climate system is much broader than just that from the addition of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

There is a new paper that provides further evidence of the role of aerosols (which in this study is a combination of natural and human effects) on the climate system. The paper also documents how this effect is transported across thousands of kilometers. This new research further confirms what was concluded in

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp


“Several types of forcings—most notably aerosols, land-use and land-cover change, and modifications to biogeochemistry—impact the climate system in nonradiative ways, in particular by modifying the hydrological cycle and vegetation dynamics. Aerosols exert a forcing on the hydrological cycle by modifying cloud condensation nuclei, ice nuclei, precipitation efficiency, and the ratio between solar direct and diffuse radiation received.

The paper is

Ben-Ami, Y., Koren, I., Rudich, Y., Artaxo, P., Martin, S. T., and Andreae, M. O. 2010: Transport of North African dust from the Bodélé depression to the Amazon Basin: a case study, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 7533-7544, doi:10.5194/acp-10-7533-2010

with the abstract

“Through long-range transport of dust, the North-African desert supplies essential minerals to the Amazon rain forest. Since North African dust reaches South America mostly during the Northern Hemisphere winter, the dust sources active during winter are the main contributors to the forest. Given that the Bodélé depression area in southwestern Chad is the main winter dust source, a close link is expected between the Bodélé emission patterns and volumes and the mineral supply flux to the Amazon.

Until now, the particular link between the Bodélé and the Amazon forest was based on sparse satellite measurements and modeling studies. In this study, we combine a detailed analysis of space-borne and ground data with reanalysis model data and surface measurements taken in the central Amazon during the Amazonian Aerosol Characterization Experiment (AMAZE-08) in order to explore the validity and the nature of the proposed link between the Bodélé depression and the Amazon forest.

This case study follows the dust events of 11–16 and 18–27 February 2008, from the emission in the Bodélé over West Africa (most likely with contribution from other dust sources in the region) the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, to the observed effects above the Amazon canopy about 10 days after the emission. The dust was lifted by surface winds stronger than 14 m s−1, usually starting early in the morning. The lofted dust, mixed with biomass burning aerosols over Nigeria, was transported over the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived over the South American continent. The top of the aerosol layer reached above 3 km, and the bottom merged with the boundary layer. The arrival of the dusty air parcel over the Amazon forest increased the average concentration of aerosol crustal elements by an order of magnitude.”

As the climate system is investigated further, the shortcomings and incompleteness of the 2007 IPCC WG1 report become increasingly evident. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Should read: "Plain stupid": Nine Plane Stupid activists fined for Aberdeen airport stunt

'The Climate9', who were arrested after chaining themselves to a cage on the tarmac, have each been fined between £300 and £700 (Guardian)

It is unclear why the terrorists were not shot while attacking critical infrastructure. The Poms simply must do better in the war on terror.


Complete idiot of the day: Yes, we broke the law as climate change activists. And this is why

We're not terrorists, we're people who believe delivering our message on climate change is worth being charged and fined (Dan Glass, Guardian)


Jobs Knowingly Killed And Destroyed

Unemployment: A damning memo shows the administration knew its oil drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico would kill tens of thousands of jobs but did it anyway. We're the ones getting drilled.

There's a law known as the law of unintended consequences. It's invoked when you try to do the right thing but overlook other events and occurrences set in motion by your actions. In the case of the drilling moratorium, the consequences were intended. (IBD)


The Catastrophe That Wasn’t: The Gulf Oil Spill in Perspective

by Paul Schwennesen
August 25, 2010

Picture your neighbor’s pool.  Unless you live in Malibu, it’ll contain about 6,000 gallons.  That’s the “Gulf” for purposes of discussion.  Now go to your garage, get a quart of oil and pour it in when he’s not looking.  Pretty good sense of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, right?

Nope, not even close.  Put a drop of that oil onto a sheet of paper and carefully cut it in half.  Now do it again and toss that quarter of a drop into the deep end.  Even this quarter droplet (about the size of the comma in this sentence) is about 10% too large, but NOW you have a sense of what 4.9 million barrels of oil in the Gulf looks like.

Now that we’ve grappled with the issue of scale, let’s look at the aftermath of this ‘catastrophe.’  According to the government scientists, seventy-five percent of that sliver of a droplet has now evaporated, been eaten by microbes, skimmed or burnt. (This estimate is in dispute, but every day the released oil is being reduced to get to that figure, if not beyond it.)

Now, you’re going to need to borrow your kid’s microscope for the rest of this exercise…. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Major Media Too Lazy To Check Sources: Outdated Observations Passed On As “News”

Media need a blowout preventer of their own.

It appears that major media outlets took reports based on old observations and passed it on to the public as breaking news last week.

H/T: Reader Dirk H.

Last week a number of major media outlets reported on how a large plume of oil had been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, insisting that the BP oil spill was not naturally disappearing, as claimed by BP and US officials.

Well, it turns out that last week’s reports were based on oil plume observations made way back in June and junk science. Here are some of the headlines we saw last week in the land of angst, Germany:

Sueddeutsche Zeitung on August 18:
Scientists: 80% Of The Oil Is Still There
Der Spiegel on August 18;
Scientists Attack US Government’s Announcement That Worst Is Over
WDR5 German Radio on August 20:
Large Oil Cloud Beneath The Surface
Die Welt on August 21:
Platform Operator Accuses BP Of Cover-Up  and on August 20: 35 Kilometer Oil Slick

All these reports claimed that BP and officials were premature in calling off the emergency, and that the oil slick was far greater than the public was led to believe. There’s much more oil out there and the problem is still an environmental catastrophe, they all insisted last week.

What did these enviro-bedwetting journalists base their stories on?

They were based on a study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute describing an undersea oil cloud observed June 19 to 28. Here’s the Wood Hole press release. These media outlets were too lazy to check out the source.

So is there still lots of oil out there? No.

The Washington Post wrote yesterday on a Study: Petroleum-eating microbes significantly reduced gulf oil plume that according to the newest findings by a team of scientists led by Terry C. Hazen of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the oil plumes are today practically gone, and on how microbes and bacteria have…

…reduced the amount of oil amounts in the undersea “plume” by half about every three days, according to research published online Tuesday by the journal Science.

The Washington Post also mentions how the Woods Hole study was based on observations from June.  The WaPo writes:

In the Woods Hole study, scientists described finding an undersea oil cloud June 23 to 27 similar to the one Hazen and his colleagues found between May 25 and June 2 – which was similar to one found soon after by people from the Monterey∠Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

And so the mystery of the missing oil is explained:

The findings, by a team of scientists led by Terry C. Hazen of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, help explain one of the biggest mysteries a mystery of the disaster: Where has all the oil gone?

‘What we know about the degradation rates fits with what we are seeing in the last three weeks,’ Hazen said. “We’ve gone out to the sites, and we don’t find any oil, but we do find the bacteria.”

The oil is gone. The WaPo report also shows that the feared oxygen depletion catastrophe is also all hype:

One thing that many scientists feared – severe depletion of oxygen as microbes consumed the oil – apparently hasn’t happened. The Woods Hole study published last week found no decrease in oxygen in the oil plume, and the new study found only a slight one.

No plume could be found in the past three weeks, however. The oil that remains appears to be too diluted to be detected.

There it is folks. Another bout of incontinence by the German media. Listening to them last week, you’d think the Gulf of Mexico was sloshing with crude. Bad reporting is a great way to wrongly scare away tourists at a time the Gulf coast needs them the most. (No Tricks Zone)


Oil and Gas Industry Tax Incentives: How do they Compare?

Federal politicians mislead the public when they preach about the need to revoke the “special subsidies” given to US oil and natural gas firms. In contrast to these overused sound bites, consider the following graph -- an excerpt from a July 2010 Tax Foundation’s report, “Who Benefits Most from Targeted Corporate Tax Incentives?” [Read More] (Michael J. Economides, ET)


US mounts global push for shale gas

WASHINGTON — The United States has offered to help major economies such as China and India develop shale gas, a rapidly growing sector in North America which US officials bill as a clean alternative.

Twenty nations held two days of talks in Washington in first-of-a-kind shale gas talks initiated by the United States, where some forecast that shale -- a miniscule presence a decade ago -- could dominate the gas market by 2030.

Shale gas comes from deep reserves that were thought inaccessible until the advent of new drilling methods. But costs still are usually above conventional gas, and some environmentalists worry about pollution in drinking water.

US officials believe that developing shale gas would provide fast-growing China and India with a cleaner alternative to coal, a key culprit in carbon emissions blamed by scientists for a dangerous warming of the planet.

In Europe, shale gas could also reduce reliance on energy heavyweight Russia. Last year, a dispute between Russia and Ukraine cut off Russian gas to several members of the European Union.

"The main reasons for doing it are national security and climate security," David Goldwyn, the State Department's coordinator on international energy affairs, said of the conference.

"In Eastern Europe in particular, it's really diversity of supply. It's a national security issue," Goldwyn told reporters. (AFP)


Fishing Concerns Dominate Cape Wind Hearing

with the final event last night in Boston. A few things became quite clear at Wednesday night’s public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement on the Cape Wind project.
The first was that about twice as many Vineyarders, assuming those who attended are broadly representative of Island opinion, oppose the project as support it.

The second was that those against the development of a wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound were motivated primarily by local and personal concerns, including their livelihoods, tourism, fish stocks, birds, taxes, and — to acknowledge the elephant in the room — aesthetics. Those in favor, by contrast, were primarily motivated by national or global worries, such as the need for American energy independence, the skyrocketing cost of oil, and the need to take decisive action to mitigate global warming.

And the third thing which became clear was that by far the most controversial part of the Minerals Management Service findings on the likely impacts of the huge project related to its effect on fishing. (Vineyard Gazette)


Czech government adopts plan to rein in renewables

The Czech government approved a renewables energy framework plan on Wednesday aimed at curbing the kind of subsidies that have led to a solar boom that ranks as Europe's third largest.

The plan, adopted late in the day, calls for a cap on tariffs for solar energy of about half the current level and seeks mandatory recycling of old solar panels. It also seeks annual limits on subsidies for wind and solar power. (Reuters)


Electricity collected from the air could become the newest alternative energy source

BOSTON, Aug. 25, 2010 — Imagine devices that capture electricity from the air ― much like solar cells capture sunlight ― and using them to light a house or recharge an electric car. Imagine using similar panels on the rooftops of buildings to prevent lightning before it forms. Strange as it may sound, scientists already are in the early stages of developing such devices, according to a report presented here today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future," said study leader Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D. His research may help explain a 200-year-old scientific riddle about how electricity is produced and discharged in the atmosphere. "Just as solar energy could free some households from paying electric bills, this promising new energy source could have a similar effect," he maintained. (ACS)

Wonder how long it will be before the greenies set up a society for the protection of lighting or some such. There'll have to be some reason it's bad to de-energize the atmosphere.



End Environmental Experiments on Africans!

Written by Fiona Kobusingye

I wish I had a shilling for every time someone told me spraying homes with DDT to prevent malaria is like using Africans in evil experiments. I would be a rich woman. That claim is a blatant falsehood. Even worse, it hides the many ways poor Africans really are being used in environmental experiments that cause increased poverty, disease and death.

Read more... (SPPI)


New mouse virus found in chronic fatigue patients

WASHINGTON - Researchers have linked a second type of mouse virus to a baffling condition called chronic fatigue syndrome, but said their findings do not yet prove that any virus causes the symptoms.

They found evidence of murine leukemia virus, which causes cancer in mice, in 86 percent of chronic fatigue patients they tested, but in fewer than 7 percent of healthy blood donors.

The team, lead by Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health, said much more study is needed to determine how common the virus is in people and whether it might be causing disease, or whether it is an innocent bystander.

But they say their finding adds to evidence that viruses may be linked with the debilitating condition. (Reuters)


Vitamin D tied to cancer, autoimmune disease genes

LONDON - Scientists have found that vitamin D influences more than 200 genes, including ones related to cancer and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis -- a discovery that shows how serious vitamin D deficiency can be.

Worldwide, an estimated one billion people are deficient in vitamin D, and a team of scientists from Britain and Canada said health authorities should consider recommending supplements for those at greatest risk.

"Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health," said Andreas Heger of the Functional Genomics Unit at Britain's Oxford University, who led the study.

Vitamin D affects our DNA through something called the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which binds to specific locations of the human genome. Heger's team mapped out these points and identified more than 200 genes that it directly influences.

Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known risk factor for rickets, and some evidence suggests it may increase susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia. (Reuters)


Radiologists call for curbs on overuse of imaging

CHICAGO - Doctors are ordering too many unnecessary imaging tests, raising the cost of healthcare and exposing patients to excess amounts of radiation, imaging experts said on Tuesday.

They said many doctors order tests that will not find the cause of their patients' complaints. But better communication among doctors and providing physicians with decision-making technology could cut down on unnecessary tests.

"In most cases, an imaging procedure enhances the accuracy of a diagnosis or guides a medical treatment and is fully justified, because it benefits the patient," William R. Hendee of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, whose report appears in the journal Radiology, said in a statement.

"But some imaging procedures are not justified, because they are unnecessary for the patient's care. These are the uses of imaging that we, as medical physicists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and educators, are trying to identify and eliminate."

The paper represents the best ideas from a two-day summit representing more than 60 organizations involved in medical imaging. (Reuters)


Simply propaganda: Acid Rain 30 Years On

Just over 30 years ago, a skeptical Daniel Patrick Moynihan persuaded his Senate colleagues to approve a major study to see whether a relatively unknown phenomenon called acid rain was worth worrying about. The study, completed in 1990, showed that pollution blowing eastward from coal-fired power plants was killing off aquatic life. One-quarter of the Adirondacks’ 3,000 lakes and streams had become too acidic to support fish life, or were headed that way.

Mr. Moynihan became a believer. And the study helped usher in two decades worth of laws and regulations — most important, the 1990 Clean Air Act — requiring major reductions in power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide. Evidence suggests that in the last decade pollution levels have dropped and that streams, lakes and forests have rebounded. (NYT)

The claims about "acid rain" were wrong and while it is nice to have the clearest practicable air we should not be misdirecting effort. After all the "acid rain" hysteria, what was the final upshot?

"British acid rain helps our trees, says Norway

By Julian Isherwood, Scandinavia Correspondent
Published: 12:01AM BST 03 Aug 2002

British acid rain is good for Norway's trees, says a Norwegian scientific study.

It wipes out damage caused by pollution from local industry and has helped the country's forests spread by a quarter in recent decades.

The report, by the state-run Norwegian forestry research institute, says that acid rain has been unfairly demonised.

Svein Solberg, of the institute, said: "After 15 years' research, it is now clear to us that, as far as forests are concerned, our fear of acid rain was totally unfounded.

"What we have found is that Norwegian forests have had a growth rate of some 25 per cent over the past 15 years and that acid rain is the reason."

The disclosure will severely embarrass the Norwegian environment ministry, which for at least 20 years has not missed an opportunity to take Britain to task over trans-border pollution.


New York most bedbug infested U.S. city - survey

PHILADELPHIA - New York has more unwanted nocturnal guests than other urban areas and has been named the most bedbug infested city in the United States.

It surpassed Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago, which rounded out the top five cities, according to extermination company Terminix, which compiled the list based on call volume to its offices around the country so far this year. (Reuters Life!)

Part of this problem is due to travel but much traces to reduction in the use of effective and persistent pesticides. Got bedbugs? Thank a greenie.


Normalized Earthquake Damages

Following an earlier post, I have received several email queries about global trends in earthquake damages, and how they compare with those related to weather, prompting this post.

The figure above, from my colleague here at the University of Colorado, geologist Roger Bilham, shows a very similar story to that observed with respect to normalizations of weather-related losses.  Specifically, while the aggregate number of deaths related to earthquakes has increased dramatically in recent decades (red bars), over the long-term, there has been no trend in deaths after normalizing for population growth (black line). (Note how one might arrive at a different conclusion using a short time period starting in 1980.)

Last February, Bilham had an excellent essay in Nature (PDF) on the lessons from the Haiti earthquake.   And his Mallet-Milne lecture, published last year (PDF), should be required reading.  In it he asks:

. . . why the knowledge of 9,000 years of city collapse in earthquakes, and a known cumulative death toll of more than 10 million people, has not led to safer construction everywhere.
In his paper he explains that large earthquake disasters are relatively concentrated in a small part of the Earth's surface:
[T]he odds of a city being damaged by an earthquake are not evenly distributed on our planet (McGuire 2004; Dilley 2005). Twelve percent of all fatal earthquakes are found along the margins of the eastern Pacific, and fully 85% of the world’s earthquake fatalities have occurred in the Alpine/Himalayan collision belt between western Europe and eastern Asia. This comparison is based on earthquakes since 1570, i.e. since the earliest historically recorded earthquakes in the Americas. Since then roughly 1,100 people have died in earthquakes each year in the western Americas and Carribean, compared to 8,900/year along the southern edge of the Eurasian plate. This concentration of most of the world’s fatal earthquakes occurs in less than 12% of Earth’s surface area—a 150◦ longitude band between London and Tokyo, between the equator and 45◦N.
Bilham explains that the world still has a long way to go to adapt to the known threat of earthquakes:
[W]e still live in a world where deaths are expected to accompany large earthquakes near cities. Within 30min of a damaging earthquake we can quantify the number of fatalities and injuries anticipated in settlements surrounding the epicentre, before news of actual deaths are known on the ground. That this is possible admits that we have a problem in our cities that needs to be fixed. The time to have undertaken this fix was in the era of construction that started in about 1950.We have a further 30 years left in this global building boom, but it is unlikely that earthquake resistance will occur where the structures are going up most rapidly. The focus of earthquake resistance efforts should clearly be in the places where fatalities have been historically the worst—in the western Americas and in the Alpine/Himalayan/Indonesian collision belt. Given the present recession of world economies, the cost of the fix is likely to prevent the expenditure of funds where it matters most, at a time when it matters most. This suggests that urban populations will continue to be killed by earthquakes in the foreseeable future, and in greater numbers than in the documented past.
The story is similar when looking at economic damage in the United States, as the figure below shows.
That figure shows normalized damages in the US 1900 to 2005 from Vranes and Pielke (2008, PDF).  Such a long-term damage record is not available globally.


Bilham, R., 2009. The Seismic Future of Cities, Twelth Annual Mallet-Milne Lecture., Bull. Earthquake. Engineering, 1-49, 10.1007/s10518-009-9147-0

Bilham, R. 2010. Lessons from the Haiti earthquake, Nature 463, 878-879 (18 February 2010) doi:10.1038/463878a

Vranes, K., and R. A. Pielke, Jr. 2009. Normalized Earthquake Damage and Fatalities in the United States: 1900 - 2005. Natural Hazards Review 84-101, doi: 10.1061/ASCE1527-6988200910:384 (Roger Pielke Jr.)



Climate Change Lawsuits Heat Up, Led By An End Run In Connecticut

While the United States Senate tries to decide what to do about proposed global warming legislation (the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act), Connecticut's attorney general and Democratic nominee for the Senate, Richard Blumenthal, is working to get courts to declare "cap and trade" regulations the law of the land.

Blumenthal's suit, Connecticut v. American Electric Power, is the most prominent of a handful of "climate change" lawsuits filed by environmental activists, state attorneys general and trial lawyers. These suits threaten to impose a steep tax on the American economy, with no input from our national elected representatives. (James R. Copland, IBD)


Will Cap and Trade Put Mom and Dad on an Allowance?

Perhaps you have never considered becoming a solar panel installer.

But passage of cap and trade legislation, now stalled but not dead, would mean that many working Americans, now productively employed in the manufacturing sector, could find themselves learning to install solar panels—at taxpayer expense.

Should the Democrats breathe new life into cap and trade, nobody knows exactly what form the legislation would take. Whatever form, however, good jobs will be lost. Families will be faced with the kind of demoralization that comes from underemployment or having the head of the household engaged in what essentially is paid busy work.

The Waxman-Markey bill, for example, the House version of cap and trade, accepts that layoffs are inevitable and simply tries to make them more palatable. A “climate change adjustment allowance” was included in the legislation. Any worker who is laid off because of cap and trade is eligible for the allowance. It will amount to 70 percent of what the worker was earning. And, if you think paying unemployment benefits for 99 weeks is bad, get ready for 156 weeks! (Charlotte Hays, Townhall)


PATTERSON: Al Gore's global-warming crusade shrinks

Eco-autocrats are exposed as frauds
By Matt Patterson 

Poor Al Gore. As if an im pending divorce and allegations of sexual misconduct from an Oregon masseuse weren't bad enough (he has since been cleared of wrongdoing), the apparent collapse of "cap-and-trade" legislation in the U.S. Senate has driven the former vice president to despair. (Washington Times)


Rent Seeking with Global Warming: From Enron to California AB 32

by Tom Tanton
August 24, 2010

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is a co-chair of the committee supporting the California citizens’ ballot initiative, Proposition to suspend California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).

The mainstream media has perpetuated a misperception that the Proposition 23 to suspend AB 32 is the work of, and funded by, sinsiter out-of-stater parties. That’s neither a real issue (what happens in California affects everybody) nor factually correct.

I can attest to the homegrown nature, having been involved for over four years—essentially since AB32 was first passed in 2006, as have others. The funding for opposition to the initiative has gotten very little attention by MSM, a phenomenon Mr. Coupal begins to correct in his featured column, reproduced below with permission, on the popular website FlashReport.

His editorial links Enron to regulating carbon dioxide (CO2). In fact, Enron had seven profit centers tied to pricing CO2 via cap-and-trade. Enron, as the following quotations attest, was vitally interested in what became AB 32. Here is some history of Enron, climate alarmism, and CO2 regulation (prominently including cap-and-trade):

“Since 1976, Enron [and predecessor company] employees have been at the forefront of developing air credit trading policies for governments and businesses…. Enron today is the largest and most sophisticated air emissions credit and allowance trading organization in the United States. Since 1990, Enron has participated in over 80 SOx allowance transactions and has also been active in establishing policies for trading NOx in the United States and carbon [dioxide] world-wide.”

- “Enron Corp.’s Participation in Air Trading,” Enron Capital & Trade Resources, November 4, 1996 (copy in files).

“If implemented, [the Kyoto Protocol] will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative…. The endorsement of [CO2] emissions trading was another victory for us…. This agreement will be good for Enron stock!”

- John Palmisano (December 12, 1997) from Kyoto, Japan. Quoted in Bradley, Capitalism at Work, p. 307.

“We are a green company, but the green stands for money.”

- Jeff Skilling, CEO, Enron Corp., quoted in Capitalism at Work, p. 310.

Jon Coupal is quite Californian and quiet critical of AB32. His article is thus reprinted in full. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Texas Response to EPA "Tailoring Rule" for Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Written by Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D and Greg Abbott

Dear Administrators Jackson and Armendariz,

In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency's recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations - regulations that are plainly contrary to United State Law. 75 Fed. Reg. 31,514, 31,525 & 31,582 (June 3, 2010) (hereinafter, the "Tailoring Rule"). To encourage acquiescence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcement authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more... (SPPI)


China, India, Indonesia, Brazil Can’t Estimate Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions—Latest Figures are From 1994

Even as the Obama administration seeks to negotiate an international treaty to cap manmade greenhouse gas emissions, many of the world’s most egregious producers of greenhouse gasses cannot accurately estimate how much gas they currently emit, according to a recent report from Government Accountability Office.

The GAO examined the greenhouse-gas-emission estimates made by seven developed countries listed as “Annex I” nations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and seven developing countries listed as “non-Annex I” nations (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and South Korea) under the framework. The study found that the lack of accurate data and reporting on greenhouse-gas emissions from non-Annex I nations complicates the efforts for global climate policies.

“High quality and comparable information on national greenhouse gas emissions is critical to designing and implementing international responses to climate change,” said the GAO. “We found that the inventories from seven selected high emitting non-Annex I nations were generally outdated, not comparable, and of lower quality than inventories from Annex I nations. The existing gap in quality and comparability of inventories across developed and developing nations makes it more difficult to establish and monitor international agreements, since actions by both developed and developing nations will be necessary to address climate change under future international agreements."

Even Great Britain, an Annex I country, can only estimate its greenhouse-gas emissions within a margin of error (or an “uncertainty” estimate, as the report calls it) of 13 percent, said the GAO.

Russia, also an Annex I country, can only estimate its greenhouse gas emissions within a margin of error of 40 percent.

Yet Great Britain and Russia did much better than most of the seven non-Annex I countries whose greenhouse-gas-emission estimates were reviewed by the GAO. (


<GUFFAW!> Analysis: Australia's "Green" Poll May Accelerate Climate Action

Australia could accelerate action on climate change, possibly resurrecting an emissions trading scheme, after independent and Greens MPs won the balance of power in elections that left a hung parliament.

Businesses like power retailer AGL and leading electricity provider Origin Energy have repeatedly said they need regulatory clarity on carbon pricing as they look to invest billions of dollars in energy infrastructure.

Now a deadlock that saw emissions trading laws stall in parliament in April could be broken.

"The election outcome could help pull Australia's pollution politics out of the quagmire of scare campaigns, paranoia and deception from the major parties and big polluters," John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute, said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Saturday's elections did see one (or two) Greens elected to the Lower House, giving them a power base of... one (or two). They did better in the Senate (where Australia has an absurd proportional quota system which gives assorted fringe-dwellers and other lunatics a disproportionate voice). Current State Senator's terms do not expire until next June, however, so the new batch of Tinkerbells (9, including those already there) can cause no mischief before then, by which time Australians will either be headed back to or have already been to the polls once more to vote for a majority government. The possibility of Australia having a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme before then is effectively nil and absolutely zero after.

Note well that it was the intention to impose an emissions trading scheme under the absurd misnomer of the "carbon pollution reduction scheme" that caused replacement of the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull (disparagingly known as the Member for Goldman Sachs) December 1st last year, along with the self-aggrandizing but largely harmless first-term Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, on June 24 of this year and then Australia's first woman Prime Minister a mere 58 days after she replaced him. Australians have had a busy 263 days of politics, all to make sure the is no carbon constraint, trade or tax of any description.

The last time a first-term Government was dumped in Australia was in 1931 so you can see how severely Aussies soured on the idea of appeasing the Green Gods of a minority sect by paying massively for energy at every use. Australia is a world-leading coal exporter whose energy supply is basically coal-fired and it will remain so for the foreseeable future.


On Australia's potential minority government: Independents wobble before winds of climate change

The three independent amigos of the House of Representatives plus their new best friend from the Greens have made a New Age pitch for a multi-party, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional approach to politics, all consensus, co-operation and listening to the people.

But when asked for their position on the most significant issue which divided the old Parliament, climate change, it became clear the new spirit of consensus does not mean instant agreement on complex policy issues among this unlikely gang of four, let alone all 150 lower house MPs. (SMH)


Ruling on global warming professor coming

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A ruling is expected in a week on a demand by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli that the University of Virginia release research records of a well-known climate change researcher, according to The New York Times.

Cuccinelli has demanded that the university produce information relating to grant applications by Michael E. Mann, who the Times calls a "prominent climate scientist." It was Mann who produced the widely publicized "hockey stick" graph showing a sharp increase in global average temperatures in the industrial age. (Legal Newsline)


Corruption for dinner anyone? The Carbon Market Scandal

All round the world thousands of greenonomists recommend a “free market solution” to our so called pollution problem. But as I keep saying: this “free market” isn’t free. It’s a pale pathetic imitation: a “managed market”.

In Europe, if a factory produces CO2 (what factory doesn’t?) it can pay people in China and India to not produce an-equivalent-amount-of-CO2. Sounds sort of fine in intent except that paying people to not do something they were-going-to-do depends on knowing the future (and reminds us of a process known as extortion). That’s loophole number one. Officially it’s called “additionality”, which is a fancy way of saying people wouldn’t do something-in-particular to reduce emissions unless they got paid in carbon credits.

The Chinese and Indians, not being stupid, immediately gamed the system. Why wouldn’t they?

The irony of unintended consequences. Here’s how it goes:

  1. HFC-23 is the godfather of greenhouse gases: it’s 11,700 times as powerful at warming as CO2 is.
  2. The chemical makers are paid as much as $100,000 in carbon credits  for every ton they destroy…
  3. Suddenly making-and-then-destroying HFC-23 is very valuable business, so people rush to fill this “demand”.
  4. HFC-23 is a byproduct of the process of making HCFC-22 (a refrigerant that’s made, as it happens, to satisfy UN treaty about reducing ozone.) Because HFC-23 is now far more valuable, the HCFC-22 becomes the byproduct, and it’s being overproduced).
  5. Here’s the catch: HCFC-22 is itself a greenhouse gas… “the global warming impact of the HCFC-22 production… is five times higher than that of the HFC-23 itself, due to the high volume of HCFC-22 produced”. [Source link]

To put it in perspective: In 2009 European installations surrendered 46 million HFC-23 CERs, worth an estimated €550 million. These CERs constitute the majority of offsets used by European companies (59% in 2009). [Source] More » (Jo Nova)


Cameron's Spokesman: 'Morano is not at Cameron's level to debate, and that's why it didn't happen. Cameron should be debating someone who is similar to his stature in our society'

Morano: 'Cameron let his friends in the environmental community spook him out of this debate. When he was warned that he was probably going to lose and lose badly, he ran like a scared mouse.' (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


James Cameron should have debated Marc Morano

Apparently Joe Romm advised James Cameron not to debate climate skeptic Marc Morano. Which just proves that Joe Romm is capable of being as stupid with the rich and famous as he is with his regular readers.

Romm has apparently noticed that skeptics tend to win debates regarding climate change. This is pretty natural, as skeptics have the easier task--it's easier to poke holes in a new theory than defend it.

Those debates that have made it onto the internet--and there are several--have shown that a well-prepared skeptic can not only win the debate, but also change the opinions of those attending it. (Thomas Fuller, Examiner)


James Cameron: Gunslinger

By Jim Treacher, Daily Caller


Submissions to the InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

Written by Gordon Hughes, Ross McKitrick and David Henderson

I am writing because I have accumulated a lot of experience of economic work on climate change over the last two decades that is, I believe, relevant to the review being undertaken by the InterAcademy Council. Originally I joined the World Bank to serve as a co-author of the World Development Report on Environment and Development published in 1992. In particular, another member of the team and I were responsible for writing Chapter 8 on Global Environmental Issues, which provided one of the earliest quasi-official reviews of the economics of climate change. Since 1992 I have directed or participated in a large number of studies that have examined economic issues surrounding climate change at national, regional and global levels. In particular, I would highlight three major groups of studies:

Read more... (SPPI)


Climate Totschweigentaktik

by Paul Goard
August 24, 2010

Shelley Gare’s Quadrant essay “Death by Silence in the Writers’ Combat Zone” and her online audio conversation with Keith Windschuttle told me that the Totschweigentaktik, this same “tactic” – to use the English word – is as used by other groups wishing to push a particular agenda. 

When first seeing the word and having studied German at school many years ago, I reached for my German-English dictionary to find its origins. 

Although the translation of the verb “totschweigen” is given as “to be silent, to hush up,” and hence to “ignore,” it describes, as in the literary world, the tactics used to prevent the person targeted from expressing his or her opinion and to kill their book and reputation. 

This immediately took my line of thinking to the methods used by the alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming (AWG) people to prevent those who reach different conclusions – often called Sceptics – having any say in the matter or having their work published. The Climategate files revealed how they operated and the methods used, confirming the suspicions of many who came into conflict with them. Again showing up the closed minds of many who try to gain political control at many levels. 

In her article, Shelley Gare make reference to “a famous maxim which is sometimes attributed to the American philosopher William James, and I’ve also seen a version attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. It describes how unwelcome ideas, and their proponents, are treated: ‘First they ignore you; then they mock you; then they attack you viciously. Finally they say, oh we knew that all along.’" 

When delving into the Climategate material I found PDF files of promotional pamphlets prepared by a communications agency intended to help UK government departments influence public debate. One of them with the title The Rules of the Game sets out a broad plan with “Recommendations to the Climate Change Communications Working Group ... Evidence base for the Climate Change Communications Strategy ... The game is communicating climate change; the rules will help us win it.” (Quadrant)


Further Information On Tree Ring Proxy Data – A Research Paper García-Suárez Et Al 2009

In response to the post

Comment On Tree Ring Proxy Data and Thermometer Type Surface Temperature Anomalies And Trends

we have been alerted to an interesting paper on tree ring proxy data (h/t to Erik W!).

The paper is

García-Suárez et al, 2009: Climate signal in tree-ring chronologies in a temperate climate: A multi-species approach. Dendrochronologia 27 (2009)183–198

and the abstract reads

“Tree-rings can provide continuous yearly paleoclimatic records for regions or periods of time with no instrumental climate data. However, different species respond to different climate parameters with, for example, some sensitive to moisture and others to temperature. Here, we describe four common species growing in Northern Ireland and their suitability for climate reconstruction.

Our results suggest that beech and ash are the most sensitive to climate, with tree-ring widths more strongly influenced by precipitation and soil moisture in early summer than by temperature or sunshine. Oak is also sensitive to summer rainfall, whereas Scots pine is sensitive to maximum temperature and the soil temperature.

 We find that the moisture-related parameters, rainfall and the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), and to a lesser extent, maximum and mean temperatures, can be reconstructed. Reconstructions of climate parameters with tree-rings as proxies may be relatively stable for some seasons such as May–July. We find that combinations of species are more successful in reconstructing climate than single species.”

The conclusion has the text

“When reconstructing past climate from tree-rings (e.g. the amplitude of the Little Ice Age or Medieval Warm Period), it is important to appreciate that these reconstructions are conservative as they only contain a part of the true climate signal.”

(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


BP Aftermath Fuels Skepticism Over Global Warming Impact

By: David A. Patten

President Barack Obama called it "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." 

Experts warned the plume of BP oil would create a "dead zone," killing all marine life in its path. 

Some researchers even predicted that methane gas bubbling up from the sea floor would accelerate global warming.

Today, about five weeks after the flow of oil from the well was stopped, the doomsday scenarios associated with the Deepwater Horizon blowout all appear less and less likely with each passing day – despite the staggering 4.1 million barrels of oil that were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, it will be some time before the ultimate impact of the BP oil spill is fully understood. But many conservative climate specialists are already pointing to the spill's aftermath, suggesting it shows that the Earth is far more resilient and adaptable than most experts recognize.

Indeed, they see the spill aftermath as a case study indicating the drastic climate-change scenarios, such as those presented in former Vice President Al Gore's film “Inconvenient Truth,” are probably way overblown. 

"Global warming is one prediction of doom after another," Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, tells Newsmax. "You know, we're all going to get malaria, or there will be hurricanes and tornadoes everywhere, or sea levels will rise drastically in a short period of time. It's just one claim of doom right around the corner after another." 

The largest oil spill in U.S. history hasn't brought environmental Armageddon. So perhaps fears about global warming have been overblown as well, the thinking goes. (Newsmax)


UF study shows carnivore species shrank during global warming event

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study indicates extinct carnivorous mammals shrank in size during a global warming event that occurred 55 million years ago.

The study, scheduled to appear in the December print edition of the Journal of Mammalian Evolution and now available online, describes a new species that evolved to half the size of its ancestors during this period of global warming.

The hyena-like animal, Palaeonictis wingi, evolved from the size of a bear to the size of a coyote during a 200,000-year period when Earth’s average temperature increased about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Following this global warming event, Earth’s temperature cooled and the animal evolved to a larger size.

“We know that plant-eating mammals got smaller during the earliest Eocene when global warming occurred, possibly associated with elevated levels of carbon dioxide,” said lead author Stephen Chester, a Yale University doctoral student who began the research at UF with Jonathan Bloch, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “Surprisingly, this study shows that the same thing happened in some carnivores, suggesting that other factors may have played a critical role in their evolution.” (UF)


Always assuming enhanced greenhouse is actually a problem: Geoengineering won't curb sea-level rise

Space mirrors and 'volcanic' blasts are not an easy fix for the rise in sea levels.

Unless they involve extreme measures, geoengineering approaches to offset the effects of human-driven climate changes won't do much to combat rising sea levels, an international team of scientists reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

That is because sea levels respond slowly to changes in Earth's temperature, says John Moore, a palaeoclimatologist at Beijing Normal University and lead author of the study.

"We've got this 150-year legacy of fossil-fuel [burning], land-use changes, et cetera," he says. "You can't just slam on the brakes instantaneously." (Richard Lovett, Nature News)


From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 34: 25 August 2010

The Water Requirements of Biofuels: They are simply too much for the biosphere to bear.

Subject Index Summary:
Ocean Acidification (Effects on Marine Animals: Shellfish): Will the shells of shellfish dissolve away in a high-CO2 world of the future?

Journal Reviews:
Some Facts About Corals and Calcification: ... and how they may be impacted by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration.

Carbonate Chemistry Effects on Coral Calcification Rates: Our imperfect knowledge of the biological component of calcification in corals and related organisms is hampering our ability to properly analyze the effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on this important process.

Interactive Effects of Nutrients and CO2 Concentration on Coral Calcification: Are they positive or negative? ... or both????

Effects of Ocean Warming and Acidification on Sea Urchin Larvae: How hard might they be hit by the awesome double whammy?

The Fate of Juvenile Sea Stars in an "Acidified" Ocean: How bad could it be? Not bad at all, apparently.

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Candle Anemone (Crous et al., 2010), Gum Arabic Tree (Kgope et al., 2010), Stiff Goldenrod (Crous et al., 2010), and Sweet Thorn (Kgope et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 863 individual scientists from 513 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from the Khibiny Mountains, Kola Peninsula, Northwest Russia. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (


Microbes Ate BP Oil Deep-Water Plume: Study

A Manhattan-sized plume of oil spewed deep into the Gulf of Mexico by BP's broken Macondo well has been consumed by a newly discovered fast-eating species of microbes, scientists reported on Tuesday.

The micro-organisms were apparently stimulated by the massive oil spill that began in April, and they degraded the hydrocarbons so efficiently that the plume is now undetectable, said Terry Hazen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

These so-called proteobacteria -- Hazen calls them "bugs" -- have adapted to the cold deep water where the big BP plume was observed and are able to biodegrade hydrocarbons much more quickly than expected, without significantly depleting oxygen as most known oil-depleting bacteria do.

Oxygen is essential to the survival of commercially important fish and shellfish; a seasonal low-oxygen "dead zone" forms most summers in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by farm chemical run-off that flows down the Mississippi River.

Hydrocarbons in the crude oil from the BP spill actually stimulated the new microbes' ability to degrade them in cold water, Hazen and his colleagues wrote in research published on Tuesday in the journal Science.

In part, Hazen said, this is because these new "bugs" have adjusted over millions of years to seek out any petroleum they can find at the depths where they live, which coincides with the depth of the previously observed plume, roughly 3000 feet. At that depth, water temperature is approximately 41 degrees F (5 degrees C).

Long before humans drilled for oil, natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico have put out the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill each year, Hazen said. (Reuters)


Poland's Power Plans Worry Environmentalists

Poland's plans to give away tens of millions of carbon emissions permits to new power stations are drawing criticism from environmentalists, but the European Union's climate chief says she is not worried.

The disagreement highlights Poland's problems in aligning its high-carbon economy with the EU's ambitions to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and heavy industry.

Environmental campaigners WWF estimate that Poland's power stations would probably get free permits for 33.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year on average, close to the entire annual emissions of countries such as Norway or Slovakia.

"Poland's plans, if realized, would amount to billions of euros in subsidies for new power plants, locking more coal into the Polish energy mix for decades," said WWF campaigner Mark Johnston.

"If this deal goes ahead, Europe's coherence on climate would take another blow," he said. (Reuters)


Hmm... Can the world be powered mainly by solar and wind energy?

BOSTON, Aug. 24, 2010 — Continuous research and development of alternative energy could soon lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth's dominant contributor of energy, a Nobel laureate said here today at a special symposium at the American Chemical Society's 240th National Meeting. (American Chemical Society)

Bear with me a moment.

Say you reengineer the world's energy supply such that you are largely reliant on solar and wind for a significant chunk of your electricity supply -- what is your plan B in the event of another Tambora-like volcanic eruption?

What do you do in the event of a year without a summer?

Solar power generation, water heating and even lighting tend not to work so well with 10/10ths cloud and precipitation. How well would wind farms work if the tropical heat engine powers down and you have a lesser temperature gradient between the tropics and the poles? Current wind farm locations will surely not be ideal as winds slow and patterns change to suit the new conditions, however temporarily.

Just what is the plan B for the inevitable months-to-years-long interruptions to passive power supplies when major volcanoes have their say? Do you shut down domestic supplies and tell consumers not to worry, that normal services will be resumed in a few years? Or maybe you cut a large portion of industrial supplies -- that won't hurt the economy, will it?

What's the plan B for an energy supply nature can turn off at whim?


Wind Power Won't Cool Down the Planet

Often enough it leads to higher carbon emissions.

The wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the claim that it will provide major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There's just one problem: It's not true. A slew of recent studies show that wind-generated electricity likely won't result in any reduction in carbon emissions—or that they'll be so small as to be almost meaningless.

This issue is especially important now that states are mandating that utilities produce arbitrary amounts of their electricity from renewable sources. By 2020, for example, California will require utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewables. About 30 states, including Connecticut, Minnesota and Hawaii, are requiring major increases in the production of renewable electricity over the coming years.

Wind—not solar or geothermal sources—must provide most of this electricity. It's the only renewable source that can rapidly scale up to meet the requirements of the mandates. This means billions more in taxpayer subsidies for the wind industry and higher electricity costs for consumers.

None of it will lead to major cuts in carbon emissions, for two reasons. First, wind blows only intermittently and variably. Second, wind-generated electricity largely displaces power produced by natural gas-fired generators, rather than that from plants burning more carbon-intensive coal. (Robert Bryce, WSJ)


Exclusive: Will wind farms pick up the tab for new nuclear?

Wind farm developers fear National Grid proposals designed to accommodate nuclear power plants will lead to a huge increase in backup costs

Wind farm operators could see their overheads increase by millions of pounds a year as a direct result of plans to upgrade and reinforce the grid to cope with a new fleet of nuclear reactors.

A number of renewable energy developers are angry at National Grid's decision to retain the current charging regime it operates for providing backup power, despite the fact costs are expected to soar when new nuclear power plants come online towards the end of the decade.

National Grid released a consultation document in June detailing how the proposed development of six nuclear power stations would require the grid operator to increase the amount of backup power, known as "spinning reserve", that it has available to call on in the event of a large power plant failing, from 1,320MW to 1,800MW.

The company estimated that as a result, the annual cost of providing so-called Large Loss Response will rise from £160m a year to £319m. (James Murray, BusinessGreen)


Germany's Merkel Rejects Calls To Drop Nuclear Tax

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday dismissed calls by business leaders to drop plans for a nuclear tax, saying threats usually backfired.

"It's like this with me: if anything seems like a threat or blackmail, then that usually leads me to go in the opposite direction," Merkel said in a video-interview with media group madsack published on Tuesday.

"I also don't believe I owe anything to a specific group of the society but as chancellor I have to be responsible for everyone in Germany," she added. (Reuters)


Brazil Taps Small Farmers For Biofuels Campaign

With its biofuels business increasingly dominated by giant corporations, Brazil is seeking to extend its biofuels sector to include farmers like Lucas Scariot, who makes around $10,000 per year from selling grain.

For the past three years, Scariot has sold soy beans at a premium over market prices to a biofuels company under a government program aimed at supporting small farms and creating jobs in the countryside while cutting fuel imports.

This year Scariot planted canola for the first time in a field he usually leaves fallow during the winter, diversifying the region's soy-dependent agricultural base and providing a new raw material for local biodiesel production.

"It's good for the farmer because it gives us additional value for our crops," said Scariot, a 22-year-old farmer and agronomy student who along with his father works 20 hectares -- equal to about nine Manhattan city blocks -- of verdant and hilly land in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

"And now we have incentives for new crops, because people are always talking about soy, soy, soy. We can't just depend on that," said Scariot, who also raises pigs and chickens at his farm house.

The program is meant to boost production of biodiesel, which can be used in heavy vehicles like trucks, and reduce diesel imports the way the 30-year sugar cane ethanol program has cut the use of motor gasoline. (Reuters)



Has ObamaCare’s Unpopularity Caused ‘Abject Panic at the White House’?

Politico has obtained and published a confidential messaging-strategy presentation that essentially admits ObamaCare supporters are losing the battle for public opinion.  The presentation was delivered to professional leftists by the left-wing Herndon Alliance, based on public opinion research by Democratic pollsters John Anzalone, Celinda Lake, and Stan Greenberg, in a forum organized by the left-wing group Families USA,  “one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation.”  It is a stark admission that the public has not warmed to the new health care law, despite predictions that they would do so. (Cato at liberty)


Water ionizers

My latest HND entry includes a brief look at water ionizers. These devices apply electrolysis to tap water, yielding so-called alkaline and acidic water. Many health claims are proffered for alkaline water, although they seem to run contrary to basic human biochemistry. Ultimately, the choice is up to the individual. Good uses are also promoted for the acidic water, although it is normally not taken internally.

Bear in mind that within conventional allopathic medicine, the exact mechanism of action of perhaps the majority of pharmaceutical drugs is not well understood. And, substances which should have no effect or sometimes even harmful effects can become well-accepted as legitimate therapies. Indeed, the deadly botulism toxin, was reborn as Botox.

It should also be noted that several drugs—including some of the most popular such as statins—do not actually make any true therapeutic claims, per se. Rather, they are FDA approved because they "optimize" the concentrations of certain blood components. The optimum concentrations are widely assumed to offer health benefits, but in point of fact, this has hardly ever been proven.

As you can see, this "logic" is not terribly different from individuals claiming therapeutic benefits for water treated in a particular manner.

The piece gives some coverage to one company in the ionizer space that really tries to do things right, and has compiled more test results on more ionizers than just about anyone else.

Read the complete article. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Revealed: how vitamin D can protect us from cancer

Scientists discover how substance controls actions of genes

Vitamin D protects the body against a range of serious illnesses by binding to the DNA of the body's cells and directly controlling the genes implicated in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer, a study suggests.

It is the first time that scientists have found direct evidence to suggest that the "sunshine vitamin", which is made by the skin in the presence of sunlight, directly controls a network of genes linked with a wide variety of serious disorders.

Although previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with a growing list of illnesses, especially the autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type-1 diabetes, until now scientists have not been able to show how it could trigger so many different disorders. (Independent)


Body clock mouse study suggests new drug potential

LONDON - Scientists have used experimental drugs being developed by Pfizer to reset and restart the body clock of mice in a lab and say their work may offer clues on a range of human disorders, from jetlag to bipolar disorder.

The drugs, which are not yet available in a form suitable for humans and could take many years to develop into human medicines, work by altering the activity of an enzyme which helps set the speed of the body clock.

Researchers say they could potentially restore rhythms in people whose body clocks are messed up by shift work, or in psychiatric disorders like depression, and may even have implications for metabolic problems such as obesity.

"We've discovered that we can control one of the key molecules involved in setting the speed at which the clock ticks and in doing so we can actually kick it into a new rhythm," said Andrew Loudon of Britain's Manchester University, who worked on the study with scientists backed by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) and others from the U.S. drugs giant Pfizer. (Reuters)


Experts find gene variants for stomach cancer

HONG KONG - Scientists have identified genetic mutations that appear to be associated with both esophageal and stomach cancer in two studies in China, suggesting they may share similar triggers.

This finding adds to the understanding of how these cancers develop and may help in the hunt for cures.

In the first study, Chinese researchers analyzed genes of 9,053 patients with esophageal cancer and 2,766 with stomach cancer. The research also included a smaller number of esophageal cancer patients of Uighur-Kazakh descent.

Two mutations -- PLCE1 at location 10q23 and C20orf54 at location 20p13 -- showed up consistently in all these patients, the researchers wrote in a paper published in Nature Genetics on Monday.

"These results show that genetic variations at 10q23 and 20p13 contribute significantly to risk for esophageal cancer and (stomach) cancer in Chinese Han and Uighur-Kazakh populations," wrote the researchers, led by Li-Dong Wang at the Xinxiang Medical University in China's central Henan province. (Reuters)


Kudzu extract may treat cocaine addiction: study

WASHINGTON - An extract of the kudzu vine being developed to treat alcoholism may also help treat cocaine addiction, researchers at Gilead Sciences Inc reported on Sunday.

Tests on rats showed the drug could stop them from giving themselves cocaine, the Gilead team reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Gilead inherited the experimental drug last year when it acquired CV Therapeutics Inc. A spokesman for the company said it was working to try to bring the drug to market.

"There is no effective treatment for cocaine addiction despite extensive knowledge of the neurobiology of drug addiction," wrote Lina Yao, Ivan Diamond and colleagues. (Reuters)


Does Driving Cause Obesity?

People are significantly fatter in countries, states, and cities where car use is more common. Mass transit use, on the other hand, is correlated with lower obesity. But there has been scant evidence that public transportation actually causes widespread weight loss — until now. A study of residents in Charlotte, N.C., found that users of the city’s new light rail system were 81 percent less likely to become obese, and reduced their Body Mass Index by an average 1.18 points — the equivalent of 6.45 pounds for a person 5’5″ tall. The study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (NYT)


Genes May Overpower Diet in Battle of the Bulge

Weight gain is not just the result of an overly rich diet or genes that predispose someone to store fat, mounting research suggests. Rather, studies implicate a third, and more complex, factor – the interaction between our genes and what we eat. (Live Science)


Imported Foods Raise Obesity, Health Issues for Pacific Islanders

The World Health Organization says obesity rates are rising in Pacific island countries. So, too, are health problems linked to being overweight.

The WHO says a major reason for the rising obesity rates is an increase in imported foods. It says many Pacific islanders have replaced their traditional diets of vegetables and fruits with imported processed foods. (VoA News)


Asparagus, garlic and artichokes 'could help fight obesity and diabetes'

Eating vegetables such as asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes could hold the key to fighting obesity and diabetes, researchers believe. 

Scientists are examining whether a diet rich in certain types of fibre can suppress hunger and improve the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. (TDT)


But wait! Water might do as well: Could Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?

People who drank two glasses prior to eating dropped more pounds, study found

MONDAY, Aug. 23 -- Close the diet books and skip the pills. The latest weight-loss trick may be as simple as gulping a couple of glasses of water before you eat.

A new study found that middle-aged and older adults who drank two cups of water before each meal consumed fewer calories and lost more weight than those who skipped drinking water. (HealthDay News)


They can't find a problem so there must be one: Ocean Garbage Patch Not Growing—Where's "Missing" Plastic?

At first, it seemed like good news: Measurements of the "garbage patch" in the Atlantic Ocean showed that the amount of plastic trash there hasn't increased over the past two decades.

Similar to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the North Atlantic garbage patch is somewhat like a region of plastic soup, although "soup implies you can see the vegetables," said study leader Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Instead, most of the Atlantic trash is in the form of tiny plastic bits—from bags and bottles blown off landfills or tossed into the sea—swirling in a still undefined region of open ocean hundreds of miles off the North American coast.

Law and colleagues recently analyzed data from the Atlantic garbage patch collected over the past 22 years and found that the concentration of stuff in the patch hasn't grown over time.

But even taking increased recycling rates into account, humans' plastic use over the past two decades has increased. So where has all the plastic gone? (National Geographic News)


Rate Reduction of Atrazine Could Have Same Effect As Ban

An EPA safety advisory panel continues the agency's re-review in September of the 50-year old herbicide, Atrazine. Corn growers fear EPA action could undermine record yields and global grain supplies. Kansas Corn Growers director and Triazine Network chair Jere White says some farmers might be able to withstand an EPA reduction in Atrazine application rates. But others might already be applying at or near the maximum allowable rate.

"As those rates decline the efficacy of the product for the weeds that farmers need to control also goes down, so different weeds came off the label," White said. "Certainly for a number of farmers any rate reduction would have the same impact of a cancellation or ban if you will." 

And banning Atrazine or using other, less effective herbicides, would mean sacrificing today's record yields, now at 165 bushels an acre.

"In the midst of that record corn yield is a growing number of acres of corn that was planted using conservation tillage, either no-till or minimum till, things like that," White said. "One of the top herbicides used in conservation tillage today and actually its use is increasing, is atrazine." (Nebraska Farmer)



Filmmaker Cameron, in Aspen, has harsh words for global warming skeptics

ASPEN — James Cameron doesn't mince words when talking about people who are skeptical that humans are causing global warming.

“I think they're swine,” the renowned filmmaker told an audience member Sunday on the final day of the American Renewable Energy Day summit in Aspen. (Aspen Times)


From King of the World to Chicken of the Sea: Director James Cameron challenges climate skeptics to debate and then bails out at last minute

Hide the Debate: Cameron ducks Climate Debate with Breitbart, Morano, & McElhinney

ASPEN COLORADO: Hollywood director James Cameron challenged three high profile global warming skeptics to a public debate at a global warming and energy conference. But Cameron backed out of the debate at the last minute after environmentalists "came out of the woodwork" to warn him not to engage in a debate with skeptics because it was not in his best interest.

Cameron challenged Andrew Breitbart, Climate Depot's Marc Morano and filmmaker Ann McElhinney of 'Not Evil Just Wrong.' The debate was already in the program for the Aspen American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit. The website program described the agreed to debate as “AREDAY Climate Change Debate: Reality or Fiction?"

After setting up the public global warming debate, Cameron and his negotiator then changed formats multiple times and initially said it would be open to the media and then said he would only participate if it was private with no recording devices. The skeptics agreed to all the changes. According to AREDAY organizers, activist Joseph Romm of Climate Progress urged Cameron not to go ahead with the debate as well. (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


James Cameron—King of Hypocrites

Last March James Cameron sounded defiant.

The Avatar director was determined to expose journalists, such as myself, who thought it was important to ask questions about climate change orthodoxy and the radical "solutions" being proposed.

Cameron said was itching to debate the issue and show skeptical journalists and scientists that they were wrong.

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads," he said in an interview.

Well, a few weeks ago Mr. Cameron seemed to honor his word.

His representatives contacted myself and two other well known skeptics, Marc Morano of the Climate Depot website and Andrew Breitbart, the new media entrepreneur. (Ann McElhinney, Not Evil Just Wrong)


Climate Depot's Presentation at Warmists' Summit Met By Hostile Interrupting Moderator and Crowd; Call for Morano to Kill Himself!

Global Warming Summit's Warm Welcome: Morano told to drive car into garage with engine running and then close the doors (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)


Friedman, Lovins wow crowd at Aspen AREDay |

Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is “bummed out” over America's lack of progress taking on climate change.
“I believe when we look back at the years 2008 and 2009, what historians will ultimately say was it was a moment when both the market and Mother Nature hit the wall,” he said. “It was a moment when both the market and Mother Nature said, ‘Stop, hold on, this is your warning heart attack. You are growing in a way that is unsustainable. Turn back now.'”

Takeway point: If your house is bigger than Tom Friedman's mansion (below), maybe you should consider a lifestyle change:

(Tom Nelson)


Secretary Clinton's Climate Con

In a disaster bigger than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 20 million Pakistanis have lost their homes in Pakistan’s worst flooding in 80 years... View Enlarged Image

Junk Science: Our secretary of state tells the world the devastating Pakistani floods are caused by man-made global warming as the U.N. plans to exploit the crisis to restart stalled climate talks. Repent, the end is near.

In an interview with Anwar Iqbal of Pakistan's Dawn TV posted on the State Department's Web site, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while discussing the Pakistani floods and American relief efforts, gratuitously said "having gone through Katrina and seeing what's happening around the world with the increase in the number of natural disasters and the extent of the damage that they're causing ... some people believe (they are) linked to global climate change."

When asked if this was her belief, Mrs. Clinton responded: "I think that there is a linkage. You can't point to any particular disaster and say, 'It was caused by ... .' But we are changing the climate of the world; we've seen that with the Russian forest fires ... ."

Pressed as to whether she thought there was a link between the Russian fires and the flood in Pakistan, Clinton, channeling Al Gore, said: "Not a direct link. But when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we're now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out."

Well, not exactly, according to Indur M. Goklany, a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation Academic Advisory Council and a researcher who's been associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception in 1988. Extreme weather events, he has found, have had a minor and declining role in global public health and deaths and death rates.

Based on 2000-08 data, extreme weather events are responsible for about 0.05% of all global deaths (31,700 deaths vs. 58.8 million, annually). That is, despite the media attention to such events, extreme weather has a minor impact on global public health. (IBD)


Crank of the Week - August 22, 2010 - Hillary Clinton

It was only a matter of time before American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to say something so preposterous that she would win the coveted Crank of the Week award. That day has come with her conflation of the tragic floods in Pakistan and global warming. In a move that aligns the Obama administration with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Secretary, using typical bureaucratic doublespeak, managed to say that the disastrous floods in Pakistan cannot be blamed on global warming while at the same time hinting that climate change was to blame. “You can’t point to any particular disaster and say, ‘it was caused by,’ but we are changing the climate of the world,” she said, in remarks labeled “nutty” by critics.

Clinton, in an interview with Pakistan’s Dawn TV, said that on top of the Pakistan floods, which have forced millions out of their homes, the forest fires in Russia are another example. After stating that there is no “direct link” between the disasters in Pakistan and Russia, Clinton did a verbal flip-flop, saying “when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.” (The Resilient Earth)



Churchville, VA—The death toll from recent “extreme weather events” has been sharply declining since the 1920s, as my valued colleague Indur Goklany has valorously pointed out. Air conditioning, flood control, earthquake proofing and better weather forecasting have all helped. Despite vast media coverage, extreme weather now causes only a half-percent of global deaths. A large part of the gains came through crop production increases using fossil-fueled industrial fertilizers and irrigation pumps. This meant the world had fossil-fueled food to share with countries suddenly caught by devastating (but short- term) drought or flood.

But Indur neglected one aspect of extreme weather events—the “little ice ages.” They are the flip side of the 1500-year warming cycle. The last one began in 1300 AD and ended in 1850, recent enough that many of our great-grandparents had to cope. We don’t know when the next one will come, perhaps not for another 300 years—but when it does, “Look out!” (CGFI)


Disaster Losses and Climate Change

[UPDATE: The NYT's Andy Revkin covers the new article here.]

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has just put online a review paper (peer reviewed) by Laurens Bouwer, of the Institute for Environmental Studies at  Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, titled, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?".

Readers of this blog already know the answer to this question, and here is Bouwers' conclusion:

The analysis of twenty-two disaster loss studies shows that economic losses from various weather related natural hazards, such as storms, tropical cyclones, floods, and small-scale weather events such as wildfires and hailstorms, have increased around the globe. The studies show no trends in losses, corrected for changes (increases) in population and capital at risk, that could be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. Therefore it can be concluded that anthropogenic climate change so far has not had a significant impact on losses from natural disasters.

Bouwers rightly acknowledges that there are uncertainties in such studies, and in particular, there will be a need to refine efforts to evaluate changing vulnerability and exposure in future such work, especially as the signal of greenhouse gas driven climate change is expected to become larger. However, such uncertainties are not presently so large as to undercut Bouwers' conclusion, e.g.,

A rigorous check on the potential introduction of bias from a failure to consider vulnerability reduction in normalization methods is to compare trends in geophysical variables with those in the normalized data. Normalized hurricane losses for instance match with variability in hurricane landfalls (Pielke et al. 2008). If vulnerability reduction would have resulted in a bias, it would show itself as a divergence between the geophysical and normalized loss data. In this case, the effects of vulnerability reduction apparently are not so large as to introduce a bias.

A pre-publication version of the paper is available here in PDF.

Bouwer, L.M. (in press). Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/2010BAMS3092.1. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


China’s Projected CO2 Emissions

P Gosselin 23. August 2010

In my last post I wrote about China’s aggressive, yet legitimate, expansion of its energy supply. I wonder what the western climate hand-wringers think about the following graphic? Will they ask China about this in Cancun?

China's projected CO2 emissions growth

My bet is that they’re going to ignore it and focus instead on USA’s and Europe’s emissions.

What I find particularly entertaining is that even if the USA did cut its CO2 emissions by 2o% by 2030 (to about 4.7 million tons annually), Chinese growth would wipe out the savings in just 1o years (2020) or less.

Germany wants to put its entire country through economic hardship to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020. That’s a drop of about 250 million tonnes. China’s growth would wipe out the alleged benefit of that in just a matter of months.

And if small countries like Canada, Australia,  Denmark or New Zealand all make their cuts, China’s emissions growth will offset their reductions in a matter of days or hours. (No Tricks Zone)


Supporters of Climate Camp action are 'useful idiots'

The campaign of criminal damage in Edinburgh is targeting companies engaged in decent, lawful and worthwhile activities, says Alan Cochrane.

The term “useful idiots”, most commonly attributed to Lenin to describe Soviet sympathisers in the West, has never been more appropriate this morning than in describing those who give public support to the hooligans causing criminal damage in Edinburgh in the cause, they claim, of averting climate change.

Supporting a malign cause in the mistaken belief that it is a force for good when common sense should suggest the opposite is a common feature of the deluded in our midst and nowhere is this better demonstrated than when the words “climate change” are mentioned. Simply uttering them apparently justifies any action, no matter how daft or how violent. (Alan Cochrane, TDT)


While China Opens The Throttle, Environmentally-Hypnotized USA Chokes Itself

P Gosselin 23. August 2010

Greenie organisations and experts are hoping China will take steps to curb its voracious appetite for energy and wondering whether it will meet its emissions reduction targets.

No EPA shackles in China, and it shows. Step aside America.

The answer to that question is NO. China isn’t going to meet any CO2 targets. China is booming and on track to easily surpass the USA in economic might in as little as 15 years.

In 50 years, it’s not even going to be close. That’s the one and only target – period.

Not only will China soon dominate the world’s energy markets, but as its biggest creditor, it will have the USA on its knees. Why? Because China is fueling its economy, while the USA chokes its own. Nothing makes this clearer than a report of  the Institute for Energy Research here:

I)  China is wheeling, dealing, and positioning itself globally-
USA is putting the green EPA shackles on itself.

Continue reading “While China Opens The Throttle, Environmentally-Hypnotized USA Chokes Itself” (No Tricks Zone)


Oh dear... World-renowned experts to lead discussion with the chemistry community on climate change

BOSTON, Aug. 23, 2010 — In response to doubts about the causes and potential extent of global climate change, a panel of four climate experts today will review the current state of climate science and discuss observed and predicted changes.

The special forum, which will include conclusions from recent national and international climate change reports, will be part of the American Chemical Society's 240th National Meeting & Exposition. Entitled "Forum on Climate Change Science and Consequences," the event is scheduled for 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Seaport Hotel, Plaza Ballroom B/C. It will include time for audience questions and comments.

"It's only been a little over a decade that we've had evidence of global impacts of climate change," said James McCarthy, Ph.D., one of participants. "Until the mid-1990s, it was largely hypothetical. Now we're seeing significant evidence on every continent that is consistent with what you would expect in a warmer world." McCarthy is a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (ACS)


Climate Scientists Just Don't Get It

Desperate to put the bad days of Climategate behind them, climate scientists are pronouncing the matter over and done with. After all of the revelations and disclosures surrounding Climategate, and all of the public mea culpas, a change in attitude by those in the climate science community would be welcome. A turn to greater openness regarding methods and data, along with less overt political boosterism. But evidently, that is not in the cards. Starting off with an editorial titled “Climategate closed,” the journal Nature Geoscience presents a number of troubling statements from people involved with climate change. Though calling for scientists to “be humble,” the tone of the commentaries is that no wrong was really done and nothing has changed. The only change that needs to be made is making a greater effort to “inform” the public and skeptics. Clearly, climate scientists just don't get it—they cannot simply return to business as usual.

The Nature Geoscience editorial begins with the declaration: “the case of the alleged misbehaviour of climate researchers at the University of East Anglia is now closed.” This based on the three reports from independent investigations that concluded the scientific results produced at the University of East Anglia were sound, but that there are deficiencies in the transparency of climate research. Though admitting that more openness alone is unlikely to resolve tensions between scientists, the media and politicians—or between skeptics and alarmists (their term)--the editorial complains that critics are crying “whitewash.” Their only remedies are greater openness, flexibility and better presentation to the public:

Difficult as this may be, scientists have to maintain a disinterested perspective on the available information, be prepared to change their assessment when new facts come to light, and accept differences in opinion while taking counter-arguments seriously. Along with greater openness, a much more nuanced and multifaceted discussion of the physical aspects of climate change needs to be presented to the public to avoid future accusations of cliquiness and gatekeeping.

While the desire to avoid future accusations is believable, what is needed here is not more “nuance” but better science. The editorial introduces two commentaries, one by a real climate scientist and one by a social anthropologist, which focus on the lessons learned from last winter's “media frenzy.” They argue that climate scientists must “root their efforts in the global (and not just the scientific) community.” In other words, all of the past problems were due to a lack of clear communication. Scientists must learn to relate to the common man.

The commentary by Werner Krauss, a cultural anthropologist at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Center for Mediterranean Studies, is about what one would expect. In “Rooted in society,” Dr. Krauss flatly declares climate science a success story. “The development from identifying anthropogenic climate change to establishing it as a matter of global concern has culminated, so far, in the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore in 2007,” he states up front. “But the recent Copenhagen climate summit—which many considered a failure—and a series of scandals surrounding climate science brought this success story to a halt.” If the awarding of the hyper-politicized and scientifically meaningless Nobel Peace Prize is the greatest accomplishment that climate science can point to, then it is in big trouble. It would have been much more impressive to have correctly predicted the halt in global warming over the past 10 years.

Being a cultural anthropologist, Krauss is more about political correctness than scientific relevance. He summarizes climate science's fall from grace:

Initial success had not come without dispute. Before the award of the Nobel Prize, reconstructions of global temperatures over the past millennium — publicized under the term hockey-stick graph — had been hotly debated in the public and political arenas. Then just before the Copenhagen conference, climate change science was portrayed as the foundation for any global agreement on climate change policy. The release of illegally hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia plunged key climate scientists onto the defensive once again, in the course of a media frenzy dubbed 'climategate'. Following the first wave of excitement, errors were revealed in the 2007 report from the IPCC, most prominently on glacier melting in the Himalayas. As a consequence, the integrity of climate scientists and their assessment panels have been called into question. But there is more to this crisis than a lack of scientific scrutiny or political craftsmanship.

Openly admitting that the Copenhagen conference was a “crisis in climate policy,” he declares that attention needs to be shifted from “global goals to societally relevant, local and pragmatic countermeasures.” Countermeasures? Against global warming or its critics? Still, Krauss manages to identify at least part of the anthropogenic global warming alarmists' public relations problem:

Prominent climate scientists and mediators such as Al Gore illustrated scientific data with apocalyptic imagery to attract media attention and to catalyse immediate political action. As a consequence of this doom or salvation rhetoric, scientific results were transformed into political statements that left no room for doubt or uncertainties. In its extreme, climate science became an ideology and purity of doctrine turned into an obsession. Alarmists (and their counterparts, the sceptics) dominated public discourse.

Here is a not so subtle crack in the previously unbroken front presented by AGW believers. Some vocal climate change boosters are now pejoratively called “alarmists,” and likened to climate change skeptics. A more accurate comparison would have been to equate the alarmists to the climate community's favorite boogiemen—deniers. Still, it is progress when the existence of obsessed, doctrinaire alarmists is being publicly denounced in a peer reviewed, scientific journal.

The second commentary, entitled “The climate change game,” was provided by Klaus Hasselmann, Emeritus Director of the Max-Planck Institut für Meteorologie. I must admit that I was flummoxed by Prof. Hasselmann's essay. “A cursory glance at the interactions between the main players—climate scientists, the media and climate sceptics—immediately reveals the elementary feedbacks that produced the climategate spectacle,” he boldly proclaims. It is not climate science that is in question in his view; public perception and conflicts of interest have sidetracked the debate:

Scientists cannot, of course, resolve conflicts of interest. But they can contribute to their resolution by objectively investigating the goals and beliefs of individual actors and presenting these in simple models that everybody can readily understand. Since the unforeseen onset of the global financial crisis, the limitations of the mainstream models that have been used by economists to assess the impacts of climate change policies have been widely recognized. The precrisis view of the market economy as a basically stable system is being replaced by more realistic dynamic models, in which the evolution of the economy is determined by the strategies of many competing actors pursuing conflicting goals.

These new economic models incorporate the key processes — multi-actor strategies, potential instabilities and government policies — that are needed as building blocks for modelling a controlled transition from a fossil-fuel-based to a decarbonized global economy. A stronger participation of climate scientists with experience in dynamical systems would provide a welcome boost to these efforts.

I had expected that most of the touchy-feely, sociological, politically correct dribble would come from the anthropologist's piece. Surprisingly, Hasselmann dips deep into the pseudo-scientific realms for a healthy dose of double-talk. Scientists “should now rise above the debate and help develop models of the coupled climate–socioeconomic system to advise policymakers,” he says, unabashedly.

To Hasselman, both politicians and the media are the willing dupes of climate skeptics. “If policymakers fail to realize the aspirations of climate scientists and the green lobby, it is not so much owing to their exposure to disinformation as to the conflict between their societal responsibility to balance the interests of present and future generations and their individual desire to become re-elected,” he opines. “They are thus strongly dependent on pressures from interest groups and, more importantly, on the interests and beliefs of the public (as they should be).” And the fourth estate is no better.

“The societal goals of climate scientists and the media are broadly compatible,” he states. “However, there is clearly a fundamental incompatibility between those societal goals and the private media goal of producing interesting stories.” Imagine that, politicians want votes and media people headlines. Perhaps to those ensconced in the ivory towers of academia this news comes as a shock. So, who is to blame?

Enter the climate sceptics (representing all interest groups, in particular the oil and coal industry, who fear negative impacts from climate policies). Their principal societal goal is to provide secure, affordable energy and other important products. Their individual interest is to minimize the negative impact of climate change policies on their own economic activities. The simplest strategy to achieve the latter is to reduce the public and political acceptance of the need for climate policies by sowing doubt on the integrity of climate change science. This is best accomplished by initiating a series of artificial controversies questioning the results of climate research and the motivations of climate scientists. These will then be gratefully taken up and amplified by the media...

It is understandable that climate scientists feel harassed by this strategy, because by activating the media, the climate sceptics circumvent the established scientific peer-review process that normally protects them from wasting time on pseudo disputes. However, it is counterproductive for climate scientists to complain that interest groups fail to abide by the scientific etiquette.

If Hasselmann is any indication, the climate science establishment has learned nothing from their recent trials and tribulations. “Climate scientists cannot take refuge from the sometimes unsavoury tactics of other players by fleeing into their ivory towers, but they can at least obtain moral support from other actors on the climate stage,” he states. Critics are “unsavoury” and scientists should seek support from “other actors.” Other actors means the current crop of eco-activists, the green lobby and professional fear-mongers like Al Gore.

So there is the climate community's proffered solution—socio-babel, greater sensitivity to the needs of “other actors,” and, above all, more openness. Interesting, neither of the two commentary articles nor the editorial are openly available from the Nature Geoscience web site. So much for openness from the scientific community. Essentially, the response of the embedded climate science establishment is to speak more clearly, adjusting their message to the needs of the public, while continuing to believe that they have all the answers.

As you can see, the climate alarmists' song remains the same—people are causing dangerous global warming. All the scandal and plummeting public belief is taken as an indication that they need to be more convincing, more sensitive, more connected to the societal needs of the public. If only they could get their message out! What utter balderdash.

It was not a lack of clarity in their message that has led to climate science's reversal of fortune—the belief in global warming was wide spread among both the public and the chattering classes (media and politicians). So enthralled were the masses that the Nobel prize was given to a failed American politician and a coven of UN bureaucrats. No, you blind fools. Belief in AGW began falling as people began to learn of the evidence behind your PR scare campaign.

If you are a mainstream climate scientist here is what you need to know: It is not your lack of humility or the unsubtle presentation of your beliefs that has turned the public against you. It is the lack of good science that has brought climate science into ill repute. The case for global warming simply isn't compelling, and the more the public learns about it the less inclined they are to believe you. All the networking and getting in touch with local concerns in the world will not save climate science from its own half-assed, slipshod work.

Climate science doesn't get it and probably never will. Judging from the sanctimonious drivel in the three Nature Geoscience essays, the climate science community remains insular and self deluding. In their careless hast to garner fame and grant money, climate scientists have become slaves to a lie. The only way to resolve the climate change debate will be to wait three or four decades and see what happens. Of course, by then all of the current crop of alarmists will have comfortably retired on their government and university pensions.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


Head of Australian Science Academy issues decree from Pagan Chieftains of Science

An interesting story quietly slipped into the news last week during the election campaign. It crosses several new lines, none of which it acknowledges.

Not only are the Western Climate Establishment sitting up and paying attention to skeptics, they’re slowly getting the hang of having the climate debate, and they have finally realized they can’t pretend the “science is settled” on climate feedbacks.

Australian Academy of Science Australian Academy of non-Science

Humans affect climate change

* From: The Australian (my emphasis added)
* August 18, 2010

THE Australian Academy of Science has pitted its expertise against the greenhouse sceptics in a report stating that humans are changing our climate.

Good news. They finally admit (by inference) that there is a debate. Since we amateurs are beating them in the debates and asking questions they can’t answer, they have finally acknowledged that they need to try to answer the questions, and they need to call us skeptics. (They can hardly pit expertise against “deniers” eh?)

The statement expresses for the first time the consensus among Australia’s top climate scientists on the evidence for human-caused global warming.

Oh ha-de-ha… after all the other versions of the anti-science fake consensus didn’t win the crowd, do they really think that a petty Australian rendition looks any more convincing? More » (Jo Nova)


Putin Ponders Climate Change In Arctic Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traveled beyond the Arctic Circle on Monday to look into evidence for climate change after a record heatwave ravaged central Russia this summer.

Putin, who has in the past displayed a light-hearted approach to global warming by joking Russians would have to buy fewer fur coats, flew to a scientific research station in the Samoilovsky island at the delta of Siberia's Lena River.

"The climate is changing. This year we have come to understand this when we faced events that resulted in fires," Putin told climate scientists working at the station, opened in 1998 to study the melting Siberian permafrost.

The two-month heatwave, Russia's worst on record, killed 54 people in forest fires, destroyed a quarter of the grain crop and shaved at least $14 billion off the economy.

Putin, who has sought to burnish his action-man image flying firefighting planes and facing angry fire victims, was clearly stunned by the extent of the natural disaster, likening it to Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union.

Though experts say it is impossible to link individual weather events to climate change, the heatwave has shown signs of shifting perceptions of global warming risks among northern nations such as Russia, Canada and the Nordic countries.

Putin, dressed in a warm jacket, told the scientists on the barren tundra that he was still waiting for an answer whether global climate change was the result of human activity or "the Earth living its own life and breathing." (Reuters)


Planning for unlikely temperature ranges? Study offers historic buildings protection from climate change

Some of the nation's most historic buildings and monuments may be better protected from decay in future, following a development by engineers.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have devised a method of forecasting damage caused by the weather to stone buildings – including statues, monuments and other historic sites, as well as modern masonry buildings.

The development allows conservationists to estimate the likely impact of long-term climate change on stonework and brickwork to determine the most suitable plan for preservation.

Studies show that a changing climate could have a significant impact on the deterioration of stone and brick buildings. (University of Edinburgh)


Government report: Canadian climate data quality ‘disturbing’

From the “we told you so time and again department”, Canadian weather data is a mess. It took an FOIA to get the “fess up” out in the open. Anybody got a copy of the EC report? So far all we have is press reports.

See our WUWT report below, it isn’t just Canada that is in the red with poor data. Though you can see a vast swath of red and lots of missing grey area in Canada.

GISS & METAR – dial “M” for missing minus signs: it’s worse than we thought

From the Financial Post

Sustained cuts to Environment Canada weather-service programs have compromised the government’s ability to assess climate change and left it with a “profoundly disturbing” quality of information in its data network, says a newly released internal government report.

“The common assumption among users is that the data has been observed accurately, checked for mistakes and stored properly,” said the report, printed in June 2008. “It is profoundly disturbing to discover the true state of our climate data network and the data we offer to ourselves and the real world.”

The stinging assessment, obtained through an access-to-information request, suggests that Canada’s climate network infrastructure is getting progressively worse and no longer meets international guidelines.

Key findings in the report:

Continue reading (WUWT)


Meeting September 7-9 2010 “Surface Temperature Datasets For The 21st Century” Chaired By Peter Thorne

There is a meeting scheduled September 7-9 2010 in the United Kingdom in Exeter titled

Surface temperature datasets for the 21st Century

This meeting has a set of white papers to frame the meeting.

However, at the very start of the meeting, it presents the bias of the organizers of this meeting as they write

“To meet 21st Century requirements it is necessary to reconsider our analyses of historical land surface temperature changes. This is about much more than simply re-engineering existing datasets. These datasets were adequate for assessing whether climate was changing at the global scale. This current exercise should not be interpreted as a fundamental questioning of these previous efforts. But these pre-existing datasets cannot answer all the questions that society is now quite rightly asking. They do not constitute a sufficiently large sample to truly understand our uncertainty at regional scales. At monthly resolution they are also of limited utility in characterising extremes in climate and their changes.”

The statement that “These datasets were adequate for assessing whether climate was changing at the global scale“, yet “They do not constitute a sufficiently large sample to truly understand our uncertainty at regional scales” is scientifically flawed. The global average trends are composed of the summation of the regional trends!  The data cannot be adequate on the global scale (as an average) but not on the regional scale.

While, we need to wait to see what they actually accomplish at this meeting, the above statement indicates the organizers are persisting in assuming any regional variations are random and that a clear signal emerges when the surface temperature data are globally averaged.  More generally, they appear to be ignoring research that conflicts with their findings.

The Chair of the organizing committee is Peter Thorne and the other members are listed here along with the agenda. This committee includes John Christy, so there will be some ability to present alternative views of the surface temperature trend data.  However, a number of the attendees already have shown a bias in their viewpoints and even explicit successful attempts to suppress alternative viewpoints (e.g. Tom Peterson who is now President Commission of Climatology and NOAA NCDC Chief Scientist and Peter Thorne who is Chair of this meeting and now also works at NOAA NCDC).

I propose a litmus test to ascertain if this meeting is just another exercise by these scientists to endorse the analyses that they have already reported on in the 2007 IPCC WG  and the CCSP reports, or is finally an honest attempt to examine the existing biases and uncertainties.  One test will be how they respond to the peer-reviewed issues we raised in 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., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655

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.

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, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on “Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105, doi:10.1029/2008JD010938.

If they ignore these papers and others papers by our colleagues (e.g. McIntyre et al 2010), or dismiss them without a thorough rationale why, this will confirm that this meeting is just a self-justification exercise. If they seriously consider this other work, however, it would be an important step forward to achieving a more robust land temperature assessment.  I am not optimistic, unfortunately.

Finally, we will be reporting on several new papers in the coming weeks and months that will provide further documentation of the serious issues with the use of the land surface temperature data to assess multi-decadal trends. This will include the quantitative analysis of the well- and poorly- sited USHCN sites that Anthony Watts and volunteers have been instrumental in surveying. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Fire & Ice: Black Carbon vs Sulfate

Black carbon is generated from burning both fossil fuels and biomass. Black carbon aerosols absorb solar radiation and are purported to be a major source of global warming. A recent study claims that the extent of black-carbon-induced warming is dependent on the concentration of sulfate (SO2) and organic aerosols—which reflect solar radiation and cool the surface—as well as the origin of the black carbon. The ratio of fossil-fuel-based black carbon to SO2 emissions has increased by more than a factor of two during the twentieth century, and the portion of black carbon from fossil fuels has increased threefold. This could account for a 30% increase in global warming from black carbon, which may account for a quarter of the warming usually attributed to CO2. Even worse, black carbon may be causing millions of deaths among those who have to breath it. Far from being green, climate science's demonizing of CO2 is damaging the pursuit of sound environmental policy.

In “Warming influenced by the ratio of black carbon to sulphate and the black-carbon source ,” appearing in the August 2010 issue of Nature Geoscience, M. V. Ramana et al. report on the results of the Cheju ABC Plume–Monsoon Experiment (CAPMEX) conducted during the summer, 2008. It provided observations for determining the dependence of the warming (or cooling) effect of atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) on the sources of black carbon (BC), and on the BC-to-sulfate ratios. The campaign was in part motivated by the desire to reduce pollution in Beijing and surrounding areas during the 2008 Summer Olympics. The work, as explained in the paper:

Modeling studies have estimated that (1) the net radiative effect of black carbon (BC) and organics generated by fossil-fuel combustion and biomass-fuel cooking contribute to a warming, (2) open burning leads to net cooling and (3) the net warming effect of fossil-fuel BC is larger than that of biomass-fuel cooking. Furthermore, BC warming is regulated by the ambient concentration of sulphates resulting from sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Sulphate strongly reflects solar radiation, whereas BC strongly absorbs solar radiation. Thus the net radiative forcing is determined by the relative amounts of BC and sulphate. However, BC is invariably internally mixed with sulphates and solar absorption by BC is amplified when it is internally mixed with sulphates. Such mixtures of absorbing and scattering aerosols (including other particulate matter such as nitrate, potassium and so on) are referred to as ABCs, for atmospheric brown clouds.

The results suggest that the absorption efficiency is larger in fossil-fuel-based plumes, but these measurements are subject to large uncertainties. The fossil fuel contribution to total BC is about 60% over East Asia and only about 30% over South Asia on the basis of emission inventories. This blog has previously reported on “brown clouds” causing Arctic ice to melt and warming in general. This is important because, in climate models, the global-mean warming is determined by the balance of the radiative forcings—warming by greenhouse gases balanced against cooling by aerosols. Since a greater cooling effect has been used in climate models, the result has been to credit CO2 with a larger warming effect than it really deserves.

Air pollution at the 2008 Summer Olympics' site in Beijing.

Some people are confused by that claim—that greater warming by black carbon implies less warming by CO2—but the logic is quite simple. In the IPCC AR4 report, each factor that influences global warming is assigned a radiative forcing value, given in Wm-2. Consider a simple equation for global warming:

FTotal = Fcarbon dioxide + Fnitrogen oxides + Fblack carbon ...+ Fwhat ever

This says that the total forcing (FTotal) is made up of the sum of all the individual forcings for CO2, NOx, black carbon and all the rest. Note that we are talking about revisions to previous forcing estimates, not increases due to higher emissions in the future. Supposedly, each forcing should cause a portion of any observed temperature change in proportion to its forcing value. So, another way state this is in terms of temperature change:

ΔTTotal = ΔTcarbon dioxide + ΔTnitrogen oxides + ΔTblack carbon ...+ ΔTwhat ever

Scientists must also find a way to relate measurements they do have, such as the amount of a gas in the atmosphere or the density of particles in the brown clouds, to the forcing values. This, in turn, relates actual physical measurements to portions of the temperature change. These relationships, linking real world empirical measurements to changes in global temperature, are a way to describe how sensitive temperature change is to a particular factor.

The next observation is the crucial one—the amount of temperature change in the past is a fixed value. It has been recorded over time and, though there is always some inaccuracy in measurements, changing any of the values on the right hand side of the temperature equation above cannot alter the total temperature change on the left. If global temperature rose 1°C last century and we suddenly discover that black carbon would have caused 50% more warming than previously though, the only way to balance the equation is to take some ΔT from one or more of the other forcings.

In other words, if some forcings are found to cause more warming or less cooling (some factors are negative), then the impact of the remaining forcings must be diminished. When new factors are uncovered it makes sense to reduce the change attributed to CO2, since most of the warming is attributed to it. This not only reduces carbon dioxide's current contribution, it reduces the sensitivity of the climate to future increases in CO2 in climate model calculations.

Changing the size of the slices doesn't change the size of the pie.

Why not take the increase from some other forcing? The IPCC wished to make CO2 the villain in the global warming horror show. For years, CO2 has been the catch-all for any warming that could not be attributed to other forcings. CO2 has had its importance inflated by low but uncertain values being attributed to other forcings. So, when better values are identified for factors like black carbon, CO2 must give up some of its influence—it's a zero sum game.

Over the past decade, a huge number of new forcing values have been identified, including values for insolation, NOx, methane, stratospheric ozone and, as in the Ramana et al. report, black carbon and other aerosols. Yet many climate modelers cling to the fiction that CO2 is the primary and overwhelming driver of climate change. In fact, if you add up all of the temperature change attributed to other forcings there isn't any temperature change for carbon dioxide to cause! This is not because CO2 has no effect—it does. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but at current levels its effect is not large compared with other factors.

Of course, it is really not that simple or scientists would have a better understanding of the whole climate system out by now. The climate system is nonlinear, meaning the response you get from an input change this time may not be proportionally the same as the last time or the next time. On top of its inherent nonlinearity, the climate system also contains many linkages and dependencies among factors, making it impossible to deal with any single forcing value in isolation. An example would be the linkage between black carbon and sulfate in the Ramana et al. study. Still the general principle holds, you cannot revise or introduce new causes for global warming without diminishing the importance of the existing ones, especially CO2

Now, consider that all existing climate models are validated against historical data, a processing called backcasting. The models are tweaked until they reproduce historical climate variations that have been previously recorded. Remember, science's “discovery” of a new factor does not mean that it has suddenly come into being—the new forcing values, either revised or newly uncovered, were present in the past. Introduce a new forcing value and all models are now tuned to produce results they should not have. Which, of course, also means that their predictions for the future are just so much dreck.

This latest study is not the first report that black carbon has a more important impact on global temperature than it is usually credited with. A study led by Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that, in the high latitudes the impact of aerosols (sulfates and black carbon) may account for 45% or more of the observed warming which has occurred in at the poles over the past three decades. Over that time Arctic temperatures have risen by 1.7°C, while Antarctic regions have witnessed 0.35°C temperature increases. Others credit black carbon with accelerating the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

Black carbon may affect Himalayan glaciers.

Ramana et al. came to the conclusion that black carbon and SO2 are closely interrelated when it comes to atmospheric warming. Reducing BC alone is not going to produce the results that might otherwise be expected. They summarized their findings this way:

Because of its short lifetime, BC offers the greatest potential for slowing down climate change in the coming decades. Worldwide there are efforts to decrease SO2 emissions, and the data presented in this study strongly suggest that such reductions should be accompanied by larger percentage reductions in BC, such that the BC-to-SO2 emission ratio is also decreased. Such a mitigation step will also have significant co-benefits to human health, because air pollution leads to over two million deaths annually.

As stated, there are other, more compelling reasons to reduce emissions. Emissions from internal combustion engines are particularly bad for the environment and human health. Rather than pursue a fools errand—trying to reduce CO2 emissions at all costs—we should reduce the use of dirty fossil fuels instead. Certainly, reduced dependence on coal for electricity generation and rapid development of hybrid and electric vehicles are good places to start.

Far from preserving nature and helping humanity, climate change activism has had the opposite effect. In their bullheaded insistence on demonizing CO2, mainstream climate science has sorely damage the pursuit of reasonable and rational environment policy. Lying about global warming is no way to save the world.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


Comments On A Seminar “Modeling Watershed-Scale Distributions Of Snow For Present-Day And Future Climate” By Anne Nolin

There is a seminar today [August 23 2010] by Anne Nolin of the Department of Geosciences,  at Oregon State University, Corvallis

The seminar is titled “Modeling Watershed-Scale Distributions of Snow for Present-day and Future Climate in the U.S. Pacific Northwest Monday, 23 August 2010, 2:00 PM David Skaggs Research Center, Room 1D403.

After I present the abstract, I give several comments on this study, which is just one example of a type of climate study that has become common in recent years (i.e. one based on (unverifiable) multi-decadal global climate predictions).

The abstract reads

The snowmelt-dominated Cascade Mountains provide critical water supply for agriculture, hydropower, ecosystems, and municipalities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Empirical analyses and models of projected climate change show rising temperatures in the region. This temperature trend is accompanied by a shift from snowfall to rainfall at lower elevations and earlier snowmelt. In this study we model the spatial distribution of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in the McKenzie River Basin, Oregon (3000 km2). We use the physically based SnowModel with a grid resolution of 100 m and a daily time step. Model inputs include meteorological data, a digital elevation model, and land cover information. We compute the ratio of SWE to total winter precipitation (SWE/PRE) for the period of 2000-2009. The model is evaluated using point-based measurements of SWE, precipitation, and temperature and spatially, using snow cover extent from the MODIS instrument. SnowModel simulations are in very good agreement with measured SWE for most stations with Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency values exceeding 0.9 in most cases. Agreement with MODIS snow cover data show a total difference of 7.1% at the time of peak SWE with the largest difference in valley bottoms (where vegetation is dense and snow cover is difficult to view with the satellite data).

For the future climate scenarios, meteorological inputs are perturbed based upon downscaled Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model predictions. The temperature and precipitation forcing data for 2000-2009 were perturbed to represent projected climate changes based on a composite of nineteen IPCC climate models (scenario A1B) downscaled to the Pacific Northwest region for the period 2030-2050. These perturbations were computed using the change from present-day climate to a projected future climate (delta value). The delta value was applied to daily temperature and precipitation data using a prescribed monthly value and the model was rerun using these perturbed values. Our perturbed simulations show substantial losses in SWE throughout the watershed. However, interannual variability under projected climate change can generate increases in SWE at high elevations but overall declines in basin-wide SWE. Thus, while there is a significant loss of snow covered area and volumetric water storage in the form of snow, the spatial changes in SWE are highly heterogeneous. This has important implications for runoff predictions as well as for design and implementation of snow monitoring networks.”

Here are my comments:

1. Her  evaluation of the snow distributions for the period 2000-2009 is solid science.

2. The extrapolation into the future using IPCC model predictions downscaled to the region of study, however, is not scientifically sound. First, even with current climate, the global climate models have shown no skill at predicting regional skill more than a season at most into the future. These global models are not able to skillfully simulate such regional circulation patterns as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and ENSO, which are known to have a major effect on the weather in Oregon.

3. The packaging of her results in time periods (i.e. 2030-2050) is inappropriate and misleading to policymakers. 

4. Such unverifiable multi-decadal predictions based on the IPCC global models (as exemplified by this seminar) are  being supported by the NSF and other agencies, and are being published in the literature. Such studies, where the results are presented as forecasts rather than climate process studies,  were not funded before the last 10-15 years or so.

5. My recommended approach is to adopt the perspective that is summarized in the post

A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective

where with respect to water resources the framework would read

“The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to water resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.”

This is a much more inclusive approach than the limited narrowly focused approach presented in the second part of Anne Nolin’s seminar. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


New model to explain away the inconvenient: Why Antarctic Sea Ice Is Growing in a Warmer World

Models solve mystery, but suggest South Pole sea ice melt will soon accelerate.

Climate scientists have cracked the mystery of why Antarctic sea ice has managed to grow despite global warming—but the results suggest the trend may rapidly reverse, a new study says.

Satellite data show that, over the past 30 years, Arctic sea ice has declined while Antarctic sea ice has mysteriously expanded, according to study leader Jiping Liu, a research scientist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

"We've seen this paradox, but we don't know why—here we gave an explanation," Liu said. (National Geographic News)


Sheesh! Experts Urge Faster And More Relevant U.N. Climate Reports

The U.N. panel of climate scientists should be more nimble at highlighting global warming trends and at fixing mistakes, experts said ahead of the planned August 30 release of a review of the group's work.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked for an independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after the group came under fire for errors such as wrongly saying Himalayan glaciers could all melt by 2035 and overstating the amount of the Netherlands below sea level.

"It is an embarrassing but useful crisis," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who is not one of those conducting the review. (Reuters)

First they have to learn something about what really drives our climate but the chances of our ever being able to predict it years in advance are slim to none.


Reflected Sunlight Shines On IPCC Deceptions And Gross Inadequacies

By Dr. Tim Ball Monday, August 23, 2010

imageMoonlight is not light generated by the moon, but reflected sunlight. First astronauts on the moon were amazed by the brightness of Earth when it appeared over the lunar horizon. What they saw was Earthlight, which is also reflected sunlight. It’s sunlight that does little to heat the Earth because it goes directly back out to space. The amount reflected varies with changes to the surface and atmosphere. These changes are significant yet poorly measured or understood and pushed aside by the fanatic focus on CO2.  Global warming due to humans is based on the hypothesis that our addition of CO2 has changed the balance of energy entering and leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. There are a multitude of factors that can change this balance, many ignored or underplayed by climate science.  They get away with this because the public is unaware.

Incoming Energy Inadequacies

It begins with measures of the amount of energy entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only consider changes in the irradiance portion of incoming solar energy (insolation). They claim that up to 1950 it explained over 50 percent of variation then CO2 became 90 percent of the cause of change. Part of the reason for downplaying irradiance is the low percentage of change in modern records. The earliest record from outside the atmosphere from a manned observatory was Skylab (1973 – 1979). Skylab showed a change of 0.14% in the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI). An average over time shows a variation of 0.1% for an 11 - year sunspot cycle. This seems like a very small number and therefore of little consequence. The difficulty is by varying TSI by 6% in a computer model you can ‘explain’ all temperature change for the entire history of the Earth.

There is also no agreement about the TSI at the top of the Atmosphere (TOA). As Raschke explained, “Solar radiation is the prime source for all processes within our climate system. Its total amount, the total solar irradiance (TSI) reaching the top-of-atmosphere (TOA), and its variability are now quite accurately known on the basis of multiple satellite measurements and extremely careful calibration activities (Fröhlich and Lean, 2004).”…  “Computations, therefore, should be relatively easy.“ However, he shows there is no agreement. He compared 20 models and their input values for TOA. (Figure 1) He concludes, “It can be speculated that such different meridional profiles of the solar radiative forcing at TOA should also have impact on the computed atmospheric circulation pattern, in particular when simulations over periods of several decades to several centuries are performed. Therefore, related projects within the World Climate Research Program should take appropriate steps to avoid systematic discrepancies as shown above and to estimate their possible impact on the resulting climate and circulation changes.” IPCC are projecting climate change for the next 50 years or more.

So we have problems with the amount of incoming energy, but there are more problems with what happens to the energy once it enters the atmosphere.

Figure 1: Comparison of TOA input values for 20 models.
Source: Ehrhard Raschke, University of Hamburg. 15 August 2005.

Outgoing Inadequacies

One of these is change in albedo. Some believe it’s more important than CO2 in affecting balance. “The most interesting thing here is that the albedo forcings, in watts/sq meter seem to be fairly large. Larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined.”

When sunlight strikes a surface the color, texture and angle of the light (known as the angle of incidence) determines how much is reflected or absorbed. The difference between them, as a percentage, is called the albedo from the root Latin word albus for white. With a pure white shiny surface 100 percent of the light is reflected so the albedo is 100. On a matte black surface 100 percent is absorbed and the albedo is zero (Figure 2). A solar collector needs to absorb as much solar energy as possible so is matte black and set at right angles to the solar rays.


The moon’s albedo is 7, which means 93 units of 100 are absorbed and 7 units reflected. Earth’s albedo is 30 on average for the entire globe. The amount varies from a high of 75 to 95 percent for fresh snow down to 8 or 9 percent for coniferous forest. Seasonal variation in snow and ice cover is important as it affects global energy and therefore the from year to year. However, the major factor is variability in the type and amount of cloud cover. Thick cloud varies from 60 to 90 and thin cloud from 30 to 50. This variability explains most of the change in albedo shown in Figure 3. The right side scale shows changes in energy with a range of about 9 watts per square meter. Compare this with the 2.5 watts per square meter change estimated to be due to human activities.

Figure 3: Global Albedo change1984 – 2004. Error bars due to seasonal variability of 15-20%. The red line is the IPCC estimated GHG forcing for 100 years. Source:

IPCC Inadequacies

IPCC reject irradiance as a cause of temperature change since 1950, but they also reject variations in sun/earth relationships, known as the Milankovitch Effect and the relationship between sunspots and temperature hypothesized by the Svensmark Cosmic Theory. The latter shows a relationship between changes in solar magnetism evidenced by sunspots. As the magnetism varies it determines the amount of galactic cosmic radiation reaching the Earth, which creates low cloud. As low cloud varies albedo varies.

The Earthshine project of the California Institute of Technology that produced Figure 3 concluded in 2004. “Earth’s average albedo is not constant from one year to the next; it also changes over decadal timescales. The computer models currently used to study the climate system do not show such large decadal-scale variability of the albedo.” Sadly, there are many factors affecting climate change that the IPCC ignore or underplay to achieve the political result that human CO2 is the sole cause.

Figure 4: IPCC assessment of radiative forcing levels.

They only acknowledge “cloud albedo effect” (Figure 4), but correctly admit their level of scientific understanding (LOSU) is low. It is low or medium low for seven of nine items. Low means 2 out of 10 confidence level, medium - low is less than 4 out of 10. They incorrectly claim a high LOSU for CO2, or 8 out of 10, but that is politically necessary.

So they ignore many variables and admit they know little about the ones they study. It is a total abrogation of scientific and social responsibility to let these results form the basis for draconian and destructive energy and environmental policies. They shouldn’t have won a Nobel Peace Prize. They couldn’t have won a Science Prize. (CFP)


UN inquiry into oil spills lets Shell off the hook

LONDON: A three-year investigation by the United Nations will almost entirely exonerate Royal Dutch Shell for 40 years of oil pollution in the Niger delta, causing outrage among communities which have long campaigned to force the company to clean up its spills and pay compensation. (SMH)


U.S. Research Vessel Sees Few Signs Of Spilled Oil

Scientists above a U.S. research ship have started an around-the-clock search for elusive signs of oil lurking beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surface in what they jokingly call "Operation Dipstick."

As debate rages among scientists over how much oil remains in the water after BP Plc's massive oil spill, their research vessel circles above the blown-out Macondo well, some 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Oil is not visible on the surface around the well, but as waters reopen to fishing, many question what the crude will do to this season's fish, shrimp and oyster catch, as well as its long-term effect on marine life.

The 35-member crew of the Pisces, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on August 18 started a three-week mission to collect sea water samples and study them for hydrocarbons or depleted oxygen levels that could indicate its presence.

"We're looking for hydrocarbons to see how things in the deepwater column are changing," Tom Weber, chief scientist aboard the Pisces, said on Friday. "Ever since the well has been capped, we haven't seen that much." (Reuters)


U.S. Officials Saw Drilling Ban Costing Jobs: Report

Senior U.S. officials expected the deepwater drilling ban to cost about 23,000 jobs and hold up $10.2 billion in investments, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing federal documents. (Reuters)


The Danes didn't need live-fire gunnery practice? Danish warship blocks Greenpeace Arctic oil protest

The Danish navy has warned that the Esperanza will be boarded by armed personnel if it breaches the exclusion zone 

A Greenpeace ship protesting against deep sea drilling by a British oil firm in the Arctic has been confronted by a Danish warship, and its captain threatened with arrest.

The Danish navy has warned Greenpeace that the Esperanza will be boarded by armed personnel if it breaches a 500-metre exclusion zone around two wells drilled off Greenland by the Edinburgh-based oil firm Cairn Energy. (Guardian)


Carol Browner Knows the Drill (a surprising advocate of hydraulic fracturing of gas)

by Chris Tucker
August 23, 2010

In June 2004, EPA released a study examining the safety and performance of an energy technology known as hydraulic fracturing – particularly in the context of its use in coalbed methane wells, from which nearly 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were produced in 2008 (latest numbers).

The goal of the study was simple: Determine whether the fracturing of coalbed wells had the potential to adversely affect the quality and composition of underground sources of drinking water (USDW). EPA’s methodology: Research more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, and interview almost 100 different state regulators, environmentalists, and industry reps. EPA’s conclusion: No evidence linking the deployment of fracturing technology to drinking water contamination. Of course, since the study was released during the tenure of the previous president, its findings were rejected out-of-hand by environmentalists – never mind that the study itself was initiated during the Clinton administration by then-EPA administrator Carol Browner.

Interestingly, Ms. Browner crops up a number of times in the looking back at the history of EPA involvement with hydraulic fracturing – and not necessarily in ways you’d expect. Here she is in 1995, for example, blinding a plaintiff’s attorney with some science in explaining the concept of geological separation, and why that’s an important part in assessing the safety of the fracturing process:

There is no evidence that the hydraulic fracturing at issue has resulted in any contamination or endangerment of underground sources of drinking water (USDW). … Moreover, given the horizontal and vertical distance between the drinking water well and the closest methane production wells, the possibility of contamination of endangerment of USDWs in the area is extremely remote.

(emphasis added)

Why is any of this important? Quite simply, if you’re looking to prove that fracturing activities contaminate groundwater – notwithstanding 60 years of evidence suggesting the opposite — first you need to prove the formations being fractured are communicating with the formations holding that groundwater.

Problem is, if you can’t prove it’s happening in coalbed methane formations (which reside only hundreds of feet from the water table), the job of proving it’s happening in shale formations (which reside several thousands of feet from the water table) becomes all the more difficult to do. And shale, after all, is the big prize here. Remember how coalbeds produced 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2008 nationwide? According to one report, natural gas development from shale could yield 5 trillion cubic feet by 2020. Not nationwide; that’s in a single state (PA).

Of course, plenty of folks have plenty of reasons to oppose the availability of reliable, low-cost energy – and they’re not about to let a silly thing like science to get in the way of tying the use of fracturing to the mass contamination of groundwater. A documentary airing on HBO right now called GasLand attempts to make that case in several scenes of the film – describing the process as a “blast” that induces a “mini-earthquake,” tearing apart the subsurface rock and creating massive chasms connecting formations below with much shallower strata carrying drinking water above.

Of course, serious geologists have known since time immemorial that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t (and can’t) contaminate USDWs – a function of the fact that the two strata (energy and drinking water) are separated by thousands of feet underground, and millions of tons of impermeable rock. But thanks to the good folks over at Pinnacle Technologies, we now have some solid data to express this separation in quantitative terms.

As reported by Pinnacle general manager Kevin Fisher in July’s edition of the American Oil & Gas Reporter, the following graphs plot actual field data from tens of thousands of fracturing operations conducted over the past decade – this first one in the Barnett Shale formation in Texas, which shows quite clearly that even the most shallow fissures created through the fracturing process remain separated from the water table by more than 3,500 feet:

But that’s just the Barnett, right? Everyone knows there’s no problem down in the Metroplex. Isn’t the real area of concern the Mighty Marcellus – where activists continue to claim that gas, chemicals, salt, metals, and Lord knows what else regularly get dredged up from the depths and beamed into every well, sink and stream in sight? Well, Pinnacle ran the numbers on the Marcellus as well, and although the data set isn’t quite as robust as what you’d find in the Barnett (remember: we’ve been developing that one a bit longer), the story in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio is remarkably similar. To wit:

Here we see an even greater separation between fractures in the underlying rock and sources of potable water above – with the closest the two shall meet clocking in at roughly 4,300 feet.

In other words, the deepest formations holding drinking water and the most shallow depth at which you’ll find a fracture in the Marcellus Shale are still separated by the equivalent of three-and-a-half Empire State Buildings – or three Petronas Towers, for our Malaysian friends. And by the way: they’re not exactly separated by air either. Between the two, you’ll find millions of tons of solid, impermeable rock – rock that has for literally hundreds of millions of years acted as an immutable barrier preventing salty water below from communicating with fresh water above.

But just to be sure we got this right, we sent these graphs and data up to Williamsville, N.Y. so that Ph.D. geologist Michael P. Joy might give them a gander and share some technical insights into what makes the phenomenon possible. Below is a (small) excerpt from the email he sent us in reply:

The hydraulic fracturing process creates fractures that are very small, usually an 1/8th inch or less in width. There is not enough pressure that could be exerted on the column of water to create a fracture matrix long enough to reach anywhere close to near surface aquifers. … The gas and water in these deep shale formations exist in hydrostatic equilibrium; the pressure acting down on the formation fluid is equal to the pressure being exerted from the bottom upward and the formation fluids act under the immutable laws of physics and stay in place.

Right. What he said.

Chris Tucker is a spokesman for Energy In Depth, an outreach and education campaign started by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 2008. (MasterResource)


Anthony Cordesman Busts the Myth of Energy Independence

About two and a half years ago, I published my third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence,” which provided multiple arguments as to why the US cannot, and should not even attempt to, be independent of the world’s single biggest and most important marketplace: the global energy market. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, ET)


On Nuclear Energy, 'Merkel Did Things Backwards'

Longer lifespans for nuclear reactors in Germany seems a foregone conclusion. But how much money will the energy industry have to hand over to Berlin for the privilege? Chancellor Merkel has lost control of the debate, say German commentators.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition agreement between her conservatives and the business-friendly Free Democrats seems clear enough. In order to bridge the gap between traditional energy sources and renewables, it says, Berlin will have to extend the lifespans of the country's nuclear reactors.

The pill, though, is sugared: "The public sector will receive the majority of the additional profits generated by the extension of nuclear power plant usage." The extra money, it says, will "advance the sustainable supply and utilization of (renewable energies)."
With just a few weeks to go before Merkel intends to announce her government's new energy policy, it remains unclear as to how, exactly, that sugar is to be collected. Furthermore, the country's energy giants are being anything but compliant. And questions are mounting about whether the whole plan is legal to start with. (Spiegel)


200-fold boost in fuel cell efficiency advances 'personalized energy systems'

BOSTON, Aug. 23, 2010 — The era of personalized energy systems — in which individual homes and small businesses produce their own energy for heating, cooling and powering cars — took another step toward reality today as scientists reported discovery of a powerful new catalyst that is a key element in such a system. They described the advance, which could help free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company and the corner gasoline station, at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, being held here this week.

"Our goal is to make each home its own power station," said study leader Daniel Nocera, Ph.D. "We're working toward development of 'personalized' energy units that can be manufactured, distributed and installed inexpensively. There certainly are major obstacles to be overcome — existing fuel cells and solar cells must be improved, for instance. Nevertheless, one can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic system."

Such a system would consist of rooftop solar energy panels to produce electricity for heating, cooking, lighting, and to charge the batteries on the homeowners' electric cars. Surplus electricity would go to an "electrolyzer," a device that breaks down ordinary water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen. Both would be stored in tanks. In the dark of night, when the solar panels cease production, the system would shift gears, feeding the stored hydrogen and oxygen into a fuel cell that produces electricity (and clean drinking water as a byproduct). Such a system would produce clean electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week — even when the sun isn't shining. (ACS)



Side Effects: What Obamacare and the Death Star have in Common

So far, 21 states have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare.  As they move forward, it’s worth pondering what would happen to the health care overhaul if they succeed. Could one lawsuit be the proton torpedo that blows up the Obamacare Death Star?

Typically, courts can deem a legislative provision unconstitutional without it spelling doom for the entire piece of legislation.  But Obamacare isn’t typical legislation.

Ben Domenech explains: “Most laws of large size and scope have something called a “severability clause” attached to them. Essentially, this means that if one part of a piece of large legislation is ruled unconstitutional by a court, that unconstitutional portion is “severed” from the rest of the bill — the ruling doesn’t stop the rest of the law from being enforced.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Fast Track To Government Health Care

While there is broad agreement there are problems in our health sector that must be solved, the American people consistently have said they oppose government control. Yet many of the decisions now being made in the bowels of the bureaucracy could lead to a government system that people fear. (Grace-Marie Turner, IBD)


Obamacare Proponents Running Scared

A new messaging strategy, based on public polling results from top Democratic pollsters, suggests that congressional lawmakers should wave the white flag when discussing Obamacare in their election campaigns. The PowerPoint presentation, released in a conference call organized by Families USA, encouraged officials to “keep claims small and credible: don’t overpromise or ‘spin’ what the law delivers.”

In other words, abandon ship on claims that lawmakers made for months during the health reform debate—that the legislation would in any way reduce the nation’s deficit or lower health care costs (in fact, this was a recommendation in the presentation’s “not-to-do” list). Continue reading... (The Foundry)


When Economic Policy Became Social Policy

The recent Treasury Department conference is further proof we will never get out of this housing mess until we are ready to face facts.

Watching the Treasury conference on housing finance earlier this week, I was struck by the gloomy thought that we will never get out of this housing mess until we are ready to face facts. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s remark that the demise of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was caused by their pursuit of short-term profits was not a constructive contribution to the resolution of the major issues before us. In reality, Fannie and Freddie were doomed by a badly designed government housing policy, and government efforts to disguise its responsibility with a false narrative will only make a solution more difficult.

In 1992, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie a “mission” to promote affordable housing, and directed them to study a few very new ideas to accomplish this goal: “establish a downpayment requirement for mortgagors of 5 percent or less; allow the use of cash on hand as a source of downpayments; and approve borrowers who have a credit history of delinquencies if the borrower can demonstrate a satisfactory credit history for at least the [most recent] 12-month period.” (Peter J. Wallison, American Magazine)


Study IDs 'alarming disparities' in child obesity

NEW YORK - While the extent of obesity among kids overall seems to have peaked, it's still climbing among African American and Native American girls, new research from California shows.

And the biggest obesity increases over the past decade have occurred among the heaviest youths, no matter what their gender or ethnicity, Dr. Kristine Madsen of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues found. "Our heaviest kids are getting heavier," Madsen said in an interview. (Reuters Health)


U.S. Farmers Oppose EPA's Proposed Dust Standard

American farmers have been ridiculing a proposal by U.S. regulators to reduce the amount of dust floating in rural air.

"If there's ever been rural America, that's what rural America is," said Nebraska hog farmer Danny Kluthe. "You know? It's dirt out here, and with dirt you've got dust."

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to tighten standards for the amount of harmful particles in the air, facing opposition from U.S. farming groups who call it an unrealistic attempt to regulate dust.

The EPA is reviewing its air quality standards to comply with the Clean Air Act that prescribes reevaluation every five years. The agency's scientific panel proposes either retaining or halving the current standard for coarse particles, commonly containing dust, ash and chemical pollutants--particles 10 microns or smaller in diameter, about one-tenth of human hair.

In scientific terms, the EPA is looking to either keep the standards at 150 micrograms per cubic meter or revise it down to 65 to 85 micrograms per cubic meter. (Reuters)


Supermarkets lose heart in green war on plastic carrier bags

Campaigners call for legislation as retailers fail to meet targets to cut one of the most visible signs of waste. Susie Mesure reports

Britain's biggest supermarket chains will come under fire this week for handing out tens of millions more carrier bags than last year, derailing attempts to reduce the environmental impact from billions of disposable bags.

New figures will show that the industry missed its target of halving the number of plastic bags used in 2006 for the second consecutive year. The setback will propel carrier bags back on to the green agenda, despite hopes of moving the environmental debate on to tackle bigger issues, such as food waste and water usage. (Independent)


Andrew Simms... We've gone into the ecological red

On 21 August our environmental resource budget ran out. Now we're living beyond the planet's means to support us

At the weekend, Saturday 21 August to be precise, the world as a whole went into "ecological debt".

That means in effect that from now until the end of the year, humanity will be consuming more natural resources and producing more waste than the forests, fields and fisheries of the world can replace and absorb. By doing so, the life -support systems that we all depend on are worn ever thinner. Farms become less productive, fish populations crash and climate regulating forests decline. All become less resilient in the face of extreme weather events.

The date is arrived at by comparing our annual environmental resource budget with our ecological footprint – the rate at which we spend it. (Guardian)


Math Lessons for Locavores

IT’S 42 steps from my back door to the garden that keeps my family supplied nine months of the year with a modest cornucopia of lettuce, beets, spinach, beans, tomatoes, basil, corn, squash, brussels sprouts, the occasional celeriac and, once when I was feeling particularly energetic, a couple of small but undeniable artichokes. You’ll get no argument from me about the pleasures and advantages to the palate and the spirit of eating what’s local, fresh and in season.

But the local food movement now threatens to devolve into another one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas. Arbitrary rules, without any real scientific basis, are repeated as gospel by “locavores,” celebrity chefs and mainstream environmental organizations. Words like “sustainability” and “food-miles” are thrown around without any clear understanding of the larger picture of energy and land use.

The result has been all kinds of absurdities. For instance, it is sinful in New York City to buy a tomato grown in a California field because of the energy spent to truck it across the country; it is virtuous to buy one grown in a lavishly heated greenhouse in, say, the Hudson Valley.

The statistics brandished by local-food advocates to support such doctrinaire assertions are always selective, usually misleading and often bogus. This is particularly the case with respect to the energy costs of transporting food. One popular and oft-repeated statistic is that it takes 36 (sometimes it’s 97) calories of fossil fuel energy to bring one calorie of iceberg lettuce from California to the East Coast. That’s an apples and oranges (or maybe apples and rocks) comparison to begin with, because you can’t eat petroleum or burn iceberg lettuce.

It is also an almost complete misrepresentation of reality, as those numbers reflect the entire energy cost of producing lettuce from seed to dinner table, not just transportation. Studies have shown that whether it’s grown in California or Maine, or whether it’s organic or conventional, about 5,000 calories of energy go into one pound of lettuce. Given how efficient trains and tractor-trailers are, shipping a head of lettuce across the country actually adds next to nothing to the total energy bill. (Stephen Budiansky, NYT)



Judge to rule in 10 days on Cuccinelli climate case against University of Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- A team of lawyers for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a vocal skeptic of global warming, went to court Friday to further his investigation into whether former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann manipulated data to show that there has been a rapid, recent rise in the Earth's temperature.

Lawyers from the attorney general's office said the climate scientist might have engaged in fraud by purposely designing his well-known "hockey-stick" graph to show global warming or including manipulated research on his curriculum vitae, which he submitted for grants. (Washington Post)


Defenders of Mann stage protest rally at UVA

From NBC29:

Protestors, angry with the way Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has tried to make his case, rallied on grounds at the University of Virginia Friday afternoon.

Only one small problem…..

click image to watch video

Turnout was smaller than expected, as just a few people showed up. Organizers put the rally together to express the viewpoint of some students and faculty. They say the actions of Cuccinelli could have severe ramifications on the academic world.


The protest organizer, shown below, doesn’t inspire confidence, especially when you listen to what he has to say. Where’s Bill McKibben when you need him?

Full story here (WUWT)


Obama's energy meltdown

The decision by congressional Democrats to not try to pass a major energy bill in this Congress, while receiving a modest amount of media attention, actually constitutes one of the sharpest rebukes to a sitting president in recent memory.

When President Barack Obama arrived at the White House with overwhelming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, passage of a broad, comprehensive energy bill that addressed climate change was viewed with near certainty and considered as likely as or even more likely to become law than health care reform.

House Democrats worked quickly to pave the way for enactment. They began by replacing auto industry supporter John Dingell of Michigan with Pelosi-friendly Henry Waxman, California, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And soon the White House, Chairman Waxman and Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey had rammed a climate/energy bill through the House.

That accomplished, attention shifted to the Senate. Willing business allies formed support groups, and efforts to reach across the aisle to recruit Republican support gained some traction. (Politico)


White House web site has a disappearing Cap-and-Trade Act

Remember how firmly committed President Obama was to passing a cap-and-trade anti-global warming energy reform bill this year? You don't? Well, don't go looking around on the White House web site for evidence because it's been scrubbed, according to an energy and environment trade publication.

“The White House has recently revised its energy and environment website, stripping references to a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases and a pledge to funnel $150 billion into clean energy research. Gone from the site is a section titled 'Closing the Carbon Loophole and Cracking Down on Polluters,'" reports Energy & Environment.

"The website had pledged to 'finally close the carbon pollution loophole' by stemming emissions through a market-based cap, according to a version obtained by Jesse Jenkins of the Breakthrough Institute, but the updated version omits any mention of cap and trade," Energy & Environment said. (Washington Examiner)


‘Think about What’s Happening in Countries like Germany . . . ‘

August 20, 2010 2:45 PM
By Chris Horner

Okay, Mr. President. Let’s think.

From Open Europe‘s daily press summary:

German business leaders criticise cost of EU-driven renewable energy policy
The front page of Handelsblatt reports that more than 40 of Germany’s top business managers have criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s energy and industrial policies. They criticise in particular renewable energy, which member states have to promote due to strict EU limits, writing: “renewable energy, especially solar energy, will cause significant extra costs in the future and have already cost €8 billion this year alone”.

Handelsblatt, FTD

Hey, I wonder if we’re actually following Germany’s lead and cutting the cascade of “green economy waste? From E&E Daily (subscription required, h/t American Energy Alliance) — or see WaPo‘s whining today here, aptly titled “Robbing Peter…”, if not for the reasons they intend:

Warm Boot: In Fitting Eulogy to Cap-and-Raid, White House Quietly Removes All References to Policy on Energy and Environment Website — Like It Never Happened. E&E News (8/19, subs. req’d) reports, “The White House has recently revised its energy and environment website, stripping references to a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases and a pledge to funnel $150 billion into clean energy research. Gone from the site is a section titled “Closing the Carbon Loophole and Cracking Down on Polluters.” The website had pledged to “finally close the carbon pollution loophole” by stemming emissions through a market-based cap, according to a version obtained by Jesse Jenkins of the Breakthrough Institute, but the updated version omits any mention of cap and trade. The changes were likely made on June 23, according to Peter Bray, co-founder of Versionista, a company that tracks changes to websites. Senate Democrats continued a last-minute push for a sweeping climate and energy bill throughout June, but prospects for passage appeared grim and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) punted on an energy and climate bill in late July. The updated site also omits a pledge from President Obama to invest $150 billion in clean energy research and development over 10 years. That may be because the White House won’t have a way to fund the commitment; Obama’s 2010 budget slated $120 billion from cap-and-trade climate revenue toward clean energy technologies. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

That’s wonderful . . . so long as it comes with an admission of the boondoggle. Otherwise, we’ll be back here soon enough, claiming that mandating economic redundancies and expensive electricity will “grow the economy.” (NRO)


Surreal Environmental Regulations ? Even for California

This November, along with a host of anxious politicians, California’s own greenhouse gas law, AB 32, will be on the ballot. Those worried about the law’s potential economic consequences are pushing Proposition 23 that calls for freezing provisions of AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. Serious questions about apocalyptic global warming aside, one would expect California’s horrendous unemployment rate of 12.3% and the state’s near bankrupt status, to deter the golden – or rather green – state’s aggressive emissions regulatory agenda but such is not the case.

Last Tuesday, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) released a report outlining preliminary emissions reduction targets for four major metropolitan areas – San Diego, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento region. The report calls for a 13-16% reduction of carbon dioxide by 2035. What is surreal even by California’s standards is that, at the same time CARB is preparing to ratchet down on greenhouse gas emissions, the agency is pushing California dry cleaners to adopt machines that actually emit greenhouse gases. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Australian Boomerang

Another big spending center-left party loses its majority.
Three months ago, Britain's Labour Party was drummed out of office. This weekend, Australians woke up to a hung parliament as their Labor government lost its majority. America's ruling Democrats may detect a pattern here. (WSJ)


U.N. Panel To Review CER Request From 5th HFC Plant

A United Nations panel will review a carbon offset request from a fifth greenhouse gas destroying plant, the UN said on Friday, a sign that all similar projects approved under a Kyoto Protocol carbon finance scheme will be scrutinized.

The UN's climate arm said on its website it would review a request for offsets, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), from the Zhejiang Juhua project in China, which makes money by destroying a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23.

The project was approved under Kyoto's $2.7 billion Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which helps fund cuts in carbon emissions in emerging economies.

It is the fifth HFC-23 project this week to have its CER issuance request face an additional review by the CDM's executive board. It had requested 1.44 million CERs for abatement activities between September and November 2009.

The project's investors include Japan's Marubeni, JGC Corp. and Daioh Construction, according to data from a UN agency.

Four other Chinese HFC-23 projects are to have their requests reviewed after environmental groups earlier this year alleged that the projects were intentionally boosting their emissions in order to then destroy them and collect more CERs. (Reuters)


The End Of Road For Climate Looting

Russian heat and droughts and fire? Maybe it’s global warming. Pakistani (and Kashmiri) floods? Maybe it’s global warming.

Or maybe not.

Likewise for the European heatwave of 2003, and pretty much any flood or drought Revkin, Romm and friends have ever been able to hear about in the news. Expect the law of diminishing returns to kick in quickly.

Now, wouldn’t it make more sense to finally abandon the rather unpleasant rushing after the latest tragedies in the hope of being able to blame them on (anthropogenic) global warming? Rather than behaving like “climate looters”, it would be far more effective for AGW believers to figure out where in the world a “climate signal” might be materialising (eg where trends in disasters are present or on the edge of being detectable), in order to concentrate minds on forecasting what if anything might happen in those specific places also with the goal of pushing adaptation projects forward.

This is not all too different from what vulcanologists already do. And it looks like a good litmus test to tell scavengers from the rest. (OmniClimate)


Oh, for goodness sake! Russian Heat Wave Dents Hopes of climate "winners"

Russia's summer heat wave has dimmed prospects that northern countries will "win" from climate change thanks to factors such as longer crop-growing seasons or fewer deaths from winter cold, experts say.

Canada, Nordic countries and Russia have been portrayed as among a lucky few chilly nations where moderate climate change will mean net benefits such as lower winter heating bills, more forest and crop growth and perhaps more summer tourism.

Russia's two-month heat wave -- blamed on global warming by President Dmitry Medvedev even though many experts say it is impossible to link individual weather events to climate change -- is likely to shift the perceptions of risks.

"There ought to be, coming out of this, a greater awareness that many hazards come with climate change," said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

"It's not a matter of a benign shift to a longer growing season" for northern nations, he said. Russia's heat wave doubled death rates in Moscow, wrecked a quarter of Russia's grain crop and may cut $14 billion from gross domestic product. (Reuters)

So, gorebull warbling maliciously hid an saved itself up to strike selective regions of Russia this summer? And it failed to strike in previous warm years just to lull people into a false sense of security? Gosh this is a silly game.


Another Perspective on the Russian Heat Wave

NOAA has this to say about the Russian heat wave of 2010:

Despite this strong evidence for a warming planet, greenhouse gas forcing fails to explain the 2010 heat wave over western Russia. The natural process of atmospheric blocking, and the climate impacts induced by such blocking, are the principal cause for this heat wave. It is not known whether, or to what exent, greenhouse gas emissions may affect the frequency or intensity of blocking during summer. It is important to note that observations reveal no trend in a daily frequency of July blocking over the period since 1948, nor is there an appreciable trend in the absolute values of upper tropospheric summertime heights over western Russia for the period since 1900.

The indications are that the current blocking event is intrinsic to the natural variability of summer climate in this region, a region which has a climatological vulnerability to blocking and associated heat waves (e.g., 1960, 1972, 1988). A high index value for blocking days is not a necessary condition for high July surface temperature over western Russia---the warm summers of 1981, 1999, 2001, and 2002 did not experience an unusual number of blocking days.

A clear understanding of the causes for the 2010 Russian heat wave is important for informing decision makers and the public on whether they need to transition from a preparedness mode of precautionary responses to an adaptation mode involving investment responses and actions. Our assessment indicates that, owing to the mainly natural cause for this heat wave, it is very unlikely that a similar event will recur next summer or in the immediate future (next decade). Whereas this phenomena has been principally related to a natural extreme event, its impacts may very well forebode the impact that a projected warming of surface temperatures could have by the end of the 21st Century due to greenhouse gas increases.

(Roger Pielke Jr.)


Is Climatology A Thing Of The Past?

For an inordinately long time, one of the biggest troubles with Climatology has been its fixation with predicting the future, far before it will ever be able to understand the actual mechanisms of Earth’s climate in detail enough.

This has several nasty consequences, including a predisposition on the part of the very scientists to describe the future as some kind of catastrophe, and to make do without professional niceties (what is the point of being gentlemanly when the world is risking a fiery end of ice or fire?)

There are however indications that, in truth, the situation is the other way around, with the mainstream climatologist a prisoner of the past.

One could look at the humorous suggestions by Italian scientist Vincenzo Ferrara on how to be right about climate change (always). More seriously, the 1972-1975 paradigm shift seems to speak loud and clear on the subject.

As should now be understood by all, the scientific consensus in 1972 was that the world was cooling. Even Peterson, Connolley and Fleck state as much between the lines of their much-misunderstood (by its authors) paper. Things changed then with Damon and Kunen’s paper in 1975, the consensus became about a warming globe, and the rest as they say is history (more here).

How intriguing then to find that the World’s temperature might have started going upwards (again) but when, between 1973 and 1975. Says who? Says Tamino.

In a world they believed was cooling, climatologists found ways to explain why it was cooling. In a world they believe is warming, climatologists find ways to explain why it is warming. The fact that those beliefs are based on scientific data and theories means nothing more than current and past climate science have been scientifically feeling their ways through a very obscure dark. No sign any of us is any the wiser.

This bodes nothing well about Climatology’s ability to tell us anything about our future, in terms of risk management or much else. Like WWI generals, mainstream climatologists constantly fighting the last war might actually end up becoming a policy hindrance, a litigious and politically untrustworthy source of continuousdistraction.

The only surefire prediction we can therefore makeis that if for any reason the Earth’s temperatures will plummet, there will be no shortage of well-intentioned people, scientists and otherwise, ready to extend a trend of the recent past to next century and beyond. (OmniClimate)


(Book Review) James Hansen’s “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” (alarmism on steroids)

by Jim Hollingsworth
August 20, 2010

Many scientists are concerned about the future and continue to study various aspects of our environment, including the climate. But, for Dr. James Hansen there is no doubt. Our world is headed for disaster unless we take immediate and drastic action to control greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2).

You have to give the man credit: He actually believes what he preaches. He shows pictures of his wonderful grandchildren and his concern for them is certainly evident. There is only one problem with what he shares: There is little evidence to support what he says.

Take this example:

Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril. The urgency of the situation crystallized only in the past few years. We now have clear evidence of the crisis, provided by increasingly detailed information about how Earth responded to perturbing forces during its history (very sensitively, with some lag caused by the inertia of massive oceans) and by observations of changes that are beginning to occur around the globe in response to ongoing climate change. The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought. (Emphasis Added P. IX)

Now, the one thing that Dr. Hansen is not going to share with us is the “clear evidence” of a coming crisis. In fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Dr. Hansen may understand some scientific principles but he seems to lack any common sense. He talks about plants becoming extinct because they cannot migrate because cities and farms are in the way. Yet, any person who has ever planted a garden knows that seeds find a way of getting where they want to go.

Dr. Hansen, along with a number of other climate change alarmists (like Al Gore), believes that man is the chief cause of global warming, and that warming is generally harmful. In fact more people die from cold than die from heat. Not only that but increasing levels of carbon dioxide are generally beneficial to plants, enabling them to survive with less water. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Oh... Diary of a Dying Planet

Killer heat waves. Melting glaciers. Floods that strand millions of refugees. Global warming is not some futuristic doomsday. It's already here - and the death toll is rising (Rolling Stone)


Joe Bastardi On Hurricanes: It’s Astounding How Quiet It’s Been – So Far

P Gosselin 21. August 2010

At his latest video , Joe Bastardi gives his latest hurricane forecast.

Tropical cyclone. Source: Wikipedia

Joe compares 2010 with 1950, a year the hurricane season started off late, but then did so with a vengeance. It produced 8 major hurricanes in 6 weeks. He sees 2010 having very similar conditions, and so he predicts the same pattern as 1950.

Joe also explains his theory that with global warming, the tendency will be less tropical storm activity because there will be less of a need to redistribute heat and pressure to the higher latitudes. That’s what hurricanes do.
So far for this year, Joe says:

Yet, we’ve had globally the weakest start to a hurricane season, Pacific basin and Atlantic basin, through the month of August so far. It’s just astounding how quiet it’s been – so far.

Joe doesn’t expect it to stay quiet. He’s telling you to fasten your seatbelt, because we are very likely in for some rough riding.

Continue reading “Joe Bastardi On Hurricanes: It’s Astounding How Quiet It’s Been – So Far” (No Tricks Zone)


Rising sea of irresponsibility

What is the risk of sea level increases?

Although there was little debate during the election about climate change policies, a lot of action has been going on behind the scenes on sea levels. This reflects the acceptance by our governments of questionable sea level projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 Fourth Assessment Report and even of extensions of these projections to unrealistic levels on advice from the CSIRO. This has led State planning authorities and councils to start introducing restrictions on property development in low lying areas and the associated fall in seaside prices in some areas has been reflected in downward official valuations of such properties. (Des Moore & Tom Quirk, Quadrant)


Manhattan underwater

Heide Cullen has written a new book expressing her views about the world’s climate 40 years from now.   You may recall that Cullen is the Weather Channel climatologist who suggested that other meteorologists and climatologists who express doubts about anthropogenic global warming be decertified by the American Meteorological Society

Her new book, “The Weather of the Future,” features an alarming computer generated image of Manhattan in a sea-level-risen, hurricane plagued world of 2050 on the front cover.

In the world of digital graphics you can create any reality you desire.  In this case Cullen presents Manhattan underwater, presumably after 40 years of sea level rise combined with a category 4 hurricane storm surge.

The following picture is a close-up detail of the buildings.  The group of buildings in the foreground is Lower Manhattan and the group of buildings in the background is Midtown Manhattan. “The Village” area, Chelsea, the Garment district, etc., between Lower and Midtown Manhattan is conspicuously covered in water.  Water surrounds the Empire State Building, and 250 foot tall buildings immediately south of it are submerged. (Climate Sanity)


Is the burning of fossil fuel a significant planetary activity?

After all, the Earth is a planet. Is even the presence of humans significant on the rough and diverse thin surface of this planet?

We certainly make every effort to see ourselves as significant on this spinning ball in space. We like to point out that the lights from our cities can be seen from our extra-atmospheric “spaceships” at night and that we have deforested continents and reduced the populations of large wild mammals and of fishes but is all this really significant in the planetary web known as the biosphere? (Denis G. Rancourt, Activist Teacher)


The Phytoplankton Are Starving

P Gosselin 22. August 2010

The reduction in phytoplankton is not due to oceanic warming, but instead to overfishing. Guest writer Ed Caryl digs into the subject of phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton clouds shown in light green. Source: NASA

The Phytoplankton Are Starving
By Ed Caryl

A recent press release from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, announced an article published in Nature (behind a pay-wall) that we’ve been losing 1% of our phytoplankton each year dating back to 1899, meaning 40% since 1950. The article blames it on ocean warming. The article was discussed in July on WUWT and here. Let’s pull our heads back a bit more and look beyond warming.

Why are phytoplankton important?

Phytoplankton or algae are single-celled, photosynthesizing creatures at the “bottom” of the ocean food chain. They take in sunlight and CO2 and produce carbohydrates, just like plants do on land. They are the source of the biomass that all larger animals and fish feed upon. Without them, life in the ocean would not exist. Yet, much of the literature makes no mention of any dependence in the other direction, i.e. phytoplankton depend on the creatures higher up in the food chain.

Continue reading “The Phytoplankton Are Starving” (No Tricks Zone)


Sigh... Limiting ocean acidification under global change

Emissions of carbon dioxide are causing ocean acidification as well as global warming. Scientists have previously used computer simulations to quantify how curbing of carbon dioxide emissions would mitigate climate impacts. New computer simulations have now examined the likely effects of mitigation scenarios on ocean acidification trends. They show that both the peak year of emissions and post-peak reduction rates influence how much ocean acidity increases by 2100. Changes in ocean pH over subsequent centuries will depend on how much the rate of carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced in the longer term. (NOC)


Ocean Acidification is a Misnomer

BY JACK DINI–A good way to excite people is to tell them that something is becoming more ‘acid,’ as ‘the oceans are undergoing acidification and this is a potential environmental catastrophe.’

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading proponent of the doom of global warming, states that the mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open oceans, so the oceans remain alkaline. It is dishonest to present to a lay audience that any perceived reduction in alkalinity means the oceans are turning to acid. (1) Since the pH of the oceans is higher than neutral (pH = 7), this means the oceans are alkaline. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14; pH 6 is ten times more acid than pH 7 and pH 5 is a hundred times more acid than pH 7. (2)

Unfortunately, as Scientific American points out, ‘acidification’ means a drop in value, anywhere along the scale. (3) So the term ‘ocean acidification’ is misleading. The oceans are not acidifying. They are undergoing a process known as neutralization, but the term ‘acidification’ sounds scarier than talking about the oceans becoming slightly less basic or a little more neutral.

At least one university is equating seawater with vinegar in an on-line presentation for schools. Vinegar (acetic acid) has a pH of 2.5, almost a million times more acidic in terms of hydrogen ion activity than seawater. This is deliberate disinformation to present to young people. (1) (Hawaii Reporter)


Is the ice in the Arctic Ocean getting thinner and thinner? Research aircraft Polar 5 measures thickness of sea ice north of Greenland

Bremerhaven, 20th August 2010. The extent of the sea ice in the Arctic will reach its annual minimum in September. Forecasts indicate that it will not be as low as in 2007, the year of the smallest area covered by sea ice since satellites started recording such data. Nevertheless, sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute are concerned about the long-term equilibrium in the Arctic Ocean. They have indications that the mass of sea ice is dwindling because its thickness is declining. To substantiate this, they are currently measuring the ice thickness north and east of Greenland using the research aircraft Polar 5. The objective of the roughly one-week campaign is to determine the export of sea ice from the Arctic. Around a third to half of the freshwater export from the Arctic Ocean takes place in this way – a major drive factor in the global ocean current system. (AWI)


Drought drives decade-long decline in plant growth

Global plant productivity that once was on the rise with warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline because of regional drought according to a new study of NASA satellite data.

Plant productivity is a measure of the rate of the photosynthesis process that green plants use to convert solar energy, carbon dioxide and water to sugar, oxygen and eventually plant tissue. Compared with a 6 percent increase in plant productivity during the 1980s and 1990s, the decline observed over the last decade is only 1 percent. The shift, however, could impact food security, biofuels and the global carbon cycle.

Researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana in Missoula discovered the global shift from an analysis of NASA satellite data. The discovery comes from an analysis of plant productivity data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra satellite, combined with other growing season climate data, including temperature, solar radiation and water.

"We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world," Running said.

Previous research found land plant productivity was on the rise. A 2003 paper in the journal Science led by scientist Ramakrishna Nemani, now a researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., showed the 6 percent increase in global terrestrial plant productivity between 1982 and 1999. The increase was traced to nearly two decades of temperature, solar radiation and water availability conditions, influenced by climate change, that were favorable for plant growth.

Setting out to update that analysis, Zhao and Running expected to see similar results as global average temperatures continued to climb. Instead, they found the negative impact of regional drought overwhelmed the positive influence of a longer growing season, driving down global plant productivity between 2000 and 2009. The team published its findings Thursday in Science. (NASA/GSFC)


Daily Global Temperature Updates on the Discover Website: An Updated Tutorial

I’m getting more and more questions about the daily global temperature updates we provide at the NASA Discover website. I suppose this is because 2010 is still in the running to beat 1998 as the warmest year in our satellite data record (since 1979).

But also we have made a couple of significant changes recently, and there continue to be some misunderstandings of the data that are posted there.

The bottom line is this: You can rely ONLY upon two channels at the Discover “Temperature Trends” page:

(1) the “Aqua ch.5 v2” channel for global-average mid-tropospheric temperatures, from the AMSU on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and

(2) the “Sea Surface” temperatures, which are averaged over the global ice-free oceans (60N to 60S), from the AMSR-E instrument on Aqua.

Do not trust any of the other channels for temperature trend monitoring. This is because, while the Aqua satellite equatorial crossing time is kept very near 1:30 am and pm with periodic orbit maneuvers, the rest of the channels come from the NOAA-15 satellite whose equatorial crossing time has now drifted from its original 7:30 am/pm value in late 1998 to about 4:30 am/pm now.

This orbital drift makes the NOAA-15 channels (4 and 6) unusually warm, and is why those of you who have been monitoring channel 4 and 6 at the Discover site are seeing such warm temperatures.

Tropospheric Temperature Monitoring
The following AMSU channel 5 image comes from the Discover “Recent Global Temperatures” page, and illustrates the kinds of signals present in this channel used in the construction of our UAH MT (mid-tropospheric) and LT (lower tropospheric) temperature products:

Note that even though NOAA-15 should not be used for trend monitoring, all of our global imagery at the “Recent Global Temperatures” page come from that satellite since the spatial patterns are not substantially affected by diurnal drift of the satellite orbit. If you scan through the global images for channels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 at the web site you will see how the surface and oceanic cloud water signatures change as you progress from the window channels (1, 2), to those channels more sensitive to oxygen emission at higher altitudes (3, 4, 5, etc.)

The next image is a screenshot of the Aqua AMSU ch.5 portion of our “Temperature Trends” page. In order to plot daily values that can be compared to previous years before the Aqua satellite was launched, we have intercalibrated the Aqua ch. 5 average annual cycle in daily global-average temperatures to the official UAH MT product during their overlap period (June 2002 through December 2009). This also allows us to compute curves for daily maximum, minimum, and 1979-1999 daily averages:

Most of the daily record high temperatures were set in 1998. As can be seen, 2010 has also been quite warm. For those who are wondering, the main reason why 1998 was warmer in the satellite record than the surface thermometer record is due to strong warming of the troposphere over the tropical east Pacific during the El Nino conditions in early 1998. These regions are not well represented in the surface thermometer data.

Sea Surface Temperature Monitoring
The following SST image comes from the Remote Sensing Systems website. It is based upon the most recent 3 days of SST retrievals from the AMSR-E instrument on Aqua. These measurements are made through most cloud conditions; areas of precipitation contamination are blacked out.

Because of AMSR-E’s through-cloud sensing, it provides a more accurate global average SSTs on short time scales compared to the traditional infrared measurements. We download the binary gridded SST data from the RSS website once a day and compute global area averages, which are labeled “Sea Surface” in the channel list on the Discover Temperature Trends page:

(Processing of the data is not trivial, and requires some programming skills.)

Since the AMSR-E data are available only since mid-2002, our SST record only extends back that far. There are no Max, Min, or Avg traces provided for this web page.

Why the Tropospheric Temperature Variations Don’t Match the Sea Surface Temperature Variations

Many people have noticed that the up- and down-ticks in these two temperature measures (troposphere versus sea surface) often diverge from each other. This is partly because the tropospheric temperatures include global land areas, whereas the SST data are (obviously) only over the ice-free oceans, approximately between 60N and 60S latitudes.

But another reason they diverge is because there are slight variations in the heat loss by the ocean to the atmosphere. These “intraseasonal oscillations” are usually in the tropics, and are only about +/- 1% variations in the average heat flux from the ocean to the atmosphere. Nevertheless, they can cause substantial temperature swings, especially in the troposphere.

This is why they produce opposing temperature signals. When there is above-normal ocean heat loss, the ocean surface cools below normal. Most of that heat loss is through evaporation. Meanwhile, the extra moisture in the atmosphere leads to above-normal rainfall, and so causes excess latent heating of the troposphere. The result is that SST cooling is accompanied by tropospheric warming, while SST warming is accompanied by tropospheric cooling.

These events occur on time scales of around 1 month, and so there is usually no long-term climate change significance to them. These high-frequency signals are always riding upon a more slowly varying background of temperature variability, which I believe are mostly caused by natural variations in cloud cover changing the solar energy input into the ocean. (Roy W. Spencer)


Not Under My Backyard: One German Town's Fight against CO2 Capture Technology

The next Chernobyl? A death blow to tourism? Poisoned drinking water? The residents of Beeskow, Germany worry that a planned CO2 storage facility under their town could end in disaster and are fighting the project. Europe, though, hopes the technology will drastically reduce emissions.

The signs are everywhere -- on church towers, on fences surrounding private homes and in storefronts. At first glance, the scenes evoke the large-scale protests against nuclear power that rattled Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. The resemblance is no accident. Residents in the quiet town of Beeskow in the eastern German state of Brandenburg are gearing up for a fight. They fear the pollutants that are about to be pumped beneath their homes could become the next Chernobyl.

"A field trial under our community is not acceptable," says Beeskow Mayor Frank Steffen.

The town's residents are upset about plans by a German division of Swedish energy giant Vattenfall to build a carbon dioxide (CO2) storage facility in a saline aquifer far beneath Beeskow's cobblestone roads. The site is one of a handful across Europe where companies and governments want to test a process known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that proponents say will massively reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. Instead of belching the emissions into the sky, CCS technology would capture, liquefy and then pump the CO2 into underground storage sites. (Spiegel)


Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says

New research confirms the existence of a huge plume of dispersed oil deep in the Gulf of Mexico and suggests that it has not broken down rapidly, raising the possibility that it might pose a threat to wildlife for months or even years.

The study, the most ambitious scientific paper to emerge so far from the Deepwater Horizon spill, casts some doubt on recent statements by the federal government that oil in the gulf appears to be dissipating at a brisk clip. However, the lead scientist in the research, Richard Camilli, cautioned that the samples were taken in June and circumstances could have changed in the last two months. (NYT)


Deep plumes of oil could cause dead zones in the Gulf

WASHINGTON— A new simulation of oil and methane leaked into the Gulf of Mexico suggests that deep hypoxic zones or "dead zones" could form near the source of the pollution. The research investigates five scenarios of oil and methane plumes at different depths and incorporates an estimated rate of flow from the Deepwater Horizon spill, which released oil and methane gas into the Gulf from April to mid July of this year. (AGU)


OIL SPILLS – Myth & Reality

This paper provides a factual and objective view of the reality of the effects of some of the world’s greatest oil spills. It particularly deals with the geography of the region in which the spill occurred, the climatic effects on the spill, the probable volume oil spilled, the cleanup actions that followed and the long-term environmental effects.

As an introduction, Part 1 of the paper deals with some of the commonly held beliefs that the world is about to run out of fossil fuels, that oil spills and leaks are universally ‘environmental catastrophes’ and challenges the long term view that the effects are persistent and adverse to the environment. The seemingly endless alarmism that follows each spill is highlighted and the reader is asked to read the remainder of the paper with an open mind, comparing the predictions of doom with the evidence revealed by the reality of hindsight.

It is concluded that the effects of the relatively few spills that have occurred have been exceptionally exaggerated for political purposes by both politicians and environmental activists. Both these alarmist cliques loudly report claims in every case that go far beyond the actual effect of the spill itself. Some of the unfortunate claims by scientists are also exposed as political activism unrelated to scientific method.

Finally the paper provides a ‘prophesy’ (based on the history of previous spills) as to the long-term results and effects of the recent BP Macondo Well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico that commenced on 20th April 2010 and was capped on 29th July 2010, 100 days later.

The author writes under a pseudonym to protect his privacy. However any comments or corrections will be passed onto him. He has experience and contacts in this field and is skilled at extracting and documenting facts.

The report is presented in six parts, with subsequent parts appearing over time:

Part 1: A Summary of Oil Chemistry and the Environmental Effects of Oil.
Available as PDF, 73KB: (Carbon Sense Coalition)


Even sillier season: Peak oil alarm revealed by secret official talks

Behind government dismissals of 'alarmist' fears there is growing concern over critical future energy supplies

Speculation that government ministers are far more concerned about a future supply crunch than they have admitted has been fuelled by the revelation that they are canvassing views from industry and the scientific community about "peak oil".

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is also refusing to hand over policy documents about "peak oil" – the point at which oil production reaches its maximum and then declines – under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, despite releasing others in which it admits "secrecy around the topic is probably not good". (The Observer)


Ministers to help UK energy firms win deals abroad

David Cameron and other British ministers will "get out there" lobbying Russia and other oil-rich countries to give UK energy companies new business, according to Charles Hendry, the energy minister. (TDT)


The Great British Solar Scam (and the scourge of feed-in tariffs)

Every year millions of Britons join the birds and fly south for a vacation. The reason for the annual exodus is simple enough: guaranteed sun, guaranteed heat. I have yet to hear of a foreign tourist giving the same reasons for visiting British shores. [Read More] (Peter C Glover, ET)


Has the spark gone out of electric cars?

With petrol prices sky-high and the Government offering inducements to go green, electric cars are being championed as the future of motoring. But as David Rose reveals, their real cost could give us a nasty shock... (Daily Mail)



US proposes wide changes in role fighting disease

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government proposed big changes on Thursday to the way it works with companies to fight new disease threats such as flu, including reform at the Food and Drug Administration and setting up centers to make vaccines quickly.

The report from the Health and Human Services Department also lays out a plan for helping academic researchers and biotechnology companies develop promising new drugs and vaccines. (Reuters)


U.S. flu plan cuts red tape, rewards biotechs

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government released a new plan on Thursday for cutting red tape and working more closely with companies to prepare for the next big biological disaster -- be it a flu pandemic or nuclear attack.

The plan from the Health and Human Services Department directly addresses many of the complaints industry has made about obtuse regulations and convoluted processes for testing new drugs and vaccines.

The biggest winners may be small biotech companies, which often lead the scientific advances but lack the know-how or capacity to get drugs to market. (Reuters)


More US teens get vaccinated, CDC finds

WASHINGTON - More U.S. teens are getting recommended vaccines against certain cancers, meningitis and infectious diseases, government researchers reported on Thursday.

More than 40 percent of girls have received at least one dose of the new vaccine that protects against a virus that causes cervical and other cancers, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than half have received a booster shot that protects against tetanus, whooping cough and diphtheria, the survey of 20,000 teens aged 13 to 17 said. (Reuters)


Study links pesticides to attention problems

WASHINGTON - Children whose mothers were exposed to certain types of pesticides while pregnant were more likely to have attention problems as they grew up, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, adds to evidence that organophosphate pesticides can affect the human brain.

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley tested pregnant women for evidence that organophosphate pesticides had actually been absorbed by their bodies, and then followed their children as they grew.

Women with more chemical traces of the pesticides in their urine while pregnant had children more likely to have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 5, the researchers found.

"While results of this study are not conclusive, our findings suggest that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides may affect young children's attention," Amy Marks and colleagues wrote in the study. (Reuters)


Kidney transplant revolution gives hope to dying patients

Previously rejected kidneys get clean bill of health for donation as study embraces use of organs after cardiac death (Denis Campbell, Guardian)


How Marketplace Economics Can Help Build a Greener World

Consumers now have little information about the true ecological impacts of what they buy. But that may be about to change, as new technologies that track supply chains are emerging and companies as diverse as Unilever and Google look to make their products more sustainable. (Daniel Goleman, e360)

Hmm... handing anther extortion lever to the anticapitalists?


Eye-roller: Giving Up Meat for a Better World

Jonathan Safran Foer used to love his grandmother's chicken and carrots. But after his son was born, the bestselling American author decided to give up meat. Like German author Karen Duve, who is also writing a book about eating ethically, Foer is trying to make the world a better place. (Spiegel)


Canada Welcomes Court Suspension Of EU Seal Ban

A European court has ordered the suspension of a EU import ban on seal products that was set to begin on Friday, according to a copy of the ruling provided by a Canadian Inuit group.

The ruling made by the European Court of Justice on Thursday raises the stakes in a European Union trade dispute with Canada even as the two sides pursue wide-ranging free trade talks.

The court decision came in response to a request by the Canadian Inuit group for an injunction against the EU ban, which arose over concerns of brutality in the seal hunt. (Reuters)


Nick Clegg takes ‘parental determinism’ to a new low

It is mad to claim, as the deputy PM does, that poor parenting is more important than poverty in screwing up children’s life chances.

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Blame the parent and not the poverty, argued deputy British PM Nick Clegg yesterday in one of his typically intellectual-lite speeches. He said that bad parenting probably harms children more than poverty does. To substantiate this ridiculous claim, he referred to a study which concluded that the amount of interest parents show in their child’s education is four times more significant than socioeconomic circumstances in impacting on educational achievement at the age of 16. Not twice as significant or five times as significant – no, apparently Nick is absolutely certain that slothful mums and dads create four times as many problems for their kids as their marginal economic circumstances do.

Clegg’s attempt to recast the age-old problems associated with poverty as principally a result of parents’ own moral failures resonates with the zeitgeist amongst policymakers and politicians. It is no longer a question of parent-blaming – rather, parenting has become an all-purpose causal explanation for virtually every problem afflicting society. Parental determinism minimises the importance of economic, social and cultural factors in everyday life and reduces the complex interaction between social wellbeing and family life to a simple question of moral failure. (Frank Furedi, spiked)


The Sweet 'n Lowdown on GM Crops

Farmers should be allowed to continue growing genetically modified sugar beets despite a recent flawed court decision.

An August 13 court ruling allows farmers to harvest this year's crop of genetically modified (GM) sugar beets, but prevents the planting of the herbicide-resistant seeds next year. The decision by San Francisco Federal Court Judge Jeffrey S. White follows a 2007 case before a fellow San Francisco judge that resulted in the banning of GM alfalfa. The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned the alfalfa decision.

In an earlier summary judgment, Judge White found that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the Department of Agriculture, should have undertaken a full-blown environmental impact study before deregulating the planting of the GM seeds, rather than the environmental assessment that the agency produced. The governing law in the case, the National Environmental Policy Act, allows the use of environmental assessments rather than environmental impact statements when APHIS decides that the threat to the environment is not significant. APHIS made that determination, but the judge disagreed. (Blake Hurst, American Magazine)



Indonesian Envoy Laments Grim U.N. Climate Talks

Nations face an uphill battle to reach agreement on a tougher climate pact by the end of 2011, a senior Indonesian climate change official said on Thursday, describing progress to date as bleak.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed doubt last week that a major U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the year will yield a pact that binds all major greenhouse gas emitting nations to 2020 reduction targets.

But Agus Purnomo, the Indonesian president's special adviser on climate change, said sealing a deal at talks scheduled for South Africa in late 2011 also looked like a real struggle.

"The progress to date is bleak because we still have no convergence on almost every important issue," Purnomo told Reuters in an interview from Jakarta. (Reuters)


PR hacks and flackery: Climate sceptics mislead the public over hacked emails inquiry

Andrew Montford who is conducting an investigation into the UEA inquiry has a history of omitting evidence to suit his arguments (Bob Ward, Guardian)


Early reply: Glaring inaccuracies and misrepresentations

...but not mine.

Firstly, one should always accentuate the positive first, so I am going to praise Bob Ward for eschewing the words "denier" and "denialist". This is a good thing and will help elevate the tone of the debate. I assume this was his idea rather than something that was forced upon him by the Guardian.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


Trying to prop up hot air profiteering: Russia To Set 10 Euro Carbon Floor Price: Sberbank

Russia has set a minimum price of 10 euros per tonne ($12.84) for Kyoto Protocol-backed carbon offsets generated in the country, according to a letter from Sberbank seen by Point Carbon News.

According to the letter, sent to firms that had successfully submitted clean energy project proposals to the bank under a tender for 30 million carbon offsets, any credit sales from the approved projects will only be permitted if above this limit.

Under Kyoto's Joint Implementation, companies can invest in carbon-cutting projects in Kyoto signatory countries, and in return receive offsets called Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs), which can be used toward emissions targets or sold for profit.

"To be guided by the fair conditions of price determination for Russian ERUs ... shall be supplemented with ... minimum prices equal to at least 10 euros per carbon unit," the translated document said. (Reuters)


The Tree Ring Circus

Written by John Dawson

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Hockey Stick Illusion is the shocking story of a graph called the Hockey Stick. It is also a textbook of tree ring analysis, a code-breaking adventure, an intriguing detective story, an exposé of a scientific and political travesty, and the tale of a herculean struggle between a self-funded sceptic and a publicly funded hydra, all presented in the measured style of an analytical treatise. The hero of the story is Steve McIntyre, honourably assisted by fellow sceptics, especially by Ross McKitrick. The villain is Michael Mann, dishonourably assisted by global warming alarmists, especially by his “Hockey Team”. The bare bones of the Hockey Stick story are as follows.

Read more... (SPPI)


Media Use Crazy Weather to Hype Global Warming, Despite Admissions Weather Isn't Climate

From Associated Press to national newspapers, coverage of floods, fires, droughts, sinkholes make 'case' for global warming alarmism. ( Julia A. Seymour, Business & Media Institute)


NOAA on the Russian heat wave: blocking high, not global warming

The Russian Heat Wave of 2010

People walk along Moscow's Red Square with St. Basil's Cathedral and the mausoleum of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin seen in the background through hazy smoke from forest and peat fires nearby, August 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin) - click for more from "Big Picture"

Draft Report by NOAA CSI

The extreme surface warmth over western Russia during July and early August is mostly a product of the strong and persistent blocking high.

The indications are that the current blocking event is intrinsic to the natural variability of summer climate in this region…

From the freezer to the stove, so have gone surface temperatures over Russia in 2010. Only recently, the concerns were centered on the hardship inflicted by one of the coldest winters in Russia since the mid-20th Century. The current heat wave is therefore all the more remarkable coming on the heals of such extreme cold.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Reinsurance Innumeracy

I was intrigued to see the following in a Swiss Re press release a reader sent to me this morning (thanks FN):
Climate change could significantly increase the risk of hurricanes and storms in the Caribbean and threaten future development in the region, concludes a new study released by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF). Damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding already amounts to 6% of GDP per year in some countries, according to the study’s preliminary results. Under a high climate change scenario, annual expected losses could rise by another 1 to 3% of GDP by 2030.
The statement is interesting because of the very large increase in projected hurricane losses to 2030, even under the most extreme scenario. So I took a look at the underlying report, which was produced by the intergovernmental CCRIF supported by reinsurance companies including Swiss Re. And like a lot that you find in the grey literature related to climate change, it does not hold up so well.  Here are two reasons why, and they have nothing to do with the report's cherry picking of extreme scenarios or even the validity of those scenarios.  My critique below takes the climate part of the methodology as given (I didn't even look at the climate part of the methodology, which has its own obvious problems).

First, the report (here in PDF) combines projected future damage resulting from GDP growth and projected climate change and calls the total "climate change."  Not good.  You can see this in the figure below from the report. I have placed a red circle around the report's breakdown of the sources of future increases in damage, and you can see that a significant part is due solely to an "increase due to asset growth."

Then in the left panel you can see the total increase reported (in the green oval that I added), with a 50% increase in losses as a proportion of GDP (from 6% to 9%, and the difference of 3% is 50% of 6%).  By the time this makes its way to the press release it is characterized as
Findings from the study indicate that annual expected losses from wind, storm surge and inland flooding already amount to up to 6% of GDP in some countries and that, in a worst case scenario, climate change has the potential to increase these expected losses by 1 to 3 percentage points of GDP by 2030.
That is just wrong and misleading. Not good.

The second problem with the report is that while it takes an extreme scenario for climate change, it takes a single apparently conservative scenario for GDP growth.  For instance, the report assumes a 1.2% per year GDP growth for Jamaica, as compared to a 1.8%per year increase in damages due solely to climate change.  If the report were to instead assume a 2% per year annual growth rate (as the Jamaican government does for 2001/12) then hurricane damage would decrease as a proportion of GDP by 2030, because economic growth would outstrip the independent effects of climate change.

A better conclusion from this report would be that climate change -- even under the most extreme scenarios -- might increase or decrease future Caribbean hurricane damage relative to GDP, or even have no discernible effect, but the policy options that make sense in this region are insensitive to these uncertainties.

I see that some in the media have already uncritically repeated the misleading conclusions from the report.  Let's see if anyone else does. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Number of the month – 800

Our complete list of things that cause global warming has now passed the 800 mark. The honour of being number 800 goes to the story that truffles are increasing. You can find it just after truffle shortage and truffles down; which just about says it all.

Astonishingly, despite the general collapse of climate change as a scientific theory, amid the revelations about fiddling the books, glaring errors of measurement, faking the peer review process etc, the rate of production of these scare stories shows no signs of diminishing. That, dear reader, is a demonstration of the power of politics and money.

... ... and counting. (Number Watch)


They keep trying: Rising temperatures reducing ability of plants to absorb carbon, study warns

Research shows warming over past decade caused droughts that reduced number of plants available to soak up CO² (Alok Jha, Guardian)


German Shock Readings: Climate Interest Barometer Plummets

P Gosselin 19. August 2010

German public’s interest in climate protection dwindles.

The German website Climate Seeks Protection, supported by the German Ministry of the Environment, presents its quarterly Climate Barometer Report. It measures German public interest on the topics of climate protection, climate change, the energy situation and interest in related projects. Here’s how it looks:

German climate barometer: Index of public interest in climate protection


This shouldn’t surprise anyone. People reading this website and looking at opinion polls around the world know that the public is sick and tired of all the hype about so-called climate change.
Continue reading “German Shock Readings: Climate Interest Barometer Plummets” (No Tricks Zone)


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Aug 19th 2010

A warmist wants to name natural disasters after skeptics, Hillary Clinton smuggled a climate weapon into Russia and the truth about the shameful satellite saga. (Daily Bayonet)


Oh... Peace Corps Partners with the Department of State to Tackle Energy and Climate Issues at the Grassroots Level

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 19, 2010 – In support of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the Department of State will provide $1 million to fund Peace Corps volunteer efforts that increase rural access to energy, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in Central and South American communities. (Press Release)


A Skeptic of Climate Alarmism Speaks: Does Walter Cunningham Have More of a Case than His Critics Contend?

by Robert Bradley Jr.
August 19, 2010

“As I have argued for years, we simply do not know the answer [to the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gas forcing]. There is a wide margin of error in many of the ingredients that go into the [climate] models. For example, we do not know some of the radiative properties of the aerosols to a factor of 5. No matter how good your climate model is, you cannot compensate for that uncertainty. The range of uncertainty is broad enough to accommodate [Patrick] Michaels (well, maybe North) and [Jerry] Mahlman.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), September 17, 1999

“One has to fill in what goes on between 5 km and the surface. The standard way is through atmospheric models. I cannot make a better excuse.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), October 2, 1998

“We do not know much about modeling climate. It is as though we are modeling a human being. Models are in position at last to tell us the creature has two arms and two legs, but we are being asked to cure cancer.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999

The quotations above are what Gerald North privately believes–or believed prior to Climategate, an event that pushed him to the Left unlike his scientific colleague Judith Curry. I reproduce his quotations (there are many others) in light of a recent op-ed published by geophysicist and Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham in the Houston Chronicle , “Climate Change Alarmists Ignore Scientific Methods.”

Cunningham makes a number of worthy points that should not be dismissed by the political “mainstream” climate scientists such as Andrew Dessler at Texas A&M. Cunningham can find support from many sources, from pollsters to economists to physical scientists.

Consider all three in turn:

Public Concern: The public is fatigued by and skeptical of sky-is-falling environmentalism when most objective indicators of environmental welfare are trending positive. (Even the worst-case oil spill by “beyond petroleum” BP has not turned into the disaster that anti-technology, anti-capitalism environmentalists had expected and hoped–the subject of a forthcoming post at MasterResource.)

Political Economy: Programs to regulate CO2 are all pain and no gain. Compare the costs of any local, state, federal, or international climate program versus the associated temperature reduction. It is tears in the ocean of benefit versus economic waste and politicization–and a loss of freedom.

We know more than ever before how government failure of  regulating  CO2 is as great or greater than the alleged market failure of not regulating CO2. International and national efforts to regulate CO2 smell so bad that more and more environmentalists are holding their nose.

Physical Science: Cunningham’s case against high-sensitivity warming can find support from not only middle-of-the-roaders such as Gerald North of Texas A&M (see quotations above) but also the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on close inspection.

Here are two salient IPCC quotations that were part of John Droz’s recent post at MasterResource: [Read more →] (MasterResource)


I was once a Green who believed in man-made global warming

Since time immemorial people have been inventing or exaggerating scares to gain power. I used to think carbon dioxide posed a real threat, and I even used to be an active member of the Australian Greens. Then I discovered all the things we weren’t being told (like this and this), and how much money was involved and I was shocked.

There are many good people among the Greens who will be outraged when they realize how they have been used.

The most selfish aims are always cloaked in “good intentions”

Some Greens really believe a market based trading system is the best way to deal with pollution. But this pollution is not a pollutant,  and this “free market” is not free. Last year the carbon market reached $130 billion dollars. It’s projected to reach $2 Trillion, and you can be sure that “sub-prime” carbon is coming too. The market depends wholly on government mandate; it’s “fixed” from beginning to end. Who would buy a carbon credit if they weren’t forced to? In a free market, no one.

Worse, funneling money through fake markets is like inviting corruption to a three course meal. More » (Jo Nova)


Still Cooling: Sea Surface Temperatures thru August 18, 2010

Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) measured by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite continue the fall which began several months ago. The following plot, updated through yesterday (August 18, 2010) reveals the global average SSTs continue to cool, while the Nino34 region of the tropical east Pacific remains well below normal, consistent with La Nina conditions. (click on it for the large, undistorted version; note the global SST values have been multiplied by 10):

Anomalously High Oceanic Cloud Cover
The following plot shows an AMSR-E estimate of anomalies in reflected shortwave (SW, sunlight) corresponding to the blue (Global) SST curve in the previous figure. I have estimated the reflected SW anomaly from AMSR-E vertically integrated cloud water contents, based upon regressions against Aqua CERES data. The high values in recent months (shown by the circle) suggests either (1) the ocean cooling is being driven by decreased sunlight, or (2) negative feedback in response to anomalously warm conditions, or (3) some combination of (1) and (2). Note that negative low-cloud feedback would conflict with all of the IPCC climate models, which exhibit various levels of positive cloud feedback.

(Roy W. Spencer)


The Big Valley: Altitude Bias in GHCN

Foreword: The focus of this essay is strictly altitude placement/change of GHCN stations. While challenge and debate of the topic is encouraged, please don’t let the discussion drift into other side issues. As noted in the conclusion, there remain two significant issues that have not been fully addressed in GHCN. I believe a focus on those issues (particularly UHI) will best serve to advance the science and understanding of what GHCN in its current form is measuring and presenting, post processing. – Anthony

Tibet valley, China. Image from - click for more info/poster

By Steven Mosher, Zeke Hausfather, and Nick Stokes

Recently on WUWT Dr. McKitrick raised several issues with regard to the quality of the GHCN temperature database. However, McKitrick does note that the methods of computing a global anomaly average are sound. That is essentially what Zeke Hausfather and I showed in our last WUWT post. Several independent researchers are able to  calculate the Global Anomaly Average with very little differences between them.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Comment On Tree Ring Proxy Data and Thermometer Type Surface Temperature Anomalies And Trends

There was an interesting conclusion in a New York Times article on the relationship between tree ring proxy temperature trend analyses and thermometer type measures of temperature anomalies and trends.  The article is

British Panel Clears Scientists  by Justin Gillis published on July 7, 2010

The relevant text is on page 2 it is written

“But they were dogged by a problem: Since around 1960, for mysterious reasons, trees have stopped responding to temperature increases in the same way they apparently did in previous centuries. If plotted on a chart, tree rings from 1960 forward appear to show declining temperatures, something that scientists know from thermometer readings is not accurate.”

There are, however, problems with this conclusion. Since the thermometers are not coincident in location with the tree ring data (in the same local area), it would not be surprising that they are different. Indeed, this is yet another example that implies unresolved biases and uncertainties in the surface temperature thermometer type data as we discussed in several of our papers (see and see), as the thermometers are measuring elsewhere then where the proxy tree data is obtained.  This obvious issue has been ignored in the assessment of this so-called divergence between the two methods to evaluate temperature anomalies and trends.

It is possible, of course, that the trees are responding differently due to the biogeochemical effect of added carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen deposition. Nonetheless, to accept the thermometer record as the more robust measurement of spatial representative temperatures is premature.

I have discussed this issue further in the posts

Comments On The Tree Ring Proxy and Thermometer Surface Temperature Trend Data

December 2007 Session ‘The “Divergence Problem’ In Northern Forests

A New Paper On The Differences Between Recent Proxy Temperature And In-Situ Near-Surface Air Temperatures (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Tisdale on Liu and Curry’s ‘Accelerated Warming’ paper

On Liu and Curry (2010) “Accelerated Warming of the Southern Ocean and Its Impacts on the Hydrological Cycle and Sea Ice”

Image above courtesy Dr. Judith Curry

The Liu and Curry (2010) paper has been the subject of a number of posts at Watts Up With That over the past few days. This post should complement Willis Eschenbach’s post Dr. Curry Warms the Southern Ocean, by providing a more detailed glimpse at the availability of source data used by Hadley Centre and NCDC in their SST datasets and by illustrating SST anomalies for the periods used by Liu and Curry. I’ve also extended the data beyond the cutoff year used by Liu and Curry to show the significant drop in SST anomalies since 1999.

Preliminary Note: I understand that Liu and Curry illustrated the principal component from an analysis of the SST data south of 40S, but there are two primary objectives of this post as noted above: to show how sparse the source data is and to show that SST anomalies for the studied area have declined significantly since 1999.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Deep plumes of oil could cause dead zones in the Gulf

WASHINGTON— A new simulation of oil and methane leaked into the Gulf of Mexico suggests that deep hypoxic zones or "dead zones" could form near the source of the pollution. The research investigates five scenarios of oil and methane plumes at different depths and incorporates an estimated rate of flow from the Deepwater Horizon spill, which released oil and methane gas into the Gulf from April to mid July of this year. (AGU)


The oil that saved your ungrateful life

While the panicked sorts would have you believe that amid “climate chaos,” Mother Earth has become quite angry at us meddling humans, it turns out the data say otherwise. (Patrick McIlheran, Journal Sentinel)


Activists set up Climate Camp at Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters

Hundreds of campaigners descend on RBS offices in Edinburgh in protest at bank's investments in oil industry (Severin Carrell, Guardian)


The End of Coal?

Many pundits may believe that the age of coal is over, but the investment bankers at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. believe there’s plenty of money to be made by buying certain coal stocks. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, ET)


Merkel Tries to Regain Upper Hand in Energy Debate

Before the financial crisis, Angela Merkel liked to present herself as the "climate chancellor," pushing for CO2 cuts and posing with glaciers. Now, with nuclear energy dominating the energy debate in Germany, Merkel has sought to turn back the clock. (Spiegel)


Renewables Investors Fear Withdrawal of Subsidies

European Governments Are Finding Themselves Forced to Scale Back Amid Budgetary Pressures and High Power Prices (WSJ)



Death Panels Begin As Reform Takes Shape

Medicine: After the recess appointment of a Medicare and Medicaid head, an FDA panel drops its endorsement of a widely used cancer drug. Another FDA-approved cancer therapy may not be paid for. It begins.

It didn't take long for the health care philosophy of Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's choice to head the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and an appointee we have labeled a "one-man death panel," to have an effect.

Berwick is an admirer of Britain's National Health Service and its National Institute for Clinical Excellence, with the Orwellian-acronym NICE.

"NICE," Berwick has said, "is extremely effective and a conscientious, valuable and — importantly — knowledge-building system." But NICE is really a system of rationing, through a bureaucratic formula for "cost-effectiveness," that has rushed untold numbers of Britons to an early grave. (IBD)


Health reform spurs change for big employers

WASHINGTON - Many of the biggest U.S. companies are removing spending limits from their employees' health plans and taking other steps to comply with the new healthcare law, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Most of the companies surveyed also plan to shift more costs to employees in an effort to rein in rising healthcare spending, according to the report. (Reuters)


Bad bumps to head could kill years later: U.S. study

WASHINGTON - Scientists reported on Tuesday they have some of the best evidence yet to support long-held theories that repeated blows to the head may cause nerve-degenerative diseases like Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's.

Autopsies of 12 athletes who died with brain or neurological disease showed a distinctive pattern of nerve damage - and fingered some potential culprits.

All had repeated concussions during their careers. Three of the men had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, the star baseball player who died of it. (Reuters)


Low vitamin D levels tied to pregnancy complication

NEW YORK - A new study finds that women who develop a severe form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D than healthy pregnant women -- raising the possibility that the vitamin plays a role in the complication.

The condition is known as early-onset severe preeclampsia, and while it arises in about 2 to 3 percent of pregnancies, it contributes to about 15 percent of preterm births in the U.S. each year. (Reuters Health)


Lifestyle factors linked to teens' headaches

NEW YORK - Teenagers who are overweight, get little exercise, or smoke may be more likely than their peers to have recurrent headaches, researchers reported Wednesday.

Norwegian researchers found that among nearly 6,000 13- to 18-year-olds they assessed, those who were overweight, sedentary or who smoked were more likely to report suffering recurrent headaches in the past year -- including both migraines and common tension-type headaches.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, do not show whether those lifestyle factors may raise teenagers' risk of developing frequent headaches in the first place. (Reuters Health)


Obesity top threat to children's health: poll

NEW YORK - Adults consider obesity the number one threat to children's health in the United States and many believe the problem is getting worse, according to a new poll. (Reuters Life!)

Well duh! That's what the media keep telling them.


E-mails spark ethics row

Spat over health effects of atrazine escalates.

The rapper Earl 'DMX' Simmons is not known for his conciliatory lyrics. So Tyrone Hayes, a biologist and faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, drew from Simmons's lexicon earlier this year while writing a series of 'trash-talking' e-mails to representatives of Syngenta, the world's largest producer of the herbicide atrazine.

Those e-mails, which Hayes says were prompted by a heated encounter with a Syngenta scientist, are included in an ethics complaint that Syngenta filed with top University of California officials on 19 July. The Syngenta scientist concerned denies provoking Hayes. The action marks the latest in a series of bitter exchanges between the Switzerland-based company and Hayes, whose work has linked atrazine to adverse effects on the environment and on human health. (Nature News)


Gosh and The Indy offered 5K for the study too: Mystery of the vanishing sparrows still baffles scientists 10 years on

Reasons behind the decline in house sparrows range from an increase in predators to a lack of insect food

The greenfinch may be declining because of a parasitic disease, but nobody knows – still – the reason for the decline of the house sparrow.

It was once our most common and familiar bird. Now, in many places, it has vanished. Yet, more than 10 years after The Independent offered a prize of £5,000 for a proper scientific explanation of the house sparrow's widespread disappearance from many of our towns and cities, London above all, its vanishing remains one of the great environmental mysteries. (Independent)


Pigeon disease kills one in three greenfinches

Britain's greenfinches are threatened by a disease which has 'jumped the species barrier' from pigeons and doves

Populations of greenfinches, among Britain's most handsome and popular garden birds, dropped by a third in parts of England within a year of the emergence of a new disease, a new study reports.

Scientists from the Garden Bird Health initiative discovered that greenfinches declined dramatically after trichomonosis, a disease normally associated with pigeons, apparently "jumped the species barrier" and began to affect finches in 2005.

Populations of chaffinches were also hard hit, their numbers falling by up to 20 per cent in some places, and other garden birds were affected. (Independent)


Food Supplies Most At Risk In Afghanistan And Africa

Afghanistan and nations in sub-Saharan Africa are most at risk from shocks to food supplies such as droughts or floods while Nordic countries are least vulnerable, according to an index released on Thursday.

"Of 50 nations most at risk, 36 are located in Africa," said Fiona Place, an environmental analyst at British-based consultancy Maplecroft, which compiled the 163-nation food security risk index.

Maplecroft said that it hoped the index could help in directing food aid or to guide investments in food production. (Reuters)


Environmentally friendly mini-cows latest trend in US farms

They have become the latest trend in United States farms and an estimated 20.000 miniature cattle, weighing less than 300 kilos, are believed to be successfully breeding and could be indicating the future for environmentally-friendly beef. (MercoPress)



ACLU, others file brief in U.Va. vs. Cuccinelli

Four groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the University of Virginia’s request to set aside Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation into the records of climatologist Michael Mann, a former U.Va. professor.

In addition to the ACLU, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Association of University Professors, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression signed onto the brief, filed Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court.

“If the court permits the attorney general to gain access to the private communications among scientists whenever he disagrees with their ideas, the scientists will simply stop sharing their ideas,” said Kent Willis, ACLU of Virginia executive director. “The chilling effect on academic freedom and scientific inquiry is incalculable.”

But Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for Cuccinelli, wrote in an e-mail that their argument in the case has not changed.

“The legal standards for the misuse of taxpayer dollars apply the same at universities as they do at any other agency of state government,” he wrote. “This is about rooting out possible fraud and not about infringing upon academic freedom.”

In April, Cuccinelli issued civil investigative demands, akin to a subpoena, seeking information on five taxpayer-funded grants, as well as a wide range of documentation related to Mann, who was cleared of research misconduct in the “Climategate” scandal by a Penn State panel last month.

Arguments on the university’s request to set aside the demands are scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. in Charlottesville. (David Sherfinski, Examiner)


Gotta lovit ;) Hot button: GOP candidates knock global warming

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

GOP climate skeptics have held powerful positions on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the chairmanship of the House Energy and Senate Environment panels. But they’ve typically been among the minority. Now, they could form a key voting bloc, adding insult to injury for climate advocates who failed to pass an energy bill this year. (Politico)

" the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming" Um... trivial warming? Immeasurably small warming? Yes, it would be fair to say these links to greenhouse gas emission are reasonably well-established but the normally meant (implied) catastrophic anthropogenic global warming? Nope.

Doesn't matter anyway. Humanity will continue to expand use of cheap and abundant coal (and we are not just talking the ecochondriac West here) and we will need to have abundant, affordable power so people can protect themselves from heat or cold as required. The coal is going to be used. Get over it.


USTAR official says jury still out on climate change

Around $100 million has been pledged by the U.S. Energy Department and others to test a Utah research team’s idea that carbon dioxide can be stored underground to help address global climate disruption.

But a state legislative committee Wednesday discussed the technology not as the fix for an environmental problem but as a potential solution for a political problem.

Indeed, a representative of the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) agreed with members of the Interim Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee Wednesday that the science remains uncertain about the need to curb carbon dioxide.

“I think the jury is still out on that,” said Alan Walker, echoing an opening remark of the committee co-chairman. “If you gather a group of scientists together, you are going to have a lot of differing opinions on that.”

The testimony echoed the views of several committee members, who questioned why so many resources are being invested into what they understand to be a non-problem. (Salt Lake Tribune)


UN climate panel head expects no climate deal at Cancun

NEW DELHI — The head of the UN's climate science panel said Wednesday there was little prospect of a breakthrough in efforts to forge a global agreement on climate change at a world meeting in December. (AFP)


Ah, the things you hear when you haven't got your gun! Gillard open to a carbon tax

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has left open the door for a future carbon price or emissions trading scheme.

Emissions would be abated through policies Labor already had announced, for renewable energy, greener buildings and cars, Ms Gillard told the National Press Club on Thursday.

She said Australians frustrated that Labor had not achieved an emissions trading scheme in its first term should give the government another chance.

"People are making a decision whether they will have a prime minister who believes in climate change, who is committed to leading a national debate to get a carbon pollution reduction scheme and the market mechanism we need to price carbon, whilst delivering on the policies I've outlined," she said. (AAP)


In Junior's opinion: Going the Wrong Way


Last week, the US Department of Energy released preliminary estimates of 2010 US carbon dioxide emissions (h/t Joe Romm).  The data, along with preliminary data on 2010 US GDP allow for a preliminary look at the rate of decarbonization of the US economy (see figure above).  Decarbonization refers a reduction in the ratio of carbon dioxide emissions to GDP.

As readers of this blog know -- and readers of my book will learn -- to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations at a low level (e.g., 450 ppm)  requires global annual rates of decarbonization of greater than 5%.

The preliminary 2010 US data indicates that the United States in in fact not decarbonizing but recarbonizing (and to emphasize, it is preliminary).  You can see this in the figure above.  The Department of Energy provides an explanation (and see this post from earlier today):

Forecast economic growth combined with increased use of coal and natural gas is expected to contribute to increases in fossil-fuel CO2 emissions of 3.4 percent  in 2010 (U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Growth Chart).  Projected coal-related CO2 emissions increase by 6.0 percent in 2010 primarily a result of increased electricity sector coal usage. Higher natural gas consumption in the industrial and electric power sectors is expected to lead to a 3.9-percent increase in CO2 emissions from natural gas.
With coal and natural gas consumption increasing at a rate faster than economic growth, the result is a recarbonization of the economy.  Hopes that the economic downturn or various stimulus investments have lead to an acceleration of decarbonization were always dubious, that should now be fairly certain (for an earlier discussion see this post).

If this data does not indicate to advocates of action on climate change that a radical new direction is needed, then I'm not sure what would. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

Conversely we have no problem whatsoever with carbon-dense fuels. Go for it. It is the correct course of action whether enhanced greenhouse should become a problem or not.


Philip Stott: Global Warming - A Mammoth Insult To Our Ancestors

One can only laugh uproariously as the latest research, carried out at Durham University by the excellent Professor Brian Huntley and his colleagues, indicates that the poor old woolly mammoth did not die out by flint and spear at the hands of us despicable humans, but because of natural global warming at the end of the last Ice Age, when, as a result of warmer, wetter conditions, and rising concentrations of carbon dioxide, trees and forests emerged at the expense of the grasslands and pastures to which the mammoths were so-well adapted.

Just think of the scenario; here we have a scientifically-attested warming with rising carbon dioxide which favoured the spread of trees, woods, and forests over grasslands. So why then do so many people think that planting trees and forests is the best way to halt global warming? Could we have some ecologic, please? Perhaps it is time to join up the dots a tad better. This is a prime example of highly-significant environmental change, only around 14,000 to 4,000 years ago, when the last mammoth found life too hairy to survive, but which did not result in the ‘End of the World’, nor of the human race, and which had nothing whatsoever to do with aeroplanes or SUVs.

The present funk over climate is a mammoth insult to the men and women - and indeed to the rest of living things - from the past. We commit the sin of presentism. (GWPF)


Ol' kibbles is at it again: Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

The world is experiencing the hottest weather on record but politicians have failed to respond. They need a wake-up call (Bill McKibben, Guardian)


Oh dear... Pakistan -- a Sad New Benchmark in Climate-Related Disasters

UNITED NATIONS -- Devastating flooding that has swamped one-fifth of Pakistan and left millions homeless is likely the worst natural disaster to date attributable to climate change, U.N. officials and climatologists are now openly saying. (ClimateWire)


The climate Cassandra

Climatologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute is interviewed in Spiegel. The interviewer even tries a few challenging questions:

SPIEGEL: As climate adviser to the chancellor, you have a particularly high profile. Because of your frequently ominous predictions, critics have dubbed you the "Cassandra of Potsdam," after the figure in Greek mythology whose predictions always went unheard. Why do you always have to scare people?

Schellnhuber: Let me answer your provocative question in an objective way. As an expert, it's possible that I tend to point to dangers and risks more than to opportunities and possibilities -- similarly to an engineer who builds a bridge and has to make people aware of everything that could cause it to collapse. Warning against a possible accident is in fact intended to reduce the likelihood of an accident. And a sudden shift in the climate could have truly catastrophic consequences. Besides, in Greek mythology Cassandra was always right -- unfortunately.

SPIEGEL: Does that justify constantly predicting the end of the world?

Schellnhuber: Naturally, we have to be careful not to dramatize things. After all, scientific credibility is our unique selling point. But I do confess that when you have the feeling that people just aren't listening, it becomes very tempting to turn up the volume. Naturally, we have to resist this temptation. 

(Bishop Hill)


We Have Been Conned - An Independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Written by John McLean
Wednesday, 18 August

The IPCC is a disgrace to science. In its desire to fit the square peg of science into the round hole of politics it has abandoned the "scientific method" and replaced it with a desperate search for data and other material that might support a specific hypothesis.

Read more... (SPPI)


Look at these prats trying to frighten the punters and pad their grant stream: Humans affect climate change

THE Australian Academy of Science has pitted its expertise against the greenhouse sceptics in a report stating that humans are changing our climate.

The statement expresses for the first time the consensus among Australia's top climate scientists on the evidence for human-caused global warming.

In it, nine eminent climate scientists declare that global average temperatures has risen during the past century, and that increased greenhouse gas levels due to human activity are mostly to blame. The academy issued the statement, The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers, in Canberra on Monday as part of National Science Week.

The document sets out the evidence for human impact on climate and outlines the possible consequences of failure to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

It synthesises the latest peer-reviewed research and identifies areas of scientific uncertainty, such as regional impacts and tipping points: thresholds that, if crossed, could send the climate system awry. (The Australian)


German Die Welt Newspaper: Enough With The Panic!

P Gosselin 18. August 2010

A heat wave in Russia, a flood in Pakistan and a calving glacier in Greenland were enough to trigger mass hysteria in Germany. The warmists pulled out their hair, socialites fainted, re-insurers went bezerk and the German media screamed bloody climate murder. Really.

Meanwhile the rest of Germany relaxed on their long holidays and yawned. So it’s only fitting that somebody step up and offer a message of calm to the bedwetters.

German online Die Welt has a piece by Ulli Kulke titled Enough with the Panic Slogans of Climate Chaos. It’s an attempt to deliver a message of calm and reason, one that is sorely needed by Germany’s irrational media.

First he explains that this year was a warm one, but so was 12 years ago - 1998, due to a strong El Nino effect. And he points out that the blazing heat in the northern hemispehere strangely could not stop Arctic sea ice from increasing in size compared to the years before. The Antarctic sea ice is growing too.
Continue reading “German Die Welt Newspaper: Enough With The Panic!” (No Tricks Zone)


Points for imagination: On the frontline of climate change

It's the burning issue Australia's leaders dare not confront, even on the eve of a general election

Irrigated by one of the world's mightiest river systems, the Murray-Darling Basin yields nearly half of Australia's fresh produce. But the basin is ailing, and scientists fear that as climate change grips the driest inhabited continent, its main foodbowl could become a global warming ground zero. (independent)

In fact the Murray Darling system were seasonal rivers which in and following El Niño drought events dried to strings of irregular waterholes (billabongs, as sung of in Waltzing Matilda). Only the system of locks and barrages installed by European settlers has converted the Murray and tributaries into permanent waterways. Does it suffer from drought? Of course, that's is Australia's default state.


"There is nothing new under the Sun" an article about 20th century global warming - my point of view

Posted July 30th, 2010 by shaviv

After a long lull in activity, I decided it's about time I write an update about my thoughts on global warming. Here it is.

20th century global warming - "There is nothing new under the Sun" - Part I
20th century global warming - "There is nothing new under the Sun" - Part II
20th century global warming - "There is nothing new under the Sun" - Part III

Incidentally, this article is based on the adaptation (and translation) of another article I wrote to an Israeli science quarterly called "Odyssey". It is probably the first (and last) time I write something in Hebrew and then translate it. Somehow it doesn't feel right to write about science in Hebrew. The Hebrew source can be found here.

Although it is my ever lasting wish to write more interesting stuff in sciencebits, don't expect a significant increase (sorry). The reason now is that in a strange twist of fate, I am the head of the coordinating council of the heads of faculty unions of the 7 universities in Israel (capo dei capi...), well at least temporarily I hope. But I am always tempted to write! For example, just the other day I realized that the barometric readings I look at every day have a very conspicuous signal due to atmospheric tides! This signal can be used to learn the mass of our moon! (Nir Shaviv, ScienceBits)


New Paper on Australian Bushfires

I am a co-author on a new paper on Australian bushfires, just accepted for publication in the journal Weather, Climate and Society of the AMS. Here is the abstract and citation:


This study re-evaluates the history of building damage and loss of life due to bushfire (wildfire) in Australia since 1925 in light of the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria in which 173 people lost their lives and 2,298 homes were destroyed along with many other structures. Historical records are normalised in order to estimate building damage and fatalities had events occurred under the societal conditions of 2008/09. There are relationships between normalised building damage and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Indian Ocean Dipole phenomena, but there is no discernable evidence that the normalised data is being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases. The 2009 Black Saturday fires rank second in terms of normalised fatalities and fourth in terms of normalised building damage. The public safety concern is that of the 10 years with the highest normalised building damage the 2008/09 bushfire season ranks third, to the 1925/26 and 1938/39 seasons, in terms of the ratio of normalised fatalities to building damage. A feature of the building damage in the 2009 Black Saturday fires in some of the most affected towns – Marysville and Kinglake – is the large proportion of buildings destroyed either within bushland or at very small distances from it (<10 m). Land use planning policies in bushfire-prone parts of this country that allow such development increase the risk that bushfires pose to the public and the built environment.

Crompton, R. P., K. J. McAneney, K. Chen, R. A. Pielke Jr., and K. Haynes, 2010 (in press): Influence of Location, Population and Climate on Building Damage and Fatalities due to Australian Bushfire: 1925-2009. Weather, Climate, and Society.
While it is certainly interesting that we do not find any signal of long-term climate change in the loss record, that finding certainly is not entirely unexpected given the growing body of research in this area.  The more significant findings of this paper have to do with issues of land-use planning and the relationship of bushfire damage to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Indian Ocean Dipole phenomena.

In due course I'll post up a pre-publication version of the paper. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Greenland Glacial Calving and Sea Level by Nils-Axel Mörner, Sea level specialist, Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics

Last week another alarmist story appeared in the Guardian quoting Richard Alley, professor at the once great Penn State University in which it reported on the natural calving of a large chink of the Petermann glacier in Greenland. They noted "Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive,” Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2-7 C would mean the obliteration of Greenland’s ice sheet.” 

We asked a real expert on sea level, Nils-Axel Morner to comment. Here is what he had to say: (Climate Realists)


South Pacific sea levels – Best records show little or no rise?!

Are the small islands of the South Pacific in danger of disappearing, glug, under the waves of the rising ocean? Will thousands of poor inhabitants be forced to emigrate, as desperate refugees, to Australia and New Zealand? Has any of this got anything to do with man-made emissions of CO2?

By looking closely at the records, it turns out that the much advertised rising sea levels in the South Pacific depend on anomalous depressions of the ocean during 1997 and 1998 thanks to an El Nino and two tropical cyclones. The Science and Public Policy Institute has released a report by Vincent Gray which compares 12 Pacific Island records and shows that in many cases it’s these anomalies that set the trends… and if the anomaly is removed, sea levels appear to be more or less constant since the Seaframe measurements began around 1993.

Sea levels: The El Nino / tropical storm anomaly in 1997-1998 is clear. A long sustained rise is not.

Take the infamous Tuvalu for example. It’s sea level rise was reported as 5.7 mm/year back in  2008. Now it’s calculated as 3.7mm/year. But look at the Seaframe Graph – its flat. It is universally forecast to disappear by 2050. New Zealand has even agreed to accept the “inevitable” rush of refugees, yet the best records available show that sea levels have not risen at all since 1993. More » (Jo Nova)


A super duper virtual world: New computer model advances climate change research

BOULDER—Scientists can now study climate change in far more detail with powerful new computer software released by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The Community Earth System Model (CESM) will be one of the primary climate models used for the next assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The CESM is the latest in a series of NCAR-based global models developed over the last 30 years. The models are jointly supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR’s sponsor. (NCAR/UCAR)


Paper On Martian Dust Storms That Is Relevant For Earth’s Climate – Rafkin Et Al 2009

I was alerted to a paper on Martian weather that is relevant for the weather and climate on Earth. It involves the role of dust, as a diabatic heat source, in affecting atmospheric circulations. On Earth, dust comes from a variety of sources, including deserts and degraded semi-arid landscapes.  Biomass burning and industrial aerosol emissions are other sources.

As emphasized om my weblog and in our papers (e.g. see), the heterogeneous heating by aerosol clouds is a major under appreciated human and natural climate forcing, as was reported in NRC (2005).

The Mars paper is

Rafkin, S. C. R. (2009), A positive radiative-dynamic feedback mechanism for the maintenance and growth of Martian dust storms, J. Geophys. Res., 114, E01009, doi:10.1029/2008JE003217.

The abstract reads

“Atmospheric dust disturbances ranging in size from dust devils to planet-encircling dust storms are ubiquitous on Mars. After dust devils, the most common disturbances are local- or regional-scale disturbances. The origin of some of these mesoscale systems has been previously investigated and found to be linked to lifting along frontal systems or cap edge circulations. Very little attention has been given to whether the lifted dust in these systems result in radiative forcing that might modulate the local system dynamics with an amplitude large enough to affect local dust-lifting processes. Idealized numerical modeling results presented herein show that a positive feedback process between local dynamics and radiative forcing of lifted dust can occur under some conditions. The feedback process is distinctly different than an enhancement of the general circulation by increasing atmospheric dust loading because the dynamical effects of this feedback process occur locally, within the disturbance itself. Optimal conditions for growth of initial atmospheric dust perturbations include (1) subtropical latitudes associated with relatively large solar insolation and moderate coriolis force; (2) modest dust-lifting thresholds and dust-lifting efficiencies; (3) relatively large initial dust perturbations; (4) steep background lapse rates; and (5) a barotropic environment. The positive feedback process is explained by a combination of geostrophic adjustment theory and a Carnot engine-like mechanism related to the Wind-Induced Sensible Heat Exchange hypothesis for tropical cyclones on Earth.”

(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


China Awaits Proof To Back Carbon Capture: Officials

China's plans for energy are unlikely to offer direct support for carbon capture technologies as Beijing remains wary about their cost and feasibility, industry officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters)


Obama Gives Oil and Gas a Cold Shoulder (Ducking Houston on his recent visit)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
August 18, 2010

President Obama did not include Houston on his visit to Texas last week rallying his base and raising funds for Democrats for the November elections. The President was originally expected to be here but ended up in Austin and Dallas. Was this bypass a duck-out? After all, Congressman Kevin Brady (R. Tx.) pointedly invited the president to meet face-to-face with Houston energy workers on the other Gulf Crisis—the federal offshore drilling moratorium that threatens tens of thousands of jobs here and in much of the Gulf Coast region.

Sure, Obama’s Texas visit was not about helping Republican candidates or hosting a Tea Party event. But why couldn’t the president reserve an hour to talk to workers whose livelihoods depend on Houston’s largest industry – an industry that is being victimized by the President’s everyone-is-guilty drilling policy? “I have seen enough to know that people are hurting,” said Michael Bromwich, Obama’s hand-picked moratorium advisor, recently. Surely the president needs to talk to the oil and gas workers in order to share that understanding—and to know that time is of the essence when it comes to lifting the moratorium.

Obama’s cold shouldering of the industry is no accident. It is an open secret that the White House intelligentsia (called by some the “‘green’ dream team”) does not like oil or even natural gas. They like solar, wind, and other esoteric energies that just happen to be more expensive and less reliable—and, on close inspection, environmentally suspect.

For a president interested in job creation, and at least nominally in favor of energy affordability, Obama is proving to be his own worst enemy and at odds with the average American. The polls reflect public concern with the explosive growth in government being driven by the party in power. From health care to energy, most Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Were Warmist Scientists Set To Do Arctic Oil And Gas Exploration Under The Guise Of Arctic Research?

Polarstern exploration vessel.
Source: Alfred Wegener Institute

P Gosselin 18. August 2010

The German online Die Zeit reports that a Canadian court has ruled in favour of the Inuit Indians, forbidding a planned Arctic expedition by Germany’s alarmist Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in the Lancaster Sound. The AWI’s Polarstern research vessel was ordered to pack up and leave. Now it’s off the coast of Greenland.

Die Zeit writes:

A historic victory will be celebrated in Nunavut. This is the first time a Canadian court recognises the cultural and territorial rights of the Inuits, says a pleased Okalik Eegeesiak, President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association in Canada.

For the German research team, which was in the Baffin Bay getting ready to start its studies when the ruling was made, it’s the first time in 28 years that it has been forbidden to conduct research there. Last year the Inuits had protested a Polarstern expedition, but were unsuccessful.

Continue reading “Were Warmist Scientists Set To Do Arctic Oil And Gas Exploration Under The Guise Of Arctic Research?” (No Tricks Zone)


Disappearing Gulf Oil and Dirty Canadian Crude

After dominating the US domestic news for most of the summer, the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has disappeared as quickly as it first burst on the scene at the end of April. Though BP and the government are still working on the “final fix” for the previously leaking deepwater well, when the “static kill” plugged the gusher media interest soon faded. A report issued by the National Incident Command (NIC) found that about 26% percent of the oil released from the runaway well was still in the water or onshore, but federal scientists believe that it is breaking down rapidly in both places. Even so, a re-instated ban on deepwater drilling stays in place, blocking further exploration and bringing howls of protest from gulf area governors and oil executives alike. In a strange example of unexpected consequences, the drilling ban, backed by most green groups, may be leading to greater environmental damage by increasing oil imports from America's neighbor to the north—Canada. It turns out that producing a barrel of oil from Canadian tar-sands generates 82% more greenhouse-gas emissions than does the average barrel refined in the US. And then there is the mess that extracting it leaves behind.

The NIC assembled a number of inter-agency expert scientific teams to estimate the quantity of BP Deepwater Horizon oil that has been released from the well and the fate of that oil. One team, led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and United States Geological Survey (USGS) Director Marcia McNutt, calculated the flow rate and total oil released. This team announced on August 2, 2010, that an estimated total of 4.9 million barrels of oil had been released from the BP Deepwater Horizon well.

A second team, led by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed a tool called the Oil Budget Calculator to determine what happened to the oil. Using the 4.9 million barrel estimate as its input, along with both direct measurements and scientific estimates, the OBC calculated what happened to the spilled oil. It was found that almost three quarters of the oil spilled by the Deepwater Horizon accident has vanished from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The results are tabulated graphically in the figure below, take from the report.

About 45% of the oil either evaporated, dispersed naturally or was burned at the well head. Another 26%, nearly 53 million gallons, of the oil is still in the water or onshore in a form that could, possibly, cause further ecological damage. The remaining oil—around five times the amount spilled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez—remains a threat to sea life and Gulf Coast marshes, said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the spill no longer poses a threat to the Florida Keys or the East Coast, according to the report by NOAA and the Interior Department. The implication of the report, which claimed that most of the oil that leaked into the gulf could be accounted for, was that future damage might be less than had been feared.

Part of the disappearance was caused by stormy weather in the gulf, which caused surface turbulence that speed the breakup of the oil into small droplets. The small drops tend to sink and are easier for microscopic plankton to attack and digest. This has caused an eruption of criticism from both the eco-left and conservative bloggers. “The Obama administration today filed an injunction in federal court which would require an immediate halt to cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico currently under way by the forces of nature,” read one tongue-in-cheek story.

The other major factor was the early and continued use of chemical dispersants to aid in the breakup. Ecological activists have claimed that the dispersants could do more damage than the spill itself. The EPA, however, released peer reviewed results from the second phase of its independent toxicity testing, performed on mixtures of eight oil dispersants and Louisiana Sweet Crude. The EPA conducted the tests as part of an effort to ensure that future decisions would be based on “the best available science and data.” According to the EPA press release:

EPA’s results indicate that the eight dispersants tested have similar toxicities to one another when mixed with Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil. These results confirm that the dispersant used in response to the oil spill in the gulf, Corexit 9500A, when mixed with oil, is generally no more or less toxic than mixtures with the other available alternatives. The results also indicate that dispersant-oil mixtures are generally no more toxic to the aquatic test species than oil alone.

Though environmentalists are still wailing about the use of the “toxic” dispersants, the EPA report effectively destroyed the news value of the dispersant story. It looks like BP and the NIC actually did a good job in what was obviously a very bad situation. A with nature showing how resilient the ecosystem can be, the great gulf spill of 2010 is fading from view. This, of course, does nothing to help the people of the gulf region rebuild their lives.

What is more interesting than the apparently quick recovery of the gulf is the impact of President Obama's ill-advised ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. It has been widely stated that about 30% of US domestic production comes from the oil wells in the Gulf. The US gets more of its oil from Canada than any other exporter, accounting for 22% of total use. The next four sources—Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela—provide just 11-12% each.

On the face of it, importing more oil from Canada is a great alternative—it doesn't risk a tanker spill at sea, supports no embarrassing despotic regimes and doesn't channel funds to terrorists. Canada’s 179 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves rank second in the world, so supplies should be stable for many years into the future. But there's a catch—much of Canada's oil comes from tar sands, and dirty, filthy stuff it is.

Tar sands are an extremely dense and thick form of petroleum. A mixture of water, sand, clay and bitumen, which usually must be melted before it can be extracted and refined. It takes up to four barrels of water to extract one barrel of crude, and mining the sands also strips the land and creates vast ponds of toxic byproducts. According to America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), producing Canadian tar-sands oil generates 82% more greenhouse-gas emissions than does the average barrel refined in the United States.

An estimated 20% of Canada’s natural gas is used to produce oil, instead of being used to generate energy directly. This seems a perverse way to use natural gas, a relatively clean source of fossil fuel energy. According to the Economist: “Transforming tar sands into crude is costly as well as dirty: the process only becomes profitable with oil prices in the $60-85 range or higher. Indeed, the recession put 70% of proposed investment there on hold, although half of that has since restarted, according to Jackie Forrest of IHS CERA, an energy-forecasting firm: “With just a modest fall in oil prices, the sands’ production would start to go.”

Extracting oil from tar-sands is a dirty, filthy business.

As reported in the same article, “Tarred with the same brush,” Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and someone I seldom agree with, calls oil from tar-sands “the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available”. This year he was one of 50 lawmakers who complained to Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, about the environmental impact of a proposed pipeline extension that would more than double imports from Canadian sands. The EPA has recommended that the US State Department, which must approve international pipelines, consider alternatives to Canadian crude.

In fact, Canadian natural gas is inadequate to supply the anticipated expansion in oil sands output and its use has major carbon emissions implications. External energy equivalent to almost 20% of the energy in the oil is required to produce it, and about 80 kg of carbon dioxide released per barrel. Various proposals have been made to use nuclear power to produce steam for extraction of the bitumen from these deposits and also to produce electricity for the major infrastructure involved. If using up your nations supplies of natural gas to extract oil from tar-sands is illogical, using nuclear power seems crazy. While the nuclear option would be cleaner in terms of emissions, why not use the power directly—Canada already exports copious amounts of electricity to the US.

Donald Kennedy, Editor Emeritus of Science, has written a commentary on energy policy, appearing in the August 13, 2010, issue. “Remember some years back, when British Petroleum claimed that its initials stood for "Beyond Petroleum?" he asks: “Its competitors were furious at the suggestion that it was leading the push toward renewable energy. "Beyond Petroleum" could be the right slogan for the policy changes needed to end the U.S. national addiction to oil. ” His remedy for America's energy problems is as follows:

[B]ecause oil dependence is so tightly linked to the transportation sector, reducing oil dependence requires increasing vehicle efficiency using current technologies: lowering weight and improving engines and aerodynamics. Biofuels don't really mitigate carbon emissions and have brought new problems to the food sector. But burning biomass to produce electricity, if carbon costs are carefully considered, could encourage vehicle electrification. For electric charging, tax structures that take account of carbon emissions will be needed, and road-use taxes comparable to those now paid only by the gasoline tax will probably be assessed as well.

This sounds like advice similar to that offered in The Energy Gap, Al and my latest book. Perhaps common sense and an engieer's approach will eventually win the day. After all, the oil industry has been drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for more than four decades. There are some 30,000 wells in the gulf, providing a third of US and much of Mexican oil production. These wells produce low sulfur “sweet” crude, less polluting and easier to refine than oil from many other regions and leagues ahead of the filthy gunk found buried in the Canadian oil-sands. Further more, it is estimated that the Obama drilling ban may cost 150,000 high paying jobs in an area of the US that has already been hard hit by the oil spill disaster. This is insanity.

President Obama needs to lift the drilling ban immediately. For all this administration's talk about fixing the economy, restoring jobs and addressing future energy problems it seems to be doing exactly the wrong things. Build nuclear power plants, encourage electric/plug-in hybrid vehicles and drill for the oil we will need until we can be weaned from our fossil fuel dependency. The current policy stand is bad for energy production, bad for the environment and bad for the economy.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


Editorial: Coal is the fuel of today -- and tomorrow

For all the talk of electricity produced by windmills and solar arrays, the Department of Energy has seen the future of electric power generation and it's coal.

More than half of the U.S.'s electricity comes from coal and, says the DOE, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That's because of two reasons: There's a lot of it and it's relatively cheap. Nor is the supply prone to interruption like oil, wind and solar.

Despite the government's best efforts, coal produces 20 times the electricity of renewable fuels other than hydropower. The power industry is betting that will continue to be the case. According to the Associated Press, since 2008 16 coal-fired plants have been completed and 16 more are under construction.

And if, as DOE predicts, the efficiency of coal-fired plants nearly doubles in the next 10 to 15 years those power sources will be even more attractive. Unhappily, the goal of "clean coal" remains elusive. The ability of the industry to remove pollutants like sulfur, nitrogen and mercury and to capture greenhouse gases still lags behind the nation's demand for power. (Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service)


A Resurgence of Coal Power in the US


The AP describes the continuing presence of coal power in the United States:

Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.

An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

The construction wave stretches from Arizona to Illinois and South Carolina to Washington, and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.
But like everything related to the energy and climate, it is useful to have a sense of proportion.  So have a look at the figure above, which comes from a US DOE presentation earlier this year (PDF).  The figure shows the coal power build rate - actual and planned -- for the US and China.

The red parts of the bars for 2008 and 2009 (and perhaps part of the yellow for 2010) are what the AP article is describing.  The broader context are the blues and greens. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


People have NO BLOODY IDEA about saving energy

Those keenest to be green are most ignorant - survey

People who make an effort to be eco-friendly - for instance by recycling glass bottles, turning off lights and unplugging cellphone chargers - have no idea what they're on about, according to a new survey. Those who don't bother are more likely to know what actually saves energy and what doesn't.

This revelation comes in a new report from the Earth Institute at Columbia Uni in the US, analysing responses made by Americans in 34 states. ( Lewis Page, The Register)


Germany To Postpone Nuclear Tax Decision: Minister

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said on Wednesday that he believes the government will postpone a decision on a contentious nuclear power tax until the end of September. (Reuters)


Mozambique Approves $2 Bln Hydroelectric Dam

Mozambique has approved the construction of a $2 billion hydro-electric dam in a bid to increase power generation and attract foreign investments, the state-run Noticias daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The paper quoted Energy Minister Salvador Namburete as saying the new Mphanda Nkuwa dam would be built 60 kilometers downstream from the Cahora Bassa Hydro-electric dam (HCB) on the Zambezi River and would produce 1,500 megawatts of power. (Reuters)


Vestas Posts Surprise Loss And Cuts Outlook

World No.1 wind turbine maker Vestas posted a surprise second-quarter loss and unexpectedly cut its 2010 earnings outlook as customers delayed orders in the wake of the credit crisis. (Reuters)



Denmark Starts to Trim Its Admired Safety Net

COPENHAGEN — How long is too long to be paid to go without a job?

As extended unemployment swells almost everywhere across the advanced industrial world, that question is turning into a lightning rod for governments.

For years, Denmark was held out as a model to countries with high unemployment and as a progressive touchstone to liberals in the United States. The Danes, despite their lavish social welfare state, managed to keep joblessness remarkably low.

But now Denmark, which allows employers to hire and fire at will while relying on an elaborate system of training, subsidies for those between jobs and aggressive measures to press the unemployed into available openings, is facing its own strains. As a result, it is beginning to tighten up. (NYT)


Ministers consider cuts to winter fuel allowance

Coalition nears its 100th day in office with tensions rising in Westminster over reductions in benefits for the elderly

Benefits for the elderly, including the winter fuel allowance and free bus travel, are being targeted by ministers in the hunt for spending cuts.

The Government is also considering whether to scrap child benefit payments to better-off families to help fund an overhaul of the welfare state. (Independent)


Could selling cheap malaria drugs in private stores harm children's health?

In a guest contribution, Oxfam's Mohga Kamal-Yanni argues that the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria has chosen the wrong way to tackle the problem of malaria drug shortages in poor countries (Guardian)


Measles complacency allows deadly surge in Africa

LONDON - The worst outbreaks of measles in years are infecting thousands and killing hundreds across Africa and offer tragic evidence of what happens when health authorities drop their guard on this highly contagious disease.

Health experts say dramatic success in the past decade in boosting global measles vaccination cover and cutting death rates has led to dangerous levels of complacency in some countries, and policy focus and funds have drifted away.

Even mothers -- who until recently in some of the worst hit countries didn't even name their children until they had survived measles -- have been lured into a false sense of security, believing the disease has been beaten and they no longer need to bother to visit clinics for immunisations. (Reuters)


Can The International Science Community Find The Balance Between Cooperation And Competition?

Science has a long history of crossing borders, bridging cultures and balancing the public good with private gain. That tradition, the focus of the upcoming Kavli Prize Science Forum, may face a more challenging future. (Kavli Foundation)


ADHD diagnosed by mistake in young

Nearly 1 million American children may have been misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, not because they have real behaviour problems but because they were the youngest in their kindergarten, researchers say.

Children who are the youngest in their grades are 60 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children, a study from Michigan State University has found.

A second study, by researchers at North Carolina State University and elsewhere, came to similar conclusions. Both are scheduled for publication in the Journal of Health Economics.

Misdiagnosing children can have long-lasting effects, said Todd Elder, an assistant professor of economics and author of the Michigan State study. In fifth and eighth grades, the youngest children in a class were more than twice as likely to use Ritalin, a stimulant commonly prescribed for ADHD, compared with the oldest students, his study says. (McClatchy-Tribune)


Vitamin D not behind UVB's psoriasis benefit

NEW YORK - Ultraviolet light therapy lessens the symptoms of psoriasis and simultaneously raises vitamin D levels, a new study shows. However, increased vitamin D is probably unrelated to light therapy's benefits for psoriasis, the researchers say.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that leaves up to 3 percent of the population with patches of thick, itchy and sometimes painful red skin. Abnormalities in vitamin D metabolism may be partly to blame for the development and worsening of psoriasis.

Many psoriasis sufferers seek light therapy, the standard of which is narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) light therapy, which mimics the portion of the sun's invisible light rays known to trigger the skin's production of vitamin D. (Reuters Health)


Docs writing veggie vouchers to combat obesity

PORTLAND, Maine — Physicians have long told patients fighting obesity to eat their fruits and vegetables. Now they’re writing prescriptions for it.

Health care providers are offering vouchers worth $1 per day to members of low-income families in Massachusetts and Maine participating in a new program. The idea is to boost consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by providing one serving a day from local farmers.

The program, created by Connecticut-based Wholesome Wave, is formally launching Wednesday in Portland and Skowhegan, five days after it began in Massachusetts. (Associated Press)


Population panicking Suzuki acolyte and all-round gibbering nitwit Bob Carr: The need for fast-food reform

The writing is on the wall for the fast-food industry.


That is, restaurants are going to have to list calorie content next to each item on their menu boards and on their table menus. Kudos will go to the first restaurant chain that opts to do so before regulations mandate that it moves. (Bob Carr, SMH)


Fast food forum to address obesity

THE fast food industry will meet with the NSW Government and public health experts for talks today, triggered by concern over the community's rising level of obesity. 

Former premier Bob Carr will co-chair the NSW Food Forum, where the agenda includes proposals such as listing fat and calorie information alongside meals offered on fast food menus.

The NSW Government initiative follows a campaign by Sydney-based The George Institute for Global Health, which has highlighted the elevated levels of salt contained in most fast food meals.

Bruce Neal, Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney and senior director at The George, said the talks were a "great opportunity" to improve the nutrition of fast food and possibly without the need for new regime of industry regulation. (AAP)


Argentine Glacier Protection Bill Could Shut Mines

An Argentine bill to protect glaciers by banning mining in ice zones could hinder a new multibillion-dollar gold mine, shutter some projects and slow investment, although some mining provinces seeking to circumvent the measure are passing their own laws.

The Senate is weighing the politically popular bill, backed by the opposition, after the lower house of Congress passed it last week. Proponents say it is crucial to ensuring Argentina's water supplies into the future.

President Cristina Fernandez has said she would sign the bill, even though she vetoed a similar law two years ago, citing economic grounds.

The proposed law could make it more expensive -- or even impossible -- for Barrick Gold Corp to develop Pascua Lama, one of the world's last known mega-gold finds being built along the mountainous Argentina-Chile border. (Reuters)


Julie Burchill: So the Prince of Green Hypocrites is going on tour. Thank God I'll be abroad

Green is the first socio-political movement in which every single leader and spokesperson is filthy rich (Independent)



Is GOP Opposition to Cap-and-Trade Self-Contradictory?

by Marlo Lewis
August 17, 2010

Barring the trickery of a lame duck conference committee, cap-and-trade is dead in the 111th Congress. Some blame President Obama for not taking a more hands-on role. Others blame environmental groups for waging a $100 million lobbying campaign without winning a single GOP convert to the Kerry-Lieberman bill. Others blame the allegedly “well-funded denial machine,” even though proponents, who include major corporations like BP as well as Big Green, must have outspent free-market and conservative advocacy groups by more than 100 to 1.

The August 11 edition of Climatewire (subscription required) featured interviews with Exelon Corp. VP Betsy Moler and Resources for the Future President Phil Sharp, who lament that Republican lawmakers, the “inventors” of “market-based” environmental policy, turned against their own “invention.” Moler and Sharp are trying to spin GOP opposition to cap-and-trade as self-contradictory, hence as unstable, hence as reversible. As Climatewire reports, Moler is not ready to “throw in the towel” and Sharp entertains the hope that a “new kind of coalition” will emerge in the next Congress.

Now, let’s look at this notion, peddled by Moler and Sharp, that Republicans flip-flopped and trashed their own legacy by nixing cap-and-trade. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Al Gore: the Gift that Keeps on Giving

by Myron Ebell
17 August 2010 @ 10:52 am

Former Vice President Al Gore is the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of global warming alarmism and energy rationing policies. He leads what I think of as the Dream Team: Gore is the public leader; James Hansen is the go-to scientist; Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pushed through a cap-and-trade bill in the House that killed cap-and-trade; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the main promoter in the Senate; when he dropped the ball, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was in charge for awhile; and she has now been replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with help from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

I used to think that we were just incredibly lucky that the alarmist movement was…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)


<chuckle> Gore calls for major protests on climate change inaction

Former Vice President Gore is calling for major rallies to protest congressional inaction on climate change.

In a post on his personal blog headlined “The Movement We Need,” Gore linked to and quoted from an Australian wire service report that “tens of thousands of protesters … have taken to the streets across Australia to urge the major political parties to take action on climate change.” (E2 Wire)

Poor Al, reduced to recycled and very desperate climate loon press releases. "Climate protests" ranged from a couple of dozen people with nothing better to do up to a very ambitious claim of 3,000 in Brisbane (I was in Brisbane on the day with my family and we saw, oh, must've been at least a hundred people, counting kids in pushers, assembled for the "event", although I'm told more than 500 eventually turned up). "Tens of thousands" of climate protestors? Not in Australia there weren't. Of a population of 22 million maybe 5,000 nationally braved the winter cold to express concern over, um, not cold. That means about 0.02% of Australians are really quite motivated by the planet having a fever.


INTERVIEW-Host Mexico aims to save global climate talks

MEXICO CITY, Aug 16 - Mexico hopes to "rescue" global climate change talks by hosting a successful summit later this year that ends in concrete actions to control greenhouse gases, its chief negotiator said on Monday.

Expectations for a decisive climate change agreement this year have been lowered as negotiators and United Nations officials cautioned that major stumbling blocks persist with just a few months before the December meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

"We will not be able to negotiate a new treaty in Cancun, that much is clear," Mexico's chief delegate Fernando Tudela told Reuters in an interview. "But that does not mean that there can't be a spectacular breakthrough."

One goal is to dispel the mistrust that has clouded climate diplomacy since the failure of last year's Copenhagen summit. (Reuters)


Mexico down-to-earth on Cancun climate summit 

NEW DELHI: Pragmatism is a key word for the Mexican hosts of the next major United Nations conference on climate change this December.

“We do not need to sacrifice our level of ambition, we do not need to compromise on the agreed core principles, but we must be pragmatic,” said Patricia Espinosa, visiting Foreign Minister and chairperson of the 16th Conference of the Parties to be held in Cancun.

Unlike their predecessors at the controversial Copenhagen summit last year, the hosts at Cancun have not played up the hype with slogans about time running out for the planet, and have not billed their conference as a summit of world leaders; nor do they expect any earth-shaking treaty.

Instead, Ms. Espinosa carries the down-to-earth message that climate change negotiations are a “permanently ongoing process. We need to look at these review conferences as how much progress we have made,” she said in an interview with The Hindu here on Tuesday. (The Hindu)


Extreme Weather Unlikely To Help Climate Talks

Extreme weather in 2010 will spur more strident calls for action to combat global warming but is unlikely to break a deadlock at U.N. climate talks about sharing the burden between rich and poor.

Islamabad, for instance, has blamed mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases for devastating floods that have killed up to 1,600 people. And Russian President Dmitry Medvedev similarly directly linked the summer heat wave on global warming.

But there is no sign so far that major emitters -- Moscow is the number three greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States -- are offering to do more to combat climate change to overcome gridlock at U.N. talks.

One delegate at the last U.N. talks, in Bonn in early August, said there was a "huge sense of inertia" despite worries about extreme weather and U.N. projections that 2010 would be the warmest year since records began in the 1850s.

And there are risks that extreme weather will add to rather than resolve tensions between rich nations, historically most to blame for global warming, and poor countries most vulnerable to floods, droughts and cyclones. (Reuters)


Green taxes could treble by 2020, costing taxpayers more than £16billion a year

Taxes to pay for contentious climate change policies are set to treble over the next decade, soaring to more than £16billion a year.

The hike is the equivalent of 4p on the current rate of income tax, a report from think tank Policy Exchange claimed.

By 2020 the tax take from green levies will be roughly equivalent to total public spending in England on both the police and fire services, the figures show.

Householders will pay £4.3billion in taxes on their energy bills by 2015 – more than double the £2billion they will pay this year. This will soar to £6.4billion by 2020, or around £280 for every household.

Firms will also be hit hard, with energy prices rising from £3.7billion to £9.9billion in the next decade.

The think tank warned that poorer households tended to spend more on energy so would have more of their meagre income swallowed up by taxes levied on household bills. (Daily Mail)


Three China HFC Projects Face U.N. CO2 Offset Probe

A UN panel will review carbon offset issuance requests by three Chinese greenhouse gas destroying projects, a UN spokeswoman said on Tuesday, a sign the most lucrative projects under the Kyoto Protocol may face more scrutiny. (Reuters)


Dutch IPCC Assessment: Climate Science Underexposed To Dissent, Give Sceptics More Say

P Gosselin 17. August 2010

The Klimazwiebel blog run by Prof. Hans von Storch brings our attention to a newly released Dutch report on the IPCC. The report is published by the Rathenau Institute and is titled:

Room for Climate Debate:
Perspectives on the interaction between climate politics, science and
the media,

It is written by Jeroen van der Sluijs, Rinie van Est and Monique Riphagen. It’s lengthy, but the abstract sums it up. You can read the abstract in full at von Storch’s site.
Continue reading “Dutch IPCC Assessment: Climate Science Underexposed To Dissent, Give Sceptics More Say” (No Tricks Zone)


Heat probably killed thousands in Moscow: scientist

MOSCOW - Several thousand Muscovites are thought to have died in July alone from this year's unprecedented heat wave and August could add more fatalities to the grim statistics, a Russian scientist said on Tuesday.

Moscow, a metropolis of over 10 million people, suffered from intense heat since late June, with day temperatures sometimes nearing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The crisis shriveled a third of Russia's grain crop, shaved billions off this year's economic growth and killed at least 54 people in wildfires. The heat subsided on Tuesday.

Citing a report by the Moscow Registry Office, Boris Revich, a senior demography and ecology researcher at Russia's Academy of Sciences, said 5,840 more Muscovites had died in July than in the same month last year.

Revich said he believed the overwhelming majority of these additional deaths had been caused by the fierce heat wave. (Reuters)


Can a rare heat wave in a big city occur by chance?

The short answer is Yes. What about the long answer?

Roger Pielke Jr wrote a text about rare weather events that I completely agree with:

Why rare events are a certainty

July 2010 was unusually warm in Western Russia - and Moscow. It actually turns out that a bigger portion of Russia was below the normal temperature than the portion of Russia above it. But that can't change the fact that Moscow et al. was really warm.

I picked Mathematica and used the WeatherData function to find out that the average July 2010 temperature in Moscow was 3.5 standard deviations above the mean temperatures for July 2010 - that can be extracted from the record available via Wolfram's software. By a standard deviation, I mean the root mean square of the differences of July temperatures in the past from their overall average.

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


So, Al's just been providing cover for a covert weapons program? Russian Scholar Warns Of 'Secret' U.S. Climate Change Weapon

By Ashley Cleek

As Muscovites suffer record high temperatures this summer, a Russian political scientist has claimed the United States may be using climate-change weapons to alter the temperatures and crop yields of Russia and other Central Asian countries. 

In a recent article, Andrei Areshev, deputy director of the Strategic Culture Foundation, wrote, "At the moment, climate weapons may be reaching their target capacity and may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries." 

The article has been carried by publications throughout Russia, including "International Affairs," a journal published by the Foreign Ministry and by the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. (RFE/RL)

Ya mean America has a strategic plan after all?


More from the rubber room: 'We Received a Kick in the Pants'

German physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is one of Angela Merkel's advisers on climate change. In an interview with SPIEGEL, he discusses extreme weather events, global warming's winners and losers, and the effects of the crisis of confidence in climate research. (Spiegel)


Why conservatives shouldn't believe in man made climate change

My friend and colleague Ed West has written a catch-comment piece entitled Why Shouldn’t Conservatives Believe in Man Made Climate Change. I’ve no objection to catch-comment pieces (I really must do an anti-Obama one soon to catch up with Nile Gardiner: after all I did write the book on the subject). And I’ve even less objection to Ed West himself, a delightful fellow and brilliant writer who is right about almost everything. (James Delingpole)


South Pacific Sea Level: A Reassessment

Written by Vincent R. Gray


The SEAFRAME sea-level study on 12 Pacific islands is the most comprehensive study of sea level and local climate ever carried out there. The sea level records obtained have all been assessed by the anonymous authors of the official reports as indicating positive trends in sea level over all 12 Pacific Islands involved since the study began in 1993 until the latest report in June 2010. In almost all cases the positive upward trends depend almost exclusively on the depression of the ocean in 1997 and 1998 caused by two tropical cyclones. If these and other similar disturbances are ignored, almost all of the islands have shown negligible change in sea level from 1993 to 2010, particularly after the installation of GPS leveling equipment in 2000.

Read more... (SPPI)


Plant food

The argument that carbon dioxide is plant food and that we should welcome increased concentrations of the stuff as leading to bumper crop yields is one that is not given much credence by the other side of the global warming debate. Perhaps they should think again, as this article, recently published in the Royal Society's Phil Trans B, suggests that there is much truth in it.

CO2 enrichment is likely to increase yields of most crops by approximately 13 per cent but leave yields of C4 crops unchanged. It will tend to reduce water consumption by all crops, but this effect will be approximately cancelled out by the effect of the increased temperature on evaporation rates. In many places increased temperature will provide opportunities to manipulate agronomy to improve crop performance. Ozone concentration increases will decrease yields by 5 per cent or more.

Plant breeders will probably be able to increase yields considerably in the CO2-enriched environment of the future, and most weeds and airborne pests and diseases should remain controllable, so long as policy changes do not remove too many types of crop-protection chemicals. However, soil-borne pathogens are likely to be an increasing problem when warmer weather will increase their multiplication rates; control is likely to need a transgenic approach to breeding for resistance. There is a large gap between achievable yields and those delivered by farmers, even in the most efficient agricultural systems. A gap is inevitable, but there are large differences between farmers, even between those who have used the same resources. If this gap is closed and accompanied by improvements in potential yields then there is a good prospect that crop production will increase by approximately 50 per cent or more by 2050 without extra land. However, the demands for land to produce bio-energy have not been factored into these calculations.

You could almost get the impression that the biggest threat to the food supply is coming from government. (Bishop Hill)


Monthly CO2 Report - July 2010

Written by Christopher Monckton

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The authoritative Monthly CO2 Report for July 2010 explains that recent extreme weather is of natural origin and that the influence of Man is too small to have played a significant part.

Read more... (SPPI)


Of Ice And Science: Curry And Half-Knowledge

P Gosselin 17. August 2010

The dreamers of global warming calamity always have to find imaginative explanations for inconvenient truths and paradoxes. Today’s German papers are reporting on the recent study by Judith Curry and Jiping Liu, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The paper is an attempt to provide an explanation for the paradox of increasing Antarctic sea ice in a warming climate.

You see, there’s a simple explanation for everything.

The latest explanation is a brainstormed hypothesis at most, and nothing more. Hypotheses are important in science of course, but they are only its very raw trial material. They are not fact.

Yet today, in climate science, we are expected to accept half knowledge and computer-generated scenarios as ”finished” science. Folks, it’s a farce.

Continue reading “Of Ice And Science: Curry And Half-Knowledge” (No Tricks Zone)


Dr. Curry Warms the Southern Ocean

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Anthony has posted here on a new paper co-authored by Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, entitled “Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice”. Having obtained the paper courtesy of my undersea conduit (h/t to WS once again), I can now comment on the study. My first comment is, “show us the data”. Instead of data, here’s what they start with:

Kinda looks like temperature data, doesn’t it? But it is not. It is the first Empirical Orthogonal Function of the temperature data … the original caption from the paper says:

Figure 1. Spatial patterns of the first EOF mode of the area-weighted annual mean SST south of 40 °S. Observations: (A) HadISST and (B) ERSST for the period 1950–1999. Simulations of CCSM3 (Left) and GFDL-CM2.1 (Right): (C, D) 50-year PIcntrl experiment (natural forcing only),

Given the title of “Accelerated warming”, one would be forgiven for assuming that (A) represents an actual measurement of a warming Southern Ocean. I mean, most of (A) is in colors of pink, orange, or red. What’s not to like?

Continue reading (WUWT)


From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 33: 18 August 2010

Biofuels: More Bang -- or Is it Baggage? -- for the Buck: The eco-friendly road to biospheric salvation, which is a major tenet of the Gospel According to Gore, has a number of not-so-righteous side effects.

Subject Index Summary:
Ocean Acidification (Effects on Marine Animals: Sea Urchins): Are sea urchins beginning to struggle as the air's CO2 content continues to climb and the world's oceans experience "dreaded" acidification?

Journal Reviews:
The Response of Reef Islands to Warming-Induced Sea-Level Rise: We've all heard that they're destined to sink beneath the waves of the sea. But is this really so?

Forty Years of Morphological Change at a Great Barrier Reef Island: Do the observed changes portend the island's imminent demise in response to rising sea levels?

Storms, Fires and Insect Pests: Bad for Trees in a Warming World?: ... maybe not!!!

Elevated CO2 Protects Trees from the Ravages of Heat Stress: How good a job does it do for aspen and birch trees?

The Projected Response of a Swiss Grass-Clover Sward to Increasing CO2 and Climate Change Over the 21st Century: The dual threats of predicted warming and drying are considered, both with and without an increase in the air's CO2 content.

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Gum Arabic Tree (Kgope et al., 2010), Sea Barley (Pedersen et al., 2010), Sweet Thorn (Kgope et al., 2010), and Yarrow (Crous et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 860 individual scientists from 512 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from Lake Laihalampi, Southern Boreal Zone of Finland. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (


Soot and Climate Change – A New Article By Jacobson 2010

The article is

Jacobson, M. Z. (2010), Short-term effects of controlling fossil-fuel soot, biofuel soot and gases, and methane on climate, Arctic ice, and air pollution health, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D14209, doi:10.1029/2009JD013795.

The abstract reads

“This study examines the short-term (~15 year) effects of controlling fossil‐fuel soot (FS) (black carbon (BC), primary organic matter (POM), and S(IV) (H2SO4(aq), HSO4−, and SO42−)), solid-biofuel soot and gases (BSG) (BC, POM, S(IV), K+, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, NH4+, NO3−, Cl− and several dozen gases, including CO2 and CH4), and methane on global and Arctic temperatures, cloudiness, precipitation, and atmospheric composition. Climate response simulations were run with GATOR-GCMOM, accounting for both microphysical (indirect) and radiative effects of aerosols on clouds and precipitation. The model treated discrete size-resolved aging and internal mixing of aerosol soot, discrete size-resolved evolution of clouds/precipitation from externally and internally mixed aerosol particles, and soot absorption in aerosols, clouds/precipitation, and snow/sea ice. Eliminating FS, FS+BSG (FSBSG), and CH4 in isolation were found to reduce global surface air temperatures by a statistically significant 0.3–0.5 K, 0.4–0.7 K, and 0.2–0.4 K, respectively, averaged over 15 years. As net global warming (0.7–0.8 K) is due mostly to gross pollutant warming from fossil-fuel greenhouse gases (2–2.4 K), and FSBSG (0.4–0.7 K) offset by cooling due to non-FSBSG aerosol particles (−1.7 to −2.3 K), removing FS and FSBSG may reduce 13–16% and 17–23%, respectively, of gross warming to date. Reducing FS, FSBSG, and CH4 in isolation may reduce warming above the Arctic Circle by up to ~1.2 K, ~1.7 K, and ~0.9 K, respectively. Both FS and BSG contribute to warming, but FS is a stronger contributor per unit mass emission. However, BSG may cause 8 times more mortality than FS. The global e-folding lifetime of emitted BC (from all fossil sources) against internal mixing by coagulation was ~3 h, similar to data, and that of all BC against dry plus wet removal was ~4.7 days. About 90% of emitted FS BC mass was lost to internal mixing by coagulation, ~7% to wet removal, ~3% to dry removal, and a residual remaining airborne. Of all emitted plus internally mixed BC, ~92% was wet removed and ~8% dry removed, with a residual remaining airborne. The 20 and 100 year surface temperature response per unit continuous emissions (STRE) (similar to global warming potentials (GWPs)) of BC in FS were 4500–7200 and 2900–4600, respectively; those of BC in BSG were 2100–4000 and 1060–2020, respectively; and those of CH4 were 52–92 and 29–63, respectively. Thus, FSBSG may be the second leading cause of warming after CO2. Controlling FS and BSG may be a faster method of reducing Arctic ice loss and global warming than other options, including controlling CH4 or CO2, although all controls are needed.”

As Bill pointed out in an e-mail, this paper is further confirmation that hypothesis 2a in

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

is the correct one. Hypothesis 2a reads

“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first- order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.”

and that

“In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first-order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008], the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot) [Flanner et al. 2007] and reactive nitrogen [Galloway et al., 2004]), and the role of changes in land use/land cover [e.g., Takata et al., 2009]. Among their effects is their role in altering atmospheric and ocean circulation features away from what they would be in the natural climate system [NRC, 2005].”

There is an AGU press release on this article, and excerpts from the release are reproduced below:

The study shows that soot is second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. But, climate models to date have mischaracterized the effects of soot in the atmosphere, said its author Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University in Stanford, California. Because of that, soot’s contribution to global warming has been ignored completely in national and international global warming policy legislation, he said.

“Controlling soot may be the only method of significantly slowing Arctic warming within the next two decades,” said Jacobson, director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program. “We have to start taking its effects into account in planning our mitigation efforts and the sooner we start making changes, the better.”

“Soot — black and brown particles that absorb solar radiation — comes from two types of sources: fossil fuels such as diesel, coal, gasoline, jet fuel; and solid biofuels such as wood, manure, dung, and other solid biomass used for home heating and cooking around the world.

Jacobson found that the combination of the two types of soot is the second-leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide. That ranks the effects of soot ahead of methane, an important greenhouse gas. He also found that soot emissions kill over 1.5 million people prematurely worldwide each year, and afflicts millions more with respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and asthma, mostly in the developing world where biofuels are used for home heating and cooking.

Jacobson found that eliminating soot produced by the burning of fossil fuel and solid biofuel could reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle in the next fifteen years by up to 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit). For perspective, net warming in the Arctic has been at least 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last century and is expected to warm significantly more in the future if nothing is done.”

There is another summary of this article that Bill alerted us to with a model simulation graph:

This is yet another peer reviewed study that highlights the incompleteness of the 2007 IPCC assessment reports. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Deepwater Drilling Gets Tougher, Time to Get NEPA Right

The Department of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) announced that blanket environmental exemptions, such as the one granted to BP, will not be given until “it undertakes a comprehensive review of its National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process and the use of categorical exclusions for exploration and drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.” The government should use this time to enact smarter regulations, not unnecessary regulations that make it too costly for projects to move forward.

The NEPA process was originally set up to increase productive activities but at the same time address environmental concerns. But over the years it has evolved into a burdensome procedure and a political tool for environmental activists to stop projects built on federal land. Unfortunately, NEPA has evolved into an onerous and costly process that slows progress on critical public and private activities.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


AP Enterprise: Old-style coal plants expanding

WYODAK, Wyo. — Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.

An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

The construction wave stretches from Arizona to Illinois and South Carolina to Washington, and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.

The expansion, the industry's largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.

"Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide," said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. "That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that's pretty bad public policy." (Associated Press)

In fact it is the only rational policy. China and India alone will push global annual coal consumption up from 6.7Gt today to 10Gt by 2030 and that does not include massive consumption increases required by Indonesia, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa. No amount of "carbon constraint" by the West will have significant effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels nor enhanced greenhouse (even if it exists to any measurable extent). We've already shown you how shutting down all U.S. coal-fired generation from now to end of century will make no measurable difference even calculated with the IPCC's extraordinarily inflated assumptions. A complete "no regrets" policy is the only one that makes any sense at all.


Are we facing a second ‘Battle of Kingsnorth’?

The Lib-Cons are finally realising that green rhetoric is all well and good, but it doesn’t keep the lights on.

In May, as Britain’s new power couple - the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - were making their loving union public, doing the rounds of well-wishers and holding hands coyly, prime minister David Cameron made it clear that he wanted his new mix of blue and yellow to be the ‘greenest government ever’. Speaking to staff at the Department for Energy and Climate Change, he declared: ‘There is a fourth minister in this department who cares passionately about this agenda and that is me, the prime minister, right. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.’

In the eyes of green campaigners, however, many of the government’s actual policies have tended to contradict this assertion. The UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) has been abolished, ostensibly because its outlook is now so deeply embedded across Whitehall (a justification that the SDC’s chair Jonathon Porritt described as fatuous). Last week, it was revealed that lots of environment-related bits of government, like the Forestry Commission and the Met Office, might be flogged to the private sector or have their funding cut. (Rob Lyons, spiked)


Blown in the Wind

August 17th, 2010

Source: Slate Magazine

The U.S. should stop wasting billions to subsidize unreliable wind energy projects.

By Robert Bryce

They like everything big in Texas, and wind energy is no exception. Texas has more wind generation capacity than any other state, about 9,700 megawatts. (That’s nearly as much installed wind capacity as India.) Texas residential ratepayers are now paying about $4 more per month on their electric bills in order to fund some 2,300 miles of new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from rural areas to the state’s urban centers.

It’s time for those customers to ask for a refund. The reason: When it gets hot in Texas and it’s darn hot in the Lone Star State in the summer the state’s ratepayers can’t count on that wind energy. On Aug. 4, at about 5 p.m., electricity demand in Texas hit a record: 63,594 megawatts. But according to the state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s wind turbines provided only about 500 megawatts of power when demand was peaking and the value of electricity was at its highest. Read the rest of this entry » (SPPI)


More than half of Britain's wind farms have been built where there is not enough wind

It's not exactly rocket science – when building a wind farm, look for a site that is, well, quite windy. 

But more than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25 per cent capacity.

In England, the figure rises to 70 per cent of onshore developments, research shows. (Daily Mail)


Ontario’s Power Trip: Power without the people

How a tiny group of vested interests — the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association — holds sway

By Parker Gallant

In the political power corridors where the Ontario government’s green energy regime is legislated, regulated, discussed, manipulated, twisted, turned and imposed on the people, one group keeps cropping up: the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). Among other things, the OSEA claims prime responsibility for the Ontario Green Energy Act, the 2009 legislation that introduced massive subsidies to green energy and triggered multibillion-dollar spending on wind and solar power and new transmission infrastructure.

OSEA’s political clout scored another victory last Friday when the Ontario government reversed itself on a plan — announced July 2 — to cut the massive subsidy price paid for small-scale solar electricity to 58¢ for each kilowatt hour from 80¢. The cut, to be imposed on 16,000 solar project applicants, would have saved $1-billion. But now, under lobbying from OSEA, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid has reversed himself. The new price would be 64¢ but the old price of 80¢ would be paid on all projects for which applications had been received as of Aug. 13.

Read More »


A Better Ethanol Policy

In my recent post Thoughts on an Ethanol Pipeline, I described what I feel would be a more rational approach to ethanol policy than some of the policies that have been pursued over the years. [Read More] (Robert Rapier, ET)


England's green and pleasant land may have to change to feed our thirst for fuel

As we look for alternatives to oil, our familiar pattern of meadows and pastures could become interspersed with biofuel plantations (Guardian)


Nuclear Waste Issue Could Be Solved, If...

Nuclear energy offers several advantages: It's clean, powerful and relatively cheap. But it also yields hazardous waste, a fact that terrifies a public haunted by memories of accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear reactors.

In America, about 60,000 tonnes of heavy nuclear energy byproducts sit in radioactive dumps, with no potential use and no expiration date in sight, while federal experts rack their brains for a better way to manage nuclear waste.

Several energy companies say they have a solution to the waste issue: Recycling, basically squeezing more energy from already-used nuclear fuel while leaving less waste behind.

But their efforts face a decades-old policy hurdle that offers them little incentive to pursue the process.

"When it comes to energy, America is strong on technology but weak on policy," said GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Chairman John Fuller. "And it's a critical handicap."

A Carter-era law keeps all used fuel from American commercial reactors in federal hands, and the government has determined it must be stored. (Reuters)


Ocean Waves Can Power Australia's Future, Scientists Say

Waves crashing on to Australia's southern shores each year contain enough energy to power the country three times over, scientists said on Tuesday in a study that underscores the scale of Australia's green energy.

The research, in the latest issue of the journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, comes as the nation is struggling to wean itself of years of using cheap, polluting coal to power the economy and to put a price on carbon emissions.

Oceanographers Mark Hemer and David Griffin from the state-funded research body the CSIRO looked at how wave energy propagates across the continental shelf and how much is lost. The aim was to build a picture of the amount of energy on an annual basis and how reliable that source is.

The government has passed laws that mandate 20 percent renewable electricity generation by 2020 to curb carbon emissions and wind power is likely to make up the bulk of the green energy investment. Wave power is still in early development. (Reuters)

Even if we could harness it effectively there's still the problem of greenies and whale sanctuaries, national/marine parks, commercial and recreational fisheries but mostly simple remoteness -- most of Australia's southern coast abuts empty desert. In realistic terms for installation and maintenance access and transmission practicalities you are looking at the southern fringe of Western Australia and a small segment of coast from south of Adelaide to say, Warnambool, all with multiple use issues. It's all very well saying there's energy off the coast but it is of no value until it's converted to a usable format and delivered where it is needed. Call this "blue seas thinking".



Quick! Put on your Woohoo Hat! Canada Tracks BPA Exposure, Finds In Most People

Bisphenol A, a widely used chemical that Canada is banning from baby bottles, is present in the bodies of 91 percent of Canadians, according to a report that shows just how prevalent the controversial chemical is in daily life.

Statistics Canada said Monday's report was the first time it has measured the extent that the industrial chemical, known as BPA, has been absorbed by people exposed to it.

"The real value in this is...for the very first time (we) have baseline information against which we can study trends and track what is happening with respect to bisphenol A exposure," said Tracey Bushnik, of Statscan's Health Analysis Division. (Reuters)

Uh... so what? You can find traces of arsenic and other genuine toxics in people too but also not at clinically significant levels. Their point is... ?


Free the Medical Isotope Bill

A single senator — Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri — is blocking a bill that would ensure a reliable supply of medical isotopes while reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism. The Senate leadership needs to pry it loose.

The American Medical Isotopes Production Act has two sound objectives. It seeks to create domestic capability for making a radioisotope, molybdenum 99, whose decay products are used tens of thousands of times daily in the United States to diagnose cancer, heart disease and other ailments. There are no reactors in this country that make the isotope, so supplies have to be imported, primarily from aging reactors in Canada and Europe.

It also seeks to eliminate the use of weapons-grade uranium in making the isotopes. Foreign manufacturers obtain most of that uranium from the United States, and there is an ever-present danger that it might be diverted or stolen to make nuclear weapons.

The bill would address both those problems by subsidizing domestic production of isotopes using only low-enriched uranium and by phasing out American exports of highly enriched uranium to pressure foreign suppliers to convert their reactors to use L.E.U. (NYT)

While there are obvious flaws in the proposal there is some merit in it too, so yes, there should be some activity designed to make a useful bill of the MIB.


Immune system gene linked with Parkinson's: study

CHICAGO - A gene linked with the immune system may play a role in developing Parkinson's disease, researchers said on Sunday, marking a possible advance in the search for effective treatments.

They said a gene in the human leukocyte antigen region or HLA -- which contains a large number of genes related to immune system function -- was strongly linked with Parkinson's disease.

"That means the immune system probably plays a role in your body developing Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Cyrus Zabetian of the University of Washington and Veteran's Administration Puget Sound Health Care System, whose study appears in the journal Nature Genetics. (Reuters)


A supersized attack on McDonald's Happy Meal toys

Concern about childhood obesity is driving calls to ban toys that have kids clamoring for a McDonald's Happy Meal. But it is not government's role to decide the dinner menu. Consumers have the power to demand more "healthy" choices, and food producers and retailers are responding. (CSM)


LEED Building Standards Fail to Protect Human Health

LEED certification has emerged as the green standard of approval for new buildings in the United States. But the criteria used for determining the ratings largely ignore factors relating to human health, particularly the use of potentially toxic building materials. (John Wargo, e360)

See Green Building Racket? by Steve Milloy


Just for laughs: Mankind is using up global resources faster than ever

The growing world population and increasing consumption has pushed the world into ‘eco-debt’ a month earlier this year, according to the latest statistics on global resources. (Louise Gray, TDT)

Neo Malthusians never give up, do they?


Charlie goes wailing: Prince of Wales to tour the country to promote 'sustainable living'

The Prince of Wales is to embark on a tour of the country to meet the guerrilla gardeners, ethical fashion designers and eco-conscious pensioners doing their bit to tackle climate change. (TDT)


Why Development Aid for Africa Has Failed

A commentary by Kurt Gerhardt

Development aid to Africa has been flowing for decades, but the results have been paltry. Instead, recipients have merely become dependent and initiative has been snuffed out. It is time to reform the system.

Development aid to Africa is a blessing for all those directly involved -- both on the giving end and on the receiving end. Functionaries on the donor side, at least those abroad, earn good money. Many of those on the receiving end, for their part, know how to organize things in such a way that their own personal interests don't get short shrift.

There is no reason for these two groups to be interested in changing the status quo. Yet even so, some within their ranks are starting to suggest the situation as it stands cannot continue. The development aid of the past 50 years, they say, is hardly justifiable given the disappointing results. Even individual donors, who know little about how development aid works in practice, increasingly sense that something might be amiss.
They're right. The aid has failed to a large extent.

We have taken on too much responsibility for solving African problems. We have essentially educated them to, when problems arise, call for foreign aid first rather than trying to find solutions themselves.

This attitude has become deeply rooted in Africa. This self-incapacitation is one of the most regrettable results of development cooperation thus far. Poorly designed development aid has made people dependent and accustomed them to a situation of perpetual assistance, preventing them from taking the initiative themselves. It is this situation which represents the greatest damage done, far worse than the enormous material losses engendered by failed aid projects. And there are many. Africa is strewn with idle tractors, ruined equipment and run-down buildings. (Spiegel)


Arsenic in Field Runoff Linked to Poultry Litter

Arsenic in food supplements passes through chickens, then passes through the field

MADISON, WI, August 16th, 2010 - Fields amended with poultry litter can accumulate significant levels of arsenic, according to studies by USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and associates. These findings provide key information about the agricultural pollutants that can build up in agricultural soils over time—and possibly migrate into nearby streams and rivers. 

Poultry producers have sometimes supplemented chicken feed with roxarsone, a compound containing arsenic, to control parasites and promote weight gain. Most of this arsenic is excreted by the birds and then becomes mixed in with sawdust and other litter materials used in poultry houses. Farmers typically use the litter as a nutrient-rich—and free—fertilizer for amending their crop soils. (American Society of Agronomy)


This gets trotted out from time to time: Artificial meat the answer to feeding the world in year 2050

GROWING artificial meat in vats could be the solution to the looming problem of how to feed the world's booming population, according to a group of leading international scientists.

The concept was announced by the Royal Society - a UK-based fellowship of scientists - in 21 academic papers exploring the future of global food supplies.

The papers examine ways to feed the world's population healthily and sustainably.

The population of the world is expected to reach nine billion by 2050.

In a paper titled Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects, Dr Philip Thornton, a scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, wrote that growing artificial meat in vats could be a "wildcard" option to feed the world more easily.

"Its development is generally held to be perfectly feasible, and indeed research projects on it have been running for a decade already," Dr Thornton wrote. ( NewsCore)

Not really sure why. While technically feasible the misanthropists and Luddites simply wheel out the "yuck factor" and there goes any hope of consumer acceptance.



Looks better & better: California landmark global-warming law under fire

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A November ballot measure that would suspend California's landmark global-warming law could also end up rolling back some of the state's other sweeping environmental standards - including rules that require utilities to generate a third of their electricity from renewable sources and programs requiring oil refineries to make cleaner-burning fuels.

How broadly courts might interpret Proposition 23 is setting off alarm bells among Silicon Valley executives and environmental groups.

"If we don't go forward with 33 percent renewable standard for California's energy supply, we undercut all those companies and entrepreneurs creating jobs in solar, wind, biofuels and other renewable forms of energy," said Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a San Jose organization that represents more than 200 companies and which opposes Proposition 23. (San Jose Mercury News)

Subsidy farmers and rent-seekers don't like it? A definite must-have then.


Top Climate Scientists Speak out on the Satellitegate Scandal

US Government admits global warming satellite sensors “degraded” - temperatures may be out by 10-15 degrees. Now five satellites in controversy. Top scientists speak out.

In an escalating row dubbed ‘Satellitegate’ further evidence proves NOAA knew of these faults for years. World’s top climate scientists and even prior governmental reports cite underfunding and misallocation as the trigger for spiraling satellite data calamities. Key flaws with five satellites undermines global data. (John O'Sullivan, CFP)


Zombie Hockey stick dies again

Just when you think it’s too dead to kill: along comes a new paper in a top ranking statistics journal by McShane and Wyner. It’s worth taking stock. It’s a damning paper:

…we conclude unequivocally that the evidence for a ”long-handled” hockey stick (where the shaft of the hockey stick extends to the year 1000 AD) is lacking in the data.

But in the big scheme of things the Hockey Stick Graph was already dead.

Each one of these points is enough to cast grave doubts on the Hockey Stick.

  1. The Hockey Stick uses the wrong type of proxy – tree rings. Trees grow faster when it’s warmer, and when it’s wetter, or when the tree next-door falls down and a herd of manure-making cows move in. Almost all other types of proxies disagree (like ice cores, ocean sediments, corals, and stalagmites). Over 6000 boreholes, hundreds of studies, as well as recorded history show the world was warmer 1,000 years ago. (See here for the refs.)
  2. Even among tree rings, the Hockey Stick uses the wrong type of tree – Bristlecone pines – which appear to grow faster as CO2 rises, regardless of the temperature.
  3. It uses the wrong type of averaging. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was centered over the last 150 years instead of the entire millenia. McIntyre and McKitrick showed that this would produce a hockey stick even if it were fed random numbers instead of tree ring data.
  4. The data is massively incomplete, spatially autocorrelated, the signal is weak, and the number of covariates greatly outnumbers the independent observations.
  5. The data has been calibrated with a short period of temperature records that are themselves substantially processed with smoothing, adjustments, discontinuities and imputation of missing data, all of which may introduce errors.
  6. Assuming that tree rings are not so bad, that bristlecones are not misleading, and that the calibration data is not in error, McShane shows that during the last 150 years the most random of “fake” data (white noise and brownian motion) has more predictive ability than the proxy data, and that uncertainties are huge, and neither real (nor fake data) has any meaning over the last 1000 years.
More » (Jo Nova)


R.I.P., Hockey Stick

If there is a single icon for 'global warming,' it is the "Hockey Stick" (HS) created by Dr. Michael Mann.

The HS was featured on the cover of an IPCC report and was featured in Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Not only did the HS purport to show that recent temperatures are unprecedented but that the well-known Medieval Warm Period (MWP) didn't exist (see graph below) which, until the HS, was accepted by most meteorologists and climatologists.
From almost day one, the HS has been controversial. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published two peer-reviewed papers calling the HS into question. McKitrick commented,

"The Mann multiproxy data, when correctly handled, shows the 20th century climate to be unexceptional compared to earlier centuries."

In other words, the temperatures we are experiencing now are not higher than those of 900 years ago! 

If today's temperature levels have been previously reached naturally, before humans started driving up atmospheric concentrations of CO2, then the certainty that today's temperatures are due to CO2 goes away. It also tends to falsify the IPCC's hypothesis that CO2 is the driving force behind changes in climate. 

As you can imagine, this finding created a firestorm in the climate 'science' community. I put science in scare quotes in this instance because of the behind-the-scenes efforts (revealed in the Climategate emails) to keep McIntyre and McKitrick's work from being published  -- efforts which were the antithesis of science. (Meteorological Musings)


Say what? Drowning Today, Parched Tomorrow

HARD as it may be to believe when you see the images of the monsoon floods that are now devastating Pakistan, the country is actually on the verge of a critical shortage of fresh water. And water scarcity is not only a worry for Pakistan’s population — it is a threat to America’s national security as well.

Given the rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers that feed the Indus River — a possible contributor to the current floods — and growing tensions with upriver archenemy India about use of the river’s tributaries, it’s unlikely that Pakistani food production will long keep pace with the growing population. (Steven Solomon, NYT)

Gosh, there's some wild statements in this one. No, the Himalayan glaciers are not "rapidly melting" and no, glacial melt is not a significant contributor to current Pakistani floods, that is strictly a matter of the unfortunate location of stable pressure systems concentrating monsoonal rainfall on Pakistan. It is the same blocked weather configuration that delivered the mix of above and below normal temperatures across Russia, as reported by NASA's Earth Observatory:


Stefan Rahmstorf, again: Will this summer of extremes be a wake-up call?

This decade has been marked by a number of weather extremes – which show how vulnerable our societies are (Guardian)


Why Rare Events are a Certainty

The Russian heat wave has finally broken, but people will be talking about it for a long while.  In this post I am going to discuss the statistics of rare events.

Consider the following statement:
Meteorologist Rob Carver, the Research and Development Scientist for Weather Underground, agrees. Using a statistical analysis of historical temperature records, Dr. Carver estimates that the likelihood of Moscow’s 100-degree record on July 29 is on the order of once per thousand years, or even less than once every 15,000 years — in other words, a vanishingly small probability.
How rare is a 1 in 15,000 year event?  It is not as rare as you might think, and here is why.

Imagine if you have a fair coin (50-50) and you flip it three times.  Suppose that you want to know what the chances are that you will observe one or more heads in that sequence.  The odds can be calculated by determining that the only sequence with no heads it tail-tail-tail, which will occur, on average only 1/8 of the time.  So the odds of observing at least one head in that series of three flips is 7/8 or 87.5%.  You can generalize this approach such that you can consider coins with different odds and for many flips.  The generalized formula is called the binomial probability distribution, and there are many useful calculators for the distribution on the web (e.g., here).  (Technical note: The binomial distribution can be approximated by other distributions, such as the Poisson distribution, which has been shown to well approximate the occurrence of certain weather extremes.)

We can use the binomial probability distribution to evaluate how rare the Russian heat wave was under a variety of assumptions.  But to do so we need two numbers.

One number that you need to know is the odds of an event.  In this example I'll use the 1 in 15,000 year event provided by Rob Carver.  Whether that number is accurate or not doesn't really matter for this example.  If you'd like to use another, you can, and below I'll show you how.

The second number that you need is the number of relevant events.  This is a bit tricky, and it is not at all clear to me what an "event" is according to Carver.  One possibility would be to use the number of meteorological stations in Russia or the number of grid points in a spatial reanalysis.  But this has some problems as the "event" that we are discussing is not just an extreme at a point, but a more systemic event associated with a persistent atmospheric pattern.  So we could ask how many high pressure systems typically occur in the northern hemisphere over a summer season.  I asked my father this question and he suggested perhaps 10-12 per season at the latitude of Moscow.  Again, if you don't like this number you can alter it to your liking.

So next, open up the Vassar binomial probability calculator.  We can use it to answer a few questions.

1) What are the odds of at least one 1 in 15,000 year heat wave event occurring over a 1,000 year period (picked because Russian meteorologists say that nothing of this magnitude has been observed over the past 1,000 years)?

To answer this enter the following into the calculator:

n = 10,000 (1,000 years * 10 high pressure systems per year)
k = 1 event
p = of probability 0.00006667 (that is, 1/15,000)

The odds of such an event occurring over 1,000 years are 48.7%! Given these statistics, it is not at all surprising to see one such event in Moscow over the past 1,000 years.

2) Part of the problem of course is that the Russian heat wave has already occurred, and this can create a form of hindsight bias in our consideration of rare events.  So looking forward, what are the odds of another such event occurring in Russia over the next decade, assuming these same odds (which, again may or may not be accurate).

To answer this enter the following into the calculator:

n = 100 (10 years * 10 high pressure systems per year)
k = 1 event
p = of probability 0.00006667 (that is, 1/15,000)

The answer is 0.7%, pretty small, but not zero.  If you were laying odds in order to bet on such an occurrence they would be about 143 to 1.  A longshot, but not impossible.

3) With weather there are all sorts of events that can be classified as extreme -- floods, hurricanes, drought, temperature, and so on.  I have no idea how many such weather "events" there might be in a year.  But for fun, lets assume that there are 1,000 weather "events" in a year.  We might ask, what is the probability of seeing a 1 in 15,000 year event (of any type) over the course of a year?

n = 1000 (1 year * 1,000 events)
k = 1 event
p = of probability 0.00006667 (that is, 1/15,000)

The odds of at least one 1 in 15,000 year event is 6.4% for one year.  How about over the next 10 years?  28.3%!!

If you want to test out different numbers than I used above, it is easy to do so.  But whatever numbers you use, you'll find that individual rare events are not so rare when considered over time and space.  This is one reason why the issue of attribution of causality is so frustratingly difficult (it is also difficult because of uncertainties in both "n" and "p" in the calculations above).

More specifically, there are three reasons why the question of whether extreme events are increasing due to specific causal factors is difficult to answer with certainty: (1) a short data record, (2) specific extremes occur infrequently and (3) a range of legitimate methodological approaches to the issue.  In such circumstances it would be easy to be fooled by randomness and black swans.   The good news is that the best policies in these conditions do not require certainty about causality, they instead emphasize robustness to uncertainty and ignorance. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Weather or climate? It's a question of time

Recent news stories have raised the temperature of global warming rhetoric, comparing extreme weather events in Russia and Pakistan to Biblical predictions of planet-wide doom and a fear that even if mankind halted all industrial activity today it’d still be too late to save Earth from a fiery death. 

The error of mistaking weather for climate might irritate careful scientists but makes for great headlines. Extreme weather events are bad for the people affected, but good for those driving an agenda like global warming. Activists point to devastated regions and solemnly proclaim that the seas will rise and the planet will become harsher unless we change our ways. Some activists even wish there were more weather events to frighten us. (Paul Wornham, Examiner)


It's your fault, apparently: Mexican Butterflies Threatened By Severe Storms

Fabled monarch butterflies are facing a new threat from severe storms that have devastated some sanctuary forests in Mexico, conservation groups said on Monday.

The Nature Conservancy said in a news conference that storm damage in Mexico's 13,000-hectare (32,124 acre) monarch reserve is yet another blow to the fragile butterflies, which arrived in Mexico in record low numbers last season after a 2,000-mile journey from spots as far north as Canada.

Illegal logging has long threatened the butterflies in western Mexico, where clouds of orange and black butterflies are a common sight during the winter.

But the 117 hectares (289 acres) damaged this winter were due instead to torrential rains and heavy winds, said Omar Vidal, head of World Wildlife Fund Mexico.

"We can say that extreme climate events will be more frequent and more intense," Juan Bezaury, Mexico representative for The Nature Conservancy, told reporters. (Reuters)


Eye-roller. Read on to see how invulnerable they really are: Iconic coral species the most vulnerable

The Great Barrier Reef's dominant coral species are among the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming, a new study has found.

A groundbreaking study into the immunity of coral species has found the iconic Acroporidae family to be among the most susceptible to outbreaks of disease or bleaching.

Acroporidae, also known as "reef building" coral for its role in the development of reefs, is among the most prevalent found in the Great Barrier Reef.

The branched structure and size of Acroporidae colonies makes it among the most recognisable coral species in the world.

The study by scientists from James Cook University and the Australian Research Centre ranked 17 coral species found on the reef according to their immunity.

It found species from the Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae families ranked at the bottom of the scale, putting them at the most risk of bleaching or disease - both of which have been linked to global warming.

However, study leader Caroline Palmer said the Acroporidae corals were also among the fastest growing and most abundant species.

They were, therefore, the most likely to survive as a species, even if individual colonies die.

"When a mass bleaching event hits they are one of the most affected species of coral but they seem to be bouncing back in a lot of places," she said.

"They can reproduced faster so that when they are knocked back they can grow back a lot faster."

She said immunity levels appeared to be linked to the amount of energy a species assigned to it.

Some, like the Acroporidae, directed more energy towards growth reproduction, while other species had a slower growth rate but higher levels of immunity. (AAP) [em added]


We can cut emissions while conserving our landscapes and ecosystems

Fighting climate change is not only about energy – it's about how we want our landscapes to look, work and be worked

As an environmentalist, it's easy to be discouraged by the slow progress in actually cutting carbon, but at least we're starting to get serious about climate change.

The recent publication of the Centre for Alternative Technology's (Cat) Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report, along with the Department for Energy and Climate Change's (Decc) "2050 Pathways" analysis, outline sober, well thought through, holistic proposals for how the UK can achieve the overall cuts we need to keep climate change below 2C.

What both these reports demonstrate is that tackling climate change isn't simply about how we power our economy, it's just as much about how we want our landscapes to look, to work, and to be worked. The fact that the trio of landscape, ecosystems, and rural communities is finally coming into the debate over what we actually do about climate is why I'm optimistic. (Dustin Benton, Guardian)

Weird. Ecosystems actually love our restoration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and there is no known reason to engage in carbon constraint.


Hmm... Resolving the paradox of the Antarctic sea ice

While Arctic sea ice has been diminishing in recent decades, the Antarctic sea ice extent has been increasing slightly. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology provide an explanation for the seeming paradox of increasing Antarctic sea ice in a warming climate. The paper appears in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science the week of August 16, 2010.

"We wanted to understand this apparent paradox so that we can better understand what might happen to the Antarctic sea ice in the coming century with increased greenhouse warming," said Jiping Liu, a research scientist in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Currently, as the atmosphere warms, the hydrological cycle accelerates and there is more precipitation in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. This increased precipitation, mostly in the form of snow, stabilizes the upper ocean and insulates it from the ocean heat below. This insulating effect reduces the amount of melting occurring below the sea ice. In addition, snow has a tendency to reflect atmospheric heat away from the sea ice, which reduces melting from above.

However, the climate models predict greenhouse gases will continue to increase in the 21st century, which will result in the sea ice melting at a faster rate from both above and below. Here's how it works. Increased warming of the atmosphere is expected to heat the upper ocean, which will increase the melting of the sea ice from below. In addition, increased warming will also result in a reduced level of snowfall, but more rain. Because rain doesn't reflect heat back the way snow does, this will enhance the melting of the Antarctic sea ice from above.

"Our finding raises some interesting possibilities about what we might see in the future. We may see, on a time scale of decades, a switch in the Antarctic, where the sea ice extent begins to decrease," said Judith A. Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Always provided the world warms according to the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis, of course...


Paper: Sea Level Rise Not Accelerating

A paper published yesterday in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, confirms other studies of tide gauge records which show that there has been no statistically significant acceleration in sea level rise over the past 100+ years, in contrast to statements of the IPCC and Al Gore. Sea levels have been rising naturally since the peak of the last major ice age 20,000 years ago, and the rate of rise began to decelerate about 8,000 years ago: 

Sea Level Curve in black

(Hockey Schtick)


The Sun Also Surprises

DESPITE warnings that New Orleans was unprepared for a severe hit by a hurricane, America was blindsided by Hurricane Katrina, a once-in-a-lifetime storm that made landfall five years ago this month. We are similarly unready for another potential natural disaster: solar storms, bursts of gas on the sun’s surface that release tremendous energy pulses.

Occasionally, a large solar storm can rain energy down on the earth, overpowering electrical grids. About once a century, a giant pulse can knock out worldwide power systems for months or even years. It’s been 90 years since the last super storm, but scientists say we are on the verge of another period of high solar activity.

This isn’t science fiction. Though less frequent than large hurricanes, significant storms have hit earth several times over the last 150 years, most notably in 1859 and 1921. Those occurred before the development of the modern power grid; recovering from a storm that size today would cost up to $2 trillion a year for several years.

Storms don’t have to be big to do damage. In March 1989 two smaller solar blasts shut down most of the grid in Quebec, leaving millions of customers without power for nine hours. Another storm, in 2003, caused a blackout in Sweden and fried 14 high-voltage transformers in South Africa. (Lawrence E. Joseph, NYT)


End of the World…for Real

Last week we were attacked by the sun. For real. Huge solar eruptions sent a blast of radiation toward Earth. Thankfully, the planet’s natural magnetic shield warded off the worst effects. Life went on uninterrupted.

That won’t always be the case. In 1859, Richard Carrington recorded what is now called the “Carrington Effect” — intense solar activity that can disrupt modern life dramatically.

In Carrington’s day, there were few electromechanical systems for intense solar radiation to mess with. The new fangled telegraph systems suffered the most. Solar-induced power surges knocked some operators from their chairs and set fire to the paper rolls used to record dashes and dots. Fortunately, no Carrington Effect has occurred since the whole world became electrified. But scientists worry about what might happen when a real solar tsunami hits. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Lebedev Physics Institute: Solar Maximum May Be Postponed Again

P Gosselin 16. August 2010

SOHO latest imageSOHO latest image:

Last Friday the German edition RIA NOVOSTI Russian news agency reported that there were five clusters of sunspots on the sun, leading some scientists to believe that the sun’s unusual lull may be over for good.

Scientists have been observing sunspots for hundreds of years. Many believe solar activity has a major impact on the earth’s climate on a decadal scale.

As a rule, the number of sunspots is considered to be the main criteria for solar activity: the higher the number of sunspots, the higher the activity.

But Sergei Bogatchov of the Lebedev Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that this correlation is not exact. 

  Continue reading “Lebedev Physics Institute: Solar Maximum May Be Postponed Again” (No Tricks Zone)


Measuring salt shine to improve climate understanding

From 14 - 25 August 2010, scientists from around the world will gather in Southern Turkey to measure the spectral reflectance of a few square kilometres of salt. These measurements will have a major impact on the future of satellite based Earth observation, and will ultimately improve our understanding of the Earth's climate.

For ten months of the year Tuz Gölü (Lake Tuz) in southern Turkey appears to be like any other lake. However, during July and August it dries to become a bright, pristine, white surface, which is ideal for calibrating Earth observation satellites.

Tuz Gölü is one of eight sites recently endorsed by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to become an international reference standard to evaluate satellites' sensor-to-sensor biases, and also to calibrate/validate their radiometric performance.

Observing the dynamic Earth

Satellite sensors are known to degrade significantly in-orbit. So it is very difficult to have confidence in any pre-flight assigned value of their radiometric characteristics. This makes measurements of subtle changes of the Earth (as needed for monitoring climate change) challenging. (National Physical Laboratory)


Paper “Water Vapor And The Dynamics Of Climate Changes” By Schneider Et Al 2010

There is a recent paper on the role of water vapor in the climate system which presents an much needed broadening beyond the role of carbon dioxide as the dominant climate forcing, as is emphasized in the 2007 IPCC WG report [and thanks to Faisal Hossain for alerting us to it!] .The paper is

Schneider, T., P. A. O’Gorman, and X. J. Levine (2010), WATER VAPOR AND THE DYNAMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGES, Rev. Geophys., 48, RG3001, doi:10.1029/2009RG000302.

The abstract reads

“Water vapor is not only Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas. Through the release of latent heat when it condenses, it also plays an active role in dynamic processes that shape the global circulation of the atmosphere and thus climate. Here we present an overview of how latent heat release affects atmosphere dynamics in a broad range of climates, ranging from extremely cold to extremely warm. Contrary to widely held beliefs, atmospheric circulation statistics can change nonmonotonically with global-mean surface temperature, in part because of dynamic effects of water vapor. For example, the strengths of the tropical Hadley circulation and of zonally asymmetric tropical circulations, as well as the kinetic energy of extratropical baroclinic eddies, can be lower than they presently are both in much warmer climates and in much colder climates. We discuss how latent heat release is implicated in such circulation changes, particularly through its effect on the atmospheric static stability, and we illustrate the circulation changes through simulations with an idealized general circulation model. This allows us to explore a continuum of climates, to constrain macroscopic laws governing this climatic continuum, and to place past and possible future climate changes in a broader context.”

The finding that

“Contrary to widely held beliefs, atmospheric circulation statistics can change nonmonotonically with global-mean surface temperature…”

reinforces what we have reported on; e.g. see

What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures?

that it is the atmospheric and ocean regional circulation patterns  [rather than a global average of any climate metric] that matters in terms of such societally and environmentally important events such as droughts, floods etc.  While the Schneider et al 2009 paper still emphasizes a global perspective (since they use an idealized global circulation model), their conclusion regarding atmospheric circulations is a message that the new IPCC assessment needs to heed. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Interior Department Limits Use Of Environmental Waivers

The U.S. Interior Department said on Monday it would limit the controversial practice of allowing environmental waivers for deepwater drilling projects and instead subject all such drilling to detailed analysis as it evaluates its review process.

Allowing companies to skip the environmental review process for specific drilling projects has come under intense scrutiny because BP was granted waivers for its exploratory well that blew out of control in April. (Reuters)


The Economic Costs of an Offshore Drilling Moratorium: A Summary of the Mason Study

by Eric Lowe
August 16, 2010

In his highly relevant study, Dr. Joseph R. Mason, chair of banking at the Ourso School of Business at Louisiana State University, offers a sophisticated estimate of the economic impacts of a federal moratorium on exploratory offshore oil drilling. The new moratorium, issued by the Obama administration after federal judge Martin Feldman issued an injunction banning the government from enforcing the original moratorium, freezes some 33 current exploratory drilling operations and places a six-month ban on the issuance of exploration permits by the MMS (now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement).

Dr. Mason begins by identifying the “phases” of drilling that support local economies. Exploratory drilling and the development of offshore facilities, the extraction process, and the refining of the crude oil are all identified as impacting Gulf of Mexico economies. Additionally, those services and industries that support the offshore oil drilling sector provide jobs and economic investment in the area. Some of the service industries that Dr. Mason identifies are the chemical, platform construction, drilling services, transportation, gas processing, helicopter construction, and consumer goods industries. Also, the refining phase is likely to create an economic “spillover,” as refining capacity exists in many states outside the Gulf region.

As expected, all of these industries comprise a large section of the overall Gulf economies. In the state of Louisiana, 2005 figures estimate 15.4 percent of total household earnings could be traced back to these earnings, amounting to some $12.7 billion dollars. The moratorium will lead to a cessation of worker training, as well as job losses among those already employed in these industries. One estimate by a consulting firm places total job losses by 2014 at 120,000. Many of these job losses would be outside the “big” oil companies that have become synonymous with the area, as Gulf oil exploration was essentially pioneered by smaller energy companies. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Wood to Coal to Oil to Natural Gas and Nuclear : The Slow Pace of Energy Transitions

In the wake of the Macondo well blowout, we are hearing renewed claims that we must quit using oil, that we must win “the oil end game.” In addition, there are the continuing calls for drastic reductions in carbon-based fuel consumption, and those calls are being amplified thanks to the drought and record-setting heat that has affected parts of the globe in recent weeks. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, ET)


Stupidity: UK Needs Clean Coal For New Energy Policy: Government

New UK coal-fired power plants will need to fit carbon removing technology to comply with the upcoming Emission Performance Standard (EPS), energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said on Monday.

The British government is to consult in autumn on the EPS, which aims to limit carbon emissions from power generators and is expected to influence whether utilities build coal or gas power plants.

"It would be impossible for any new coal power station to be built without being equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS)," Huhne said in a statement.

"While the details of an Emissions Performance Standard are still being finalized, we are clear that without CCS it would be impossible to meet such a standard." (Reuters)


Better: Coal-fired power stations win reprieve

Exclusive: Government's decision to put pollution standards 'on hold' raises possibility of dirtiest coal plants going ahead

The coalition is watering down a commitment to tough new environmental emissions standards, raising the possibility of dirty coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth going ahead.

Green groups are aghast that a flagship policy called for in opposition by both Lib Dems and Tories, and which they last year tried to force on the Labour government, will now not be implemented in the coalition's first energy bill to be published this year.

Their criticism of the government's commitment to green issues follows news last week that nature reserves could be sold off as countryside protection measures also bear the brunt of budget cuts in the Department for Environment.

Introducing a so-called "environmental performance standard" (EPS) for power companies would have restricted greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas plants and encouraged companies wishing to build to use more efficient technology. (Guardian)


Realities of UK Energy Policy

The UK Coalition government is facing some difficult choices on energy policy and efforts to decarbonize the nation's economy:
The coalition is watering down a commitment to tough new environmental emissions standards, raising the possibility of dirty coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth going ahead.

Green groups are aghast that a flagship policy called for in opposition by both Lib Dems and Tories, and which they last year tried to force on the Labour government, will now not be implemented in the coalition's first energy bill to be published this year.

Their criticism of the government's commitment to green issues follows news last week that nature reserves could be sold off as countryside protection measures also bear the brunt of budget cuts in the Department for Environment.

Introducing a so-called "environmental performance standard" (EPS) for power companies would have restricted greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas plants and encouraged companies wishing to build to use more efficient technology.

The introduction of an EPS was personally championed by David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg when in opposition; their opposition to Kingsnorth became something of a cause célèbre – and even features in the coalition agreement – but was opposed by energy companies and Tory backbenchers.

The chief executive at one coal-plant operating company warned that the UK's renewable energy technology – which would be used to help new plants meet the target – was too undeveloped to make the EPS feasible.

Now government sources confirm they will not be bringing forward legislation in the autumn and will instead spend the summer working on "the larger picture". They will open a consultation on the idea in the autumn with the results being presented to parliament as a white paper in the new year.
To understand why the Coalition is appearing to slow down, one needs to understand the policy context of decisions about energy policy.  A new report out by Arthur D. Little, a consultancy, clearly and concisely spells out the practical realities facing UK policy makers.  The issue of decarbonization is not so much about rhetoric and good intentions, but about the facts on the ground related to technology, costs and implementation.

The report first explains the nature of the challenge:
The [UK Low Carbon Transition] Plan set out how the UK would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% below 1990 levels by 2020. This is a step along the path to the much more ambitious target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the entire economy by 2050. Central to the plan is increasing the proportion of electricity from renewable sources to around 30% by 2020, up from the current level of 6.2% in the first quarter of 2010.
These targets are to be met through a plethora of initiatives and incentives ranging from the Renewables Obligation and feed-in tariffs, respectively aimed at bringing large- and small-scale renewable generation onto the system, through to increasing the share of renewable fuels in the transport sector to over 5% from 2013. There is also a plan to install smart meters in all 26 million UK homes by 2020, which, together with feed-in tariffs, are expected inter alia to speed-up the installation of small-scale heat and power generation in households, and to facilitate the development of smart grids to allow better system management and enable wider distributed generation growth.

Consumers are also expected to make large greenhouse gas reductions by both significant changes in behaviour, enabled by smart meters, and further energy efficiency improvements within the home. At the same time, the Government apparently favours the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, which will add significantly to the amount of power generation capacity required, and for which significant investment in a battery charging infrastructure will be needed.
The report then explains the practical realities shaping efforts to reach the emissions reduction targets set forth in UK law:
All of these measures, combined with reductions from many other initiatives in a range of sectors, are designed to help reach the Government’s ambitious targets. But governments in general tend to over-estimate the level of take-up of different policy measures. The growth in large-scale renewable generation, for example, has not been anywhere near as fast as successive government estimates have predicted, and has focused heavily on one technology, namely wind generation. This slow take-up is likely to continue, at least in the near term, and each year that passes without significant construction makes it more and more difficult to reach the 2020 targets. Recent estimates are that 7,000 offshore turbines will need to be constructed between now and 2020, nearly two per day every day of this decade. Even investors in this activity doubt that such a level of activity is achievable.

The rollout of smart meters will also be a Herculean task, with over 2.5 million meters having to be installed every year, from a near standing start, by 2020 at the latest. There is currently not enough capacity to install this number of meters, nor is it clear exactly what these meters will look like because there is, as yet, no agreed standard. It is also worth noting that there are different degrees of “smartness” in meters. They can range from meters that display real-time energy usage, to meters that allow two-way communication, enabling price signals to be sent to consumers or remote signalling of appliances to turn off during periods of high demand and high prices. It is not clear which level of “smartness” will be installed, although Ofgem proposes two-way communication as a minimum.

Again, there is an implicit assumption by policy makers that a large shift in consumer behaviour will occur once smart meters are installed e.g. responding to price signals and turning off appliances at times of high demand. However, there is little evidence that this will occur to anywhere near the expected degree: pilot studies may not reflect the real world. If parallels can be drawn, they would be with consumer switching behaviour in the face of energy market liberalisation. The UK has one of the highest rates of consumer energy switching, yet in a July 2008 survey Ofgem found that 44% of electricity and 40% of gas customers had never switched supplier, and that a further 44% of electricity and 31% of gas consumers had only switched once. This is despite high-profile advertising campaigns by retailers setting out how much money consumers could save, and very simple processes for switching, facilitated by internet sites.
 The report explains that costs of all of these proposed actions are high and may not even deliver the promised emissions reductions.  The report argues that new wind power costs 6 times as much as equivalent gas-fired energy (or as much as 18 times more, depending on the methods used, capital costs only).  The report has this bottom line:
What is really needed now will be a bitter pill for many to swallow: a slow-down in the drive for low carbon solutions.
A slow-down in UK decarbonization policy with respect to the targets of the 2008 Climate Change Act is inevitable.  I do the math in this paper.  In that paper, written in early 2009, soon after the Act was passed as law, I wrote that the UK would need to achieve the 2006 carbon efficiency of France by no later than 2015 if it was going to be on track to meeting its short-term emissions reduction target (France was at 0.30 in 2006, compare with implied decarbonization of the UK economy shown in the figure from the paper below).  I concluded that:
The failure of the UK Climate Change Act is yet to be broadly recognized, but when it is, it will provide an opportunity to recast carbon policies in a more effective manner.

We may now be at a point where the inevitable failure of the Act is being recognized and discussed.  If so, then UK energy policy today stands at a critical juncture. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


A 'Bizarre Situation' as Nuclear Operators Threaten Shutdown

Germany's leading energy producers have threatened to shut down some of their nuclear reactors if a fuel-rod tax goes into effect as planned. Yet the threat comes as the companies lobby for reactor lifetimes to be extended. Commentators on Monday are confused.

Atomic energy, Germany's leading power companies have long insisted, is a vital part of the country's energy mix. If all nuclear reactors are shut down by the beginning of the next decade -- as mandated by a 2002 law passed by the government of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder -- the country could face shortages, they claim.

It is an argument which makes the companies' recent threat that much more difficult to fathom. Over the weekend, SPIEGEL reported that negotiators from energy giants RWE, E.on, Vattenfall and EnBW have threatened to shut down several of their reactors should Chancellor Angela Merkel's government institute a planned "fuel-rod tax" and if Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen is able to set strict conditions for the extension of nuclear reactor lifespans. (Spiegel)


Bypassing Resistance, Brazil Prepares to Build a Dam

ALTAMIRA, Brazil — For Raimunda Gomes da Silva, the impending construction of a huge hydroelectric dam here in the Amazon is painful déjà vu.

About 25 years ago, the building of another dam more than 200 miles east of here flooded her property, driving a plague of poisonous snakes, insects and jaguars onto her land, she said, before submerging it completely.

Now, after starting a new life in Altamira, the government is telling her she needs to leave again, this time to make way for the Belo Monte dam, which will flood a large swath of this city, displacing thousands of people.

“This dam is a threat to me because I no longer have the energy I once did,” said Mrs. da Silva, 53, whose family of 11 shares a three-bedroom home with banana trees in the back. “We can no longer invest and build another house like this one. For me, this is like throwing away a lot of hope.”

But she will have little choice. Initial construction on the Belo Monte dam, which will be the third largest in the world, is slated to begin by next year.

Persistent opposition by environmental and indigenous groups, even with help from high-profile figures like the Canadian-American movie director James Cameron, failed to stop the $11 billion project, which will produce electricity for big cities like São Paulo while flooding about 200 square miles of the Xingu River basin. (NYT)


Ontario’s Power Trip: Solar see saw

By Parker Gallant

In a major energy policy reversal that will cost Ontario electricity consumers as much as a $1-billion, the province’s Energy Minister Brad Duguid last Friday took back a plan to cut solar power subsidies. The subsidies, based on paying 80-cents for a kiloWatt hour of solar power,  were to be cut to 58 cents on all projects approved after July 2.  But on Friday, under pressure from green energy lobbyists, Mr. Duguid reversed that decision. The new price for solar would be 64 cents–but only on projects submitted after Aug. 13.  All proposals that have been submitted before that date–whether approved or not–would receive the 80 cent price.

This is another electricity  policy bungle on the part of the Liberals, part of a series that date back more than a year. Here’s part of the history.

Read More » (Financial Post)



Crisis! New York Style vs. the Real Thing

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite” is no longer a fashionable good-night wish for Big Apple kids, even in the city’s high-rent districts and posh hotels. Growing infestations of the ravenous bloodsuckers have New Yorkers annoyed, anguished, angry about officialdom’s inadequate responses, and “itching” for answers.

Instead, their Bedbug Advisory Board recommends a bedbug team and educational website. Residents, it advises, should monitor and report infestations. Use blowdryers to flush out (maybe 5% of) the bugs, then sweep them into a plastic bag and dispose properly. Throw away (thousands of dollars worth of) infested clothing, bedding, carpeting and furniture.

Hire (expensive) professionals who (may) have insecticides that (may) eradicate the pests – and hope you don’t get scammed. Don’t use “risky” pesticides yourself. Follow guideline for donating potentially infested furnishings, and be wary of bedbug risks from donated furniture and mattresses.

New Yorkers want real solutions, including affordable insecticides that work. Fear and loathing, from decades of chemophobic indoctrination, are slowly giving way to a healthy renewed recognition that the risk of not using chemicals can be greater than the risk of using them (carefully). Eco-myths are being replaced with more informed discussions about alleged effects of DDT and other pesticides on humans and wildlife. (Paul Driessen, Townhall)


Mike Mahler--Not your typical personal trainer

Mahler's passion for kettlebell training, hormone optimization, and living life aggressively—as he puts it—inspired my latest HND piece entitled "Health Fads, Hormones, and Balance."

If you've been around health care or exercise and fitness for any length of time, you have probably noticed that most of what goes on is a fad. Indeed, joining a health club as a New Year's resolution might be the biggest fad of them all. The joke is that most of the resolution crowd disappears by Groundhog Day, presumably going back into their respective holes.

Kettlebells are nothing new, of course, and are making somewhat of a comeback, although for various reasons that Mahler details are still not seen too much in health clubs. Mahler is a big proponent of hormone optimization—again not a new concept—but Mahler frowns on supplementation. Rather, he points out that the biggest factor in throwing off hormone levels is chronic stress.

Seems like we've talked about that in the past, right?

As to living life aggressively, let's just say he that he is no sentimentalist, and has little patience for memes like having a positive attitude.

Read the complete article. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer’s

In 2003, a group of scientists and executives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the drug and medical-imaging industries, universities and nonprofit groups joined in a project that experts say had no precedent: a collaborative effort to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain.

Now, the effort is bearing fruit with a wealth of recent scientific papers on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s using methods like PET scans and tests of spinal fluid. More than 100 studies are under way to test drugs that might slow or stop the disease.

And the collaboration is already serving as a model for similar efforts against Parkinson’s disease. A $40 million project to look for biomarkers for Parkinson’s, sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, plans to enroll 600 study subjects in the United States and Europe.

The work on Alzheimer’s “is the precedent,” said Holly Barkhymer, a spokeswoman for the foundation. “We’re really excited.” (Gina Kolata, NYT)


Apparently not a joke piece: Burger and a statin to go? Or hold that, please?

NEW YORK - Fast food outlets should hand out free cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to their customers to "neutralize" the heart risks of eating fatty foods like burgers and fries, British scientists suggested on Thursday.

But a few experts say you might want to ask your server to hold the statin at this point.

In a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, scientists from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London calculated that the reduction in heart disease risk offered by a statin could offset the increase in risk from eating a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

"Statins don't cut out all of the unhealthy effects of a burger and fries. It's better to avoid fatty food altogether. But we've worked out that in terms of your likelihood of having a heart attack, taking a statin can reduce your risk to more or less the same degree as a fast food meal increases it," said Dr. Darrel Francis, who led the research team.

"When people engage in risky behaviors like driving or smoking, they're encouraged to take measures that minimize their risk, like wearing a seatbelt or choosing cigarettes with filters. Taking a statin is a rational way of lowering some of the risks of eating a fatty meal." (Reuters Health)


Another book -- hopefully not another fad: If today’s dietary advice is so good, then how come obesity is such a problem?

A new book will turn conventional diet advice on its head as Zoe Harcombe examines the causes of the worldwide obesity epidemic. Health Editor Madeleine Brindley spoke to the Welsh author about her findings

FOR the past 30 years we’ve been told that carbohydrates are our best food friends. We’ve been encouraged to base our meals on starchy foods, while being told that fat – in all its forms – is to be avoided at all costs.

Conventional diet wisdom also has it that the road to weight loss is a simple equation of consuming 500 fewer calories a day to lose 2lb over the course of a week, based on the idea that energy in equals energy out.

Zoe Harcombe doesn’t believe there’s any truth in this weight-loss advice, or indeed on the official guidance about what we should be eating. ( Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail)


Childhood obesity rates level off among some groups in California

Despite the dire warnings about high obesity levels in this country, some recent studies show that U.S. obesity rates may be leveling off. A new study finds that among children in California, obesity rates are evening out in some ethnic and racial groups, but not all.

The study, released Sunday in the journal Pediatrics, looked at body mass index rates among 8.3 million fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students in California from 2001 to 2008. Researchers found that among California public school students in 2008, 38% were overweight, 19.8% were obese and 3.6% were severely obese.

In 2005, obesity rates began to fall for white children (to 12%) and Asian children (to 13%). Rates for black and American Indian boys varied, and they leveled off for Latino children, at 26%. But obesity rates from 2001 to 2008 increased gradually to 22% among black girls and to 23% among American Indian girls. (LA Times)


Obesity Link to Diabetes Found in White Blood Cells, Australian Study Says

Immune-system cells that cause inflammation in fat tissue may explain why Type 2 diabetes mostly occurs in people who are overweight, Australian researchers said. 

Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne studied fat tissue from more than 100 lean and obese patients. Their analysis provides the first evidence in humans that white blood cells derived from bone marrow, known as macrophages, in fat tissue start a process leading to diabetes. The macrophages produce chemical messenger molecules, or cytokines, causing cells to become resistant to the hormone insulin. 

The finding, published in the medical journal Diabetes, opens the way for new anti-inflammatory treatments that prevent insulin resistance and other complications associated with obesity, the institute said in an e-mailed statement today. Obesity costs Americans as much as $150 billion a year from associated illnesses, the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report this month. (Bloomberg)


Has some physiological plausibility: Aussies losing sleep due to rising obesity 

AUSTRALIANS are losing sleep because of their expanding waistlines. 

An analysis of 20 years of records from a NSW sleep clinic has revealed a steady rise in the weight of those patients referred for treatment.

And as patient obesity levels were seen to increase, so did the severity of their breathing-related sleep disorders. (AAP)


Workplace smoking bans spark obesity?

Smoking bans in the workplace may lead to more obese employees, suggests an international team of economists.

In the journal Economics Letters, a report led by Feng Liua of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, looks at how industry smoking bans affected employees at U.S. workplaces from 1998 to 2006.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease and breathing ailments, killing 5 million people worldwide every year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and yearly killing 443,000 people nationwide. Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) above 30, raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other ailments.

"During the past three decades, obesity rate raised from 15% in 1970 to 34% in 2004, while smoking rate reduced from 37% to 20% ," begins the study. "Although medical studies suggest that these two trends were related, a causal link is yet to be found." (USA today)

Don't know if I'd be recommending smoking as a dieting aid...


Call to repeal law on bicycle helmets

ALMOST 20 years after Australia became the first country to make it illegal to ride a bike without a helmet, two Sydney University researchers say the law does not work and we would be better off without it.

Chris Rissel and a colleague, from the university's school of public health, said their research showed that although there had been a drop in the number of head injuries since the laws were introduced in 1991, helmets were not the main reason.

General improvement in road safety from random breath testing and other measures were probably the cause, he said.

''I believe we'd be better off without it,'' he said of the laws. ''I'd recommend a trial repeal in one city for two years to allow researchers to make observations and see if there's an increase in head injuries, and on the basis of that you could come to some informed policy decision.''

Dr Rissel said that although helmets protect heads, they also discourage casual cycling, where people use a bike to get milk or visit a friend.

Scrapping compulsory helmet use, he believes, would reverse that, improve health rates and reduce injury rates because getting more cyclists on the roads would make motorists better at avoiding them.

To reach their conclusions, Dr Rissel analysed the ratio of head injuries to arm injuries among cyclists admitted to hospital between 1988 and 2008. He assumed the ratio would not change unless helmet use reduced head injury rates compared with arm injury rates.

Their findings showed that most of the fall in head injury rates occurred before the laws came into force. (Sydney Morning Herald)


Cleaner, Healthier Air

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a stricter nationwide health standard for smog-causing pollutants that would bring substantial benefits to millions of Americans. With a final rule expected by the end of this month, crucial senators, mainly from industrial and oil-producing states, are pushing back. They say investments required to produce cleaner air are too expensive and not scientifically justified. (NYT)

Trouble is you have such diminishing returns and exploding costs in the pointless quest for test tube-pure air. To say that EPA-claimed benefits are severely overstated is as polite as we can be and their cost estimates are absurdly understated. As end-of-working-life technology is replaced these standards will be met anyway but is it worth spending more to achieve them early? Probably not to any but anti-industry zealots.


LOIS HENRY: Independent thought not wanted at UCLA

I know you're going to wonder why you should care about some brainiac getting the boot at UCLA. So let me start by explaining why it matters, then we'll get to the nitty gritty of what happened.

It matters because it looks like UCLA is firing this guy because his work on air pollution doesn't fit with popular thinking and it wants to shut him up.

Popular thinking, that air pollution is killing us, is lucrative to universities by way of government-funded research grants.

The guy who's getting sacked, James Enstrom, was one of only a few scientists willing to stick his neck out and blow the whistle on an outright fraud and coverup at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) over regulations that will squeeze every wallet in this state once they're implemented.

Enstrom has been relentless, if not successful, in his efforts to get the air board to acknowledge that the science on the health effects of air pollution is not closed.

Moreover, he has demanded that the process of science-based regulation be honest, open and fair.

And that's why this really matters. (The Bakersfield Californian)


Prize-winning piece of gibbering nitwittery: As It Stands: Atrazine threatens public health like another Agent Orange

Once upon a time, Agent Orange (AO) and all of its synthetic peers were widely sprayed to kill weeds throughout the land, and overseas where Americans fought in Vietnam. The manufacturers of AO assured the people that all was well. So everyone smiled. 

Soon however, dark warnings trickled into the mainstream. Soldiers came back from the bad place with cancers and other terrible diseases. The men and women in the military suffered for years until they finally got recognition and treatment from the Veterans Administration. Many veterans are still struggling today. 

When enough doctors and scientists came together and pored over mountains of studies not considered important by the EPA, they discovered that AO was responsible for a wide variety of serious health conditions. 

The chemical manufacturers turned to the courts with their own industry-funded studies that showed AO was safe. After years of bitter court battles the manufacturers lost and had to pay for their sins. 

This is not the end of the story. It seems we have not learned from this sad chapter in our history, when greedy chemical companies got away with poisoning people in the name of profit. As baseball great Yogi Berra once said, “It's deju vu all over again.” 

This time the culprit has a new name, Atrazine. It's an herbicide like AO, and an estimated 76 million pounds of it are sprayed on corn and other fields in the U.S. every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) records. (Dave Stancliff, Times-Standard)


Taxes, Dust, and Oysters: Feds Busy but Wrong

GreeenIsm piece by Guest: Dennis T. Avery 

CHURCHVILLE, VA - The Obama administration seems deeply committed to policies that can’t work. 

The President is demanding hefty energy taxes to “save the planet.” Unfortunately the proposed reductions in U.S. greenhouse emissions would have virtually no impact on he earth’s temperatures - even if CO2 is the culprit that it doesn’t seem to be. A 22 percent correlation between CO2 and our thermometer record isn’t very strong evidence on which to rake away an annual $900 billion in extra “energy taxes.” 

Meanwhile, the EPA is trying to deregister pesticides to which it has already given a clean bill of health, to appease the chemophobes on the Left. That currently means banning atrazine, a key ingredient in no-till farming, the most sustainable farming system Americans have ever had. Stanford University says such high yield farming has forestalled the plow-down of another 7 million square miles of wildlife habitat - and forestalled the loss of soil carbon equal to one-third of the world’s industrial emissions since 1850! 

EPA is also proposing to clamp down on farm dust. It may be news to EPA, but a lot of farming activities necessarily raise dust. Should we sprinkle water over the harrows and no-till planters, over the grain augers, over the lime application trucks, and the farm pickups driving down unpaved roads? That would be hugely expensive and time-consuming not to mention taking scarce water away from the crops and cities.

My favorite Obama dead end is the Chesapeake Bay project. Over the past 30 years, we’ve spent billions of federal dollars trying to reduce the nitrogen and other nutrients that get into the Bay, with absolutely no impact on the murky water. The Obama strategy is to double down, as they did with their British-style “health care reform” that has failed everywhere - including Britain. But as the British decentralize their medical decisions to 50,000 doctors, the EPA will now install mandatory farm management requirements around the Bay. (American Daily)


The Incandescent Bulb Ban: Another Regulatory Overreach

Is the modern incandescent light bulb ready to retire from society and find its final resting place in the halls of the American History Museum? Politicians seem to think so, but consumer behavior indicates otherwise. According to an article in The New York Times,

Despite a decade of campaigns by the government and utilities to persuade people to switch to energy-saving compact fluorescents, incandescent bulbs still occupy an estimated 90 percent of household sockets in the United States. Aside from the aesthetic and practical objections to fluorescents, old-style incandescents have the advantage of being remarkably cheap.

The government solution to replace incandescent bulbs is to regulate them out of the marketplace and forcefully restrict consumer choice. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 placed stringent efficiency requirements on incandescent bulbs in an attempt to phase them out between 2012 and 2014 and replace them with more expensive but more energy-efficient bulbs, the most popular being compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


How Obama Is Locking Up Our Land

Have you heard of the "Great Outdoors Initiative"? Chances are, you haven't. But across the country, White House officials have been meeting quietly with environmental groups to map out government plans for acquiring untold millions of acres of both public and private land. It's another stealthy power grab through executive order that promises to radically transform the American way of life.

In April, President Obama issued a memorandum outlining his "21st century strategy for America's great outdoors." It was addressed to the Interior Secretary, the Agriculture Secretary, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. The memo calls on the officials to conduct "listening and learning sessions" with the public to "identify the places that mean the most to Americans, and leverage the support of the Federal Government" to "protect" outdoor spaces. Eighteen of 25 planned sessions have already been held. But there's much more to the agenda than simply "reconnecting Americans to nature."

The federal government, as the memo boasted, is the nation's "largest land manager." It already owns roughly one of every three acres in the United States. This is apparently not enough. At a "listening session" in New Hampshire last week, government bureaucrats trained their sights on millions of private forest land throughout the New England region. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack crusaded for "the need for additional attention to the Land and Water Conservation Fund -- and the need to promptly support full funding of that fund." (Michelle Malkin, Townhall)


Plan to sell off nature reserves risks 'austerity countryside'

Sweeping cuts to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' budget challenge coalition's green credentials

Some of the most beautiful areas of Britain could be sold off and wildlife and countryside protection measures cut to the bone to meet expected 40% cuts in the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it emerged.

Among the plans being considered by the government, which once declared itself "the greenest ever", are selling off national nature reserves; privatising parts of the Forestry Commission; privatising the Met Office, one of the world's leading research organisations on climate change; and withdrawing grants to British Waterways, which manages 2,200 miles of canals and rivers. (Guardian)


Price of red meat likely to push more people towards vegetarian diet

Fish is likely to become a larger part of the British diet because it is one of the few foodstuffs that has fallen in price in recent years, research suggests. (TDT)


Farmers face losing thousands of pounds in environmental subsidies

Farmers face losing thousands of pounds in public subsidies for protecting Britain's wildlife. (TDT)


U.S. Judge Bans Planting Of Genetically Engineered Beets

A federal judge on Friday banned the planting of genetically modified sugar beets engineered by Monsanto Co in a ruling that marks a major setback for the biotech giant.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in 2009 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had approved Monsanto's genetically modified sugar beets without adequate environmental study.

Sugar beets account for over half of the nation's sugar supply. But conventional sugar beet seeds remain widely available and environmentalists filing suit said the judge's decision should not significantly affect sugar production.

White's decision on Friday to impose the ban did not apply to crops already planted or harvested. It stems from a lawsuit brought by environmentalists over Monsanto sugar beets engineered to be resistant to the weed-killer Roundup. (Reuters)



Like a dog with a Frisbee: A changed climate on climate change

Progress in climate change talks remained stalled in Bonn, but there is hope for the upcoming Cancun round (Guardian


Terence Corcoran — The climate ­climate: cool and getting colder

  August 13, 2010 – 9:02 pm

From Washington to Cancun to British Columbia, the climate issue is heading for the deep freeze

And now for the climate weather: It may be hot outside, but the political environment for climate science is in a deep freeze. In Washington, plans for a national carbon-trading system are colder than the ice in the mint juleps at the Round Robin Bar. The economy comes first in the U.S. Senate, where a new climate bill ran into a brick wall, putting an end to environmentalists’ hopes for a national cap-and-trade system any time in the next few years. “We fell victim to much broader politics that were beyond our control,” said a leading green activist.

In Bonn last weekend, climate politics got so cold that negotiators working on a new global climate treaty to replace the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol walked away from the talks, saying that the policy direction was going backward rather than forward. As part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Control, the Bonn talks were aiming at recovering from last year’s Cop-out in Copenhagen. “These negotiations have if anything gone backwards,” said Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action commissioner. The world is still divided over — among other issues — carbon-emission reduction targets, without which any convention would be useless. Another attempt to regroup will take place in China in October in preparation for a grand Meeting of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico, in December.

Read More » (Financial Post)


Czech speaker of the House against AGW panic

Cool reason. No commanding of the wind and rain, Ms Němcová recommends concerning warming

Translated from Parliamentary Letters: LM

Friday, August 13th, 9:43 pm - The speaker of the Czech House of Representatives (our conservative Nancy Pelosi) and the first deputy chairperson of the (right-wing) Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Ms Miroslava Němcová, doesn't believe in the man-made global warming theory. She informed the (Parliamentary Letters, or Czech "The Hill").

"I don't believe in the theory of man-made global warming. Under the ice sheets that exist today, houses used by humans have been found which makes it clear that the contemporary man is not to be blamed for the oscillating temperatures. Nature undergoes certain cycles that can't be attributed in as short a time frame as 10 or 20 years. Moreover, it has been leaked that the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has been fabricating its reports. Even this finding should open our eyes a little bit and we should keep our cool," Němcová told our editors.

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


Climate Change In Germany Has Become “A Loser Topic”

P Gosselin 15. August 2010

I couldn’t help but to relish the story that follows.

The German European Institute For Climate and Environment (EIKE) brings our attention to a report by the publicly funded NDR German television news show Panorama concerning the state of climate science and politics today in Germany. If you’re a climate activist, things just couldn’t be worse.

NDR Panorama report on Germany”s mood with regards to climate change (in German).

In summary the topic of climate change in Germany has gone far beyond its shelf-life. It is used up and no longer draws a bit of interest from the public. As the clip shows, the German public has grown tired of the constant barrage of climate alarmism, and is now über-bored by it. Editors have since taken climate news off the front pages. The public doesn’t want to hear it anymore, editors fret.

At 0:36 of the clip, normal citizens are asked about climate change. The reaction:  they couldn’t care less about it. Indeed some even say warmer is better. Climate change? No worries at all!

Continue reading “Climate Change In Germany Has Become “A Loser Topic”” (No Tricks Zone)


CO2 is Not a Pollutant but a Huge Benefactor

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, AMS Fellow

There is a wild debate in the skeptic community on whether CO2 plays a role in climate changes over time and if so how much. I am going to avoid getting embroiled in that discussion because no one knows, including the IPCC, which starts with the basic assumption that it does, that we understand the forcing and proceeds from there. They back into the forcing in their models which are seriously flawed with very poor understanding of the clearly important factors of water in all its forms in our atmosphere and in the role of the sun and oceans. Even with seriously contaminated surface observation data, their models are failing miserably even just a decade or two into the runs.

There was a very similar divisive argument in the meteorological community in early to middle part the last century as Dr James Fleming of Colby College documented in the book “Historical Perspectives on Climate Change”. The pertinent chapter was on the web and can be found here. This was before models and was based on theory as the write-up documents.

As a Synoptic Meteorologist and Climatologist over the years I have let the data do the talking.  The data says that CO2 plays little or no role in climate change - which is cyclical and relates far better with the cycles in sun and ocean.

When correlating CO2 with temperature trends in various periods of cyclical warming and cooling the last 110 years we find a negative correlation from the late 1800s to 1917 (-0.35), positive from 1917 to 1940 (+0.43), negative during the WWII and post WWII boom from 1940 to around 1975 (-0.40), positive from 1975 to around 2000 (+0.36) and negative in the short period to 2009 (-0.56).

Enlarged here.

The Russian scientists Klashtorin and Lyubushin (2003) found a similar alternating pattern comparing GLOBAL temperature trends and World Fuel Consumption. They found a +0.92 from 1861 to 1875, a -0.71 from 1875 to 1910, +0.28 from 1910 to 1940, -0.88 from 1940 to 1975, +0.94 from 1975 to 2000.

Enlarged here.

In the paper they projected a reversal post 2000 which has verified. This on again, off-again correlation suggests that CO2 is not the primary climate driver. Since the solar TSI and ocean multidecadal cycles are much better correlated, they are more likely candidates.

Enlarged here.

CO2, The Gas of Life

As opposed to be a pollutant or an agent of harm, CO2 is a blessing, a plant fertilizer that has supported an agricultural revolution. Nurseries use CO2 to boost plant growth in greenhouses, pumping it in at levels maybe 3 times ambient levels.

Just the increase in the last century has improved crop yields as shown by NASA greening studies and the UN’s own graph.

Enlarged here.

Yes better hybrids, better crop practices, fertilizers, insect and disease control as well as irrigation has helped, but CO2 has played a key role. This can be shown by isolating on CO2 and keeping other factors constant as shown in the following two studies:

Enlarged here.

Enlarged here.

More CO2 means more plant growth. Yale professor Robert Mendehlson testified to congress in 2000, climate change as projected then by IPCC would result in benefits of up to $23B/year to agriculture and forestry

CO2 enriched plants are more drought resistant and have lower water irrigation needs. CO2 benefits crops under moisture stress most! This eases water supply issues in semi-arid regions and in Mediterranean climates like California, an added benefit. Ironically California greenies are all too anxious to negate that benefit under the delusion they are saving the planet.

We should be rewarding producers of CO2 not taxing them out of existence. Taxing them becomes a value-added tax as it affects of prices of all goods and services on the way to consumers. It is a highly regressive tax, hurting the poor and middle class the most. 

But we know the real motive is not to save the planet but to address or generate revenues to pay for other issues that the administration favors.

NOAA’s Lubchenko when she was president of AAAS in 1999 said:

“Urgent and unprecedented environmental and social changes challenge scientists to define a new social contract...a commitment on the part of all scientists to devote their energies and talents to the most pressing problems of the day, in proportion to their importance, in exchange for public funding.”

The government has delivered to the tune of $79B so far to support the big lie.

We hear this week, the UN with the administration’s help is said to be seeking to tax the world $100B/year for 10 years to help fight climate change (a George Soros idea). That is $1 trillion the next decade - a redistribution to a totally corrupt and ineffective global organization.

The right US move would be to kick their collective corrupt butts out of New York City and turn off the spigot. And get off the carbon kick. Address real issues like the economy and jobs. Your wacky enviro friends may not appreciate it but the vast majority of real Americans would. (Icecap)


Bull spit! Firms Falling Short On Climate Action: Norway Fund

Companies in energy-intensive sectors such as oil production, chemicals and transport are doing too little to combat climate change, Norway's $455 billion sovereign wealth fund said on Friday.

The fund, number two in the world behind that of the United Arab Emirates, said it hoped a survey it released on Friday would spur companies to do more on global warming, in the same way that a previous report had helped curb use of child labor. (Reuters)

Any spending wasted to "combat climate change" is far too much. Real or not mitigation is not an option, adaptation is.


This carbon scheme is a fiasco in the making

Telegraph View: There are major concerns about the bureaucracy involved in a plan to force companies to cut their energy use.

A reminder from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, advising businesses that they have less than two months to register for a new compulsory carbon-cutting regime, clearly came as a shock to many of them. Around 30,000 organisations have until September 30 to sign up with the Environment Agency to participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Yet as the DECC disclosed this week, only 1,200 have done so, and industry analysts expect that 7,500 will end up missing the deadline. (TDT)


<chuckle> World 2009 CO2 Emissions Off 1.3 Percent: Institute

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 fell 1.3 percent to 31.3 billion tonnes in the first year-on-year decline in this decade, German renewable energy institute IWR said on Friday.

The Muenster-based institute, which advises German ministries, cited the global economic crisis and rising investments in renewable energies for the fall in emissions.

Global investment in renewable installations for power, heat and fuels last year rose to 125 billion euros ($161 billion) from 120 billion in 2008, IWR said.

But IWR director Norbert Allnoch said given the force of the crisis, the reductions in CO2 output could have been greater, had stronger output in Asian and Middle Eastern countries not overcompensated the savings obtained from declines in Europe, Russia, Japan and the U.S.

"The energy-induced CO2 output in China in 2009 due to its economic growth has grown to a level now that is as high as that of the U.S. and Russia combined," he said.

China in 2009 was in top position with 7.43 billion tonnes after 6.81 billion in 2008, followed by the U.S. with 5.95 billion (6.37 billion 2008). Russia was in third position, just before India, and followed by Japan.

Global investments in solar and wind power were helped by lower equipment costs as the crisis led to price cuts, IWR said.

But it reiterated its earlier suggestions that, in order to put brakes on the rising fossil fuels usage and to stabilize global CO2, it recommends that global annual spending on renewables be quadrupled to 500 billion euros ($644.2 billion).

Global CO2 emissions are still 37 percent above those in 1990, the basis year for the Kyoto Climate Protocol. (Reuters)


Paper: Fake random data are better predictors than Mann proxies

One of the examples showing that the existing composition of the climate science community makes it impossible to achieve "collective" progress even in the elementary scientific questions is the hockey stick controversy.

It was almost a decade ago when it was understood - mostly by Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre - that the MBH (Mann-Bradley-Hughes) methodology is flawed because it assigns a higher weight to proxies and their time series that do exhibit a greater overall change (warming) in the instrumental period (20th century) than in the previous centuries.

Why is it so?

In a big enough ensemble, a fraction of the proxies (e.g. tree ring widths) inevitably possesses this property (having a bigger 1900-2000 change than e.g. 1700-1800 change) by chance, even though they're not correlated with the temperature. Because of this property, their voices are being "amplified" and they contribute to the "reconstructed temperature" according to the MBH methodology (because, according to Mann, this methodology "calculates" that such proxies are better because they are "more correlated with the thermometer readings"). And their average may be seen to look like a hockey stick.

It means that the hockey stick graph is generated even from the random data, as long as they are continuous, e.g. as in red (Brownian, i.e. random walk) noise.

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


BREAKING: New paper makes a hockey sticky wicket of Mann et al 98/99/08

Sticky Wicket – phrase, meaning: “A difficult situation”.

Oh, my. There is a new and important study on temperature proxy reconstructions (McShane and Wyner 2010) submitted into the Annals of Applied Statistics and is listed to be published in the next issue. According to Steve McIntyre, this is one of the “top statistical journals”. This paper is a direct and serious rebuttal to the proxy reconstructions of Mann. It seems watertight on the surface, because instead of trying to attack the proxy data quality issues, they assumed the proxy data was accurate for their purpose, then created a bayesian backcast method. Then, using the proxy data, they demonstrate it fails to reproduce the sharp 20th century uptick.

Now, there’s a new look to the familiar “hockey stick”.


Multiproxy reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere surface temperature variations over the past millennium (blue), along with 50-year average (black), a measure of the statistical uncertainty associated with the reconstruction (gray), and instrumental surface temperature data for the last 150 years (red), based on the work by Mann et al. (1999). This figure has sometimes been referred to as the hockey stick. Source: IPCC (2001).


FIG 16. Backcast from Bayesian Model of Section 5. CRU Northern Hemisphere annual mean land temperature is given by the thin black line and a smoothed version is given by the thick black line. The forecast is given by the thin red line and a smoothed version is given by the thick red line. The model is fit on 1850-1998 AD and backcasts 998-1849 AD. The cyan region indicates uncertainty due to t, the green region indicates uncertainty due to β, and the gray region indicates total uncertainty.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Niwa's data accuracy challenged

The country's state-owned weather and atmospheric research body is being taken to court in a challenge over the accuracy of its data used to calculate global warming.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition said it had lodged papers with the High Court asking the court to invalidate the official temperatures record of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

The lobby of climate sceptics and ACT Party have long criticised Niwa over its temperature data, which Niwa says is mainstream science and not controversial, and the raw data publicly available.

The coalition said the New Zealand Temperature Records (NZTR) were the historical base of NIWA's advice to the Government on issues relating to climate change.

Coalition spokesman Bryan Leyland said many scientists believed although the earth had been warming for 150 years, it had not heated as much as Government archives claimed. (NZPA)


The New “Skeptical Science” Website: What is Going On Here?

by John Droz Jr.
August 13, 2010

I was recently informed of a website called “Skeptical Science” run by a Mr. John Cook. As a scientist (physicist), I decided to check it out to see what I could learn. I started with the assumption that Mr. Cook was a competent and well-intentioned person. After some looking around there, here’s what I found out and concluded.

The first red flag is the fact that Science (by definition) is skeptical, so why the repetition in the name? It’s something like naming a site “The attractive fashion model”.

Of more concern is the fact that (contrary to what one might be led to believe by the title) the site is actually focused against skeptical scientists — specifically those who have the temerity to question anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Hmmm.

Mr. Cook says he’s motivated by his young daughter’s future. Great — all the more reason he should want to get it right.

I was fascinated by his site’s supposedly comprehensive list of 119 reasons given by “AGW skeptics,” as well as his rather cursory dismissal of each of these.

For instance, his answer to the consensus matter (#3) is that “97% of climatologists support AGW.” Well that in itself is debatable, but nowhere do I see any discussion that addresses the larger issue: the fact that science is not decided by consensus. What was the consensus of 99% of the “experts” about the solar system in Galileo’s time? Twenty-five years ago what was the consensus of 99% of the “experts” about the cause of ulcers? In both cases (and in many others) 99% of the experts were 100% wrong. That is exactly why science is not decided by consensus.

Another example is item #94: “Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project” and his response is  “The ‘OISM petition’ was signed by only a few climatologists.” Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought that this was a scientific matter (remember the website title?). Is he really saying something so elitist as “physicist, chemists, biologists and other scientists are not qualified to assess the scientific legitimacy of AGW”? Apparently so.

Oops — if so then that means that Dr. Hansen’s theories should be discarded, since he is a physicist! [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Revkin: greenhouse effect is at best a tertiary wild card

I just finished writing a text on the floods in China in Pakistan and the wildfires in Russia (in Czech) when Tom Nelson focused my attention on Andrew Revkin's article on the same issue:

Building Resilience on a Turbulent Planet (Dot Earth)
It's a generic interview with an environmentalist, Robert Verchick, but what's remarkable in my and Tom Nelson's eyes is Revkin's comment #5:

» Don't Stop Reading » (The Reference Frame)


Monckton: Why current trends are not alarming

Since there has been a lot of discussion about Monckton here and elsewhere, I’ve offered him the opportunity to present his views here. – Anthony

Guest post by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

At I publish a widely-circulated and vigorously-debated Monthly CO2 Report, including graphs showing changes in CO2 concentration and in global mean surface temperature since 1980, when the satellites went on weather watch and the NOAA first published its global CO2 concentration series. Since some commenters here at Wattsup have queried some of our findings, I have asked Anthony to allow me to contribute this short discussion.

We were among the first to show that CO2 concentration is not rising at the fast, exponential rate that current anthropogenic emissions would lead the IPCC to expect, and that global temperature has scarcely changed since the turn of the millennium on 1 January 2001.

Continue reading (WUWT)


The State of Earth’s Climate 2009: How can so many people be so wrong?

Guest SEPP editorial by Sherwood Idso, Keith Idso, and Craig Idso

In a “Highlights” report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate in 2009 document, which was prepared under the direction of the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, we can read the principal findings of what the document describes as the work of “more than 300 scientists from 48 countries.” Their primary conclusion, as stated in the Report’s first paragraph, is that “global warming is undeniable,” and the Report goes on from there to describe “how we know the world has warmed.” But this, and all that follows, tells us next to nothing about what has caused the warming, which is the crux of the whole contentious matter.

The Report next states, for example, that “recent studies show the world’s oceans are heating up,” which is fine; but then—as if hoping no one will question them—the Report says the oceans are warming, “as they absorb most of the extra heat being added to the climate system from the build-up of heat-trapping gases,” which contention is far from a proven fact, and is—in fact—merely an hypothesis .... and a bad one at that, as we shall soon see.

Another fault of the Report is its hyping of “melting Arctic sea ice,” while it remains silent on the state of Antarctic sea ice, which has been doing just the opposite as it has grown in extent. Likewise, a major inconsistency of the Report is its stating, with respect to temperature, that “a particular year can experience record-breaking highs and lows in any given location,” while, “as a whole, global climate continues to warm.” This is very true; and it can also do so while, as a whole, global climate cools or remains unchanged. And it implies the same thing for all types of weather phenomena (such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, etc.), which means that the occurrence of any unusually dramatic weather phenomenon in any “particular year” should imply nothing about the long-term trend of that phenomenon or the presumed trajectory of the global climate within which it is embedded. Yet the Report goes on to describe six such extreme events that occurred in the “particular year” of 2009, which would have to have been done for no other reason than to imply that these weather extremes were caused by global warming, which flies in the face of their earlier contention that record-breaking low temperatures in any year say nothing about the long-term thermal tendency of the planet.

Last of all, the Report states that “people have spent thousands of years building society for one climate and now a new one is being created—one that’s warmer and more extreme,” which leads us to wonder ....

How could more than 300 scientists from 48 countries possibly be so wrong? Any student of history and palaeoclimate well knows that earth’s climate has changed dramatically over the past “thousands of years.” During the central portion of the current interglacial period, for example, many parts of the planet were a few to several degrees Centigrade warmer than they currently are. And only a thousand years ago, the Medieval Warm Period was holding sway. Although many of the scientists of Climategate infamy tried mightily to make that period of warmth “go away,” the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has for quite some time now posted a review of a different research project every single week that testifies to the reality of the Medieval Warm Period. And that ever-growing body of research is demonstrating beyond any doubt that there was a several-hundred-year interval of warmth back then that was at many different times (stretching from decades to centuries), and in numerous places (throughout the entire world), significantly warmer than the Report’s highly-touted first decade of the 21st century, and at a time when the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration was far less than it is today.

What makes this particular failure of the Report so doubly damning is the fact that it claims that each of the “more than 30 different climate indicators” it has analyzed “is placed into historical context.” That is obviously not true. And for a parameter so central to the core of the global warming discussion as temperature to not be put into proper long-term context is inexcusable, although quite understandable, especially when one realizes the implications it would hold for the Report’s unfounded contentions about the present state of earth’s climate.

Sign up for the weekly SEPP Newsletter for a compilation of stories from many sites. See PDF.


Climate change alarmists ignore scientific methods

When it comes to global warming, the public at large doesn't know what to believe anymore. Global warming alarmists have been hammering at us for years; the media is made up mostly of true believers; and politicians, who, in the absence of understanding and knowledge about climate science, have put themselves out on a limb from which it is difficult to retreat. Given the economic interests and the political powers involved, this dilemma will not go away quietly.

Alarmists are appealing to so-called "consensus science" and trying to scare the world into throwing away hundreds of billions of dollars in a fruitless effort to control the temperature of the Earth. In the absence of supporting facts, they have moved the issue into the court of public opinion where politics, media and money play important roles. 

The question of human-caused global warming should not be resolved on the publicized opinions of influential journalists, but in the court of scientific inquiry based on the scientific data. The interested public can find legitimate and easily understood empirical data online. None of it supports the alarmists' belief in human-caused global warming.

It makes good sense to look at the history of climate science. (Walter Cunningham, Houston Chronicle)


Oh... Climate scientists in race to predict where natural disaster will strike next

Conference in Boulder will step up world's efforts to establish an early warning system for extreme weather events

The world's leading climate scientists will gather this week in the United States to hammer out plans to set up an early warning system that would predict future meteorological disasters caused by global warming.

The meeting, in Boulder, Colorado, has been arranged at diplomatic level amid fears that storms, hurricanes, droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events now threaten to trigger widespread devastation in coming decades. A series of meteorological catastrophes have dominated headlines in recent weeks, while scientists have warned that figures so far for this year suggest 2010 will be the hottest on record.

Recent events include a record-breaking heatwave that has seen Moscow blanketed with smog from burning peatlands, the splintering of a giant island of ice from the Greenland ice cap, and floods in Pakistan that have claimed the lives of at least 1,600 people and left 20 million homeless. (Robin McKie, The Observer)

While improved weather prediction is a laudable goal confusing this with gorebull warbling is not at all promising.


Indur M. Goklany: Global Death Toll From Extreme Weather Events Declining

Sunday, 15 August 2010 16:39 Indur M. Goklany 

A Primer on the Global Death Toll from Extreme Weather Events — Context and Long Term (1900–2008) Trends (GWPF)


At least in the virtual realm: Ocean’s Color Affects Hurricane Paths

WASHINGTON—A change in the color of ocean waters could have a drastic effect on the prevalence of hurricanes, new research indicates. In a simulation of such a change in one region of the North Pacific, the study finds that hurricane formation decreases by 70 percent. That would be a big drop for a region that accounts for more than half the world’s reported hurricane-force winds.

It turns out that the formation of typhoons — as hurricanes are known in the region — is heavily mediated by the presence of chlorophyll, a green pigment that helps the tiny single-celled organisms known as phytoplankton convert sunlight into food for the rest of the marine ecosystem. Chlorophyll contributes to the ocean’s color. (AGU Release)


“Is Jim Hansen’s Global Temperature Skillful?” Guest Post by John R. Christy

Guest Post By John R. Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville

The three warm-color time series are taken from Hansen’s published testimony in June 1988 in which global surface air temperatures were projected under three scenarios by his global climate model. The red curve follows a scenario (A) of continued emissions growth based on the previous 20 years before 1988 (which turned out to be an underestimate of actual emissions growth.) The orange represents a scenario (B) of fixed emissions at the rate achieved in the 1980s. The yellow curve portrays a scenario (C) in which “a drastic reduction” in GHG emissions is assumed for 1990-2000. The observations are global tropospheric temperatures adjusted to mimic the magnitude of surface temperature variability and trends according to published climate model simulations (i.e. a reduction in satellite anomalies by 0.83.)

After tying all time series to a 1979-83 reference mean, one can see the significant divergence in the results. (Notes: 1. observed 2010 is Jan-Jul only; 2.) tropospheric temperatures are used as the comparison metric due to many uncertainties and biases in the surface temperature record, i.e. Klotzbach et al. 2009, 2010 ; 3.) both models and observations included the 1982 eruption of El Chichon while B and C scenarios included a volcano in the mid 1990s – not too different from Mt. Pinatubo.)

The result suggests the old NASA GCM was considerably more sensitive to GHGs than is the real atmosphere since (a) the model was forced with lower GHG concentrations than actually occurred and (b) still gave a result that was significantly warmer than observations. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Climate Porn - 2010

Today, the New York Times takes its turn with extreme weather and global warming.  The article has this wonderful quote from Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA and blogger at Real Climate:
If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes.  If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.
This neatly sums up the first of two reasons why I think that the current debate over whether greenhouse gas emissions caused/exacerbated/influenced recent disasters around the world is a fruitless debate.  It is not a debate that can be resolved empirically, but rather depends upon hunches, speculation and beliefs.  Debates that cannot be resolved empirically necessarily involve extra-scientific factors.  There is nothing unusual such "post-normal" situations, as they are common, but like Gavin Schmidt we should be clear about when we are in such a context.

While I have no illusions that the inane debate over causality of specific physical events will continue as long there is weather, there should be no ambiguity in the fact that researchers who have looked for a signal of increasing GHGs in increasing disaster losses (whether measured in dollars or in lives) have yet to see such a signal.  It would be scientifically incorrect to claim that GHGs have been shown to account for any portion of the damage or suffering resulting from recent events.

The second reason that the present debate is fruitless is that it has no practical significance.  Consider the options.

Imagine that there was a scientific consensus that no signal of greenhouse gases could be seen in today's weather extremes.  In such a world would we be able to forget about mitigation and adaptation?  Absolutely not.  The reasons why action makes sense on decarbonizing the global economy and building resiliency have a much broader basis.

Similarly, if there was a scientific consensus that a clear signal greenhouse gas emissions could be seen in recent events, it not would support a reordering of policy priorities for exactly the same reasons.  The simple fact is that any action on greenhouse gases would be a horribly slow and indirect way of trying to modulate disasters, as the effects could not even be seen for many decades.  This is not an argument against trying to stabilize greenhouse gases, but it is an argument against suggesting that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be an effective tool of disaster mitigation.

The debate over global warming and extremes has been well characterized as "climate porn."  And like porn it is not going away anytime soon (the image of the top of this post is from five years ago), and perhaps nor should it, as everyone really seems to like it.  However, at the same time, it is important to recognize that the enjoying of and participating in the making of climate porn does nothing (and maybe less) to advance climate policies.  But it is sure hard to look away. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Big, hot, shiny orb in sky caused by 'climate change' says UK Met Office 

Is “climate change” to blame for the smog in Moscow and the peat fires which have swept across Russia and devastated 30 per cent of its wheat harvest? (James Delingpole)


Heat Wave In Russia – Is It From Global Warming?

There has been considerable discussion of the heat wave in Russia and of the floods in Pakistan and China as to whether these events are from global warming.  Examples of this in the media include

Will Russia’s Heat Wave End Its Global-Warming Doubts?  By Simon Shuster / Moscow

Climate change whips up floods, fire and ice by Brian Sullivan and Madelene Pearson

The second article starts with the text

CLIMATE change has been blamed for floods that have killed thousands and left millions homeless from Pakistan to North Korea, fires and a heatwave in Russia that have left 5000 dead and disrupted global food markets, and a severe tropical storm threatening Bermuda.

and includes the statements

The weather drew comment from officials and activists at international climate change talks in Bonn.

One US delegate said Russia’s heatwave and the recent floods that have devastated Pakistan are ”consistent with the kind of changes we would expect to see from climate change and they will only get worse unless we act quickly”.

A new article in the Economist

Green View: A taste of things to come

has a more complete discussion for these weather events. Excerpts from the article includes the text

“The immediate cause of the problems is the behaviour of the jet stream, a band of high-level wind that travels east around the world and influences much of the weather below it. Part of the jet stream’s meandering is tied to regular shifts of air towards and away from the pole, called Rossby waves. The Rossby waves set up wiggles in the jet stream, wiggles which, left to themselves, would move westward. Since the jet stream is flowing eastward, though, the net effect of the Rossby waves varies. When the waves are short, they go with the jet’s flow and the resultant wiggling heads downstream to the east. When they are long they go against the flow, and the jet’s wiggling is transmitted upstream to the west. In between, there is a regime in which the waves move neither west nor east, and the weather stays put.”

Part of the straightforwardness of that analysis is that it treats all the previous years equally. When instead Dr van Oldenborgh takes into account that there has been a general warming trend over those past 60 years the heatwave starts to look less improbable—more like the sort of thing you might expect every century. As the warming trend continues in the future, the chances of such events being repeated more frequently will get higher. A single heatwave cannot be said to have been caused by global climate change; but what is known about climate change says such heatwaves are now more probable than they were.

The intensity of this heatwave has been remarkable. It is hotter than at any time in the instrumental record. According to an analysis by Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute a straightforward comparison of the temperatures seen this summer with those of the past 60 years suggests that a large patch of Russia is experiencing temperatures which might be expected only once every 400 years or so. Some places within that patch are hotter than might be expected over several millennia.

In a world where greenhouse warming gets stronger, the tropics expand—an effect the beginning of which has already been observed. The paths of the jet streams to the north and south of the tropics will change in response to this. What that means for the interactions between jet streams and Rossby waves that lead to blocking, though, is unclear. Tony Lupo, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Missouri, has been looking at the question with some Russian colleagues. He says their climate modelling provides some reason to believe blocking effects might become more common in a warmer world, but also less forceful.

The attribution of the heat wave to atmospheric blocking this summer is a scientifically sound conclusion.   The heat can occur from

  • the advection of hot air from lower latitudes on the west side of a warm core anticyclone
  • from compressional warming due to sinking air in the troposphere associated with the warm core anticyclone
  • from a larger portion of solar insolation going into sensible versus latent surface heating as result of dry soils and stressed vegetation that occurs due to the absence of rainfall associated with the core of these anticyclones
  • from added heating of the atmosphere from the absorption of solar insolation by aerosols from forest fires that occur in this dry environment.

[for a discussion of warm core anticyclones, see

Pielke Sr., R.A. 2002: Synoptic Weather Lab Notes. Colorado State University, Department of Atmospheric Science Class Report #1, Final Version, August 20, 2002.]

 However, the statements that the tropics have expanded in recent years and the probabilities that such heat waves are becoming more common has not yet convincingly been made.

Indeed we looked at this issue for the heat wave in Europe in 2003 in the paper

Chase, T.N., K. Wolter, R.A. Pielke Sr., and Ichtiaque Rasool, 2006: Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context? Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L23709, doi:10.1029/2006GL027470

where we found that the 2003 heat anomaly was particularly extreme near the surface (perhaps due to dry soil) but less anomalous in the rest of the troposphere. Our conclusions were confirmed in

Connolley W.M. 2008: Comment on “Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?” by Thomas N. Chase et al. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L02703, doi:10.1029/2007GL031171.

We updated our analysis in

Chase, T.N., K. Wolter, R.A. Pielke Sr., and Ichtiaque Rasool, 2008: Reply to comment by W.M. Connolley on ‘‘Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?’’Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L02704, doi:10.1029/2007GL031574.

 In the Chase et al 2008 paper we reported that

Figure 1 updates Chase et al. [2006] through 2006 for 2.0 and 3.0 SD levels and adds to our original conclusion that 2003 was not very unusual in terms of the spatial coverage of extreme depth-averaged temperatures.


However, the addition of three additional summers (2004– 2006) to the time series, all of which appear to be relatively warm, now indicates the possible emergence of an upward trend as suggested in previous work [Stott et al., 2004]. For example 2.0 SD warm anomalies now appear to have an upward trend (p = 0.05) though this trend should be viewed with caution because of the small sample size and the dominant effect of data points at the end of the series. The rise in 3.0 SD anomalies comparable to the 2003 heat wave is, however, still insignificant (p = 0.16) and so the increased probability of such extremes with time suggested by Stott et al. [2004] is not yet apparent.

Tom Chase will be updating this analysis through August 2010 in early September when the data becomes available. Then, instead of qualitative claims about an expanding tropics and a greater frequency of heat waves, actual climate data will be available to quantify whether or not the claims made concerning the tropospheric temperature anomalies are robust or not.

We have certainly seen a warm troposphere this year. The July lower tropospheric temperature anomalies were presented in my August 5 2010 post and the global spatial plot is reproduced below

The heat wave in western Russia is clear in the data along with a substantial warm anomaly in eastern Russia and part of China, as are smaller warm anomalies in other locations worldwide. Only Antarctica has a large negative anomaly [although interestingly, Pakistan has a modest below average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly]

This warmth presents an opportunity in the coming months to assess whether this is really related to a long term global warming related effect, or is due to some other aspects of the climate system (perhaps as modified by spatially heterogeneous forcing due to human activity including land use change and aerosols).

If it is a long term global warming signature, than the global average tropospheric warm anomaly will persist when the blocking pattern is removed.  If, however, the lower tropospheric temperatures cool to or below their long term average and this heat cannot be found in the oceans, long term global warming cannot be the culprit.  I will report on this early in 2011.  (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Arctic Armageddon or Methane Madness?

Like an overly familiar maniac from a series of Hollywood slasher movies, CO2 has lost most of its ability to scare the public. Carbon dioxide's diminishing fright mojo has sent climate change alarmists—and those in the media who lend them mindless support in trade for salacious headlines—casting about for a next gas molecule to scare the public with. A few trial balloons have been floated for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) but the rising star in the global warming shop of horrors is methane (CH4). Aside from having a familial relation ship with CO2 based on carbon, CH4 is a known greenhouse gas and is produced almost everywhere on Earth by decaying organic matter. Most recently, there were panicked warnings that Arctic seabed methane stores were being destabilized. The hype over methane has gotten so out of hand that a news focus article in Science (which is not a hot bed of climate change skepticism) has publicly stated the situation is being exaggerated. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)


The UN Taxman: Could It Tax Your (Airplane) Seat?

It is billed as a “panel of the world’s leading economists… to fight climate change.” I am not sure what kind of economists they are, but the ones that have been meeting in Bonn, Germany seem to ignore what any undergraduate student in business or engineering can readily conclude: the net present value of carbon dioxide fossil fuels is positive and huge; the net present value of any “green” alternatives is negative to hugely negative. [Read More] (Michael J. Economides, ET)


This seems somewhat incongruous: Obama: Mission Accomplished

Standing in front of a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Chrysler's Jefferson North Detroit assembly plant Friday afternoon, President Obama Friday declared that Chrysler "was building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow." Come again?

The visual non-sequitor was one of many jarring notes in his "Mission Accomplished" visit to Detroit automakers. At one point the president even compared Chrysler's bailout to winning the lottery -- hardly a model for planning long-term corporate security.

Eager to claim credit for charting a new course for Detroit with "targeted investments making new technologies," the president strangely chose as his backdrop the iconic Jeep SUV brand that first launched the small truck craze in the 1980s. This the same vehicle that Obama and his green allies condemn as having laid waste to the planet. (Henry Payne,


Rich man’s ride

  August 13, 2010 – 8:58 pm

Electric cars are likely to remain green status symbols, affordable only by households making $200,000 a year

By Charles Lane

It’s official: The Chevrolet Volt, the new plug-in electric hybrid car from General Motors, will cost US$41,000 — that’s a four-seat hatchback for about the base price of a BMW 335i. To be sure, a US$7,500 federal tax credit cuts that to US$33,500, and electricity is cheaper per mile than gas. But barring some huge oil-price spike or stiff new gas tax, it would take more than a decade to offset the higher purchase price. Some will pay a premium for the frisson of going green or being the first “early adopter” on the block. Still, this little runabout is a rich man’s ride.

And that’s my problem with the Obama administration’s energy policy, or at least with his lavish subsidies for the Volt, Nissan’s all-electric Leaf (likely sticker price US$33,000), and Tesla’s US$100,000 all-electric Roadster: Where does the U.S. federal government get off spending the average person’s tax dollars to help better-off-than-average Americans buy expensive new cars?

Read More » (Financial Post)


Another one: A Battle in Mining Country Pits Coal Against Wind

LORELEI SCARBRO’S husband, Kenneth, an underground coal miner for more than 30 years, is buried in a small family cemetery near her property here at the base of Coal River Mountain. The headstone is engraved with two roosters facing off, their feathers ruffled. Kenneth, who loved cockfighting, died in 1999, and, Ms. Scarbro says, he would have hated seeing the tops of mountains lopped off with explosives and heavy machinery by mining companies searching for coal.

Critics say the practice, known as “mountaintop removal mining,” is as devastating to the local environment as it is economically efficient for coal companies, one of which is poised to begin carving up Coal River Mountain. And that has Ms. Scarbro and other residents of western Raleigh County in a face-off of their own.

Their goal is to save the mountain, and they intend to do so with a wind farm. At least one study has shown that a wind project could be a feasible alternative to coal mining here, although the coal industry’s control over the land and the uncertain and often tenuous financial prospects of wind generation appear to make it unlikely to be pursued. That, residents say, would be a mistake. (NYT)

If only wind could harvest the energy devoted to its puff pieces it might get somewhere but in fact it is a virtually useless component of the country's energy supply.


Climate Laws Won’t Affect Burning of Thermal Coal, AME Says

Aug. 16 -- Laws aimed at combating climate change won’t reduce the burning of coal to fuel electricity generation, Michael Dixon, manager of business development at AME Mineral Economics, said at a conference in Brisbane today.

China and India will drive thermal coal demand with rising mining costs supporting prices in the medium to long term, Dixon said.

AME forecasts a thermal coal price of $105 a ton in 2011, he said. (Bloomberg)


Britain is struggling to power the nuclear revolution

About 40km south of Beijing, some of the world's most exciting science is splitting atoms in pursuit of the nuclear physicist's Holy Grail – the tiny, cheap reactor.

China started generating electricity from the first fourth generation nuclear station without fanfare last month, using largely home-grown technology that reduces waste, increases efficiency and vastly brings down costs compared with existing plants.

It's only a trial project, with the first commercial-scale model planned for 2020, but nevertheless is a step towards production-line nuclear plants that it aims to produce for the world. If it can bring down costs, China is likely to have customers galore rushing to reduce their carbon emissions by providing the equivalent of Ikea flat-pack parts for countries from Belarus to Ghana. (TDT)


Ontario Sets New Lower Rate For Some Solar power

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, announced on Friday a new lower rate for power it buys from some small solar systems under its much-vaunted clean energy incentive program.

The Ontario Power Authority will now pay 64.2 Canadian cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced from small ground-mounted solar power installations. That's down the original price of 80.2 Canadian cents announced by the provincial government when it launched its feed-in tariff (FIT) program last year.

Earlier this year, the power authority said it would cut the rate for small, ground-mounted solar to 58.8 Canadian cents per kWh, citing the excessive cost of the program. That resulted in a barrage of complaints from industry players who said the proposed reduction was too deep and came to quickly after the launch of the program. (Reuters)


Renewable energy is the cash crop of the future for British farmers

There's a new beast on the loose in the countryside.

Visitors are stalking Britain's rural communities in unsuitable footwear, offering farmers the deal of a lifetime. They're not pushing a wonder fertilizer or trying to side-step their local farmers' market in the hunt for a new superfood, but offering help to cash in on the new gold rush - solar power.

Since April, when the Government brought in new subsidies to promote the development of renewable energy, farmers have found they hold the key to a secure investment. (TDT)



USA Today Abets ObamaCare Supporters’ Misinformation Campaign

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

An article in today’s The USA Today titled, “With Many Still in Dark, Groups Shed Light on Health Care Law,” aims to correct misinformation about ObamaCare.  Ironically, the article is itself a monument to misinformation. (Cato at liberty)


Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a bedrock of modern medicine. But in the very near future, we're going to have to learn to live without them once again. And it's going to get nasty (Guardian)

Actually it means we need to devote more effort into new and novel antibiotics.


Radioactivity Concerns Grow as Blazes Continue

With fires continuing to blaze across Russia, many are concerned that radioactivity left over from the Chernobyl disaster could be released into the air. The Kremlin, however, has played down the risk. (Spiegel)

From the weird quotes department: "'I can finally open the balcony door to let my cat warm in the sun,' Evgeniya Lavrova, 21-year-old economics student, told the Associated Press". How much warming does the cat need if Moscow is allegedly in the grip of a lethal heat wave?


Few Chernobyl radiation risks from Russia fires

LONDON - Fears that fires scorching forests near Chernobyl may reawaken dangerous amounts of radioactive fallout and propel it into the air are overblown, scientists say, and the actual health risks are very small.

Even firefighters tackling the blazes, which officials say have hit forests in Russia's Bryansk region polluted by radioactive dust from the 1986 Chernobyl reactor disaster, are unlikely to run any added nuclear contamination risks.

The amount of radiation in smoke would be only a fraction of the original fallout, they say. (Reuters)


Obesity linked to lower risk of glaucoma in women

NEW YORK - A recent study found that heavier women were less likely to get one type of glaucoma than their thinner peers - the first time this association has been shown, the authors report.

The finding doesn't mean that anyone at risk for the disease should try to pack on the pounds, they say, but it could be a first step towards learning more about why people develop glaucoma and how it progresses.

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye condition that occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve - fibers that run between the eye and the brain. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, more than 4 million Americans, mostly older adults, have glaucoma. Common treatments for glaucoma include medicated eye drops and other drugs as well as surgery. (Reuters Health)


Is obesity contributing to high c-section rates?

NEW YORK | Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:18pm EDT - The larger a pregnant woman is when she checks in on delivery day, the greater her risk of having a cesarean section, suggests a large new study. (Reuters Health)


Ground control to Major Tom: Scots scientists developing protein pill to tackle obesity

Scottish scientists are working on pill to combat obesity epidemic.

A multi million-pound grant has been awarded to researchers at the renowned Rowett Institute of Nutrition who are looking to develop a supplement that helps people feel full without over-eating.

The team will investigate why high-protein foods such as meat and cheese leave diners more satisfied and how this can be used to combat the obesity epidemic.

Examining whether taking a protein capsule ahead of meals makes people feel less hungry, so they eat smaller portions, is among their quests.

This, it is envisaged, could lead to the development of a supplement that people take to reduce their appetite. (The Herald)


The word from a couple of balloonatics: Are Plastics Making Us Fat?

Health gurus claim chemicals—not calories—are the cause of obesity.

Weight-loss crazes are as American as apple pie—make that Slim Fast shakes. But despite our countless diet fads, the obesity rate has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Perhaps that's because Americans haven't tried "The New American Diet," which promises to reveal "why your weight isn't your fault" and reverse "the obesogen effect." Haven't heard of the "obesogen effect"? You will soon enough.

As authors of "The New American Diet," Stephen Perrine and Heather Hurlock are among a growing number of health gurus who blame America's ballooning on "obesogenic" foods that masquerade as healthy. They don't mean reduced-sugar Cocoa Puffs. Fruits, chicken breasts, canned vegetables, milk and other seemingly wholesome foods, they claim, contain insidious "obesogenic" pesticides and plastics that alter hormones and cause our bodies to store more fat. Their weight-loss secret? Eat organic "obesogen-free" food. 

Two "obesogens" that have gotten a lot of attention lately are the ubiquitous chemicals phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Phthalates can be found in medical tubing, make-up and PVC piping. BPA is often present in baby bottles and food containers. (WSJ)

Trying to brew up another green scare and scam a few bucks off the gullible.


Mercury poisoning: dark side of Colombia gold boom

BOGOTA - Colombia's gold bonanza has a dark side, U.N. experts said on Tuesday: mercury poisoning spreading from miners to the population of a northwest state where they use mercury to extract the precious metal.

Colombia is one of the world's top mercury polluters, as 50 to 100 metric tons of mercury are lost annually in the process of capturing gold while soaring prices push miners and artisans to extract ever more of the yellow metal, analysts say.

"As prices of gold have been increasing, more artisanal miners are mining and processing gold using mercury which is accessible, easier and cheaper to use," said Marcello Veiga, an adviser to the U.N. industrial development arm.

The Andean nation is the world's No. 1 mercury polluter per capita from artisanal (small-scale) mining, Veiga said. "The number of artisanal miners in Colombia is also increasing." (Reuters)


Farmers Lean to Truce on Animals’ Close Quarters

WEST MANSFIELD, Ohio — Concessions by farmers in this state to sharply restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves are the latest sign that so-called factory farming — a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health — is on the verge of significant change.

A recent agreement between farmers and animal rights activists here is a rare compromise in the bitter and growing debate over large-scale, intensive methods of producing eggs and meat, and may well push farmers in other states to give ground, experts say. The rising consumer preference for more “natural” and local products and concerns about pollution and antibiotic use in giant livestock operations are also driving change.

The surprise truce in Ohio follows stronger limits imposed by California voters in 2008; there, extreme caging methods will be banned altogether by 2015. In another sign of the growing clout of the animal welfare movement, a law passed in California this year will also ban imports from other states of eggs produced in crowded cages. Similar limits were approved last year in Michigan and less sweeping restrictions have been adopted in Florida, Arizona and other states.

Hoping to avoid a divisive November referendum that some farmers feared they would lose, Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio urged farm leaders to negotiate with opponents, led by the Humane Society of the United States. After secret negotiations, the sides agreed to bar new construction of egg farms that pack birds in cages, and to phase out the tight caging of pregnant sows within 15 years and of veal calves by 2017. (NYT)

Just stop feeding animal libbers.


Biggest relocation in China since Three Gorges

China's growing thirst for water is driving one of the world's biggest mass relocations, with 440,000 people leaving their homes to make way for a huge man-made canal project to channel water to drought-prone Beijing.

An advance party of 499 villagers were moved yesterday from their homes near Wuhan in Hubei province, China's heartland, in preparation for one of the biggest irrigation schemes in history.

By the end of September, 60,000 people will have left the area. The remainder will be relocated by 2014, giving up their homes to make way for the South-North Water Diversion Project (SNWD) which will divert water from China's largest river, the Yangtze. (Independent)



EPA Proposes Rules On Greenhouse Gas Permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed new rules to ensure factories and power plants will be able to obtain permits they will need to emit greenhouse gases starting next year.

The proposed rules, which the EPA wants to finalize before January 2 next year, are largely an administrative measure that is necessary for the agency to implement its mandate to take steps on emissions blamed for warming the planet. (Reuters)


Texas Fight! What Other States Can Learn from Texas vs U.S. EPA

by Daren Bakst
August 12, 2010

Texas is fighting back against the heavy hand of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All Americans should be proud of–and other states should take note of—not just the spirit but the technical arguments of the Lone Star revolt.

A recent letter to the EPA by both the state’s Attorney General and the Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality made it absolutely clear that the state is not going to comply with the EPA’s regulations on the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.

From the letter:

Dear Administrators Jackson and Armendariz:

In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations–regulations that are plainly contrary to United States law [citations omitted]. To encourage acquiescence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcement authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.

Background [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Hot air trade collapsing? Whadda shame... ICE cuts staff at Chicago Climate Exchange-sources

LONDON, Aug 11 - Market operator Intercontinental Exchange Inc. is laying off staff at newly acquired U.S. environmental bourse the Chicago Climate Exchange, industry sources told Reuters, citing a lack of U.S. action on climate change.

They said the first round of layoffs began on July 23 and, although the total number of jobs to be cut was unknown, one said around 25 employees, or roughly half CCX's headcount at the time of ICE's acquisition, had already been or were being let go.

ICE would not confirm or comment on the layoffs. (Reuters)


Aiding and abetting the scammers: Interagency Task Force Releases Report on ‘Clean Coal’ Technology

An interagency task force looking at long-term federal strategy for so-called “clean coal” technologies released its final report today. The verdict? There are no “insurmountable” barriers to commercial-scale deployment of the technology.

But there are a number of barriers to surmount. According to the report, uncertainty about climate change policy, high costs, regulatory uncertainty and potential concerns about liability are all major barriers. (Washington Independent)

No, no insurmountable barriers, just no rational reason to do it. Here's the EPA release.


Obama panel boosts bid to put greenhouse gas emissions underground

An Obama task force Thursday said that carbon capture – in which greenhouse gas emissions would be stored underground – is feasible. It's seen as a promising way to combat global warming. (CSM)

They might see it that way but they'd be dead wrong: see here and here.


Oh boy... Carbon pricing called key to coal pollution plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The key to developing technology to store coal plants' pollution underground is charging them for the carbon dioxide they release into the air, an administration task force says.

The experimental technique is aimed at reducing pollution blamed for contributing to global warming.

In a report released Thursday, the task force says that without a price for carbon pollution, there is no framework for investing in the underground storage technology, known as carbon capture and storage — or CCS. (Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press)


UN economists propose fast-track green taxes for $100 billion climate fund

LONDON, UK, Aug. 12, 2010/ Troy Media/A leading group of economists advising UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a raft of new green taxes to raise the US$100 billion a year committed by the 110 participant nations who signed December’s Copenhagen Accord. The call won’t come as music to the ears of taxpayers globally – and particularly Canadian taxpayers. (Peter C. Glover, Troy Media)



It is all very well for us to talk light-heartedly about the silly season and the preposterous claims of its denizens, but meanwhile the enemy within are pushing the western world steadily towards a lunatic economic suicide, while the enormities they commit are conveniently given cover by the prevailing frivolity. The US Presidency, for example, having largely failed to recruit Congress into its war on industry, resorts to undemocratic methods by permitting the out-of-control EPA to wage it unconstrained. The mostly sympathetic media report it as just another thread in the rich tapestry of modern life.

In the UK, the Telegraph has appointed Louise Gray as Queen of the season and almost daily reports of mostly old scares pour out: so this one did not seem all that different. The Carbon Reduction Commitment is, however, a major frontal attack on the core of British industry, involving not only onerous tax increases and draconian fines, but equally importantly it imposes an enormous administrative burden, just at a time when it can do most damage to business and the national economy. Its history is replete with the nastiest characteristics of the genre. Arising from undemocratically evolved EU diktats, it was formulated by the monumentally failed Labour government and has all the hallmarks of the Brownian love of complexity. Then it has been adopted unchanged by the coalition in a covert way. Rather than give fair warning of the pain to come, the Government has treated the whole ghastly affair as a state secret, so that most of the victim companies have no idea of the nightmare that is about to hit them. It has now been exposed in the middle of the silly season, when the victims are supposed to register for fleecing by the end of next month.

One part of the Government is looking to industry to get it out of the current mess, while another part is shackling that industry so that it is even more immersed in a fight for survival.

The incredible fact is that the whole thing turns on a preposterous theory based on maligning a wholly benign rare gas that is in fact essential to the existence of life on earth.

On the basis of the myth the British have, for example, passively allowed Indians to take over their steel industry, close it down and move it to India. This is just part of a massive migration of industry from the western nations to the Asian ones, no doubt to the satisfaction of the UN administration.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. (Number Watch)


UK government urged to evaluate biochar potential with trial schemes

First official report says burying charcoal in the soil has potential to cut greenhouse gases but scientific uncertainties remain (Guardian)

Soil carbon is good but this greenhouse nonsense is wearing really thin.


What the Chinese really think of 'Man Made Global Warming'

One of the great lies told us by our political leaders in order to persuade us to accept their swingeing and pointless green taxes and their economically suicidal, environmentally vandalistic wind-farm building programmes is that if we don’t do it China will. Apparently, just waiting to be grabbed out there are these glittering, golden prizes marked “Green jobs” and “Green technologies” – and if only we can get there before those scary, mysterious Chinese do, well, maybe the West will enjoy just a few more years of economic hegemony before the BRICs nations thwack us into the long grass.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. The Chinese do not remotely believe in the myth of Man-Made Global Warming nor in the efficacy of “alternative energy”. Why should they? It’s not as if there is any evidence for it. The only reason the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming myth has penetrated so deeply into Western culture is… No. I’m going to save that stuff for my fairly imminent (Nov?) book on the subject which I hope you’re all going to buy.

What do the Chinese think about CAGW? Well, until now it was largely a question of educated guesswork, based on inferences like the fact that it was the Chinese who derailed the Copenhagen negotiations. But thanks to a new book called Low Carbon Plot by Gou Hongyang we know exactly what the official view is. (James Delingpole)


Flying thick & fast: Global warming blamed for weather disasters doubling in 30 years

THE number of weather-related disasters has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

And global warming is the only logical explanation, according to a comprehensive analysis of storms, floods and droughts.

There were 828 "weather catastrophes" involving loss of life and major economic damage across the world last year, compared with 317 in 1980.

The analysis by Munich Re, the reinsurance company, found 385 such events in the first six months of this year - the second highest in any January to June period since records began in 1974. The report does not include this week's flooding in Pakistan, landslides in China and wildfires in Russia.

Liz Bentley, of the Royal Meteorological Society, said the figures were evidence that man-made emissions were having an impact: "It is possible to make the link when you look at 30-year trends. (Ben Webster, The Times)


It Has Been Foretold

The World Meteorological Organization has issued he following statement:
Several regions of the world are currently coping with severe weather-related events: flash floods and widespread flooding in large parts of Asia and parts of Central Europe while other regions are also affected: by heatwave and drought in Russian Federation, mudslides in China and severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. While a longer time range is required to establish whether an individual event is attributable to climate change, the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.
Even though the IPCC report can be parsed in many ways, I await the textual exegesis that supports the claim that the "sequence of current events matches IPCC predictions."  This will be difficult given that the IPCC didn't even make projections for 2010.  I welcome in the comments efforts to justify the claim by the WMO.

I am coming to the conclusion that there is something about the climate issue that makes people -- especially but not limited to academics and scientists -- completely and utterly lose their senses.  The WMO statement is (yet) another example of scientifically unsupportable nonsense in the climate debate.  Such nonsense is of course not going away anytime soon .

But because various unsupportable and just wrong claims are being advanced by leading scientists and scientific organizations, it would be easy to get the impression that on the issues of extreme events and climate change, IPCC science has a status similar to interpretations of Nostradamus and the Mayan calendars. (Roger Pielke Jr.)


Russian Scientist: Extreme Central Russian Heat Wave Not An Indication Of A Future Climate Catastrophe

Time to calm down everybody.

A Russian scientist says the regional heat wave taking place in Russia is not a sign of catastrophic climate change and that the permafrost has been thawing since the last ice age 10,000 years ago, and its rate of thawing is also not catastrophic. (P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone)


Past Errors to Blame for Russia’s Peat Fires

ELEKTROGORSK, Russia — For two weeks, soldiers with chain saws felled every tree in sight. 

Firefighters laid down a pipe to a nearby lake and pumped 100 gallons of water every minute, around the clock, until the surface of what is known as Fire No. 3 was a muddy expanse of charred stumps. 

And still the fire burned on. 

Under the surface, fire crept through a virtually impenetrable peat bog, spewing the smoke that — until the wind shifted on Thursday, providing what meteorologists said was likely to be temporary relief — had been choking the Russian capital this summer. 

Among all the troubles that have been visited on Russia in this summer of record heat, wildfires, smoke and crop failure, perhaps none have been so persistent and impervious to remedy as the peat fires. Particularly maddening, many here say, is the knowledge that the problem is caused by humans. 

As early as 1918 Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. That approach was abandoned in the late 1950s, after natural gas was discovered in Siberia, but the bogs were never reflooded, though the authorities are currently weighing the idea. (NYT)


The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010

The longer and deadlier the heat wave in western Russia becomes, the more frequently it is being linked to anthropogenic global warming.

But global warming theory doesn’t come anywhere close to explaining why it’s so darn hot this summer in Moscow.

Long-term observations suggest a more basic cause—an unusual and unprecedented (at least since 1950) confluence of several naturally-occurring atmospheric circulation patterns that together combined to set the stage for extreme warmth. Add to that urbanization, changing forestry practices, and perhaps throw in a dash of global warming for good measure, and you take a situation that would otherwise be “very hot” and up it a notch to “record hot.”

The driving force of the 2010 heat wave has been a stationary weather system that has remained locked in place over western Russia since mid-June. The atmospheric is termed to be “blocked” when atmospheric circulation patterns remained fixed in place, instead of being progressive. The prolonged snow and cold in the eastern half of the U.S. last winter was caused by an atmospheric block which locked in a pattern which allowed arctic air to slide southward and storm systems to track up the east coast. The heat in Russia is caused by a blocking pattern which has locked in high pressure over Moscow and environs which favors southerly (warm) flow, a lot of sunshine, and little rain. (WCR)


Frozen jet stream links Pakistan floods, Russian fires

Raging wildfires in western Russia have reportedly doubled average daily death rates in Moscow. Diluvial rains over northern Pakistan are surging south – the UN reports that 6 million have been affected by the resulting floods.

It now seems that these two apparently disconnected events have a common cause. They are linked to the heatwave that killed more than 60 in Japan, and the end of the warm spell in western Europe. The unusual weather in the US and Canada last month also has a similar cause.

According to meteorologists monitoring the atmosphere above the northern hemisphere, unusual holding patterns in the jet stream are to blame. As a result, weather systems sat still. Temperatures rocketed and rainfall reached extremes.

Renowned for its influence on European and Asian weather, the jet stream flows between 7 and 12 kilometres above ground. In its basic form it is a current of fast-moving air that bobs north and south as it rushes around the globe from west to east. Its wave-like shape is caused by Rossby waves – powerful spinning wind currents that push the jet stream alternately north and south like a giant game of pinball.

In recent weeks, meteorologists have noticed a change in the jet stream's normal pattern. Its waves normally shift east, dragging weather systems along with it. But in mid-July they ground to a halt, says Mike Blackburn of the University of Reading, UK (see diagram). There was a similar pattern over the US in late June.

Stationary patterns in the jet stream are called "blocking events". They are the consequence of strong Rossby waves, which push westward against the flow of the jet stream. They are normally overpowered by the jet stream's eastward flow, but they can match it if they get strong enough. When this happens, the jet stream's meanders hold steady, says Blackburn, creating the perfect conditions for extreme weather.

A static jet stream freezes in place the weather systems that sit inside the peaks and troughs of its meanders. Warm air to the south of the jet stream gets sucked north into the "peaks". The "troughs" on the other hand, draw in cold, low-pressure air from the north. Normally, these systems are constantly on the move – but not during a blocking event. (New Scientist)


Target: Monckton

Lord Monckton is under attack, a sure sign that he’s winning on warming. Monckton fights back and refutes Prof. Abraham.

Have you noticed the kicking around that CFACT Advisor Lord Christopher Monckton's been getting lately?
Add to the title “Viscount of Brenchley,” “whipping boy du jour.”  Seldom a recent day goes by without some new name calling or conspiracy theory attacking Lord Monckton echoing through the left-wing blogosphere.
Why is Chris Monckton the victim of a global warming attack campaign?  Effectiveness.  Few have been so brilliantly effective at debunking the global warming scare as this compellingly articulate British Lord. (CFACT)


BBC to issue correction on rice yields story

From: Richard Black
Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:01 AM
Anthony Watts
RE: Your article on rice yields

Dear Anthony,

Thanks for your email. You are correct – I am mistaken – a correction will be made to the news story shortly.

Best regards,
Richard Black

…my letter follows Continue reading (WUWT)


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Aug. 12th 2010

A Democrat wants skeptics put on ice, NOAA nuked Wisconsin and the Chinese are pretty sure global warming is a Western plot against the developing world. (Daily Bayonet)


SST Anomalies In The Hurricane Nursery

File:Cape Verde hurricane track.jpg

By Steve Goddard

Thanks to Dr Klotzbach for his excellent post describing his thinking behind the CSU hurricane forecast.

A number of readers asked about SSTs in the hurricane nursery. So I took the most recent Unisys SST anomaly map, removed all colors between -0.5°C and +0.5°C, and overlaid the most recent tropical storm map on it.

Continue reading (WUWT)


Statement By Vonder Haar Et Al 2010 on Using Existing [NASA Water Vapor] NVAP Dataset (1988 – 2001) for Trends

 There was an interesting preprint P5.16 from the 2005 16th AMS Symposium on Global Change and Climate Variations titled “Water vapor trends and variability from the global NVAP dataset” [extended abstract] by Thomas. H. Vonder Haar, John M. Forsythe, Johnny Luo, David L. Randel and Shannon Woo.

The preprint includes the text

“By examining the 12 year record [1988-1999], a decrease of TPW at a rate of -0.29 mm / decade is observed. This relationship is significant at the 95 % but not at the 99 % level. A downward trend would be intriguing since there should be a positive slope if a global warming signal was present. However, by subdividing the data into two halves (1988-1993) and 1994-1999, trends with opposite signs are detected. Since the trend is not robust by subdividing the data, we conclude the global TPW has no significant trend from the NVAP dataset studied here.”

This is quite an interesting and provacative finding, if substantiated, as an increase of water vapor in the atmosphere has been claimed in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report.  We have discussed this issue on our weblog (e.g. see). In the 2007 IPCC SPM, it is stated that

“The average atmospheric water vapour content has increased since at least the 1980s over land and ocean as well as in the upper troposphere. The increase is broadly consistent with the extra water vapour that warmer air can hold.”

The Vonderhaar et al 2005 finding reported in their preprint conflicts with the conclusion in the 2007 IPCC report.  However, this was reported only in a preprint, not a peer reviewed final paper. In a recent query regarding this paper, we were told that an updated accurate NVAP data analysis will be available in 2012 or 2013 and they have set up a website to communicate the latest information.

The Statement is reproduced here.

Statement on Using Existing NVAP Dataset (1988 – 2001) for Trends (Tom Vonder Haar and the NVAP production team, July 2010)

This statement summarizes our thoughts in regard to the frequently asked question “What is the trend in global water vapor from the NVAP (NASA Water Vapor Dataset)?”.

While other datasets (radiosonde, microwave ocean-only) have been used for trend studies (e.g. see IPCC AR4), NVAP is unique in that it covers global land and ocean by combining a variety of input sources. The NVAP dataset (available at the NASA Langley DAAC Data Center) has been used in hundreds of studies of water vapor and has proven to be valuable for daily to interannual variability studies (monsoon, ENSO, MJO etc.). Like many related climate datasets (precipitation, clouds), NVAP was originally designed for weather and process studies and not to detect climate trends.

There are several natural events and especially data and algorithmic time-dependent biases that cause us to conclude that the extant NVAP dataset is not currently suitable for detecting trends in total precipitable water (TPW) or layered water vapor on decadal scales. These include:

  • Several changes in the NOAA Tiros Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) retrievals during the 1990’s. And lack of any instrument-to-instrument calibration when the dataset was produced. TOVS data provides much of the information over land.
  • Changes in the microwave ocean algorithm and supporting data (sea ice, sea surface temperature), and lack of any intercalibration of the Special Sensor Microwave / Imager (SSM/I) instruments onboard six different satellites. Radiance intercalibration of this important dataset is just beginning to appear in 2010.
  • Production of NVAP in four steps during the 1990’s, with new instruments as they became available.
  • Large natural geophysical events occurring during the time period (1987 ENSO and transition to 1988 La Nina at the beginning of the record; Pinatubo eruption in 1991, large 1997-1998 El Nino). Whether or not one uses these events in a trend study can impact the slope of the trend line.

The NVAP dataset now available to the public has never been reanalyzed. A reanalysis effort should be a natural part of a climate dataset, as the first trend studies often uncover previously unknown errors in the data. At this time, we cannot prove or disprove a robust trend due to atmospheric changes with NVAP, as we stated in our 2005 paper “Water Vapor Trends and Variability from the Global NVAP Dataset” at the 16th AMS Symposium on Global Change and Climate Variations.

Using lessons learned from the existing NVAP data and knowledge including the factors listed above, a reanalysis effort is now underway to produce and extend the NVAP water vapor record. This effort is supported by the NASA Making Earth Science Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) program ( The new dataset covering 20+ years will be available to the public in 2012 or 2013. Updates on the status and availability of this data will be posted at the NVAP-MEaSURES project website (

Since this is such a fundamental climate metric to compare with the IPCC multi-decadal global model predictions (which project a continued increase in tropospheric water vapor), the achievement of an updated (through 2010) accurate analysis of the NVAP data should be of the highest climate science priority. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


Interview Of Kevin Trenberth and Roger Pielke Sr.

Update  8/12/2010 am): I e-mailed the following to Kevin

Hi Kevin

 The interview that the Weather Channel did with us on Monday was quite instructive as it highlighted areas of significant agreement among us as well as the areas of disagreement. I did post today on one comment you made; see

and would like to see if you would respond in a comment that I can post. It is with respect to the reasoning for your conclusion of a 5-10% increase in precipitation in the flood areas of Pakistan and China. Any other comments on what I wrote would be welcome also.

Best Regards


Following is Kevin’s response

Please see:
Trenberth, K. E., 2010: Changes in precipitation with climate change./
Climate Research, /submitted. [PDF] <>
Trenberth, K. E., C. A. Davis and J. Fasullo, 2007: Water and energy
budgets of hurricanes: Case studies of Ivan and Katrina . /J. Geophys.
Res./, *112*, D23106, doi:10.1029/2006JD008303. [PDF]
Trenberth, K. E., and J. Fasullo, 2007: Water and energy budgets of
hurricanes and implications for climate change. /J. Geophys. Res./,
*112*, D23107, doi:10.1029/2006JD008304. [PDF]
and many other references therein

Original Post

Kevin Trenberth and I were interviewed by the Weather Channel on Monday August 9 by Eric Fisher on the issue of does global warming equate to extreme weather. Eric’s questions were excellent.

Unfortunately, the interview is not on-line at the Weather Channel, but they have promised to send a DVD with this show which we will plan to convert and post.

In the interim, I wanted to comment on one statement that Kevin made (paraphrased below) that

…with global warming there is probably about a 5-10% increase on the precipitation that has occurred with the events in Pakistan and China… 

This is an interesting conclusion. First, we need a basis for this number, and I have e-mailed Kevin to respond to this request. Second, if we accept this as true, it still means that the devastating floods would still likely have occurred even with 5-10% less rainfall.

The Economist has an informative article on the floods in Pakistan titled “Swamped, bruised and resentful” [subscription required]. With respect to the reasons for the flood damage, the article writes

“The deluge, which was many times the usual monsoon and fell farther north and west than usual, has exposed the lack of investment in water infrastructure, including big dams, much of which was built in the 1960s. The removal of forest cover may also have allowed rainwater to drain faster into the rivers. “

Clearly, there is a climate component in terms of where the anomalous rainfall fell. However, the failure to reduce the region’s vulnerability from foods by adequate water resource management (the lack of infrastructure development) and the environmental damage from deforestation (the accelerated runoff) significantly magnified the seriousness of this disaster.  This is why we need the bottom-up, resourse-based perspective that I mentioned in my answer on the Weather Channel, and in my papers and blog posts; e.g. see

A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective

In our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

we wrote

“The water cycle is among the most significant components of the climate system and involves, for example, cloud radiation, ice albedo, and land use feedbacks [NRC, 2003]. Regional and local variations in water availability, water quality, and hydrologic extremes (floods and droughts) affect humans most directly.”

“Risk assessments require regional- scale information. Thus, in addition to the current approach based on global climate models, local and regional resource- based foci are needed to assess the spectrum of future risks to the environment and to the resources required for society. For example, by regulating development in floodplains or in hurricane storm surge coastal locations, effective adaptation strategies can be achieved regardless of how climate changes.”

“We recommend that the next assessment phase of the IPCC (and other such assessments) broaden its perspective to include all of the human climate forcings. It should also adopt a complementary and precautionary resource- based assessment of the vulnerability of critical resources (those affecting water, food, energy, and human and ecosystem health) to environmental variability and change of all types. This should include, but not be limited to, the effects due to all of the natural and human caused climate variations and changes.”

(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)


The Worst Federal Disaster Response in Our Nation’s History

President Obama wishes everyone would stop talking about the oil spill. His federal government’s response has been incompetent at best, malevolent at worst. Yet, lacking any evidence of a credible response, Obama still sent Carol Browner to the Gulf on a victory lap last week after oil stopped appearing on beaches and the water’s surface. But while the Obama administration is doing victory laps, more news of their botched efforts are coming to light.

Case in point: reports out today show that the government tried to silence scientists from the University of South Florida who had discovered a 6-mile-wide plume of oil in the deepest recesses of the Gulf.

USF Marine Sciences Dean William Hogarth told the St. Petersburg Times: “I got lambasted by the Coast Guard and NOAA when we said there was undersea oil.” He further said that government officials told him to retract any public statements and compared it to being “beat up” by the government. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


The world's first really green oil deal

Ecuador's $3.6bn scheme to save its rainforest from exploitation could point the way to sparing other threatened landscapes

The world's first genuinely green energy deal is about to be sealed. In a plan which could be a blueprint for saving large tracts of the planet from exploitation, a greater value is being put on a pristine wilderness than on the oil that lies beneath.

While the world's industrialised countries are building complex carbon markets to enable them to carry on polluting, Ecuador has come up with a much simpler idea for mitigating climate change: leave the oil underground. It is promising to lock up as much as a fifth of its oil reserves indefinitely, providing rich nations pay out at least half the market value of the oil – some $3.6bn – as compensation. (Independent)

Nice con job, take the West's "conscience money" and keep the oil until the market price rises.


Paymasters not too happy with this, eh Raj? Analysis: India Plant's Carbon Status Denial Upsets Investors

A U.N. carbon credit scheme's rejection of a huge Indian coal power plant deprives the project of revenue running into hundreds of millions of euros and rings alarm bells for investors developing similar plants.

The incident spotlights a controversial U.N. process that allows valuable carbon offsets to be given to highly efficient coal power stations, a step green groups say erodes the spirit of trying to wean developing nations off polluting fossil fuels.

In India's western state of Gujarat, Tata Power has completed more than half of its $4.2-billion 4,000-MW plant that will use more efficient supercritical boiler technology to cut carbon emissions and reduce coal consumption.

With its project backed by nearly $1 billion in debt financing by the World Bank's IFC finance arm and the Asian Development Bank, Tata had been hoping to earn carbon credits under a U.N. scheme that rewards investments in cleaner energy.

But late in July, the panel for the U.N.'s Clean Development Mechanism rejected Tata's application, saying it had not shown CDM revenues were critical to the project's return on equity. (Reuters)


Exercising Britain's nuclear options

Chris Huhne insists Britain's new nuclear power stations will be built on time, but scepticism remains

Britain's nuclear renaissance is "on course" and the first new reactors for nearly two decades will hit the grid in 2018 as planned, the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, insisted yesterday. But behind Mr Huhne's bullish claims, an awesome array of hurdles must be cleared, with unprecedented timeliness for the deadline to be met. (Independent)


Analysis: Rare Earth Monopoly A Boon To Chinese Clean Tech Firms

In the race to build hybrid cars and wind turbines to feed growing demand for green technology, China has one clear advantage, it holds the world's largest reserves of rare earth metals and dominates global production.

Wind turbines, made by No.2 wind turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, and hybrid cars, being developed by Warren Buffet-backed Chinese automaker BYD are among the biggest guzzlers of rare earth minerals, which analysts say are facing a global supply crunch as demand swells.

This little-known class of 17 related elements is also used for a vast array of electronic devices ranging from Apple's iPhone to flat screen TVs, all of which are competing for the 120,000 tons of annual global supply.

China controls 97 percent of rare earth production. (Reuters)


If you're in search of solar flair, forget about looking in Victoria

THE beauty about solar power stations is that you just have to promise them. Never mind that you won't deliver. After all, the new green faith is about seeming, not doing, right?

I again mention this truth because the Brumby Government now promises to make Victoria the "solar capital" of Australia.

Premier John Brumby says he wants to build up to 10 big new solar plants so we can get greenhouse-friendly power.

In fact, the Herald Sun said, he "set a target of 5 per cent of the state's electricity coming from large solar plants within 10 years". Which is untrue.

And, as Brumby declared, those five to 10 new plants included "an existing proposal to build a station outside Mildura by 2015". Which is a warning.

First to that target. As readers may know, the sun does not shine at night. It also doesn't shine much on cloudy days.

So the 5 per cent target is actually for the plant's capacity in perfect conditions, and not actual delivery.

In fact, the Government hopes by 2020 to have solar power stations that could produce 5 per cent of our electricity in endless sun, but which will supply perhaps just a quarter of that.

But will it manage even this?

The only big solar plant close to being built is that one near Mildura.

So keen has the Government been to seem green that it promised this project's private owners $50 million to get it up, and prime minister John Howard, desperate in his last days to seem funky, threw in $75 million.

This for a plant that would produce only enough wildly overpriced power at peak times for 45,000 homes, but no factories, and would still need conventional power stations humming on line for when the sun didn't shine.

Yet still the project collapsed last year, throwing 100 people out of work. (Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun)


Oh dear... How to be fully renewable in 10 years

AUSTRALIA could switch completely to renewable energy within a decade by building a dozen vast, new solar power stations and about 6500 wind turbines, according to a major new study.

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan - a collaboration between Melbourne University's Energy Research Institute, the environment group Beyond Zero Emissions and engineers Sinclair Knight Merz, puts the cost at $37 billion in private funding and public investment every year for the next decade.

The price tag may make it sound like a pipedream but the scheme earned the endorsement of the federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull who added his support at a forum at Sydney Town Hall last night. (SMH)


Corn Nation

Driving across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, it's impossible not to be struck by the dominance of corn cultivation in this part of the Midwest. Those "amber waves of grain" in the song look more like amber waves of corn tassels, here. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, ET)


Analysis: Indonesia Forest Moratorium To Stymie Palm Oil Firms

Indonesia's plans to halt forest clearing will slow the aggressive expansion of plantation firms in the world's top palm oil producer, leading to higher costs as firms will need acquisitions or improved yields to boost growth.

The two-year moratorium on new permits to clear natural forest from 2011 will increase land prices, pushing some to consider following industry leader Wilmar in expanding overseas to Africa or to diversify into food crops.

Indonesia is regarded as a key player in the fight to slow climate change because its tropical forests and carbon-rich peatlands trap huge amounts of carbon dioxide but its rapid deforestation rate has sparked concern among environmentalists. (Reuters)



A Bipartisan Vote on the Obamacare Road to Repeal

Tucked away in the legislation that made Obamacare into law is a tax provision that will be a compliance nightmare for small businesses if it ever goes into effect. The provision calls for all businesses to file 1099 forms with the IRS for all transactions with other businesses over $600.

Businesses are not like individuals. They purchase lots of items in large quantities. As a result, if the Obamacare reporting requirement goes into effect as scheduled in 2012, it would create an enormous compliance burden on businesses. Businesses would have to file millions of new forms with the IRS. Small businesses would be especially hard hit, because they do not have large accounting departments that can absorb more bureaucracy like larger businesses. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Antibiotics' efficiency wanes due to global spread of drug-resistant bacteria

Gene giving high levels of resistance to drugs found in increasingly prevalent intestinal bacteria

International travel and medical tourism have led to the rapid, global spread of drug-resistant bacteria that may presage the end of antibiotics and leave doctors struggling to treat infected patients, scientists warn today.

A new gene conferring high levels of resistance to almost all antibiotics has been found to be widespread in forms of gut bacteria that can cause potentially life-threatening pneumonia and urinary tract infections. (Guardian)


Heart attacks linked to cold weather, study claims

Very cold temperatures thought to affect heart by increasing blood pressure and chances of blood clotting

Even a small drop in temperature leads to an increase in the number of people who suffer a heart attack, say researchers.

Each fall of one degree Celsius at any time of year is associated with 200 extra people having a heart attack within the next 28 days, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

More people tend to have heart attacks during the winter. Very cold temperatures are thought to affect the heart by increasing blood pressure and increasing the chances of the blood clotting. (Guardian)


Toward safer plastics that lock in potentially harmful plasticizers

Scientists have published the first report on a new way of preventing potentially harmful plasticizers from migrating from one of the most widely used groups of plastics. The advance could lead to a new generation of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics that are safer than those now used in packaging, medical tubing, toys, and other products, they say. Their study is in ACS' Macromolecules, a bi-weekly journal. (ACS)

What is safer than "safe"?


What do food allergy labels really mean?

NEW YORK - While you might be tempted to ignore those "made in a facility that processes" (something you're allergic to) labels in the supermarket, new research suggests products with these labels are in fact more likely to be contaminated with peanuts, milk or eggs than unlabeled foods.

"Our study underscores the need for allergic consumers to avoid advisory-labeled products, which present a small but real risk," the authors write in the study, which is published as a letter to the editor in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (Reuters Health)


Stop smoking or your children will die

The redefinition of smoking in cars as ‘child abuse’ is about guilt-tripping parents into changing their behaviour. (Rob Lyons, spiked)


Obesity linked to lower sperm count in young men

NEW YORK - Young men who are obese may have a lower sperm count than their normal-weight counterparts, a new study suggests.

The findings, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, add to evidence tying obesity to relatively poorer quality sperm.

A number of recent studies have found that compared with leaner men, obese men tend to have lower sperm counts, fewer rapidly mobile sperm and fewer progressively motile sperm, which refers to sperm that swim forward in a straight line rather than moving about aimlessly.

But age is a "confounding" factor in examining the relationship between obesity and sperm quality. Older men tend to have lower sperm quality than younger men, and they also tend to have more body fat. (Reuters Health)


Scientists use salmonella bug to kill cancer cells

LONDON - Treating tumours with salmonella bacteria can induce an immune response that kills cancer cells, scientists have found - a discovery that may help them create tumour-killing immune cells to inject into patients.

Researchers from Italy and the United States who worked with mouse and human cancer cells in laboratories said their work might help in developing a new drug in a class of cancer treatments called immunotherapies or therapeutic vaccines, which harness the body's immune system to fight disease.

"We did experiments first in mice and then in cancer cells and immune cells from human patients, and found that the salmonella was doing exactly the same job," Maria Rescigno of European Institute of Oncology in Milan, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview. "Now we are ready to go into (testing on) humans, but we are waiting for authorisation." (Reuters)


Texas petrochemical emissions down, but still underestimated, says study

A thick blanket of yellow haze hovering over Houston as a result of chemical pollution produced by manufacturing petroleum products may be getting a little bit thinner, according to a new study.

But the new findings -- which have implications for petrochemical-producing cities around the world -- come with a catch, says a team of scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, a joint institute of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The problem is that industry still significantly underestimates the amounts of reactive chemicals being released into the air, according to airplane measurements made by the research team as part of the study. Inaccuracies in the reporting of emissions pose big challenges for the reduction and regulation of emissions coming from petrochemical plants. The emissions are important to monitor, because some chemicals released from the plants react to form ground-level ozone that can be harmful to human health and agricultural crops.

"Emissions may have decreased some, but there's still a long way to go," said study author Joost de Gouw, a CIRES atmospheric scientist. "And the emission inventories by industry were not any better in 2006 than they were in 2000." (University of Colorado at Boulder)


Dust Regulations Are No Joke

Every once in a while an e-mail goes around petitioning for the ban of dihydrogen monoxide, a dangerous chemical. The reader is aghast to learn that dihydrogen monoxide is “the main ingredient in acid rain” and “capable of causing suffocation if encountered in large quantities” and often will sign the petition and forward it to friends. However, closer examination soon reveals two things: (1) dihydrogen monoxide is nothing other than water, and (2) the petition is, in fact, a jest.

Recently, however, the EPA seems to be working along a similar vein and has proposed tighter standards on a common pollutant: particulate matter. Particulate matter pollution can dirty the air and water, limit visibility, and spur breathing problems. When EPA regulations were first applied to particulates in 1971, they were created to target soot. However, another form of particulate matter that the EPA intends to regulate is … dust. If only this, too, were a jest. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


KALEITA: Environmentalist turns to e-bullying

Researcher proves he types faster than he thinks

In the wake of "Climategate," in which a series of leaked e-mails among prominent climate scientists showed concerted efforts to silence competing researchers and manipulate the peer-review process, one would think scientists as a group would be increasingly cognizant of the tone and content of their communications. But at least one well-known scientist seems to be exactly the opposite. (Amy Kaleita, The Washington Times)


Should we really risk ignoring an asteroid?

Nasa's cost-cutting measures could literally cost the Earth, warns Maggie Aderin-Pocock. (TDT)

The more realistic question: is it really worth worrying about an event we are highly unlikely to be able to do anything about, with or without Bruce Willis belting golf balls at Greenpeace?


Green Protectionism

European policy makers and environmental groups want to restrict imports—but not in order to save the planet.

A recent article in the New York Times featured unsubstantiated accusations by Greenpeace that Indonesian pulp, paper, and palm oil conglomerate Sinar Mas is “secretly planning a massive expansion of pulp mills and cutting down essential forests, including habitats for endangered tigers.” Alleging serious ecological harm, Greenpeace—along with the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth, and the Rainforest Action Network—is advocating trade restrictions on these products from Indonesia.

This attack on Indonesia’s forestry sector bookends a recent blitz by Greenpeace activists against Indonesia’s palm oil industry on similar grounds. Meanwhile, companies in Europe, North America, and Australia that produce competing agricultural commodities have lobbied their governments to impose trade restrictions against lower-cost products from Asia.

Welcome to the world of “green protectionism.” (James M. Roberts, American Magazine)


Indonesia APP Says Audit Shows Deforestation Claim Untrue

Indonesian paper firm Asia Pulp a