Archives - January 2008

January 31, 2008

Thimerosal-autism link takes another hit… - Babies excrete vaccine-mercury quicker than originally thought

Controversial preservative doesn’t have time to build up in babies’ bodies

February’s issue of Pediatrics offers another reason to rethink blaming the spike in autism diagnoses on thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative routinely used in several childhood vaccines until the late ‘90s.

Super Bowl banned for 'causing' heart attacks? - Just imagine, New York Giants and New England Patriots fans might have to find something else to do this Sunday.

The Super Bowl, and all spectator competitive sports, may be a thing of the past, in accordance with current public health policies. A new study has found such sporting events are associated with a 326% increase in cardiac emergencies among men and nearly a doubled risk among women. These are actual myocardial infarctions and cardiac arrhythmias, not surrogate endpoints for heart problems. For those with heart disease, the risks are twice those of people without a history of heart problems.

Calls have already begun to ban all competitive sports to protect public health and contain healthcare costs... (Junkfood Science)

TV diet doctor spreading the ‘gospel of healthy living’ - Let’s face it. There are a zillion ways to make money selling a diet book. All anyone needs is a gimmick to cut calories, then write how easy your plan is to follow and that everyone is guaranteed to lose weight. Promise they’ll never need to diet again. Be sure to warn about the dangers of obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, then vow that your diet will save them and lead to a healthier, happier and longer life, prevent cancer, promote regularity or even give them youthful complexions. Give impressive explanations that make your plan sound like it’s based on science (no evidence is required as you’ll need only a few anecdotes and inspiring photos). Being able to say you’re a doctor or professor is certain to make people believe you know what you’re talking about. Finally, get endorsements from celebrities or high-profile television shows as they’ll guarantee your diet book will be a best seller. :)

By taking their diets directly to the media and public, TV diet doctors bypass the medical community, as well as any scrutiny that would come if they were published in the medical literature. So, not surprisingly, some of the wackiest fad diets are seen on TV.

But consumers deserve a special alert about the risks that come with one of the fastest-growing gimmicks. (Junkfood Science)

EU health chief angers industry over labelling - BRUSSELS - The European Union's health chief overcame intense industry pressure on Wednesday to propose stricter food labelling rules that aim to halt Europe's rising levels of obesity.

Despite huge political opposition and lobbying by food and drink multinationals, EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou forged ahead with plans to require companies to detail energy, sugar, salt, fat and saturates on the front of the packages.

"Today's proposal aims to ensure that food labels carry the essential information in a clear and legible way, so that EU citizens are empowered to make balanced dietary choices," Kyprianou told a news conference.

"Confusing, overloaded or misleading labels can be more of a hindrance than a help to the consumer," he said. (Reuters)

A Significant Warm Bias With The Diagnosis Of A Global Average Surface Temperature Anomaly To Diagnose Global Warming - Part II From Our JGR Paper - Part I of this series of weblogs (see), discussed the serious limited value of the use of a global average surface temperature anomaly to diagnose the global radiative imbalance (i.e., global climate heat system changes). In Part II, we discuss another serious issue that we raised in our paper 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.

Today’s weblog discusses Section 3 in this paper entitled “Difficulties With the Use of Observed Nocturnal Warming Trends as a Measure of Climate Trends”

Because the land portion of the global average surface temperature trend is constructed using the average of the minimum and maximum daily temperatures, if there is a bias in either one of these temperatures, there will be a bias in the trends. (Climate Science)

PlayStation® alert! Study Shows Hurricane Impact of Warmer Atlantic - LONDON - British researchers say they have shown that a half-degree Celsius temperature rise in the Atlantic ocean can fuel a 40 percent increase in hurricanes.

U.S researchers, however, last week challenged this view, saying global warming could reduce the number of hurricanes hitting the United States with warmer waters resulting in atmospheric instabilities that prevent storms from forming. (Reuters)

Podcast: Indur Goklany explains why climate change is far from being the most important environmental problem facing the planet this century.

UA prof challenges one of central beliefs about global warming - New information is leading to a controversial shift in thinking on the impact of global warming on ocean circulation, partly due to the work of a UA researcher.

The scientific community has long believed that as global warming continues and large amounts of freshwater ice melt into the ocean, the ocean's circulation will slow.

This would have a catastrophic impact on the environment as vividly, if somewhat overdramatically, portrayed in the film "The Day After Tomorrow."

But a paper published last week in Nature magazine, the result of several studies of past and possible future weather, says that in fact the very opposite is true and ocean circulation will become stronger as the icecaps melt.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," said Joellen Russell, an assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona and co-author of the paper. (Arizona Daily Star)

Witanagemot Justice And Senator Inhofe’s Fancy List - Anyone interested in the intersection of science and politics has to be watching with some amusement and more than a little dismay at the spectacle of professional immolation that the climate science community has engaged in following the release of Senator James Inhofe’s list of 400+ climate skeptics.

The amusement comes from the fact that everyone involved in this tempest in a teapot seems to be working as hard as possible in ways contrary to their political interests. (Prometheus)

Not sure I agree with Roger Junior’s conclusions here. For one thing the Senator’s list might encourage skeptics to speak out because their voices will not be alone and they can take courage from company in expressing doubts over positions espoused by government-imposed authority (the IPCC acronym stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after all).

Offering comfort and encouragement to those wishing to raise legitimate doubts but concerned about appearing a lone dissenter is surely to be encouraged rather than disparaged. If it discouraged young researchers speaking out for fear of being listed as skeptical then that would say much about the established authority and none of it complimentary.

Scientists worried about appearing skeptical should perhaps familiarize themselves with Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895).

Moreover, the maintainer of the list, Marc Morano (who probably has a fancy title like "Communications Director" or something but I don’t just recall what it might be), has a public e-mail address and anyone concerned about finding themselves on said list could simply ask to be removed with a stub stating they were wrongly included and that it did not reflect their position, so "Steve Rayner asked if there was some way to sue the Senator for defamation, tongue only partly in cheek" is a pretty silly and heavily loaded response.

On the whole I’d say anything which encourages skepticism is to be applauded and so publication of a list challenging the oft-touted "consensus" is a good thing. Can’t think of anything nice to say about "climate science attack dogs" though…

What the Future Holds in Store - The American Geophysical Union (AGU) recently released its new and improved “position statement” on global warming. Andy Revkin of the New York Times featured the AGU’s release on this DotEarth blog site and asked AGU members to chime in on their opinions of the statement that was developed by the AGU’s ruling Council. While there were definitely members who expressed dismay at the position statement, a majority of commentors gave it their hearty endorsement. Apparently, most of the endorsers have not given a very in depth consideration of all that is contained in the AGU’s statement, for otherwise, (we would hope anyway) that they would have been a bit more reserved.

For instance, the AGU’s position statement includes the following sentence: “If this 2 degrees Celsius warming [above 19th century levels] is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of carbon dioxide must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century.” This is akin to stating “If pigs had wings, they could fly.” Sure, you could endorse the statement, but to do so would seem a bit foolish. First off, pigs don’t have wings, and it would take nothing short of a miracle for them to acquire them, and secondly, even if they had wings, it is not guaranteed that they could fly. The most pig-shaped bird we can think of—the penguin which is large and rotund and flopping around on its belly a lot of the time—has wings, but can’t fly. Thus even if the impossibility of pigs sporting wings was overcome, it wouldn’t insure a successful flight. (WCR)

U.S. Senate Report Debunks Polar Bear Extinction Fears - The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the polar bear a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This report details the scientists debunking polar bear endangerment fears and features a sampling of the latest peer-reviewed science detailing the natural causes of recent Arctic ice changes.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s.  A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations “may now be near historic highs.”  The alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. And the methodology of these computer models is being challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts. (U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee)

UN: Climate Change May Cost $20 Trillion - UNITED NATIONS - Global warming could cost the world up to $20 trillion over two decades for cleaner energy sources and do the most harm to people who can least afford to adapt, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in a new report.

Troops Help Stranded Chinese as Snow Kills 50  - BEIJING - Troops fanned out across large swathes of China hit by snow storms that have killed about 50 people as Premier Wen Jiabao apologised to stranded railway passengers ahead of the biggest holiday of the year.

The government has ordered almost 500,000 troops and paramilitary forces to help millions cut off and suffering shortages of food and power, but there is little sign the weather will improve soon.

Unusually icy temperatures, snow and sleet blanketing much of central, eastern and southern China have crippled thousands of trucks and trains loaded with coal, food and passengers in the most severe winter weather in half a century. (Reuters)

Big firms lack climate change plans - LESS than 3 per cent of major Australian firms have implemented a climate change plan even though the Federal Government intends to bring in new carbon emission laws by 2010, a survey shows.

Less than one in five firms see climate change as a present risk.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs and chief financial officers of 303 Australian companies with a turnover of more than $150 million, found that 67 per cent of firms were unsure about their compliance obligations on climate change.

Some 78 per cent of firms polled had not taken any action and 98 per cent had not implemented a strategic response to address climate change risks.

Only 8 per cent believed that climate change posed a present risk to their business.

"The main conclusion from the survey is that while Australian business leaders are aware of climate change as an issue and are keen to know more about how to how to respond, they are not ready for a carbon-constrained economy,'' the report compiled in November said.

"Given the level of uncertainty around climate change risks, it is perhaps not surprising to find that the majority of respondents have only taken minimal action to respond to climate change risks.'' (The Australian)

Landlords oppose EU bid to ban patio heaters - Patio heaters, which have mushroomed in pub gardens since the smoking ban was introduced last year, were at the centre of a battle between British landlords and the EU last night as Euro MPs were expected to vote for energy-saving proposals seeking their abolition.

New proposals from Brussels address various appliances such as air-conditioning units and television "decoder" boxes, as well as the stand-by mode on electrical appliances. But they specifically mention patio heaters, which have also been used domestically for around a decade. Industry figures have claimed that the pub trade now faces losses of up to £250m.

According to the Publican Market Report 2007, the pub trade invested up to £86.5m on outdoor heaters in the past year as it learnt of the impending government ban on smoking in public places. Now pubs are worried they will not only have wasted the money they spent on the new heaters, but customers who still smoke will be tempted to stay at home, where recent figures show most Britons are now consuming alcohol.

The Energy Saving Trust has predicted that the number of heaters in use is set to rise this year from 1.2 million to 2.6 million. The energy-efficiency report being debated in Brussels has been written by Fiona Hall, the Liberal Democrat MEP for the North-east.

Significantly, the report is an "own initiative" set of recommendations, meaning it is not legally enforceable. But it means the Commission – the "executive" of the EU – is likely to come under renewed pressure to ban the heaters. (London Independent)

Patio heaters ‘don’t harm the planet’ but the EU still wants them banned - Patio heaters have a minimal effect on the environment, an expert said yesterday.

Dr Eric Johnson spoke out as Euro MPs were about to demand that outdoor heaters be banned to tackle climate change.

Europe’s Green wars begin - WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 — It is ironic that Europe, which likes to think of itself as the center of environmental correctness and the green revolution, should now be the scene of a sharp political struggle over its ambitious emissions targets. Indeed, few EU proposals have aroused quite such a chorus of complaint and derision.

EU carbon trading scheme to wipe out paper industry profits - Paper companies have warned that the rising cost of raw materials and the introduction of an EU CO2 carbon emission trading scheme will raise prices and kill off profits.

The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) said the trading scheme will take £750m out of the European paper industry, effectively wiping out its annual profits.

It described it as the "first direct EU tax in history", as it even stipulates how the monies raised should be spent by member states. (Matt Whipp, printweek.com)

Peat bogs pelted with heather to slow CO2 emissions - Bales of heather fell from the sky onto a peat plateau in the Peak District yesterday, in the latest attempt to halt what scientists believe is a dangerous emitter of carbon dioxide.

Instead of acting as a natural store, or sink, for CO2, peat bogs such as the district's Bleaklow are leaking the gas, a process which experts put down to exposure to 200 years of pollution, overgrazing and fire. The gas is thought to be a big contributor to climate change.

Helicopters interrupted the January tranquillity of a few sheep and muddy walkers to drop billions of heather seeds embedded in bales of brash, or cut heather, which should start sprouting in the spring. The seeds will also be spread across the moorland by volunteers in the coming weeks.

The rate of CO2 emission from eroded peat bogs is a matter growing concern for scientists: along with neighbouring Peak District hills such as Kinder Scout, it is thought the 700 sq km of the southern Pennine hills could be leaking as much CO2 as a town of almost 50,000 people. Britain's peat bogs store the equivalent of 10 times the country's total CO2 emissions.

Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, said emissions - a "ticking timebomb" - from the land are potentially as serious as those from cars and planes. Instead of being a squelchy green blanket covered in moss and cotton grasses, Bleaklow is, in parts, dry as southern Europe, and gullies 4m deep cross the moor. (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Claimants Tiptoe Around Lucrative Antarctic Rights - TROLL STATION, Antarctica - Nations claiming parts of Antarctica are quietly staking out rights to the seabed, in stark contrast to the North Pole where Russia ostentatiously planted a flag to back its claim.


"We have a vessel making seismic surveys of the continental shelf," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters at the Troll research station, 250 km (155 miles) inland in a part of Antarctica claimed by Oslo.

Interested countries are tiptoeing around the question of who owns the Antarctic seabed, and potential deposits of oil and gas, fearing it could open the floodgates to counter-claims or undermine a treaty protecting the continent as a nature reserve.

Unlike the Arctic, which is open to competition for minerals, Antarctica is set aside forever for peaceful purposes and scientific research under a 1959 treaty that was a big success of the Cold War.

Argentina, Australia, Britain, Chile, France, New Zealand and Norway -- all close to Antarctica or with historical ties -- made claims before the treaty took effect. Moscow and Washington did not make claims but reserved the right to do so. (Reuters)

Emissions trading - European power is a great business. Like producers everywhere, Europe’s utilities are shielded from international competition by the need to produce electricity near their customers. Many get extra protection from authorities’ foot-dragging on structural reform. And, since 2005, most have enjoyed an additional fillip. Under the European Emissions Trading Scheme, customers have paid for the permits the utilities require to produce carbon, despite the fact that, so far, the companies have received them for free. Between now and 2013 the number of permits granted will fall, and the proportion of free permits will be reduced to two-thirds. But Centrica, the UK’s biggest residential energy supplier, estimates the windfall from free permits will still be worth €110bn for the European utilities.

Finnish Nuclear Revival Not Seen in Other Nordics - HELSINKI - Finland is pressing ahead with a new atomic power station and Swedes have abandoned some of their deep-seated opposition to nuclear energy but other Scandinavian countries are unlikely to resort to it. (Reuters)

Britain Must Stand Firm on Nuclear Power - E.ON - LONDON - The British government must remain resolute in its backing for a new fleet of nuclear power stations despite the likelihood of a fresh legal challenge, the head of power giant E.ON UK said on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the government gave the green light to a new generation of nuclear power plants nearly a year after environment group Greenpeace won a court case forcing it to undertake a lengthy public consultation on the issue. (Reuters)

Wildlife disaster as uncropped land is ploughed - Half the uncropped land in the country has been ploughed up this year, in what conservationists have warned could be one of the worst disasters for wildlife for 40 years.

The skylark, stone curlew, English partridge and brown hare were predicted by conservationists to suffer further declines as a result of the ploughing up of land as the result of higher prices for wheat and the demand for biofuels.

Conservationists said that the extent of the changes, identified in a survey for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, came as an "unwelcome shock."

The survey showed that this growing season there has been an 85 per cent decline in stubbles left out of production for one year and a 30 per cent decline in non-rotational set-aside, as farmers respond to demand and the EU minister's decision to set the mandatory level of set aside at zero last autumn. (London Telegraph)

DEVELOPMENT: Unexpected Benefits of Lesotho Highlands Water Project - JOHANNESBURG, Jan 30 - The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) was conceived and built primarily to supplement the water supply of the industrial hub of South Africa. The additional water has however, provided an important benefit beyond the original aims of the project -- it is reducing the salinity of the Vaal Dam reservoir.
The reservoir near Vereeniging -- about sixty kilometres south of Johannesburg -- is the principal water reservoir for Gauteng Province, the largest industrial and mining centre on the African continent.

Originating in the eastern part of the country, the Vaal River serves as the main source of water for the Vaal Dam reservoir. While the river is large enough to meet water requirements for the area most of the time, the catchment area is subject to severe and protracted droughts. The LHWP was built to help Gauteng Province cope with perennial water shortages that resulted from these droughts.

The catchment area includes many coal and gold mines that are responsible for a substantial amount of water pollution. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and nutrient rich outflow from sewage treatment works have caused the salinity of the river flowing into the Vaal Dam reservoir to increase dramatically.

Water in the reservoir became so rich in extra nutrients that plant life became unusually plentiful and dense. When plants died and began to decompose, the decomposition process killed the animal life by starving it of oxygen.

Since the far cleaner waters from the LHWP began flowing into the reservoir, scientists from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry have noted how much easier it is to manage salinity levels in the dam. As the project evolves in coming decades -- and more water from Lesotho and the Tugela River flows into the Vaal River system -- this unexpected purifying effect is likely to become more significant.

This positive side-effect might help create a somewhat more encouraging image of LHWP project that has had more than its fair share of controversy. (IPS)

China's Crops Badly Damaged by Icy Storms - Agmin  - BEIJING - China's Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday that the unusually harsh winter had dealt a serious blow to the country's wheat and vegetable crops and warned that damage could rise because of persistent cold. (Reuters)

Top scientist scorns 'tastier' organic foods - A LEADING scientist has described claims that organic foods are more nutritious and taste better as "fiction".

And any aims to turn Ireland into an 'organic island' were also scorned yesterday by Dr Con O'Rourke, who said this would mean there could be no exports and there would need to be massive recycling.

Dr O'Rourke, a former senior member of agricultural body Teagasc and scientific journal editor, said substantial research had not shown any differences between organic and standard foods.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland yesterday had an open debate on the attitudes and findings on organic food. Research from the body shows that less than one-third of people (32pc) surveyed believe organic food to be a healthier option while 15pc believe it to be "full of flavour and taste".

"Organic foods are often claimed to be more nutritious and to taste better," said Dr O'Rourke.

"However, this has to be regarded as a fiction since, to date, rigorous scientific evaluation has failed to show significant and consistent difficulties."

In addition, genetically modified (GM) foods are "no less safe" than conventional foods, with a 'GM-free' Ireland as unlikely as an 'organic Ireland', he said. (Irish Independent)

Farmers May Have Golden Rice by 2011 - IRRI - HONG KONG - Genetically modified (GMO) Golden Rice may be available to farmers as early as 2011, possibly helping to save millions of children threatened with blindness or premature death due to Vitamin A deficiency.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), told Reuters it expected to release the GMO rice, enriched with Vitamin A, by 2011. It was conducting its first field trials in the Philippines this year.

It would be 10 years since the invention in 2001 of Golden Rice, which scientists have said may prove that the controversial biotechnology can help feed the poor and needy if applied with care and caution.

There is as yet no GMO rice grown commercially. Widely produced transgenic products, such as GMO soy, corn or cotton, are mostly pest- or herbicide-resistant. They are beneficial to farmers, but not necessarily to consumers.

Golden Rice -- which includes three new genes, including two from daffodil -- is yellowish and contains beta-carotene, a substance that human bodies convert to Vitamin A. (Reuters)

US Seeks to Retaliate Against EU in GMO Case - GENEVA - The United States underlined on Wednesday its right to retaliate against the European Union in a row over an EU ban on biotech crops.

The dispute has pitted the EU against the United States, Argentine and Canada, the world's three biggest growers of genetically modified (GMO) food. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ordered the EU to end the ban.

Brussels has found it hard to implement the WTO ruling because some of the 27 EU member states operate their own bans. (Reuters)

January 30, 2008

Prison study to investigate link between diet and behavior - Trials will soon be underway in three UK prisons to investigate the link between nutrition and behaviour. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the study will look at which nutrients are most important and at what dosage.

In the study, volunteers from three young offenders institutions housing male prisoners aged 16 to 21 will take nutritional supplements on top of their normal choice of food to ensure they receive the necessary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to meet daily guidelines. The results will be compared with a control group under double blind conditions. Researchers will monitor how levels of nutrients affect a range of behaviours including violence, drug-related offences and incidents of self-harm. (Wellcome Trust)

Microbes as climate engineers - Humans are continually altering the atmosphere. “Arrogant organisms that we are, it is easy to view this as something entirely novel in Earth’s history,” says Dr Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh. “In truth of course, micro-organisms have been at it for billions of years.”

Schelling’s shilling: Face up to climate change - Talk about non-sequiteurs! “If we know that the earth is warming, but are uncertain about how fast and with what effects on climates worldwide, what are the most urgent steps that we should take to address it?” Firstly, nothing says we need address warming at all. Certainly there is no indication urgent steps are required or that we could do anything even if we did decide there was need and value in so doing. The one thing we do actually need to do is reduce people’s vulnerability to weather events (whatever their cause) and we can do that with development and wealth generation (probably the only way we can do so). The not-inconsiderable collateral benefit of this course is that people’s lives and living standards are improved whether the climate becomes more hostile than usual or not.

Setting Up a Scapegoat - As with the global-warming advocate who explains each weather event — hot or cold, wet or dry — as proof of his creed, there’s nothing like starting one’s day off having your beliefs or assumptions affirmed. So when I picked up today’s Washington Post, I was confident that the lead editorial would feature angst over the lack of global-warming specifics in last night’s SOTU speech.

Lo and behold, in true self-parody, the Post laments in its ultimate paragraph:

But the greatest disappointment of the night was [Bush’s] failure to commit to working with Congress on legislation to create a mandatory carbon emissions reduction system in the United States — without which no international accord will be possible.

So the U.S. must unilaterally mandate carbon emissions in advance of international accords in which we’ll ask other nations to join us in mutually mandating carbon emissions? Which is to say: Handing over our main bargaining chip improves our bargaining position, because without that anticipatory capitulation there could be no pact? Thank goodness WaPo editorial writers aren’t negotiating U.S. treaties.

That vacuity aside, the most instructive part of this complaint is the mindset it betrays, which we also see in the halls of Congress: that President Bush must take ownership of this issue before he leaves office. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)

Some fear super-cheap car’s environmental cost - Anything that gives IPCC chief misanthropist Rajendra Pachauri nightmares simply must be a good thing. To do so while improving the lives of people in the developing world elevates it to great. Bear in mind that Pachauri happily flies 10,000 mile round trips from conferences and gabfests — to play social cricket matches! Does anyone who clocks up such frivolous mileage to play games have a right to whine about families traveling in a small car?

How not to measure temperature, part 50. How to make a rural station “urban” - One of the things that happens when your work becomes well known is that people send you things to look at. Such is the case for today’s subject. Here we have a NOAA COOP station which is on the side of a mountain, well away from large cities. Only problem is, they put it right next to a parking lot. (Watts Up with That?)

Aha! We knew the cold would be a sign of global warming! - No, you didn’t misread that. They said that the most severe winter in 50 years, coming on the heels of one of the warmest [read: mildest] winters on record last year, are both due to ‘rising global temperatures’ (which are currently not rising, so far as anyone can tell — but never mind that). And some people take this crap seriously?

Important New Research Paper Published - Reconstructed Historical Land Cover And Biophysical Parameters For Studies Of Land-Atmosphere Interactions Within The Eastern United States” - An important new research paper has appeared which documents how dynamic human land management has been in altering the landscape component of the climate system. This seminal paper is Steyaert, L.T., and R.G. Knox, 2008: Reconstructed historical land cover and biophysical parameters for studies of land-atmosphere interactions within the eastern United States, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D02101, doi:10.1029/2006JD008277. (Climate Science)

US Climate Talks Must Focus on Emissions Curbs - UN - OSLO - US-hosted climate talks in Hawaii this week need to focus more on agreeing curbs to greenhouse gas emissions by major polluters, the UN’s top climate change official said on Tuesday.

The debate on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which come mainly from burning fossil fuels, needed "to move into a higher gear" if the talks were to produce a plan this year, the United Nations’ Yvo de Boer said of the Jan. 30-31 meeting in Honolulu.

Relax greenhouse cuts, Rudd told - THE Rudd Government will have to abandon plans for rigid interim targets for greenhouse gas cuts to allow its emissions-trading scheme to work properly, a senior economist has said.

Warwick McKibbin, whose economic models on climate change are being used by Treasury to calculate the costs involved, yesterday added his voice to concerns that mandating a specific cut for 2020 could lift the cost of tackling global warming.

"That's the problem with politicians who make promises that can't be sustained," Professor McKibbin said. "I think the Government will realise they can still be credible enough, even if they drop a few things."

Kevin Rudd has said Australia needs interim targets for emissions cuts, beyond its existing pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

The Prime Minister commissioned Australian National University economist Ross Garnaut to advise the Government on how the targets should be set.

Professor Garnaut suggested yesterday it would be more efficient to use targets as a guide for allocating carbon permits, rather than as exact and enforceable cuts for specific years.

Professor McKibbin agrees, saying business should in some years be allowed to exceed the target for emissions. "It can't be all or nothing," he said. "There has to be a balance between the environmental benefit and the economic costs, and that's what's missing."

However, a spokesman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the Government would not abandon its election commitment on targets. (The Australian)

From CO2 Science this week:
Editorial:

Biofuels as Religious Fodder: Could filling your car's fuel tank with biofuel lead to the starvation of generations yet unborn? ... and to the demise of much of earth's wild nature in the process?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Lake Teletskoye, Altai Mountains, Russia. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Coral Reefs (History - Caribbean Sea): What can we learn from the history of Caribbean coral reefs about the effects or non-effects of global warming upon their diversity and robustness?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Adsuki Bean, Garden Bean, Garden Pea, and Soybean.

Journal Reviews:
A Global Temperature History of the Past Two Millennia: What does it reveal about the relative warmth of the 20th-century?

Flirting with Solar Causes of Climate Change: How can solar irradiance changes that are so small create terrestrial climate changes that are so large?

The Urban CO2 Dome and Heat Island of Baltimore (USA): Do the two conjoined phenomena represent a microcosm of what the entire world can expect in the future?

Growth Rates of Siberian Spruce and Scots Pines in Northwest Russia: How did their growth rates change between the two 50-year periods 1900-1949 and 1950-2000?

Earth's Peatlands in a CO2-Enriched World of the Future: How will they differ from those of today?

Lewisburg, TNTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Lewisburg, TN. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Lewisburg's mean annual temperature has cooled by 2.64 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here!

Conference Announcement:
2008 International Conference on Climate Change: An international conference on climate change will take place on March 2-4, 2008 in New York City, calling attention to widespread dissent to the alleged “consensus” that modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis. Read more about the conference by clicking on the link above. (co2science.org)

When reality bites: Oil sands curbs could cost Ontario jobs - Vancouver–A defiant Alberta premier warned that Canada’s economy, already on the verge of a slowdown, will be further hurt if his province is forced to move quicker on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Another surprise: Britain May Have to Dump Carbon Cutting Targets - LONDON - Britain may have to dump its carbon cutting targets or risk power cuts due to the retirement in the near future of old coal and nuclear plants, according to energy consultancy Inenco.

CBI director says emissions target unrealistic and not cost-effective - The head of Britain's business lobby said yesterday that there was no chance of Britain or Europe meeting the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by the deadline set by Brussels last week.

Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British industry, added that there was also no chance of Britain meeting the target for renewable energy by 2020 ordered by the European Commission. (Ian Traynor, The Guardian)

Nuclear clean-up bill £12bn higher than predicted - Funny how they neglect to mention the major reason costs are so high is ridiculous ’safety’ levels to placate a population terrorized by the very ‘environmental campaigners’ who now claim these costs are indicative of a prohibitively expensive power source.

Not climate change? How novel: New threat to Lake Victoria? - Two hydroelectricity dams appear to be threatening the health of Lake Victoria – and of the people living along its shores who depend on the lake for food. A new study¹ suggests that the dams’ systematic overuse of water has decreased the lake level by at least two meters between 2000 and 2006 – and that this drop was not influenced by weather. The study by Yustina Kiwango of Tanzania National Parks and Eric Wolanski of James Cook University in Australia was published online this week in the Springer journal Wetlands Ecology and Management. (Springer)

E.coli a future source of energy? - For most people, the name “E. coli” is synonymous with food poisoning and product recalls, but a professor in Texas A&M University’s chemical engineering department envisions the bacteria as a future source of energy, helping to power our cars, homes and more.

By genetically modifying the bacteria, Thomas Wood, a professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, has “tweaked” a strain of E. coli so that it produces substantial amounts of hydrogen. Specifically, Wood’s strain produces 140 times more hydrogen than is created in a naturally occurring process, according to an article in Microbial Biotechnology, detailing his research.

Though Wood acknowledges that there is still much work to be done before his research translates into any kind of commercial application, his initial success could prove to be a significant stepping stone on the path to the hydrogen-based economy that many believe is in this country’s future. (Texas A&M University)

California Asks EPA to Regulate Machine Emissions - LOS ANGELES - California officials Monday called on the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from industrial machines that they say emit as much carbon dioxide as 40 million cars. (Reuters)

A load of hot air? - Green and vegan claims that meat is a climate crime are based on a UN statistic that could lead to more industrialised farming

Humans Join Hunt for Antarctica's "Pink Gold" - TROLL STATION, Antarctica - They only grow up to 6 cm (2.4 inches) yet are perhaps the most abundant creatures on the planet in terms of weight. Snow petrels nesting in Antarctica fly for up to eight hours to catch a meal of them.

Krill -- small shrimp-like crustaceans which with modern technology can be used in fish feed, human dietary supplements, soya sauce flavouring, pharmaceuticals, or even to clean the paintings of Old Masters -- are in increasing demand.

A "pink gold" which if fed to farmed salmon cut out the need for colorants to make the flesh pink, krill are extremely rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, linked to health benefits for people.

Occurring in all oceans but most abundant in the Southern Ocean, they are also the staple diet for seals, penguins and whales as well as for the snow petrels living on icy mountains inland, which fly more than 500 km (300 miles) for each meal.

But rising human demand for fish oils, likely to bring more competition from trawlers for krill, is causing concern that this keystone species near the bottom of the food chain should not be overfished. (Reuters)

USTR Schwab urges EU to hasten biotech approvals - WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab on Tuesday pledged to watch for proof that the European Union is accelerating approval of new biotech products and ending a delay that has been costly to U.S. exporters.

Schwab declined to specify how long she might be willing to wait before she would ask the World Trade Organization to probe whether the EU is in violation of its ruling that found the 27-member bloc dragged its feet for years in approving new genetically modified food and crops.

"We have been tremendously frustrated at the lack of progress on the biotechnology issue," Schwab, who discussed the issue last week with European officials, told reporters.

"We need to see some progress," she said. (Reuters)

January 29, 2008

Children hungry to lose weight - A diet program to reduce childhood obesity among school children in Scotland was given an interesting name: Hungry for Success. According to NHS Health Scotland, the program has been a “substantial” success ... except it failed to work. (Junkfood Science)

U.S. dietary guides criticized for potential harm - NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some researchers are questioning whether national guidelines advising Americans to eat a low-fat diet have had the unintended consequence of feeding the current obesity epidemic.

The federal government has issued official dietary guidelines every five years since the late 1970s. In 1990, a recommendation was added that people should get less than 30 percent of their daily calories from fat.

In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York argue that the guidelines — particularly those on fat — may have done more harm than good.

Deadly? Oh boy... In San Francisco, Deadly High Fructose Corn Syrup May Soon be Banned - Following New York’s prohibition of trans fats, San Francisco is pushing its own food ban. This one might cut even closer to the bone of processed food. Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to curtail sugary drinks in the city by making those who sell it pay a significant fee. He's particularly concerned about high fructose corn syrup, which a lot of authorities believe is even worse than old-fashioned sugar.

Oddly enough, high-fructose corn syrup has done so well because it gets a kind of perverse subsidy from the federal government. Some of the great San Francisco fortunes were based on sugar production. Once, American farmers produced sugar beets. Now, sugar—mostly cane sugar—must be imported. However, Americans pay double the world price for sugar because of import quotas and tariffs. Why? To protect corn growers. Corn growers reap enormous government subsidies, most of which go to large agribusiness conglomerates. Consequently, anything made with corn is relatively inexpensive. Were it not for cheap corn due to subsidies, high fructose corn syrup would be expensive to produce. Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and such other mega food corporations want to continue the corn subsidies as well as the high import tariff on sugar, and Midland “bundles” a lot of political contributions to make sure the status quo continues.

Putting high fructose corn syrup in many foods is only done by manufacturers in the American market. Coca Cola, which contains massive amounts of corn syrup, is a prime example. In other markets, Coke is still real—it contains real sugar. So it isn’t that corn syrup tastes so much better.

“The bottom line is,” said Mayor Newsom, “there is a direct nexus between high-fructose corn syrup drinks like colas and Big Gulps and obesity among school kids.” (Cutting Edge)

EU health chief uses food labels to fight obesity - BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s health chief wants to introduce tougher food labeling rules to combat the growing problem of obesity across Europe, but is facing stiff political and industrial opposition.

Moonbat, still wrong: Population growth is a threat. But it pales against the greed of the rich - I cannot avoid the subject any longer. Almost every day I receive a clutch of emails about it, asking the same question. A frightening new report has just pushed it up the political agenda: for the first time the World Food Programme is struggling to find the supplies it needs for emergency famine relief. So why, like most environmentalists, won’t I mention the p-word? According to its most vociferous proponents (Paul and Anne Ehrlich), population is "our number one environmental problem". But most greens will not discuss it.

El Nino at play as source of more intense regional US wintertime storms - The next time you have to raise your umbrella against torrents of cold winter rain, you may have a remote weather phenomenon to thank that many may know by name as El Nino, but may not well understand.

Researchers now believe that some of the most intense winter storm activity over parts of the United States may be set in motion from changes in the surface waters of far-flung parts of the Pacific Ocean. Siegfried Schubert of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and his colleagues studied the impact that El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events have on the most intense U.S. winter storms.

Volcanic eruptions caused Little Ice Age? Baffin Island ice caps shrink by 50 percent since 1950s, says CU-Boulder study - A new University of Colorado at Boulder study has shown that ice caps on the northern plateau of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic have shrunk by more than 50 percent in the last half century as a result of warming, and are expected to disappear by the middle of the century.

Radiocarbon dating of dead plant material emerging from beneath the receding ice margins show the Baffin Island ice caps are now smaller in area than at any time in at least the last 1,600 years, said geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller of CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. "Even with no additional warming, our study indicates these ice caps will be gone in 50 years or less," he said.

The study also showed two distinct bursts of Baffin Island ice-cap growth commencing about 1280 A.D. and 1450 A.D., each coinciding with ice-core records of increases in stratospheric aerosols tied to major tropical volcanic eruptions, Miller said. The unexpected findings "provide tantalizing evidence that the eruptions were the trigger for the Little Ice Age," a period of Northern Hemisphere cooling that lasted from roughly 1250 to 1850, he said.

Inevitably: Groups sue for files on polar bears, lease sale - Conservation groups today sued the federal agency responsible for the upcoming offshore petroleum lease sale in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, claiming the government has not disclosed documents that could show harmful effects to polar bears and other marine mammals.

The groups said the documents could reveal that the Minerals Management Service's plans for the outer continental shelf sale are ill-advised and possibly illegal.

"Hiding critical documents about the potential harm to polar bears from drilling their habitat is symptomatic of the administration's head-in-the-sand approach to global warming and the melting of the Arctic," said Brendan Cummings, ocean program director of the Center for Biological Diversity. (Associated Press)

Polar bear extinction

More of the harm done by “global warming” hysteria - The Preservation Predicament

Conservation organizations that work to preserve biologically rich landscapes are confronting a painful realization: In an era of climate change, many of their efforts may be insufficient or beside the point.

Some scientists say efforts to re-establish or maintain salmon runs in Pacific Northwest streams will be of limited long-term benefit to the fish if warming makes the streams inhospitable. Others worry about efforts to restore the fresh water flow of the Everglades, given that much of it will be under water as sea level rises. Some geologists say it may be advisable to abandon efforts to preserve some fragile coastal barrier islands and focus instead on allowing coastal marshes to migrate inland, as sea level rises. (Cornelia Dean, New York Times)

All these well-meaning (if misguided) wannabe critter-savers are being discouraged or are misdirecting their efforts because no one has explained the difference between reality and PlayStation® climatology. We do not know and probably never will know what the climate will be in 30 years time. All we really know is that there is an equal chance next year will be either warmer or cooler. We have no evidence of accelerating sea level rise. We have no knowledge of impending disaster or temperature-related catastrophe. What a waste of everyone’s time and effort.

Spencer Part2: More CO2 Peculiarities - The C13/C12 Isotope Ratio - NOTE: This post is the second in the series from Dr. Roy Spencer of the National Space Science and Technology Center at University of Alabama, Huntsville. The first, made last Friday, was called Atmospheric CO2 Increases: Could the Ocean, Rather Than Mankind, Be the Reason?

Due to the high interest and debate his first post has generated, Dr. Spencer asked me to make this second one, and I’m happy to oblige.

Here is part2 of Dr. Spencer’s essay on CO2 without any editing or commentary on my part. (Watts Up With That?)

Will Nuclear and Biotech Save Us From Global Warming? - Nuclear power and genetically engineered rice are set to help rescue the world from global warming. This isn’t really what anti-tech activists had in mind when they launched the campaign against fossil fuels, hoping to restrict our current lifestyles.

'Global warming' is alarmism - Like most liberal organs in this country, the Seattle P-I invariably comes out on the side of global warming being the direct result of irresponsible behavior by people.

Mankind caused the global warming, so mankind must employ draconian measures to fix it. Al Gore told us the science of global warming is settled. So why hasn't the entire scientific community fallen into step?

Can a reputable scientist be a "denier?" If the evidence of man-caused global warming is as overwhelming as the left claims it is, why the lack of rational, intelligent public debate between qualified people of opposing views? Doesn't this make more sense than believers simply brushing off deniers?

Given the chance, wouldn't believers want to publicly articulate their overwhelming scientific evidence and silence the naysayers or "deniers" once and for all?

The reason this hasn't happened is because the science is not settled. Man-caused global warming isn't scientific fact; it's an article of faith for the left -- the stuff of belief. In the realm of global warming, environmentalism has become a faith-based movement not unlike Christianity. (Jim Pedersen, Seattle P-I)

Economists Help Climate Scientists To Improve Global Warming Forecasts

That’s fair enough, "On the one hand it could get warmer, on the other hand it could get cooler" is about as accurate as GCMs are ever likely to predict future climate states in a complex, coupled, non-linear chaotic system. Economists are the perfect role models

Dozey blighters… Media consign global warming to back burner - Climate change may be a top issue in the minds of California voters, but so far it’s played only a cameo role in this year’s presidential race.

The League of Conservation Voters has been tracking the number of questions asked of the presidential candidates on the Sunday news shows and the debates televised by the major networks. Of the more than 2,900 questions asked, only four have mentioned the words "global warming."

"It’s stunning," said David Sandretti, the League of Conservation Voters’ chief spokesman.

But it’s not the candidates’ fault. Many of the top contenders have been promoting their plans to battle climate change on the campaign trail. It’s the leading TV journalists - like NBC’s Tim Russert or ABC’s George Stephanopoulos or CNN’s Wolf Blitzer - who have relegated it to a second-tier issue. (SF Chronicle)

Of course the media have shelved gorebull warming — it’s winter and northern hemisphere snows are above average for this time of year. Global warming alarmism is basically a summer sport, resurrected in winter only in cases of seemingly anomalous warm spells or perhaps the 50% of times snow levels are below a periodic mean. It’ll be back when the weather warms.

Australia's Climate Change Rainfall Non-Crisis - We've been told over and over again how global warming will result in a decrease of rainfall over Australia.

The CSIRO have said that

"Projected reductions in precipitation and increases in evaporation are likely to intensify water security problems in southern and eastern Australia"

"In no regions or season do models suggest a 'likely' increase in rainfall"

"For 2030, best estimates of rainfall change indicate little change in the far north and decreases of 2% to 5% elsewhere"

and "The rainfall decrease in south western Australia since the mid-1970s is likely to be at least partly due to human-induced greenhouse gases"

Notice the language, "likely", "Best estimates" (not average estimates??) and "partially due". In other words, no-one is really sure, and it is clear that no-one has done the appropriate statistical analysis to prove or disprove the argument.

So how did we go in 2007 with rainfall? With decreases predicted Australia wide, lets take a look at the stats. (Gust of Hot Air)

Here we go again: Contaminated floodwater threatens reef - No, the Great Barrier Reef is not at risk from floodwaters (a few shallow water, inner shoals within the lagoon tend to get smothered by silt every time we get good rains, have been doing so for millennia but will wash clear again soon). The GBR is a huge complex, covers many, many degrees of water temperatures, depths, salinity, clarity etc., not to mention some 25° latitude south from the equator and actually requires these floods every few years for nutrient flows. There is zero risk here which even the few amateurs who make up the fancifully named “Queensland Conservation Council” should be able to find out. Lord only knows why the AAP found it necessary to regurgitate this pap.

CLIMATE CHANGE RE-EXAMINED - AGW DISPROVED - Claimed human-caused warming of the Earth to dangerous and unprecedented levels by human-related emissions of carbon dioxide is contradicted by a non-correlation of CO2 levels with warming. (Climate Science NZ)

Still running the carbon dioxide=pollution nonsense - World’s Big Polluters Meet in Hawaii Over Climate

WASHINGTON - The world’s biggest greenhouse gas-polluting countries are sending delegates to Hawaii this week for a US-hosted meeting aimed at curbing climate change without stalling economic growth.

The two-day gathering, which starts on Wednesday in Honolulu, is meant to spur UN negotiations for an international climate agreement by 2009, so a pact will be ready when the current carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

No need to sell Alberta's climate plan, Stelmach suggests - VANCOUVER — Embattled Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach walked into a potentially charged meeting of the premiers Monday morning suggesting he does not need to sell his colleagues on Alberta's plan to tackle global warming.

Mr. Stelmach is under pressure from business leaders and environmental groups over a climate change plan released last week that leaves him at odds with the federal government and the other provinces. Critics say the plan will undo progress made in other provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It's a real plan for a real problem,” a defiant Mr. Stelmach told reporters going into the meeting, held in a downtown Vancouver hotel conference room overlooking the city's scenic mountains. “Albertans are buying it.”

Later Monday Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty warned the Harper government that Canada risks losing its pre-eminence as North America's No. 1 auto maker without federal funding.

Mr. McGuinty said the federal government is under new pressure to inject financial assistance into Ontario's auto sector in the wake of aid programs worth billions of dollars provided by the Bush administration south of the border.

Mr. McGuinty said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has asked Washington for $5-billion (U.S.) in funding to help auto makers in her state develop more environmentally friendly vehicles. The funding would come from $25-billion that the Bush administration has earmarked for climate change. (Globe and Mail)

Bordeaux to measure wine's CO2 footprint - BORDEAUX, France — The Bordeaux region, one of France's premier wine growing regions, is launching an ambitious project to measure the industry's greenhouse gas emissions to bolster its environmental standards.

The Bordeaux Wine Board (Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins de Bordeaux or CIVB) said it wanted to find out just how much carbon dioxide, one of the main culprits in global warming, it generated.

"We know we produce 756 million bottles of wine per year and that 40 percent of that is exported," said Laurent Charlier of the CIVB, who will be working with environmental consultant Jean Marc Jancovici on the project.

"This study should give a clear idea of what different methods of production or shipment mean, in terms of environmental cost," he said. (AFP)

Europe Climate Targets Strong Signal to Others - UN - DAVOS, Switzerland - New European targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases are a strong signal to other countries to reduce their carbon output, the UN environment chief said on Friday. The European Commission’s plan to cut emissions unilaterally by 20 percent by 2020, announced this week, is "quite far-reaching," Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Programme, said at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

"I think the signal value of the European decision cannot be underestimated for other parts of the world," Steiner told Reuters.

Um… signaling what, exactly? That European bureaucrats are stupid and should not be emulated under any circumstance?

Warning against greenhouse targets - THE economist advising the government on climate change has warned against locking in to strict interim greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

Professor Ross Garnaut is examining the economic costs of tackling climate change and is due to deliver his report to the federal Government in the second half of this year.

At December’s international climate talks in Bali, the Rudd government refused to commit Australia to interim emissions-reduction targets until the Garnaut review was complete.

Professor Garnaut said it was more important to achieve an overall greenhouse-gas reduction target longer-term - for example over 40 years - than to meet short-term targets in particular years.

Instead, the market should decide how quickly to cut emissions, he said. (AAP)

Global Warming Prompts Some Lifestyle Changes - LONDON - Britons are starting to change their lifestyles in response to global warming, but few are making the tough choices and in many cases the motivation is fear of punishment, according to a new survey. (Reuters)

Lifestyle changes huh? They mean changes something like this?

Proof of global warming

Carbon import tax could provoke trade war - Plans to force importers to pay the same greenhouse gas emission charges as domestic producers could provoke a trade war of retaliation and litigation, officials and lawyers have warned.

The plans, being considered by the US Senate and floated by the European Commission, are intended to prevent production shifting to laxer regimes abroad after countries impose carbon controls. But although supporters argue they will comply with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), the treaty that underlies the World Trade Organisation, officials and lawyers say that affected countries such as China and India are likely to resort to litigation or retaliation. (Financial Times)

Auto Companies Press States on Calif. Emissions - WASHINGTON - Automakers and their allies have stepped up lobbying to convince states that a proposal by California to cut tailpipe emissions sharply to fight global warming could further depress the struggling US industry.

US automakers, sandwiched between sliding sales and a softening economy on one side and a new mandate on the other, are scrambling to respond with more efficient engines and research on alternative fuels. The impact of December’s energy law alone at GM is US$6,000 per vehicle, the company estimates.

EU Industry Unites to Promote Energy-Saving Lamps - BRUSSELS - Europe’s lamp and electricity producers joined forces with the retail sector on Monday to encourage consumers to buy more energy-efficient light bulbs and help the European Union in its fight against climate change.

Germany eases GM crops, angering Greens, Monsanto - Germany - Germany passed legislation making it easier for farmers to sow genetically altered corn, angering green lobbies and consumer groups while earning a rebuke from Monsanto Co., the world's largest seed producer, for not going far enough.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition steered legislation through parliament in Berlin today outlining new rules on sowing a pest-resistant corn seed known as MON180, whose patent is held by Monsanto. Lawmakers also framed a voluntary code on labeling food that's free of genetically altered substances. (Exchange Morning Post)

January 28, 2008

What's Cholesterol Got to Do With It? - THE idea that cholesterol plays a key role in heart disease is so tightly woven into modern medical thinking that it is no longer considered open to question. This is the message that emerged all too clearly from the recent news that the drug Vytorin had fared no better in clinical trials than the statin therapy it was meant to supplant.

The cholesterol myth has raised its ugly head again so perhaps it’s time to re-feature this review

Big fat lie - As you pound the treadmill in the gym, trying to sweat off the Christmas pudding and wind back the dial on the bathroom scales, consider this: what if someone told you it was all in vain? What if no amount of exercise will make you thinner, and everything we’ve been led to believe about exercise, diet and obesity is wrong?  

This intriguing possibility has been raised by Gary Taubes, America’s most controversial science writer and the author of a book called The Diet Delusion: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Loss and Disease. The book, out this month, tackles what Taubes says are the myths surrounding these issues. Taubes, 51, believes that, since the obesity epidemic began, back in the late 1970s, scientists have been working with faulty - or at the very least too little - data. After conducting his own research for 13 years he has some shocking conclusions: exercise won’t make us thin; carbohydrates are what cause obesity; eating fat doesn’t cause heart disease.

National medical welfare - This story needs no introduction, but does deserve thoughtful consideration. (Junkfood Science)

Reading for thought  - Inspired by George Santayana

What happens when a nation embraces the idea that people bring health problems on themselves through undesirable behaviors, that the common good is greater than that of the individual, and that government determines what is best for all? When government health and medical policies are based on the inherent worth of individuals, can those who are seen as more costly or less productive be cast aside? Mark P. Mostert, Ph.D., of Regent University, examined the history of medical and healthcare policies in Germany during the early 1900s, in an article for the Journal of Special Education: (Junkfood Science)

Isn’t all this talk of an apocalypse getting a bit boring? - THIS year is the 40th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich’s influential The Population Bomb, a book that predicted an apocalyptic overpopulation crisis in the 1970s and ’80s.

Ehrlich’s book provides a lesson we still haven’t learnt. His prophecy that the starvation of millions of people in the developed world was imminent was spectacularly wrong — humanity survived without any of the forced sterilisation that Ehrlich believed was necessary.

It’s easy to predict environmental collapse, but it never actually seems to happen.

I am an intellectual blasphemer - When Alexander Cockburn, author of the forthcoming book A Short History of Fear, dared to question the climate change consensus, he was punished by a tsunami of self-righteous fury. It is time for a free and open ‘battle of ideas’, he says.

Warming Trend: PDO And Solar Correlate Better Than CO2 - Note: This is my analysis of a new paper by Joe D’Aleo, I’ve tried to simplify and explain certain terms where possible so that  it can reach the broadest audience of readers. You can read the entire paper here. Analysis by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That?

Modeling the impact of historical land cover change on Australia’s regional climate - There is a very important new paper that highlights the role of land surface processes, including its human management, as an integral component of climate variability and change. The paper is McAlpine C. A., J. Syktus, R. C. Deo, P. J. Lawrence, H. A. McGowan, I. G. Watterson, S. R. Phinn (2007), Modeling the impact of historical land cover change on Australia’s regional climate, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L22711, doi:10.1029/2007GL031524. (Climate Science)

Physicist questions climate change finding - No evidence in Canadian skies to back U.S. theory of jet condensation trails, York U. professor says

NEW ORLEANS–A York University professor has ignited a controversy by challenging a supposed prime example of man-made climate change – that jet condensation trails, know as contrails, act like clouds, cooling the Earth during the day and keeping it warmer at night.

Physicist William van Wijngaarden says he found no evidence to support this climate effect in Canadian temperature records for the contrail-free days immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

That contrasts with a 2002 study by U.S. researchers that concluded the temperature spread between day and night over the lower 48 states increased by 1.5C over long-term averages between Sept. 11 and 14 in 2001, when commercial air flights were mostly grounded over North America.

Double Whammy Friday: Roy Spencer on how Oceans are Driving CO2 - NOTE: Earlier today I posted a paper from Joe D’Aleo on how he has found strong correlations between the oceans multidecadal oscillations, PDO and AMO, and surface temperature, followed by finding no strong correlation between CO2 and surface temperatures. See that article here: Warming Trend: PDO And Solar Correlate Better Than CO2

Now within hours of that, Roy Spencer of the National Space Science and Technology Center at University of Alabama, Huntsville, sends me and others this paper where he postulates that the ocean may be the main driver of CO2.

In the flurry of emails that followed, Joe D’Aleo provided this graph of CO2 variations correlated by El Nino/La Nina /Volcanic event years which is relevant to the discussion. Additionally for my laymen readers, a graph of CO2 solubility in water versus temperature is also relevant and both are shown below:

daleo-co2-ppmchange.png    co2-h2o_solubility.png
Click for full size images

Additionally, I’d like to point out that former California State Climatologist Jim Goodridge posted a short essay on this blog, Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Variation, that postulated something similar.

So without any editing or commentary, here is Roy Spencer’s essay: (Watts Up with That?)

Comment By Chris Colose On Water Vapor Feedback - There is a posting on the weblog Climate Change An Analysis of Key Questions entitled “How not to discuss the Water Vapor feedback” by Chris Colose with respect to the Climate Science set of weblogs on the subject Climate Metric Reality Check #3 - Evidence For A Lack Of Water Vapor Feedback On The Regional Scale. Chris Colose has the following issues with the Climate Science weblog: (Climate Science)

How not to measure temperature, part 49. Alaska’s COOP Stations - Earlier I wrote up an essay on the NOAA climate station at Cordova, AK. This station was directly next to the village diesel power plant. That station also happens to be part of the NASA GISS surface temperature record used for climate research. The problem is the proximity to nearby human caused heat sources, which may not be accurately adjusted for in the record. Of course the real issue is that if the stations were properly setup and maintained by NOAA, paying attention to their own 100 foot rule, such potential bias would not be an issue. Today I’d like to show you a few other NOAA climate stations in Alaska. (Watts Up With That?)

NEW Presentation - 17th Jan on the occasion of Piers Corbyn being awarded the AMEME Hopley Lecture Shieild. - Piers Corbyn was awarded the AMEME Hopley Lecture Shield for his Presentation on 17th Jan.

This prestigious annual award was started by what was then the Association of Mining Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1975.

This presentation better than previous explains the lack of role of CO2 - slide 9, 23 and others; points about what drives Climate Change Policy including oil companies - slide 36; and ‘What to do’ - slide 37.

The Polar Bear Express - Global warming is becoming a new unified field theory for environmentalists, a crisis so urgent and profound that it even justifies leaping the democratic process. Consider the political campaign to prod the Bush Administration to list the polar bear as an endangered species -- even though many proponents admit it isn't endangered at all.

This game began with a 2005 lawsuit against the Interior Department from pressure groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council. Their demand was that the polar bear be designated as "threatened" -- that is, at risk for extinction in the foreseeable future -- under the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

No one disputes that higher temperatures in the bear's Arctic habitat have disrupted the sea ice that bears use to catch food and breed. The problem is that polar bear populations have been rising over the last four decades, and may now be at an historic high. This is the result of conservation management, including international agreements on trophy hunting and federal safeguards like the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The warmists say current numbers count for little because climate-change models anticipate even more Arctic melting. These projections are speculative, however, and tend to underestimate the dynamism of the environment. Animals adapt to changing conditions, which might mean a shift in population patterns to areas where pack ice is more robust year-round. And the reduction in ice cover may be the result of cyclical wind circulation patterns and natural variability, not exclusively warming trends.

The scientific questions are complex -- and that ought to rule out premature, simplistic answers. Naturally, it's having the opposite effect, which suggests that this is really about the politics of global warming. The more honest activists basically concede that a listing is a P.R. ploy to "raise awareness," or achieve other ends, or something. (Wall Street Journal)

Political science: Lacking studies, state still disputes polar bear ‘doom’ - The answer is really simple: the bears are threatened by PlayStation® climatology, so turn off the PlayStation®s and the bears will be fine. The darn things certainly survived the Holocene Climatic Optimum, when Arctic regions are thought to have been 3-9 °C warmer in summer and a recent fossil find suggests they successfully survived the warmer Eemian interglacial period, too.

Oh… fighting the phantom menace: The Bush Plan for Climate Change - The “Bali Roadmap” is a major achievement. It was adopted by all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to guide negotiation of a new, post-2012 climate-change arrangement by 2009. The U.S. is committed to working with other nations to agree on a global outcome that is environmentally effective and economically sustainable. That is the only kind of agreement that can win public support.

To be environmentally effective, a new approach must involve measurable actions by the world’s largest producers of greenhouse-gas emissions. Without substantial participation by developing economies, greenhouse-gas emissions will continue to rise rapidly over the next 50 years even if the U.S. and other developed economies cut emissions to zero.

Meanwhile: Big business says addressing climate change ‘rates very low on agenda’ - Poll of 500 major firms reveals that only one in 10 regard global warming as a priority

Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report’s publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.

Not the time to be sandbagging the US economy or energy supply: - Move over US — China to be new driver of world’s economy and innovation

A new study of worldwide technological competitiveness suggests China may soon rival the United States as the principal driver of the world’s economy – a position the U.S. has held since the end of World War II. If that happens, it will mark the first time in nearly a century that two nations have competed for leadership as equals.

Sheldon Richman: Most presidential seekers want energy socialism - One of the great unnoticed curiosities of the presidential campaign is that even the party that claims devotion to free enterprise is full-out socialist — or, more precisely, fascist — when it comes to energy policy. Listening to the presidential forum the other night, I was struck by how anti-free market all but one of the Republican candidates, Ron Paul, are on this matter.

Of course, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, who has since dropped out of the race, pay lip service to the free market on many issues. However, when it comes to energy, they don’t do even that.

Soon we’ll all know the price of CO2 - You might think twice before switching on the lights. Brussels has finally agreed reforms to Europe’s energy markets that should weaken our addiction to fossil fuels and at the same time lighten our wallets.

EU plans to see our economy blown away - It was appropriate that, just as our MPs were voting last week to hand over yet more of the power to run this country in the EU treaty, the EU itself should be unveiling easily the most ambitious example yet of how it uses the powers we have already given away. The proposals for "fighting climate change" announced on Wednesday by an array of EU commissioners make Stalin's Five-Year Plans look like a model of practical politics.

Few might guess, from the two-dimensional reporting of these plans in the media, just what a gamble with Europe's future we are undertaking - spending trillions of pounds for a highly dubious return, at a devastating cost to all our economies.

The targets Britain will be legally committed to reach within 12 years fall under three main headings. Firstly, that 15 per cent of our energy should come from renewable sources such as wind (currently 1 per cent). Secondly, that 10 per cent of our transport fuel should be biofuels. Thirdly, that we accept a more draconian version of the "emissions trading scheme" that is already adding up to 12 per cent to our electricity bills. (Christopher Booker's Notebook, London Telegraph)

Shell games… - After lobbying for carbon caps and trading, from which many of the rent-seekers expected windfall profits from free emission allocations (for which we would all have to pay as consumers) we now see a new strategy emerging (something to do with finding they’ll have to pay, perhaps?). Now we have the RDS chief executive beginning to pave the way for much greater emission of carbon dioxide by waving the ‘peak oil’ banner.

Iconic Lewis Saved From Wind Farm? - “Fàilte. Ciamar a tha sibh?” I bring you hot news from one of the biggest Green punch ups in the world, currently taking place on the beautiful Isle of Lewis (Eilean Leòdhais) in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

This lonely land of peat and Presbyterians has been the scene of an epic battle between those desperate to conserve the traditional landscapes and wildlife of the island and those wishing to to erect 176 colossal wind turbines.

Now, as The Scotsman reports (‘March of the wind farm in doubt on a divided island’, January 26), yesterday:

“... the ‘naes’ could scent victory in the air when the Scottish Government wrote to the developer, Ameco, saying it was ‘minded to refuse’ planning permission. However, ministers gave the company 21 days to address the concerns listed in a 14-page letter.

The fate of the Lewis wind farm is far from just a barrage of hot air among island folk. It goes to the heart of Scotland’s attempt to generate 50 per cent of its electricity using renewables, such as hydro, wave or wind power, by 2020.” (Global Warming Politics)

Blaming carbon on planes ‘is flight of fancy’ - Which is worse for the environment – cars or aircraft? If your answer was aircraft, then you are among a growing crowd of aerophobes egged on by anti-aviation campaigners.

Minnesota: Panel approves proposal on global warming - Emissions to be curbed at least 30% by 2025 - Minnesota would cut greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide at least 30 percent by 2025 under a mixture of strategies that received final approval Thursday from a governor's advisory panel.

If enacted, the approaches would enable the state to meet the first set of emissions reduction goals it established last year to help blunt the effects of global warming. They would set the stage for even more dramatic cuts by 2050.

"Some of these actions are not easy to do,'' said David Thornton, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and co-coordinator of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group. "But these goals are attainable.''

The strategies cover a wide range: Greater energy efficiencies would be sought, future power plants would meet prescribed emissions standards, a third of the gasoline consumed here would come from biofuels such as ethanol, Minnesota would adopt California's tough vehicle-emissions standards and the state would participate in a regional system of capping emissions and then trading pollution credits.

But one tactic, cutting speed limits on some state roads, likely won't be forwarded to Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the 2008 Legislature, according to Edward Garvey, the other co-coordinator and director of the Minnesota Office of Energy Security. He said Pawlenty, who appointed the panel, doesn't like that idea. (Pioneer Press)

Road humps slow the traffic but speed up death of planet - They damage cars and give drivers a nasty jolt, but now speed bumps have been found guilty of an even worse crime — they are helping to destroy the planet.

The traffic-calming measures double the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by forcing drivers to brake and accelerate repeatedly, according to a study commissioned by the AA. A car that achieves 58.15 miles per gallon travelling at a steady 30mph will deliver only 30.85mpg when going over humps.

The AA employed an independent engineer who used a fuel flow meter to test the consumption of a small and a medium-sized car at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

The results, calculated by averaging the performances of the two cars, also showed that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph resulted in 10 per cent higher emissions. This is because car engines are designed to be most efficient at speeds above 30mph.

A motorist who observed the speed limit on one mile of 20mph road during a daily journey would produce an extra tonne of CO2 in a year compared with driving at 30mph on the same stretch. (The Times)

To bio or not to bio - are ‘green’ fuels really good for the earth? - From the top of the Greenergy refinery in Immingham you can see across the Humber estuary to Hull. A hum of equipment fills the air, along with a curious smell. Popcorn.

Greenergy processes vegetable oil. It takes the gloopy juice squeezed from inside rape seeds harvested on surrounding Lincolnshire fields, strips out the waste and chemically tweaks the leftovers to make it easier to burn. Greenergy pipes almost 100,000 tonnes a year of its veggie option to ConocoPhillips and Texaco, just across the road, which mix it with their diesel fuel.

Until recently, the operation was viewed as a good thing. Because the oilseed rape plants absorb carbon dioxide, the company says the carbon emissions of the mixed fuel are lower, which helps the fight against global warming. And because oil companies that supply the blend pay less tax, everybody wins. Greenergy is expanding and similar facilities are going up elsewhere.

Should There be a Ban on Incandescent Lamps? - PLEASE NOTE: My apologies for the length of this article, but this has turned into something of a horror story. Only a short while ago, I thought that the power factor issue was most important, then that a vast number of enclosed light fittings (probably hundreds of millions worldwide) cannot be used with CFLs was critical. Now, it turns out that dimmers are a far bigger issue that first imagined. What happens in houses where dimmers are fitted? These must be removed completely, not simply set to maximum and left there. Who’s going to pay to have millions of dimmers worldwide removed by electricians? You, the homeowner - that’s who.

Can airlines find a cleaner way to fly? - Planes may account for only 2 per cent of the world's carbon emissions, but it is a figure destined to rise. The aviation industry is expanding at a dramatic rate, around 5 per cent a year. Twice as many passengers are likely to be passing through British airports in 2020 compared with today, and three times by 2030.

As the developed world acknowledges climate change warnings, the carbon emissions from industry will fall. The aviation industry's output will therefore account for an even larger percentage of emissions. One calculation, by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, suggests the UK aviation industry could end up accounting for every gram of our carbon quota by 2040. (The Observer)

Can Darwin’s Lab Survive Success? - FOR anyone touring the Galápagos Islands, it is hard to imagine the globe’s first World Heritage Site is at risk. The marine reserve is populated with sea turtles and humpback whales, and the national park’s trails are inhabited by herons and albatrosses.

Yet last June, Unesco added the archipelago to its “in danger list,” specifically citing the fragile ecosystem and the negative effects of a sizable growth in tourism. The number of visitors to the Galápagos rose more than 250 percent to 145,000 in 2006 from 40,000 in 1990, while the number of commercial flights to the area has increased 193 percent from 2001 to 2006.

“Unless we start to make fundamental changes right now, in the next 10 to 15 years we will see the Galápagos suffer from both economic and environmental degradation,” said Dr. Graham Watkins, executive director of the Charles Darwin Foundation, whose mission is to conserve the Galápagos through scientific research. “What we have here is an unsustainable model of development,” he added in a telephone interview from his office in Ecuador.

FEATURE-Antarctica on alert for alien invaders - TROLL STATION, Antarctica, Jan 28 - Aliens are landing in Antarctica.

Seeds, spores, mites, lichens and mosses alien to the continent have been brought unwittingly by scientists and tourists, and could disrupt life in the icy wilderness.

Antarctica is best known for penguins as well as seals and whales, but scientists are finding a host of other tiny organisms from springtails -- closely related to insects -- to mosses.

And they fear global warming may create conditions suitable for outside marauders such as rats or mice in Antarctica, where the biggest land creature is now a tiny flightless midge.

Among plants a type of European grass -- agrostis stolonifera -- may be among threats if the icy climate thaws.

"It's a species that gets everywhere, it's already on most of the Antarctic islands," said Dana Bergstrom of the Australian Antarctic Division, who leads an international research project entitled "Aliens in Antarctica".

"It would just create lawns," she said.

Invasive species have long disrupted life on earth, from rabbits brought to Australia by European settlers to zebra mussels from Russia clogging pipes and piers in North America's Great Lakes, and now Antarctica is a target.

"Antarctica is the last bastion of a pristine environment compared to the rest of the world," Bergstom said in a telephone interview.

"It has been isolated by the southern ocean -- people are starting to break that barrier," she said. New species are getting in partly because visitors' clothes often contain seeds, spores or insect eggs. (Reuters)

Thousands of birds swoop down on St. Catharines - Thousands of birds have swooped down on a St. Catharines apartment complex and global warming could be the reason why.

About 100,000 starlings fly into the area each night at sundown. It's believed they have settled in the area rather than fly south because of the mild winter weather.

Mild temperatures are just part of the reason. Bird watchers agree the area's large selection of evergreen trees provide a perfect nightly nesting ground. Others say an abundance of vineyards in the area harvesting ice wine grapes is also a reason for the birds to stay. (toronto.ctv.ca)

Another one who doesn’t realize people evolved as omnivores… - A SEA change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil.

It’s meat.

Festival film takes on water profiteers - Documentary film "Flow," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week, condemns water profiteering, calling for a UN resolution to make access to clean drinking water a human right.

The film by French-born director Irena Salina blasts Paris-based Suez and Vivendi Environment for commercializing water systems around the world, as well as Nestle, the world's largest bottled water seller, for draining watersheds.

Even the World Bank gets knocked in the film for funding massive water diversion projects that have displaced 80 million people, instead of smaller, cheaper and more eco-friendly community projects to bring fresh drinking water to the poor.

"It's a very dangerous trend, at a time when clean drinking water is becoming scarce, even in the United States, the richest country in the world," said Salina in an interview with AFP. "We can't let companies continue to pollute our water. We need strong regulations to stop that, and also to stop them from draining our watersheds for profit," she said.

Along with a collective of activists, she is calling for a binding international treaty to protect the human right to water, as well as tougher local laws to prevent contamination of watersheds and water profiteering.

"It should not be possible to be running out of water," Maude Barlow, a Canadian activist and author of a book on the water crisis, "Blue Covenant," told AFP.

Transgenic rice seeds still await go-ahead - China strictly supervises its transgenic rice research and production, and no such seed has been approved for the market, according to agriculture officials.

"Scientists are still conducting research on transgenic rice," Yang Xiongnian, deputy director of the science, technology and education division under the Ministry of Agriculture, said on Friday.

"We are at the last stage of safety evaluation." (China Daily)

Monsanto is shifting its focus from corn to new biotech soybeans - A shift is becoming visible in the research labs and executive suites of crop giant Monsanto Co.

After years of focusing on corn, the Creve Coeur-based company is developing new biotech soybeans. Monsanto's leaders also are thinking as much about demand from China's growing middle class and from heath-conscious Americans as they are about feeding biofuel facilities.

The company's soaring earnings and share price last year largely were attributed to growing ethanol use, but other factors are coming into play.

"Agriculture is in new territory," Hugh Grant, Monsanto's president, chairman and chief executive, said in a recent interview.

"I'm not belittling biofuels, but I think there's a tremendous opportunity behind it," Grant said. "There's a larger global factor that's being masked, in some ways, by biofuels — and that's the demand curve coming out of Asia."

Scott Rozelle, an agriculture economist and China expert who teaches at Stanford University and the University of California-Davis, said both factors are fueling unprecedented global demand for soybeans, corn and other grain. (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

January 25, 2008

Capturing Carbon Pipe Dreams - If you enjoy the benefits of affordable and readily available electricity, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) may spur you to press your elected representatives for a reassessment of climate alarmism. (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

They said it... GE Can’t Block Shareholder Vote On Climate-Change Costs - GE spokesman Peter O’Toole said GE shareholders have resoundingly rejected the climate-change proposal in prior years, showing that they don’t think it is in their interest. He said a global-warming report would provide minuscule, if any, value to shareowners, so GE requested it be rejected to allow shareowners to focus on issues of genuine importance.”

So, “global warming actions” are not an issue of genuine importance… Now you know.

Brussels' CO2 permits expected to cost Drax its independence - Drax, operator of Europe's biggest coal-fired power plant, is facing a crippling increase in operating costs after the European Union decided yesterday to begin auctioning carbon emission permits rather than giving them away, analysts said.

"In terms of the losers from this, Drax is top of the list by a long way," said an analyst who follows several UK power companies. He said an expected rise in the cost of carbon allowances, as envisaged by the EU's climate change draft directives unveiled yesterday, will force the UK's biggest polluter to drastically reduce its generation activity and that it ultimately will be picked off by a larger rival better suited to operate within a new energy order. "Eventually, [Drax] will only be able to operate about 40 per cent of the time. Over the longer term, they won't be able to survive as an independent entity. They will probably be bought by a large, integrated power company," he added. (London Independent)

Alberta sets bar low in climate change plan - EDMONTON - The Alberta government set new provincial goals Thursday for greenhouse gas reductions that are less stringent than Canada's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol or even the current federal government's lesser targets.

Under a plan Premier Ed Stelmach's government described as a responsible one for a growing and oil-rich province, Alberta's overall climate-changing emissions by 2050 would be 14% below 2005 levels.

"This approach reflects the realities of Alberta's strong energy-based economy and is an important step in managing and reducing emissions while, at the same time, not compromising the viability and strength of our economy," says the blueprint, released this morning.

Most of the predicted drop would come through carbon-capture technology, which strips greenhouse gases from industrial smokestacks and pumps them underground. (Jason Markusoff, Canwest News Service)

A Serious Problem With The Use Of A Global Average Surface Temperature Anomaly To Diagnose Global Warming - Part I - We recently published our paper 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.

This paper raises serious issues with respect to the use of observed land surface air temperatures to diagnose multi-decadal global temperature trends and to report regional and local temperature anomalies and extremes. A major key finding from our study is that the magnitude of global warming is significantly overstated using surface air temperature as a metric. (Climate Science)

Reanalysis of the Climate Factors with USHCN Version 2 - A while ago, we presented correlations of US annual mean temperatures with carbon dioxide, solar irradiance, and ocean multidecadal cycles. We found the best correlations with the ocean cycles and irradiance and weakest with carbon dioxide, especially in the last decade.

NCDC has released its new climate data set Version 2 of USHCN in which it has replaced some of the prior adjustments (like Karl’s 1988 based urban adjustment) with an adjustment using an algorithm that is designed to find known and previously undocumented inhomogenteities (i.e. station moves, land use changes, etc.). The differences between the two data sets is relatively small but the pattern is hard to understand from a purely scientific basis. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Huh? Lofty Himalaya Magnify Global Warming Impact - DAVOS, Switzerland - The Himalayas are suffering the effects of global warming more acutely because of their height and melting glaciers could flood local settlements, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) said on Thursday.

"The Himalaya, that's really moving very fast. They're being hit very hard," IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre told Reuters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. (Reuters)

try this: Tibet’s Temperature Story - Hardly a week goes by without some story hitting the news about global warming and retreating glaciers, and for whatever reason, retreating glaciers in the Himalayan region get more than their fair share of coverage. The recent death of Sir Edmund Hillary served to further focus attention on this part of the world. (WCR)

Al’s off in the ozone again - The former US vice-president took to the stage at Davos to claim that the North Pole ice cap could disappear in five years.

Climate change and hurricanes stir debate among weather experts at meeting in New Orleans - NEW ORLEANS – A lively and sometimes scrappy debate on whether global warming is fueling bigger and nastier hurricanes like Katrina is adding an edge to a gathering of forecasters here.

The venue for the 88th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society could not have been more conducive to the discussion: The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is where thousands of people waited for days during the storm to be evacuated from a city drowning in water and misery.

Although weather experts generally agree that the planet is warming, they hardly express consensus on what that may mean for future hurricanes. Debate has simmered in hallway chats and panel discussions.

A study released Wednesday by government scientists was the latest point of contention.

The study by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Miami Lab and the University of Miami postulated that global warming may actually decrease the number of hurricanes that strike the United States. Warming waters may increase vertical wind speed, or wind shear, cutting into a hurricane's strength.

The study focused on observations rather than computer models, which often form the backbone of global warming studies, and on the records of hurricanes over the past century, researchers said. (AP)

Revkin’s playing the ‘consensus statement’ line again - The bottom line is that this is not a binary state machine, there is a diversity of views and infinitely nuanced perceptions. If your organization has made sweeping statements and/or issued declarations of position with which you are not comfortable then this is a good time to say so and a great opportunity to set Andy straight. Why not click on over there and have your say? Go ahead, we’ll still be here when you get back.

Comment on Andy Revkin’s New York Times Weblog “Dot Earth” - Andy Revkin has started a dialog on the policy statements of professional organizations with respect to the role of humans within the climate system on his weblog Dot Earth.

Please enter this discussion if you are a credentialed climate scientist. My comment that I have submitted is

”Andy - Thank you for bring this issue up. There is actually considerable diversity of views on the role of humans within the climate system. The AGU (and AMS) policy statements are actually written by just a few individuals. While this captures their views, it is incorrect and inaccurate to present these policy statements as a consensus of these professional organizations. These policy statements certainly do not represent my views on this issue.

Readers of your weblog should also visit my Climate Science weblog [ http://climatesci.org/ ], where other viewpoints are presented, including that of a 2005 National Research Council report entitled Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties [ http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309095069/html/ ].
”

I also urge you, for completeness, to post the policy statement of the AGU Natural Hazards Committee. (Climate Science)

Advocacy Out of Control in the Organizations and Media - As Andrew Revkin noted on the dot.earth blog today, the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization representing earth and space scientists, put out a fresh statement on the causes and consequences of recent climate change and possible responses. In the last few years, the Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) have also issued statements endorsing the so-called “consensus” view that man is driving global warming. What you don’t hear is that these societies never allowed member scientists to vote on these climate statements. Essentially, only two dozen or so members on ad hoc committees and governing boards of these institutions produced the “consensus” statements. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Updated: Carbon Heat Trapping: Merely A Bit Player in Global Warming

Editor's note: this paper has been edited and resubmitted with typos fixed. Anyone wishing to review or simply check the calculations please be sure to use the version linked above.

Besides my estimates of global temperature changes due to CO2 increases in this paper, I think my separate idea in the paper of a way to measure heat flux being radiated down from the atmosphere could be important. Recently I saw a paper by Richard Lindzen of MIT that showed that the upper atmosphere temperature gradients did not come close to what the models predict they should be. I believe these are the same models that predict the global warming due to more CO2.

The idea in my paper could do a similar thing by looking at the atmosphere from the other side, from the bottom up. It has the advantage that many people could do it since inexpensive equipment is all that is needed. The main part missing is the internal estimations that the IPCC models estimate for the amount of heat flux in watts per sq. meter that is being radiated down. This will vary with seasons and latitude, but they should be able to produce it. Is not that the principal way greenhouse gases raise the climate temperature?

(I have seen some atmospheric heat flow diagrams that had the back radiation coming down from the atmosphere much higher than possible as can be shown by a simple measurement.)

I think the IPCC should explain in one place how they end up with their estimates for a normal technical person to understand. All I can find is a lot of jargon and insider special terms, references to several of levels down of previous work, and then jumping to curves showing radiative forcing in watts/m^2. We are paying enough tax dollars for this work for it to be explained and justified. For example, when doing estimating heating due to more CO2, do they assume all other gases including water vapor are fixed at today's levels, and then change the amount CO2 and then look at the resulting change. That is the way I do it, plus allowing some positive feedback. This way means the extra CO2 only can operate on what is not already being captured by the pre-change gases including that of the CO2. It is like putting the new CO2 "at the end of the line" so to speak, which makes sense to me. I would not be surprised to find out that IPCC has some sharing method which puts the new CO2 "at the head of the line or scattered through out." (RJ Petschauer, pers comm.)

Climate change to cost 5% global GDP by 2030 - The descriptions are becoming more accurate, at least: “World renowned Indian environmentalist, R K Pachauri” -- coincidentally IPCC chair.

Heat put on Stern report - A PRODUCTIVITY Commission paper has criticised the influential Stern review on global warming for making value-laden assumptions that inflated estimates of the economic costs of warming.

The internal staff working paper, released as Australia prepares its own version of the Stern review, called the original British review's conclusions "as much an exercise in advocacy as it is an economic analysis of climate change".

It acknowledged Nicholas Stern's contribution to the field, but said it was impossible to say whether some assumptions were "definitively right or wrong".

The former World Bank chief economist's review had "erred" in not making key value judgments explicit, or testing different parameters in his modelling, the paper said.

The commission paper, originally prepared for internal use in response to the Stern review's October 2006 release, was published yesterday. (The Australian)

More nonsense founded in PlayStation® climatology: Climate change affecting health - Climate change is putting global human health at risk and requires an "urgent response".

The health risks include those from heat waves, floods and wildfires, changes in infectious disease patterns, the effect of worsening food yields and loss of livelihoods, according to a paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Lead author Anthony McMichael said human actions were causing "unprecedented global environmental changes", including climate change, loss of bio-diversity and the exhaustion of fisheries.

The professor of public health at the Australian National University said this "weakening of the earth's life support systems" would hit the health of the most vulnerable populations the hardest.

Climate change could add 20-70 million people to the 110 million already living in regions prone to malaria epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa by the 2080s, he said. (PA News)

Republicans Differ on Global Warming (but they have drunk the Kool-Aid) - WASHINGTON — While the major presidential candidates agree global warming is real, the Republicans are sharply divided over what to do about it — even as they chase votes in Florida, where the predicted risk of rising sea waters and more severe storms is anything but a passing concern.

Strategists in both parties say the political landscape for global warming has shifted dramatically in recent years with a broad coalition of environmentalists, business leaders, evangelical Christians and national security advocates — Democrats and Republicans alike — urging concrete actions to stem the effects.

The issue is likely to interest voters not only in Florida’s primary next Tuesday but in the rush of primaries that follow. Nine of the more than 20 states with contests on Feb. 5 have passed or are considering programs to cap greenhouse gases, as is Maine, which holds its caucuses on Feb. 2.

“Climate change is real. It’s happening. I believe human beings are contributing to it,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during a debate in Iowa when pressed on the issue.

Limbaugh, Geraghty & Global Warming - At the risk of losing my tongue-in-cheek position as Rush Limbaugh’s “Official EIB Climatologist,” I’m going to weigh in on his argument against Jim Geraghty’s view that the Republicans’ chances in the next presidential election are being hurt by those of us not willing to give in to the scientific “consensus” on global warming.

First, the science. After many years in this line of work, I’ve come to the firm conclusion that global warming is one of those research areas where scientists think they know much more than they really do. In many ways, putting a man on the Moon was far easier than understanding the climate system. Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas — a minor one. And, yes, humans burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide: one molecule of CO2 for every 100,000 molecules of atmosphere, every five years.

But is this a recipe for a global warming Armageddon? I’m betting my reputation on: “No.” Recent research has made me more convinced of this than ever. (Roy Spencer, Planet Gore)

Al touting for business - “One simple thing that will solve the climate crisis is to put a price on carbon. It needs to be effective globally,” he said at the forum of business and political leaders in Davos, where economic fears have overshadowed climate problems.

Who would be paying and who would be collecting this carbon premium Al?

Oh boy... Bono confesses sins to ‘father’ Al Gore - “It’s like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins,” he said. “Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-soaking, gulfstream-flying rock star.

“I’m going to kick the habit. I’m trying father Al, but oil has been very good for me — those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel.”

Entry in $150,000.00 Ultimate Global Warming Challenge - Global near-surface temperatures correlate with Al Gore’s political clout. (Compelling piece of wiggle-fitting.)

Core issue ignored at Senate hearing on California waiver - Today, as I write, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of a waiver allowing California to set the first-ever CO2 emission standards for new motor vehicles. Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) alleges that the EPA denied the waiver at the behest of industry special interests to the neglect of its duty to protect public health and the environment. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is defending the agency’s decision on the grounds that global warming is by definition not exceptionally concentrated in California, unlike bad air quality from traditional pollutants like smog-forming emissions. Alas, neither Boxer nor Johnson even touch on the core issue. EPA could not authorize California and other states to regulate CO2 emissions under the auspices of the Clean Air Act without creating a regulatory morass that will hinder economic and environmental progress.

If the EPA had granted the waiver, allowing California and other states to adopt CO2 emission standards for new motor vehicles, CO2 would arguably become a pollutant “subject to regulation” under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program. That, in turn, could compel EPA and its state-level counterparts to regulate CO2 from hundreds of thousands of stationary sources, spawning a red-tape nightmare as detrimental to the environment as it to the economy.

Attorneys Peter Glaser and John Cline provide an eye-popping analysis of the economic and administrative burdens that would be created by extending the PSD program to CO2 in a November 8, 2007 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (Marlo Lewis, Planet Gore)

EU aims to adopt energy, climate laws by spring 2009: presidency - The European Union aims to enact sweeping new legislation on energy and climate change by the spring of 2009, the EU's Slovenian presidency said Thursday.

"We are counting on a constructive approach and support of the member states and the parliament for a final adoption of the package by spring 2009," said Slovenian Environment Minister Janez Podobnik.

The measures, presented by the European Commission on Wednesday, are designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. (AFP)

Europe Pisses In The Wind - Yesterday, the EU Commission proposed its draft plan to achieve, by 2020, a 20 per cent cut in EU carbon emissions compared with 1990. Of course, the ever-bureaucratic and unaccountable EU could not leave this to its individual countries to achieve in their preferred manner, so that the micromanagement of each state, with severe financial penalties for failure, is an integral part of the centralised planning.

Accordingly, legally-binding ‘renewable’ energy targets (no nuclear, of course) are proposed for each member state, ranging from Malta at 10 per cent to Sweden at 49 per cent, the average being 20 per cent. Although the UK’s figure of 15 per cent ‘renewables’ appears to be below average, it is, in effect, the toughest of all, demanding an increase in ‘renewable’ energy from a 2005 figure of 1.3 per cent to 15 per cent in under 12 years. Moreover, because this figure involves all forms of energy, it necessitates a 35-40 per cent figure for electricity generation, the equivalent of over 20,000 wind turbines. The cost of electricity will inevitably rise dramatically for all consumers, at estimates of 15 per cent or more. Lastly, 10 per cent of all road fuels must be biofuels.

Much of this is economic and, I might add, ecological suicide. It is the Mad Hatter’s EU tea party. But worse, much is also pissing in the wind.

20,000 new wind turbines [the UK Government has actually talked about 17,000] by 2020 is - wait for it - 4.6 turbines per day, including weekends. And this must be achieved against strong rural opposition and difficult planning laws, and in a situation where there is a world shortage of equipment, parts, and skilled engineers.

Brussels’ famous ‘Manneken Pis’ is surely in full flow, and in a gale. (Global Warming Politics)

Political tension rises in Japan over gas tax - TOKYO - Political tension is heating up in Japan over whether to extend the temporary higher rate for the gasoline tax, amid spikes in oil prices and growing concerns about global warming.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition wants to retain the temporary higher rate, for fear of losing tax revenues needed for road-related projects, especially in rural areas, amid dire fiscal straits. Meanwhile the biggest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) demands the abolition of the temporary rate at a time when soaring prices for gasoline and other fuels are hitting consumers. (Asia Times)

The Choice between Food and Fuel - Food prices are skyrocketing. Arable land is becoming scarce. And forests continue to disappear across the globe. The world must decide between affordable food and biofuels. (Der Spiegel)

Errors, Inaccuracy Mar NYT Sushi Story - In a poorly-sourced, sensational article in this Wednesday’s New York Times, reporter Marian Burros presents a distorted report on sushi and seafood that is at odds with widely accepted science. The story is unreliable and contradicts broadly-held medical advice that tuna and other kinds of fish are an essential part of a healthy diet. The Times story is alarmist, special interest-driven journalism and should be treated with extreme skepticism.

NFI will be demanding an explanation from Times editors for how these basic breaches in the newspaper’s own standards could have occurred and will also be requesting a formal correction on specific errors. (National Fisheries Institute)

Basically just more food porn from mad Marian Burros but we guess some people will be concerned. Of greater concern is that mercury mania is driven by desire to restrict energy as is AGW (Steve’s done some background on this before, see e.g., FDA’s Mercurial Fish Story, also see Mercury In Perspective and Eat More Fish!).

The campaign to suppress human activity to spare the ‘Earth Mother’ goes on and on in it’s various guises and activists long ago realized restricting energy supplies was their greatest weapon. They also know their greatest chance of success is to disguise it as ‘concern for human welfare’ and everyone will do it ForTheChildren™.

How to get permission to destroy the countryside: say you're building an eco-town - A giant Swiss-based insurance company is seeking permission to build a new town of 12,500 houses in Hampshire by labelling it an "eco-town". If it succeeds, Zurich Financial Services – the sixth biggest insurance group in the world, with annual profits of $4.65bn (£2.4bn) – will be looking at a billion-pound bonanza.

Its proposed development at Micheldever Station, between Basingstoke and Winchester, would be one of the great property coups of recent years.

But local councils and green campaigners say the location, in the middle of Hampshire's rolling chalk downland, is the wrong place for a major new settlement. The scheme has been rejected out of hand four times since 1994 by planning authorities. But with the possibility of quite staggering profits, Zurich has never given up on the scheme and is now seeking a new way to get it through – by taking advantage of the Government competition for eco-towns, launched last summer as part of its new housebuilding drive. (London Independent)

SOUTH AFRICA: Ban May Push Abalone to Extinction - CAPE TOWN, Jan 24 - South Africa’s decision to suspend commercial fishing of wild abalone, a large marine slug, from Feb. 1, could drive the species further towards extinction. Conservationists fear the ban will fuel poaching, currently the most criminalized wildlife trade in Africa. (IPS)

Finally waking up to ‘use it or lose it’? - While tourism is popular in Kenya, it still provides few incentives for people to protect wildlife rather than turn their land over to agriculture. Suppose one owned a goat, but was not allowed to use it in any way: no slaughter, no milk, meat or skin. Suppose, further, that breaking these laws meant risking death or imprisonment. In fact, the only way of making money out of the goat would be if a passing minibus with a load of tourists happened to drive past and photograph it. Not many people would keep goats.

Update for those following the cholesterol-Vytorin-ENHANCE story - The Congressional investigation has added insider trading to its inquiry. In a letter on Tuesday addressed to the Chairmen and CEOs of Merck & Co. And Schering-Plough Corp., the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said they’d discovered company officer Carrie Smith had sold significant quanities of Schering-Plough shares prior to the public release of the ENHANCE results.

“This raises questions as to whether this sale was related to any knowledge of the study’s results,” said the Congressional letter. Therefore, the Committee also wants answers from Schering-Plough and Merck as to what meetings were held to discuss the ENHANCE trial results and all records of briefings to corporate officers; if any corporate officer had knowledge of the results of any preliminary results prior to the public release on January 14th; and all records of stock sales by corporate officers between the study’s completion and when the results were made public nearly two years later.

The Congressional investigation also wants the results of the secondary analyses of the ENHANCE trial that have also not yet been released. (Junkfood Science)

Happy Peanut Butter Day! - Kids of all ages love peanut butter. Even dogs love PB treats. Peanut butter lovers even have their own website, with fun tidbits and recipes. For those cooks and bakers with sophisticated peanut butter tastes, there are 185 more recipes here.

While peanuts and PB taste great and are dandy in the nutrition department, one thing they won’t do is help anyone lose weight and become thin. Yes, there’s even been a peanut butter diet, but it didn’t work better than any other diet. That hasn’t stopped researchers from trying, however. Last month, we heard in the news that kids who snacked on peanuts and peanut butter lose weight. (Junkfood Science)

January 24, 2008

When science was forgotten — The Lobotomist - This historical medical film is one of the hardest and most uncomfortable films you’ll ever watch. That is also why it is one of the most important films to watch.

Some readers may be old enough to remember when the press heralded this medical procedure as “one of the greatest surgical innovations of this generation” and a miracle cure. Hospital administrators and doctors deemed it a milestone of modern medicine and it was widely accepted. Nurses and doctors flocked to auditoriums to learn about it and watch it performed. The procedure was done by the tens of thousands at the most elite medical institutions in the country and the doctor who developed it was awarded a Nobel prize. Among patients and families, it offered hope and was accepted uncritically.


This is a story about how popular science went terribly wrong, while the truth never spoken. Healthcare professionals didn’t speak out, few criticisms were recorded in medical journals or mentioned to the public, the AMA and FDA were complicit despite the scientific data refuting it, and no one stopped it ... for decades. This experimental procedure and its many untested variations, with no scientifically valid evidence for safety or efficacy, were done on the healthy organs of tens of thousands of people who, it was believed, had no other options.

But it wasn’t a cure or a treatment. The Hippocratic Oath — First, do no harm — was abandoned. It was an era when the science wasn’t understood and such measures were justified by the perceived need to do something, regardless of the costs. This crude procedure left the lives of the vast majority of its victims, those who survived, permanently devastated by horrible side effects and took away joys of human social existence. It became fashionable as a result of fraudulent promotional claims spread by advocates with prestigious medical credentials and positions of authority.

Here are excerpts of the full transcripts of the program, The Lobotomist, available through PBS. As you read these and the evolution of this procedure and its acceptance, think of what it can teach us today. (Junkfood Science)

Cash carrot for obese people to lose pounds - Obese and overweight adults in England could be paid to lose weight under plans being considered by the Government. The new strategy to tackle poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles includes the suggestion that people should receive financial rewards or shopping vouchers for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

The £372 million strategy reiterates a target set last year to cut the proportion of overweight and obese children by 2020 to levels in 2000. (The Times)

Sea Level Rise - Paradise Lost - Tuvalu - A BBC TV News item yesterday, January 22nd 2008, revisited the perpetual story of Tuvalu, the Coral Island supposedly sinking beneath the waves, because of greenhouse gases from the developed world. (Harbinger, Blog.JunkScience.com)

Poor Countries Don’t Need Climate Change Welfare, They Need Capitalism - Irvine, CA--A major theme of the recent climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, is that wealthy, industrialized nations have an obligation to help poor countries adapt to climate change. Delegates agreed to activate an “adaptation fund” to help undeveloped nations cope with projected threats such as disruptions to agriculture and decreased water availability.

But according to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute: “If environmentalists were really concerned about people in undeveloped countries, they would be helping them to bring about what they really need: industrial development. (Keith Lockitch, Ayn Rand Institute)

Antarctic Ice Loss: Is There Really a Problem? (SPPI)

Political Advocacy By The University Corporation For Atmospheric Research (UCAR) (Climate Science)

Second Warmest Year Declaration Full of Pitfalls! - The news item about the year 2007 as the second warmest (Washington Post 12 January 2008) must be taken with a grain (maybe a whole block) of salt. Such declarations are based on calculating a mean temperature for the earth’s surface area (land-ocean combined) and this seemingly simple task is often full of ‘pitfalls’. Large areas of earth’s landmass were only sparsely monitored in the past, and remain so even today. Ironically the situation has gotten worse since 1990, when two thirds of the world’s climate reporting stations shut down. Add to that the issues of improper accounting for urbanization and land use changes as documented by Roger Pielke Sr. and most recently McKitrick and Michaels and poor siting as documented by Anthony Watts and his network of volunteers and unaccounted for instrument changes as Ben Herman blogged on Climate Science recently about, and you have a little reason to trust the accuracy of any station based data set. (Madhav Khandekar and Joseph D’Aleo, Icecap)

Driven by mischief (These guys take themselves soooo seriously) - Judging by their ads, some companies now revel in taunting environmentalists. (Well duh! What the heck else can you do with ‘em?) Discuss on Blog.JunkScience.com

Please, Al, turn up the heat! - Sunday morning broke bright and clear. There was not a cloud in the sky, barely a breeze, and only 15 little degrees shivering in my porch thermometer. Please, Al, turn up the heat! I don't know who else to ask. After all, the former vice president has been honored all over the world for having the most profound insight into the weather.

Last week, for the first time in modern memory, there was snow in Baghdad. A few days ago, NASA reported on the remarkable observation that more than 60 percent of 48 contiguous states were covered with snow. From Seattle to Bangor they were measuring the snowfall in feet instead of inches. Schools in Middle Tennessee took snow days. Children cheered. Parents wept. Please, Al, turn up the heat. (Robert Evans Burnette, Crossville Chronicle)

Climate Laws May Be Used to Limit Exports, Group of 77 Says - The Group of 77 developing nations, representing about two-thirds of the world's population, said it is concerned that climate-protection laws will be used to curb their exports to rich nations. (Bloomberg)

Warming 'proved' by consensus - Tired of having to defend their dubious theory of anthropic climate change, warmists unilaterally declared victory in 2005, thereby setting a new scientific standard of proof: consensus. No longer must they test their hypothesis rigorously and repeatedly as the scientific method demands. Henceforth, anything they feel is proof shall be deemed proof. All information contrary to the teachings of St. Internet Al shall be declared heresy and suppressed, and all heretics — "deniers" — shall be vilified lest others take their arguments seriously. (Republican American)

How not to measure temperature, part 48. NOAA cites errors with Baltimore’s Rooftop USHCN Station - I happened across a NOAA internal training manual a couple of weeks ago that contained a photo of a USHCN official climate station that I thought I’d never get a photo of. The Baltimore Customs House. (Watts Up With That?)

New Antarctic ice core to provide clearest climate record yet - After enduring months on the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth, researchers today closed out the inaugural season on an unprecedented, multi-year effort to retrieve the most detailed record of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere over the last 100,000 years.

Working as part of the National Science Foundation’s West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project, a team of scientists, engineers, technicians, and students from multiple U.S. institutions have recovered a 580-meter (1,900-foot) ice core – the first section of what is hoped to be a 3,465-meter (11,360-foot) column of ice detailing 100,000 years of Earth’s climate history, including a precise year-by-year record of the last 40,000 years.

The dust, chemicals, and air trapped in the two-mile-long ice core will provide critical information for scientists working to predict the extent to which human activity will alter Earth’s climate, according to the chief scientist for the project, Kendrick Taylor of the Desert Research Institute of the Nevada System of Higher Education. DRI, along with the University of New Hampshire, operates the Science Coordination Office for the WAIS Divide Project.

WAIS Divide, named for the high-elevation region that is the boundary separating opposing flow directions on the ice sheet, is the best spot on the planet to recover ancient ice containing trapped air bubbles – samples of the Earth’s atmosphere from the present to as far back as 100,000 years ago.

While other ice cores have been used to develop longer records of Earth’s atmosphere, the record from WAIS Divide will allow a more detailed study of the interaction of previous increases in greenhouse gases and climate change. This information will improve computer models that are used to predict how the current unprecedented high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by human activity will influence future climate. (University of New Hampshire)

So much angst spawned by PlayStation® climatology…

More PlayStation®-driven hand wringing: Hurricanes and global warming devastate Caribbean coral reefs - Warmer seas and a record hurricane season in 2005 have devastated more than half of the coral reefs in the Caribbean, according to scientists. In a report published yesterday, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) warned that this severe damage to reefs would probably become a regular event given current predictions of rising global temperatures due to climate change. (The Guardian)

Keep climate change on agenda, pleads IPCC (or “Don’t derail our gravy train”) - The head of the UN’s Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change warned Wednesday that fears about the world economy could put climate change issues in the shade.

The “teach-in” makes a comeback - My goodness, a relic, a veritable fossil of my misspent youth 35 odd years ago in the heyday of anti-war teach-ins.

It’s been reported by Evan Moore of CNSNews that Global Warming Teach-In Coming to Campuses Nationwide.Now that I am forewarned, I will alert my daughter the high school senior to avoid it when it comes to whichever institution of higher education she elects (depending upon acceptances) to attend.

It’s most appropriate the Goreacle leading the charge against anthropogenic global warming is a boomer and that his acolytes should use the wayback machine to resurrect the “teach-in.”

We baby boomers truly did loose upon the world some gruesome things about which we are ever eager to brag about amongst one another while awash in our self-evident self-importance. (Johnny Lucid, Blog.JunkScience.com)

Really? Australia among worst climate offenders - AUSTRALIA is one of the world's worst performing nations when it comes to addressing climate change, according to an annual ranking of 149 countries by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities in the United States. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Oddly enough, Australia's emissions are largely generated for and on behalf of others as we mine and ship vast quantities of raw materials like iron ore, bauxite, coal... big shippers of grain to the world's hungry too. China (aided and abetted by the anti-West contingent of Europe and the Green-Left watermelons) point out that their emissions from manufacturing for export are made for and on behalf of consumers but the watermelons apparently don't want such consideration for any Western nation. Since about the only thing differentiating among developed nations (according to this list) is total greenhouse gas emission (emissions which aren't really a problem but never mind that) and there is obviously sentiment that these emissions should be accounted by end-user then Australia has a trivial footprint and the US, as generator of roughly a quarter of the world's economic wealth but somewhat less than a quarter of human GHG emissions is also "in credit", so to speak. Guess it must be the EU and ubiquitous "others" liberating carbon to the atmosphere but contributing proportionately less to the world economy -- the consumers rather than producers, in other words -- we should consider "climate criminals" then, shouldn't we?

Yale Cooks the Global-Warming Books - The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy has issued its 2008 Environmental Performance Index and —what a surprise — the United States looks like a bad guy, dropping from a 2006 ranking of 28th, to a 2008 ranking of 39th out of the 149 countries surveyed. Canada, our environmentally angst-ridden neighbors to the north, also slipped in the rankings, dropping from 8th to 12th in only two years. Oh, Canada!

Given that the U.S. and Canada have both shown huge success at cleaning up their air and water, reforesting their land-masses, reducing toxic chemical exposures, and improving nearly every environmental indicator you can name, you’d think it would be hard to make us look like eco-villians. But it’s not that hard if you’re determined: you just stack the deck.

First, you set up targets that are so low that no large country with a robust industrial, agricultural, and transportation sectors could ever hope to reach them. Thus, you set a goal of zero for SO2 emissions (we’d better not burn any of our plentiful coal), intensive agriculture, agricultural water stress, and more. Best of all, you set a goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions from the generation of electricity. Yes, ZERO. And you set a per-capita target for CO2 emissions at 2.4 megatons (sic) of CO2 equivalent, which was just about what Kyrgyzstan produced in 2003. (Ken Green, Planet Gore)

Megatons? No but 2.4 tons per capita is about what Kyrgyzstan produces. Large sized typo notwithstanding Green is right about Yale's loaded, um... 'study'.

EU backs measures to combat climate change - BRUSSELS: European Union officials on Wednesday presented a vast package of environmental measures to make the trade bloc's climate protection system tougher and more expensive for polluters, setting the stage for a lengthy fight with industry over the coming year.

The measures are meant to make sources of power like nuclear, renewable and gas more competitive against dirtier fuels like coal and petroleum and to eradicate windfall profits that some of Europe's biggest polluters have made from the three-year-old system.

"Europe can be the first economy for the low-carbon age," the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, told members of the European Parliament. He called the package "the most far-reaching legislative proposals to be made by the European Commission for many years." (James Kanter, Reuters)

EU Climate Change Plans Get Cool Reception - LONDON - Activists and environmentalists reacted cooly on Wednesday to the European Commission's new plans to cut climate warming carbon emissions by one-fifth and boost energy from renewables like wind, waves and sun by 2020. (Reuters)

SOD: UK Energy Policy - Here is a Full Report on UK Energy Policy from a sickly Green perspective: (Global warming Politics)

UK handed tough climate change targets - The EU today announced ambitious plans to make Europe "the first economy for the low-carbon age" before handing the UK a tough set of climate change targets.

British energy consumption will be slashed by 16 per cent and the use of renewable energy increased more than seven-fold by 2020 if the Government is to meet its share of the EU’s targets.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, said the Government was committed to hitting the target, but he explained that the final target for the UK will be determined in forthcoming negotiations between ministers on today’s commission proposals.

“Whatever the final outcome, the UK is already exploring a vast expansion of wind energy offshore, and tidal power on the Severn, and we are already thoroughly reviewing our strategy to drive progress further,” he said. (Times Online)

Energy Disaster Looming - There are strong suggestions circulating that the Administration is being firmly lobbied to announce a cap-and-trade scheme for electricity utilities in the State of the Union address as a 'legacy' item and in a futile attempt to bind the hands of an incoming President. This would be a disaster.

At a time when the Fed and the rest of the Administration is doing its best to avoid recession, what Mike Huckabee might call the "Wall Street Lobby" within the White House is doing its best to counteract all that effort. Given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that household energy prices rose by a staggering 17.4 percent in 2007, but electricity prices rose only 3.4 percent. Cap and trade will push up those electricity prices too. It is the last thing we need at present. (Iain Murray, National Review Online)

The more things change, the more they stay the same - Rumors are flying that President Bush may propose to cap CO2 emissions from electric power plants in the upcoming state of the union speech. It's deja vu all over again. (Marlo Lewis, CEI)

"Wake Up, America!" - Today the Financial Times has a little piece mentioning the gloating in the halls of Brussels over current U.S. financial controversies, with one Eurocrat after another preening that the U.S. adopted reckless policies, didn’t pay heed to Europe – and it’s projected 1.5-1.8% growth, by the way – and has only itself to blame. FT pompously passed along the call to “wake up, America!.

OK, so let’s pay attention to Europe. (Chris Horner, CEI)

America Needs France’s Atomic Anne - It’s not often that I find myself recommending a French state-owned industry as the answer to major U.S. problems, but I guess there’s an exception to every rule.

In this case the exception is the French nuclear energy company Areva, which provides about 80 percent of the country’s electricity from 58 nuclear power plants, is building a new generation of reactor that will come on line at Flamanville in 2012, and is exporting its expertise to countries from China to the United Arab Emirates.

Contrast that with the United States, where just 20 percent of electricity comes from nuclear plants, no commercial reactor has come on line since 1996, no new reactor has been ordered for decades, and debate about nuclear power remains paralyzing despite its clean-air electricity generation in the age of global warming. (Roger Cohen, New York Times)

Ah! Nothing like a good conspiracy... Politicians Censor Report on Dangers of Arctic Drilling - There's black gold beneath the snow white Arctic -- and oil companies are gearing up to exploit it on a massive scale. Scientists had hoped to warn of the scope of the environmental dangers of Arctic drilling in a new report, but 60 passages have been removed following pressure from the United States and Sweden. (Der Spiegel)

20,000 wind turbines - plus a 15% rise in electricity bills - The cost of household electricity bills is expected to rise by up to 15 per cent if Britain is to meet compulsory climate change targets announced yesterday.

Under the European Commission’s proposed measures for renewable energy supplies and lower carbon dioxide emissions, Britain will be required to increase its proportion of renewable energy from 1.3 per cent in 2005 to 15 per cent in 2020 – the equivalent of 20,000 wind turbines being erected in the countryside and offshore if Britain is to meet the target.

The investment required to get Britain’s energy supplies anywhere near the target mean that electricity prices are likely to rise 10-15 per cent by 2020 even before other inflationary factors are taken into account. (The Times)

Oh boy... Could carbon capture replace cuts? - If there's a country that's really made the most of its fossil fuel resources, Norway is a good candidate for the prize.

Proceeds from its energy industry fund world-leading healthcare and welfare systems.

They have also created the second-biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

But there is a snag.

Rising emissions from oil and gas rigs, and from onshore power plants, sit uncomfortably with Norway's sense of itself as a country with a green conscience.

Its ambition is to be a carbon neutral nation in just 22 years' time.

Hard to be green and rich, you might think. But Norway's leaders insist they can achieve it, largely because they are planning to capture carbon as it is released, then store it under the seabed.

Carbon capture and storage, alongside carbon trading schemes, should be a major weapon in the European Commission's arsenal as it sets out to ensure emissions are cut by 20% by 2020 from what they were in 1990.

Norway, outside the European Union but nevertheless covered by all its climate change mechanism, has been doing it for more than a decade at the Sleipner rig in the North Sea.

"The gas in the Sleipner west field has 9% carbon dioxide," explains Helge Smaamo, who manages the rig for the Norwegian energy giant Statoil.

"We have to get that down to 2%, because gas burns much better at 2% than at 9%, so we separate a lot of it out by chemical processes.

Since they have to separate out large quantities of CO2 it makes economic sense to inject it to help maintain pressure in the field and facilitate recovery of valuable hydrocarbons. There is no other useful purpose for doing so and the economics quite unique in having a ready source of a handy hydrocarbon solvent actually on field to wring more oil from the substrate. The value of capturing elsewhere and piping it to the field is however far more dubious.

Refineries, Airlines Phased Into EU CO2 Charges - BRUSSELS - The European Commission proposed on Wednesday that oil refineries and airlines pay more over time for permits to emit greenhouse gases under the European Union's emissions trading scheme. (Reuters)

EU Commission to Decide 2010 on Free CO2 Permits - BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Wednesday it would decide in 2010 which industrial sectors will get free permits to emit greenhouse gases under its Emissions Trading Scheme from 2013, after mulling competitiveness impacts.

Electricity generators will have to pay for all CO2 permits in the third trading cycle of the scheme, 2013-2020, which is likely to slash coal plant profits, but sectors including chemicals, steel, aluminium and cement will have to wait to decide whether they get any or all for free.

The Commission estimated that 60 percent of all permits will be auctioned in 2013. (Reuters)

EU Persists With Biofuels - BRUSSELS, Jan 23 - The European Union has decided to maintain a target for increasing the use of biofuels despite mounting concerns that its strategy could worsen global hunger.

In a far-reaching action plan for combating climate change published Jan. 23, the European Commission, the EU executive, announced that it was sticking to a previously agreed goal that biofuels should provide 10 percent of the energy needed to power cars and other modes of transport by 2020.

This was despite a barrage of recent criticism of this goal, including by some figures within the Commission. Louis Michel, the European commissioner for development aid, said earlier this month that there is a genuine risk that traditional agriculture in poor countries will be damaged if arable land is used for growing crops destined to meet energy needs in wealthier parts of the world.

Also, a study by scientists working for the Commission has concluded that "the uncertainty is too great to say whether the EU 10 percent biofuel target will save greenhouse gases or not." (IPS)

Critique Mounts against Biofuels - The European Union has announced plans to increase the use of gas and diesel produced from plants. But the critique against biofuels is mounting. Many say they are even more harmful than conventional fossil fuels. (Der Spiegel)

Govt, industry clash over biofuel usage - The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization has announced that it withdrew a plan to replace regular gasoline with a biofuel across the whole of the island of Miyakojima in Okinawa Prefecture.

The decision was made in the face of strong opposition from the oil industry. Many of the island's gas stations, which are affiliated with major oil wholesalers, were reluctant to cooperate with the government project.

Although the government originally planned to sell the E3 fuel variant--a gasoline-based biofuel containing 3 percent ethanol--at 19 gas stations on the island, it will only be available at four stations in 2008.

The government's decision to give up on its plan to turn Miyakojima into a "bioethanol island," where vehicles run entirely on biofuels, highlighted the deep schism between the government and the oil industry.

The oil industry opposed the government's plan, saying there were problems with the E3 fuel, such as the difficulty of maintaining its quality. (Yomiuri Shimbun)

UN Warns of Biofuels' Environmental Risk - The world's rush to embrace biofuels is causing a spike in the price of corn and other crops and could worsen water shortages and force poor communities off their land, a U.N. official said Wednesday. (AP)

Chrysler Executive Says Fuels Key to Success - WASHINGTON - Research and development in fuel alternatives for gasoline should be the auto industry's top priority, even in a weakened economy, and even if it means companies delay expanding or other expensive strategic decisions, the president of Chrysler LLC said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Seismic images show dinosaur-killing meteor made bigger splash - The most detailed three-dimensional seismic images yet of the Chicxulub crater, a mostly submerged and buried impact crater on the Mexico coast, may modify a theory explaining the extinction of 70 percent of life on Earth 65 million years ago. (University of Texas at Austin)

Biotech Critics Challenging Monsanto GMO Sugar Beet - KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Opponents of biotech crops said on Wednesday they were filing a lawsuit to challenge the USDA's deregulation of Monsanto Co's genetically engineered sugar beet because of fears of "biological contamination" and other harm to the environment. (Reuters)

Benefits outweigh risks from genetically modified plants - Australian states should not ban commercial production of genetically modified (GM) plants and food as the risks are alarmist and exaggerated, according to a new study. (UQ)

‘India may turn big producer of GM rice, vegetables by 2010’ - Chennai, Jan. 23 India has the potential to become a major producer of transgenic rice and several genetically modified (GM) or engineered vegetables by 2010, according to a research report by Rabo India Finance Ltd on the Indian agri-biotech sector. It has emerged as one of the leading destinations for investment in biotechnology in the recent years. It is also emerging as an important destination for both biomarkers and validation services, the report said. (Hindu Business Line)

January 23, 2008

Study raises questions about diagnosis, medical treatment of ADHD - A new UCLA study shows that only about half of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, exhibit the cognitive defects commonly associated with the condition.

The study also found that in populations where medication is rarely prescribed to treat ADHD, the prevalence and symptoms of the disorder are roughly equivalent to populations in which medication is widely used. (University of California - Los Angeles)

It’s not nice to scare mothers: the latest miscarriage scare - Pregnancy should be a time of joy, as a new life is about to be brought into the world. But, sadly, it can also be an anxious time for expectant parents, who worry for the health of their unborn babies and fear that something will go wrong. Sound information can help to ensure each pregnancy has a happy ending. This month brought reassuring information, as well as the re-emergence of a 30-year old scare targeting pregnant women. (Junkfood Science)

Scientists: Warm seas may mean fewer hurricanes - Following in the footsteps of an earlier study, government scientists on Tuesday said warmer oceans should translate to fewer Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States.

The reason: As sea surface temperatures warm globally, sustained vertical wind shear increases. Wind shear makes it difficult for storms to form and grow.

"Using data extending back to the middle 19th century, we found a gentle decrease in the trend of U.S. landfalling hurricanes when the global ocean is warmed up," Chunzai Wang, a physical oceanographer and climate scientist with NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, said in a prepared statement.

Sang-Ki Lee, of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami, worked with Wang on the study. Their findings are to be published on Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The study found that the warming of the Pacific and Indian oceans plays an important role in determining hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

A study released in December found that as the Atlantic basin becomes hotter, hurricane intensity likely won't increase and might even deflate somewhat. That study found that ocean's heat acts to stabilize the upper atmosphere, which, in turn, hurts a storm's ability to build.

It was conducted by Gabriel Vecchi, a NOAA research oceanographer and Brian Soden, an associate professor of oceanography at the University of Miami. (Ken Kaye, Sun-Sentinel.com)

Surprise! There’s an active volcano under Antarctic ice - It seems that we still don’t know everything there is to know about our earth-climate system. Take this for example. Scientists have just now discovered an active volcano under the Antarctic ice that “creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea”.

Yet many claim the CO2 is the driver for any melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. I wonder how this will figure into that argument?

Larsen Ice Shelves A and B, by the way, sit astride a chain of volcanic vent islands known as the Seal Nunataks, which may figure into melting and breakups like this and this. (h/t Alan)

In fact, there are a LOT of volcanoes in Antarctica as you can see in this image. Notice that many are near the edge of the ice, and there are none in the interior, which may be a lack of discovery of ancient ice buried volcanoes. Most scientific bases are near the sea, rather than inland, for supply and weather tolerance purposes and there are many places in the interior that have yet to be fully explored. (Watts Up with That)

The Relationship Of ENSO Events To Global Ocean Heat Content Anomalies And Its Use To Diagnose The Global Radiative Imbalance - Bryan Sralla has asked several very important climate science questions in an interesting discussion with Gavin Schmidt at Real Climate in comments in their January 11 2008 weblog. This discussion concerns the relationship between ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation) events and ocean heat content anomalies (OHCA). (Climate Science)

Follow Up On Research On Ocean Heat Content Changes - Timo Hämeranta has graciously provided us with two new research papers that are relevant to today’s weblog on ocean heat content. (Climate Science)

Stalagmites' nuclear touch a record of climate change - RADIOACTIVE fallout from nuclear bombs detonated in the atmosphere more than 50 years ago has been found far underground, in limestone cave stalagmites around Australia.

This time the fallout is serving humanity, helping scientists understand climate changes over the past 500,000 years.

Seeking ways to map past climate patterns, researchers from the Australian National University, Newcastle University and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation proposed harnessing stalagmites as ancient rain gauges. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Why 'Global Warming' is Not a Global Crisis - I earned my Nobel Peace Prize by making the United Nations fix a deliberate error in its latest climate assessment. After the scientists had finalized the draft, UN bureaucrats inserted a new table, but with four decimal points right-shifted. The bureaucrats had multiplied tenfold the true contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise. Were they trying to support Al Gore’s fantasy that these two ice-sheets would imminently cause sea level to rise 20ft, displacing tens of millions worldwide?

How do we know the UN’s error was deliberate? The table, as it first appeared, said the units for sea-level rise were being changed. But the table was new. There was nothing to change from. I wrote to the UN that this misconduct was unacceptable. Two days later, the bureaucracy corrected, relabeled and moved the table, and quietly posted the new version on its Web site. The two ice sheets will contribute, between them, over 100 years, just two and a half inches to sea-level rise. Gore had exaggerated a hundredfold; the UN tenfold. Hawaii is not about to disappear beneath the waves. (Christopher Monckton, Hawaii Reporter)

What? Human-generated aerosols affect our weather - The rise of human-generated pollution in the global atmosphere is forcing a change in ocean circulation in the Southern Hemisphere, in turn affecting our region’s weather systems.

In new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai and Mr Tim Cowan found that the changes in ocean circulation in turn influence our weather systems and are partially responsible for a southward shift of these systems away from southern Australia and other mid-latitude regions.

“Aerosols cool the Northern Hemisphere’s ocean surface, which induces a hemispheric imbalance. This causes an increase in the transport of heat from the Southern Hemisphere oceans to the Northern Hemisphere oceans via the south Atlantic,” says Dr Cai, from the Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship. (CSIRO)

The northern hemisphere, which appears to be warming slightly, is cooled by aerosols, 'creating an imbalance' which causes an increase in heat transport from the southern hemisphere, which is actually doing nothing in the temperature department. So, our energy flow then is from the cooler southern hemisphere to the warmer northern due to an imbalance caused by aerosols cooling the north (which is actually the warming hemisphere). And this is how GCMs treat thermal flow? And these guys believe the models over their own lying eyes? Worse, we pay these fellows to write this stuff!

Utah Scientist: Dust Shortening Winters - Western winters are getting shorter because of dust kicked up by urban and agricultural development, a University of Utah researcher said.

Thomas Painter, head of the school's Snow Optics Laboratory, said in a lecture at the downtown library Monday that disturbed particles from the Colorado Plateau mix with snow, limiting the heat it can reflect. As a result, today's snowpacks melt about a month earlier than they once did. Painter's research affirms longtime anecdotal claims that the dirtier snow is, the faster it melts.

"That has enormous implications up and down the line," Painter said. He said it's important because when the snow cover dissipates earlier than it should, the ground is exposed at a time when the sun is highest in the sky. This can hurt the local ecology.

"That has some impact on regional climate," he said. "We're seeing a 1.5 degree Centigrade temperature increase."

Painter, a recent addition to the university's geology department, is now studying the Wasatch Range. He says the snowpack there is under serious assault from dust and soot. Wasatch canyons provide most of Salt Lake City's water and are economically significant for winter recreation.

"If it's possible to clean up the snowpack, we can buy significant time to increase snowpack duration," he said. "We have enormous amounts of research to do. I look forward to doing it over the next decade." (AP)

This is significantly better. Snow and icefield discoloration is believed to account for a significant portion of observed Arctic warming. Observation, empirical measure, cause and effect relationship. Not likely to be embraced by the carbon dioxide coterie. Might get a bit of attention, even research funding, since this can still be used to paint human activity "bad" and thus misanthropists will not be displeased.

Ocean Bridge Links Climate In Mid-Latitudes And Tropics - It's no surprise when a tropical El Niño brings wet storms to the U.S. Southwest; now researchers are finding that the relationship may be two-way, with atmospheric variability outside of the tropics impacting the formation of El Niños and La Niñas through upper-ocean pathways called "ocean bridges."

"Earlier climate studies suggest that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which affects weather around the world, evolves independently of interannual-to-decadal North Pacific Ocean climate variability. Our study shows that the two are really quite connected through a large-scale atmosphere-ocean tropical-subtropical feedback loop," said Amy Solomon of the CU-Boulder and NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES. (University of Colorado at Boulder)

And finally, an appropriate use of process models. This is precisely why climate models are of value and involves no absurd prognostication (which is not even a vaguely plausible misuse of process models 'predicting' complex, coupled, non-linear chaotic systems). They help us untangle what is occurring to produce results observed in the real world.

Come again? Spanish study warns of rising Mediterranean sea levels - The level of the Mediterranean is rising rapidly and could increase by another half metre in the next 50 years unless climate change is reversed, producing "catastrophic consequences", a Spanish study said Friday.

"This area has suffered a considerable increase in water and air temperatures since the 1970s as well as a rapid rise in the sea levels since the 1990s," said the study by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute.

It said the Mediterranean has risen "between 2.5 and 10 millimetres (0.1 and 0.4 inches) per year since the 1990s, "which implies that, if this trend continues, the water levels will rise between 12.5 centimetres (five inches) and half a metre (20 inches) in around 50 years." (AFP)

So, the Med is rising because there's reduced rainfall, which is making it saltier because there's increased evaporation because the traditionally warm, sunny Med has been, um... warm and sunny? And this has caused huge increases in Mediterranean Sea levels? Do they suppose this could have something to do with varying atmospheric pressure as oceanic oscillations go in and out of phase and winds tending to either pile up water or drain the Med? What has been the current strength through the Strait of Gibraltar? How has it varied?

Tourism at the End of the World - TORONTO, Jan 18 - Hurry! Hurry! See the polar bears, penguins, Arctic glaciers, small pacific islands before they disappear forever due to global warming.

Tourism companies are now using climate change as a marketing tool: Visit the pacific island paradise of Tuvalu before rising sea levels swallow it in the next 30 to 50 years. See the Arctic while there is still ice and polar bears.

"Some companies are using climate change as a marketing pitch, a 'see it now before it's gone' kind of thing," says Ayako Ezaki, communications director for the International Ecotourism Society, based in Washington DC. (Tierramérica)

Development and illustrative outputs of the Community Integrated Assessment System (CIAS), a multi-institutional modular integrated assessment approach for modelling climate change - Abstract: This paper describes the development and first results of the “Community Integrated Assessment System” (CIAS), a unique multi-institutional modular and flexible integrated assessment system for modelling climate change. Key to this development is the supporting software infrastructure, SoftIAM. Through it, CIAS is distributed between the communities of institutions which has each contributed modules to the CIAS system. At the heart of SoftIAM is the Bespoke Framework Generator (BFG) which enables flexibility in the assembly and composition of individual modules from a pool to form coupled models within CIAS, and flexibility in their deployment onto the available software and hardware resources. Such flexibility greatly enhances modellers' ability to re-configure the CIAS coupled models to answer different questions, thus tracking evolving policy needs. It also allows rigorous testing of the robustness of IA modelling results to the use of different component modules representing the same processes (for example, the economy). Such processes are often modelled in very different ways, using different paradigms, at the participating institutions. An illustrative application to the study of the relationship between the economy and the earth's climate system is provided.

Gee, wouldn't it be great if we could actually model the climate (and the economy, for that matter) so that this system would actually be useful?

Let’s Have A Trade War! - The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, appears to have lost it completely. Speaking yesterday in London, he has threatened to impose carbon tariffs on imports unless the US accepts a climate-change deal (‘Barroso trade threat on climate’, BBC Online World News, January 22):

“The president of the European Commission has threatened to impose carbon tariffs on imports unless the US agrees to a global climate change deal.

José Manuel Barroso wants to protect energy-intensive sectors such as aluminium, steel and cement.

He says there is no point these industries cutting emissions in Europe if they lose business to countries with more lax rules on carbon emissions.
Mr Barroso made the comments in a speech to business leaders in London.”

That way madness lies. With the world economy experiencing a significant downturn, the economic engine of the US stuttering, and the sub-prime market undermining banks to housing, trade wars should be the last thing on anyone’s mind. It is crass irresponsibility, though the underbelly politics are all too apparent and involve the usual EU attack on the US, combined with a sweetener to Nicholas Sarkosy, the French President, and Germany, both of which have become increasingly critical of EU policies on emissions [see: ‘The End of European Industry?’, January 17].

Luckily, the political response to such dangerous nonsense will be as politically tart as one can get. (Global Warming Politics)

Danish PM attacks forthcoming EU plans on CO2 cuts - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted on Tuesday that an upcoming EU plan to slash green house gases should not force Europe's richest countries to shoulder the heaviest load. (AFP)

Merkel Caught between Industry and the Climate - Last spring, Chancellor Merkel portrayed herself as the world's foremost fighter against climate change. With the EU set to pass a package of emissions regulations, though, she suddenly finds herself defending German industry. Will the real Merkel please stand up? (Der Spiegel)

<chuckle> EU puts carbon trading at heart of climate change battle - The European commission will tell member states today what they have to do to meet its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020.

Legislative proposals from Brussels, being unveiled today, will extend and improve the world's first carbon trading scheme as the central element of the package to fight climate change. (The Guardian)

meanwhile: Weather warning for carbon trading - The only sure thing about the creation of this market for carbon quotas and credits is that it risks opening a field for financial manipulation and speculation.

Remember the financial wizardry that brought down Enron and later Parmalat? In the case of this new market, the all-important responsibility of verifying the carbon quota and credit entitlements will rest with political organisations – either national governments or the United Nations. (Financial Times)

UK rejects plan for EU trade steps against polluters - LONDON - Britain said on Tuesday it did not support proposed punitive trade measures threatened by the European Commission against countries that do not sign up to greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said proposals on Monday from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that importers may have to obtain emissions permits equivalent to those of the European competitors "might look like trade barriers."

"We believe in global trade, we want more of it in the future, not less, and that is good for the European economy," Wicks told BBC radio. "So we are against any measures which might look like trade barriers." (Reuters)

EU Must Control Kyoto Offsets from 2013-20 - Report - BRUSSELS - The European Union should restrict the availability to heavy industry of cheap carbon offsets to 1.4 billion tonnes from 2008-2020, to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, a confidential EU document said.

The EU limits carbon emissions by energy-intensive industry but allows companies to meet targets by buying offsets from emissions-cutting projects in poor nations, under a Kyoto Protocol scheme, up to a cap of 1.4 billion tonnes from 2008-12.

If no global, post-2012 Kyoto deal is agreed, companies should only be allowed to use unused offsets in the next trading cycle from 2013-2020 -- keeping to the 1.4 billion tonnes cap -- the internal note from EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to other commissioners said.

The Kyoto cap implied that three-quarters of emissions-cutting effort by business to 2020 would have to be made within Europe, the note, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said. (Reuters)

Global warming: French carbon emissions sharply lower in 2006 - French greenhouse gas emissions fell sharply in 2006, helped by a warmer fall, leaving the country well on course to meet its goals under the UN's Kyoto Protocol, France's ecology minister said Tuesday.

Carbon emissions were 2.5 percent lower in 2006 compared with 2005, and four percent lower than in 1990, the Protocol's benchmark year, Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told journalists at an annual reception. (AFP)

So, a mixture of less-cold and nuke power achieved exactly what AGW worriers claim to want. Problem solved then, eh?

From CO2 Science this week:
Editorial:

Climate Model Problems: IV. Ice Sheet Mass Balance: How good are current models at predicting the future evolution of the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Lake Kamalete and Lake Nguene, Central Gabon, Western Equitorial Africa. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Rainfall (Trends - Regional: Europe, Central): Are they in line with climate-alarmist predictions?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Canada Cockleburr, Curlytop Knotweed, Lambsquarters, and a Phytoplankton Community of a Fjord in Southern Norway.

Journal Reviews:
Rainfall Erosivity in Sicily: How did it vary over the 20th century?

The Little Ice Age in Mesoamerican Tropical Lowlands: Why is its manifestation there so important?

The Roman and Medieval Warm Periods at Paradise Lake, Northwestern Himalaya: How did their temperatures compare with those of the present?

Grassland Soil Organic Matter in a CO2-Enriched Atmosphere: Does it increase or decrease with the passage of time? Or does it stay about the same?

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Respiration in Prickly Pear Cactus: Does atmospheric CO2 enrichment enhance or diminish dark respiration in this common CAM plant?

Spanish Fork, UTTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Spanish Fork, UT. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Spanish Fork's mean annual temperature has experienced no net change. Not much global warming here!

Conference Announcement:
2008 International Conference on Climate Change: An international conference on climate change will take place on March 2-4, 2008 in New York City, calling attention to widespread dissent to the alleged “consensus” that modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis. Read more about the conference by clicking on the link above. (co2science.org)

EU sets UK 'ambitious' green energy target - Forty per cent of Britain's electricity will have to be generated from wind, wave or plant energy by 2020 as a result of a legally-binding new European Union target.

British officials described the target for renewables to be divided up between all EU 27 member states as "ambitious", since it will mean a rapid increase from the five per cent of electricity generated from renewables at present.

It is likely to mean a six-fold increase in the amount of onshore wind turbines in Britain and a 50-fold increase in the number of offshore wind turbines, according to industry sources.

This is because the 20 per cent target for renewables applies to energy across the board, including transport and heating where the scope for renewables is less, meaning the electricity sector has to do more.

Officials were explaining the implications of the announcement, expected on Wednesday, as the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned that the package would not be "cost free".

In fact, officials say it is likely to cost electricity generating companies €3-8 billion a year.

In an attempt to reach the target, ministers will announce increased support for offshore wind turbines and a feasibility study into a Severn Barrage - to harness tidal power - are being included in the Energy Bill today. (London Telegraph)

Water Hogs on the Ski Slopes: Snow Cannons Drink Up As Attention Is Turned To Globe's Rising Thirst - DAVOS, Switzerland -- The chief executives of Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé SA and others will warn the World Economic Forum in Davos this week that the world is running out of water, threatening conflict, higher prices and lost production.

Some will likely then strap on skis to take advantage of the Swiss resort's glistening slopes. But the pistes of the Alps are also contributing to the world's water woes.

Europe's ski resorts have been racing to install snow-making machines to bed the slopes with artificial snow as snowfall becomes less reliable and resorts compete with one another to offer guaranteed good skiing. That is great for skiers and businesses that rely on them, but not so great for local water supplies.DAVOS 2008

Snow cannons suck up a lot of water. As much as 35% of all water used in Davos now goes to making artificial snow, according to a report released last month by the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research to examine the net benefits of snow-making machines. Davos bought 16 additional snow cannons for this season, according to town authorities. (Wall Street Journal)

Bushfire impact on water yields - While forest fires can often result in an initial increase in water runoff from catchments, it’s the forests and bush growing back that could cause future problems for water supplies by reducing stream flows. (CSIRO)

Without Proof, an Ivory-Billed Boom Goes Bust - The ivory-billed woodpecker supposedly spotted in a patch of Arkansas bayou has remained scarce, as has the economic upswing its admirers might have brought to the local community. (New York Times)

How to encourage illegal dumping: Homes face £100 'tax' for not recycling enough - Households could face "rubbish tax" charges of as much as £100 for failing to recycle enough waste under Government plans.

Under tests expected to begin later this year, families will be penalised if they exceed weekly limits on the amount of non-recycled waste they throw away. Households who beat their recycling targets will be rewarded.

One system set to be trialled would give each household a fixed weight allowance for non-recycled rubbish. Rubbish exceeding that limit incurs a fine, but disposals below the limit would result in a financial bonus.

An alternative would be to give households a fixed number of "official" rubbish bags, and to charge punitive rates for more bags. (London Telegraph)

Council calls for easing of restrictions on GM crops - EUROPEAN farmers must be given the tools to produce more food, if targets to feed a rapidly expanding world population are to be achieved.

The alternative will be to source agricultural produce from the global market where the control of supply, quality and sustainable means of production will be limited.

So says Dr Colin Ruscoe, of the British Crop Production Council, who believes politicians have seriously misjudged the true market situation in both the medium and longer term.

He said: "In 25 years, there will be an extra 1.7 billion mouths to feed and there are growing pressures already being placed upon Europe's farmers, (who are] struggling to meet the demands placed upon them both by society and global competition."

Ruscoe believes that increased food and biofuel supply can only be achieved by bringing more land into production or through increasing crop yields.

However, it is estimated that only 10 per cent of the available land in the world is of sufficient quality to produce worthwhile crops. In any event, bringing more land into production is likely to have a considerable impact on the environment. (The Scotsman)

Biotech companies 'desert' international agriculture project

And what did everyone expect with former IPCC chair Bob Watson directing the project and Greenpeace[!] having representatives on the assessment panel? (Blog.JunkScience.com)

Gates Foundation's agriculture aid a hard sell - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dramatically expanding its efforts to help the world's poorest farmers, with goals every bit as ambitious as its better-known global-health work fighting diseases such as AIDS and malaria.

But the foundation's nascent agricultural program is encountering more resistance than much of its other work, with critics concerned that its market-oriented, technology-centric approach will open the door to big agribusiness interests and genetically engineered food.

The Gates Foundation began making grants a year and a half ago, spending $350 million so far. Its aim is to radically boost farm productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in a short time by introducing new seed varieties, irrigation, fertilizer, training for farmers and access to local and international markets. (Seattle Times)

January 22, 2008

The tyranny of science - Scientists at one of Rome’s most prestigious universities, La Sapienza, are protesting against a planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI this Thursday. The Pope is due officially to open the university’s academic year, but some of the professors of science at the university are not happy. In a letter to the university’s rector, 67 lecturers and professors said it would be ‘incongruous’ for the Pope to visit given his earlier comments on Galileo; while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope said that the Catholic Church’s trial of the great Italian astronomer was ‘reasonable and just’. So, university staff want to block a visit by a religious leader in the name of defending scientific truth and integrity.

This is a striking story: today, it frequently seems as if scientific authority is replacing religious and moral authority, and in the process being transformed into a dogma. At first sight, it appears that science has the last word on all the important questions of our time. Science is no longer confined to the laboratory. Parents are advised to adopt this or that child-rearing technique on the grounds that ‘the research’ has shown what is best for kids. Scientific studies are frequently used to instruct people on how to conduct their relationships and family life, and on what food they should eat, how much alcohol they should drink, how frequently they can expose their skin to the sun, and even how they should have sex. Virtually every aspect of human life is discussed in scientific terms, and justified with reference to a piece of research or by appealing to the judgment of experts. (Frank Furedi, sp!ked)

see also: The Royal Society’s ‘motto-morphosis’ - Nullius in Verba, the motto of the prestigious Royal Society in London, is usually translated as ‘on the word of no one’. When it was coined back in 1663, it was intended to distance science from the methods of the ancient universities, which relied heavily on the personal authority of the scholars. ‘On the word of no one’ highlighted the independent authority that empirical evidence bestowed on science; knowledge about the material universe should be based on appeals to experimental evidence rather than authority.

Lately, however, the Royal Society has dropped any mention of ‘on the word of no one’ from its website. Instead, it talks of the need to ‘verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment’. Lord May of Oxford, erstwhile president of the Royal Society and former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, offers us a whole new translation: ‘respect the facts.’ This provides the title of his recent review in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), in which he gave the scientific nod of approval to seven recent publications on climate change, including books by George Monbiot, Al Gore and Sir Nicholas Stern.

The Royal Society’s ‘motto-morphosis’ - where it has gone from saying ‘on the word of no one’ to demanding that we ‘respect the facts’ - points to an important shift in the way that scientific authority is used to close down debate these days. (Ben Pile & Stuart Blackman, sp!ked)

Really? Cancer agents in Tassie devils - SCIENTISTS have been shocked to find high levels of potentially carcinogenic flame retardant chemicals in Tasmanian devils, a discovery certain to fuel a global campaign to ban their use.

The Australian has obtained, under Freedom of Information, preliminary results of tests ordered by the Tasmanian Government on chemicals found in fat tissue from 16 devils.

They show surprisingly high concentrations of toxic chemicals used in flame retardants commonly found in computers, white goods, carpets and foam in bedding and furniture.

Scientists yesterday said more research was needed to establish if the chemicals helped trigger devil facial tumour disease, a rare communicable cancer that threatens to drive the carnivore to extinction.

The International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network said the findings also raised concerns for human health.

IPEN co-ordinator Mariann Lloyd-Smith said the findings added weight to a global push to ban flame retardants, some of which have been linked to reproductive disorders and cancers in animals and humans. (The Australian)

And just where do they allege these compounds are coming from? The reason air samples are collected at Cape Grim is because it's some of the most pristine on the planet, so having these compounds blow in from the industrial north is unlikely, to say the least. Tasmania certainly is a significant producer (or consumer) of such deliberately synthesised compounds. Is this another case of brominated chemicals of natural origin (of which there are extraordinary numbers and quantities) being blamed on industrial "pollution"? That would seem the most likely case, despite the wishful assertions of professional chemophobes.

Put up a sticker and you've done your bit - I HAVE this visceral dislike of bumper-sticker moralisers. These are people who go out of their way to advertise what they take to be their own exalted moral sensibilities, but do so at no cost to themselves and without the messy business of having to weigh costs and benefits or to choose between stark alternatives where none is particularly pleasant or easy. It's all form and no substance for these people, and there's no shortage of them around. (James Allan, The Australian)

Cholesterol buzz - For those still craving more perspectives on cholesterol and statins — the cover story of Business Week is devoted to this very issue. The articles offer information that has not been reported anywhere else. Here's a glimpse at this special issue. (Junkfood Science)

Update: Trusting drug company marketing - Yesterday, we examined a surprising similarity between FDA approval for diet drugs and statins, but news today brought an entirely new connection. Brandweek NRx has just reported additional background on the company management at Schering-Plough pharmaceutical company, behind that ENHANCE trial controversy. (Junkfood Science)

Calcium — marvel or menace? The evidence may not be what you suspect - One of the most egregious examples of inaccurate medical reporting and grossly exaggerating a study’s findings, and needlessly frightening millions of women around the world, was seen this week. Does something as simple as taking a calcium supplement really double an older woman’s risk for a heart attack, as was reported in the news? That is very unlikely what you would conclude from reading the actual study. But the evidence might not be what you think, either. (Junkfood Science)

Wellness programs face legal action for being discriminatory - Today is a fitting day for this story. The discriminatory aspects of employer wellness programs have caught the eye of the Department of Labor and lawyers. Last month, the Department of Labor issued a Field Assistance Bulletin directed to company wellness programs. It closed a loophole which would have allowed employers to discriminate against employees based on their health indices and lifestyles. The Department of Labor said it may bring enforcement actions against companies that attempt to reward employees based on their health status. (Junkfood Science)

Amazing Food Detective for doctors - In promoting its childhood obesity programs, Kaiser Permanente has been on television, although viewers might not realize the source of the show.

It just teamed up with Discovery Health to launch a documentary geared to “instruct physicians and healthcare professionals about childhood obesity and the necessary steps to treat and prevent this epidemic.” The program, “Healthy Steps to Treating Childhood Obesity,” is currently airing across the country and offering doctors free continuing education credit (CME). (Junkfood Science)

Leave no child fat - The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are calling for a couch potato sin tax to finance their outdoor classrooms, reportedly to fight childhood obesity. It’s part of a growing “Leave No Child Inside” movement to get kids outside of classrooms and reduce screen time. We want to “tax part of the problem to fund the solution,” a Sierra Club spokesperson told KOB-TV news. (Junkfood Science)

Voices of sanity... for the children - A calm article calling for balance, reason and an end to the hysteria over obesity is something you rarely see in media anymore. That makes it all the more valuable for its fresh perspectives. Sharon Kirkey writes in the Edmonton Journal of the adverse effects of today’s unhealthy obsessions with weight being seen by pediatric psychiatric specialists. (Junkfood Science)

Antarctica Snowfall Increase - The ice caps hold a special place in the cold hearts of the global warming advocates who are all too quick to insist that our ice caps are currently melting at an unprecedented rate. We suspect that they will not be particularly thrilled to learn that a paper has just appeared in Geophysical Research Letters entitled “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” The article is by scientists with the British Antarctic Survey and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada; the work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation. In case you think that the Desert Research Institute in Nevada would have little interest in Antarctica, recall from geography classes you’ve had that Antarctica receives little precipitation and is regarded by climatologists as a frozen desert. (WCR)

When Science Reporting Was Unbiased - We reported that the arctic ice minimum this year was due to natural cyclical fluctuations in the multidecadal ocean cycles and the flow of warm water into the arctic through the Barents Sea and Bering Strait in this blog on September 22nd. NASA too did a story on the changes in the arctic being at least in part due to changes in the arctic ocean circulation.

To show this is nothing new or unusual, take note of this quote from Scientific American reported in the Orleans, Vermont Independent Standard of Nov.28, 1856 found and forwarded by John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute: (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Antarctic volcanoes identified as a possible culprit in glacier melting - Another factor might be contributing to the thinning of some of the Antarctica's glaciers: volcanoes.

In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.

"This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet" in Antarctica, Vaughan said.

Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause of thinning. (Kenneth Chang, IHT)

Antarctica and Volcanism - Thanks to John McLean for a link to this site tracking Antarctic temperatures since 1955 by Ole Humlum, UNIS, Department of Geology, Svalbard, Norway. They conclude the existing Antarctic surface air temperature records 1960-1998 reveal periods of persistent (multi-year) and geographically extensive temperature trends towards cooling in the interior and warming in the coastal regions. The spatial and seasonal patterns of these trends are, however, not quite simple and appear to change with time; that is, the temperature relationship between specific locations is not temporally consistent. Within the Antarctic Peninsula a warming trend has, however, persisted, with exception of the spring season. The cooling has been modest in coastal East Antarctic regions, but more pronounced at the Amundsen-Scott Base and at the South Pole. (Icecap)

see also: Antarctic Peninsula warmer in mid-Holocene - Some interesting papers from an AGU conference: “Mid Holocene Warmth in the Antarctic Peninsula: evidence from the Vega Drift”. So, 4000 to 7000 years ago this area was warmer than now. Another interesting paper mentions an active undersea volcano in the area. “A Benthic Invertebrate Survey of Jun Jaegyu Volcano: An active undersea volcano in Antarctic Sound, Antarctica”. (Warwick Hughes, Errors in IPCC climate science)

Guest Weblog By Professor Ben Herman Of The University Of Arizona - Maximum Temperature Trends - There is an issue with regards to U.S. surface temperature trends that seems to have been overlooked, although apparently well recognized. I am referring to the HO-83 thermometers that were installed at many USHCN sites as well as first order stations. It has been well documented (Gall et.al. 1992, Jones et.al. 1995, Karl et. al. 1995) and others that a warm bias existed, primarily in the daily maximum temperature readings reported by these instruments. The error in the Tucson data was about 2-3 deg F, but this error was apparently different with each thermometer. Karl et. al. (1995) have suggested that the average for this error over the country was on the order of 0.5 deg C on the reported maximum temperatures. Thus, if the maximum temperatures were corrected by this amount, average temperatures in the U.S, would be lowered by about 0.25 deg C, assuming the minimum readings were correct. This would probably pretty much neutralize the reported trend increase during the late 80’s and 90’s in this country. The situation has been covered in some detail in a blog by Steve McIntyre on ICECAP.US [Climate Audit?] (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1954) for those wishing more detail on the history of this issue. (Climate Science)

How not to measure temperature, part 47 (Watts Up with That?)

Numbers not yet checked, provided as is for anyone with the time and inclination: Carbon Heat Trapping: Merely A Bit Player in Global Warming (.pdf) - Abstract: New calculations show that doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) will increase average global temperature by only about 1 °F (degrees Fahrenheit) or 0.55 °C (degrees Centigrade), much less that the range of 1 °C to 5 °C estimated by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These new calculations are based on NASA supported spectral calculations available on the Internet relating to greenhouse gases. The temperature increases are estimated to be somewhat more in winter in the colder climates because of reduced competing atmosphere water vapor, but smaller increases at other times and places. These calculations also estimate that a 10 percent increase of water vapor in the atmosphere, a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, or a reduction in the average cloud cover of only about 2 percent, will increase global temperature about as much as doubling CO2 would. Each additional doubling of CO2 will cause further temperature increases of about the same as that caused by the first doubling. Greenhouse gases, except water vapor, only trap heat at certain narrow wavelengths of infrared radiation related to their molecular structures. Data shows that present concentrations of CO2, a strong absorber, are already well above the saturation value at its principal wavelength, so increases in it have a relative small affect. These new calculations are based on atmospheric models of the energy absorption bandwidths of greenhouse gases coupled with Max Planck’s equations relating to infrared wavelength distributions. A new simple technique is also proposed in the appendix to measure actual trapped heat being radiated back from the atmosphere to the Earth. This can be used to evaluate validate various estimating models. It also indicates that the role of clouds and their height above the Earth may have a larger role than previously thought. Since clouds operate as both powerful heat-trapping agents, overriding others, and a reflector of the sun’s energy, they may be the key factor in the regulation of the average global temperature. At the present time, they are one of the least measured parameters in the computer models predicting future climate changes. Weather and climate forecasting considering all factors is very complex, and this paper does not cover that subject. However it is felt that the simple role of long-term heat rises due to only CO2 changes is a much simpler process and better estimated by basic models as used here. Certain shortcomings in the IPCC data and estimates, as reported by others, are also summarized. Based on this new information, recommendations are made regarding future U.S. energy policy. While it does appear that the recent years show a warming trend, the role of CO2 in this is very small, and perhaps beneficial in moderating winter temperatures in colder climates. (Richard J. Petschauer, Senior Member IEEE)

Correction to: A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies. Energy & Environment 19(1): 93-100. - Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3°C warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites. (Multi-Science Publishing)

Not a significant correction if you are only interested in whether the MWP a) existed and b) was of comparable temperatures to those of today.

Oh good grief! Couldn’t be more wrong: - Winning Over Global-warming Skeptics - … The skeptic’s argument is simple. Since the debate is still ongoing and the jury still out, we should not get all hot and bothered about turning the world upside down to satisfy the doomsday environmentalists. Let’s take no action. The Earth will eventually normalize. Seems reasonable enough.

Or is this Russian roulette? You remember the game. The revolver has six chambers, one of which contains a bullet. I spin the magazine, put the revolver to my head, and pull the trigger. Will it fire? Probably not. Indeed, there is an 83 percent chance that I will survive, only a 17 percent chance that I will die (Rule 3). The single bullet represents, of course, disaster for the human race; while the empty chambers, an adjusting planet returning to normal. Odds for the survival of the planet, 83 percent are not too bad. Why not chance it?

But wait. The forecast of catastrophe is held by 80 percent to 95 percent of scientists, with only 5 percent to 20 percent predicting that the changes will be manageable. Not one chamber but five chambers contain bullets. If I spin the magazine and pull the trigger, will I blow my brains out? Now the probabilities are reversed — suicide, 83 percent; survival, 17 percent. Still in the game? (Joseph Murray, The Day)

This is the error made generally by AGW disaster believers. There is no “low cost” means of “addressing global warming” and no such thing as insurance against mythical problems. This is “Russian roulette” with not one but two revolvers and it works like this: (JunkScience.com Blog)

This nonsense, again! Ocean floor sensors will warn of failing Gulf Stream - An armada of robot submarines and marine sensors are to be deployed across the Atlantic, from Florida to the Canary Islands, to provide early warning that the Gulf Stream might be failing, an event that would trigger cataclysmic freezing in Britain for decades.

The £16m system, called Rapid Watch, will use the latest underwater monitoring techniques to check whether cold water pouring south from melting Arctic ice sheets is diverting the current's warm waters away from Britain.

Without the Gulf Stream, the UK would be as cold as Canada in winter. Ports could freeze over and snowstorms and blizzards would paralyse the country. An extreme version of this meteorological mayhem provided the film The Day After Tomorrow with its plotline. (Robin McKie, The Observer)

As long as the world turns and wind blows there is no stopping the gulfstream and it wouldn't significantly affect European temperatures if it did since eastern Atlantic temperatures differ dramatically from western primarily due to topography (i.e., mountain ranges deflecting winds and influencing the jet stream, causing much greater frequency of Arctic breakouts over Labrador than Scandinavia). 'Ice age Europe' due to fluctuations in the meridional overturning are one of the worst pieces of gorebull warming folklore. Will not happen. Can not happen.

7.5m Britons don't care about global warming - Up to 7.5million Brits do not care about global warming, a government briefing paper warns.

And environmental groups believe such huge disinterest could spell disaster for the planet.

They want ministers to force the "don't cares" to change their ways.

Friends of the Earth's Robin Webster, said: "Urgent steps are needed to make it cheaper to go green and increase taxes on activities that are helping to wreck the planet." (The Mirror)

If the rest understood it they wouldn't give a rat's either.

Of course... Suffering from 'eco-anxiety' - NORTH CAROLINA -- Former Vice President Al Gore isn’t the only one concerned about the environment, as more and more people are starting to become aware of global warming and experiencing ‘eco-anxiety.’

"People are afraid of the future, they're afraid of what's going to happen,” said licensed therapist Melissa Pickett, saying of one patient, "She brought up during the course of our session that she had just read an article about the polar bears and the loss of habitat and she started crying … she said 'I just don't understand this.'"

Pickett said fears about the environment are sending some people into a panic. The mental health disorder has grown enough to gain the ‘eco-anxiety’ name. (News 14)

EPA Denies Docs On Calif. Emissions Law - Invoking executive privilege, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday refused to provide lawmakers with a full explanation of why it rejected California's greenhouse gas regulations.

The EPA informed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that many of the documents she had requested contained internal deliberations or attorney-client communications.

"EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting," EPA's associate administrator Christopher P. Bliley wrote.

The document dump is the latest twist in a congressional investigation into why the agency denied California permission to impose what would have been the country's toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles.

Sixteen states were ready to adopt the California rules or were considering doing so had the EPA approved the state's request for a waiver under the state Clean Air Act. (AP)

Media campaign to silence global warming skeptics failing - Step right up folks and get your tickets to the greatest scam on Earth as we pay homage to those much-maligned scientists, geologists, climate researchers and marginalized Global Warming Skeptics the world over who refuse to be silenced by the skeptiphobics who would still the voices of reason.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys observe the spectacle with amazement and see how mainstream television and newspapers have put P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, two of the world’s greatest circus hucksters, to shame with their involvement in promoting the Great Global Warming Charade.

Undoubtedly even the Ringling Brothers in their wildest imaginings could not have envisioned how the Clown Princes of media, eco-zealotry, self-interested politicians and nose-in-the-ozone academia have created the shameful alliance we have seen develop across the world today. (Bill McIntyre, CFP)

‘Medieval Environmentalists’ attack CO2 in their efforts to derail civilization - California Senator Barbara Boxer is a co-sponsor of the “Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act” (S.309). The title, and much of the text of the bill, is inappropriate since, regardless of its impact on climate change, CO2, the act’s major target, is not a pollutant.

Why are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, particularly the relatively small amount emitted by human activity, the sole focus of most climate change debates? In scientific circles, CO2 is referred to as a ‘trace gas’ that, for hundreds of thousands of years, has remained at or below five ten-thousandths of the atmosphere by volume. Even among the so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG), CO2 accounts for less that 4%, with water vapour being by far the most significant GHG. CO2 is clearly a miniscule component of the massive mechanisms that create climate and cause climate change.

Attributing global climate change to human CO2 production is akin to trying to diagnose an automotive problem by ignoring the engine (analogous to the Sun in the climate system) and the transmission (water vapour) and instead focusing entirely, not on one nut on a rear wheel, which would be analogous to total CO2, but on one thread on that nut, which represents the human contribution. (Dr. Tim Ball & Tom Harris, CFP)

Gray Matter, Golden Balls - Although the political philosopher, John Gray, is an out-and-out ‘global warmer’, and a bit of a Neo-Malthusian doomster to boot, his rant today in The Observer against the “irrational” Greens (‘Only science can save us from climate catastrophe’, January 20) is well worth reading, especially as it makes some of the same trenchant points addressed by Nick Cohen in last week’s The Observer [see my posting: ‘Blame The Greens’, January 13]. Gray is also, like ‘Global Warming Politics’, entirely realistic about the future of fossil fuels: (Global Warming Politics)

Signs of panic? Has global warming really stopped? - Mark Lynas responds to a controversial article on newstatesman.com which argued global warming has stopped. (Mark Lynas, New Statesman)

Cap and Trade Not Enough to Cut Carbon - Goldman - NEW YORK - Capping and trading carbon emissions will not be enough to fight output of the gases blamed for warming the planet, the managing director of Goldman Sachs' US carbon emissions desk said on Thursday. (Reuters)

They don't say? To work, carbon tax must sting - Most Canadians tell pollsters they're concerned about climate change. Many insist they'd like to do something about it, and would even pay for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But propose actual cash amounts – 25 cents a litre on gasoline, perhaps, or a $10 daily commuter toll – and support evaporates.

"Once you put a price on it, people tend to think twice about it and say, `Maybe not,'" says Mario Canseco of Angus Reid Strategies, which surveyed about 3,700 Canadians on the issue last March.

That's just one reason politicians aren't rushing to embrace an idea endorsed by environmentalists, many economists and even some business groups.

It's also why this month's report from the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, while it produced a flurry of media headlines, appears fated to join many others on a long, dusty shelf. (Peter Gorrie, Toronto Star)

US warns EU against using environment for protectionism - BRUSSELS - US Trade Representative Susan Schwab warned Europe on Monday against using environmental issues as an excuse for protectionism amid disputes ranging from biotechnology to greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have been dismayed at a variety of suggestions where we see climate or the environment being used as an excuse to close markets," Schwab said after talks with EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

She said it was "imperative" to "work with our colleagues in the environmental area to use trade as a positive contributor to environmental causes ... but also to avoid using climate ... as an excuse for trade protectionism." (AFP)

EU emissions plan to cost billions -German industry - FRANKFURT, Jan 21 - New financial burdens on German industry arising out of greenhouse gas emissions rules due from Brussels later this week could run to 17 billion euros ($24.92 billion), a German energy users' lobby said on Monday.

The European Commission is expected to introduce a new system on Wednesday to auction permits to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) after 2012 as part of proposals to protect the climate.

"Should the Commission implement its plans, we calculate that the costs of the CO2 trading scheme would unnecessarily rise 18-fold," said the Essen-based VIK lobby group, which says it represents 80 percent of German industrial energy consumption.

"Between 2013 and 2020, that would mean around 1 billion euros for actual CO2 reductions and 17 billion of a penalty tax on the amount of CO2 still allowed to be emitted in those years," it said in a statement.

"The EU Commission unnecessarily threatens Europe's valuable industrial structure." (Reuters)

Scientists call for sharper cuts in carbon emissions - ENVIRONMENTAL scientists are today calling on the Government to introduce tougher cuts in carbon dioxide emissions in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill.

Experts including Sir John Houghton, one of Wales’ most eminent scientists, say the Bill, which commits the UK to at least 60% reductions in greenhouse gases by 2050, is out of date.

Based on the latest science, including the most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientists believe a reduction of more like 80% is necessary.

And they have stated their case in an open letter to the Government and leaders of the main political parties, published in a number of broadsheet newspapers today.

Signatories include the current chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Sir John Lawton, and former chairmen, Sir Tom Blundell and Sir John Houghton. (Alice Klein, Western Mail)

EU nations chafe as the climate change bill comes in - BRUSSELS — Less than a year after challenging the world to a race to stop global warming, European Union nations are bickering over who should carry the biggest burden in the EU's push to cut greenhouse gases.

Now starkly aware of the cost their commitments could imply, the 27 nations have been lobbying the European Commission hard as it prepares to unveil Wednesday a package of measures meant to achieve Europe's climate goals.

Whether it is Germany with its auto industry, nuclear minded France, coal-dependent central Europe or the environment-friendly Nordic nations, all know they will struggle to meet targets the Commission is ready to impose.

Just nine months ago, EU leaders agreed with great fanfare to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020, against 1990 levels, which they judged to be the best way to stop the planet heating by two degrees Celsius. (AFP)

EU climate change plans to cost 60 billion euros: Barroso - BRUSSELS - European Union plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions could cost at least 60 billion euros (86.6 billion dollars) a year, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday.

"Taking action is not cost free, although we think we can limit the cost of our proposals to around 0.5 percent of gross domestic product," he said, according to remarks prepared for delivery in London. (AFP)

Top EU ecology expert wants global warming Marshall plan - Jacqueline McGlade, the EU's chief environment expert, believes Europe needs a Marshall plan of investment - up to several percentage points of GDP per year - to reduce the vulnerability to climate change.

Europe also must lead by example on global warming, especially in reducing the use of coal and encouraging action in the developing world, the head of the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA) told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in an exclusive interview.

Speaking ahead of the EU's planned release this week of what she called a "very ambitious climate change and energy package", McGlade said her agenda was to ensure that Europe was both united in its front on the environment and "doing its utmost" in the bloc's own environmental policies. (Trend News)

EU plans to charge for pollution rights ruffle feathers - BRUSSELS — EU plans to make companies pay for the right to pollute have come under fierce fire from governments and industry, warning they could force business and jobs to leave Europe.

As part of a broad strategy for fighting climate change, the European Commission is to unveil plans on Wednesday to make companies pay for tradeable carbon emissions quotas.

The quotas are the cornerstone of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, under which nearly 12,000 energy-intensive plants can buy or sell emissions credits, which EU governments currently hand out for free.

However, Europe's businesses are up in arms about the plans to make them pay for what are in effect permits to pollute, and European leaders are taking note, fearful of the economic impact.

"The way that it's all planned leaves us no other choice than to leave," the European steelmakers federation Eurofer warned last week. (AFP)

Really, well current spot prices don't suggest they'll raise too much cash: Welcome to euets.com - the CO2 exchange for CEE -- current quote: €0.02/mt and yes, that really is 2¢.

EU Executive Sees No Cut in Green Goods VAT - Source - BRUSSELS - There will be no proposal from the European Commission to cut sales tax on energy-efficient products as a way to help combat climate change despite French and British calls, a source at the EU executive said on Monday. (Reuters)

Japan to propose 2000 as post-Kyoto base year: report - TOKYO — Japan will propose setting 2000 as the reference year for future greenhouse gas emission cuts in a bid to bring more countries aboard a post-Kyoto Protocol deal, a report said Monday.

The Kyoto Protocol requires major developed nations to slash emissions causing global warming by an average of five percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will propose in a speech Saturday at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to switch the base year for cuts to 2000 for after Kyoto's current obligations expire, Kyodo News reported.

Officials declined immediate comment on the report, which quoted unnamed government sources.

Kyodo News said Japan hoped the 2000 base would lower hurdles for fast-growing China and India, which have no obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and whose emissions shot up between 1990 and 2000.

But such a shift would likely encounter opposition from the European Union, the only major region whose emissions have gone down since 1990. (AFP)

Europe won't like this -- they chose 1990 specifically to take advantage of accidental emission reductions from the UK "dash for gas" and the collapse of inefficient Soviet industry as the USSR imploded. It was then and remains today a handicapping scheme to make European industry more competitive in global markets.

“What Skylarks, Pip!” - I must first apologise to my non-British readers for the seeming parochial nature of today’s post, which features the world’s longest-running radio soap [more than 15,000 episodes to date - it was first broadcast on Whit Monday, 1950], namely The Archers (BBC Radio 4), our famous “everyday story of country folk”. Still, you may well know the programme already (and its middle-England fictional village, Ambridge - map here), as it holds the BBC radio record for the number of times listened to over the Internet. But even if you don’t, you should most certainly read (and listen) on. In the Stott household, sitting down - often with a glass in hand - to The Archers at 7.02 pm, after the ‘News Bulletin’, is a daily ritual to savour.

Although The Archers is sometimes snootily mocked by the metro-elite as a comfortable (and comforting) middle-class, middle England, rural nostalgia series with comical Shakespearian ‘mechanicals’ thrown in, the programme frequently tackles serious social issues. For example, its present portrayal of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the rich and elderly Jack Woolley has been painfully drawn and superbly acted. But the programme is at its very best, and most relevant, when it addresses real countryside matters relating to farming, to the rural landscape, and to conservation. (Global Warming Politics)

Eye-roller: Philip Pullman: new brand of environmentalism - Climate change, say the pessimists, will destroy our world. But in an exclusive interview, acclaimed author Philip Pullman champions a new brand of environmentalism that offers us all hope (London Telegraph)

Dill! Environmentalism is the threat.

And Now, A Bear Market In Oil - A key Democrat wants the polar bear to be declared an endangered species to block offshore oil development in Alaska. The only thing endangered by drilling there is our dependence on foreign oil. (IBD)

Arctic Oil Activity Seen Up, Eco-Risks Loom - Report - OSLO - Exploitation of the Arctic's huge oil and gas wealth poses a growing danger to an icy wilderness that can recover only slowly from heavy oil spills, a report by the eight-nation Arctic Council said on Monday. (Reuters)

Honolulu City Lights Going Out? - As described in The Honolulu Advertiser (Jan. 15, 2008), Honolulu lawmakers apparently are thumbing their noses at basic science, energy, and environmental evidence. The international attacks on the U.S. energy systems, systems which have provided the freedom, liberty, and prosperity of our nation for 2 centuries, are being masked by green stories which are pleasing, plausible, and wrong. This is also being embraced by state legislatures -- http://tinyurl.com/2z2sej -- and is very dangerous to the economy and prosperity of Hawaii, and our nation.

In pushing for a “greener Hawaii,” the global warmers are targeting the fossil energy sources for Hawaii, one third of which goes for electrical generation, one third to transportation fuels, and the rest for aviation fuels. More than 95 percent of the state’s electrical energy is provided by fossil fuels all of which are imported, save for the few percent provided by the combustion of Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW). Closing or crippling these sources of energy would be devastating to all of Hawaii, putting the state on a path to Third World status. Such attacks on fossil energy sources, similar to the continuing attacks on nuclear and hydro facilities, are now taking place on the mainland USA -- http://tinyurl.com/2z2sej (Michael R. Fox, Hawaii Reporter)

Public stiffs green cars at Detroit auto show - After a week of rolling out green products to wow the assembled media hordes and presidential candidates at the North American International Auto Show, the public got its first look at the show Friday and stiffed the green products.

Ignoring the PC-hybrid, electric plug-in, and hydrogen concepts salivated over by the press just days before at the celebrated “press preview,” a panel of 100 Detroit News readers gave their Best-in-Show awards to big, sexy, gas-guzzling products like the 600 HP Corvette ZR-1, the 20 mpg Chrysler 300C, and the towering Ford F-150 pickup. Not a green car made the list, except for the Honda Civic Hybrid — and only as answer to the News’ “Most Earth Friendly” vehicle category. (Henry Payne, Planet Gore)

Fury as fuel poverty soars close to a 10-year record - One in six British households is living in fuel poverty, the highest for almost a decade, according to new figures that threaten the government's target to eradicate the problem in England by the end of the decade.

Fuel poverty is defined as when a household spends more than a tenth of its income on utility bills. The consumer group Energywatch said yesterday there are now about 4.4 million of these in the UK, with just over 3 million in England alone.

Charities and other groups, led by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, are preparing a legal challenge in the next few weeks to force the government to meet the 2010 target, to which it is committed by law.

The figures came at the end of a week in which the UK's largest energy supplier, British Gas, said it was increasing bills by 15 per cent. This month EDF Energy and Npower raised prices by up to 27 per cent, and two-thirds of British households will have to pay higher tariffs. Other suppliers are likely to follow suit soon.

The regulator Ofgem's estimate of 4 million UK households living in fuel poverty in 2006 does not take into account the price rises announced this month. According to government figures, the last time there were as many fuel-poor households was in 1999 when the figure was 4.5 million. Numbers then fell until about 2005, when fuel poverty started increasing again. (Tim Webb, The Observer)

See Who Gets What From Oil?

Could it get any dumber than this? Taxpayers face $15b power sale sting - NSW taxpayers could be forced to pay more than $15 billion to indemnify private companies bidding for the state's power assets, a report has found.

The indemnities - against losses that privatised coal-fired power stations would face under a new national carbon trading scheme - would wipe out the $15 billion revenue boost the Iemma Government expects to gain from the privatisation.

An analysis by the independent think tank the Australia Institute has revealed the carbon trading scheme the Federal Government intends to introduce to combat global warming would dramatically reduce the value of coal-fired generators.

According to the author of the report, economist and institute director Clive Hamilton, the cost of the indemnity could reach $15.4 billion.

"This amount would be the cost borne by NSW citizens if the NSW Government indemnifies private buyers against future carbon liabilities," he concludes. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Fortunately it's only an 'analysis' by [anti-]Australia Institute fruit-loop Clive Hamilton, so the chances of it being similar to reality are negligible.

Car companies fight CO2 laws - Europe's carmakers have launched a fresh campaign to water down EU proposals to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles and impose stiff penalties on manufacturers failing to meet its targets. (The Guardian)

Davos must deal with the water crisis - We are on the verge of a water crisis.

As we continue to grow our world economy and population, we are becoming a much thirstier world. It is important to realise just how much water we need to make every aspect of our economy work.

And we need to adapt our water use to a fast-changing world while we still can.

Every litre of petrol requires up to 2.5 litres of water to produce it. On average, crops grown for their bio-energy need at least 1,000 litres of water to make one litre of bio-fuel. (London Telegraph)

Dark side of a hot biofuel - In Indonesia, oil palms feed world thirst for clean fuel, but forests, climate and species pay a steep price (Sacramento Bee)

MPs' warning on biofuels angers Brussels - The EU yesterday denounced a House of Commons report calling for a moratorium on the increased use of biofuels and made plain it would stick to mandatory targets for the use of biofuels in transport when it unveils a climate change package today. (The Guardian)

B&Q to end sale of patio heaters - The UK's largest DIY chain, B&Q, has announced it is to stop selling environmentally damaging patio heaters once its current stock is sold off.

The company said yesterday it has 20,000 heaters in its stores and expects to sell the last one during 2008. After that it will no longer stock the heaters once branded by ministers as "environmental obscenities." (guardian.co.uk)

Whassa matta? Not enough margin in such a competitive market?

Time to wake up to the sewage crisis - While carbon emissions are now rightly lodged at the forefront of most people's minds, I'm constantly dismayed at how few mentions another urgent global environmental crisis is getting. There is a major stink out there.

It's not a glamorous issue, far from it. In fact it's a bit of a taboo subject. But it's an issue we need to start talking about because it's causing extensive environmental damage and leading to the deaths of 5,000 infants every day.

It's a problem of disposal of human waste and toilets. Or rather the lack of good sanitation and toilets. (London Telegraph)

Well, the need for sanitation and potable water part is right, at least.

Traipsing off into the virtual realm, again... As carbon dioxide levels rise, staple grains could lose some nutritional value - It started with a seemingly off-the-wall question in a 2004 global change biology class at Southwestern University. The discussion was about how increases in carbon dioxide, a contributing cause of global warming, lead to a decline in the amount of proteins in some plants.

"How would rising CO2 levels affect the Atkins diet?" asked Holly Allen, then an undergraduate majoring in environmental studies. The Atkins diet, still en vogue then, emphasizes proteins over carbohydrates.

Searching for the answer led to a study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Global Change Biology, that provides a serious answer:

Protein levels in staple foods like rice and wheat could decline by as much as 15 percent by the year 2100.

Those results could have far-reaching consequences for nutrition, especially in developing countries. (Austin American-Statesman)

Francis Childs, 68, Dies; Sage of High Corn Yields - Francis Childs, a third-generation farmer who studied, schemed and tramped his fields with a spade to become the most productive corn grower ever, died on Jan. 9 in Marshall County, Iowa. He was 68.

Carolynn Childs, his daughter-in-law, confirmed the death but declined to give a cause.

Mr. Childs shattered old notions of just how much corn could be coaxed from an acre of ground. He was the first farmer in a controlled contest to exceed 400 bushels an acre, achieving 405 in 2001 and 442 the next year.

Neighbors on land similar to his were getting yields just a third this size. When he passed 400 bushels, his nearest competitor trailed him by 85. In 1999, an Agriculture Department official watching the weigh-in of his 394 bushels likened the event to breaking the sound barrier, The Wall Street Journal reported. (New York Times)

Canadian farmer forces GM giant back to court - He was portrayed as an environmental David who stood up to the corporate Goliath, and became a figurehead of the battle against the introduction of genetically modified crops everywhere. When Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was sued by Monsanto for growing the firm's GM crops, which he claimed blew on to his land, the company's eventual victory in the Canadian supreme court was overshadowed by accusations of aggressive tactics and corporate bullying.

Now, Schmeiser, of Bruno, Saskatchewan, is back to launch another slingshot at Monsanto, and this time he is suing the billion dollar business for £300 in his local small claims court. At stake, he says, is millions of pounds of compensation for those who have seen their land contaminated with GM material, and the rights of organic farmers and others to produce GM-free crops. Monsanto calls the case "specific and local". (The Guardian)

Bizarrely The Guardian finds multiply-adjudged liar and thief Percy Schmeiser as worthy of yet more ink.

Militant 'Farmer' and French Government Make Common Cause in GM Crop Ban - PARIS -- It was one of the most surprising and revealing images of the New Year in French politics: José Bové, the famously mustachioed "anti-globalization" activist and self-appointed scourge of genetically-modified crops, being greeted by France's prim and proper Deputy Minister of Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet . . . with a kiss. The highly publicized encounter took place with cameras rolling on Jan. 3 in front of the French Ministry of Ecology in Paris. Technically, Bové was supposed to be in prison, serving a four-month jail sentence as a consequence of his role in vandalizing a field of genetically-modified (GM) corn in the French department of Haute-Garrone in 2004. But in mid-December, a judge "converted" his jail sentence into a fine of €4,800.

For several years now, Bové has been the leading figure in a movement of so-called "Volunteer Reapers" (Faucheurs Volontaires) whose members express their opposition to the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in France by tearing up fields of GM crops. The friendly kiss in front of the Ministry of Ecology provides perhaps the most striking illustration to date of the remarkable complicity that exists between French authorities -- ostensibly sworn to uphold the law -- and the small band of radical anti-GMO militants who make a regular practice of breaking it. (John Rosenthal, World Politics Review)

January 21, 2008

Yes! We did!

Not so much like this

More like this

computer_crash.jpg 

but we have managed to recover just about everything following a major crash.

Unfortunately it was taking too long to unravel all the individual comments which have been concatenated by thread (sorry!) but at least most are still online. Additionally, we have lost a couple of threads and still need to restore a few files — we’re getting there — please bear with us.

Meanwhile, despite the blog having a new address and annoying people whose blog links no longer work, JunkScience.com is undamaged & fully functional while the blog, albeit with a couple of dings in the fender, is back and working more or less as before — within days all missing files & updates should be complete.

Thank you all for your patience.

Barry Hearn
Senior Editor, JunkScience.com

January 18, 2008

Manmade Antarctic Melting, Indeed - A new study, much hyped by the media, blames humans for escalating ice loss in Antarctica. The media, however, seems to have no idea as to how truly manmade the supposed ice loss may be. (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Ice returns as Greenland temps plummet - While the rest of Europe is debating the prospects of global warming during an unseasonably mild winter, a brutal cold snap is raging across the semi-autonomous nation of Greenland.

On Disko Bay in western Greenland, where a number of prominent world leaders have visited in recent years to get a first-hand impression of climate change, temperatures have dropped so drastically that the water has frozen over for the first time in a decade.

'The ice is up to 50cm thick,' said Henrik Matthiesen, an employee at Denmark's Meteorological Institute who has also sailed the Greenlandic coastline for the Royal Arctic Line. 'We've had loads of northerly winds since Christmas which has made the area miserably cold.'

Matthiesen suggested the cold weather marked a return to the frigid temperatures common a decade ago. (Copenhagen Post)

Russia Warns of Emergency as Siberian Temperatures Dip to -55C - Jan. 16 -- The Russian region of Siberia faces plunging temperatures over the next week, the Emergencies Ministry warned, advising regional officials to be prepared for heating systems to break down in the extreme cold.

Worst hit will be the Siberian region of Evenkiya, where night-time temperatures will be as low as minus 55 degrees Celsius (minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit), the Emergencies Ministry said today in a ``special warning'' posted on its Web site. Temperatures to Jan. 21 are expected to be 12 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius below the long-term average, it said.

In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, famed for growing wine, tea and citrus fruits in a subtropical climate, Lake Paliastomi in the west of the country froze for the first time in 50 years, Rustavi-2 television reported. Temperatures plunged to as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius, Rustavi said.

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, the temperature fell below minus 13 degrees last night, the coldest in 14 years, Rustavi-2 said. The city is ill-prepared for prolonged cold: During a Jan. 5 presidential election, Tbilisi was covered in snow, and motorists slithered along roads untreated with grit or sand. (Bloomberg)

More PlayStation® 'science': Far fewer polar bears expected by 2050 - WASHINGTON - Two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be killed off by 2050 – and the entire population gone from Alaska – because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic, government scientists forecast Friday.

Only in the northern Canadian Arctic islands and the west coast of Greenland are any of the world's 16,000 polar bears expected to survive through the end of the century, said the U.S. Geological Survey, which is the scientific arm of the Interior Department. (AP)

Bear litigation a ploy, say Inuit groups - The push by environmentalists to have polar bears declared a threatened species by the U.S. is a cynical ploy that puts politics ahead of science, says Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapariit Kanatami.

Three environmental groups announced last week they would sue the U.S. government for missing its deadline to decide whether polar bears should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. In response, ITK and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference issued a joint press release Jan. 14 that condemns the groups.

Simon said environmentalists are "using the polar bear for political reasons against the Bush administration over greenhouse gas emissions, and as Inuit we fundamentally disagree with such tactics."

On Jan. 7 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it needed another 30 days to decide whether polar bears should be classified as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. (Nunatsiaq  News)

Polar bear status won't halt oil exploration - WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is just weeks away from a decision that most likely will designate polar bears as a threatened species but said today that it won't budge on issuing oil and gas leases in their shrinking Alaska habitat.

A House committee on global warming called on the U.S. Interior Department to hold off auctioning oil and gas leases in northwest Alaska's Chukchi Sea until it makes a decision about whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service postponed the decision last week for at least another 30 days, and it is not expected to be issued before the Feb. 6 oil and gas lease sale by the Minerals Management Service. The agency estimates that the Chukchi Sea holds 15 billion barrels of oil and as much as 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

"Every time there is a choice between extinction and extraction in this administration, extraction wins," said the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. "This must not be the case for the polar bear." (ADN)

Global warming hysteria fading in Canada? (Tom Nelson)

Podcasts From AccuWx On Climate Change - There are a set of quite informative podcasts on the Accuweather website. It is accessible through http://www.accuweather.com/global-warming/headline-earth.asp

Interviewees include Jim Hansen to Fred Singer. These interviews are well worth listening too. Accuweather is commended for seeking to present the diversity of views on climate change science. (Climate Science)

Cycles in Landfalling U.S. Hurricanes? - To many global warming alarmists, every disastrous weather event becomes yet another piece of evidence of the coming man-made apocalypse. One only needs to look at their exploitation of Hurricane Katrina victims in the furtherance of the global warming crusade. Most average citizens are shocked to find out that at landfall, Katrina was not a record-setting Category 5 monster hurricane, but really a Category 3 storm—hardly unprecedented in intensity but devastating with respect to the landfall location and timing.

Most reasonable people believe that there exist natural cycles in climatic events, perhaps even hurricanes. But to the aforementioned alarmists, cycles are anathema—with increasing greenhouse gases, temperatures (and the related disastrous repercussions) must only trend inexorably upward. The declining (cooling) limb of any cycle is simply unacceptable. (WCR)

Adapting To Climate - The mantra is repeated daily. There is consensus on climate change. Global warming is real. It will be a disaster. Humans are to blame. We have to do something – immediately.

The United Nations and its Climate Cataclysm army of 15,000 in exotic Bali were not about to let even one fact prevent them from promoting climate scares and a successor to the Kyoto treaty. Gloom-and-doom scientists and bureaucrats owned Bali’s podiums. Radical environmentalists fumed and staged stunts. Al Gore denounced President Bush, repeated myths that enthralled the Academy and Nobel committees, and demanded sacrifices – by others.

Meanwhile, respected climate scientists were barred from panel discussions, censored, silenced and threatened with physical removal by polizei, if they tried to hold a press conference to present peer-reviewed evidence on climate, such as:

Climate change is natural and recurrent. The human factor is small compared to that of the sun and other natural forces. There has been no overall global warming since 1998, and most local and regional warming trends have been offset by nearby cooling. One degree of net warming since 1900 (amid many temperature ups and downs) does not foreshadow a catastrophe. Recent glacial retreats, sea-level rise and migrations of temperature sensitive species are all within the bounds of known natural variability.

The best approach is to adapt, as our ancestors did. (Paul Driessen, ACUF)

Washington state sea levels could rise considerably by end of century - Melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, combined with other effects of global climate change, are likely to raise sea levels in parts of Western Washington by the end of this century, though geological forces will offset the rising water in some areas.

A new report suggests a moderate scenario is for sea levels on the Washington Coast and in the Puget Sound Basin to rise an average of 6 inches by 2050 and 14 inches by 2100.

The analysis, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Ecology, suggests that a worst-case scenario could raise sea levels in some places as much as 22 inches by 2050 and 50 inches -- more than 4 feet -- by 2100.

"We can't rule out higher rates of sea-level rise, but given what we know now they seem improbable," said Philip Mote, a UW research scientist and lead author of the analysis. Other authors are Spencer Reeder and Hugh Shipman of the Department of Ecology and Alexander Petersen and Lara Whitely Binder of the Climate Impacts Group.

The scenarios are based on projections for worldwide sea-level increases contained in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that this year shared the Nobel Peace Prize. Mote was a lead author for one chapter of the panel's report. (University of Washington)

South Florida firm plans Kyoto specialty - Speaking to 200 participants who gathered Thursday in Coral Gables for a conference on how to take advantage of global warming, a Greenberg Traurig executive described how the law firm had established a Climate Change Task Force to meet the growing needs of the business community.

John S. ''Chip'' Rainey, a member of the firm's Carbon Credits Group, said Greenberg Traurig envisioned a huge need for lawyers to be involved in virtually every aspect of the complex provisions worked out by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Miami Herald)

Sarkozy attacks EU carbon targets - Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has weighed into the controversy over the European Union's climate change plans with an attack on some proposals as "neither efficient, fair nor economically sustainable".

Just six months before France takes up the EU presidency, Mr Sarkozy has written to Commission president José Manuel Barroso to set out his objections to the plan for reducing carbon emissions to be published later this month. (Financial Times)

The End Of European Industry? - Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa, better known as ‘Sarko’, the French President, has more on his mind than singer/ex-model Carla Bruni, and former wives, Marie-Dominique Culioli and Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz. As the Financial Times reports (‘Sarkozy attacks EU carbon targets’, January 15), he is about to employ his now infamous Kärcher on the EU’s self-destructive and barmy emissions-trading scheme:

“Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, has weighed into the controversy over the European Union’s climate change plans with an attack on some proposals as ‘neither efficient, fair nor economically sustainable’. Just six months before France takes up the EU presidency, Mr Sarkozy has written to Commission president José Manuel Barroso to set out his objections to the plan for reducing carbon emissions to be published later this month.”

Above all in his letter, “... he warns that, as currently structured, the proposals could unfairly penalise France and would pose a real threat to European industry, which would be forced to move to countries where regulations were less restrictive and costly.” (Global Warming Politics)

Oh, so it's just a face-saving exercise? EU to Stick to Climate Plan Despite Rival Protests - BRUSSELS - The European Commission will spell out next week, over the din of protests from industry and governments as well as green groups, how it intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change.

At stake, as Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday, is Europe's credibility in claiming to lead the world in the fight against global warming. (Reuters)

Norway Says Aims to Go Carbon Neutral by 2030 - OSLO - Norway, which last year set what it called the world's most ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, said on Thursday it aimed to go "carbon neutral" in 2030, which is 20 years earlier than its previous target. (Reuters)

New chief scientist’s advice to Defra - Defra’s new chief scientific adviser Prof Robert Watson spoke about climate change at the Oxford Farming Conference. After his speech, WILLIAM SURMAN caught up with him and asked what sort of advice he would be giving Defra Secretary Hilary Benn.( Farmers Guardian)

British Gas Chief Says EU Must Make Polluters Pay - LONDON - Lawmakers must act now to end a scheme that has handed billions of euros in windfall profits to Europe's biggest polluters, the chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica said on Thursday.

Sam Laidlaw also said homeowners should expect a slight long-term rise in energy bills as power firms invest in the clean technologies needed to reduce CO2 emissions and combat climate change. (Reuters)

Britain Cool on Carbon Profit Claw Back Proposal - LONDON - Britain is focused on making power generators buy more permits to emit climate-warming gases, rather than taking back billions of pounds in windfall carbon profits from utilities, the government says.

Energy regulator Ofgem told UK finance minister Alistair Darling on Tuesday he could redistribute an estimated 9 billion pounds the energy sector stands to gain from trading carbon permits they got for free under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to help people struggling to pay their bills.

But the government seems unlikely to take back the fat profits to be made from the second stage of the ETS. Instead it wants the European Union to auction off, not give away, most of the credits for the third phase of the ETS. (Reuters)

Nuclear Fuel: Waste Not, Want Not - On the eve of the Nevada caucus, Democrats fall over each another opposing storage of the nation's nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain Repository. But is it really waste or the ultimate form of renewable energy? (IBD)

Unconventional natural gas reservoir in Pennsylvania poised to dramatically increase US Production - Natural gas distributed throughout the Marcellus black shale in northern Appalachia could conservatively boost proven U.S. reserves by trillions of cubic feet if gas production companies employ horizontal drilling techniques, according to a Penn State and State University of New York, Fredonia, team. (Penn State)

Siberian riches - With the population of 0.03 persons per square kilometre in some parts and temperatures plunging well below minus 50 degrees Celsius in the winter, East Siberia is Russia's next up-and-coming oil province.

In fact, developing the remote eastern lands -- formerly home to many of Russia's notorious Gulag labour camps -- is no longer a choice but a necessity, thanks to Russia's booming economy, growing exports obligations and colossal ambitions to become a truly global supplier of energy. The advancing maturity of the country's main producing fields in Western Siberia means that an alternative must be found before supply becomes a real issue.

East Siberia and the Russian Far East (RFE) rose on the government agenda rapidly, propelled primarily by geopolitical considerations. The region's proximity to the Asia-Pacific, tensions in energy relations with Europe and the resultant desire to diversify export outlets -- not least to raise its bargaining power with Europe -- have made East Siberia and the RFE the preferred candidate of the Russian government to succeed -- or better still, complement -- West Siberia. (The World Next Week)

China Drought Underlines Hydropower Reliance Risks - BEIJING - A major drought has squeezed electricity output at big dams across southwest China, highlighting the risks of Beijing's massive hydropower expansion plans on coal and oil markets in a warmer, drier world. (Reuters)

Down and dirty - IN THE world of environmental activism, there is a good rule of thumb. If an energy source comes out of the ground it is probably bad (think coal, oil, natural gas and, in the view of many, uranium). If it does not, then it is probably good (think wind, waves, solar and biofuels). But there is an exception. Even the most hair-shirted environmentalist finds it hard to argue against geothermal energy. When what comes out of the ground is merely hot water or steam there is, as it were, little to get steamed up about.

The problem is that traditional geothermal power relies on volcanism. Fine if you live in Iceland or New Zealand. Not so good in a geologically passive place such as Germany. Which is why Wulf Brandt, of the National Research Centre of Geosciences in Potsdam, has dug a deep hole in the ground at Gross Schönebeck, near Berlin. (Economist.com)

Top Ten Science Based Predictions that didn’t come true. - There’s an article in the New York Times pushing a something called “the five stages of climate grief” done by a professor at the University of Montana. This got me to thinking about the regular disaster forecasting that we see published in the media about what will happen due to climate change.

We’ve seen this sort of angst broadcast before, and it occurred to me that through history, a lot of ”predictions of certainty” with roots in scientifically based forecasts have not come true. That being the case, here is the list I’ve compiled of famous quotes and consensus from “experts”. (Watts Up With That?)

How’d we get here? If you’re confused about the latest statin and cholesterol news, this information may help... - Have you been confused about what to make of the ENHANCE trial tumult and the differing viewpoints from experts about whether or not statins save lives and if lowering cholesterol levels matter?

It’s certainly become widely believed that lowering our cholesterol levels is important to prevent heart disease and premature death — but is it?

It’s also popularly believed that statins are important for preventing premature deaths (whether or not they work by lowering cholesterol levels) — but are they?

How can we make informed, evidence-based, decisions or make sense of the conflicting things we've been hearing this week? (Junkfood Science)

Research Links New Virus to Rare Form of Skin Cancer - Scientists have discovered a new virus and strongly linked it with the most aggressive form of skin cancer, they reported in a scientific journal on Thursday.

The skin cancer, called Merkel cell carcinoma, tends to occur most often on the sun exposed areas of the body like the face, head and neck.

Although rare, the incidence of Merkel cell carcinoma tripled between 1986 and 2001, now accounting for an estimated 1,200 cases in this country each year, the National Cancer Institute says.

The team that discovered the new virus at the University of Pittsburgh includes Dr. Patrick S. Moore and his wife, Dr. Yuan Chang. They also discovered the Kaposi’s sarcoma virus (human herpes virus 8) in 1994 when they were at Columbia University.

Until the advent of transplant surgery and AIDS, Kaposi’s sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma typically affected people older than 65. Now both cancers occur much more commonly among transplant and AIDS patients, who have impaired immune systems, than among people without such medical problems.

The new virus belongs to the polyoma family, which scientists have studied for more than 50 years because other members of the family have been found to produce cancers in animals. Although polyoma viruses have been suspected of causing human cancers, conclusive proof has been lacking. The Pittsburgh scientists call the new virus Merkel cell polyoma virus.

In a report that Science magazine published online, the scientists said that while they suspect the polyoma virus causes Merkel cell skin cancer, more work is needed to prove it. (New York Times)

Team finds an economical way to boost the vitamin A content of maize - A team of plant geneticists and crop scientists has pioneered an economical approach to the selective breeding of maize that can boost levels of provitamin A, the precursors that are converted to vitamin A upon consumption. This innovation could help to enhance the nutritional status of millions of people in the developing world. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Europe voices ethical doubts over 'Frankenfood' - BRUSSELS — A European report voicing ethical misgivings over cloned animal products on Thursday fuelled a growing debate in the EU on "frankenfood", despite approvals granted this week by US food authorities.

"Considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams (mothers) and animal clones, the EGE has doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified," the European Group on Ethics in science and new technologies (EGE) said in an opinion delivered to the European Commission.

The EU-endorsed group added that it "does not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring", in its opinion made public Thursday after being delivered to EU authorities late Wednesday. (AFP)

January 17, 2008

The one to watch in 2008 - Malaria kills thousands each day, mainly in the world's poorest countries. At a research centre in Mozambique, the work of one man, Pedro Alonso, offers hope

Westerners travelling to work in malarial regions used to be told that there was only one way to avoid catching the mosquito-borne disease: don't get bitten. It was by no means a foolproof method, but at least wealthy expats could afford preventative medicine and proper treatment if infected by the parasite. These, however, are not easily available options for many of the 500 million people in developing countries who catch malaria every year. Estimates vary, but somewhere between one and two and a half million of those die.

The statistics make a ghastly roll-call: more than 90 per cent of fatal cases are children under five. Most of these are in Africa, where roughly 2,000 children die from the disease every day. No wonder that ten years ago the World Health Organisation declared the mosquito "public health enemy number one".

If there is one man who provides hope in the long fight against malaria, which is spreading out of the tropics through a combination of increased travel and trade and, possibly, global warming, it is Pedro Alonso. The director of the Bar celona Centre for International Health Research is a modest man. He insists that he has "just been one of many". Nevertheless, he is the public face of a project in Mozambique that has made the prospect of eliminating malaria appear tantalisingly within our grasp. (New Statesman)

Revulsion theatre: using horror to “make you” change your ways - Trying to gross you out or terrorize you about fat are the latest side show efforts to make people feel disgusted by fat people and for their own bodies, and to scare them about "bad" foods. Crudeness is not how trusted medical providers care for people, but it does create attention for “celebrity” chefs. The same young chef who electrocuted a chicken to scare people about eating things he doesn’t believe are good for children is now behind televising an autopsy — the distasteful content reportedly to “make people change their eating habits.” (Junkfood Science)

Cholesterol as a Danger Has Skeptics - For decades, the theory that lowering cholesterol is always beneficial has been a core principle of cardiology. It has been accepted by doctors and used by drug makers to win quick approval for new medicines to reduce cholesterol.

But now some prominent cardiologists say the results of two recent clinical trials have raised serious questions about that theory — and the value of two widely used cholesterol-lowering medicines, Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin. Other new cholesterol-fighting drugs, including one that Merck hopes to begin selling this year, may also require closer scrutiny, they say. (New York Times)

Yet more classical scaremongering nonsense (Number Watch)

Fun science facts: What do people really know about science? - The new report “Science and Engineering Indicators 2008” has just been released. This is that biannual report by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Science Resources Statistics under the National Science Board that reveals the state of science education, research and development trends, health of the science and technology industry, and the understanding of science among children and adults in the United States. The chapter on public attitudes and understandings about science and health always offers interesting surprises about what people think. (Junkfood Science)

Reporting or marketing? It really is possible to tell the difference... - All too often, journalism today is little more than marketing copy. How many reporters cite original source materials, investigate the evidence behind the claims, reveal the conflicts of interest of the experts they quote, or present a balanced viewpoint? Practically none, especially when it comes to obesity. Writing that elicits an emotional response on this issue, rather than objectively reports the facts, has become so widespread that many readers and editors have become numb to the manipulations.

Can you identify how many things were not revealed in this story and how words and images were used to steer your emotions? (Junkfood Science)

Out of business: the country’s largest weight loss chain - Amidst the nonstop diet and weight loss commercials that are besieging us this month with unprecedented intensity, have you noticed the silence from the country’s largest weight loss chain? For years, you couldn’t turn on the television without seeing an ad for LA Weight Loss Centers — the corporate-owned outlets renamed 'Pure Weight Loss' last year.

But that's no more, because Pure Weight Loss, Inc. (formerly LA Weight Loss Centers) based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, went out of business on January 4th — shutting down all 400 corporate centers across the country — and leaving countless numbers of consumers high and dry. Unsuspecting customers had prepaid unfathomable amounts of money for expensive weight loss products, diet bars and “nutrition” supplements... money they aren’t likely to ever see. (Junkfood Science)

The world according to Jim - Hansen claims 2007 was the equal second warmest in history but which data is he using? He has published global mean temperature anomalies for December 2007 of +0.39 to +0.6. Everyone else seems to think the world has cooled since 1998 yet Hansen claims it’s a tie. Why? (JunkScience.com blog)

Low system heralds return of Big Wet - A MONSOONAL low that battered an inland town with the ferocity of a mini-cyclone and caused at least $12 million worth of damage across north Queensland was hailed by a senior forecaster yesterday as heralding a return to the traditional Big Wet.

After wreaking havoc in Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Townsville, the volatile tropical low headed southwest, picked up intensity and slammed the historic mining town of Charters Towers late on Tuesday afternoon with winds up to 96km/h.

The system dumped almost 200mm of rain in two hours and more than 60 homes and businesses were flooded in the town, which lies 100km southwest of Townsville.

Bureau of Meteorology severe weather expert Jeff Callaghan said it was unusual for a tropical low to increase intensity while travelling so far inland.

"Usually they weaken after they cross the coast," Mr Callaghan said.

"This was a very intense system. If it had remained out to sea, it would have developed into a severe cyclone."

He said the weather that had dumped huge amounts of rain over vast areas of Queensland in the past week signalled the start of a pattern not seen since 1977, when drought-causing El Nino events began to become the norm.

"This is the sort of weather we had right through the 1950s and through to the mid-1970s," he said. (The Australian)

It remains to be seen whether we are witnessing a Pacific phase shift back to the regime that held through the great cooling scare. Early indications are promising.

Climate Science has Moved and is Back Online! - We have moved our weblog to a new private host and we are back up and running. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Our new link is http://climatesci.org (Climate Science)

Discuss this in the blog: New test for developers in Maine: climate change - A plan to build thousands of new homes next to a lake in Maine’s north woods faces an environmental test that may one day challenge developers nationwide: What’s the carbon footprint of a new subdivision or land development?

At hearings last month, Maine environmentalists unveiled for state regulators what is being called a first-in-the-nation study of the greenhouse-gas emissions expected from a huge development planned for Maine’s Moosehead Lake. Some observers call it a new front in an emerging battle between environmentalists and developers that started in California two years ago.

The Failure of Climate Change Economics - In 1896, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius developed a theory to explain the likely impact of burning coal on the climate.  Arrhenius claimed that, due to human activity, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase, creating an "enhanced" greenhouse effect.  His theory did not enjoy consensus in his time, but the scientific community today agrees that human beings are responsible for the present global warming trend.  Why, then, has the United States not signed on to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international document that established legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with targets determined on a country-by-country basis? (Matthew Thomas Clement, Monthly Review)

Oh, it's the pine beetles' fault: Prince George to send warm water into river to ease ice jam - Prince George has been given the go-ahead to pump warm water into the Nechako River with the aim of loosening an ice jam that has caused widespread flooding in the city for five weeks.

Clean discharge water heated to 15 degrees from steam plants belonging to Canfor pulp mills on the northern outskirts of the city will be pumped into the river as soon as possible, said city spokesman Don Schaffer.

Approval for the plan came from the Provincial Emergency Program, he said. The estimated cost for the project is $500,000.

He said that the temperature was only four degrees warmer than the current temperature of the river and would therefore have little impact on resident sturgeon and bull trout.

A second plan, to run an amphibious excavator - a digging machine that is adapted to work in water - that would sit in the river, carve out ice, and move it to a stretch of open water on the nearby Fraser River was also given approval by the PEP, Mr. Schaffer said.

The unseasonably warm temperatures of the past week have resulted in open water on the Fraser River, creating an opportunity that did not exist earlier to move ice out of the Nechako. (Globe and Mail)

Hubbard Glacier refuses to fade away - As you read this, a rogue glacier is again threatening a small town.

Hubbard Glacier crept to within a football-field distance of ramming into Gilbert Point last June, and some scientists say that a spring 2008 closure of Russell Fiord “may be eminent.” Roman Motyka, a research professor with the University of Alaska Southeast and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, gives Hubbard a 50-50 chance of plugging the entrance to Russell Fiord this spring.

Hubbard Glacier dips its tongue into salt water about 40 miles north of Yakutat, Alaska, home to about 600 people. Fed by fields of ice so immense that the glacier will rumble forward regardless of how warm the planet gets in the near future, Hubbard Glacier made headlines in 2002 when it bulldozed gravel into Gilbert Point, pinching off Russell Fiord’s link to the sea and creating the largest glacier-dammed lake in the world. Before the gravel dam broke, water within the lake rose more than eight inches each day and threatened to spill into a world-class steelhead stream near Yakutat.

Hubbard Glacier has been thickening and advancing since scientists first measured it in 1895. After the glacier dammed the fiord in 1986, the new Russell Lake rose 83 feet above sea level before the ice-and-gravel dam broke. In 2002, Russell Lake reached 49 feet above sea level before the dam burst and the water rejoined the ocean with a flood 30 percent greater than the largest measured flow of the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge. (Alaska Science Forum)

It’s Water Vapour, Stupid - An extremely important and challenging paper, ‘Coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere and its significance to the Earth’s climate system’, has just been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (Vol. 112, 2007: doi:10.1029/2007JD008431). The paper is by Paul R. Ferguson and the eminent, Professor Ján Veizer, of the Department of Earth Sciences and Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, University of Ottawa, Canada. (Global Warming Politics)

Whoops! Those Darned Climate Models Just Don’t Work - What will the world look like in a century? Imagine asking that question in 1900. And in 1800. The world would have changed in so many dramatic ways, that any economic and environmental predictions would have been worthless.

That’s the problem that we face with the climate doomsayers. They can spin out scenarios day after day, but there is little reason to believe the underlying economic and other assumptions.

So far the computer models have proved inadequate to the task. More research has come forth demonstrating that the models predict more warming than we have so far seen. If they can’t get the last three decades right, why does anyone believe that they will get multiple decades, or longer, in the future right? (Doug Bandow, CEI)

Hmm... Climate change, global economy among top priorities for 2008: UNDP chief - 16 January 2008 – Climate change and the world economy are among the top development priorities for this year, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced today in New York. (UN News)

... either these are mutually exclusive goals or he means they are going to concentrate on hyping the phantom menace in order to destroy the world economy.

Even the cheapest global warming bill ain't cheap - A report released yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be opening some eyes to the true costs and ultimate ineffectiveness of proposed domestic legislation to fight global warming.

The study is an analysis of the economic impact of New Mexico Democratic senator Jeff Bingaman’s version of climate legislation. It is important to note that Bingaman's bill is widely considered to be the least stringent climate bill, with less aggressive carbon-emission-reduction targets than any other proposal. Even so, the EPA estimates that Bingaman’s bill would cause gas prices to rise 22 cents per gallon by 2030 and 57 cents per gallon by 2050. In addition, it would spark a 19-percent rise in electricity prices by 2030 ticking up to 21 percent by 2050. All told, Bingaman’s legislation would cut between 0.5 percent and 1.4 percent ($124 billion to $370 billion) from the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. (Sterling Burnett, Planet Gore)

Taxi Industry Questions Safety Of Switching to Hybrid Vehicles - Taxi industry officials are calling dangerous Mayor Bloomberg's plan to quickly replace Ford's Crown Victoria vehicles with fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

Of the nine hybrid models approved by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, not one meets the safety, durability, and comfort standards of the industry's most popular vehicle, the bulky, gas-guzzling Crown Victoria, the officials say.

The most frequently employed hybrid model on the street today, the Ford Escape, last year received a three-star rollover rating from a federal review agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Crown Victoria was awarded the maximum five stars, beating out all of the hybrid competitors that have been tested. (New York Sun)

Texas Is Biggest Carbon Polluter - (AUSTIN, Texas) — Everything's big in Texas — big pickup trucks, big SUVs and the state's big carbon footprint, too.

Texans' fondness for large, manly vehicles has helped make the Lone Star State the biggest carbon polluter in the nation.

The headquarters state of America's oil industry spewed 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2003, enough that Texas would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The amount is more than that of California and Pennsylvania — the second- and third-ranking states — combined. (AP)

Except atmospheric carbon dioxide is not pollution.

UN Climate Head Welcomes Marshall Plan Climate Fund - LONDON - UN climate chief Yvo de Boer on Wednesday hailed as a "Marshall Plan" for climate change news that the United States will set up a multi-billion dollar fund to help developing nations acquire clean power technologies. (Reuters)

Detroit Wants Industries Looked at on Climate - DETROIT - With stricter US rules in place to sharply improve gas mileage and reduce tailpipe emissions, domestic automakers now want Washington to look elsewhere for help in achieving climate change goals. (Reuters)

Climate plans spark EU job fears - Trade unions and business leaders say EU plans to cut carbon emissions could harm European jobs and industry.

The European Trade Union Confederation fears up to 50,000 steelworkers' jobs could go if their industry moves to areas with lower costs for polluters.

And lobby group BusinessEurope says companies will lose competitiveness if they are forced to buy all their rights to emit carbon dioxide. (BBC)

EU's Barroso Hits Back at Critics of Climate Plan - STRASBOURG, France - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hit back on Wednesday at criticism from member states and industry of planned radical proposals to fight climate change and save energy. (Reuters)

EU wants Germany to double clean energy output: report - (FRANKFURT) - The European Commission wants Germany to double the percentage of renewable energy in its overall consumption to 18 percent by 2020, a press report said, quoting EU diplomatic sources.

The European Union's executive branch wants France to raise its share of energy produced by solar, wind and other clean power generating methods to 23 percent over the next 12 years, the daily Handelsblatt said. (EUbusiness)

Biofuels, BP-Berkeley, and the New Ecological Imperialism - British Petroleum, Beyond Petroleum . . . Biofuel Promoter, Biosphere Plunderer. Regardless of what the BP abbreviation actually stands for, one thing is clear: this oil giant knows a good deal when it sees one. For a relatively small financial contribution, BP appropriates academic expertise from a leading public research institution, founded on 200 years of social support, to maximize its return on energy investments. These investments, in turn, are focused primarily on promoting the market for biofuel, the newest darling of those in power who stimulate change while maintaining "business as usual." This means working-class people in the core developed countries will subsidize the extraction of even more ecological goods from the developing world to serve elites, who never mind taking food out of the mouths of people to put gold in their pockets. Socializing the costs for private economic gain is not a new phenomenon in the capitalist system. However, this case represents a new twist in the combination of debunked science, ecological imperialism, and the sophistry of "sustainable development." (Hannah Holleman and Rebecca Clausen, Monthly Review)

Editorial: No more energy favors, please - WASHINGTON - Huge energy price increases account for almost all of terrible new inflation numbers that came out yesterday, and federal lawmakers deserve much of the blame. The Labor Department said wholesale prices rose 6.3 percent in 2007, the largest jump in 26 years. “Core” inflation (excluding food and energy) rose just 2 percent, but a whopping 18.4 percent jump in energy prices pushed the overall rate sky-high. It is true that a large part of the problem today stems from increasing international demand combined with a weak dollar. But the big congressional energy bill of 2005 unnecessarily made the problem far worse. In April 2005, when gasoline prices were at what now seems like a bargain at $2.20 per gallon, analyst Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation warned that the energy bill then moving through Congress would be a disaster. Boy, he got that right. (The Washington DC Examiner)

New Fields May Offset Oil Drop - Output from the world's existing oil fields is declining at a rate of about 4.5% annually, a new study concludes, depriving the world of the same amount of oil that No. 4 producer Iran supplies in a year.

Yet the study's authors, Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, argue that their assessment supports a generally rosy view of the industry's future, given that new projects in the works will make up for the decline.

Set for release today, the study, based on data from 811 fields around the world, takes aim at a growing school of thought that the world's oil production may soon hit its peak just as demand is surging in Asia and the Middle East.

"This study supports a view that there is no impending short-term peak in global oil production," the paper concludes. CERA, led by oil historian Daniel Yergin, is a prominent adviser to oil companies. (Wall Street Journal)

Solar Industry Faces More Supply, Falling Prices - LOS ANGELES - The booming solar power sector is about to get squeezed by the age-old laws of supply and demand.

Solar energy companies are scrambling to ramp up production amid skyrocketing interest in renewable energy, but the pendulum is swinging quickly toward oversupply. (Reuters)

BA uses own jets to examine effect of air travel on climate - British Airways aircraft are to be used to gather data about the hidden impact of air travel on climate change in research that could result in much higher environmental surcharges on tickets than expected.

The airline is supporting research by the University of Cambridge into the warming effects of condensation trails, nitrogen dioxide and other aircraft emissions. (Ben Webster, London Times)

Green advisers dismiss nuclear plans as 'megafix' solution - Two of the UK's chief green advisers yesterday launched a ferocious attack on government saying the national fight against climate change will be hindered by the decision to encourage nuclear power. (The Guardian) | A blatant failure of moral vision | Overthrow of New King Coal

Scientists outraged by GE tree vandalism - The Life Sciences Network has condemned the actions of "eco-terrorists" who broke into a genetically engineered tree trial on Monday.

Crown research institute Scion's base in Rotorua was breached and around 20 pine trees chopped down in an apparent protest.

Scion, which is a member of LSN, had been studying how 80 radiata pine and Norway spruce trees reproduce.

A hole was dug under the fence and a spade with a GE Free New Zealand sticker was left behind. (NZPA)

Many US consumers oblivious to GM food fears - Concerns over genetically modified foods have failed to make much impact in the United States, where consumers and the US media are less fired up about the issue than in Europe, activists say.

Dr Michael Hansen, a biologist with the major New York-based Consumers Union, says the media doesn't talk about GM issues and there is more apathy in the US.

"When the public is asked in the survey, a high percentage wants food labels," he said.

"They just don't realise the extent to which certain food such as corn or soybean are genetically engineered, and often they have not heard of any of these food safety concerns." (AFP)

January 16, 2008

Amalgams pose no risk to human health, EU report - LONDON - Amalgam fillings for teeth, containing mercury, pose no health risk to the human nervous system, an EU scientific committee said on Tuesday.

The opinion supports arguments by some dentists and governments, who have said the material is safer and more durable than alternatives. But the results caused a stir among patients' organizations who argue amalgam is dangerous, because of the known side effects of mercury.

"The facts do not add up -- mercury is the third most toxic poison in the world and we are still putting it in people's mouths," said Becky Dutton of patient organization Mercury Madness.

The EU said it had investigated claims of a link between amalgams and a variety of systemic conditions, particularly neurological and psychological or psychiatric effects.

"It is concluded however, that no risks of adverse systemic effects exist and the current use of dental amalgam does not pose a risk of systemic disease," it said. (Reuters)

Reading the evidence closely — statins for seniors - Recent news has reported that new research offers evidence for the benefits of taking statins for the elderly and for women — two groups of people in which statins have been especially controversial and not widely prescribed. Today, we’ll look at this new study on the use of statins in seniors.

To help us make the soundest health decisions for ourselves or a loved one, it’s first crucial to understand how clinical studies are reported. Oftentimes, the way results are reported don’t mean what we think they do. (Junkfood Science)

America's Poor Scientific Literacy - Don’t worry about that sound. It’s just the ghost of C.P. Snow lamenting the persistent gulf between what he long ago labeled the two cultures — science and the rest of learning. The latest survey results have just come out on what laymen know about science, and the picture, mainly concerning Americans, is not pretty. But on the bright side, though most of us know relatively little about it, we generally like it.

The survey results are in a big report, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2008,” issued biennially by the National Science Board, the policy-making body of the U.S. National Science Foundation, which bankrolls university research outside of the medical sciences. The report states that some of the data “are subject to numerous sources of error and should be treated with caution” — rare candor in the survey business. With that understood, we can take a swing through the findings: (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Plague: a growing but overlooked threat -- study - LONDON - Plague, the disease that devastated medieval Europe, is re-emerging worldwide and poses a growing but overlooked threat, researchers warned on Tuesday.

While it has only killed some 100 to 200 people annually over the past 20 years, plague has appeared in new countries in recent decades and is now shifting into Africa, Michael Begon, an ecologist at the University of Liverpool and colleagues said.

The bacterium known as Yersinia pestis causes bubonic plague, known in medieval times as the Black Death, is spread by the bite of infected fleas that live on rats. Pneumonic plague, also cause by Y. pestis, is spread from one person to another through coughing or sneezing.

"Although the number of human cases of plague is relatively low, it would be a mistake to overlook its threat to humanity, because of the disease's inherent communicability, rapid spread, rapid clinical course, and high mortality if left untreated," they wrote in the journal Public Library of Science journal PloS Medicine.

Rodents carry plague, which is virtually impossible to wipe out and moves through the animal world as a constant threat to humans, Begon said. Both forms can kill within days if not treated with antibiotics. (Reuters)

Poor sanitation kills 5,000 children a day: report - LONDON - Five thousand children die every day globally because they do not have access to clean toilets, health experts said on Tuesday.

Wealthy governments and donors could make a huge impact on global health by making sanitation a priority, representatives from a coalition of 60 health groups said.

They estimated that 40 percent of the world's people do not have access to clean and safe toilets.

"It is about generating political will, and we also want to see is a real mobilization around sanitation in the aid system," said Henry Northover of WaterAid, which founded the coalition End Water Poverty. (Reuters)

A Coffin for Rabies - On June 26, 2007, a dog walked into Lupiro, a small village in southern Tanzania. It bit eight people and 11 other dogs before anyone managed to kill it. It had rabies or, as the French call it, la rage.

Neither of the nearby hospitals had any vaccine. The closest place with a supply was a private clinic in Dar es Salaam — a 9-hour drive away. The clinic had enough for a full course — five doses — of vaccine for two people, or a single dose for each person. It would be $40 per dose. In Tanzania, the average income per person is just $340 a year, and Lupiro is in one of the poorest regions.

Exposure to rabies requires immediate treatment: the first dose of vaccine should be taken the day you are bitten; every hour counts. Full treatment requires the four remaining doses to be taken, on a schedule, over the course of the month. In addition, if it’s available, rabies immunoglobulin — antibodies that can attack the virus at once — should be injected at the wound. For although not all bites from a rabid animal lead to infection, you won’t know if you’ve been infected or not. If you have been, and you do not get treatment, you will die: rabies is fatal. And it is a horrible death. (Olivia Judson, New York Times)

Hooray! Some skepticism in The Guardian: Did a pair of twins really get married by mistake? - So you're sitting in the pub and your nice-but-naive friend says: "Hey, I heard the most amazing story the other day. There were these twins, right, a boy and a girl, who were separated at birth and adopted by different families. And, like, years later, by an amazing coincidence, they meet. And fall madly in love, and get married. Straight up! Then, obviously, they find out they're actually brother and sister. And it all has to be annulled, and they're just devastated. It's the ultimate nightmare. Can you imagine?"

Assuming your brain is still functioning like the well-oiled piece of precision engineering it is, your response would, I trust, be: "That's a wind-up if ever I heard one. Think about it for a minute - you mean these two meet by accident, discover not only that they were both adopted but were born on exactly the same day in exactly the same town, and still never pause to wonder whether they might be related? Pull the other one. What did it say on their birth certificates?" (Jon Henley, The Guardian)

Coco loco - When Jennifer Aniston was spotted with a shopping trolley full of coconut oil, the manufacturers of this little-used fat must have jumped for joy. Coconut oil has had a bad press because of its high saturated-fat content, but devotees claim it is misunderstood. It is heart-healthy and fantastic for weight loss, they say, because it speeds up the metabolism. It is also cholesterol-free and - according to some of the wilder proponents - can cure anything from candida to cancer. The coconut is being touted as the health food of 2008, but a closer look at the science behind the claims highlights the hyperbole that is rife in the "superfoods" industry. Can the answer to all modern ills really be found up a palm tree? (The Guardian)

Global Advances Challenge U.S. Dominance in Science - The United States remains the world leader in scientific and technological innovation, but its dominance is threatened by economic development elsewhere, particularly in Asia. (New York Times)

Green “Disparate Impact”: Ugly and selfish realities. - Environmentalists often talk as if they are trying to save the last few patches of greenery from being paved over, when in fact 90 percent of the land in the United States is undeveloped and forests alone cover more area than all the cities and towns in the country combined.

Behind much of the lofty and pretty talk are some ugly and selfish realities.

Greenland thaw biggest in 50 years - report - OSLO - Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday.

"We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws.

"The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 metres, a process that would take centuries if it were to start.

Melt water from Greenland -- excluding ice losses from glaciers slipping into the sea -- totalled 453 cubic kms in 1998, the most ahead of 2003, 2006, 1995 and 2002 in detailed records stretching back to the 1950s.

Preliminary data showed that 2007 would rank second or third highest and confirm the last decade as the biggest melt, said Edward Hanna of England's University of Sheffield who led the study with colleagues in Belgium, the United States and Denmark.

So far, the water runoff has been largely offset by rising snowfalls in Greenland that may also be a side-effect of climate change. Even freezing air can hold more moisture, and so deliver more snow, if it gets slightly less chilly.

But continued warming could threaten an irreversible meltdown. The report noted that typical climate models pointed to a warming for Greenland of 4-5 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 9 Fahrenheit) by 2100. (Reuters)

There is no known significance to PlayStation® 'predictions' and while there may indeed have been some increased recent melt there was also increased snowfall, with little net result. I ran a GCAG HadCRUT2v plot for the region Longitude: -85 to -25, Latitude: 85 to 60 with the suggestion there is a long-term warming with a trend of [drum roll, please] Trend: 0.05°C/decade. So, if it continued for 1,000 years (some hope) it might deliver the warming they claim for 100.

And when do we think was the greatest period of Greenland ice melt in recent history? Probably in the 1920s and 1930s:

Remote sensing of Greenland ice sheet using multispectral near-infrared and visible radiances - Abstract: We present the physical basis of and validate a new remote-sensing algorithm that utilizes reflected visible and near-infrared radiation to discriminate between dry and wet snow. When applied to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data, our discrimination algorithm has the potential to retrieve melting regions of the ice sheet at a spatial resolution of 0.25 km2, over three orders of magnitude higher than the resolution of current microwave methods. The method should be useful for long-term monitoring of the melt area of the Greenland ice sheet, especially regions close to ice sheet margins and of the outflow glaciers. Our analysis of MODIS retrievals of the western portion of the Greenland ice sheet over the period 2000 to 2006 indicates significant interannual variability with a maximum melt extent in 2005. Collocated in situ meteorological data reveal a high correlation (0.80) between the MODIS melt-day area and the average summer temperature. Our analysis suggests that it is the magnitude of the summer temperature that dominates the melting (not the variability of the length of the melting season). Furthermore, we find that the melt-day area increases by about 3.8% for each 0.1 K increase in the average surface air summer temperature. We combine this empirical relationship with historic temperature data to infer that the melt-day area of the western part of the ice sheet doubled between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s and that the largest ice sheet surface melting probably occurred between 1920s and 1930s, concurrent with the warming in that period. (Petr Chylek, M. McCabe and M. K. Dubey, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 112, D24S20, doi:10.1029/2007JD008742, 2007)

Mapping of Greenland may aid understanding of sea-level mystery - A University of Alberta Arctic ice researcher is closing in on some real understanding about the process that might be feeding rising sea levels. (University of Alberta)

This is actually a pretty good piece, note the tag: "We are asking if it is actually true that the amount and extent of melting in Greenland has increased over the period of interest and, in particular, is it increasing in the places where it looks as if the flow of the glacier has been sped up," said Sharp.

Haifa University study: Local rainfall stats defy global warming fears - Despite warnings that global warming is already impacting precipitation quantities, local rainfall statistics have remained essentially unchanged in the 60 years they have been tracked.

"While models project gloom and doom for climate change, field observation of rainfall indicates a grayer stability," according to Haifa University's Noam Halfon. The institute's geography department recently completed research that found no substantial change in rainfall quantities. (Haaretz)

Sun drives carbon levels via water cycle? Coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere and its significance to the Earth's climate system - Abstract: Terrestrial water vapor fluxes represent one of the largest movements of mass and energy in the Earth's outer spheres, yet the relative contributions of abiotic water vapor fluxes and those that are regulated solely by the physiology of plants remain poorly constrained. By interpreting differences in the oxygen-18 and deuterium content of precipitation and river water, a methodology was developed to partition plant transpiration (T) from the evaporative flux that occurs directly from soils and water bodies (E d ) and plant surfaces (I n ). The methodology was applied to fifteen large watersheds in North America, South America, Africa, Australia, and New Guinea, and results indicated that approximately two thirds of the annual water flux from the “water-limited” ecosystems that are typical of higher-latitude regions could be attributed to T. In contrast to “water-limited” watersheds, where T comprised 55% of annual precipitation, T in high-rainfall, densely vegetated regions of the tropics represented a smaller proportion of precipitation and was relatively constant, defining a plateau beyond which additional water input by precipitation did not correspond to higher T values. In response to variable water input by precipitation, estimates of T behaved similarly to net primary productivity, suggesting that in conformity with small-scale measurements, the terrestrial water and carbon cycles are inherently coupled via the biosphere. Although the estimates of T are admittedly first-order, they offer a conceptual perspective on the dynamics of energy exchange between terrestrial systems and the atmosphere, where the carbon cycle is essentially driven by solar energy via the water cycle intermediary. (Paul R. Ferguson and Ján Veizer, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 112, D24S06, doi:10.1029/2007JD008431, 2007)

Changing climate 'is leading to rougher seas' - Climate change is having a significant impact on the health of the seas surrounding Britain, says a new report.

Rising seas, bigger waves, flooding, and more violent storms are already happening as temperatures increase.

2006 was the second-warmest year in UK coastal waters since records began in 1870 and seven of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the last decade, according to the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report card 2007-08.

The report attempts to assess how much climate change has affected the UK's marine environment and what the consequences may be in the future.

Coastal erosion, which already affects 17 per cent of the UK coastline is expected to increase and more powerful seas will have a major impact on commercial operations in ports and shipping while coastal buildings will be more vulnerable to damage. (London Telegraph)

When hasn't coastal erosion been an issue in the UK?

Global Warming Hysteria in The West Australian: A Note from Roger Underwood - Over the last 6 months, readers of The West Australian newspaper have been subjected to a barrage of hysteria over global warming. Very bad news stories of one kind or another are published almost every day, all with the common theme that civilisation as we know it is about to be destroyed.

Some of these stories are simply laughable, like the article asserting that a rise in temperature of 1-2 degrees will result in the extinction of the karri forest. Another reported that rising sea levels (caused by global warming) will, amongst other calamities, lead to a killer increase in salinity in the Swan River. Many readers were surprised by this, since the Swan River is a tidal estuary in its lower reaches, and is fed by the salt-laden Avon River in its upper reaches.

Day after day The West Australian delivers stories unequivocally foretelling the melting of ice caps and glaciers, death of forests, disease outbreaks, the collapse of agriculture, social disruption, loss of coastal communities and beaches, catastrophic storms, floods, droughts and bushfires. All of this is based on an unquestioning acceptance of the theory that human-induced CO2 emissions are causing the world to heat up, and an unquestioning belief in the link between projected warming and ghastly consequences. (JenniferMarohasy.com)

Green tax a state cash cow - The tax minister admits that CO2 levy is solely in place to fill state treasury

Companies and private consumers will continue paying an annual DKK 2.6 billion in greenhouse gas taxes despite already paying a similar levy to the EU.

Amid harsh criticism from businesses, private consumers and government ally the Danish People's Party, Kristian Jensen, the tax minister, openly admitted that the greenhouse gas levy was a source of income for the state and no longer an environmental measure. (The Copenhagen Post)

US House's Dingell Hopes to Draft Climate Bill Soon - DETROIT - The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, said Tuesday he hoped to draft climate change legislation as soon as possible. (Reuters)

EU Business Blasts Planned CO2 Emissions Auction - BRUSSELS - Europe's top business lobby attacked on Tuesday European Commission plans for implementing deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, saying that auctioning pollution permits could hurt industry in global competition. (Reuters)

ROMANIA: Fighting for the 'Right' to More Emissions - BUCHAREST, Jan 15 - Following the example of seven other countries from Central and Eastern Europe that joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, Romania and Bulgaria, the newest members, have sued the European Commission (EC) for lowering their national caps for carbon dioxide emissions.

Echoing arguments used by the other states, the Romanian government claims that the difference between the proposed national plan for allocation of emissions for 2008-2012 and the cap allowed by the EC is "discriminatory" and will stifle development of industry. (IPS)

European Union countries fighting over share-out for cutting greenhouse gas emissions; Environment Commissioner now says some biofuels do more harm than good - European Union countries are fighting for national interest within days of the Commission publishing the country-by-country targets share-out for cutting greenhouse emissions.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is in disarray after the Environment Commissioner in effect admitted that a biofuel production target was a naïve response to demands of some environment campaigners, without an appreciation of the consequences. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas now says that some biofuels do more harm than good for the environment.

The issue is an illustration of the damage politicians can cause to the efforts to respond to climate change. The recent case in Ireland of the announcement of a ban on incandescent light bulbs from January 2009, to provide political spin at the December Bali Climate Change Conference, is a local example. Full "consultation" is now beginning but Minister for the Environment John Gormley cannot say if the ban will include fridge light bulbs! (Finfacts)

EU Lawmakers Seek More Time for Car CO2 Cuts - STRASBOURG, France - Automakers should be given more time to cut carbon dioxide emissions from their cars under legislation proposed by the European Union's executive arm to slow climate change, EU lawmakers said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

'Cavalier' construction undermining government's green message - Whitehall departments are undermining government attempts to encourage people to take climate change seriously, MPs said today.

A report by the Commons public accounts committee accused some departments of taking a cavalier approach to the environment and ignoring sustainability checks on building projects.

Almost two-thirds of new constructions and one in four big refurbishments were not assessed for their environmental impact, and just 9% overall had met the required "excellent" standard.

MPs blamed pressure to achieve short-term cost cuts for the failure to make buildings more green-friendly and achieve long-term savings. (Guardian Unlimited)

From CO2 Science this week:
Editorial:

On Potential Responses of Corals to Global Warming: To hear climate alarmists speak (and to read what they write), one might think that the only viable option corals possess in a warming world is the non-viable one of dieing. However ...

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Bol'shoi Avam River, Putoran Plateau, North Central Siberia, Russia. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Coral Reef History (General): What do we learn about the fragility/tenacity of earth's coral reefs from a study of their history over geologic time?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Adsuki Bean, Annual Ragweed, Garden Pea, and Great Ragweed.

Journal Reviews:
Global Sea Level: What is it doing? And why?: Some serious roadblocks to unlocking the answers to these questions are methodically being removed.

Southeastern United States Hurricanes: Shining a Light on Their Positive Side: Not everything associated with the feared storms is bad.

Elevated CO2 Primes the Ocean's Biological Carbon Pump: Just as it does for land plants, so also does atmospheric CO2 enrichment enhance the photosynthetic rates of oceanic phytoplankton, leading to a greater transfer of carbon from the surface of the global ocean to the sea's abyssal sediments.

The Potential for "Symbiont Shuffling" in Corals: A new investigative technique provides evidence for the veracity of a postulated mechanism by which corals may survive high-temperature-induced bleaching.

The Functioning of Symbiodinium Clade A and B Algae in Giant Sea Anemones: What does it reveal about the potential for "symbiont shuffling" in corals?

Hot Springs, SDTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Hot Springs, SD. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Hot Springs' mean annual temperature has cooled by 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! (co2science.org)

Warming Threat Used to Thwart Coal Power Plants - Today the Associated Press examines how environmental activists are engaged in an unprecedented push to prevent utilities from building new coal-fired power plants, because of the threat from global warming: (Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch)

Green Groups Sue Ottawa Over Refinery Assessment - CALGARY, Alberta - Environmental groups are suing the Canadian government and Irving Oil Ltd, alleging the federal environmental assessment planned for a proposed C$7 billion (US$6.9 billion) refinery in New Brunswick is too limited, their legal defense fund said Monday. (Reuters)

Gesture politics: Ontario to approve Great Lakes wind power - Ontario is preparing to lift a controversial moratorium on the development of offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes that has been in place for nearly 14 months, the Toronto Star has learned.

A Ministry of Natural Resources official says the department is "getting ready" to make an announcement and that new minister Donna Cansfield is "anxious to demonstrate leadership in the area." (Toronto Star)

Germany, Spain Warn EU on Renewables Plan - BRUSSELS - Germany and Spain have warned the European Commission that an ambitious plan to boost the use of renewable energy sources, due to be unveiled next week, could be counter-productive and wreck existing successful schemes. (Reuters)

Fifty times more wind turbines by 2020 - Britain will have to install six times more wind turbines on land and 50 times more wind turbines at sea by the end of the next decade under rules to be announced by Brussels next week.

Experts say that EU's country-by-country share-out of targets for renewables will mean that Britain has to generate nearly 40 per cent of its electricity by renewable means to help tackle global warming.

This is because the mandatory target which EU sources say Britain will face is 13-14 per cent of total energy use to come from renewable sources by 2020 - up from 2 per cent today. It applies to total energy use, not just electricity generation as targets have in the past.

This target was signed up to by Tony Blair, who defied advice from business leaders and ministerial colleagues that it would be hard to meet at a summit of EU leaders last March. It was confirmed by Gordon Brown in the autumn.

Experts estimate that by 2020 no more than 6-7 per cent of the heating of homes and businesses will be converted to renewable sources - such as biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and solar - and road transport will be at best only 10 per cent biofuels, so the rest of the slack will have to be taken up by the electricity generating companies. (London Telegraph)

Climate Change Aids Nuclear, Despite Safety Fears - OSLO - Half a century after the first atomic power plant opened at Obninsk near Moscow, climate change is widening the environmental appeal of nuclear power despite a lack of final storage for the most toxic waste. (Reuters)

Australia Tells India it Will Not Sell it Uranium - CANBERRA - Australia's new Labor government told India's nuclear envoy Shyam Saran on Tuesday it would not sell uranium to New Delhi unless it signs the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reversing a decision by the previous government. (Reuters)

EU reviews biofuel target as environmental doubts grow - A European drive to run vehicles on biofuels instead of petrol and diesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to be reviewed after concerns about its environmental impact.

Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, said a European target to boost biofuel production risked causing more damage than Brussels realised. But he insisted that biofuels still had benefits, and their impact on food supplies and biodiversity could be limited by the introduction of strict sustainability standards.

Europe has pledged that biofuels, such as bio-ethanol and bio-diesel, will make up 10% of transport fuel by 2020; Britain has a separate target of 5% biofuels in petrol and diesel by 2010.

Supporters argue that biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the plants they are made from absorb carbon dioxide from the air. But a number of studies have raised doubts about the green credentials of many of the leading candidates, such as palm oil and ethanol made from corn. Critics say biofuels compete for land with staple food crops, and vast areas of rainforest are cleared to grow them.

Dimas told the BBC: "We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were." He said the EU would "move carefully" on the issue. "We have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels."

If sustainability could not be achieved, he said, the EU target would not be met. (The Guardian)

More of US Grain Crop to be Consumed by Family Car - WASHINGTON - Almost a third of the US grain crop next year may be diverted from the family dinner table to the family car as fuel, putting upward pressure on food prices, a leading expert warned on Tuesday. (Reuters)

US Ethanol Expansion Cooling Next 18 Months - CHICAGO - US corn-based ethanol expansion is headed for a cooling-off period over the next 18 months until demand catches up with supply, said a senior executive of leading agricultural research firm Informa Economics on Monday. (Reuters)

US Gives Blessing to Food from Cloned Animals - WASHINGTON - The US government ruled on Tuesday that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is as safe as other food, but pressed firms that produce clones to hold off on bringing them into the food supply. (Reuters)

Brussels to hear report on moral and ethical issues - The ethical and moral issues surrounding the use of cloned animals and their offspring for food and milk will be examined today in a report by a European advisory group, including senior Christian theologians.

Their verdict could be crucial in determining whether Europeans accept the controversial technology.

"We have taken into account the moral, ethical and social dimensions," said Göran Hermerén, chairman of the European Group on Ethics in Science and professor of medical ethics at Lund University, Sweden.

The European Food Safety Authority, the bloc's leading regulator, last Friday issued its draft opinion, stating that milk and meat from cloned pigs and cows, the only two animals in which the technology has been used extensively, was safe.

EFSA is solely concerned with science. It is up to the European Commission, the EU executive, and the 27 national governments to decide whether to follow its advice and what restrictions to impose. The Commission has learnt its lessons from the genetically modified crops controversy, which saw them waved through on scientific grounds.

That was until a consumer revolt and media scares about "Frankenfoods" forced a moratorium on approvals for the use of GM crops until 2004, when a US complaint to the World Trade Organisation was upheld.

Last week the commission emphasised that EFSA's opinion, out for consultation before a final ruling expected in May, was just the start of a long process.

France Defends GMO Crop Ban, Says Temporary - PARIS - French ministers tried on Tuesday to calm tensions following the government's decision to ban cultivation of the sole genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in the country, stressing that the move was temporary. (Reuters)

Some nitwits never shut up: Dr. Mae-Wan Ho: Beware the New “Doubly Green Revolution” - The fake moral crusade to feed the world with genetically modified crops promoted as the second “Doubly Green Revolution” is doing even more damage than the first. The bad genetics involved in has failed the test in science and in the real world. (UN Observer)

January 15, 2008

Don't tell the enviros but Heavy metal slips down UK air quality charts - Air quality in the UK has improved significantly over the last 25 years according to a report published by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Monitoring at 17 testing sites around the UK shows a fall in the presence of harmful heavy metals such as lead, iron and copper in the air we breathe. (National Physical Laboratory)

Breaking news! ENHANCE trial results released - After nearly two years of controversy surrounding the results of the ENHANCE clinical trial — a melodrama filled with theories of cover-ups and manipulations of clinical trial data in the possession only of the drug company sponsor, a secret panel behind attempts to change the study endpoints after the trial was over, a Congressional investigation and years of delays in the release of the findings — in a surprise move this morning, Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals announced the results: (Junkfood Science)

Living in Fear and Paying a High Cost in Heart Risk - Which is more of a threat to your health: Al Qaeda or the Department of Homeland Security?

An intriguing new study suggests the answer is not so clear-cut. Although it’s impossible to calculate the pain that terrorist attacks inflict on victims and society, when statisticians look at cold numbers, they have variously estimated the chances of the average person dying in America at the hands of international terrorists to be comparable to the risk of dying from eating peanuts, being struck by an asteroid or drowning in a toilet.

But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments. (John Tierney, New York Times)

The Real Key to Development - Are the world's impoverished masses destined to live lives of permanent misery unless rich countries transfer wealth for spending on education and infrastructure?

You might think so if your gurus on development economics earn their bread and butter "lending" at the World Bank. Education and infrastructure "investment" are two of the Bank's favorite development themes.

Yet the evidence is piling up that neither government nor multilateral spending on education and infrastructure are key to development. To move out of poverty, countries instead need fast growth; and to get that they need to unleash the animal spirits of entrepreneurs.

Empirical support for this view is presented again this year in The Heritage Foundation/The Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, released today. In its 14th edition, the annual survey grades countries on a combination of factors including property rights protection, tax rates, government intervention in the economy, monetary, fiscal and trade policy, and business freedom. (Wall Street Journal)

Inhofe EPW Website Wins Coveted Gold Mouse Award

International Conference on Climate Change - The Heartland Institute is planning an International Conference on Climate Change for the weekend of March 2 – 4, 2008 in New York. We will have hundreds of scientists from around the world in attendance to debunk the supposed ‘consensus’ on global warming. (Heartland Institute)

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” - Thanks to Chris Castro for alerting us to this paper (see also his quest weblog “Monsoon on Track to be a Wet One”) .

The article is 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 NaikModel 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

This paper is an clear example of publishing a hypothesis as a scientific paper. Hypothesis testing is certainly appropriate but this is a blatant example of publishing a paper but its forecasts are not tested. Hindcasting, where the answer is known is an appropriate part of the assessment of a hypothesis but predictions in which the answer is not known are a requirement for a robust evaluation. (Climate Science)

Canada Inuit rap U.S. greens for polar bear campaign - OTTAWA - Leaders of Canada's Arctic Inuit people denounced U.S. environmentalists on Monday for pushing Washington to declare the polar bear a threatened species, saying the move was unnecessary and would hurt the local economy. (Reuters)

Latest Antarctic Sea Ice Extent - Once again today we were told in the media that the Antarctic ice is melting at an increasing and alarming rate. One example was a Globe Mail story today based on a research project, led by Eric Rignot, principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and appearing in the current issue of Nature Geoscience. In an e-mail, Dr. Rignot attributed the shrinkage in the ice sheet to an upwelling of warm waters along the Antarctic coast, which is causing some glaciers to flow more rapidly into the ocean. He suspects the trend is due to global warming. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Oh boy... The end of the world as we know it - In a hundred years, the planet will be unrecognisable. (Sydney Morning Herald)

The changing face of Britain's skies - Driven by climate change, the 21st century will see a dramatic shift in the nation's feathered population with many species either arriving for the first time or leaving for good. Michael McCarthy reports (London Independent)

Climate change threatening bird species, RSPB says - The RSPB today called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a 'calamitous' impact on birds.

A new report published today by the conservation charity shows that if climate change is not slowed down, the potential distribution of average bird species by the end of this century will shift nearly 342 miles (550km) to the north-east – equivalent to the distance from Plymouth to Newcastle.

The report, A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds, maps potential change in distribution of all the continent's regularly occurring nesting birds against a temperature rise of 3C. (The Guardian)

How nice, PlayStation® Biology to go with PlayStation® Climatology ;)

Race for '08: Voters split on global warming cost - Some fear businesses will be hobbled - Engel, an undecided voter, is uncomfortable with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's self-proclaimed California crusade against global warming and by the state's decision to sue the Bush administration for blocking California's effort to impose the nation's first greenhouse gas emission limits for cars and light trucks. He's willing to make environmental changes that make sense for his company but doesn't want California businesses to bear an unfair burden. (Sacramento Bee)

Wash. state governor to launch greenhouse gas bill - SEATTLE - Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire said on Monday she plans to introduce legislation to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in 2050 from 1990 levels.

Under the legislation, Gregoire will direct the state's ecology department to create a regional cap and trade market for carbon emissions that would allow companies to buy and sell pollution credits within an overall cap in emissions.

It would also require companies and government agencies in Washington to report their greenhouse gas emissions. Gregoire expects emissions reporting to start in 2010 for 2009 measurements. (Reuters)

Survey shows eco-warriors are worst polluters - A survey of travel habits has revealed that the most environmentally conscious people are also the biggest polluters.

"Green" consumers have some of the biggest carbon footprints because they are still hooked on flying abroad or driving their cars while their adherence to the green cause is mostly limited to small gestures. (London Telegraph)

EU members braced for emissions targets - EU members are bracing for proposed greenhouse gas emission targets due next week as they fret over how much of the burden they will have to bear in the fight against climate change.

The European Commission on January 23 is to unveil plans for individual targets for member states on how much they need to cut their carbon dioxide emissions in the coming years. (AFP)

EU to Allow Poorest Members to Raise CO2 Emissions - BRUSSELS - The European Commission will propose allowing the poorest new central European member states to increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 percent by 2020 over 2005 levels under a major energy and climate change plan to be unveiled next week, EU sources said on Monday. (Reuters)

China 07 Coal Output Rises 5 Pct to 2.52 Bln Tonnes - BEIJING - China's coal output rose 5 percent in 2007 to 2.52 billion tonnes, the China Daily said, citing the head of the State Administration of Work Safety. (Reuters)

How Did They Become 'Smart' Thermostats? - As the debate builds about state-controlled thermostats in your homes, you may notice that programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs) are now being referred to as "Smart" thermostats. This conflates PCTs with programmable, or "setback" thermostats which have been around for decades and are totally under the householder's control with no radio override features. Google "smart thermostat" and you'll find information on both kinds. (Joseph Somsel, American Thinker)

Time's up for petrol cars, says GM chief - THE world's biggest car maker, General Motors, believes global oil supply has peaked and a switch to electric cars is inevitable.

In a stunning announcement at the opening of the Detroit motor show, Rick Wagoner, GM's chairman and chief executive, also said ethanol was an "important interim solution" to the world's demand for oil, until battery technology improved to give electric cars the same driving range as petrol-powered cars.

GM is working on an electric car, called the Volt, which is due in showrooms in 2010, but delays in suitable battery technology have slowed the project. (Sydney Morning Herald)

EU to Toughen Environment Criteria for Biofuels - BRUSSELS - The European Union is to set tougher environmental criteria for biofuels after acknowledging that the drive for transport fuels produced from crops has done unforeseen damage, the European Commission said on Monday. (Reuters)

The Big Question: Can biofuel help prevent global warming, or will it only make matters worse? - The European Union is having second thoughts about its policy aimed at stimulating the production of biofuel – transport fuel derived from crops and other vegetation or organic waste. Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, admitted yesterday that the EU did not foresee the scale of the problems raised by Europe's target of deriving 10 per cent of its transport fuel from plant material. The rush to produce biofuels is reported to have increased the cost of food on the global market, destroyed tracts of rainforest in tropical countries and to have had little overall impact on reducing greenhouse gases.

"We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully," Mr Dimas told the BBC. Yesterday also saw the publication of a report on biofuel by the Royal Society in London which had asked a committee of experts to examine the complex issues surrounding the technology. The report concluded that there is no simple answer to whether biofuels are good or bad for the environment, and that each type of biofuel – and how it is produced – has to be considered on its own merits. (London Independent)

UK Biofuels Push Lacks Greenhouse Targets - Report - LONDON - A government directive requiring fuel suppliers to use more biofuels will do little to combat climate change because the measure lacks targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, British scientists said on Monday. (Reuters)

Food cost increase adds £750 to annual bill - Food prices are accelerating at their fastest rate since records began, fuelling a rise in the average family's shopping bill of £750 a year.

Official figures showed wholesale food prices rose by 7.4 per cent in the past 12 months - more than three times the headline rate of inflation.

The increase - the highest since the Office for National Statistics (ONC) began keeping records in 1992 - has driven the cost of a consumer's average basket of groceries up by 12 per cent in a year.

Experts said the rate of food price inflation was making life increasingly difficult for the millions of families already struggling to make ends meet under the weight of rising council tax bills, mortgage repayments and energy costs. (London Telegraph)

EU drive to boost grain output fails - The European Union effort to boost agriculture production significantly has failed in spite of the suspension of the limits to grain crops and despite current record prices.

Last year, in an effort to increase output, the EU scrapped a rule requiring farmers to set aside 10 per cent of their land. However, French and Germans farmers, who account for half of the EU-15's production, increased the sowing of winter crops by less than 2 per cent.

The failure makes it more likely that the prices for wheat, barley, rapeseed and other crops will remain high for longer, threatening a second wave of food inflation. (Financial Times)

DuPont sees ethanol as path to new fuels - NEW YORK - Corn-based ethanol may dominate the nascent U.S. biofuels industry for now, but fast-developing technologies will likely create new biofuels and markets in the next few years, the head of chemical giant DuPont's biofuels development said on Monday.

"I think over the period of the next five years or so, you'll start to see biofuels move from something monolithic -- corn to ethanol -- to multiple entries into this field," Thomas Connelly, DuPont's chief innovation officer, told the Reuters Global Agriculture and Biofuel Summit.

"We'll start to see the first of the advanced biofuels -- that is to say, molecules other than ethanol, molecules with improved fuel properties -- enter the market," he said.

DuPont, whose agriculture unit Pioneer produces genetically modified seed corn designed for ethanol, has set its sights on biobutanol, another motor fuel that can be made from corn or sugar cane, but has not proven it can be economically feasible. (Reuters)

This has been my perfect week - A couple of weeks ago, plans for a wonderful new coal-fired power station in Kent were given the green light and I was very pleased.

This will reduce our dependency on Vladimir’s gas and Osama’s oil and, as a bonus, new technology being developed to burn the coal more efficiently will be exported to China and exchanged for plastic novelty items to make our lives a little brighter.

It’s all just too excellent for words, but of course galloping into the limelight came a small army of communists and hippies who were waving their arms around and saying that coal was the fuel of Satan and that when the new power station opened, small people like Richard Hammond would immediately be drowned by a rampaging tidal swell.

They argued with much gusto that if Britain was to stand any chance of meeting Mr Prescott’s Kyoto climate change targets then we must build power stations that produced no carbon emissions at all.

You’d imagine then that last week, when Gordon Brown announced plans for a herd of new nuclear power stations, they’d have been delighted. Quiet power made by witchcraft, and no emissions at all. It’s enough, you might imagine, to make Jonathon Porritt priapic with pleasure. (Jeremy Clarkson, Sunday Times)

Protests Greet Nuclear Power Resurgence in US South - WAYNESBORO, Georgia , Jan 14 - Residents and environmental activists are in a bitter dispute with large U.S. energy corporations and the federal government over the safety of nuclear power, as more than a dozen corporations plan to, or have filed, paperwork to open new nuclear power plants, primarily in the U.S. South. (IPS)

Nuclear Costs Explode - Progress Energy Florida is going to have to spend more than originally planned to build two nuclear reactors in Levy County, the utility's top executive said.

The St. Petersburg-based utility won't disclose how much more expensive the project will be until it's presented to state regulators within 90 days. Based on new industry estimates, the revised cost could be two to three times more expensive than the projection Progress issued more than a year ago.

That's because the cost of concrete, steel, copper, labor and reactor technology has soared as energy companies move forward with plans to build more than 30 new reactors nationwide. Also, Progress Energy's initial estimate excluded the cost of land, inflation, interest payments and new transmission lines.

"Yes, it will be higher," Jeff Lyash, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, said of the project's cost. "The price of any construction project you undertake today is going to escalate based on commodity prices. That's not a nuclear issue." (The Tampa Tribune)

Genetically modified carrots provide more calcium - A specially developed carrot has been produced to help people absorb more calcium. Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center studied the calcium intake of humans who ate the carrot and found a net increase in calcium absorption. The research, which was done in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine, means adding this carrot to the diet can help prevent such diseases as osteoporosis. (Texas A&M University)

US stalls sanctions against EU in biotech food dispute - THE US said it would temporarily hold fire on sanctions on European Union goods in a last-ditch attempt to resolve a bitter trade dispute over genetically modified crops. (Agence France-Presse)

Arpad Pusztai: Biological divide - Contrary to the belief of some in the scientific community, Dr Arpad Pusztai does not have horns or a malevolent cackle. Nor does he inhabit an imposing gothic mansion bought with the proceeds of guest appearances as an eco-hero. In fact, he lives in a modest semi in Aberdeen.

This elderly man is one of the most divisive figures in biology. Many blame him for tilting the balance in the PR battle over GM food towards public rejection. His research on GM potatoes - which came explosively into the public spotlight in a World in Action programme in August 1998 - has been dismissed as poorly done, muddled and even fabricated. Yet to anti-GM campaigners he is a hero - the scientist who stood up to the establishment and, as a result, had his career squashed at the behest of shadowy forces in the GM industry and the government.

"I think it did a lot of damage because ... the vast majority of people were somewhat neutral at the time," said Professor Chris Leaver, a plant scientist and strong supporter of GM at Oxford University. "I think the NGOs ... decided that they would make a play using him. I think he got hijacked and then he got out of his depth." (The Guardian)

January 14, 2008

High degree of resistance to antibiotics in Arctic birds - In the latest issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, Swedish researchers report that birds captured in the hyperboreal tundra, in connection with the tundra expedition “Beringia 2005,” were carriers of antibiotics-resistant bacteria. These findings indicate that resistance to antibiotics has spread into nature, which is an alarming prospect for future health care. (Uppsala University)

Antibiotic resistance has always been high in nature. After all, antibiotics are the result of the evolutionary war that has been ongoing between competing entities just about as long as there has been life on Earth.

Follow-up: Secret panel hired by drug company revealed - More amazing than what is reported in the news is what isn’t.

It has been impossible not to notice that every day brings another press release about the purported benefits of statins. Meanwhile, the most shocking developments of the ENHANCE statin trial commotion continue to be cloaked in secrecy and haven't even made the nightly news. (Junkfood Science)

Diets don’t work, but keep dieting anyway? - Here’s one marketing campaign didn’t last long. What happened to their acknowledgement that diets don’t work? Today, Weight Watchers general manager is reported as blaming fat women for not continuing to diet and for not losing weight! As the Australian Age reports, the diet company manager said fat women have given up and are in denial about the need to lose weight: (Junkfood Science)

Junkfood Science could use your assistance -- the donation button is just above the awards logos on the right of the main page.

Cue the gluttony: Environmental triggers might play a significant role in Americans' overeating. - HERE'S an interesting thought: What if you're not to blame for your weight problem?

What if the fault could be laid squarely at the feet of food manufacturers and marketers, grocery store managers, restaurant operators, food vendors -- the people who make food so visible, available and mouth-watering?

Several recent studies, papers and a popular weight-loss book argue that eating is an automatic behavior triggered by environmental cues that most people are unaware of -- or simply can't ignore. Think of the buttery smell of movie theater popcorn, the sight of glazed doughnuts glistening in the office conference room or the simple habit of picking up a whipped-cream-laden latte on the way to work.

Accepting this "don't blame me" notion may not only ease the guilt and self-loathing that often accompanies obesity, say the researchers behind the theory, but also help people achieve a healthier weight. (Los Angeles Times)

Economists weighing in... Round two - Another economist has weighed in with an obesity book and, once again, the media has credulously reported it as expert health information and recommended health policy. This time, however, the public isn’t buying it. Growing numbers of consumers know that obesity is not a ‘lifestyle choice” or the result of an economy that forces people to eat too much and be inactive, as the media and this book reports. Nor are they convinced that it is a public health crisis. In fact, on the authors’ website, an informal and open poll asks people if they believe ‘obesity’ is a problem in the United States and, as of this morning, more than two-thirds had checked “No, not at all.” (Junkfood Science)

Cinnamon and sugar — blood sugar, that is - Each January brings advice on how to start the New Year off right, revitalize ourselves and get healthy. Superfoods are credited with special powers to protect us from cancer, heart disease and other diseases of aging. Cinnamon is one such food. It has been widely heralded for its ability to stabilize blood sugars and ward off diabetes. (Junkfood Science)

Oh boy… It Happened to Him. It’s Happening to You. - The news of environmental traumas assails us from every side — unseasonal storms, floods, fires, drought, melting ice caps, lost species of river dolphins and giant turtles, rising sea levels potentially displacing inhabitants of Arctic and Pacific islands and hundreds of thousands of people dying every year from air pollution. Last week brought more — new reports that Greenland’s glaciers may be melting away at an alarming rate.

What’s going on? Are we experiencing one of those major shocks to life on Earth that rocked the planet in the past?

That’s just doomsaying, say those who insist that economic growth and human technological ingenuity will eventually solve our problems. But in fact, the scientific take on our current environmental mess is hardly so upbeat.

More than a decade ago, many scientists claimed that humans were demonstrating a capacity to force a major global catastrophe that would lead to a traumatic shift in climate, an intolerable level of destruction of natural habitats, and an extinction event that could eliminate 30 to 50 percent of all living species by the middle of the 21st century. Now those predictions are coming true. The evidence shows that species loss today is accelerating. We find ourselves uncomfortably privileged to be witnessing a mass extinction event as it’s taking place, in real time. (Michael Novacek, Washington Post)

The number of documented extinctions according to the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is 735 animal species since 1500 AD. The majority of these are island critters that could not cope with the influx of Norway Rats in the era of sail and exploration (ground & low shrub-nesting birds etc., whose nests were pillaged by rats…). Just prior to 1500 there was a wave of extinctions due to Maori hunters in newly settled New Zealand (mainly species of flightless Moa). In the last few centuries Australian fauna has taken a bit of a hiding from introduced rodents, rabbits, cats and foxes, in particular. Recent [presumed] extinctions are actually pretty rare, perhaps 30 since 1950 (although some not sighted for some time have a bit of a habit of turning up thriving in unexpected locations or known by different local names).

The sixth great extinction wave? There’s a lot of talk about it but no evidence it is occurring.

Consequences Of The Conflict Of Interest In the 2007 CCSP Report - “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences” - As reported on Climate Science (e.g. see) and documented in depth in a public comment; see

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.

the CCSP Report - Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences

“……excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends. The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends.”

The Editor of this Committee was Thomas Karl, who is also Director of the National Climate Data Center (NCDC). Karl also directs the completion of multi-decadal global surface air temperature trends which were used in the 2007 IPCC report. (Climate Science)

Making NOAA’s MMTS wireless - issues also know that I’ve been critical of the MMTS (Max Min Temperature System) which has been deployed at a majority of the COOP and USHCN networks. As of this writing, 55% of USHCN is made up of the original MMTS system, with 16% of the network being the improved “Nimbus” version, which has a display unit with max-min memory to prevent data loss. With 71% of the USHCN network being based on MMTS technology, it represents the major component of surface temperature measurement.

The big problem with MMTS is the fact that it is a cabled sensor, whereas the original Stevenson Screens could be placed anywhere, and often at better locations, the MMTS system cable often prevented proper placement because NWS COOP managers could not easily run the cable under walkways or driveways, since they lacked heavy equipment and time. This despite the fact that the original specification for MMTS cabling allowed for distances up to 1/4 mile. Stated simply; COOP managers don’t have access to trenching machines, and installation work is often done with shovels in a single day.

So, I decided to solve the problem. (Watts Up With That?)

WMO wants satellites to monitor climate change - GENEVA — The United Nations' weather agency will ask NASA and other space agencies next week to make their next generation of satellites available to monitor climate change, a senior official at the UN body said on Friday.

The aim is to ensure that satellites launched over the next 20 years constantly record parameters such as sea levels and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

"The main focus of the meeting next week will be the expansion of the global observing system by satellites to not only monitor severe weather, which is a core function, but also to monitor climate on a very continuous and long-term basis," WMO expert Jérome Lafeuille told a news briefing in Geneva. (Reuters)

NASA Satellites Capture Start of New Solar Cycle - NASA scientists say a new solar cycle is beginning, and this could have important repercussions for space-based technology ranging from GPS navigation to weather satellites. (Marshall and Goddard space flight centers)

Oh dear… Andy Revkin is still at it: - Unfortunately his entire opening premise is dead flat wrong. What needs to head the list is acknowledgement that we can not now and never will be able to knowingly and predictable adjust the global thermostat by tweaking peripheral parameters such as carbon emissions. Complete cessation of human emissions will produce exactly zero measurable change in global temperature in the next 50-100 years.

Even Hansen admits we do not know the global mean temperature within ±0.7 K — note that that is 10 times greater than Tom Wigley estimates could have been achieved by Kyoto and 3-7 times what a Kyoto “constant compliance” scenario would shave off global average temperatures by 2100. We simply can’t measure global temperature that precisely.

Then there’s the premise that a warmer world, if it did eventuate, would be a net detriment. Funny how people want to escape to tropical paradises but don’t seem to aspire to cold uh, ice holes.

He also raises such irrelevancies as ocean acidification and the absurd stories of “it’ll harm coral/shellfish…” without stopping to think about when these species evolved. Atmospheric CO2 was >4,000ppmv in the Ordovician and in the Ordovician a variety of new types including cephalopods, corals, bryozoans, crinoids, graptolites, gastropods, and bivalves flourished. Doesn’t sound like calciferous critters are at much risk at present at <400ppmv, does it? See also: New front in the carbon wars.

Nonetheless, here’s what Revkin calls A Starting Point for Productive Climate Discourse.

Here’s our take Andy, we don’t need a “starting point” but rather an endpoint for all this nonsense so we can move on to real problems. (JunkScience.com Blog)

Raining on the Drought Parade - One of the many pillars of fear regarding global warming is the claim that droughts will become more severe in the future, particularly in continental interiors. The story is very simple and is told over and over – temperatures rise, evaporation rates increase, and even with no change in rainfall, soil moisture levels decrease and droughts last longer and are more severe. Then, crops will fail, ecosystems will collapse, major cities will run out of water, diseases will spread – you know the story. There is always some drought occurring some place on the planet, so supporting evidence is easy to find.

We have written on this subject many times, and like everything else, there is a lot more complexity to the story. Changes in wind and/or clouds could impact future evaporation rates, global dimming could cause a decease in evaporation, plants could become more water use efficient thanks to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore extract less water from the soil, and on and on. One of the problems is that long term soil moisture data are rare to non-existent, but an article in a recent issue of the International Journal of Climatology brings us a story about soil moisture extending back 1,426 years! (WCR)

Storm porn: Call it the Katrina effect: it's no longer enough to just report the weather; it has to be entertainment - Has the weather gone Hollywood?

In an effort to grab higher ratings and boost advertising in a fiercely competitive market, some television stations are being accused of exaggerating, dare we say hyping, their weather forecasts.

Crippling ice storms, devastating tsunamis and powerful hurricanes enthral viewers like a drawn-out O.J. Simpson trial or the heart-wrenching coverage of 9/11. Hurricane Katrina had us mesmerized for weeks – and the ad revenue flowed.

It used to be that weather forecasters were criticized for getting it wrong. Now, in true Chicken Little style, it's being suggested they're consistently overstating their predictions – the depth of snow, the severity of wind-chill factors – urging the audience to brace for the worst.

David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada, calls it "storm porn." (Toronto Star)

and disaster porn: Everglades project can ease harm of climate change, scientist says - CAPTIVA — Global warming means South Florida faces a future of eroded coasts, flooded barrier islands, mud-clogged bays, dying coral reefs, swaths of dead mangroves and saw grass, and shorelines reeking with blooming algae, a University of Miami scientist warned environmentalists Saturday.

But Harold Wanless offered one glimmer of hope: Restoring the Everglades can postpone some of the damage - but only if it's done right. That means recreating enough of the marsh's natural flow to rebuild eroded peat, which could hold back the salt and protect South Florida's drinking water supply.More Florida news

"Everglades restoration is more important than ever," Wanless told hundreds of activists, engineers and state and federal leaders at the Everglades Coalition's annual conference. Even so, he said Florida faces a grim fate if scientists' worst fears are realized about the melting of glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

"We have set into motion a monster," said Wanless, who chairs the university's department of geological sciences. "I wish I was writing you a novel. But unfortunately this is, as far as we can see, very real." (Palm Beach Post)

This crock, again: Scientists to discuss how global warming effects diseases - PRAGUE — Global warming in Europe could mean a host of potentially fatal diseases become more prevalent, a leading scientist warned Friday ahead of a major conference on the subject.

Warmer temperatures could encourage the spread of mosquito-spread malaria and the potentially fatal West Nile Virus, David Rogers, who heads up the EU-funded Eden project into emerging diseases, told AFP.

On the positive side however, rising temperatures could eventually rid the continent of tick-borne encephalitus and other diseases, said Rogers, a professor of ecology at Oxford University. (AFP)

Malaria is not limited by temperature.

World warming despite cool Pacific, Baghdad snow - OSLO - Climate change is still nudging up temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a cool Pacific and Baghdad's first snow in memory, experts said.

"Global warming has not stopped," said Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) climate programme.
The sun sets next to a smokestack from a coal-burning power station in Beijing January 9, 2008. Climate change is still nudging up temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a cool Pacific and Baghdad's first snow in memory, experts said. (REUTERS/David Gray)


Last year was among the six warmest years since records began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific.

"We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean," Delju told Reuters. "The decade from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend is still continuing." (Reuters)

Well, yes, after a fashion. Checking trend slope since January 2000 (the "bottom" of the cooling post-97/98 El Niño) shows GISTEMP and UAH MSU yielding y = 0.0019x (R2 of 0.1711 and 0.1373, respectively) while HadCRUT3 delivers y = 0.001x (R2 = 0.0863) and RSS AMSU comes in at y = 0.0007x (R2 = 0.0201). Not exactly the kind of results you'd write home about, are they?

Weather, climate, and noise - Gavin Schmidt and Stefan Rahmstorf discuss the difference between the weather and the climate and the relevance of noise. There are many correct things in their text but there is a lot of naivité in it, too. (The Reference Frame)

Hot And Icy - For a long time, scientists have regarded a geological stage known as the Turonian to be one that was largely ice-free. The Turonian, lasting from 93.5 ± 0.8 Ma (million years ago) to 89.3 ± 1 Ma, was one of the warmest times in Earth history, when dinosaurs still prowled the world and alligators/crocodiles were key predators, even in the Arctic. The stage was defined by a French paleontologist, Alcide d'Orbigny (1802 - 1857), who named it after the city of Tours.

Now scientists have discovered in a new paper published in the journal, Science, that, despite the Turonian’s ‘super greenhouse’ climate, giant ice sheets were able to grow and persist during the stage. As The New York Times reports today (‘Study says Glaciers formed during a Very Warm Period’, January 11): (Global Warming Politics)

This again: Antarctic ice sheet shrinking at faster rate - One of the biggest worries about global warming has been its potential to affect the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, a vast storehouse of frozen water that would inundate the world's coastal regions if it were to melt because of a warming climate.

The southern continent contains enough ice to raise ocean levels by about 60 metres, a deluge that would put every major coastal city in the world deep under water and uproot hundreds of millions of people.

The huge implications posed by the health of the ice sheet have prompted major scientific interest into whether it is growing, shrinking, or stable, with no clear consensus among researchers about its overall trend.

But a new study released today, based on some of the most extensive measurements to date of the continent's ice mass, presents a worrisome development: Antarctica's ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006.

"Over the time period of our survey, the ice sheet as a whole was certainly losing mass, and the mass loss increased by 75 per cent in 10 years," the study said.

The results of the research project, led by Dr. Eric Rignot, principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's in Pasadena, Calif., appear in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

In an e-mail, Dr. Rignot attributed the shrinkage in the ice sheet to an upwelling of warm waters along the Antarctic coast, which is causing some glaciers to flow more rapidly into the ocean.

He suspects the trend is due to global warming, and isn't part of a normal natural fluctuation. (Globe and Mail)

Our guess is it'll be at least next week before competing statistics says the Antarctic is gaining ice mass. What isn't highlighted in this piece is that this again relies on PlayStation® climatology -- compared with models the WAIS appears to be losing mass.

Meanwhile JunkScience reader M O'R has beaten us to checking the data, pointing out that the Antarctic Peninsula (the region of alleged ice loss) shows dramatic cooling over the last year and providing the following:

Five GISS Stations To The North And East Coast Of The West Antarctic Peninsula

70188968000 BASE ORCADAS                   -60.75  -44.72    6    0R   -9HIICCO 1x-9WATER         
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=301889630008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

70089050000 BELLINGSHAUSE                  -62.20  -58.93   16   76R   -9HIICCO 1x-9ANTARCTICA      A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890500008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

30489056000 CENTRO MET.AN, Marsh           -62.42  -58.88   10    0R   -9HIICCO 1x-9ANTARCTICA      A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=304890560008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

30188963000 BASE ESPERANZ                  -63.40  -56.98   13   45R   -9HIICCO 1x-9WATER           A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=301889630008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

70089055000 CMS_VICE.DO.Marambio           -64.23  -56.72  198    0R   -9HIICCO 1x-9WATER           A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890550008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

Three GISS Stations On The West Coast Of The West Antarctic Peninsula

70089063000 FARADAY                        -65.25  -64.27   11    0R   -9HIICCO 1x-9WATER           A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890630008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

70089062000 ROTHERA POINT                  -67.57  -68.13   16   12R   -9HIICCO 1x-9WATER           A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890620000&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

70089066000 BASE SAN MARTIN                -68.13  -67.13    4  233R   -9MVICCO 1x-9WATER           A
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890660004&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

Even providing a bookmark file for Google Earthers :)

Another Cherry Picking Study and AP Story - Recently we reported on a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and conducted by the Vermont Public Research and Education Fund purports to show increased extreme precipitation events-rain and snow-in the United States over the last 59 years, perhaps linked to global warming. The first half of the period studied was the last cold phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, an ocean current pattern that strongly affects storm tracks and thus precipitation over North America. Half way through the VPIRG study period the PDO flipped to its warm phase. The VPIRG carefully picked a period where it could hardly have avoided getting the higher precipitation frequency that it wanted for maximum shock effect. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Greenhouse ocean may downsize fish - The last fish you ate probably came from the Bering Sea. But during this century, the sea’s rich food web—stretching from Alaska to Russia—could fray as algae adapt to greenhouse conditions.

“All the fish that ends up in McDonald’s, fish sandwiches—that’s all Bering Sea fish,” said USC marine ecologist Dave Hutchins, whose former student at the University of Delaware, Clinton Hare, led research published Dec. 20 in Marine Ecology Progress Series, a leading journal in the field.

At present, the Bering Sea provides roughly half the fish caught in U.S. waters each year and nearly a third caught worldwide.

“The experiments we did up there definitely suggest that the changing ecosystem may support less of what we’re harvesting—things like pollock and hake,” Hutchins said.

While the study must be interpreted cautiously, its implications are harrowing, Hutchins said, especially since the Bering Sea is already warming. (University of Southern California)

Um... La Niña cools the Bering Sea. The last time we weren't in a mild El Niño phase (which warms the Bering sea) was 2000-2001. Wonder if that was why they found warming conditions there over the last few years?

La Niña: 'Little Girl' Makes Big Impression - Cool, wet conditions in the Northwest, frigid weather on the Plains, and record dry conditions in the Southeast, all signs that La Niña is in full swing. With winter gearing up, a moderate La Niña is hitting its peak. And we are just beginning to see the full effects of this oceanographic phenomenon, as La Niña episodes are typically strongest in January. (GSFC)

More extreme weather forecast - The country's leading meteorologist warned on Friday that China will witness more extreme weather conditions this year as a result of global warming.

Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, said drills to deal with emergencies caused by weather disasters will be organized this year, as detailed in the administration's work plan for 2008.

Meteorologists will also try to raise the accuracy of weather forecasting this year, he said. (China Daily)

EU emission limits could drive industries out of Europe - The European commission will set out new laws next week to impose swingeing limits on greenhouse gas emissions from EU heavy industries in a move that could prompt some of these to relocate lock, stock and barrel overseas.

Draft legislative proposals, due to be published on January 23 and seen by the Guardian, would cut the emissions of some 11,000 plants by 21% on 2005 levels as part of the effort to reduce EU greenhouse gas output by at least 20% by 2020.

They would also force energy companies and refiners to bid at auction for 100% of their pollution permits from 2013 in an effort to avoid the windfall profits of up to £8bn cashed in when the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) began in 2005.

The documents, which are still subject to ferocious debates among EC staff and with the 27 national governments, indicate that at least two-thirds of the permits, including for new sectors not in the ETS, would be auctioned from 2013 in an effort to drive up the price of carbon. (The Guardian)

Mukherjee says emission cuts must be balanced with economy - TOKYO, Jan. 11 - Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told his Japanese counterpart on Friday that India is fully aware of the need for an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide but stressed that considerations also be given to ensure a balance with economic development needs.

Mukherjee was quoted by Japanese Foreign Ministry officials as saying in a telephone conversation with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura that India is willing to work closely with Japan on global issues such as climate change, World Trade Organization negotiations and U.N. reforms.

The remarks came in response to Komura's call for strengthening joint efforts in those areas. Japan, as host of the Group of Eight nations summit in July, is eager to secure cooperation from major emitters like India in building consensus for a post-2012 framework to tackle global warming. (Kyodo)

Desperate to suppress human activity any way they can: Banks can help fight climate change, report says - TORONTO - The world's banks are uniquely positioned to push private-sector companies to adopt environmentally conscious practices, say the authors of a report released on Thursday.

It is important that banks start to consider the long-term financial ramifications of lending money to companies that produce high levels of greenhouse gases, says Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups.

"As one of the world's largest economic sectors, and as one that reaches virtually every consumer and business, the financial services industry must be involved in mitigating climate change and its impacts," said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. (Grant Surridge, Vancouver Sun)

See Hatred of people and the subversion of climate science

Blame The Greens - Every now and again, a journalist and commentator can encapsulate brilliantly what one feels about a subject. Today, Nick Cohen, does precisely this, capturing perfectly, in a fine piece for the The Observer (‘Blame the greens when the lights go off’, January 13), my own long-held worries about the ‘Green’ movement. I have always respected Mr. Cohen’s work, and I agree with much of it. He is a journalist of integrity, and of considerable intellect. I have therefore little to add to what he has written today; he has said it all much better and more fairly than I could. I would thus recommend you read his piece carefully and in full. (Global Warming Politics)

The war on hot air - David King is the man who persuaded the government to take climate change seriously. So why is he attacking the green movement in a new book? Oliver Burkeman met him (The Guardian)

I pushed Blair’s nuclear button - Professor Sir David King stepped down as the government’s chief scientist on New Year’s Eve and is at last free to reveal the furious rows behind the decision to create new nuclear power stations. He was horrified by the ignorance of science shown by mandarins across Whitehall and says Tony Blair did not understand climate change. (Sunday Times)

Neither, obviously, does David King since he has made some of the world's most foolish statements on the topic.

And along came Polly... Presenting nuclear as the grown-up option is deceptive and delaying - Faced with persistent cabinet and industry lobbying and professors bearing heavy statistics, MPs have simply caved in (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

No wonder the state's going broke: California Agency Presses EPA on Ship Exhaust - LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles-area air quality agency Thursday petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately set tougher standards on global-warming pollutants for ocean vessels calling on US ports.

If the EPA doesn't curb global warming pollutants within six months, the South Coast Air Quality Management District may sue the federal agency, said Barbara Baird, an attorney with the air quality district.

Last week, California and 15 other states filed suit against the EPA to overturn a decision in December to deny California's effort to set stringent auto emission standards. (Reuters)

Canada Oil Sands Projects Flunk Green Test - Groups - CALGARY, Alberta - Canadian oil sands mining projects, seen as a key source of North American energy supply for decades to come, have been given poor environmental marks in a report released on Thursday, with even the best performer barely garnering a passing grade. (Reuters)

Good thing the only test that counts is whether they viably (and profitably) produce oil.

Environmental board declines CO2 regs - Despite some impassioned words about global warming, a key state board today declined to impose new carbon-dioxide regulations on a coal-fired power plant proposed near Great Falls.

On a 5-to-1 vote, the state Board of Environmental Review said state regulators acted properly when they issued an air-quality permit for the Highwood Generation Station, without regulating carbon-dioxide emissions. (Helena Independent Record)

To beat climate change, breaking the mold isn't enough - There's a big hole in the Kyoto Protocol: Airline emissions aren't covered. This emission omission has officials in California and Europe worried, so each acted recently to plug the hole. In December, ministers from 27 different countries agreed to cap carbon emissions from aircraft flying to and from the European Union. California joined a host of other U.S. states and municipalities to petition the EPA to institute a similar system on all aircraft flying to and from American airports.

The new EU system, slated to go into effect in 2012, would cap carbon dioxide emissions for European and foreign airplanes alike, while allowing airlines to buy and sell pollution credits on the EU carbon market. The initiative is yet another signal of EU determination to tackle the climate change issue. EU governments agreed last spring to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2020.

Not surprisingly, Europe's airline industry is critical of these demands. While it has resigned itself to the prospect that some EU airline emissions scheme is inevitable, it warns about higher costs to passengers and makes the point that the EU could reduce emissions 12 percent simply by putting its single market under a single sky of air traffic control. (Dan Hamilton, San Francisco Chronicle)

NGOs Demand Tougher Biofuels Standards - A group of NGOs have written to EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, calling on him to introduce much tougher standards for biofuel production or give up mandatory transport biofuel targets altogether. The warning came ahead of the publication of new legislative measures aimed at promoting the use of these alternatives to oil.

A draft directive on renewable energies, due to be finalized on 23 January, fails to set sufficiently rigourous sustainability criteria regarding the production of biofuels and could lead to the destruction of important ecosystems and lower social standards, a group of 17 NGOs told EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in a letter delivered on 11 January.

EU leaders committed themselves last March to the binding goal of raising the share of biofuels in transport from current levels of around 2% to 10% by 2020, conditional upon their sustainable production. (China Confidential)

Edible antifreeze promises perfect ice cream - Edible antifreeze developed by a US researcher could keep ice cream tasty and smooth, and prevent other frozen foods from being ruined. The antifreeze contains proteins similar to those that help "snow flea" insects survive winter without freezing solid.

The taste of good ice cream depends on a blend of flavour, temperature, and texture – what food scientists call "mouth feel".

The formation of tiny ice crystals, each around 15 to 20 microns wide, is crucial to making smooth ice cream. But if ice cream is subjected to sudden temperature fluctuation – when transported home from the store, for example – these crystals can grow to 40 microns or larger, as water melts and refreezes.

This can ruin the texture of good ice cream, making it gritty to eat. It can also damage frozen soft fruits.

Gum-like carbohydrates are used by manufacturers to restrict the movement of water molecules and prevent big ice crystals from forming in ice cream. However, as anyone who has tasted crunchy ice cream will know, these carbohydrates do not work perfectly. (NewScientist.com news service)

EU Food Agency Backs Cloned Meat, Dairy Products - BRUSSELS - Meat and milk from cloned animals moved a step closer to European Union supermarket shelves on Friday after the bloc's top food safety agency said cloned food products are safe to eat. (Reuters)

EU backing for cloned products re-opens 'Frankenfoods' debate - Food from cloned animals is safe to eat, European regulators declared yesterday, in a move likely to spark a re-run of the heated debate over genetically modified "Frankenfoods".

The finding comes as GM foods are about to reignite trade friction between the US and the European Union, with a deadline set to expire last night by which the EU must comply with a World Trade Organisation ruling to allow imports of GM seeds.

While it could be years before meat and milk from cloned animals are on dinner plates in the EU, the European Food Safety Authority, or Efsa, issued a draft opinion that such livestock and their products were as healthy and nutritious as their natural-born kin. "Healthy clones and healthy offspring do not show any significant differences from their conventional counterparts," it said. (Financial Times)

France says extends ban on GMO crop - PARIS - France will activate a safeguard clause that will effectively prohibit growing the sole genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in France, Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office said in a statement on Friday. (Reuters)

Biotech companies race for drought-tolerant crops - JOHNSTON, Iowa - Outside the headquarters of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc, the pavement is iced over and workers arriving for the day are bundled up against the cold.

But inside a laboratory, a warm, man-made drought is in force, curling the leaves of rows of fledgling corn plants as million-dollar machines and scientists in white coats monitor their distress.

This work is part of a global race pitting Pioneer, Monsanto Co and other biotech companies against each other in a race to develop new strains of corn and other crops that can thrive when water is in short supply. (Reuters)

Big rise in European GM area predicted - The area of Genetically Modified crops grown across Europe outside the UK is increasing as attitudes towards the technology change, Monsanto's Robert Plaice said.

"The UK is GM-free, but Europe isn't. We could see a big ramping up of GM in Europe over the next few years." (FWi)

January 11, 2008

Vaccine Vindication - The vaccine preservative Thimerosal is not linked with autism, a new study reports. The data also suggest that the dilettante “scientist” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. should perhaps go back to practicing law and stop exploiting parental fear and suffering for his own political agenda. (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Obesity now a 'lifestyle' choice for Americans, expert says - As adult obesity balloons in the United States, being overweight has become less of a health hazard and more of a lifestyle choice, the author of a new book argues.

"Obesity is a natural extension of an advancing economy. As you become a First World economy and you get all these labor-saving devices and low-cost, easily accessible foods, people are going to eat more and exercise less," health economist Eric Finkelstein told AFP.

If only it were true... - News around the world has reported that “healthy habits can add 14 years to your life.” As incredible as that sounds, more incredible is that not a single health or medical reporter appears to have read the study behind the headlines and accurately report its findings. (Junkfood Science)

In Life’s Web, Aiding Trees Can Kill Them - When elephants were removed from a research site in Kenya, a mysterious decline in the colonies of good ants and a growth in the colonies of bad ants emerged. (New York Times)

What If You Built An Island Paradise And No One Came? - HULHUMALÉ, Maldives -- With an average altitude of just over three feet, this tiny island nation faces an imminent threat from rising sea levels caused by global warming. Luckily, it has a lifeboat: Technocrats have built a man-made island more than six feet high.

On paper, it's a tropical paradise. Capable of housing as many as 150,000 of the nation's 369,000 residents, Hulhumalé has a mosque, a school, a small office building and several hundred apartments. Planners even imported cows -- the only ones in the Maldives -- to make fertilizer.

According to the master plan, there will also be an arts center, a luxury hotel and marina, a leafy civic district and a big hospital to complement the Maldives' famous beachside bungalows and fancy resorts. The Muslim nation's plans even include an alcohol-free entertainment zone with a "Rard Rock Café."

But now Maldives officials are facing an uneasy truth: Just because you build it doesn't mean that people will come.

Much of the island remains an empty expanse of gravel lots and wan palm trees despite government efforts to relocate several thousand people here from Malé, the island capital just a couple of miles away. (Wall Street Journal)

Gaia nuts really don’t want people’s living standards to improve - Can the world afford the Tata Nano? - It costs just £1,277, allowing millions to buy a car for the first time. But green groups fear the planet will pay a heavy price…

It’s either the start of a people’s revolution or the trigger for social and environmental headaches across the globe. The Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, was unveiled with great fanfare in the Indian capital yesterday amid bright lights and blaring music.

An Example Of The 2007 IPCC Report Failure To Consider Policy Relevant Science - Climate Science has webloged on the paper listed below before (e.g. see), however, it is reported on again since this is such a clear example of inadequate attention given to this topic by the 2007 IPCC report. (Climate Science)

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Skeptical Climate Scientists - The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works has released an addendum to its list of 400-plus scientists who express some level of skepticism about man-made global warming. I highlight this because, well, it turns out that my name has made its way onto the list, so I now have to explain why and what it means to be a “skeptic.” (William M. Briggs, Statistician)

'What can we do about global warming?' - When 400 bona fide climate and atmospheric scientists, with impeccable credentials, say they don't buy into man-made catastrophic global warming, politician-for-life Al Gore, without any evidence to back up his scurrilous and defamatory accusation, suggests they are all being paid off by big business.

I think I'm very safe in making this statement without any investigation whatsoever: Al Gore has been paid off more by big business in his political career than all 400 of those scientists put together.

Yet, no one calls this Nobel Peace Prize winner on it. He can say anything and get away with it – even be rewarded for it. He can tell any lie – and take home awards for it. He can hurl slanderous accusations that describe no one better than himself.

Big business?

Name one big business that is fighting this global warming hysteria.

Everywhere I look I see big business joining the hysteria, using it as a marketing tool, claiming their products and services have small carbon footprints, whatever that means.

In fact, global warming hysteria is big business. I strongly believe that's what motivates Al Gore to be the Pied Piper of this global hoax. Isn't he in the business of selling carbon credits? Hasn't anyone figured out his racket yet? Gee, let's see. A guy comes along selling the end of the world and, also, coincidentally, selling the cure. Wouldn't you get just a little suspicious?

I'm shocked that so many Americans and others around the world have fallen for this. (Joseph Farah, WND)

Ah, scare campaigns… LCV gets into the act - U.S. campaign spurs bid to solve climate change - WASHINGTON - After just two early contests in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, some environmental groups are already declaring a winner: the issue of climate change.

Energy Balance at the Tropopause - The IPCC defines radiative forcing at the tropopause. However, nowhere do they provide a diagram showing energy balances above the tropopause and below the tropopause - something that seems like one of the first things to do. Instead, they show the Kiehl and Trenberth cartoon which treats the atmosphere as a whole without distinguishing balances above and below the layer said to be critical to radiative forcing calculations Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 online here. (Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 is a very good and interesting article and deservedly is widely cited and relied on.) Willis Eschenbach has attempted to make these estimates and has produced a very interesting calculation and diagram, doing exactly this. His calculation also sheds some interesting light on the IPCC/Houghton explanation of the enhanced greenhouse effect as being due to higher effective radiation from the troposphere. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

A Spot Check of Global Warming - Has the planet been heating as predicted? (New York Times)

Now, there’s a really good point - An e-mail copied to me today contained the statement:

Just remember, there is no such thing as a ‘climate event.’  Climate deals with long term trends. 

Is it possible that so much of today’s talking without listening stems from differing perspective of timeframe? Try Googling “climate event” and you’ll be offered some 14,500 links and yet the author of the above statement is perfectly correct, climate is the average of weather over time and hence cannot be an ‘event,’ which by definition is singular (something that happens, something that occurs in a certain place during a particular interval of time, like a game of baseball or football).

Wow! That’s a big southern sea ice anomaly in the southern summer! - Cryosphere Today has been displaying an error message of late, advising a hardware problem had corrupted their data and that timeseries shown were incorrect. This is gone now and clearly the southern hemisphere has established an observation record for sea ice in the southern hemisphere summer.

Global warming may not affect sea levels - Scientists have discovered that glaciers survived for hundreds of thousands of years during an era when crocodiles roamed the Arctic, reports Roger Highfield

The most pessimistic predictions of sea level rises as ice sheets are melted by global warming may have to be scaled back as a result of an extraordinary discovery that ice persisted when the Earth was much hotter than today.

Scientists have discovered that glaciers survived for hundreds of thousands of years during an extraordinary era when crocodiles roamed the Arctic and the tropical Atlantic Ocean was as warm as human blood.

They had thought that Earth was ice free during the so called Turonian period, a “super greenhouse world” between 93.5 million and 89.3 million years ago. But now evidence has been found of hothouse glaciers that persisted by studies of tiny plankton and other marine organisms.

Large ice-sheets existed about 91 million years ago, during one of the warmest periods in the past 500 million years, an international team of scientists reports in Science.

The scientists from the UK, Germany, USA and Netherlands found evidence of an approximate 200,000 year period of widespread glaciation, with ice sheets about 60 per cent the size of the modern Antarctic ice cap. (London Telegraph)

Deep Sea Probe to Track Australia Climate Change - SYDNEY - Australian and US scientists will send an unmanned submersible 2.5 kms (1.5 miles) deep into the ocean off Australia next week to track climate change by studying coral at unprecedented depths.

The joint project will film live and fossilised deep-sea coral off the coast of Australia's southern island state of Tasmania, studying coral growth rings which like tree rings can store centuries of information about the environment.

"Like tree rings, growth rings in corals indicate age. They also reflect changes over centuries and millennia in ocean chemistry and the ocean environment," Ron Thresher from the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said on Thursday. (Reuters)

Know a kid being victimized by global warming hysteria? Enter “The Sky’s Not Falling” video or essay contest and win! - Los Angeles, CA (Jan. 10, 2009) — Amused or just plain disgusted about what the kids in your life are learning about “climate change”? Then fire up your video camera or word processor and enter the “Sky’s Not Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill About Global Warming” contest.

Carbon offset warning from international team of scientists - Leading marine scientists from across the world have issued a warning that it is too early to sell carbon offsets from ocean iron fertilisation.

Published on Friday in the journal Science, signatories include scientists from the US, Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand, The Netherlands, India, Germany and the UK. The UK is represented by Prof Andrew Watson of the University of East Anglia and Dr Richard Lampitt of Southampton University’s National Oceanography Centre.

Prof Watson said: “While we do envision the possibility of iron fertilisation as an effective form of carbon offsetting, we believe larger scale experiments are needed to assess the efficiency of this method and to address possible side effects.

“There remain many unknowns and potential negative impacts.” (University of East Anglia)

Schwarzenegger to propose sweeping state government cuts - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday proposed a $101 billion spending plan that cuts virtually every function of state government to close a $14.5 billion budget gap.

"We are facing a very tough situation, but with tough times come historic opportunities," the governor said. "I am convinced the Legislature will help turn today's temporary problem into a permanent victory for the people of California by joining me to enact true budget reform."

The budget plan asks lawmakers to close state parks - including Sutter's Fort, the state Indian Museum and the historic Governor's Mansion in Sacramento - release prisoners, dramatically pare school funding, reduce Medi-Cal health services to the poor and reduce aid to the low-income blind, elderly and disabled. (Sacramento Bee)

Does this economy drive include dropping frivolous lawsuits over the phantom menace?

The Real World: Oil at $100 - Is $100 oil a cause to celebrate? The answer is, yes -- in the short term, and no -- in the long term. The answer also depends on who you are and where you sit.

Many oil exporting Middle Eastern government officials may think that the oil bonanza is here to stay. However, oil revenue is notoriously cyclical, with ups and downs wreaking havoc in the national budgetary process.

Petrodollars -- or petro-euros these days -- also have a nasty habit of causing a national addiction, crowding out non-oil sectors and making countries, business, and individuals dependent on one commodity only. This is hardly a prescription for a healthy economic model.

Yet, oil companies' owners, executives, and shareholders may be opening bottles of champagne, despite the end of the New Year's celebrations. But the business people, who run their agricultural, transportation, tourism, and airlines, are threatened with the rising production costs caused by high fuel prices.

Commuters are unhappy as an ever greater share of their incomes is allocated to transportation. Tenants and homeowners pay ever higher heating bills as energy costs correlate to oil prices.

And these are high: The year opened with $100 for a barrel of light sweet crude at the New York Mercantile Exchange, and there is no end in sight. And the rest of the economic omens are dire. (Ariel Cohen, The Heritage Foundation)

New Yorkers Paying More Than Ever to Keep Their Homes Warm This Winter - Despite a relatively mild winter so far, New Yorkers are paying more than ever to heat their homes, largely because of a surge in the prices of oil and natural gas. (New York Times)

Spitzer, industry pushing for more power plants to spur jobs - ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Eliot Spitzer's promise this week to unlock, then speed the process to build more power plants to spur jobs and cut business expenses drew an assist Thursday from the industry.

Spitzer said he will push a bill to "fast track" the building of power plants in a small, but closely watched element of his State of State speech in which he listed his top priorities of the 2008 legislative session.

The more expansive and direct mention in this year's speech comes as Consolidated Edison of New York reports record energy use in New York City and Westchester County, economic engines for the whole state. (Associated Press)

Environmental group sues over federal energy corridor plan - An environmental group sued the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday for designating an energy corridor in Arizona and California that will bypass normal reviews for new high-voltage power lines.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, naming the Energy Department and Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman as defendants.

In October, the federal government designated two corridors across broad swaths of the Southwest and mid-Atlantic, which have raised the ire of conservation groups around the country. While the purpose was to ease rules for new power lines where they're most needed, critics say the designation would also give power companies blanket approval. (Associated Press)

Futile Fight Against Fission - “At the end of this century, historians will wonder why we did not use all the technologies available to us. Our debates about nuclear will come to look petty in the extreme ... The green lobby should ... not lose credibility with its futile fight against fission.” (Camilla Cavendish, writing in The Times*, January 10, p. 17)

Now, it isn’t often that I quote Our Camilla (not that one!), who is as posh green as posh green as they come. But this morning, she undoubtedly deserves to be quoted for writing a brave piece of reality journalism about nuclear power: “The Government has today taken a step in the right direction, by standing up for nuclear.” Coming from Camilla, this note of down-to-Earth common sense carries weight and conviction, and sets her apart from the more dangerous and politically-opportune ‘Greens’. (Global Warming Politics)

Finance, not politics, remains biggest hurdle to nuclear power - A host of issues remain before Britain greets the first batch of nuclear plants since construction started on Sizewell B in Suffolk 20 years ago.

Planning constraints, a shortage of skills and complex waste arrangements are among the main obstacles. But the biggest hurdle remains the uncertainty over whether the right financial conditions exist to encourage private investment.

French and German utilities such as EDF and Eon have been pushing ministers for action to thwart an energy supply shortage and fight rising carbon emissions. (Guardian Unlimited)

Will Canada be the next oil superpower? - CALGARY -- Jeff Rubin has hit the bull's eye twice this decade with aggressive long-term oil-price forecasts, and if his latest prediction proves correct - oil at US$150 a barrel in the next four years - Canada will become a global oil superpower thanks to Alberta's oilsands.

In a report yesterday, Mr. Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said world oil supplies cannot keep pace with the accelerating rate at which existing fields are being depleted.

The bank's investment arm studied the world's 200 largest new oil projects, including those in the oilsands, and concluded output from many will be slowed in the next four years by protracted delays and cost overruns. (Jon Harding, Financial Post)

Hot Prospect for Oil’s Big League - A huge underwater oil field discovered late last year has the potential to transform Brazil into a sizable exporter and win it a seat at the table of the world’s oil cartel. (New York Times)

Race to Make Electric Cars Stalled by Battery Problems - DETROIT — When the car world gathers here Sunday for the annual North American International Auto Show, the industry will be buzzing about electric power. Auto makers from General Motors Corp. to Toyota Motor Corp. will be displaying a new breed of cars that run mainly on electricity.

But there is one thing the car people won’t be charged up about: batteries. For all the hoopla, nobody yet has figured out how to make a small enough battery that will hold a big enough charge for these new cars — and not be a risk to burst into flames. (Wall Street Journal)

How nanocones could help you stay dry - Were you soaked in last summer's heavy rainstorms? John Simpson, a senior research scientist at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has developed a new super-water-repellent coating that might make a dismal British summer more bearable. Although helping stay dry in bad weather is one application, Simpson believes that there are many other possibilities. (The Guardian)

Sarkozy mulls decision to bar transgenic corn - PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday was facing a decision whether to bar a strain of genetically-modified corn after a watchdog authority said it had "serious doubts" about the product.

Sarkozy told a press conference Thursday he was working with Prime Minister Francois Fillon towards a decision on suspending the Monsanto 810 maize, and would make an announcement in the "coming few days".

His task was complicated however after most of the scientists involved in the report complained that the authority had misrepresented their position. (AFP)

Cloning-for-Food Growth Seen Slow if FDA Approves - WASHINGTON - Regulatory approval could catalyze the nascent US cloning industry, but leading firms say growth would come slowly as they battle to win consumers over to the concept of food from cloned animals.

The US Food and Drug Administration could issue a final ruling as early as next week that meat and milk from cloned animals poses no special risks to consumers. (Reuters)

January 10, 2008

More George Soros-funded junk science... The Lancet's Political Hit - "Three weeks before the 2006 elections, the British medical journal Lancet published a bombshell report estimating that casualties in Iraq had exceeded 650,000 since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. We know that number was wildly exaggerated. The news is that now we know why." (Wall Street Journal)

Discuss this on the new blog: Feeling Murderers' Pain - Death Penalty: The Supreme Court this week heard arguments that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Euthanasia advocates consider it a blessing for the deathly ill. Yet it's cruel for the just plain deadly. (IBD)

Oh boy... Plastic bags to be axed by year's end - THE federal Government hopes to phase out plastic bags completely by the end of the year.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett today confirmed he would meet with his state counterparts, as soon as April, to develop a strategy to speed up the process.

“We would like to see the phase out implemented by 2008 ... that is absolutely critical,” Mr Garrett told Sky News. (AAP)

They really are struggling to find something for the old 'nightsoil howler to do, aren't they? We've not long been through the bag studies and inquiries:

Ditching plastic bags 'no real use' - The plan is supposed to save marine wildlife and reduce litter, but the Productivity Commission argues that not only is the plastic bag not a serious threat to wildlife, but governments have not taken into account the food-safety benefits of plastic bags or their typical re-use as liners for the garbage bin.

Instead, the commission argues that tougher anti-litter laws or harsher fines might be a better way of addressing litter
. (The Australian, May 23, 2006)

Truth in advertising - I just had to share one of the most reputable product companies online. Every page of the company’s website is informative and offers helpful health advice. And every word is true... and you can’t say that very often anymore! (Junkfood Science)

Surprise -- cholesterol may actually pose benefits, study shows - If you’re worried about high cholesterol levels and keeping heart-healthy as you get older, don’t push aside bacon and eggs just yet. A new study says they might actually provide a benefit. (Texas A&M University)

You can comment on this on the new blog, too: Yup! He’s lost his mind… - Straight to Michigan for McCain

McCain said he would work to find common ground with evangelicals by talking to them about his determination to curb climate change. “That’s clearly an issue in which I’m in sync with the evangelical community,” he said. (Juliet Eilperin, WashPost Blog)

McCain is a little confused and apparently now thinks he’s Al gore…

McCain thiks he's Al Gore

Note the following picture captioned “Protesters signs in the snow outside the state house in Concord, New Hampshire”

Warming in the snow...

Sure looks like “Gore effect”, doesn’t it?

Winter blunderland

Environmental extremism must be put in its place in the climate debate - All responsible citizens are ‘environmentalists’, but that is no reason to yield to mass delusions.

Many people are starting to realize that much of what they’ve been told about climate change by governments, the United Nations and crusading celebrities is simply wrong. Not surprisingly, the assertion that “the science is settled” in a field the public is coming to understand is both immature and quickly evolving, is triggering growing public skepticism. Alarmists respond by upping the ante, making even more extreme and nonsensical forecasts, which in turn further fuels healthy public disbelief.

This pattern of exaggerated, and finally ludicrous assertions influencing debate in society is an old story. Extremists and extremism have always defined the limits for the majority. Climate extremism will increase in the near future as purveyors of politically correct but flawed views of climate change attempt to defend the indefensible.

Realization of this misdirection, and in many cases, deception, leads to the next stage in the life cycle of such mass delusions. People begin to ask, “What is the motivation for the scare? How was society so easily misled? Why did so many otherwise intelligent people accept or even promote the scare? (Tim Ball & Tom Harris, CFP)

Video: Briefing at the National Press Club on Energy Policy TV - Energy Policy TV on the Climate Channel

See the video on the Climate Channel where researchers discuss a scientific paper by climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia that reports that observed patterns of temperature changes over the last 30 years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict. These researchers say climate warming is naturally caused, shows no significant human influence, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

Part 1 is here. Part II can be found here. (h/t Joe D'Aleo, Icecap)

How not to measure Temperature, part 46. Reno’s USHCN Station - Last summer I attempted to do a survey of Reno’s USHCN official climate station. But I was thwarted by its placement at the Reno International Airport due to security and lack of accessible photographic vantage points. Reno’s USHCN station is particularly important due to it being part of the test cases of stations in the new USHCN2 scheme being implemented by NCDC. It’s also important due to it’s steep temperature trend which appears to be more of an urban heat island issue than a climate change issue. It shows up as a hot spot in USHCN contours done by Steve McIntyre. (Watts Up With That?)

Editorial: Global Warming from a Critical Perspective - Please Note: As I indicated below, these remarks express my own considered opinion and should not be construed as representing any official position of the Executive Board of the New England Section of the American Physical Society. (L.I. Gould; January 9, 2008)

This Editorial was inspired by the global warming issue that has appeared over several years in the pages of the APS News and Physics Today (e.g., 1/07, p.72; 8/06, p. 74; 10/04, p. 37; 6/04, p. 60; 6/01, p. 19). Although I have seen many articles arguing for the reality and danger of anthropogenic greenhouse warming (AGW), I have rarely seen one that presents scientific arguments against the AGW claims; the salient exception being a Letter in Physics Today (March 2007, p. 14) by Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, wherein he mentions a distortion, by an editor of Nature, who changed the title and thus altered the meaning of a colleague’s paper that was submitted for publication.

A few examples of the one-sided presentation, giving only the case for AGW, come to mind from the pages of the APS News. In the April 2006 issue there is an attack, by James Hansen, on the “Scientific Method” of Michael Crichton (and also, on Pat Michaels). Hansen argues that both Crichton (and Michaels) are treading close to “scientific fraud.” What is disturbing about Hansen’s article is that he gives no explicit references to works by Crichton or by Michaels to substantiate the accusations he makes against them. And even more disturbing is that I have seen no reply in the APS News from either Crichton or from Michaels.

In the February 2006 issue of the APS News there is an article “Changing the Climate… of Public Opinion” by Spencer Weart. In this article there appears the sentence: “In the present century, every respectable [my stress] panel has concluded that it [“greenhouse warming”] probably will be a severe problem, and soon.” The implication seems to be that anyone who has a contrary argument is not “respectable” — yet there are many leading climatologists (such as Richard Lindzen of MIT) who have very good arguments disagreeing with Spencer Weart’s position.

There is (I have found) a huge problem in getting to learn of both sides of the AGW debate. But this “debate” needs to be aired, regardless of what is being presented to scientists and to the public as the “truth” about AGW. As Leo Kadanoff wrote (though not about AGW per se), at the conclusion of his “reference frame” column in Physics Today (September 2006, p. 9):

In the long run, there is something in it for all of us. Education aimed at the evidence-based pursuit of truth can help the community gain tools for a better understanding of the world. Evidence-based argumentation can help scientists, engineers, business people, national leaders—everyone—make better decisions.

What follows are some critical-thinking issues about AGW and resources the reader can use to try avoiding methodological errors and see alternative explanations concerning global warming. (Laurence I. Gould, American Physical Society’s New England Section Newsletter 13, Number 2 (Fall 2007) via SPPI)

This one is likely to draw hostile comments from the carbon posse: Part of the problem: The Road from Climate Science to Climate Advocacy - [See discussion following] Richard C. J. Somerville, a climatologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego, is one of a growing array of scientists who have chosen to move beyond studying heat transfer and cloud physics and take on the role of activist: prodding society to move aggressively to cut greenhouse gases.

It is a sticky position, and comes with risks, not the least of which is the potential for opponents of gas restrictions to raise questions about a scientist-advocate’s objectivity back in the research world. But Dr. Somerville, who has also contributed to several reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the risks that attend further silence, in the face of ever-growing emissions of heat-trapping gases, are far greater.

Last month, he attended the climate-treaty talks in Bali as part of a small delegation representing 200 scientists who signed a declaration pressing negotiators to commit to preventing the global temperature from rising more than 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above where it is now (roughly 59 degrees). (Andrew C Revkin, New York Times)

Among the subsequent assertions is another one by Revkin that perhaps requires further examination: “As I say in the story I wrote last summer for AARP Magazine touching on the debate, the focus on winners and losers distracts from the issues that were NOT in debate (that more CO2 will warm the world, and it’s a hard process to undo once done).”

To a point this assertion is true, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and greenhouse gases do slow the loss of heat to space, leaving us a habitable planet. How much warming is another matter entirely. What is rarely discussed and never explained is how increased levels of trace gases might limit physical transport (this is how physical greenhouses actually work, despite quite ridiculous claims about glass and infrared radiation). The IPCC also uses a dodgy model: (continued on the blog)

On the blog: Rearranging the (thermal) furniture - El Niño gives us grounds seriously to doubt that the average global surface temperature is a sound measure of whether the Earth is either warming or cooling. El Niño is purely a phenomenon of convection. It contains no heat sources and just rearranges the heat there is (mainly in the oceans). Yet El Niño is widely credited with producing a “record” surface temperature in 1998. Consequently it influences the slope of trend lines, particularly those over relatively short periods and terminating around that time. Such were widely used to justify the claim that the planet is warming. (Number Watch)

A New Paper - Numerical Experiments on Fair-Weather Clouds Forming By Tadao Inoue and Fujio Kimura - There is a important new paper in the journal SOLA on the role of urban areas within the climate system. The paper is Tadao Inoue and Fujio Kimura; 2007: Numerical Experiments on Fair-Weather Clouds Forming over the Urban Area in Northern Tokyo. SOLA, in press. (Climate Science)

As arctic ice melts, South Pole ice grows - Scientists are puzzled, but the phenomenon seems to fit the latest global-warming models. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Is there anything which doesn't fit the infinitely tweakable worlds of PlayStation® Climatology?

Groups to Sue for Polar Bear Protection - ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Three conservation groups notified the federal government Wednesday they intend to sue to get polar bears listed as a threatened species due to global warming.

The formal notice filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace is a necessary step before a lawsuit is filed. The notice cited a missed deadline by the federal agencies and officials in Washington on whether polar bears will be listed. (Associated Press)

See what our blog author Harbinger has to say in For Polar Bears, read Penguins…

Garth George: Great global warming debate a bunch of hot air - For a couple of weeks in December, 10,000-odd politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, activists and journalists from over 100 countries invaded Bali for a conference on climate change that probably created enough carbon debits to keep a country like ours in hock for years.

And, of course, it generated vast amounts of hot air which, if global warming had anything to do with mankind's activities, would have seriously contributed to the problem.

This newspaper devoted a page (generally tinted green) a day to the two-week talkfest, but nowhere was there mention of what could have been the most important document tabled. (New Zealand Herald)

Wednesday Charivari - Today, I thought I would provide a quick round up of some interesting events and comment from the ‘Confused Noise’ that is our modern world: (Global Warming Politics)

WEF Warns 2008 Uncertainties May Hurt Climate Fight - LONDON - A stronger focus on turbulent financial markets and escalating geopolitical tension in 2008 could prompt governments and companies to neglect less immediate risks such as climate change and food security, the World Economic Forum warned.

That, the Geneva-based group said, could make it even harder to deal with these critical, longer-term issues in the future.

"Action to mitigate climate change, for example, may be put in danger should the global economy weaken substantially, even though many of the ... decisions which will shape the future path of global climate will need to be made in the next five years," the WEF said in a report published on Wednesday.

"(Inaction) on long-term risks will only weaken the global capacity to manage future challenges." (Reuters)

Actually it's squandering funds and effort fighting the phantom menace that weakens the global capacity to manage future challenges. There is no upside to "the climate fight".

From the blog: Not sticking to the script… - Transport emissions study ‘misleading’ say experts

Experts are calling “misleading” a study which suggests that emissions from the shipping industry cool the world and will continue to do so for centuries. The study was published in a leading scientific journal on Monday.

“The conclusions may be misleading to policymakers if they take this paper to be an assessment of the future impact of transport modes,” Alice Bows of the Tyndall Centre in the UK told New Scientist.

The study, by Norwegian researchers, calculated what the climatic effects of each form of transport (aviation, shipping, rail, and road) have been since modern industry was born in the late 1800s.

It found that road transport has so far been responsible for warming temperatures the most.

The warming effect of road transport, say the researchers, has been twice that of emissions produced by the airline industry. They also say that since the late 1800s shipping emissions appear to have cooled global temperatures roughly as much as aviation has warmed it.

EU, World Bank Eye Loan for Climate Change Fight - BRUSSELS - The European Union and the World Bank are discussing raising a major long-term loan to help poorest countries fund essential measures to combat climate change, the EU's development chief said on Wednesday.

Industrialised countries would borrow the money on the international capital markets and advance it to developing states to help reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and protect them from environmental damage, Development Commissioner Louis Michel told reporters.

The size of the fund had not yet been discussed but it could involve the "colossal sums" needed to help poor countries fight against global warming, he said. (Reuters)

Discuss this on the blog: January tornados - The news stories already are stating that the January tornado outbreak in Midwest is “rare” and “unbelievable”, etc., intimating that it is due to global warming.  None of those reporters are going to mention this little tidbit (actually pretty large and detailed) article in Wikipedia.

Oh... Global warming could hit rural health - GLOBAL warming could hit human health in remote Australia hard by causing irregular disease distribution and extreme weather, according to a new study.

Severe weather events, such as droughts, heatwaves, flooding and cyclones, may occur, disrupting agriculture and thus food production, said the study by the University of Adelaide's Department of Public Health and the School of Rural Management at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales. (The Australian)

Climate command-and-control... State proposes to take control of home temps - "California utilities would control the temperature of new homes and commercial buildings in emergencies with a radio-controlled thermostat, under a proposed state update to building energy efficiency standards." (North County Times)

How long will it be until they control our home and work thermostats at all times?

Global warming makes capitalism an endangered species? California Utilities Amp Up Push To Slash Energy Use - "Under California's plan, the utilities would be awarded cash equal to 12% of the costs they avoid if they meet or exceed their targets; the combined figure could range from $324 million to $450 million. Each utility earns those bonuses -- or penalties -- based on its own performance, which it has to document for regulators. They can win partial payments for coming close to their energy-saving goals, but if they miss by too much they start getting docked. For instance, if they each fall short by half, the penalties would total $234 million. The public utilities commission recently signaled it may lower the bar, however, making it easier to qualify for big bonuses -- and less likely utilities will pay penalties. (Wall Street Journal)

California taxpayers are paying PG&E to reduce its revenues.

Who could get sued for global warming - It's not who you think. One report identifies a toymaker and cruise operator among firms most at risk for not telling shareholders enough. (Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com)

The emissions shell game... Emissions target threat to EU industry - "Plans to tighten up the rationing of greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the loss of some heavy industries from the European Union, according to official documents." (Financial Times)

CO2 emissions aren't being reduced -- just transferred to Eastern Europe, India, China, etc.

Report Finds Rising Tide of Green Financing - BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 9 - There appears to be hope for the planet yet.

After much urging and dire threats, the global economy, much like a stubborn and temperamental toddler, is starting to reluctantly turn towards sustainability, according to the "State of the World 2008" report released by the Worldwatch Institute Wednesday.

"Innovative green efforts by governments and business are becoming commonplace," said Gary Gardner of Worldwatch, a U.S.-based environmental think tank.

"While green projects are no longer marginal, they are still a long ways from being mainstream," Gardner, co-director of the report, an annual summary that usually focuses on documenting environmental declines around the world, told IPS.

The report describes a host of new economic opportunities that are attracting capital. An estimated 52 billion dollars was invested in renewable energy in 2006, up 33 percent from 2005. Preliminary estimates indicate that the figure reached 66 billion dollars in 2007. Carbon trading is growing even more explosively, reaching an estimated 30 billion dollars in 2006, nearly triple the amount traded in 2005.

"Renewable energy is close to taking off on its own. It doesn't need much help from environmentalists any more," Gardner said. (Stephen Leahy, IPS)

Um... no. What they are looking at is a rising tide of subsidy farming but that has nothing to do with 'self-sufficient renewables' and everything to do with rent-seeking lobbies.

Is Ethanol for Everybody? - Near what remains of the first sugar factory in Brazil, built in 1877 with a sign in Latin over the entrance that translates as “Sweet is the Reward of Work,” Danuza Gomes da Silva swings a glinting knife as she makes her way down the length of a field cutting cane.

She bends to slice the sticks of young cane dropped by other workers from the top of a truck. Again and again she straightens. A band of 12 laborers like hers plants about 10 acres a day. Sugar cane buds easily from the plowed furrows, and it grows fast. But the work associated with it is hard.

Danuza, round-faced and soft-eyed, makes between $8 and $13 a day depending on her productivity. At 35, she has four young children. Only 20 percent of the 7.5 million acres planted with sugar cane in Brazil is mechanized. The rest depends on manual labor like hers.

“I don’t want to lose my job,” she says, a smile on her face, the oversized cleaver in her hand.

Machines that plant and harvest are slowly spreading across the expanse of Brazilian cane fields. But Danuza’s harsh existence is a reminder that behind the global buzz over Brazil’s cane-based ethanol production — the 21st century’s environment-friendly biofuel par excellence — lurk enduring social problems.

Ethanol, renewable and relatively clean, is lovely. The life of the migrant Brazilian rural worker, finite and hot, is not. (Roger Cohen, New York Times)

Power groups bite back at Darling - Chancellor Alistair Darling's bid to portray himself as a consumers' champion over soaring energy bills has back-fired spectacularly, with power companies revealing that higher Treasury taxes account for almost 50pc of last weeks' rise in household energy bills.

Following swingeing price hikes announced by npower, expected to be followed soon by British Gas, Mr Darling summoned the head of energy watchdog Ofgem, Alistair Buchanan, to a meeting at the Treasury to explain what can be done about escalating bills.

But energy companies look ready for a showdown with the Chancellor if he attempts to demonise them for raising prices. One company said yesterday: "Mr Darling can grand-stand all he wants, but we will not let him forget that a sizeable chunk of price rises is due to higher "green" taxes and other costs introduced by the Treasury." (London Telegraph)

Italy Renews Nuclear Power Debate - MILAN - Simmering debate of a nuclear energy relaunch in Italy, banned 20 years ago in a referendum, got a fresh boost on Wednesday with the news that major utilities were to draft a plan to build nuclear power stations. (Reuters)

THAILAND: Green Groups Will Take GM Crops Issue To Court - BANGKOK, Jan 9 - Thai environmentalists are banking on the country’s courts to overturn a decision by the military-appointed government to allow field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops.

A court battle is the only way to keep the country free from being contaminated by GM crops say green groups aghast that the government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has moved to secure cabinet approval to permit field trials just two days after the Dec. 23 parliamentary elections. (IPS)

French Experts Say Doubts Remain on GMO Maize Risks - PARIS - French experts said on Wednesday serious doubts remained over whether the only genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in France was safe, a move likely to prompt the extension of a current ban on GMOs. (Reuters)

French Farmers Say Government Playing GMO Games - PARIS - France's main farm union on Wednesday accused the government of playing political games on the issue of genetically modified (GMO) crops and cast doubt on the country's ability to defy the European Union on the issue. (Reuters)

January 9, 2008

Must have brass ones… - Over the holidays there was a press release from the ‘Space and Science Research Center’ making some extravagant claims and which resulted in calls for information, the results of which were posted here. At the time it was unclear how Casey expected to profit from his actions — now we know. The following turned up in my mail box: (JunkScience.com)

Eat that, Peta! Climate change cure is warm and fuzzy - CANADA: I am starting to warm to this whole climate change business. Arrived in Vancouver for a night just before 2007 drew to a close. With barely a few hours remaining before the stores closed, I raced out and bought a fur coat. A long coat cascading down to my ankles, light as a feather and as warm as a ... well ... fur.

A few days later, despite sub-zero mountain temperatures, I am still positively glowing with warmth from my new fur. Not just because animal skins protect from the cold. No, there is the unexpected, more cerebral, inner-warmth that comes from learning that by buying a fur, I have done the right green thing. According to the Fur Council of Canada's new ad campaign, fur is now eco-fashion. That's right. Wrapping yourself in a fur is a guilt-free pleasure. More than that, it's positively good for the planet.

Barely 10 days in, I am loving 2008. It holds the promise of lots more surprises from green politics as the climate change juggernaut continues to head in the most unlikely directions.

Let me explain. At the weekend, Canada's National Post reported on an advertising campaign launched at the end of last year by the Fur Council of Canada, which represents 70,000 of the nation's fur traders. These sassy new ads feature gorgeous women draped in fur, one under the heading "Environmental activist". The ads explain that buying a fur coat is the ecologically correct thing to do because fox stoles and mink coats are natural, renewable and sustainable. By contrast, synthetic furs are no more than by-products of the petro-chemical industry. Making a single faux fur coat can chew up 19 litres of petroleum, a non-renewable resource, says the council. Ergo, buying a fur coat is good for the planet.

Welcome to the brave new world of climate change politics. (Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian)

UN Climate Chief to Visit Antarctica - OSLO, Norway — The next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should deal with the "frightening" possibility that both Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets start melting at the same time, the chief U.N. climate scientist said Tuesday.

The panel, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, has released four climate assessment reports, including summaries for policymakers that are approved by government representatives.

Though there are no firm plans for a fifth report, the panel is still inviting scientists to submit material on glaciers in both the far north and south, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said.

"My hope is in the next report, if there is one, will be able to provide much better information on the possibility of these two large bodies of ice possibly melting, in what seems like a frightening situation," Pachauri said during a visit to Oslo. (AP)

On the topic of the assessment reports, JunkScience.com has established a mirror of IPCC_TAR (because official sites are apparently being taken down) and would like to archive all the reports. Does anyone have, or can they create digital copies of FAR and/or SAR? We’d love to hear from you.

Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent now greater than last year (Tom Nelson)

California USHCN station surveys are complete - I’m pleased to announce completion of USHCN station surveys for California’s USHCN stations. (Watts Up with That?)

Please Permit Me To Rant And Rave A Bit - Every now and then it just builds up to the point where I have to let it loose. I can watch and listen only so long before I need to release the pent up pressure...and now I've gotten to that point. Over and over again I hear the suits on TV go on and on about this "unbelievable" weather and how it is so much warmer than it "should" be. Right there...in that one short little sentence...were two of my hot button phrases that really get me steamed.

First of all......"unbelievable".....if you don't expect me to believe you about this weather....why tell me about it???? And if you tell me about it...don't you expect me to believe you????? So...why is it "unbelievable"...it may be amazing and astounding and shocking and extraordinary.....but....it's not UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

Secondly is use of the word "should" in the context of ...temperatures at this time of year "should" be in the 30s. Use of the word "should" implies a duty or responsibility to do or be something. For example...you "should" be a good boy.....or....you "should" drive carefully...or be on time for work. But to say that temperatures at a particular time of year "should" be at certain levels is just not appropriate. The atmosphere has no obligation to produce temperatures at certain levels. Over a long period of time we can compute an average temperature for a particular place but that doesn't imply the temperature "should" be, or has some obligation to be, at that level at any particular time. In fact, the most unusual weather...and indeed it would be truly "unbelievable", if the temperature was to be normal all of the time. ...... that just doesn't happen and we "should" not expect it to be so.

Ahhhhhh.......that was good and I feel much better....thank you for allowing me to rant and rave a bit. (Joe Sobel, AccuWeather)

Former television meteorologist Anthony Watts provides some explanation:

  1. Many TV meteorologists don't have control over their on-air content. Especially in large TV markets, the news director and producer often define what role weather has in the show. The maxim of "if it bleeds it leads" often applies to weather when weather is severe. "If it burns it earns" might apply to ratings and the AGW "crisis".
  2. Sometimes, there is undue pressure to sensationalize normal weather events, because of the trend of TV news towards such sensationalism. Just look at how TV news often take common ordinary things and turns them into "sensational" live stories these days.
  3. Those TV meteorologists that want to tone down sensationalism in their own reporting often find themselves at the short end of the negotiating stick when contract renewal comes due. Rarely if ever does "how accurate have your forecasts been?" come into play, its all about ratings. Its all about the talent persona and how that persona is perceived by the viewer. If the TV meteorologist doesn't toe the line in the branding such as "Action News" they can be looked at as "not a team player". They may not want to go along with sensationalism, but they want to keep the job. Economics trumps factualism in many such situations.
  4. Even in my own small town there recently has been a change to "Action News" branding. Now I'm seeing transitions between news stories with an animated graphic and a "swoosh" sound effect. Does it make the product any better? IMHO, not at all, but it does make it seem more "action" oriented. I blame Hollywood. Which is why we hear laser blasts and explosions in deep space during sci-fi movies. Reality is boring, "swoosh" rules.
  5. Television news has changed in the last 20 years from being information oriented to entertainment oriented. Witness the daily Britney report if you don't believe me. Thus, it is more about telling an engaging story, or being first, than it is about accuracy.
  6. Science and entertainment merged in Al Gore's AIT slideshow. Given that example, it is not surprising to see it emulated in TV news when weather is discussed.

Media Promotes Global Warming Alarmism - About this time last year, Dr. Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit of East Anglia University in Britain, predicted 2007 would be the warmest year on record.

It didn't turn out that way. 2007 was only the 9th warmest year since global temperature readings were first made in 1861.

2007 was also the coldest year of this century, noted Czech physicist Lubos Motl.

Both global warming alarmists like Dr. Jones and skeptics like Dr. Motl forecast that this year will be slightly cooler than last year. If so, that means it will be a decade since the high water mark in global temperature was set in 1998.

And the trend line is down. Average global temperature in 2007 was lower than for 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. November of last year was the coldest month since January of 2000, and December was colder still.

"Global warming has stopped," said David Whitehouse, former science editor for the BBC. "It's not a viewpoint or a skeptic's inaccuracy. It's an observational fact." (Jack Kelly, Real Clear Politics)

Well, yes, the media does promote alarmism -- no argument there.

What we take issue with -- and point out repeatedly -- is that a few tenths of a degree one way or the other is neither here nor there in global temperatures. The world is likely warmer now than it was in the Dickensian period of frost fairs on the Thames (although the fact the Thames no longer freezes is not proof since London dumps an extraordinary amount of heat into the Thames with its wastewater, for example) and few would argue that either people or wildlife would be better off with a return to the bitter winters described for the period.

The biggest warming guess at the moment is GISTEMP (although the accuracy is most suspect given their propensity to extrapolate 1200Km from the nearest recording point: "Our analysis differs from others by including estimated temperatures up to 1200 km from the nearest measurement station" (Hansen, J.E., and S. Lebedeff 1987. Global trends of measured surface air temperature. J. Geophys. Res. 92, 13345-13372)) -- taking New York, New York's temperature with devices in Atlanta, Georgia is an ambitious undertaking, to say the least and that is basically what they are claiming to be able to do. Even so their estimated anomaly for December 2007 was less than four-tenths of one kelvin warmer than the average 1951-1980.

At the other end of the accuracy scale, with the greatest global coverage too, is the UAH MSU series at about one-tenth warmer than the 1979-1998 average. Pretty hard to pick any serious trend from their time series though, especially since hemispheric temperatures in the lower troposphere oscillate ~10 kelvins through the year and the mean global temperature varies by more than 2.

The National Climatic Data Center calculate their anomalies against expected global mean near-surface temperatures ranging from 12.0 °C in January to 15.8 °C in July, so they expect an oscillation of 3.8 kelvins through an 'average' year.

Do we really think short-term changes of a few tenths worth getting excited about?

Heck, even Hansen admits we don't even have an agreement on what we are trying to measure, let alone how to go about doing so.

Forecast Verification for Climate Science, Part 2 - Yesterday I posted a figure showing how surface temperatures compare with IPCC model predictions. I chose to use the RSS satellite record under the assumption that the recent IPCC and CCSP reports were both correct in their conclusions that the surface and satellite records have been reconciled. It turns out that my reliance of the IPCC and CCSP may have been mistaken. (Prometheus)

Liberals and Mathematical Models - I just don't understand American liberals and their attitude toward mathematical models. The left places an inordinate amount of faith in untested models predicting man-made warming of the global climate, while ignoring time-tested mathematical models in another important field important to all Americans.  (Jerome J. Schmitt, American Thinker)

An Invitation To Authors Of Climate Science Papers - This weblog invites authors of new peer reviewed papers in research areas in which Climate Science has expertise (peer review is defined as those which are included in the list of journals by Thomson Scientific) to contact Climate Science to write a guest weblog on their paper and its significance to climate science. Also, please alert Climate Science by e-mail if there are important new peer reviewed papers that you feel would be of interest to our readers. These papers must be in press or published to be considered.

Climate Science, of course, will retain the final say as to which papers fit appropriately into the topic of climate science, as well as those subjects within this field in which Climate Science has expertise to comment on. All scientific perspectives of views on these climate science issues that are presented in peer reviewed papers are encouraged. (Climate Science)

Musings on Satellite Temperatures - A couple of interesting items have come to light recently regarding the temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere as measured by satellites. Here we run briefly run through some of them, in no particular order. (WCR)

Sir John Houghton on the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect - Yesterday I collated IPCC AR3 and AR4 “expositions” of the enhanced greenhouse effect, observing that, in my opinion, they were so baby food as to be essentially useless to a scientist from another discipline. Today I’m going to drill a little deeper in the expositions, going to a 1995 journal comment by Houghton and to his text, Global Warming: the complete briefing, to see if either contains a more useful exposition. I’ll also comment on why I find the IPCC heuristic particularly unsatisfying. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

Why is the greenhouse effect logarithmic? - Steve McIntyre at climateaudit.org has started a kind of thoughtful and holy crusade ;-) against the logarithmic formula for the greenhouse effect. Instead of joining him, let me post my explanation why I think that the idealized greenhouse warming is a logarithmic function of the concentration under semi-realistic idealized assumptions. (Luboš Motl, The Reference Frame)

That virtual world again: Japan sees temperatures up 4.7 C on global warming - TOKYO - The average temperature in Japan could rise by up to 4.7 degrees Celsius (8.5 Fahrenheit) this century unless steps are taken to combat global warming, the Environment Ministry said on Wednesday.

Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, could face a rise in the average temperature of 1.3-4.7 C (2.3-8.5 F) in the 2070-2099 period from levels registered in 1961-1990, the ministry said in a report. (Reuters)

UN Climate Panel Head Probably Seeking Re-Election - OSLO - India's Rajendra Pachauri said on Monday he will probably seek a new term as head of the UN climate panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore. (Reuters)

IPCC's Pachauri Lose Face and Temper in Discussion with Norwegian Author - Norwegian author Onar Åm, took IPCC's chairman Rajendra Kumar Pachauri to task at a debate at the University of Stavanger, Norway on Monday this week.

Åm published his book "Battle over climate –In defense of humanity" in December at the Press Club in Oslo. I have only leafed through the book so far, but its choked full of hard science, mixed up with the same moral argument that Bjørn Lomborg makes; we have to prioritize our resources, and poverty is more pressing than anything else. He is also a very well known figure in the Norwegian blogosphere.

According to Norwegian Aftenbladet, Pachauri had done his usual alarmist presentation in a good mood. He even included a joke about 20-30 percent of species will die out as a cause of global warming, and this extinction would include climate skeptics. (Cooler Heads Blog)

Wow! Fred seeing the light? Climate change is not an excuse for genocide - Climate change is becoming an excuse for governments to wage war and for misguided Western apologists to wring their hands and look the other way.

Take Darfur. Lots of people - from the Sudanese government to Western experts like the sainted development economist Jeffrey Sachs - wring their hands about how the conflict in the Sahara is being caused by climate change.

"Rainfall has decreased by 40 per cent. Population has tripled. Imagine the ecological distress. Sudan is not equipped to handle it," Sachs, of Columbia University's Earth Institute, told a recent conference I attended in Vienna.

But talk to the climate change people and they say there is no strong evidence that shifting climate zones are anything more than the regular ebb and flow of the rains.

And worse, blaming climate change distracts attention from the real ethnic, military, economic and political causes of conflict there, including what many regard as genocide.

Climate change is being used as "a convenient excuse for wars, violence, conflict and bigotry brought on by migration," says Mike Hulme, until recently director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich. (Fred Pearce, London Telegraph)

The week...the consensus...died? - Sometime in the recent past, there was supposed to be this complete "consensus" that the earth was facing catastrophic global warming caused by human CO2 emissions. Anyone not buying this alleged consensus was supposed to be misinformed or paid off by Big Oil.

The first week of 2008 was rather remarkable in that three different mainstream news sources published articles strongly questioning some or all of that consensus. (Tom Nelson)

Will Global Warming Generate America's Fourth Great Awakening? - We have just ended the season when every environmental group to whom we've contributed, the NWF, WS, Sierra Club, and others, sends appeals for more funds. If you have ever contributed to these groups, you've no doubt been approached to join the Global Warming Crusade.

Will this crusade become America's Fourth Great Awakening? The First Awakening fostered the American Revolution by providing pre-Revolutionary America with a radical and democratic social and political ideology. The Second applied Christian teaching to politics. Stressing social reform as part of God's plan, it amplified abolitionist sentiments and helped precipitate the Civil War. The Third Great Awakening of the late 1800s and early 1900s gave rise to the reforms of the "social gospel" movement and fostered Progressive Era reforms.

Climate change has generated a movement to unite secular Greens who revere Gaia with Christian followers. A decade ago, Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, suggested it: "The environmental movement for the past quarter of a century has made no more profound error than to misunderstand the mission of religion and the churches in preserving the Creation." He and other Green leaders found common cause in the recent Bali climate conference. (John Baden, TCS Daily)

New approach needed to save coral reefs-study - LONDON - A growing human population is pushing coral reefs in the Caribbean to breaking point and saving them will require a new, larger-scale approach, researchers said on Tuesday.

Coral reefs have long been under threat but pinpointing whether overfishing, climate change or development is the main culprit has proved both contentious and difficult, said Camilo Mora, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Canada.

In their study, researchers monitored coral reefs in 322 sites across 13 countries throughout the Caribbean and analyzed databases on fishing, sedimentation and population growth.

The team, which also looked at agricultural land use, temperature, hurricanes, coral disease and richness of the reefs, determined that coastal development was most harmful.

"The study showed clearly that the number of people living in close proximity to coral reefs is the main driver of mortality of corals," the researchers said in the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. (Reuters)

Incurable dengue disease could spread in US: Researchers - WASHINGTON: Incurable, mosquito-borne dengue disease could spread from subtropical areas into the United States through global warming, requiring greater efforts to combat it, health authorities said in commentary.

"Widespread appearance of dengue in the continental US is a real possibility," said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, in commentary published in Journal of the American Medical Association. (AFP)

Guess what? Dengue doesn't require sub tropical conditions and while its widespread appearance in the US is a possibility it has nothing to do with warming, global or otherwise.

Climate change contest launched - A £1m competition to find the brightest ideas to help fight climate change is being launched.

The Big Green Challenge is looking for people's best 'Eureka moments' for reducing carbon emissions.

The top 10 finalists will be given funding to help to turn their ideas into reality.

The group with the most imaginative and successful idea will receive the lion's share of the £1m prize money which will be awarded next year. (BBC)

Shiny crops could slow global warming, scientists say - Forget mirrors in space and seeding the oceans with iron, scientists have come up with a new way to tackle the looming threat of global warming: fields of shiny crops.

Experts at the University of California, Irvine, say reflective plants could send more of the sun's heat back into space, and even reverse temperature rises in parts of the world. Encouraging farmers to grow shinier crops could reduce maximum daytime temperatures in agricultural regions by as much as 1.9C, they say.

The scientists are unwilling to discuss their idea until it is published in an academic journal later this year, but they revealed the details last month at a special geoengineering session of the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Some climate experts say that such emergency geoengineering measures, including artificial volcanoes and orbiting sunshades, could be needed in future to tackle rising temperatures, if world leaders fail to constrain soaring greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back from land, called its albedo, could offset the damaging effects of the loss of Arctic ice, where the shiny white polar cap is being steadily replaced by darker water, which absorbs more heat. (Guardian Unlimited)

Not entirely implausible and possibly spawned from the hypothesis Europe triggered the Little Ice Age clearing dark forests for agriculture and lumber for housing and ships. That of course would open another can of worms for AGW advocates since we would have since seen a recovery as Earth 'healed' from anthropogenic cooling rather than 'suffering' anthropogenic warming now. Better not mention European deforestation of the 12th through 18th Centuries then.

Journey Begins - The Age last year launched a greenhouse gas indicator to shame its small readership into living miserably:

This will enable readers to monitor how the state’s power and energy sources are being used. We also hope for individual results: that each person who consults the indicators will perhaps be a little more energy-efficient and, at the same time, contribute to the overall aim to bring emissions down to more acceptable levels. As Mao Zedong said, a journey of a thousand of miles begins with a single step.

Great environmentalist Mao brought humans down to “more acceptable levels”. Let’s see how the Age’s campaign is working out:

Annual greenhouse gas emissions from energy in Victoria have soared by nearly 30% ...

According to the greenhouse indicator, a world-first project designed to track a state’s continuing contribution to climate change, Victoria emitted 103.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2007, compared with 80 million tonnes in 1990.

Keep on trackin’, li’l greenhouse indicator. (Tim Blair)

F.T.C. Asks if Carbon-Offset Money Is Well Spent - Corporations and shoppers in the United States spent more than $54 million in 2007 on carbon offset credits, but where exactly is that money going? (New York Times)

EU split over plan to levy import tax on polluters - A row has erupted in Brussels over proposals to introduce a carbon tax on goods entering the European Union from countries that fail to take measures to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

The tax would hit powerful emerging market exporters, such as China, which do not comply with the Kyoto treaty on climate change. The proposal is opposed by Peter Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner, who fears that it would fall foul of World Trade Organisation rules.

Sources at Mr Mandelson’s office said the proposal was “dead”, while a spokesman for Stavros Dimas, the Environment Commissioner, said several drafts of the proposal were being discussed and debated. “It’s at the beginning of the process,” he said. (London Times)

Carbon trading at heart of Tory global warming plan - OTTAWA -- At the beginning of each year, European countries set a cap on the greenhouse gas pollution from 12,000 of the largest polluting companies in their territory.

These caps have spawned a new green economy trading industry that was estimated to be worth $30-billion in 2006, doubling to nearly $65-billion in 2007, and is now at the heart of the Harper government's plan to force polluters to pay for pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. (Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service)

EU emissions quotas too generous / Trading scheme may require major overhaul - The European Union's emissions trading scheme, seen as the bloc's trump card in reducing greenhouse gases, allocated several companies higher emissions quotas than they actually needed, it was learned Monday.

The EU has urged major industrialized nations to introduce the trading system, under which industrial polluters can buy and sell emissions quotas, as part of the post-Kyoto Protocol framework being negotiated and to begin in 2013

However, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) is opposed to the present scheme, arguing the quotas are not allocated "fairly." It is likely a major overhaul will be demanded if such a scheme is introduced in the post-Kyoto framework.

The EU trading system was introduced in January 2005, with emissions quotas allocated to about 11,000 industrial plants, such as power generation stations, steel and cement factories in 25 EU nations, excluding Bulgaria and Romania.

Under the agreement, these plants were able to sell their unused allocation on the emissions trading market.

According to sources, a Polish steel plant belonging to a major steel maker was allocated a quota of 14.7 million tons of global warming gases (a figure reached by converting emissions into CO2) in 2006--7.78 million tons more than the plant actually emitted that year.

The company's Belgian plant, which was was allocated a maximum 9.36 million tons of CO2, emitted just 4.9 million tons.

In 2005-2007, the emissions quota for the entire EU was about 2.2 billion tons a year, or a surplus of 190 million tons. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Kyoto, We Have a Problem - As I have previously noted, every possible benchmark that can be applied to the European Union’s carbon cap-and-trade scheme is pointing downward. Still, supporters of imposing Kyoto-style cap-and-trade schemes in the U.S. insist, against all evidence, that after three years of operation “it is too early to call Europe’s ETS a failure.”

So what constitutes failure? (Cooler Heads Blog)

From CO2 Science this week:
Editorial:

Climate Model Problems: III. Deserts: Whereas climate models based solely on physical and chemical phenomena predict that earth's deserts will expand as the air's CO2 content rises, it is found that including the effects of two biological phenomena reverses the predicted trend and suggests that the total area of earth's deserts will actually decline as CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Spannagel Cave, Central Alps, Austria. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Feedback Factors (Diffuse Light): We describe a chain of events that begins with an increase in the air's CO2 content and ends with a tendency for global cooling, plus some of the evidence for the reality of the phenomenon.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Common Buckwheat, Garden Bean, Soybean, and Sunflower.

Journal Reviews:
Five Hundred Years of Baltic-Sea Water and Air Temperatures: What do they reveal about the nature of 20th-century warming?

The Roman and Medieval Warm Periods in the Southern Austrian Alps: How did the maximum warmth of the two periods compare with that of today?

Herbivores and Their Host Plants in a Warmer World: How will the two match up?

A Rapid Start to the CO2-Induced Enhancement of Nitrogen Fixation in Garden Beans: Just how soon after seed germination is the process initiated?

Dandelion Reproduction in CO2-Enriched Air: Is it enhanced or retarded compared to reproduction in ambient air?

Georgetown, SCTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Georgetown, SC. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Georgetown's mean annual temperature has cooled by 1.19 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! (co2science.org)

The light bulb – still a good idea - Have you ever noticed how we associate the light bulb with a good idea?

I mean, what happens in a comic strip when a character gets a good idea?

You see a little light bulb over his head.

There's a reason for that.

The light bulb really is a good idea.

And, by light bulb, I mean the incandescent light bulb invented by that great American, Thomas A. Edison. I do not mean the new, ugly, fluorescent knockoffs made in China.

I admit almost no one else in the media is as alarmed, angry and deeply disturbed by the action of the U.S. Congress and president last month banning this great invention from being sold. (Joseph Farah, WND)

No limits for new nuclear power stations - A new generation of nuclear power stations will be encouraged to supply unlimited amounts of electricity to the national grid, The Times has learnt.

The Cabinet will give the go-ahead for the new building programme today and John Hutton, the Business Secretary, will announce the decision on Thursday.

He will pave the way for the nuclear industry to play a much bigger part in meeting Britain’s energy needs by making plain that there will be no limit on the amount of electricity it can supply to the grid.

At present nuclear power accounts for 20 per cent of energy supplies.

The price that the Government will make the nuclear power operators pay to supply unlimited electricity is that they will have to meet the costs of decommissioning power stations and of managing and disposing of waste. Legislation will be promised by Mr Hutton to safeguard the taxpayer from such costs, although critics will maintain that it will merely result in higher electricity bills. (London Times)

New Nuclear Will Add Little to UK Bills - Source - LONDON - Britain expects the cost of handling the waste and decommissioning of a new generation of nuclear reactors to add about one percent to the cost of power produced, a source familiar with government thinking said.

And the amount trickling down to consumers' bills will be smaller still. (Reuters)

British Nuclear Decision Likely to Help Sway Others - LONDON - Britain is expected on Thursday to back a new generation of nuclear power plants, adding to the gathering momentum behind atomic energy as part of the solution to the world's energy problems. (Reuters)

Papua New Guinea - 'eco hero' to 'eco zero' - Papua New Guinea has been accused of going from "eco hero" at Bali to "eco zero" by allowing the felling of a large area of rainforest on a remote island for a palm oil plantation. (Charles Clover, London Telegraph)

Health Watch: Kala azar, neglected disease - Radha is a young girl living in an impoverished village of Goanpura, in the northeastern state of Bihar in India. The floor and walls of her tiny hut are plastered with mud and cow dung. There is an infestation of sand flies in the dense vegetation of bamboo trees with climbers and creepers around her house. Radha, 14, has been the sole bread earner for her family for six months now, but of late even her health seems to be failing.

Her abdomen appears bloated and she is always tired. She often gets high fever with chills. Her pale skin is a telltale sign of anemia due to malnutrition and her illness. She has lost at least five kilograms in the past two months. She never feels hungry and hardly eats, not that there is much food anyway. Radha suspects she is suffering from the same disease that killed her father six months ago and is also taking toll of her mother and two younger siblings who have been bed-ridden for more than four months.

Radha is one of the 500,000 patients in the world today suffering from a deadly disease called visceral leishmaniasis or kala azar -- Hindi for black fever. Seen in almost 88 countries over the globe, 90 percent of the cases occur in just six countries -- Bangladesh, Nepal, Sudan, Ethiopia, Brazil and India.

As a medical student, almost two decades ago, I had a misconception that this was a rare disease restricted to some faraway village deep in the forests of Africa. But, alas, this notion, carried by many, is because it is one of the many neglected dangerous diseases in developing nations. (UPI Asia Online)

The Crone seeks black helicopters: Food Allergies Stir a Mother to Action - Robyn O’Brien has looked deep into the perplexing world of childhood food allergies and seen a conspiracy. (New York Times)

Defra vision of a farm-less Britain? - Michael Wigan on the surreal concept of doing away with British farming in its entirety. (London Telegraph)

Certain to amuse the greenies: Biotech firm plans to fund GM rice crops with carbon credits - Money paid by green consumers to offset their flights and by companies that go carbon-neutral will be used to fund the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops under plans drawn up by a US biotechnology company.

Arcadia Biosciences is working with the Chinese government to reward farmers in China that grow the firm's genetically modified (GM) rice, with carbon credits that they can sell for cash.

The credits would be sold on the global carbon trading market set up under the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which is used by governments, companies and individuals to offset their pollution. Arcadia plans to expand the Chinese scheme to more crops in other countries, including Britain. (Guardian Unlimited)

US eager for turnaround in European biotech rules - WASHINGTON, Jan 8 - The U.S. farm sector will be watching closely this week when the European Union runs up against a world trade court deadline for Europe to welcome more imports of genetically engineered food and feed.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest U.S. farm group, "remains frustrated with the EU's continued disregard for its trade obligations," said Russell Williams, who follows biotechnology for the nation's largest farm group.

The World Trade Organization's deadline week may intensify trans-Atlantic tensions in the case, which has dragged on for years, if the United States decides to ask the WTO court to formally investigate whether Europe must do more to speed its approval of biotech crops, now the norm for many U.S. farmers.

"In the past year, the EU has only approved four products while 40-plus remain bottled up in the bureaucratic process. AFBF believes that moving towards retaliatory action is the only way that the EU will fully understand the seriousness of the U.S. position," he said. (Reuters)

Frankenstein foods are not monsters - All hail Doctor Frankenstein, maker of monsters. God is in retreat, skulking outside the laboratory while modern imitators of Mary Shelley’s mad boffin brew potions, splice genes and bring more new life forms into profitable being.

Ten years after the Prince of Wales accused genetic engineers of taking us into “realms that belong to God and God alone”, those who trespassed into the Kingdom of Heaven have emerged triumphant with a bag full of swag. Monsanto, the American corporation that brought us maize that makes its own pesticide, is thriving, rolling in cash, its stock price ascendant.

A decade ago, Europeans could sneer at genetically modified crops, deriding them as a US-food industry phenomenon, invented to service the food needs of America’s burger-chomping fatties and as attractive as mechanically recovered meat. While we sniffed in our bunkers, the seed barons were winning hearts, minds and stomachs in Asia and Latin America. By 2006, genetically modified crops were grown on more than 100 million hectares in 22 countries, with farmers in China and India clamouring for the seed. The driver is demographics, economics and plain old commerce. (Carl Mortished, London Times)

January 8, 2008

Has John McCain lost his mind?

(Or is that a rhetorical question?)


Another medical-dietary myth exposed? New study adds to new thinking on sugar in the diabetes diet - "Patients with type 2 diabetes are often advised to cut out sucrose (table sugar) all together. However, in recent years this traditional advice has been questioned by some researchers who suggest that moderate amounts of sugar can be safely consumed as part of the diet of patients with diabetes. Now a new study has been published that is consistent with this revised approach. It showed that patients who increased their daily sugar intake (in the form of carrot cake) but maintained a stable body weight, showed no adverse changes in their blood glucose." (The Sugar Bureau)

Consider the data first, not the source.

Where's the beef on oatmeal? Oatmeal's health claims strongly reaffirmed, science shows - "A new scientific review of the most current research shows the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction to be stronger than when the FDA initially approved the health claim's appearance on food labels in 1997." (Quaker Oatmeal)

Note that the metrics used in this study are not really health endpoints so much as they are markers that may or may not have much bearing on endpoints, which is what the goal of "eating healthy" is.

If an eco-myth falls in the forest... No convincing evidence for decline in tropical forests - Claims that tropical forests are declining cannot be backed up by hard evidence, according to new research from the University of Leeds.

This major challenge to conventional thinking is the surprising finding of a study published today in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences by Dr Alan Grainger, Senior Lecturer in Geography and one of the world's leading experts on tropical deforestation.

"Every few years we get a new estimate of the annual rate of tropical deforestation,” said Dr Grainger. “They always seem to show that these marvellous forests have only a short time left. Unfortunately, everybody assumes that deforestation is happening and fails to look at the bigger picture – what is happening to forest area as a whole.”

In the first attempt for many years to chart the long-term trend in tropical forest area, he spent more than three years going through all available United Nations data with a fine toothcomb – and found some serious problems.

“The errors and inconsistencies I have discovered in the area data raise too many questions to provide convincing support for the accepted picture of tropical forest decline over the last 40 years,” he said. “Scientists all over the world who have used these data to make predictions of species extinctions and the role of forests in global climate change will find it helpful to revisit their findings in the light of my study.”

Dr Grainger does not claim that tropical deforestation is not occurring, as there is plenty of local evidence for that. But owing to the lack of frequent scientific monitoring, something for which he has campaigned for 25 years, we cannot use available data to track the long-term global trend in tropical forest area with great accuracy.

“The picture is far more complicated than previously thought,” he said. “If there is no long-term net decline it suggests that deforestation is being accompanied by a lot of natural reforestation that we have not spotted.”

Dr Grainger first examined data published every 10 years by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) since 1980. These cover all forest in the humid and dry tropics and appear to indicate decline. FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, for example, showed that all tropical forest area fell from 1,926 million hectares to 1,799 million hectares between 1990 and 2000. Ten years earlier, however, FAO’s previous report said that tropical forest area fell from 1,910 million ha to 1,756 million ha for the same 90 countries between 1980 and 1990.

“Owing to corrections to the earlier study, the 1990s trend was just like a 're-run' of that in the 1980s,” said Dr Grainger. “The errors involved in making estimates for forest area could easily be of the same order as the forest area reported cleared in the previous 10 years. Even if you take enormous care, as FAO does, I argue that large errors are inevitable if you produce global estimates by aggregating national statistics from many countries. This has important implications for the many scientists who rely on FAO data.”

Since errors in national statistics are higher for forests in the dry tropics than for forests in the humid tropics, in places near the Equator such as Amazonia, Borneo and the Congo Basin, he repeated the process just for tropical moist forest, with a different set of data, in the hope it would give a clearer picture. This time he found no evidence for decline since the early 1970s. Indeed, while his own estimate in 1983 of tropical moist forest area in 1980 was 1,081 million hectares, the latest satellite data led to an estimate of 1,181 million hectares for the same 63 countries in 2000.

He is cautious about the apparent slight rise. “We would expect to see some increase in estimates as we use more accurate satellite sensors. This is even apparent in FAO’s data. It is sad that only in the last 10 years have we begun to make full use of the satellite technology at our disposal.”

Despite the large errors attached to present estimates, the lack of apparent decline in tropical moist forest area suggests that deforestation is being offset by natural reforestation at a higher rate than previously thought. Dr Grainger uses data from FAO’s latest report, published in 2006, to show that in a few countries, such as Gambia and Vietnam, forest area has actually expanded since 1990, as the reforestation rate has exceeded the deforestation rate. He believes that a rise in natural reforestation is a logical precursor to this switch from net deforestation to net reforestation. It has already been the subject of studies in Brazil, Ecuador and India, but available data are too poor for us to be sure of its exact scale worldwide.

To give us more reliable data Dr Grainger says we need a World Forest Observatory to monitor changes in forests in the tropics and elsewhere. "What is happening to the tropical forests is so important, both to the peoples of tropical countries and to future trends in biodiversity and global climate, that we can no longer put off investing in an independent scientific monitoring programme that can combine satellite and ground data to give a reliable picture,” he said.

“A World Forest Observatory would bring together existing research teams in Europe, the USA and elsewhere and ensure they are properly funded to continue mapping tropical forest at least every five years. It could also undertake a massive project to analyse all available satellite and other data from the past and reconstruct the trend in tropical forest area since 1970. Only then will we really know what has happened to tropical forests over the last 40 years.” (University of Leeds)

Thimerosol-Autism link shattered! Removing Thimerosal from Vaccines Did Not Reduce Autism Cases in California - CHICAGO – Autism cases continued to increase in California after the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal was eliminated from most childhood vaccines, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. This suggests that exposure to thimerosal is not a primary cause of autism.

Diagnosed cases of autism and related conditions, known collectively as autism spectrum disorders, have increased in recent years, according to background information in the article. “Young children receive immunizations in the period preceding the typical manifestations or diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders,” the authors write. “Increased exposure to thimerosal, a preservative that contains 49.6 percent ethylmercury by weight, has been postulated to have contributed to the upswing in reported cases of autism spectrum disorders.” Thimerosal was eliminated from most vaccines by 2001. A 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine cited the lack of data supporting thimerosal as a cause of autism, but recommended that trends in autism diagnoses be observed as exposure to thimerosal decreased.

Robert Schechter, M.D., M.Sc., and Judith K. Grether, Ph.D., of the California Department of Public Health, Richmond, studied the prevalence of children with autism in California from 1995 through March 2007. They used data provided by the California Department of Developmental Services, which administers a statewide system of centers that serve individuals with autism and other developmental problems.

“The estimated prevalence of autism for children at each year of age from 3 to 12 years increased throughout the study period,” the authors write. Per 1,000 children born in 1993, 0.3 had autism at age 3, compared with 1.3 per 1,000 births in 2003. The highest estimated prevalence—4.5 cases per 1,000 births—was reached in 2006 for children born in 2000. “Although insufficient time has passed to calculate the prevalence of autism for children 6 years and older born after 2000, the prevalence at ages 3 to 5 years has increased monotonically for each birth year since 1999, during which period exposure to thimerosal has been reduced,” they continue.

In addition to analyzing the prevalence of autism by birth year, the researchers also examined the rate among children age 3 to 5 based on quarterly reports issued by the Department of Developmental Services. Prevalence increased each quarter from January 1995 (0.6 per 1,000 live births) through March 2007 (4.1 per 1,000 live births), including after 2004, when the researchers estimate that exposure to thimerosal during infancy and early childhood declined. Over the same time period, the rate of all developmental disabilities increased but at a slower rate, from 5.4 to 9.5 per 1,000 live births.

“The hypothesis that a modifiable risk factor, such as thimerosal exposure, is a major cause of autism offers the hope for prevention through reduced exposure,” the authors conclude. “Although our analysis of Department of Developmental Services data shows an increase in autism in California despite the removal of thimerosal from most vaccines, we support the continued quest for the timely discovery of modifiable risk factors for autism and related conditions. Continuing evaluation of the trends in the prevalence of autism for children born in recent years is warranted to confirm our findings.” (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(1):19-24.

Editor’s Note: This study was supported through the California Department of Public Health. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Editorial: Fears About Vaccines Persist Despite Evidence

“In the last decade, two hypotheses on autism-immunization links were raised that have had a profound impact in the field of autism research and practice and on public health at large,” writes Eric Fombonne, M.D., of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, in an accompanying editorial. “One incriminated the measles component of the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the other the amount of thimerosal (about 50 percent of which is ethylmercury) contained in most other childhood vaccines.”

Since the 2004 Institute of Medicine report favored the rejection of both hypotheses, “more studies have accumulated that have reinforced this conclusion, one independently reached by scientific and professional committees around the world,” he writes.

“Parents of autistic children should be reassured that autism in their child did not occur through immunizations,” Dr. Fombonne concludes. “Their autistic children, and their siblings, should be normally vaccinated, and as there is no evidence of mercury poisoning in autism, they should avoid ineffective and dangerous ‘treatments’ such as chelation therapy for their children.” (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(1):15-16.

None of this is news to JunkScience readers:

Lack of vitamin D may increase heart disease risk - The same vitamin D deficiency that can result in weak bones now has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Framingham Heart Study researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. (American Heart Association)

More sun exposure may be good for some people - A new study by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and colleagues in Norway suggests that the benefits of moderately increased exposure to sunlight - namely the production of vitamin D, which protects against the lethal effects of many forms of cancer and other diseases - may outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer in populations deficient in vitamin D. The study will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of January 7, 2008. (Brookhaven National Laboratory)

JFS Exclusive: “Has there been a time when you felt you weren't as good-looking or as smart as other people?” - After reviewing the evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force** recently concluded that there is insufficient support for routine screening by doctors for suicide risk. Despite what might seem intuitive, there is no evidence that screening tools accurately identify suicide risk or that screening reduces suicide attempts or mortality. And it found no studies examined the balance of the harms of screening and treatment.

So why are nearly half a million disadvantaged children in Massachusetts being required to undergo mental health screenings in order to receive Medicaid benefits, purportedly to prevent suicides? And why is a controversial privately-funded program seeking to screen every school-aged child in the country for suicide risk and mental disorders? (Junkfood Science)

JunkScience.com welcomes new site Climate Debate Daily - Climate Debate Daily is intended to deepen our understanding of disputes over climate change and the human contribution to it. The site links to scientific articles, news stories, economic studies, polemics, historical articles, PR releases, editorials, feature commentaries, and blog entries. The main column on the left includes arguments and evidence generally in support of the IPCC position on the reality of significant anthropogenic global warming. The right-hand column includes material skeptical of the IPCC position and the notion that anthropogenic global warming represents a genuine threat to humanity.

Many sites on the Internet, including some of those listed at the far left of the page, take firm views for or against the threat of anthropogenic global warming. As a matter of editorial policy, Climate Debate Daily maintains a studied neutrality, allowing each side to present its most powerful and persuasive case. Our object is to allow readers to form their own judgments based on the best available information.

Response To The New York Times Weblog By John Tierney Entitled “Are There Are Any Good Weather Omens?” - Synopsis of This Weblog: An examination of even the most fundamental of climate metrics show that recent trends are inconsistent with the 2007 IPCC claims regarding global warming. This includes a lack of warming in the global average lower tropospheric temperature and upper ocean, the muted at best moistening of the troposphere, and evidence of a negative radiative feedback. These lack of agreement with these climate metrics indicate that the IPCC report should be interpreted as a collection of papers on a hypothesis rather than a summary of established scientific understanding of how humans are altering the climate system. (Climate Science)

Decision on listing polar bear postponed - ANCHORAGE, Alaska --Federal officials said Monday that they will need a few more weeks to decide whether polar bears need protection under the Endangered Species Act because of global warming.

The deadline was Wednesday, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it now hopes to provide a recommendation to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in time for a decision by him within the next month.

The department has never declared a species threatened or endangered because of climate change, Hall said.

"That's why this one has been so taxing and challenging to us," he said. (Associated Press)

A warmer Arctic? Blame Mother Nature - 'Something other than CO2 and CO2-related feedbacks ... are playing a large role in the region's recent temperature trends."

Read that again and keep in mind the "the region" being referred to is the Arctic. The plain meaning is that the warming in the Arctic is not only -- or even mostly -- man-made. It is not the result of carbon emissions, no matter how often we have been warned that this past summer's melt was unprecedented and a foreboding harbinger of a coming global meltdown.

In the most recent issue of Nature -- a prestigious scientific journal that in the past has shown a decided hostility to studies that contradict the climate change hysteria -- Rune Graversen and others from the meteorology department at Stockholm University postulate that the recent, allegedly dangerous Arctic thaw is far from unique in history. Rather than being the result of man-made climate change, they argue, the warming northern seas and tundra mainly result from atmospheric energy transfers from southern latitudes to northern.

In other words, tropical storms and atmospheric currents travelling from the tropics to the Arctic have shifted a large amount of heat from equatorial regions to the North.

In addition to being natural, this is also a cyclical phenomenon. It has happened before and will happen again. Big melts up north very likely occurred well before industrialization and will almost certainly recur periodically even if we cork all our factory stacks and shut off all our car engines. Maybe Arctic warming is just something the Earth does occasionally to let off steam in the tropics. (Lorne Gunter, National Post)

A scramble to understand Greenland's melting ice sheets - The ancient frozen dome cloaking Greenland is so vast that pilots have crashed into what they thought was a cloud bank spanning the horizon. Flying over it, one can scarcely imagine that this ice could erode fast enough to raise sea levels dangerously any time soon.

Along the flanks in spring and summer, however, the picture is very different. For a lengthening string of warm years, a lacework of blue lakes and rivulets of meltwater have been spreading ever higher on the ice cap. The melting surface darkens, absorbing up to four times as much energy from the sun as unmelted snow, which reflects sunlight. Natural drainpipes, called moulins, carry water from the surface into the depths, in some places reaching bedrock. The process slightly, but measurably, lubricates and accelerates the grinding passage of ice toward the sea.

Most important, many glaciologists say, is the breakup of huge semi-submerged clots of ice where some large Greenland glaciers, particularly along the west coast, squeeze through fjords as they meet the warming ocean. As these passages have cleared, this has sharply accelerated the flow of many of these creeping, corrugated, frozen rivers.

All of these changes have many glaciologists "a little nervous these days - shell-shocked," said Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and a veteran of both Greenland and Antarctic studies. (Andrew C. Revkin, IHT)

Andy is becoming quite manic, isn't he? Perhaps he should've paid more attention to research like this:

Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for 100 years: study

COPENHAGEN, Aug 21 (AFP) Aug 21, 2006
Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for the past century, according to a Danish study published on Monday, suggesting that the ice melt is not a recent phenomenon caused by global warming.

Danish researchers from Aarhus University studied glaciers on Disko island, in western Greenland in the Atlantic, from the end of the 19th century until the present day.

"This study, which covers 247 of 350 glaciers on Disko, is the most comprehensive ever conducted on the movements of Greenland's glaciers," glaciologist Jacob Clement Yde, who carried out the study with Niels Tvis Knudsen, told AFP.

Using maps from the 19th century and current satellite observations, the scientists were able to conclude that "70 percent of the glaciers have been shrinking regularly since the end of the 1880s at a rate of around eight meters per year," Yde said.

"We studied 95 percent of the area covered by glaciers in Disko and everything indicates that our results are also valid for the glaciers along the coasts of the rest of Greenland," he said.

The biggest reduction was observed between 1964 and 1985.

"A three-to-four degree increase of the temperature on Greenland from 1920 to 1930, and the increase recorded since 1995 has sped up the ice melt," he said.

If he had he would've known phrases like "a little nervous these days - shell-shocked" are pure grant-harvesting throwaways bearing no relationship to actual findings.

More: Melting Ice = Rising Seas? Easy. How Fast? Hard. - Most forecasting is easier and more reliable in the short run than over the long haul. Think of weather prediction. (And history is full of failed long-term forecasts of everything from oil prices to human population trends.)

But for scientists studying the fate of the vast ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica, the situation seems reversed. Their views of sea trends through this century still vary widely, while they agree, almost to a person, that centuries of eroding ice and rising seas are nearly a sure thing in a warming world. The great shifts of sea level and temperature through cycles of ice ages and warm intervals make that clear. I wrote about that consensus last year in covering the reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but also wrote about scientists’ frustrations over trying to convey the importance of a slow-motion disaster.

Many researchers are working hard to try to clarify whether more melting, both on the ice surface and along the coasts, could greatly speed things. I wrote about some of that work for Science Times this week. This post offers a bit more depth than could fit on the printed page. (Andrew C. Revkin, NYT)

See Lowering Sea Level Rise

Southern Canada basks in near-springtime temperatures, but not for long - From British Columbia to much of the Maritimes, people in southern Canada are basking in unseasonably warm temperatures that have raised wistful but assuredly premature hopes for an early spring.

Across the country's southern tier in the past two days, temperatures have soared into the double digits in many places, with Windsor, Ont., the nation's hot spot, hitting a relatively balmy 14.2 C at midday Monday.

January thaws are not rare in Canada, with 1977 the only year on record without one.

Toronto in the last 28 years has experienced 14 such double-digit warmings-up, with a major one coming every two years.

Experts note that in the 44 years before that, only 12 Januarys saw thaws in the double digits, but they are not prepared to attribute the increased frequency to global warming.

"It really comes down to the nature of the variability," Philips said. "Sometimes you can't explain. It's just the ebb and flow of weather, the day-to-day variation. You know that if you don't like the weather out your front door, look out your back door." (Canadian Press)

Britain has backed itself into a corner on energy – with no easy way out - FIRST THE credit crunch, now the energy crunch. Just as household electricity bills go stratospheric the first coal-fired power station to be built in Britain for more than 30 years has been approved by Medway Council in Kent. The £1 billion plant at Kingsnorth, near Ashford, will be coal-burning - and carbon-producing - so is hardly an example to India or coal-rich China on how not to overheat the planet. But it will be built if only for one reason - to keep the lights on in the south of England.

Kingsnorth is an example of how the government is caught between preaching green but acting black. The final say on whether the plant will go ahead rests with the government's business secretary, John Hutton. Faced with the prospect of the UK becoming over-reliant on foreign oil and gas and committed to cutting CO2 emissions, the feeling is that Hutton will approve Kingsnorth along with a generation of nuclear plants. (Sunday Herald)

BYO tropical paradise... nice work if you can get someone to pay for it: Energy islands could use power of tropics, says innovator - From a distance it looks like an island paradise, but get closer and those tall structures that could be palm trees turn out to be wind turbines - and the surf laps against wave barrages instead of sandy beaches. Welcome to "Energy Island", a vision of how humans could help meet our future needs for energy, food and water using the power of nature in the tropics.

Alex Michaelis, the architect who gave David Cameron's west London home a green makeover - complete with miniature wind turbine, solar panels and water recycling system - will launch the concept this year with a bid for funding worth $25m (£12.6m) from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Earth Prize.

His proposal, which is dramatically more ambitious than the work he did on the Conservative leader's semi-detached house, is to build archipelagos of artificial islands that will produce electricity, clean water and even food in the belt of warm water that passes from the Caribbean across to the south China Sea, the Indian Ocean and west Africa.

Each island would be built on a floating platform and at its centre would be a plant that converts heat from the tropical sea into electricity and drinking water. Below deck would be marine turbines to harness energy from underwater currents and around the edge floating devices to provide wave power.

Vegetable farms and homes for workers will complete the colony and the power will be piped back to be used on the nearest populated land mass. (The Guardian)

Canada Needs Carbon Tax Quickly - Gov't Panel - OTTAWA - Canada's Conservative government needs to quickly impose a price on carbon to stand any chance of meeting its own targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, an official panel said on Monday.

The finding is unlikely to please Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who opposes the idea of a carbon tax on the grounds it could damage the economy. (Reuters)

Carbon tax looks like roadkill - The campaign for the Great Canadian Carbon Tax to curb greenhouse-gas emissions appears to be running out of gas. Or at least that's my reading of the latest policy advice from Mark Jaccard, who up until last night had been Canada's leading proponent of such a tax. Also wimping out a bit on the carbon-tax push is Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. Where once he called on the U.S. Congress to "increase the gas tax by US$1 per gallon," he now concedes it's an idea that won't fly, and so we now need a "global carbon tax."

Both Mr. Jaccard and Mr. Mankiw are joined at the hip of economic theory in their common belief in the merits of a "Pigou tax", named after an early-20th-century economist named Arthur C. Pigou. Pigou claimed government could use taxes to change behaviour by putting a price on things that are bad for society. Carbon emissions are bad for the environment, and the most effective way to control emissions is through a tax or "price." That price, or "market mechanism," would curtail the "free" use of the environment as a dumping ground.

As recently as last month, Mr. Jaccard --a professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of Hot Air, a climate scare book with Jeffrey Simpson and Nic Rivers -- wrote: "We must tax greenhouse gases or they will keep rising."

As those words were published in The Vancouver Sun, urging Ottawa and the provinces to bring in a carbon tax, Mr. Jaccard would have been putting the finishing touches on his C.D. Howe Benefactors Lecture, delivered last night in Toronto. By the end of that lecture, titled Designing Canada's Low-Carb Diet, the carbon tax looked like roadkill on the highway of good intentions. (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

Brussels considering climate tax on imports - The European Commission is considering proposing a carbon dioxide tariff on imports from states failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, while also considering a toughening-up of the EU's own emission trading system.

According to a draft commission proposal, firms from heavily polluting countries outside Europe would be obliged to buy EU carbon emission permits as part of the bloc's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), Reuters reports.

The commission is reportedly still internally divided on the idea, ahead of a raft of proposals on a post-2012 climate change policy which it is due to table on 23 January.

The carbon tariff on foreign firms would create a level playing field for European companies which are currently already bearing the costs of the ETS - a system under which firms can buy and sell excess CO2 emissions, putting an overall ceiling on emissions levels. (EUobserver)

The £1,290 car delights Indians but horrifies the green lobby - After years of secret preparation, the world's cheapest car will be unveiled in Delhi this week - delighting millions of Indians as much as it is horrifying environmentalists.

At 100,000 rupees (£1,290), the People's Car, designed and manufactured by Tata, is being marketed as a safer way of travelling for those who until now have had to transport their families balanced on the back of their motorbikes.

Ratan Tata, 70, chairman of the family-run business, who has spearheaded the race for a cut-price car, wrote on the company website: 'That's what drove me - a man on a two-wheeler with a child standing in front, his wife sitting behind, add to that the wet roads - a family in potential danger.'

But Tata hopes also to create a 'new market for cars which does not exist', making them accessible to India's booming middle classes made recently rich by an economy growing at around 9 per cent a year. This rapidly expanding market is potentially extremely lucrative; consultants McKinsey predict that the size of the Indian middle class will grow from 50 million now to 583 million by 2025. (The Observer)

Switchgrass shows promise for ethanol production: study - A large-scale trial of switchgrass suggests that the crop may be a more viable plant source of biofuel than previously thought, according to a study released Monday. (AFP)

Bright Future for Biofuels in Congo, UN Says - LONDON - The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of Africa's most promising biofuels producers due to its vast amount of farmland suited to a range of crops from palm oil to soybeans, a top UN economist has said. (Reuters)

Will intensive forest practices impact water quality? - In order to increase productivity, forest practices have become more intense in recent decades. Forest fertilization increased by 800% in the southeastern United States from 1990 to 1999, and the total acreage fertilized in the Southeast exceeds the forest area fertilized in the rest of the world. This has generated concern that intensive forest practices, including fertilization, may negatively impact water quality in forest streams. (Soil Science Society of America)

China's biotech industry: An Asian dragon is growing - Backed by a government intent on promoting innovation and fuelled by the “brain gain” of talented scientists and entrepreneurs returning from abroad, China’s health biotech industry only needs a more favourable investment climate to emerge as a global force in the production of therapies and medicines – both new and low-cost generics – experts say in a new study. (McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health)

Spawning Something Fishy - Some years ago, a friend suggested that I play a practical joke on the British public. His idea was that I should mix the popular dislike of biotechnology with the widely-held suspicion that other Europeans are swindling the system, and write an April Fool’s Day article in which I would claim that the French had genetically engineered a breed of tiny sheep — sheep the size of rabbits. With such small sheep, you could keep many more on one field; and since European farm subsidies are calculated per sheep….

He and I amused ourselves with the thought of indignant readers spluttering into their coffee. But I’m no longer tempted to make up stories about biotechnology: reality is weirder than anything I’m likely to invent. For example, the other day I met a man — his name is Goro Yoshizaki — who wants to breed bluefin tuna from mackerel.

At first, I thought he was joking. After all, it’s a bit like saying you want to breed elephants from hamsters. It’s not just that tuna are much bigger than mackerel (a fully grown tuna can weigh more than 1,300 pounds (600 kg) and reach more than 13 feet (4 meters) in length, whereas the typical mackerel is a mere snackerel). It’s that part of what makes a mackerel a mackerel is that when they mate and reproduce, you get more mackerel — not sharks, or minnows, or tuna, or anything else. But after hearing him out, I was persuaded that his plan might just work. (Olivia Judson, New York Times)

January 7, 2008

What’s in a name? Where did millions of research grant money go? - The Journal News in New York has printed a two-part series this week reporting on one of the biggest scandals to rock clinical research in years. The CFO of the Institute for Cancer Prevention (IFCP) in Valhalla during 2001-2003 just admitted to lying to federal agents to cover up the Institute’s misuse of millions of dollars of government grant money for cancer research. While he could face up to ten years in prison, the paper reports that he’ll likely be sentenced to 12-18 months.

Why has the mainstream media not saturated the news with this disturbing story? Learning more about the IFCP uncovered even more troubling news. (Junkfood Science)

Brain disease death raises fear of link to BSE meat of 90s - A 39-year-old woman has died of a previously undiagnosed form of the brain-wasting condition variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, raising fears that her case heralds a new wave of patients suffering from the devastating condition.

To date 166 people in the UK have died from vCJD, far fewer than the most pessimistic predictions at the height of the BSE epidemic in the 1990s.

Scientists believe patients contracted the prion disease in the 1990s from BSE-infected meat, and that people can harbour it for years before showing symptoms. The link between BSE and vCJD though has not been conclusively proved. (The Guardian)

The language of causes - The obesity-weight loss industry is increasingly co-opting the language of other movements. Last week, it was usurping the lingo of the fat acceptance movement, as the largest diet company in the world tried to convince the public that their diet wasn’t really a diet because “diets don’t work.” This week’s British Medical Journal exhibited two more. (Junkfood Science)

Healthy diet could halt 70,000 early deaths, study suggests - Almost 70,000 premature deaths a year - more than one in 10 - could be avoided if people in the UK switched to a healthier diet, according to an analysis by the Cabinet Office.

A third of heart disease and a quarter of all cancers are thought to be diet-related. The critical issue for the coming years is to persuade us all not to eat more, but to eat better, the interim paper from the Cabinet Office strategy unit says. (The Guardian)

The myth of sloth - Did you hear how active Americans are today? Really. There is no epidemic of sloth, as we hear incessantly. The latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report barely made a blip on the news, but it found that the numbers of men and women engaging in “regular, moderate or vigorous activity” increased from 2001 to 2005. Among women, Hispanics and Blacks, increases have been most significant. Despite the nonstop admonitions that too many Americans are sedentary and that public health officials must do something about it, the CDC reported that about half of all adults are getting regular physical activity.

Not so fast... (Junkfood Science)

There's a few things this item omits: Down to the last croak - The so-called platypus frog was one of a kind. The only species of land vertebrate animal - amphibian, reptile, mammal or bird - to rear its young inside its stomach.

That makes the small black frogs as special as kangaroos or koalas. They were found nowhere but in the rainforests of two mountain ranges in southern Queensland.

Zoologist and environmental consultant Glen Ingram was studying them in 1977 in the Conondale Range, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. "There were plenty of frogs in the streams at that time," Ingram recalls now. A year later, he could find just two. In 1979, there were none, and none have been found since, anywhere, despite exhaustive searches. "Like the Tasmanian tiger, it is one of the great wildlife tragedies that this astonishing animal is extinct," Ingram says.

Also known as the gastric-brooding frog, Rheobatrachus was first discovered in 1972. A year later, its breeding biology was unearthed when a wildlife enthusiast watched enthralled as a female in an aquarium spewed fully developed baby frogs from her mouth. This was so bizarre - gastric juices would normally destroy young animals in a stomach - that scientists initially refused to believe it.

Between discovery and extinction, the frog was known to humankind for less than a decade - an infinitesimal fraction of its time on Earth. (The Australian)

Things like there being no chemicals in use in the valleys this frog inhabited or upwind thereof. What is believed to have happened is the poor blighters were wiped out by pathogens imported by researchers and ecotourists. There is no evidence of unusual temperatures or increased UV bombardment of their habitats, although in some other regions significant habitat change or destruction is associated with amphibian loss. About the only thing they have right is that chytrid fungus does not thrive in warmer conditions and so 'global warming' would definitely be beneficial for most amphibians.

Br-r-r! Where did global warming go? - THE STARK headline appeared just over a year ago. "2007 to be 'warmest on record,' " BBC News reported on Jan. 4, 2007. Citing experts in the British government's Meteorological Office, the story announced that "the world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007," surpassing the all-time high reached in 1998.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the planetary hot flash: Much of the planet grew bitterly cold. (Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)

Oh my... Catching up from eight lost years - If we can make it through the next 379 days without getting into nuclear war, historians writing 100 years from now will begin their assessment of George W. Bush, not at all kindly, by identifying him as the United States president who caused the world to lose eight years in getting started with serious efforts to save the planet and the inhabitants thereof from the deadly consequences of global warming. (Waldo Proffitt, Herald-Tribune)

... Waldo really is a believer, isn't he? What will he do when he finds out Hansen is fullovit, spouting nonsense on the basis of PlayStation® Climatology rather than real-world observation?

:) Global warming a big hoax - In the spirit of being a good neighbor, I've decided to offer a needed service for all of the believers in human-caused global warming. That's right, step right up, folks, I'm going to be selling carbon credits to those who want to assuage their guilt about heating up the planet with their SUVs.

For those of you not familiar with carbon credits, people who don't want to cut back on their use of fossil fuels just pay someone else to cut back, much the same way you might pay someone to eat healthy foods for you so you can eat anything you want.

My gimmick is that I'm offering $100 carbon credits for only $89 each. If you buy carbon credits from Al Gore, you'll have to pay the full retail price. But if you send your money directly to me, you'll receive an official certificate for $100 in carbon credits for every $89 you send. But wait, there's more. If you are among the first 500 purchasers, we'll include a fantastic vegetable chopper, a $19.99 value, absolutely free.

And you will be helping to save the planet. I've had my eye on a 12-foot jon boat with a used 10-horse Evinrude, which will no doubt pump out oodles of carbon dioxide. But instead, I'm going to use the proceeds of carbon credit sales to purchase a sailboat -- in other words, an environmentally friendly boat that uses wind power. The latest issue of Yachts International includes an ad for a 66-foot Van De Stadt for a mere $2,295,000. That's a lot of carbon credits, but I'm sure if all of you dig deep enough, we can pull this off.

When you display your certificates on the wall, not only can you be smug about protecting our planet, you can also proudly tell your friends and neighbors that you got them wholesale.

Expanding the same general principle, I'm also pleased to offer healthy food credits to folks who need to improve their diet. Just send me $5, and I'll eat a stalk of celery for you. Of course, that's with a big blob of Cheese Whiz spread all over it. Sorry, if you want me to eat the thing with no topping; it'll cost you 10 bucks.

(Note to the humor-challenged: the above is satire. Do not send money to me or to any carnie out there, whether they are selling carbon credits or tickets to see a two-headed calf.) (John Fogle, Times-News)

Someone forgot to update this piece: U.S. Has Opportunity to Lead World in Reducing Global Warming - Climate change is real and it is affecting the Earth. Earlier this year, I traveled with my Senate colleagues to Greenland where we saw dramatic evidence of retreating glaciers and rising sea level caused by global warming over the last decade. (Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Southern Maryland Online)

The US Senate trip to Greenland was actually July 27-29, 2007 but never mind. Strangely, Marc Morano was on the same trip and came to very different conclusions but then, he never does just echo the activist releases.

Lowering Sea Level Rise - Have you seen the latest on sea level rise? If not, you will find over one million websites on the topic and according to almost all of them, global sea level is rising ever faster, the acceleration will increase into the future (by some estimates resulting in a rise of several meters by century’s end) and the entire mess is caused by burning fossils fuels and increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. But is what you find on these sites really the latest on sea level rise? Are sea levels really rising at the pace that they are so often made out to be? (WCR)

Global Hot Air from the BBC - Billions of people now ‘know' about global warming and how it threatens the planet. They ‘know' that it is all the fault of decades of irresponsible, profligate industry and capitalism.

And yet, what exactly do they really know? Have they delved in to the research data? Have they made it their business to acquire a thorough understanding of atmospheric processes and of climatology? Or have they simply heard it ad nauseam on the news. Heard it so insistently, emphatically and endlessly repeated that it must be true. Surely?

And who exactly are these newsmen and women? What is it about these particular people that makes them so particularly equipped to be the guardians of our knowledge of current affairs? What were their primary motivations for climbing the media greasy pole to become the minor celebrity intellectuals that they have become? Is it that they are notable for their intellectual rigour; their erudition and ability in assessing the provenance of scientific research? Or is it their love of a journalistic drama and love, even more, for themselves to be the centre of attention in that drama? (Graham Cunningham, American Thinker)

The Hadley Center Tries Again - The U.K.’s Hadley Center has issued a forecast that 2008 will come in as one of the top 10 warmest years in its 150+ year record of global average temperature. While this forecast is about as risky as predicting that the next box of a dozen doughnuts you buy will contain twelve of the one-holed wonders, the press seems enthralled by it, as virtually all major news wires ran the story under with some variant of the headline “2008 to be among hottest years on record.”


The Hadley Center does not have the greatest track record for making accurate forecasts. Recall that in early January 2007, they issued a statement proclaiming that 2007 would likely be the warmest year on record for the globe. In fact, they went as far as to assign a probability (60%) to their forecast of a record year. And, of course, this prediction was also widely covered in the press (for example, see this BBC story).

When all the numbers are in (they aren’t yet), 2007 will likely come in as around the 6th or 7th warmest year in the Hadley Center global temperature record, probably about a tenth of a degree (which is a lot) behind the record holder (1998). In other words, their forecast was way off.

Apparently stinging from this forecast bust last year, they decided to make one this year that is much broader and virtually certain to be correct. (WCR)

Oh boy... Alarming Weather and Global Warming - Our provocative science columnist John Tierney endured a hailstorm of responses for a column and blog post this week on the tendency of some climate campaigners to focus on extreme weather as a selling point for cutting greenhouse gases. Today he’s posted an explanation and defense of his view, echoing a lot of what I’ve been writing over the past several years.

My take is that the tug of war over what’s causing today’s telegenic heat waves, floods, tempests — and even Arctic sea-ice retreats — distracts from the high confidence scientists have in the long-term (but less sexy) picture: that more CO2 will lead to centuries of climate and coastal changes with big consequences for a growing human population (for better and worse in the short run, and likely mostly for the worse in the long run). (Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times)

There is no evidence inevitable climate change will be a net detriment to people and zero confidence CO2 is causal when it comes to climate change.

Why We Need Estimates Of The Current Global Average Radiative Forcing - Climate Science asked questions to Real Climate regarding Figure SPM.2 in the 2007 Statement for Policymakers in the weblog http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/12/18/question-the-weblog-real-climate/ with the follow up in http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/12/19/follow-up-to-question-to-real-climate/ The questions are straightforward:

1. What are the radiative forcings that are plotted in Figure SPM.2? The figure label states they are “Global average radiative forcing (RF) estimates and ranges in 2005…”

2. What are the global average radiative forcings currently, if the caption in Figure SPM.2 is incorrect?

An evaluation of the current global radiative imbalance requires knowledge of the current radiative forcings and feedbacks, not the difference since 1750. (Climate Science)

IPCC on Radiative Forcing #1: AR1(1990) - As an innocent bystander to the climate debates a couple of years ago, I presumed that IPCC would provide a clear exposition of how doubled CO2 actually leads to 2.5-3 deg C. The exposition might involve considerable detail on infra-red radiation since that’s relevant to the problem, but I presumed that they would provide a self-contained exposition in which all the relevant details were encompassed in one document (as one sees in engineering feasibility studies.)

Having re-raised the issue in the context of AR4, Judith Curry has said that this sort of issue is not covered in AR4 since it’s baby food. She’s referred us back to the early IPCC reports without providing specific page references, mentioning IPCC 1990 in particular. In a later post, I’ll show that TAR and AR4, as Curry says, do not contain sought-for explanation. So let’s see what IPCC 1990 has to say on the matter. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

IPCC and Radiative Forcing #2: 1992-AR2 - In our review of IPCC AR1 (1990) on radiative forcing, I noted that the logarithmic relationship and 4 wm-2 values were attributed to: Hansen et al (1988), which in turn cited Lacis et al 1981; and Wigley (1987) which is not presently available to me (or to Wigley himself) and appears not to have been peer-reviewed (FWTW). Feedback analysis primarily relied on Cess et al 1989. I’ll examine those references at some point, but today I’ll continue the review through two supplements to IPCC (1990), published in 1992 and 1994. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Science)

AR4: “ad hoc tuning of radiative parameters” - Chapter 1 of AR4 has some surprisingly interesting comments about models that, to the extent that the points are disclosed in the body chapters, are disclosed so opaquely that they would be undecipherable to anyone other than a few. Here are some interesting comments about flux adjustment - an issue that must surely raise civilian eyebrows. A “flux adjustment” in a GCM is defined below as an “empirical correction that could not be justified on physical principles” i.e. a fudge factor, and one of the accomplishments of recent GCMs has been to apparently get past that. AR4: (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

AR4: “Now-Classic” Results on Cloud Uncertainty are “Unsettling” - AR4 (chapter 1 on the History of Climate Science) contains the remarkable statement:

The strong effect of cloud processes on climate model sensitivities to greenhouse gases was emphasized further through a now-classic set of General Circulation Model (GCM) experiments, carried out by Senior and Mitchell (1993). They produced global average surface temperature changes (due to doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration) ranging from 1.9°C to 5.4°C, simply by altering the way that cloud radiative properties were treated in the model. It is somewhat unsettling that the results of a complex climate model can be so drastically altered by substituting one reasonable cloud parameterization for another, thereby approximately replicating the overall intermodel range of sensitivities.

As they say, it is somewhat unsettling. On the basis that these results are “now-classic”, one would have expected them to have been prominently featured in TAR. [yeah, right.] So let’s how prominently TAR featured these results - were they as prominent as the Hockey Stick? (Steve McIntyre, Climate Science)

People in Greenhouses Throwing Stones - We promised to provide a breakdown of the IPCC's WGI as we did for WGII and III. So here goes:

As before, we've limited ourselves to those contributors based in the US or USA. That gives us 303 authors to work with out of a total of 618. That's nearly half the total - strange, for an institution which claims to represent scientists from all over the world. (Climate Resistance)

Gosh these nonsense items are annoying: Australian climate changing, experts say  - SYDNEY - Australia experienced one of its hottest years on record in 2007, and climate experts have warned that the higher temperatures are likely a taste of things to come as weather patterns change.

The country has already kicked off 2008 with a spate of extreme weather -- several cities, including Perth and Melbourne, have suffered summer heatwaves, while bushfires have raged on the east and west coasts.

Meanwhile, heavy rain has caused flooding along the east coast, huge waves have forced the closure of Sydney beaches and Cyclone Helen has brought winds of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour to the northern city of Darwin.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Thursday that Australia had experienced its sixth warmest year on record last year, with the average annual temperature of 21.8 degrees Celsius some 0.67 degrees above normal. (AFP)

So, summer temperatures are high in the west with little rain and there's flooding in the east? Well, D U H ! So Australia traditionally is -- see the rainfall average chart (population centers are clustered in eastern and southern green zones because that's where the water is in this dry land). Global warming-caused drought? Actually, the place has gotten wetter through the 20th Century. Increasing number of very hot days? Only if the series is based in the cool period of looming ice age fears. The depicted 5 recent years were pretty hot (we had low levels of cloud, something to do with the drought, you suppose?) but there is nothing out of the ordinary going on in the land of drought and flooding rain and what we have at the moment is a classic La Niña monsoon season (last time the pattern was this pronounced was in the '70s, when both Brisbane and Darwin received direct hits or near-misses from tropical cyclones in January and December of '74, respectively).

OSU climate change researcher tackles remote New Guinea glaciers - PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea - For 5,000 years, great tongues of ice have spread over the 3-mile-high slopes of Puncak Jaya, in the remotest reaches of this remote tropical island. Now those glaciers are melting, and Lonnie Thompson must get there before they're gone.

To the American glaciologist, the ancient ice is a vanishing "archive" of the story of El Nino, the equatorial phenomenon driving much of the world's climate.

More than that, the little-explored glaciers are a last unknown for a mountaineering scientist who for three decades has circled the planet pioneering the deep-drilling of ice cores, both to chronicle the history of climate and to bear witness to the death of tropical glaciers from global warming.

"No one knows how thick these remaining glaciers are," Thompson said of Puncak Jaya, or Mount Jaya. "We do know they are disappearing." (AP)

Maybe they are thawing (none are further from the equator than 10' S) but no one knows the temperature history for the region, or what its trend might be.

Scientists hope frozen mammoth will shed light on climate change - The frozen carcass of a 37,500-year-old baby mammoth undergoing tests in Japan could finally explain why the beasts were driven to extinction — and shed light on the history of global climate change, scientists said Friday. (Associated Press)

Polar Bears Vie With Oil for US Government Focus - WASHINGTON - The US government will soon decide whether polar bears are in danger because global warming is melting their icy habitat. But last week, the government offered some of that habitat as a place to drill for oil. (Reuters)

On thin ice - JUNEAU, Alaska: About the closest most people will ever get to a polar bear are those cute, cuddly animated images that smiled at us while dancing around, pitching soft drinks on TV and movie screens this holiday season. This is unfortunate, because polar bears are magnificent animals, not cartoon characters. They are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to America's list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.

To help ensure that polar bears are around for centuries to come, Alaska (about a fifth of the world's 25,000 polar bears roam in and around the state) has conducted research and worked closely with the federal government to protect them. We have a ban on most hunting - only Alaska Native subsistence families can hunt polar bears - and measures to protect denning areas and prevent harassment of the bears.

We are also participating in international efforts aimed at preserving polar bear populations worldwide.

This month, the U.S. secretary of the interior is expected to rule on whether polar bears should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. I strongly believe that adding them to the list is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts. (Sarah Palin, IHT)

Who Will Control Your Thermostat? - "There is nothing wrong with your thermostat. Do not attempt to adjust the temperature. We are controlling your power consumption. If we wish to make it hotter, we will turn off your air conditioner. If we wish to make it cooler, we will turn off your heater. For the next millennium, sit quietly and we will control your home temperature. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your thermostat. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... SACRAMENTO!"* (Joseph Somsel, American Thinker)

*With apologies to the creators of the TV science fiction series, "The Outer Limits."

Paul Chesser: Climate change panel offers draconian plans - WASHINGTON - A commission on global warming appointed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wants state lawmakers to implement policies that would further harm an economy already hit by the housing market downturn, with no proof that anything positive would result for the climate.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change, which consists of a handful of “experts” like the state’s school superintendent and transportation secretary, released several interim recommendations in early December. Unfortunately their work isn’t done, as the panel plans to propose new laws in January and produce a final report in April. (Paul Chesser, The Examiner)

Climate change task forces zero in on erosion issues - Two state entities dealing with climate change will focus on the mitigation of coastal erosion threatening several western Alaska communities in their final recommendations to the Legislature. Whether the panels will steer away from recommending controls on greenhouse gases believed to be contributing to climate change remains to be seen.

“We are staying away from any causes of global warming. We're not going to get into the greenhouse gas versus natural cycle debate,” said state Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage, who chairs the Legislature's climate impact assessment commission. “We're focused on real life impacts on what is happening to coastal communities and drilling seasons as conditions continue to deteriorate,” he said.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig said the state must tackle urgent problems created by accelerating erosion from more frequent and stronger storms believed to be caused by climate change and leave solutions to global warming, such as emissions controls, to others. (Alaska Journal of Commerce)

Cool Zoning: The City of Vancouver's "Eco-Density" zoning initiative - City Hall is threatening to rezone the single-family neighborhoods of Vancouver to reduce global warming. The City's policy called Eco-Density purports to apply Ecological Footprint theory to zoning. The assumption is that low density detached housing is considered bad and high-density apartment living is considered good, because the latter supposedly produces fewer greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. If it is true that we collectively face a global calamity because of our profligate production of carbon dioxide, then my neighbors and I will do our part. We will sell our homes to developers who in turn will perform their duty to the planet by demolishing them, carting the waste to the dump and replacing our houses with high-rises. Those of us who don't want to join a strata council will take the money and run -to the suburbs and commute to work in Vancouver by car. But if climate change is not caused by mankind or if rezoning won't help do the trick, I would just as soon stay where I am.

Urban Planner William Rees of the University of British Columbia is the father of "Ecological Footprint" theory. Rees counted up all the productive land on Earth, divided it by the world's population, and subtracted the amount of land needed to absorb the carbon dioxide and other wastes that humans produce. The result is the average footprint available to humans at our current population. It turns out that the earth is not big enough and we need more planets to accommodate the carbon dioxide.

The website www.myfootprint.com provides a cute computer model that allows users to calculate their sins and demonstrates that we can achieve sustainability if we only adopt the standard of living of a failed state. In an article, " Is Humanity Fatally Successful" Rees argues that mankind should be perfectly happy with an income of about $7500 per year which presumably is less than he makes as professor.

The ecological footprint model is really about the morality of self-limitation dressed up like science. It assumes that mankind is the cause of climate change through the mechanism of carbon dioxide. Footprintism is to the science of climatology what creationism is to the science of evolution. (Jonathan Baker, Nolan Chart)

From the rubber room: Medicine at the crossroads of energy and climate change - With few exceptions, medicine is not preparing for global warming and the approaching zeniths in the extraction of oil, natural gas and coal from the earth (often referred to as peak oil). The implications of these intertwined socioeconomic and geopolitical perils are stupefying, with global warming calling for radical reductions in the use of fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions – most estimates calculate 80% or more by 2050. (Originally published in Synergy & Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought (Winter 2007))

Brian Leyland: Powering our future or wrecking the economy? - The draft New Zealand Energy Strategy is dominated by the Government's conviction that climate change (more properly described as "man-made global warming") is happening and that we must develop renewable energy to save New Zealand from disaster.

The strategy ignores the uncertainties in the evidence claimed to support the belief that man-made global warming is real and dangerous. It cannot explain why, before the days of man-made CO2, the world was warmer during the Middle Ages, Roman and Minoan warm periods. The whole of the Energy Strategy is based on the assumption that the "scenarios" and "projections" of dangerous warming generated by unproven climate models are accurate predictions. (New Zealand Herald)

EU Considers Carbon Tariff as Part of Climate Push - LONDON - The European Commission is debating whether to push for a carbon tariff on imports from countries that do not tackle their greenhouse gas emissions, as part of climate change proposals due out this month. (Reuters)

Oil price fuels fresh look at coal - VAST coal reserves in Asia are gaining attention as major energy consumers such as China and India grapple with the reality of oil prices around $US100 a barrel and the risks they pose to their economies.

Multibillion-dollar facilities that convert coal to oil are being studied across Asia, while utilities are shelving plans to build power plants that use natural gas or fuel oil because prices of those fuels track the cost of crude. (Wall Street Journal)

'Oil Prices Are Still Too Cheap' - What does $100-a-barrel oil mean? No one is entirely sure. But this week's new high has economists, pundits and politicians vigorously speculating on the impact on the world economy. German commentators, though, are more concerned about the environment. (Der Spiegel)

Clean Power for Norway Oil and Gas Rigs Seen Costly - OSLO - Norway's hopes of supplying cleaner electricity to offshore oil and gas platforms to help fight global warming suffered a setback on Friday when an official report projected higher-than-expected costs.

The study estimated it would cost at least 1,600 crowns (US$299) to cut a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions by shutting down offshore power generators run on fossil fuels and laying cables from the mainland, where most power is hydro-electric.

By contrast, rights to emit carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, cost about 24 euros (US$35.33) a tonne in a European Union market. (Reuters)

The new Prohibition - One lesson every American claims to have learned is that Prohibition was wrong, a mistake, a sad chapter in U.S. history when the government tried to deny citizens something they wanted.

But I'm not at all sure what lesson Americans actually learned from the ban on the sale of spirits.

Because ever since then, we've been banning products with far less harmful effects.

A couple weeks ago, the U.S. Congress took the Prohibition craze to an all-new level of madness – banning one of the safest, most useful products ever invented. President Bush quickly signed the bill, without so much as a national dialogue, let alone a debate.

I'm talking about the Prohibition of the incandescent light bulb.

Just writing these words gives me a chill.

Am I really living in America? (Joseph Farah, WND)

'Eternal' flame to be replaced by lightbulb - A town's Olympic-style flame is to be replaced by a lightbulb because of the enormous gas bills and the carbon emissions it gives off.

The 15ft high Eternal Flame was a gift to Bournemouth, Dorset, from its local churches to mark the Millennium.

Burning continuously, it provided a focus for the town square - at a cost of £8,000 a year. Church officials also realised its emissions were harming the environment.

The giant torch has now been snuffed out while they seek planning permission for a large LED globe that will use less power than a lightbulb and change colour every five seconds. The Rev David Craig, a trustee of the Bournemouth Flame Christian Trust, said: "The flame wasn't a worry until gas prices suddenly rocketed. We began to realise that it was not only a financial issue but also an environmental one." (London Telegraph)

Low-energy bulbs 'could cause skin cancer' - Using environmentally-friendly light bulbs can be bad for your skin, say doctors.

The new energy-saving bulbs produce a more intense light and can exacerbate a range of existing skin problems.

Now it is feared that thousands of people may be unable to use electric light in their own homes, visit family and friends, or have access to employment and public services if the government's plan to phase out the normal variety of incandescent lighting goes ahead without exemptions.

The warning has been issued by Spectrum, an alliance of charities working with people with light sensitive conditions, and the British Association of Dermatologists.

It comes after the Migraine Action Association warned the energy-saving light bulbs could trigger migraines. (London Telegraph)

The Mercurial EU - The e-mails are flowing in about yesterday’s comment on the mounting follies of mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs, or lamps (CFLs) [see: ‘The Great Green Gaff’, January 5; also: ‘Dimwits’, December 4].

First, Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, Chancellor of the Exchequer between June 1983 and October 1989, points out a classic, and highly amusing, example of EU double thinking. Apparently, last July, the EU agreed to ban the sale of mercury-in-glass thermometers (as a health hazard). The ban is due to come into force next year. The number of thermometers is, of course, infinitely smaller than the number of mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs, which the EU has now decided to make compulsory. Wonderful - that should raise the temperature! I would add that Nigel asked some highly prescient questions about the safety of low energy bulbs in the House of Lords last October to which the Government gave some very Sir Humphrey-style pusillanimous responses. Things are now catching up with them a tad. (Global Warming Politics)

Scientist sees few benefits from biofuels - Rising production of biofuels has distorted government budgets, helped to drive up food prices and led to deforestation in south-east Asia, the chief scientist of Defra said on Friday. (Reuters)

As though anyone had reason to believe anything said by Watson, Tickell et all... nonetheless, 'biofuel' is strictly a boondoggle at this time.

The Price of Biofuels (Part 1) - The irrational exuberance over ethanol that swept through the American corn belt over the last few years has given way to a dreary hangover, especially among those who invested heavily in the sprawling production facilities now dotting the rural landscape. It's the Midwest's version of the tech bubble, and in some ways, it is remarkably familiar: overeager investors enamored of a technology's seemingly unlimited potential ignore what, at least in retrospect, are obvious economic realities. (Technology Review) Part 2 | Part 3

ADM Will Bury Carbon from US Ethanol Plant - NEW YORK - Archer Daniels Midland Co, a major food processor, said it is working with business and government groups in the US Midwest on an US$84 million project to bury planet-warming gas emissions from an ethanol plant starting next year. (Reuters)

Six million face energy price hike of up to 17% - Power bills are set to soar for millions of families as temperatures plummeted below freezing across much of Britain and oil traded above $100 a barrel for the second day running.

Npower, Britain’s fourth-largest energy supplier, confirmed that it was preparing to announce today that standard price tariffs would rise to double digits. The company, which is owned by the German company RWE, declined to comment on the precise scale of the increases, but industry sources said that they could be as high as 17 per cent for both gas and electricity customers. (London Times)

Scientists take on Brown over nuclear plans - Academics say safety concerns of new generation of plants not yet addressed (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Efficient Biofuel Made From Genetically Modified E. Coli Bacteria - Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new method for producing next-generation biofuels by genetically modifying Escherichia coli bacteria to be an efficient biofuel synthesizer. The method could lead to mass production of these biofuels. (ScienceDaily)

An appetite for the food boom - Donald Coxe remembers the moment he became an agri-bull. It was 2006, and the global portfolio strategist for Bank of Montreal had taken a leave of absence to trace his family roots in India, where his father was raised.

"I spent two weeks travelling around rural India and I watched how people were adding dairy food and meat to their diet. And I came back and I said, 'the real shortage out there isn't oil any more. The real shortage is food."

For Mr. Coxe, a top-ranked strategist, the biggest challenge facing the world is how to feed billions of newly middle-class consumers in India, China and other emerging countries where people are developing an appetite for the foods Westerners have been eating for decades.

"That means we've got to expand food output dramatically," he said in a speech to the Empire Club in Toronto yesterday. This is where his bullishness about agricultural stocks comes in. Producing enough food for the world's growing middle class will require huge investments in fertilizers, genetically modified seeds and farm machinery. (Globe and Mail)

January 4, 2008

The latest in junk science... killer carbon dioxide! First-ever study to link increased mortality specifically to carbon dioxide emissions - "A Stanford scientist has spelled out for the first time the direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical environmental processes. The new findings, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, come to light just after the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards for this greenhouse gas based in part on the lack of data showing the link between carbon dioxide emissions and their health effects.

While it has long been known that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, the new study details how for each increase of one degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States, according to the paper by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. Worldwide, upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.

“This is a cause and effect relationship, not just a correlation,” said Jacobson of his study, which on Dec. 24 was accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

Contrary to Jacobson's claim, however, mathematical models alone can't prove cause-and-effect relationships. Robust real-world data backed by demonstrated biological plausibility would be required for that -- both of which are absent in this study. Jacobson appears to be more of an "imagineer" than an engineer.

Newt Gingrich Out-Greens Al Gore? - Newt Gingrich has guzzled Al Gore’s Kool-Aid. Now he wants us and the Republican 2008 presidential candidates to drink it, too. (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Warn the public about drinking the Green Fool-Aid!
Get your Fool-Aid T-Shirt from the DemandDebate.com store.

Fearing Frog Deformities: Media and Environmentalists Croaking in the Wind - Hideously deformed frogs, multiple legs sprouting from their various body parts, are the poster amphibians of the environmental movement. Their fragile eggs are supposedly poisoned by agricultural pesticides and other insidious chemical slough, exposed to global warming, and to radiation streaming through the ozone hole. Frogs are utterly defenseless against man’s corruption of the environment.

So, what’s your reaction when you hear about these deformed creatures? A lot of folks would respond the way researcher Stanley Sessions of Hartwick College did when he heard about deformed frogs in Minnesota. “Actually, when I first heard about the Minnesota situation, I immediately suspected a chemical substance,” Sessions admitted. “That’s the first thing everybody thinks of. You see a screwed-up animal in the field and that’s the conclusion you jump to.”(1) Not even Sessions, who ultimately debunked the chemical substance issue with frogs, could ultimately resist the temptation.

Following this line of thought, let’s go on an excursion into the world of frogs to see how the public consciousness has been shaped by the media and environmentalists. (Jack W. Dini, Plating & Surface Finishing, December 2007)

Mercury mania strikes again: Cremation a hazard to the living? - FORT COLLINS, COLO. -- Rick Allnutt has closed all but one section of his funeral home on the north end of town.

The chapel is dark and quiet, the reception hall bare. But in the bay out back, two side-by-side ovens rumble as the 1,650-degree heat blasts two corpses into bone and ash.

Allnutt has moved the rest of the business to another location and wants to move his crematory to a site near a cemetery in Larimer County, but he has reached a stalemate with health officials there. They are concerned about what they see as a potential health risk to the living -- mercury being released into the atmosphere from dental fillings of the cremated.

They want him to do something that may be unprecedented in this country: Install a filter on his crematory's smokestack or extract teeth of the deceased before cremation.

Allnutt refuses to do either, calling the first option too expensive and the second ghoulish.

"I'm not going to be the only one in the world who says I'll pull teeth from dead bodies," he said.

Across the United States, the issue is cropping up: Do mercury emissions from dental fillings of corpses incinerated in crematories pose a threat? And if so, how should it be handled? (DeeDee Correll, Los Angeles Times)

Nutrition Labeling On Menu Boards And Menus: A Recipe For Failure - Introduction: Concern about the United States’ population’s weight gain has led to a variety of policy proposals about how best to deal with what is often referred to as the “fattening of America.” One proposal receiving increased prominence is requiring restaurants to include on their menus or menu boards the fat, sodium, and calorie counts for all of their offerings. The California legislature recently passed a law requiring menu labeling, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who termed it impractical and inflexible. Congress has considered the Menu and Labeling Act, which would require chain restaurants with twenty or more outlets to provide certain nutritional information. The Food and Drug Administration has also begun studying whether national standards for provision of nutritional information on restaurant menus are necessary, and New York City has reintroduced its menu labeling legislation after the original statue was overturned.

The proponents of this policy believe that consumers are generally uninformed (particularly of the calorie count) about their restaurant meals. Therefore, providing consumers with this information will make a substantial difference to both what and how much they eat, and, consequently, to their weight. As New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden put it when introducing the revised labeling law, “The big picture is that New Yorkers don’t have access to calorie information.”

This WORKING PAPER argues that the research on consumer behavior, information provision, the use of warnings in general, and the use of warnings specifically on menu labeling demonstrates that these assumptions are wrong. As summarized below, the scientific evidence strongly suggests that menu labeling is impractical, ineffective, potentially counter-productive for certain consumers, and highly inappropriate. (Professor Patrick Basham and Dr. John C. Luik, The Democracy Institute)

A heart stopper - Bringing in the new year, Radio Iowa reported from a bariatric surgeon at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha. Increasing numbers of teens are coming in wanting bariatric surgeries, according to Dr. Ranjan Sudan, and “some doctors are looking at performing weight loss surgeries [sic] on children as young as five.”

Five. (Junkfood Science)

“Aesthetic objections are not the province of government” - Daniel Hannan has written a hard-hitting Op-Ed in the Telegraph about the obsessions and bullying surrounding fat, “fatism,” and the new government proposal to require people to exercise and lose weight in order to receive medical treatment.

He says he can’t be the only father of little girls who worries that, “even if they never come close to developing an eating disorder, their lives will be poorer if they are constantly made anxious about calorific intake.” (Junkfood Science)

Buy my product, it works, honest.... - Dr. Roy Jobson, M.D., a pharmacology instructor at Rhodes University in South Africa, has written a satirical and stinging article on the techniques used to take advantage of the “worried well” and others to scare and trick them into buying bogus weight loss products, health foods, and remedies for nonexistent health problems. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth a read in its entirety. There is a lesson in critical thinking in every step: (Junkfood Science)

Dieting for Dollars: An economist explains his weight-loss plan. - We're only four days into the new year, but many people may already be stuck, wondering how they will fulfill their weight-loss resolutions. Of late, employers have been getting into the game, paying their workers to lose weight and thereby cut some corporate health-care bills. The results of these programs have been fairly predictable, at least for an economist like me. Employers who use weight-loss incentives inadvertently encourage workers to gain weight before the first weigh-in.

But if incentives matter, then surely any economist worth his weight should be able to design a diet program that works. I had been trying to lose 10 pounds for what seemed like a decade. I had lost about 378 pounds during my struggle, only to remain nine pounds short of my target weight. (Opinion Journal)

Catholic Cardinal and Bishop Condemn Climate Change Extremism, Radical Environmentalism - VATICAN, January 3, 2008 - Two high-ranking Catholic clergymen ushered in the New Year by separately denouncing the currently most fashionable doomsday theory-the theory of man-driven global-warming-and radical environmentalism, as both unscientific and disturbingly quasi-religious.

Cardinal George Pell, the notoriously outspoken Australian clergy-man, and Bishop Crepaldi, the Vatican secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, published their comments in The Catholic World Report (CWR), and Fides news agency, respectively. (LifeSiteNews.com)

Al Gore Will Never Live Up to Milton Friedman - After browsing YouTube for several days, I found many videos about Milton Friedman. Eventually, after some time, one of those videos stuck out at me, but not for reasons you would think. (Copious Dissent)

The Times -- They Are A-Changin' - Climate Change: Skepticism about man-induced global warming has reached the science pages of the newspaper of record. This suggests the debate not only isn't over, but that it's also finally newsworthy.

Some warming deniers must have slipped a body-snatching pod under the bed of New York Times columnist John Tierney. Or at the very least the accountants at Exxon Mobil must have put more than a lump of coal in the stocking hanging over Tierney's fossil fuel-burning fireplace.

In his first column of the new year, Tierney writes that the deniers of truth are in fact Nobel Laureate Al Gore and those who ignore both scientific evidence and the historical record in their prophecies of doom. 2008, says Tierney, will be no exception. (IBD)

Global warming bias - It seems the world is jumping into the global warming waters the same way those Polar Bear Club members jump into some frigid body of water each New Year's Day -- with abandon.

How about an honest debate about global warming in 2008? (Tribune-Review)

North Atlantic warming tied to natural variability, study says - A Duke University-led analysis of available records shows that while the North Atlantic Ocean’s surface waters warmed in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000, the change was not uniform. In fact, the subpolar regions cooled at the same time that subtropical and tropical waters warmed.

This striking pattern can be explained largely by the influence of a natural and cyclical wind circulation pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), wrote authors of a study published Thursday, Jan. 3, in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.

Winds that power the NAO are driven by atmospheric pressure differences between areas around Iceland and the Azores. “The winds have a tremendous impact on the underlying ocean,” said Susan Lozier, a professor of physical oceanography at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences who is the study’s first author.

Other studies cited in the Science Express report suggest human-caused global warming may be affecting recent ocean heating trends. But Lozier and her coauthors found their data can’t support that view for the North Atlantic. “It is premature to conclusively attribute these regional patterns of heat gain to greenhouse warming,” they wrote.

“The take-home message is that the NAO produces strong natural variability,” said Lozier in an interview. “The simplistic view of global warming is that everything forward in time will warm uniformly. But this very strong natural variability is superimposed on human-caused warming. So researchers will need to unravel that natural variability to get at the part humans are responsible for.”

In research supported by the National Science Foundation in the United States and the Natural Environment Research Council in the United Kingdom, her international team analyzed 50 years of North Atlantic temperature records collected at the National Oceanic Data Center in Washington, D.C.

To piece together the mechanisms involved in the observed changes, their analysis employed an ocean circulation model that predicts how winds, evaporation, precipitation and the exchange of heat with the atmosphere influences the North Atlantic’s heat content over time. They also compared those computer predictions to real observations “to test the model’s skill,” the authors wrote.

Her group’s analysis showed that water in the sub-polar ocean –- roughly between 45 degrees North latitude and the Arctic Circle –- became cooler as the water directly exchanged heat with the air above it.

By contrast, NOA-driven winds served to “pile up” sun-warmed waters in parts of the subtropical and tropical North Atlantic south of 45 degrees, Lozier said. That retained and distributed heat at the surface while pushing underlying cooler water further down.

The group’s computer model predicted warmer sea surfaces in the tropics and subtropics and colder readings within the sub-polar zone whenever the NAO is in an elevated state of activity. Such a high NAO has been the case during the years 1980 to 2000, the scientists reported. “We suggest that the large-scale, decadal changes...associated with the NAO are primarily responsible for the ocean heat content changes in the North Atlantic over the past 50 years,” the authors concluded.

However, the researchers also noted that this study should not be viewed in isolation. Given reported heat content gains in other oceans basins, and rising air temperatures, the authors surmised that other parts of the world's ocean systems may have taken up the excess heat produced by global warming.

“But in the North Atlantic, any anthropogenic (human-caused) warming would presently be masked by such strong natural variability,” they wrote.

Arctic Fingerprint Doesn’t Match - Remember the good old days when “fingerprinting” was in vogue as the way to demonstrate a human impact on global climate? The idea was to show that observed temperature changes throughout the atmosphere match well the temperature changes predicted by climate models to occur there. One of the most prominent, and ultimately disproven, attempts was made by Ben Santer and colleagues, back in 1996. Santer et al. published an article in Nature magazine titled “A search for the human influences on the thermal structure of the atmosphere” in which they concluded that “Our results suggest that the similarities between observed and model-predicted changes in the zonal-mean vertical patterns of temperature change over 1963-1987 are unlikely to have resulted from natural internally generated variability of the climate system.” In other words, there must be a human influence on the observed changes. However, we (Michaels and Knappenberger, 1996) published a subsequent Comment in Nature, titled “Human effect on global climate?” describing how the correspondence between the observed patterns of vertical temperature change in the atmosphere and those projected by climate models broke down if a longer time period were considered. In other words, if the comparison was extended from 1958 to 1995 (instead of Santer et al.’s 1963 to 1987) the correspondence between model and observations became much less obvious. We concluded “Such a result… cannot be considered to be a ‘fingerprint’ of greenhouse-gas-induced climate change.” (See here for more details) (WCR)

What sea ice loss? - We've all heard that the much-dreaded global warming is melting the polar ice caps, but is there actually a net loss of sea ice?

According to NOAA data presented on the web site of Bill Chapman of the Polar Research Group at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), the level of sea ice has reached about the same level as it was in 2003.

Check out the red line at the bottom of this graph.

The current change in global sea ice coverage is a positive 1 million square kilometers -- a gain of 1.8 million square kilometers in the Southern Hemisphere netted against a loss of 800,000 square kilometers in the Northern Hemisphere.

More output from grant acquisition machines climate models: First-ever study to link increased mortality specifically to carbon dioxide emissions - A Stanford scientist has spelled out for the first time the direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical environmental processes. The new findings, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, come to light just after the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards for this greenhouse gas based in part on the lack of data showing the link between carbon dioxide emissions and their health effects.

While it has long been known that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, the new study details how for each increase of one degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States, according to the paper by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. Worldwide, upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas. (Stanford University)

Constantly repeating "everyone knows" doesn't mean carbon dioxide emissions actually warm the planet and we still don't know this to be true (or false). Despite the $billions thrown at "studying" this hypothesis there remains a mere loose association and absolutely no demonstrated causation.

2007 warmest year on record? Coldest in this century - One month ago, we noticed that November 2007 was the coldest month since January 2000. Well, the RSS MSU satellite data show that December was even cooler. The December anomaly was -0.046 °C, compared to -0.014 °C in November. That means that December 2007 was also cooler than the average December from 1979. Moreover, we can finally complete the ranking of years! (The Reference Frame)

Global temperature 2008: Another top-ten year - 2008 is set to be cooler globally than recent years say Met Office and University of East Anglia climate scientists, but is still forecast to be one of the top-ten warmest years.

Each January the Met Office, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, issues a forecast of the global surface temperature for the coming year. The forecast takes into account known contributing factors, such as El Niño and La Niña, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the cooling influences of industrial aerosol particles, solar effects and natural variations of the oceans. (metoffice.gov.uk)

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies hosts a Q&A with Dr. James Hansen where there is frank discussion of the difficulties involved in even defining the global mean surface temperature here. This file contains the statement:

“For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 14 Celsius, i.e. 57.2 F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58 F and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.“

The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) overview states:

“The range among the models of global- and annual-mean surface air temperature is rather surprising. Jones et al. (1999) conclude that the average value for 1961-1990 was 14.0°C and point out that this value differs from earlier estimates by only 0.1°C. Taking into consideration all of the observational uncertainties, it appears that the actual value of surface air temperature was between 13.5°C and 14.0°C during the second half of the 20th Century and roughly 0.5°C less in the late 19th Century. It therefore seems that several of the models (which simulate values from less than 12°C to over 16°C) are in significant disagreement with the observations of this fundamental quantity.“

Now here's the Met Office claiming:

Global temperature for 2008 is expected to be 0.37 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C, the coolest year since 2000, when the value was 0.24 °C.

We have no idea whether 14.0 °C (287.15 K) represents the planet's "correct" temperature or how well we have measured it (or even agreed on what exactly we are trying to measure) and yet the Met Office makes "forecasts" to one one-hundredth of one degree precision? Oh puh-lease!

But wait -- it's worse! Warming forests sop up less greenhouse gases than thought - OTTAWA - Last year brought glum news that Canada's forests are only a so-so defence against global warming.

Today it gets a little worse: We thought our forests were getting better at soaking up greenhouse gases, but they're not.

A study by Canadian, Chinese and European researchers shows that as the climate gets warmer, northern forests aren't soaking up extra carbon dioxide from the air after all. Forests may, in fact, become worse at storing carbon if climate trends continue. (Tom Spears, CanWest News Service)

Uh-huh... Northward Ho? - BROOKLIN, Canada, Jan 2 - Dan Bloom thinks it's time to figure out how to build self-sustaining cities in the polar regions because climate change will eventually make most of Earth uninhabitable.

These polar cities may be "humankind's only chance for survival if global warming really turns into a worldwide catastrophe in the far distant future," Bloom told IPS. (Stephen Leahy, IPS)

A New GRL Paper - Multi-Decadal Surface Temperature Trends Are Overstated When Minimum Temperatures Over Land Are Used - Reports of multi-decadal temperature trends and temperature anomalies have been based on the measurement of air temperature at a single height above the ground. The claim by NOAA, for example, that “2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe“, is based on this data. (Climate Science)

James Annan on 2.5 deg C - I’ve been seeking an engineering-quality exposition of how 2.5 deg C is derived from doubled CO2 for some time. I posted up Gerry North’s suggestion here , which was an interesting article but hardly a solution to the question. I’ve noted that Ramanathan and the Charney Report in the 1970s discuss the topic, but these are hardly up-to-date or engineering quality. Schwartz has a recent journal article deriving a different number and, again, this is hardly a definitive treatment. At AGU, I asked Schwartz after his presentation for a reference setting out the contrary point of view, but he did not give a reference. I’ve emailed Gavin Schmidt asking for a reference and got no answer.

James Annan, a thoughtful climate scientist (see link to his blog in left frame), recently sent me an email trying to answer my long-standing inquiry. While it was nice of him to offer these thoughts, an email hardly counts as a reference in the literature. Since James did not include a relevant reference, I presume that he feels that that the matter is not set out in existing literature. Secondly, a two-page email is hardly an “engineering quality” derivation of the result. By “engineering quality”, I mean the sort of study that one would use to construct a mining plant, oil refinery or auto factory - smaller enterprises than Kyoto.

Part of the reason that my inquiry seems to fall on deaf ears is that climate scientists seem to be so used to the format of little Nature and Science articles that they seem not to understand what an engineering-quality exposition would even look like. (Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

Data Shed New Light on Night Clouds - A Hampton University professor is shedding new light on night-shining clouds that might be affected by climate change. Jim Russell is the lead scientist for the NASA-funded AIM satellite, the first to study the wispy "noctilucent" clouds, which only appear above Earth's poles. (AP)

Wildfires added to climate change hysteria - The year 2007 was the year wildfires joined the cavalcade of events that are supposedly the result of human-caused climate change.

Besides Al Gore, who linked wildfires to global warming in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, California Sen. Barbara Boxer emerged as the most prominent doomster to associate fires with climate change. While wildfires raged in her state, Boxer used the tragedy to continue her crusade for severe carbon dioxide controls, asserting before Congress that the fires were "a consequence of climate change." (Tim Ball and Tom Harris, Sun Sentinel)

Obituary: Bert Bolin, at 82; cofounded UN panel on climate change - STOCKHOLM - Bert Bolin, a Swedish climate scientist and cofounder of the Nobel Peace-winning UN panel on climate change, has died at age 82.

As early as the 1950s, Dr. Bolin produced research about the circulation of carbon in nature that remains relevant to the debate on climate change. He played a key role in communicating the dangers of climate change and served as the first chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1988 to 1998. (Boston Globe)

Anyone know these guys? Changes in the Sun’s Surface to Bring Next Climate Change - Today, the Space and Science Research Center, (SSRC) in Orlando, Florida announces that it has confirmed the recent web announcement of NASA solar physicists that there are substantial changes occurring in the sun’s surface. The SSRC has further researched these changes and has concluded they will bring about the next climate change to one of a long lasting cold era.

Today, Director of the SSRC, John Casey has reaffirmed earlier research he led that independently discovered the sun’s changes are the result of a family of cycles that bring about climate shifts from cold climate to warm and back again. (Space and Science Research Center Press Release)

A cold spell soon to replace global warming - MOSCOW. – Stock up on fur coats and felt boots! This is my paradoxical advice to the warm world.

Earth is now at the peak of one of its passing warm spells. It started in the 17th century when there was no industrial influence on the climate to speak of and no such thing as the hothouse effect. The current warming is evidently a natural process and utterly independent of hothouse gases.

The real reasons for climate changes are uneven solar radiation, terrestrial precession (that is, axis gyration), instability of oceanic currents, regular salinity fluctuations of the Arctic Ocean surface waters, etc. There is another, principal reason—solar activity and luminosity. The greater they are the warmer is our climate.

Astrophysics knows two solar activity cycles, of 11 and 200 years. Both are caused by changes in the radius and area of the irradiating solar surface. The latest data, obtained by Habibullah Abdusamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory space research laboratory, say that Earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012. Real cold will come when solar activity reaches its minimum, by 2041, and will last for 50-60 years or even longer. (Oleg Sorokhtin for RIA Novosti)

Energy-saving light bulbs blamed for migraines - The energy-saving light bulbs that will be made compulsory in homes in a few years can trigger migraines, campaigners have claimed.

The Migraine Action Association (MAA) said some of its members alleged the fluorescent bulbs had led to attacks of the powerful headaches.

By 2011, Britain will be the first European country to phase out traditional bulbs as part of a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. (London Telegraph)

Coal Surfaces Again In The UK - “A Happy New Year” to you all, and I return with the good news that Medway Council has given its approval for two new coal-fired power stations in Kent.

These will replace the current Kingsnorth Power Station, a 1,940 MW dual-fired plant employing both coal and oil, with a 10 per cent biomass mix of mainly cereal co-products, which is situated on the salt marshes of the Hoo Peninsula in the Medway Estuary, north from Rochester, Kent, and directly across from Gillingham Football Ground. The plant is run by E.ON UK, and it has a port facility which enables the importation of low-sulphur coal.

E.ON are now proposing to demolish the old plant, and to construct two new 800 MW supercritical coal-fired power units on the site. When completed, these will be the first new coal-powered plants in the UK since Drax power station in 1986 and one in Northern Ireland, 24 years ago. E.ON claims that the new plants will be 20% cleaner, and hopes that, when finally approved by the Government, the power stations will be up and running in 2012, providing enough energy for 1.5 million homes. (Global Warming Politics)

British nuclear plans to get green light - BRITAIN is expected to give the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations next week, sparking a frenzy of deal-making by nuclear firms as well as a fresh challenge from environmental campaigners.

Nuclear station operators say they could have new UK plants running by 2017, helping Britain to meet its ambitious 2020 goals for combating climate change.

The government green light, expected on Tuesday, is likely to be accompanied by publication of an Energy Bill to be fast-tracked through parliament alongside a Climate Change Bill and a Planning Bill.

The trio of bills form the backbone of the government's new energy and climate policy. (Irish Independent)

Tourists deepen carbon footprint - Carbon emissions from visitors' air travel to New Zealand equal total emissions from the country's coal, gas and oil-fired power generation, say University of Otago scientists.

Physics researchers Inga Smith and Craig Rodger say the greenhouse-gas emissions from visiting tourists are far greater than had been thought.

The researchers set out to quantify the contribution of international visitors' air travel to New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions profile from 1983 to 2005.

Their calculations showed that in 2005, the CO2-equivalent emissions from the 2.4 million international visitors' return air flights was nearly 7.9 million tonnes, about the same as the emissions from all the country's coal, gas and oil-fired power generation. (New Zealand Herald)

Forget oil, the new global crisis is food - A new crisis is emerging, a global food catastrophe that will reach further and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen. The credit crunch and the reverberations of soaring oil prices around the world will pale in comparison to what is about to transpire, Donald Coxe, global portfolio strategist at BMO Financial Group said at the Empire Club's 14th annual investment outlook in Toronto on Thursday.

"It's not a matter of if, but when," he warned investors. "It's going to hit this year hard."

Mr. Coxe said the sharp rise in raw food prices in the past year will intensify in the next few years amid increased demand for meat and dairy products from the growing middle classes of countries such as China and India as well as heavy demand from the biofuels industry.

"The greatest challenge to the world is not US$100 oil; it's getting enough food so that the new middle class can eat the way our middle class does, and that means we've got to expand food output dramatically," he said.

The impact of tighter food supply is already evident in raw food prices, which have risen 22% in the past year. (Alia McMullen, Financial Post)

Farmer on hunger strike in GM protest - FRENCH farmer José Bové, who became a worldwide celebrity for his fight against junk food, went on a hunger strike yesterday with around 15 other activists to try and get the government to do more to ban genetically modified crops. (The Scotsman)

Cloned Livestock Poised To Receive FDA Clearance - Get ready for a food fight over milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring.

After more than six years of wrestling with the question of whether meat and milk from them are safe to eat, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to declare as early as next week that they are.

The FDA had asked producers of cloned livestock not to sell food products from such animals pending its ruling on their safety. It isn't clear whether the FDA will lift this voluntary hold.

While many consumer groups still oppose it, the FDA declaration that cloned animal products are safe would be a milestone for a small cadre of biotech companies that want to make a business out of producing copies of prize dairy cows and other farm animals -- effectively taking the selective breeding practiced on farms for centuries to the cutting edge.

Because of the price tag -- cloned cattle cost $15,000 to $20,000 per copy -- most of the cloned animals will be used for breeding, and it will be three to five years before consumers see milk and meat from their offspring. (Wall Street Journal)

January 3, 2008

New JGR Paper Published - “Unresolved Issues With The Assessment Of Multidecadal Global Land Surface Temperature Trends” - Our paper Pielke R. A. Sr., et al. (2007), Unresolved issues with the assessment of multidecadal global land surface temperature trends, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229 [also available from http://climatesci.colorado.edu/publications/pdf/R-321.pdf] has appeared. This paper can help explain the role of non-spatially representative measurements of multi-decadal land surface air temperature trends, that was extracted statistically in the article McKitrick, R.R. and P.J. Michaels (2007), Quantifying the influence of anthropogenic surface processes and inhomogeneities on gridded global climate data, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S09, doi:10.1029/2007JD008465 (Climate Science)

The Biggest Whopper of 2007 - Among the candidates for the biggest cock-and-bull story in 2007 must be NASA’s James Hansen with his work of creative genius on Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets and his wannabes, who subsequently copied his imaginative tour de force. (Julie Walsh, CE)

Nunavut News - Here’s a trivial question for geography buffs: What is the capital of Nunavut (pronounced ‘Noo-na-voot’)? If you know that the answer is Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), you win five stars. Of course, you are probably the only one in the room who has a clue about this place called Nunavut. (WCR)

Al Gore a prophet; global warming a religion - You don't have to be religious to qualify as a fundamentalist. You can be Al Gore, the messiah figure for the global warming cult, whose followers truly believe their gospel of imminent extermination in a Noah-like flood, if we don't immediately change our carbon polluting ways. (Sun Sentinel)

:) Bali Highs - More than week after the big U.N. Climate Change Conference wrapped up in Bali last month, Ms. Henny-Penny, founder and now Recording Secretary of The Holy Order of The Sky is Falling, is finally back from that fabled isle herself. "I was so exhausted from that wonderful conference, I just had to rest for several days," she told us when we caught up with her this morning.

For two weeks delegates from 180 countries talked endlessly, congratulating one another on their perspicacity for discovering that if they cranked down industrial society to a crawl they might reduce carbon emissions enough for the sky to begin ascending again.

"The speeches were thrilling," said Ms. H-P. "Toward the end, our Pontiff, Al Gore, brought the audience to a standing ovation when he denounced the United States for dragging its feet on global warming." (Peter Hannaford, American Spectator)

Fabulous timing - This gloomy "E, the Environmental Magazine" cover story bemoans the lack of snow in New Hampshire and Aspen just as all-time December snowfall records were announced in both places. (Tom Nelson)

What's going on here? Nature and man jointly cook Arctic - WASHINGTON - There‘s more to the recent dramatic and alarming thawing of the Arctic region than can be explained by man-made global warming alone, a new study found. Nature is pushing the Arctic to the edge, too.

But that energy transfer, which comes with storms that head north because of ocean currents, is not acting alone either, scientists say. Another upcoming study concludes that the combination of both that natural energy transfer increase and man-made global warming serve as a one-two punch that is pushing the Arctic over the edge. (AP)

Seth admits a natural component? Whoa! Maybe the end is nigh...

Verification of 22 Historic Climate Studies Pinpoints Patterns in Data Errors - We're swamped with information about anticipated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But the indicators vary wildly. A new study compared the historic numbers of 22 trend-setting organizations to actual findings and found out where data fouls up.

The researchers compared the composite output of 22 leading global climate models with actual data. Many of these models are also incorporated in research by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), the recent Nobel laureate.

Turns out that the historic predictions of these models do not match current climate change by far. The problem lies in the measurement of key portions of the atmosphere, the researchers say. They devised a better method which they claim will be more reliable for future predictions because datasets that have been faulty have been pinpointed at long last.

The research published in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology, arrives amid already adverse circumstances and raised new concerns about the reliability of models used to forecast global warming. (Angelique van Engelen, Global Politician)

California Sues EPA Over Greenhouse Gas Regulations; Says Its Limits Better Than Federal Plan - SACRAMENTO -- California sued the federal government Wednesday in its ongoing bid to set the country's first greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, providing new data to show its program is superior to a federal plan.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of Appeals asks the federal Environmental Protection Agency to review its own decision last month to deny California a waiver it and 16 other states need to regulate greenhouse gases from new cars and trucks.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said the federal government had a national plan to raise fuel economy standards and dismissed California's arguments that it faced extraordinary threats from climate change. (AP)

Meanwhile: Rain, snow, wind to arrive Thursday for a lengthy visit - A series of fierce winter storms is expected to slam into the Sacramento area and the Sierra beginning Thursday afternoon, bringing high winds and drenching rains to the valley and heavy snow to the mountains throughout the weekend.

Mike Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said three storms spawned in the Gulf of Alaska could generate wind gusts of up to 50 mph and drop several inches of rain on the Sacramento Valley.

He also predicted "multiple" feet of snow in the Sierra with snow levels ranging from 4,000 feet beginning Thursday to as low as 1,000 feet by Sunday. The NWS said the storm has the potential to dump up to 10 feet of snow on the highest peaks with winds gusting to 80 mph. (Sacramento Bee)

The Deadly Toll Of Wind Power - Despite yearlong effort to curb bird deaths by turbines on the Altamont Pass, many still have perished (Charles Burress, SF Chronicle)

Oil futures rise to $100 a barrel - NEW YORK -- Crude oil prices briefly soared to $100 a barrel Wednesday for the first time, reaching that milestone amid an unshakeable view that global demand for oil and petroleum products will outstrip supplies.

Surging economies in China and India fed by oil and gasoline have sent prices soaring over the past year, while tensions in oil producing nations like Nigeria and Iran have increasingly made investors nervous and invited speculators to drive prices even higher. (AP)

Banks See Big Profits in Biofueled Food Inflation - From Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, via Bloomberg, comes a truly terrifying financial news article about the biofueled rally in agricultural commodity prices. It seems that whereas in the coming years the struggle for energy--meaning oil and gas--will be between nations, the struggle for food will be within nations. Excerpts appear below. (China Confidential)

The most common source of unsound health interventions - Yellow teeth is a risk factor for lung cancer. Of course, the soundest evidence clearly shows us that yellow teeth is not the cause of lung cancer, so no one would seriously suggest extracting healthy teeth to prevent lung cancer. (Junkfood Science)

January 2, 2008

Not bad for a New York Times Op-ed Putting a Plague in Perspective - "If one were to ask the people of virtually any African village (outside some 10 countries devastated by AIDS) what their greatest concerns are, the answer would undoubtedly be the less sensational but more ubiquitous ravages of hunger, dirty water and environmental devastation. The real-world needs of Africans struggling to survive should not continue to be subsumed by the favorite causes du jour of well-meaning yet often uninformed Western donors." (Daniel Halperin, New York Times, Jan. 1)

So much for the 'Green' Olympics... Beijing’s Olympic Quest: Turn Smoggy Sky Blue - "To win the Games, Beijing promised a “Green Olympics” and undertook environmental initiatives now considered models for the rest of the country. But greening Beijing has not meant slowing it down. Officials also have encouraged an astonishing urbanization boom that has made environmental gains seem modest, if not illusory." (New York Times)

Will President Bush sell out to the Greens in 2008? In Bush's Final Year, The Agenda Gets Greener - "The coming year offers a final test of whether Bush is willing to move beyond the policies of the past seven years and embrace more aggressive measures, including a mandatory limit on carbon emissions with pollution credits that can be bought and sold -- a system known as cap-and-trade. If presented such legislation by Sens. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Warner (R-Va.), supporters hope, Bush might sign it." (Washington Post, Dec. 29)

Japanese profiteers for climate alarmism... Japan Urges China to Reduce Pollution - "The Japanese government and its companies have provided technology to Chinese factories to help them improve efficiency and capture waste gases. But those efforts remain limited, partly because Chinese companies have not been required to buy top-flight equipment, and Japanese companies have been reluctant to provide their latest technology at a discount." (New York Times, Dec. 29)

Cap-and-trade to erase African aid? Africa aid wiped out by rising cost of oil - "The rising cost of oil has wiped out the benefits many African countries were expecting from western aid and debt relief over the past three years, new research from the International Energy Agency has shown.

The situation is raising fears that, in spite of the strong growth many African countries have seen in recent years, there could be a repeat of the 1980s’ debt crisis in the developing world that was caused in part by the oil shocks of the 1970s." (Financial Times, Dec. 29)

More bad news for Africa... economist Arthur Laffer has likened cap-and-trade global warming regulation to the 1970s oil shocks. Check out this YouTube video too!

The seventh annual Numby Awards (Number Watch)

In 2008, let us challenge the Politics of Apocalypse - In the past year, the threat of doom – from weather, terror or disease – became an everyday, even banal issue. It’s time to inject a dose of humanism into public debate. (Frank Furedi, sp!ked)

In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm - I’d like to wish you a happy New Year, but I’m afraid I have a different sort of prediction.

You’re in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change — and that these images are a mere preview of what’s in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet.

Unfortunately, I can’t be more specific. I don’t know if disaster will come by flood or drought, hurricane or blizzard, fire or ice. Nor do I have any idea how much the planet will warm this year or what that means for your local forecast. Long-term climate models cannot explain short-term weather.

But there’s bound to be some weird weather somewhere, and we will react like the sailors in the Book of Jonah. When a storm hit their ship, they didn’t ascribe it to a seasonal weather pattern. They quickly identified the cause (Jonah’s sinfulness) and agreed to an appropriate policy response (throw Jonah overboard).

Today’s interpreters of the weather are what social scientists call availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels.

A year ago, British meteorologists made headlines predicting that the buildup of greenhouse gases would help make 2007 the hottest year on record. At year’s end, even though the British scientists reported the global temperature average was not a new record — it was actually lower than any year since 2001 — the BBC confidently proclaimed, “2007 Data Confirms Warming Trend.” (John Tierney, New York Times)

Climate-change half-measures are better than none at all - It's not surprising that a large, diverse, free-market democracy like ours is having trouble developing an effective and systematic response to the issue of global climate change.

At best, we've produced only half-measures like bumping up automobile fuel efficiency standards modestly and reluctantly. At worst, as a nation we've stood in the way of, rather than led, international efforts to fashion a response to the well-established reality of climate change, whether it's man-made or not. (John M Crisp, Scripps Howard News Service)

Therein lies the problem, the populist concept of "climate change/global warming" does not exist and this is not a zero sum game -- the effort and finance wasted 'addressing' the phantom menace are lost to society, unavailable for real and pressing problems.

Editorial: Global warming 'consensus' a fiction - Skeptics from a range of scientific disciplines get louder in their opposition to doomsday claims (Orange County Register)

Uncertain science dogs climate debate - The Government's Energy Strategy aims to reduce carbon emissions from power stations to help reduce man-made greenhouse gases.

Many scientists believe such gases are leading to global climate change and are damaging animal and plant life - and that it will get much worse.

Leading the charge internationally is former United States vice-president Al Gore and his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth.

Climate change could mean more droughts and floods, with temperatures rising by up to 4 degrees celsius by the end of the century, causing ice caps and glaciers to melt.

But in an often bitter debate, sceptics argue the science on climate change is not settled.

Instead, they say international government climate change policies will cost billions to solve a problem that in all probability does not exist. (Dominion Post)

New Research Paper “Quantifying The Influence Of Anthropogenic Surface Processes And Inhomogeneities On Gridded Global Climate Data” By Ross McKitrick And Pat Michaels - There is an important new peer reviewed paper that further raises questions on the robustness of using surface air temperature data to calculate the radiative imbalance of the climate system.

This peer reviewed paper is McKitrick, R.R. and P.J. Michaels (2007), Quantifying the influence of anthropogenic surface processes and inhomogeneities on gridded global climate data, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S09, doi:10.1029/2007JD008465. (Climate Science)

Important New Paper “Using Limited Time Period Trends as a Means to Determine Attribution of Discrepancies in Microwave Sounding Unit Derived Tropospheric Temperature Time” By R. M. Randall and B. M. Herman - There has been considerable discussion on the use of microwave sounding unit (MSU) data to assess multi-decadal tropspheric temperature trends (e.g. see CCSP, 2006). An important new paper is in press in the Journal of Geophysical Research which adds new insight into this issue including a comparison of the analyses from two of the leading groups that analyze multi-decadal tropospheric temperature trends from the MSU data [i.e. University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)]

The paper is Randall, R. M., and B. M. Herman (2007), Using Limited Time Period Trends as a Means to Determine Attribution of Discrepancies in Microwave Sounding Unit Derived Tropospheric Temperature Time Series, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2007JD008864, in press (Climate Science)

Newsweek's Prophetess of Doom Wonders 'Why We Were So Stupid' - Some journalists are so confident that we're already cooked by global warming that they're scolding ignorant Americans in advance for all the now-unpreventable doom that's coming our way. Newsweek's Sharon Begley rings in the new year by shaking her head at the Stupid, Soon to Be Overheated Majority and how we'll have to adapt to being cooked: (NewsBusters)

Of Two Minds on Polar Bears - Two agencies in the Department of the Interior are nearing significant yet contradictory decisions that will affect the fate of one of America’s iconic animal species, the polar bear.

As early as this week , the Fish and Wildlife Service could list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the result of severe habitat loss caused by global warming and the melting of Arctic sea ice. About the same time, the Minerals Management Service will announce its final decision to sell oil leases covering nearly 30 million acres of polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast.

Listing the polar bear would trigger a series of protections, including, in time, identifying habitat critical to the bears’ survival. It would also impose obligations on all federal agencies to avoid actions that could hurt the bears’ prospects. But the minerals service, where the wishes of the oil and gas industry carry great weight, has a history of doing as it pleases. Environmental groups and members of the House and Senate are thus asking Dirk Kempthorne, the interior secretary, to declare a timeout, postponing Chukchi Sea lease sales for three years pending further scientific study. (New York Times)

Do polar bears need U.S. protection? - A federal agency is poised to say whether global warming means the bear should be added to the 'threatened species' list. (The Christian Science Monitor)

The Crone... The One Environmental Issue - The overriding environmental issue of these times is the warming of the planet. The Democratic hopefuls in the 2008 campaign are fully engaged, calling for large — if still unquantified — national sacrifices and for a transformation in the way the country produces and uses energy. The Republicans do not go much further than conceding that climate change could be a problem and, with the notable exception of John McCain, offer no comprehensive solutions.

In 2000, when Al Gore could have made warming a signature issue in his presidential campaign, his advisers persuaded him that it was too complicated and forbidding an issue to sell to ordinary voters. For similar reasons, John Kerry’s ambitious ideas for addressing climate change and reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil never advanced much beyond his Web site.

Times have certainly changed. It is not yet clear to what extent Americans are willing to grapple with the implications of any serious strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: more specifically, whether they are ready to pay higher prices for energy and change their lifestyles to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.

Polls suggest, however, that voters are increasingly alarmed, and for that Mr. Gore is partly responsible. (New York Times)

Why won't Al Gore debate? - When Al Gore ran for U.S. senator from Tennessee he debated – repeatedly.

When he ran for president he once more debated frequently.

Why is it that as a recipient of the Nobel Prize for his theorizing about global warming Mr. Gore has refused repeated and prominently published challenges to debate this issue with scientists?

Is it possible Al thinks that the Nobel (also awarded to the late Yasser Arafat) makes him morally and scientifically impervious?

Or does he believe it would be unbearable for a Noble Prize winner to lose a debate on the issue for which he was awarded? (WND)

All About: Cities and energy consumption - Humans can now officially be called an urban species. More than half of the global population now live in cities and the United Nations says that by 2030, 60 percent of us will live in them.

Yet according to U.N. Habitat, the world's cities emit almost 80 percent of global carbon dioxide as well as "significant amounts of other greenhouse gases."

Put simply, if you want to tackle climate change, tackle the cities.

The UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research recently went as far as saying that "the fate of the Earth's climate is intrinsically linked to how our cities develop over the coming decades." (CNN)

Actually entire 'problem' appears to be that we are reading urban heat islands and confusing that with global temperature trends.

From CO2 Science this week:
Editorial:

Climate Model Problems: II. Hydrologic Cycle: All is far from "neat and clean" in man's attempts to model earth's evolving precipitation regime. In fact, the problems encountered have got some of the best minds in the field scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Tropical Pacific Ocean. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Evolution (Aquatic Life): Can marine and freshwater plants and animals evolve rapidly enough to successfully cope with the degree of global warming projected for earth's future?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Canada Cockleburr, Curlytop knotweed, Great ragweed, and Lambsquarters.

Journal Reviews:
A 7200-Year Climate Record of Canada's Boothia Peninsula: What does it reveal about the state of the region's current climate?

Late 20th-Century Drought in Morocco: How exceptional was it?

A Second Review of Drought in Morocco: How does it fit into the bigger picture of the entire Northern Hemisphere? And what does it suggest about coincident temperatures?

Glomalin in Ecosystems: Results of a Recent Literature Review: What do they reveal about the effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on soil glomalin concentrations and biospheric carbon sequestration?

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Plant-Herbivore Interactions: A recent review of the scientific literature comes up with some general conclusions.

Boise City, OKTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Boise City, OK. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Boise City's mean annual temperature has cooled by 0.68 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! (co2science.org)

Bye Bye, Light Bulb: If only Microsoft could argue its competitors hurt the environment. - Just like that--like flipping a switch--Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

The new rules phase in starting in 2012, but don't be lulled by that five-year delay. Whether it's next week or next decade, you will one day walk into a hardware store looking for a 100-watt bulb--and there won't be any. By 2014, the new efficiency standards will apply to 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs too. (Wall Street Journal)

Energy firms face tough year as new emissions rules bite - A combination of new regulations and tougher controls on emissions which came into force yesterday will make life tougher for Britain's power generators.

The EU's large combustion plants directive (LCPD) is designed to curb emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide, while the second phase of the EU's emissions trading scheme puts a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. (The Guardian)

Ah, socialized medicine... 'Patients to lose weight before NHS treatment' - Patients could be required to stop smoking, take exercise or lose weight before they can be treated on the National Health Service, Gordon Brown has suggested.

In a New Year message to NHS staff, the Prime Minister indicates people may have to fulfil new "responsibilities" in order to establish their entitlement to care. (London Telegraph)

An outrageous threat to NHS patients - To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, Gordon Brown plans to introduce a "constitution" setting out the rights and responsibilities of our healthcare system.

What this seems to amount to in practice are the Government's rights to refuse treatment, and the patient's responsibilities to live up to what the state decides are model standards.

There is apparently to be a clear warning that those who adhere to unhealthy habits such as smoking or failing to take regular exercise may be refused NHS care.

This threat is morally outrageous and legally dubious: if lung cancer victims are really to be left to die without medical care because they are smokers, or heart disease sufferers turned away because they have not succeeded in losing weight, this will make a mockery of the principle of universal healthcare free at the point of need.

Such a policy would also fly in the face of the normal expectation of human rights. If a private insurance company to which people had been paying premiums over a lifetime were to declare retrospectively that it would not cover treatment for smokers or the overweight, its customers could rightly sue for breach of contract. (London Telegraph)

Fat or thin, it's not the state's business - Yet again, overweight people find themselves surrounded by a baying mob. Force fatties to diet, cry the commentators. Deny them treatment on the NHS! Make them stop smoking! Put them on treadmills!

This time, the none-too-trim figure of Gordon Brown is leading the bullies. In order to qualify for treatment from his new "personalised" health service, says the PM, patients might be required to take exercise and lose weight. (Daniel Hannan, London Telegraph)

What can you buy for $310,000? - The countdown has already begun and the diet season is off and running. It's become our national pastime. Diets don’t actually work to make us thin and certainly don’t make us healthier, by all evidence, but they are extremely effective at one thing: making gobs of money for the weight loss industry. According to Marketdata Enterprises Inc., it’s a $55 billion market just in the U.S. and is expected to reach $61 billion in 2008. (Junkfood Science)

Junk food ad ban comes into force in Britain - Britain introduced a ban on advertising junk food to under-16s Tuesday, aimed at promoting healthy eating and countering growing child obesity. The ban, which extends measures already in place for under-10s, will curb television adverts for food and drink products with high fat, salt and sugar content. Specifically the new measures, agreed last year, will ban adverts for junk food and drink around all programmes of particular appeal to children under 16 years. (AFP)

Never mind organic, feel the food print - It’s not easy to do the right thing these days, especially on the food front. Not so long ago, we were happy to load up our trolleys with whatever the supermarkets pushed at us, the more battery reared, industrially grown, air-freighted and genetically modified the better. How carefree that seems now, when a trip to the shops can present enough ethical dilemmas to tax King Solomon. Animal welfare, pesticides, antibiotics, food miles, carbon emissions… there are so many issues to be considered that it can leave the conscientious shopper’s head in a spin.

Do you choose a tomato grown in a heated greenhouse here over one grown in the open air in Spain? Better an English apple kept for six months in refrigerated storage or a New Zealand import shipped by sea? Is an organic leg of lamb from a farm 50 miles away, better than a regular one from the local farm shop?

Problems, problems. And now we have another level of complexity to deal with. The latest buzz phrase is “food print”, the amount of land needed to supply one person’s nutritional needs for a year. (London Times)

Oh boy... Virus threatens mass extinction of frogs - An international campaign has been launched to help save the world’s amphibians from extinction.

Scientists fear the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs because of a deadly virus which is sweeping through populations of frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians across the globe. (London Telegraph)

... they're actually talking about chytrid fungus, not a virus at all and chytridiomycosis, which is thought to be decimating amphibians, was largely spread by ecotourists and researchers checking amphibian populations for the effects of imaginary increases in UV from equally imaginary anthropogenic ozone depletion.

A backpacker’s guide to eco-death - Into the Wild, Sean Penn's film about the anti-materialist Christopher McCandless, reminds us why being 'one with nature’ is no picnic. (Patrick Hayes, sp!ked)